The Ultimate Guide to the UK’s Most Beautiful Destinations
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Ah, the United Kingdom! The land of dry-humor, high tea, and Monty Python. How I love you, so! After all, who can resist the allure of the birthplace of Banksy, William Shakespeare, The Beetles and J.R.R Tolkien?
Add to this, gorgeous countrysides, slick cosmopolitan cities, stunning beaches, and delicious food, and you’ve got yourself one of the world’s most eccentric and diverse travel destinations. The UK may be small, but this pint-sized nation has got a whole lot going for it.
Indeed, all of its glory may be a lot to take in at once, so we’ve rounded up the United Kingdom’s top 5 unmissable destinations that need to be on your travel bucket list.
1. Loch Ness and Inverness, Scotland
The mystery and sheer beauty surrounding this peaceful loch are hard to resist. If you’re the kind of person that enjoys long walks out in nature, cozy restaurant inns and wide-open spaces, then traveling through Scotland should be at the top of your bucket list.
What to see: Although the waters of this fabled region have monopolized many travelers’ itineraries, there is so much more to Loch Ness and Inverness than mythical monsters. The heart of the highlands is also home to the Urquhart Castle, the Highlanders’ Museum, and Celtic ruins.
What to do: Inverness is perfect for reconnecting with nature, whether it is by going on scenic walks or bike rides through the rolling greenery, kayaking on the world’s most famous loch, or white water rafting on the Caledonian Canal.
What to eat: Scotland is one of the most underrated foodie destinations in the world. Although Haggis may get all the limelight here (you either love it or you don’t), there are plenty of other delicious dishes to try! While you’re in Inverness, make sure to try the staple fish and chips dish at the Dores Inn.
Getting around: The capital is great to explore by foot or bike, thanks to its compact size. Another way of traveling is by bus, but for those who want to take in the scenery, the train is a much better option.
2. Liverpool, England
Type “Liverpool” into Google and the first thing that pops up is the region’s legendary football team. But, this eccentric city is more than just a sports lover’s paradise, it is also a haven for architectural and music lovers!
Situated where the River Mersey meets the Irish Sea, Liverpool is the world capital of pop music and is also home to the most Grade I listed buildings in the UK as well as Britain’s largest cathedral!
What to see: The thing about this city is that it’s so packed full of amazing sights to see that it definitely warrants more than just one visit. If you’re the kind of traveler who enjoys art and architecture, the Burne-Jones Windows should be at the top of your sight-seeing list, along with the Palm House at Sefton Park and the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.
What to do: Music lovers rejoice! Being home to the legendary band, The Beatles, it should come as no surprise that this city has plenty of musical themed activities to enjoy. From epic concerts at the behemoth Echo Arena to intimate live music at The Craven, where iconic musicians like The Rolling Stones, Queen, and Black Sabbath once graced the stage.
What to eat: Like the rest of the UK, Liverpool is quickly cementing itself as a top destination for gastronomes. From haute fine dining to sumptuous food trucks and trendy cafes, this city has it all. When the hunger pains start to kick in, be sure to bite down on a double cheeseburger from Almost Famous. Or, if you’re a fan of sushi then try the top-notch tuna at Etsu.
Getting around: Like most other cities in the UK, Liverpool is incredibly easy to travel around. Rail travel is the most common and easily accessible as it runs frequently throughout the day across 66 stations. The four main underground stations are Lime Street lower level, Liverpool Central, Moorfields and James Street which provide easy access to almost everywhere. Travel by bus, bike or ferry is also pretty reliable, and if you’re pressed for time, there is no shortage of taxis.
3. Oxford, England
Perhaps one of England’s most iconic destinations, the university town of Oxford should be at the top of every book-lover’s bucket list. Named “the city of dreaming spires” by the Victorian poet Matthew Arnold, this creative hub is a vision of old-world architecture and can easily be regarded as England’s most beautiful city.
While there is more to the place than its prestigious university, it is hard to overlook the brilliant minds that came out of Oxford University. From Oscar Wilde to Lewis Carroll, Stephen Hawking, and T. S Elliot, who wouldn’t want to discover their source of inspiration?
What to see: Not only is this golden-hued city the mecca of creative geniuses, it is also a feast for the eyes. While small in size, Oxford is packed full of beautiful sights to see such as the Bodleian Library, where luminaries such as Oscar Wilde, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien, once roamed the 17th-century halls. If treasure hunting appeals to you, then the Pitt Rivers Museum is another must-add to your itinerary, as well as the 1965 Modern Art Oxford Gallery and Oxford’s Castle.
What to do: Although it is known as a university city, there is more to Oxford than its books. This student city is also chock full of adventurous things to do, from meandering through the independent shops in the famous Oxford Covered Market to climbing the Saxon St George’s Tower, and punting down the legendary River Thames.
What to eat: Being a student city, Oxford is filled with trendy restaurants and cafes that satisfy all cravings. If you have a sweet tooth then make your way past G&D’s cafe for some fresh waffles and ice cream. Fancy something savory? Then head over to the Pieminister for a classic English meal of pie, mash and mushy peas.
Getting around: No planes, a few trains, and even fewer cars, Oxford is truly a walking or bike riding city. In fact, it has the second-highest proportion of cycling commuters in the UK. The scenery makes it a perfect place to enjoy a casual stroll or bike ride, but if the weather is not on your side, then the trains and local buses are pretty reliable too. There are regular trains and buses which can get you to other cities like London and Milton Keynes. Hiring a car is not really recommended as parking spaces are very limited.
4. Brighton, England
Not many people figure that England can be a great spot for a seaside holiday; they clearly have not been to Brighton. This quaint seaside town is the perfect destination for a romantic getaway, family break, and even solo exploring.
Although small in stature, Brighton has plenty of fun things to do that will keep even the most jaded travelers feeling young at heart. Just an hour south of London, this small town is well known for its vibrant nightlife, colorful festivals, eccentric art scene, and of course, its beautiful beach.
What to see: Without a doubt, the first attraction on your itinerary should be the Brighton Pier which features an array of food trucks, arcades and rides, all backed by jaw-dropping views of the ocean. The Royal Pavilion is another must see. This over-the-top palace is home to an assortment of whimsical treasures to look at, from flying dragons to magical carpets, and gilded Banqueting Rooms. When the weather turns sour, a visit to the Brighton Toy and Model Museum is the best distraction and so is the Museum and Art Gallery located in the Prince Regent’s old stable complex.
What to do: Far from being a sleepy, seaside retreat, Brighton has one of the most eccentric nightlife and live music scenes around. If you fancy an evening of fringe comedy and entertainment, make your way through to the Komedia Club. This classic institution serves up nightly shows ranging from stand-up comedy to puppet shows and cabaret. For great live music, head down to the Latest Music Bar, which hosted the likes of Amy Winehouse, and, if you’re a cocktail enthusiast, check out Brighton Rocks which hosts fun mixology classes, amazing cocktails, and delicious seafood.
What to eat: Being a seaside town, it goes without saying that any seafood dish will be amazing in Brighton. But, if your taste buds are craving something onshore, then be sure to bite down on a sizzling breakfast of baked beans, eggs, wild mushrooms and steak from the Silo.
Getting around: Like with most UK cities, cycling and walking are the two most common ways of getting around the town. If you plan on driving, parking is somewhat available and there are even electric vehicle charging points across the city as well as a park and ride site. If you’re thinking about hiring a car, there are other quirky alternatives such as the city’s lift sharing club where you can rent a car from a local resident. The buses are also a reliable way of getting around town.
5. London, England
Let’s face it, this list would be incomplete without mentioning London. This bustling capital has a history that goes as far back as the Roman times, but it is far from outdated.
London is the perfect destination for young (and young at heart) urban travelers. Whether you’re a foodie, a history lover, art addict, or fashionista, you’re sure to find a spectacular array of eccentric, unusual and downright cool things to see and do here.
What to see: Forget about the London Eye and Big Ben for just a second. Yes, these are timeless attractions, but there’s an array of hidden gems to be found around the city. You just need to know where to look. So, start off on Burton Street where you’ll find one of Banksy’s iconic artworks called the falling shopper. You can also come face-to-face with life-sized dinosaur sculptures hidden around Crystal Palace Park, meet London’s favorite detective at the Sherlock Holmes Museum, and discover the lesser-known side of the city at places such as Little Venice in Paddington, Kenwood House in Hampstead and Little Compton Street.
What to do: The real question here is, what can’t you do in London? But, if you need a little bit of inspiration, here are just a few things this bright city has to offer: First off, eating out is a must here. London has a huge selection of quirky gourmet hotspots to try, from the opera-themed Bel Canto restaurant near Hyde Park to the theatrical Circus restaurant, the Cereal Killer Café and (my personal favorite) Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium. Fans of horror can walk the streets once stalked by Jack the Ripper or visit his famed pub, The Ten Bells. If you’re into magic and movies, the Harry Potter studio tour is a must, as well as the city’s endless list of weird and unusual museums like the Cartoon Museum.
What to eat: London is a foodie mecca, home to a restaurant scene that changes faster than you can say Bon appetite! Truth is, you can spend a year eating out and not dine in the same place twice. From Michelin starred hotspots to intimate hidden gems, this city has it all, but you simply cannot leave without trying the chicken Kiev from The Game Bird. This is a staple dish!
Getting around: Getting around this bustling city is super easy and convenient. Forget about hiring a car and stick to the public transport systems which range from underground tubes to overground trains, and buses. To make your life a little easier, make sure you get an Oyster Travelcard which comes pre-loaded with credit to match the duration of your stay in London.
Three Must-Have Experiences in the UK
As you can see, there is so much to explore in this beautiful region! No matter where your holiday base is, it is super easy (and scenic) to hop from city to city and even from country to country! So, to help plan your itinerary, here are a few experiences to add to the list while you’re in the United Kingdom.
7 Days Shamanic Healing, Nature, Meditation, Detox, and Yoga Retreat in Scotland
More than just a scenic getaway, Scotland’s amazing landscape also makes for the perfect destination to enjoy a healing breakaway from day to day life. Deep within the Scottish Highlands, this transformational retreat is designed to help you reconnect with the sacred feminine and masculine energy through ancient shamanic wisdom.
Over the course of seven days, you can enjoy daily yoga and meditation practices, Shamanic soul work, and personal guidance, all while staying fuelled with daily organic meals, juices, smoothies and herbal teas.
3 Days Creative Cooking, Conscious Eating, and Yoga Retreat in Wiltshire
The picturesque countryside of Wiltshire is the ideal place to enjoy a full weekend of clean eating and yoga. This invigorating retreat is a fun way to kickstart a new and healthy lifestyle as it will teach you the importance of slowing down, relaxing, and what that can do for your digestion, assimilation and energy levels.
During this retreat, you’ll learn about macro-nutrient balance, the best times of day to eat, common food allergens and effective ways of balancing blood sugar, all while creating healthy and delicious meals. Daily yoga classes will also be part of the program and you will have a team of professional massage therapists on hand to give a variety of treatments.
Safaris and the UK may seem like an unlikely pair, but this serene wildlife retreat will definitely change your perception. In the awe-inspiring valleys of Exmoor, you can experience an outstanding safari and horse riding holiday like never before!
Spend your days riding bare-foot horses over the lush greenery of Exmoor National Park, spotting red deer, highland cattle, wild roaming Exmoor ponies, and other special wildlife and birds, before retreating into the cozy West Lynch Farmhouse Manor for fresh local meals.
Ready to begin your great English adventure? Start now by going on an epic London adventure!