14 of the Best UK Attractions and Tours
Below we have listed 14 of the Best UK Attractions and Tours
An archaeological marvel, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the world’s most enigmatic tourist attractions, Stonehenge draws up to 1.3 million visitors annually. The site itself—a circle of gigantic stones standing in the heart of the English countryside—is made even more impressive by its mysterious history. Although Stonehenge’s original purpose remains unknown, onlookers gather to admire the 3,500-year-old structure and ponder its astronomical, spiritual, or even supernatural meaning.
Entrance to Stonehenge is via timed ticket. You’ll be able to view the stones from a few meters away, and shuttle transportation between the observation areas is included with entry. Access to the stones is limited to 30 minutes, but you can spend as long as you like exploring the site’s visitor center. If you want to visit the Inner Circle and walk among the stones, you’ll need to book a special tour outside of public opening hours. Day tours from London are often combined with nearby attractions such as Oxford, Windsor Castle, Bath, Stratford-Upon-Avon, or the Cotswolds.
Tower of London
From medieval torture to grim executions and infamous royal prisoners, the Tower of London has long found itself at the center of the city’s dark history. Built by William the Conqueror in 1066, the historic castle has served as a Royal Menagerie, Her Majesty’s prison, an execution site, a royal observatory, a Royal Mint, and a military storehouse over the course of its existence.
Today, the tower famously displays the Crown Jewels (which include the Imperial State Crown) and holds centuries of history within its walls, drawing travelers from near and far. It remains guarded by members of the Royal Bodyguards, known as Beefeaters. Visitors can admire the Royal Armouries in the White Tower, walk along the battlements, and see where Anne Boleyn was executed by order of Henry VIII. The popular Torture at the Tower exhibit, the Coins and Kings exhibit at the Royal Mint, the Fusilier Museum, and the Line of Kings all shed light on the tower’s history.
Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence and administrative office of the British royal family since the 19th century and is one of the few remaining working royal palaces in the world. Access for the public is limited and exclusive but worthwhile for those who arrange a visit.
Buckingham Palace is one of England’s most famous landmarks. Visitors can always view its opulent exterior through the gates, but visits must be timed right to tour the interior. During its summer opening, travelers can peek into the state rooms, see the Throne Room, stroll through the palace gardens, and admire masterpieces by artists such as Rembrandt and Canaletto in Queen Victoria’s Picture Gallery.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, with a legacy dating back more than 1,000 years, Westminster Abbey is among London’s most historic landmarks. The Gothic church is best known for hosting headline-grabbing events involving the British royal family, such as the Queen’s coronation, Princess Diana’s funeral, and Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.
A tour of Westminster Abbey is like taking a walk through British history. Explore independently with an audio guide, on a tour led by a verger (church official), or with a private guide. Tickets include access to all the main areas of the church. The London Pass also grants access to Westminster Abbey.
The London Eye
The London Eye offers unparalleled views of central London’s world-famous landmarks from its prime location on the Thames River waterfront, opposite Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The gigantic, 443-foot-high observation wheel was built to mark the millennium in 2000 and quickly became one of the most popular paid attractions in the United Kingdom.
A 30-minute ride in one of the 32 glass capsules offers panoramic views, so travelers can spot London highlights such as St Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace from every angle. One rotation takes 30 minutes, with the structure rotating at a fairly slow speed, meaning visitors are free to walk about their capsule and take photos from all sides.
With more than 3.5 million annual visitors, lines for the London Eye’s capsules can get quite long. Pre-booking a fast-track ticket is the best way to maximize your time in England’s capital. Travelers with a penchant for luxury can opt to sip champagne while they ride. Many tours combine a rotation on the wheel with other popular London activities such as afternoon tea, a Thames River cruise, a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, or a city tour that covers top sites, including the Tower of London and London Dungeon.
Houses of Parliament & Big Ben Tours and Tickets
Few landmarks epitomize central London as perfectly as Big Ben, the iconic clock tower of the Houses of Parliament that’s officially known as Elizabeth Tower after Queen Elizabeth II. Heralding Great Britain’s political nucleus in Westminster, Big Ben stands as the striking centerpiece of the Thames waterfront and is backed by the historic Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament.
The best ways to see Big Ben is from afar, to both appreciate the scale of the 315-foot (96-meter) clock tower and avoid crowds nearby. Popular ways to admire the clock include taking a ride on the nearby London Eye or opting for a Thames River cruise. Alternatively, city tours of London—on foot or by hop-on hop-off bus—typically pass by Big Ben, also stopping at Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.
To go inside the Houses of Parliament, arrange an official tour or watch a debate from the public galleries. Big Ben is only accessible to UK residents.
Windsor Castle is the largest occupied castle in the world that is still used by the monarchy. Since William the Conqueror built a wooden fortress here over 900 years ago, this has been a royal palace and residence. Despite its daily use for royal business, much of the palace is open to the public and well worth a visit.
Parts of the castle are open to visitors, including the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s intricate dolls’ house, and George VI’s private apartments. St. George’s Chapel is another highlight, where many royal weddings and funerals have occurred, as well as where the Queen Mother’s and King Henry VII’s tombs are found. On a guided tour, you can see the Great Kitchen to witness the inner workings of the castle.
With its Gothic towers and central bascule flanked by dramatic suspension bridges, Tower Bridge is both a remarkable feat of engineering and one of London’s most instantly recognizable landmarks. The famous bridge is a popular subject of London postcards, leading many to mistake it for London Bridge, which is actually the next one upstream.
Whether taking a city walking tour, admiring the bridge from a River Thames cruise, or driving across the bridge on a hop-on hop-off city tour, a tour of London’s historic sights isn’t complete without a stop at Tower Bridge. A popular choice is to cross the bridge on a walking tour, perhaps including a visit to the Tower of London (which stands at the northern end of the bridge) or continuing along the Thames riverfront past landmarks such as Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the London Eye.
If you want to learn more about the 19th-century bridge and take in the views from the high walkways, visit the Tower Bridge Exhibition, housed in the bridge’s northwest tower. Entrance to the exhibition is free for London Pass holders, and combination tickets are available for the exhibition and the Monument—a tribute to the Great Fire of London.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
An architectural masterpiece with a magnificent dome, St. Paul’s Cathedral is one of London’s most recognizable sites. The 17th-century cathedral boasts a rich history as host of the jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II, the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.
It’s possible to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral with or without a tour. Multimedia guides are available for independent visitors, while guided tours explore highlights such as the nave, the Whispering Gallery, the Golden Gallery, and the crypt. For the best value, opt to combine a visit to this historic landmark with a walking tour or a hop-on hop-off bus tour of central London. Purchase a London Pass to gain entry to St. Paul’s Cathedral and other London attractions such as the British Museum, the Tower of London, and the London Eye.
Flowing right through the heart of central London, the Thames River offers a dramatic backdrop to the city’s famous skyline with landmarks lining its shores. Walk along the riverfront from Westminster to Tower Bridge and you’ll pass London icons such as the London Eye, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Southbank, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the London Bridge.
A boat ride along the Thames River is a quintessential London experience, with popular choices including city cruises, afternoon tea or dinner options, RIB (rigid-inflatable boat) excursions, London duck tours, and hop-on hop-off boat tours. Many Thames River tours even run all the way to Greenwich, passing Canary Wharf, Waterloo, and Cutty Sark.
Trafalgar Square—the living, breathing, and beating heart of London’s West End—plays an integral part in local life as a site of celebrations, protests, performances, parades, and public gatherings. Overlooked by grand, stately buildings such as the National Gallery and St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, this vast square is dotted with iconic fountains and statuary. Most famous among them is the 144-foot (44-meter) Nelson’s Column, which commemorates a British naval victory over France and Spain, and is guarded by four oversized bronze lions.
Trafalgar Square is one of the best places to take the pulse of life in England’s capital city. While many tourists come here independently, a guide can help enlighten visitors as to the significance of the square’s many monuments and sights as well as draw attention to the splendid surrounding architecture. Trafalgar Square is commonly included on sightseeing tours of the West End and Central London, along with nearby Westminster, where you’ll find Big Ben and the United Kingdom’s Houses of Parliament. You may also encounter Trafalgar Square during guided walking tours, bus tours, and bike tours.
Anfield Stadium, home turf for Liverpool Football Club, is hallowed ground for fans of the Reds. The 54,000-capacity venue not only hosts matches, but also contains the Liverpool FC Story, a museum chronicling the club’s history, and the Steven Gerrard Collection, comprising memorabilia relating to the former captain.
To explore inside Anfield Stadium, you can either purchase a match ticket or join an LFC stadium tour. Tickets are typically in high demand, particularly for important Champions League and FA Cup matches. Often the best option is to book a tour package, which may include additional extras such as a prematch buffet or halftime refreshments.
To go behind the scenes, take a self-guided Anfield Stadium tour. With the aid of a multimedia audio handset, tour the press room and the Kop, climb to the highest level of the main stand, peek behind the doors of the home and away teams’ dressing rooms, and walk through the players’ tunnel. Admission to the interactive Liverpool FC Story museum and the Steven Gerrard Collection is included.
This first-century Roman bathhouse complex was a meeting point for patricians who came to bathe, drink the curative waters, and socialize. The baths fell out of use with the Roman exodus from Britain but were rediscovered and excavated in the late-19th century. Explore the Great Bath, which is filled with steaming, mineral-rich water from Bath’s hot springs.
The Roman Baths are the headline attraction in Bath, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being just 115 miles (185 kilometers) from central London and within day-tripping distance of Oxford, Brighton, Bournemouth, and Southampton, Bath is a very popular day-tour destination for visitors to South England.
Organized day tours often combine a trip to Bath and the Roman Baths with a visit to the prehistoric Stonehenge monument, the picturesque Cotswolds village of Lacock, Windsor Castle, or the cathedral town of Salisbury. If you want to begin your tour in Bath itself, try a guided walking tour of the Georgian city that includes other top attractions such as the Royal Crescent, the Circus, and Gothic Bath Abbey. Hop-on hop-off tour buses also stop at the Roman Baths.
Famous for its giant illuminated screens and near-constant stream of traffic, Piccadilly Circus in London’s West End has been featured in so many movies and TV shows that even first-time visitors feel they recognize the surroundings. Almost every visitor to London will pass through this major tourist hub at one point.
At the intersection of shopping mecca Regent Street, theater-land on Shaftesbury Avenue, and the grand Piccadilly boulevard, Piccadilly Circus is as central to London as it’s possible to be. The area was first developed in 1819 as a traffic junction, and people have been passing through ever since. It’s a busy meeting place thriving with tourists, souvenir stalls, restaurants, and entertainment attractions.
Often described as the “Times Square of London,” the area features famous buildings and attractions, including the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain, most commonly known as “Eros”—one of London’s most popular meeting points—the opulent Ritz hotel, historic department store Fortnum & Mason, a Planet Hollywood restaurant, and more. Many guided tours of the city stop off at this famous location.
Tours in England
What are the best tours in England?
The best tours in England according to Viator travelers are:
- Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath from London
- Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath with Pub Lunch in Lacock
- Harry Potter Tour of Warner Bros. Studio with Transport from London
- Big Bus London Hop-On Hop-Off Tour and River Cruise
- Stonehenge and Bath Day Trip from London
Tours in Ireland
What are the best tours in Ireland?
The best tours in Ireland according to Viator travelers are:
- Cliffs of Moher Tour Including Wild Atlantic Way and Galway City from Dublin
- Northern Ireland Highlights Day Trip Including Giant’s Causeway from Dublin
- Dublin:Cliffs of Moher, Kilmacduagh Abbey, Wild Atlantic way and Galway
- Skip the Line Guinness and Jameson Irish Whiskey Experience Tour in Dublin
- Dublin: Giants Causeway, Dunluce Castle ,Dark Hedges and Belfast
Northern Ireland Highlights Day Trip Including Giant’s Causeway from Dublin
Explore Northern Ireland’s biggest draws—Belfast, Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge—on a day trip from Dublin. In a traditional black cab in Belfast, you’ll explore sites of the capital’s conflicted history: the mural-strewn streets of the Falls and Skankill neighborhoods and the Belfast Docks. Then course along the Antrim Coast to experience one of Ireland great geological marvels, the UNESCO–listed Giant’s Causeway, followed by a stop at the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Marvel at the surrounding headlands that were also used as a filming location for many “Game of Thrones” scenes. Note: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is currently closed to the public. This stop is replaced by a visit to Dunluce Castle, the real-life House of Greyjoy from the “Game of Thrones”, until further notice.
Tours in ScotlandThe answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the best tours in Scotland?
The best tours in Scotland according to Viator travelers are:
- Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands, Glencoe & Pitlochry Tour from Edinburgh
- Underground Walking Tour in Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Castle Tour: Fast-Track Guided Tour in English
- Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh
- Loch Ness, Glencoe & The Highlands Day Trip from Edinburgh
Underground Walking Tour in Edinburgh
Step off the tourist trail and explore the Scottish capital’s hidden secrets on this underground walking tour in Edinburgh. Follow a guide from the South Bridge in Edinburgh Old Town down below street level, where a series of ancient vaults lie. As you explore the dark passageways, learn why the vaults were built, hear of the poor souls who sought refuge in the depths and discover a hidden witchcraft temple. Gain insight into city life during the 18th century, and learn of the deadly diseases which threatened Edinburgh’s inhabitants.
Tours in WalesThe answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What are the best tours in Wales?
The best tours in Wales according to Viator travelers are:
- Whitewater Rafting Adventure in Llangollen
- The Wandering Bard Tour of South Wales
- Shore Excursion: North Wales Adventure Sightseeing Day Trip from Liverpool
- Gavin and Stacey TV Locations Tour of Barry Island
- City Sightseeing Cardiff Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
City Sightseeing Cardiff Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
See all of Cardiff’s spectacular sights on a City Sightseeing hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the captivating Welsh capital. Relish the freedom and flexibility of this convenient sightseeing experience and disembark the distinctive double-decker bus whenever an attraction captures your attention. See cultural highlights like the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Castle and Techniquest and listen to informative audio commentary as you explore. Your sightseeing pass is valid for 24 hours after first use, giving you ample time to discover the city.
Tours in Northern Ireland