The sun is out and summer is fast approaching. Whether you're planning a weekend away with your partner or a longer break with the family, did you know there are some great places to visit in the UK?
We often feel we have to travel far and wide to admire the best landscapes in the world, from the Grand Canyon to the Northern Lights and the Great Wall of China, but this just isn't true! You don't have to step far out your front door to glimpse the Aurora Borealis, ride a husky sled, or seep yourself in rich history. With beautiful countryside, cultural cities, sandy shores and celestial stargazing spots right under your nose, you can fulfil your bucket list here in the UK.
To help you get started, we've pulled together 23 bucket list-worthy places to visit in the UK that all the family will enjoy. How many have you ticked off?
1. Hike in Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales
A 42-mile wide National Park in South Wales that includes everything from mountains to castles and waterfalls, the Brecon Beacons' big draw is its breath-taking views – including the lake at its heart, Llyn Y Fan Fach, which spawned the Lady of the Lake legend. Legend has it that the son of a widow agreed to marry the beautiful girl who arose from the lake, with the condition that he would not hit her more than three times during their marriage. Although they were happily married for many years, over time the man did hit his wife three times and she had to go back to the lake, leaving him and her three sons behind.
Plan it: breconbeacons.org
2. Stargaze on the Isle of Man
Located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland, the Isle of Man is a prime stargazing location and is home to 26 of the UK's Dark Sky Discovery sites. On a clear night, you can spot everything from the Orion Nebula to the Great Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way with the naked eye. Of course if your family love stargazing, a telescope or binoculars will open up the opportunity for even more spectacular viewing. Even better, if conditions are right it is said that the magnificent Northern Lights may even pay a visit! Fingers crossed.
Plan it: visitisleofman.com
3. Feast on fish and chips in Whitby
A historic fishing port, Whitby attracts year-round visitors with its idyllic cobbled streets and glorious seaside beach. With foodie attractions such as the famous 75-year-old Magpie Café, all the family will be entertained.
Plan it: visitwhitby.com
4. Wander through Whitstable's boutiques
Whitstable’s quaint appeal lies in its boutiques, art galleries and delicatessens. A haven for Londoners escaping the big city you’ll find retro clothing, handmade jewellery and fresh fish galore. Whitstable is also famous for its oysters – it even holds an annual oyster festival.
Plan it: seewhitstable.com
5. Bathe like the Romans
Roman civilisation has given us a lot, but probably most interesting are the Roman Baths in Bath. Constructed around 70 AD as a grand bathing and socialising complex, the beautiful house was founded upon natural hot springs. Yes that’s right – you don’t have to go to Iceland to bathe in style. The baths are also now one of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world.
Plan it: visitbath.co.uk
6. Climb Arthur's Seat
After you've checked out Edinburgh Castle (because why not), the finest views across one of the world’s most beautiful cities can be had from the top of Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano in the Scottish capital. It may be 251 metres high, but taken slowly and with the right footwear it is a relatively easy climb and we're sure everyone will think it’s worth it.
Plan it: visitscotland.com
7. Pick fossils along the Jurassic Coast
Thought hunting for dinosaur fossils was just done in hot desert planes? Covering over 95 miles from East Devon to East Dorset, The Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs along the coast are a prime hunting ground for fossil pickers. When you’re done having fun searching for T-Rex, the geology of the coastline has also lead to some remarkable rock formations, such as Durdle Door and Old Harry Rocks in Dorset.
Plan it: Jurassiccoast.org
8. Ski and husky sled on the slopes of the Cairngorms
Looking for the delights of the Alps without the eye watering prices? You can experience your own slice of Artic adventure in the eastern Highlands of Scotland with snow, the only herd of reindeer in the UK and even husky sledding. Cairngorm Mountain has the reputation as one of the most beautiful places to ski, and whether you're a skier or not, the panoramic views of the surrounding area will delight you.
9. Explore the Isle of Skye
Step into your very own fairy tale on the Isle of Skye, an island that is home to some of the most breathtaking and dramatic scenery in Britain. From medieval castles to a waterfall so high that on windy days the water doesn’t even touch the ground (Mealt Falls) and one of the most unusual rock formations in the UK (Old Man of Storr) your imagination will be piqued on this striking island.
Plan it: skye.co.uk
10. Walk the Thames Path
This National Trail, following from the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier in Greenwich, stretches 184 miles in total. Following it along, you’ll move from wild country paths with foxes and horses to the cities most vibrant areas including London’s South Bank, but you don't have to walk the length to see all the beauty the riverside has to offer.
Plan it: thames-path.org.uk
11. Follow Hadrian’s Wall in the Lake District
Always wanted to visit the Great Wall of China? England's largest National Park The Lake District has its very own version. From its sweeping patchwork of lakes and valleys to impressive woodlands it’s one of the best places in Britain to get out and about and experience the great outdoors. Built in 122AD to separate the ‘civilized’ from the ‘barbarians’, Hadrian’s Wall once featured milecastles, gates, turrets and forts – remains of which can be seen in some sections even today.
Plan it: hadrianswallcountry.co.uk
12. Witch hunt in Barley, Lancashire
Never mind Salem – you can learn all about the witch trials in Lancashire. Home of a witch-hunt that predated Salem’s by 80 years, the northern English borough of Pendle’s trials were just as interesting. Journey to the village of Barley to explore the villages where the accused lived, then follow the Witches Way by walking or driving across the moors to visit the castle where they were tried and sentenced. Spooky.
Plan it: thependlewitchesway.co.uk
13. See whales in Wales
The Celtic Deep is the name given to the deep waters off Pembrokeshire and it’s easy to see why this is the perfect place to go looking for whales, dolphins and porpoises. The nutrient rich waters flowing in from the Atlantic make for the perfect feeding and breeding grounds for over a hundred resident bottlenose dolphins who live permanently in Cardigan Bay. During the summer months hundreds of visiting dolphins can sometimes be seen, many with very young calves. As well as that there have also been sightings of blue whales, orcas and sharks over the years!
Plan it: visitpembrokeshire.com
14. Chase the BFG in Giant's Causeway
In Irish mythology, the Giant’s Causeway is home to a large giant who sleeps in the rocks. If you are lucky enough, you might get a glimpse of him as you traverse this fascinating and beautiful rock formation created by an ancient volcanic eruption.
Plan it: nationaltrust.org.uk
15. Be druids at Stonehenge
The best-known prehistoric monument of Europe, you can walk in the footsteps of our Neolithic ancestors at Stonehenge and come face to face with a 5,500-year-old man. Spend hours guessing where Stonehenge came from and what the ancient stones mean and learn about the groups that pay homage to Stonehenge today, including the last remaining druids in the UK.
Plan it: english-heritage.org.uk
16. Marvel at Ben Nevis
You can’t make a bucket list without climbing the English Mount Everest, and Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles. Standing at 1,346 metres above sea level, it is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William. Whether you want to climb it or not, it certainly is a sight to behold.
Plan it: ben-nevis.com
17. Paint the White Cliffs of Dover
Who doesn’t know of the iconic White Cliffs in Dover? The best way to view them is on a ferry crossing from France or Belgium, but the town is fun to explore in itself. Featuring a medieval castle and the extensive Secret Wartime Tunnels, kids will love to explore the area as much as you will.
Plan it: nationaltrust.org.uk
18. Take a deep breath at the Lavender Fields
Forget Amsterdam’s tulips – did you know that there are 25 acres of lavender fields only a handful of miles from central London? The lavender farm is in Hampshire and holds yearly open days for families, which include tractor rides and ploughman’s lunches. Don't forget to bring some home!
Plan it: visit-hampshire.co.uk
19. Become a star at Dark Hedges
HBO fans may recognise this 200-year-old beech tree tunnel from the first episode in season two of Game Of Thrones. Nature fans may recognise it anyway – it’s such a unique phenomenon that it deserves a visit all of its own.
Plan it: discovernorthernireland.com
20. Listen closely at Fingal’s Cave
The sighing music of Fingal's Cave may make you believe that there's someone living inside, but in fact it's just the way that the air moves through its angular columns that create unique, melodious acoustics when the waves crash inside.
Plan it: nts.org.uk
21. Explore myth and legend at Glastonbury
We all know this name because of the music festival, but Glastonbury the town is just as special. Inhabited since Neolithic times, it is described as a ‘New Age community’, which means residents pay homage to all things neo-pagan. If that isn’t interesting enough in itself, visit it to explore the myths and legends about Joseph of Arimathea, the Holy Grail and King Arthur.
Plan it: glastonbury.co.uk
22. Follow in literary footsteps at Oxford
Oxford’s contribution to the literary world – particularly to that of fantasy and children’s literature – is unparalleled, with many of the city’s historic landmarks and streets playing a role in the lives of writers such as JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Lewis Carroll as well as fictional characters such as Harry Potter and Lyra from His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman). Check out an Oxford Literary guide such as this one by Lonely Planet and traverse the streets that inspired the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Alice in Wonderland.
Plan it: oxfordcity
23. Take part in the Canterbury tales
A well known pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages, Canterbury is famous for its cobbled streets and iconic cathedral that was founded in 597 A.D. Fun for all the family, the ‘Canterbury Tales’ brings this history to life before your very eyes.
Plan it: canterburytales.org.uk