We really are spoilt for choice here in the UK. So many countries across the globe have one, maybe two iconic landmarks that spring to mind. But here in the UK, we’re blessed with countless gems. From the beauty of Loch Ness to the regalty of Buckingham Palace, this nation is filled with attractions everyone just has to see. To help you start your tour of Old Blighty’s most famous spots, we’ve found 15 of our favourite UK landmarks to visit.
Best for: Travelling to the rainforests.
The Eden Project is easily the most famous landmark in Cornwall. But don’t think for a minute that this beautiful biome won’t live up to its reputation. Inside, a Mediterranean microclimate lets you discover the secrets of the rainforest and experience the atmosphere that sustains life here. Named after the Biblical garden, wandering through paradise is precisely what visiting this indoor rainforest brings to mind.
Best for: Gazing out across the sea.
Buy a postcard showing one of the UK’s most famous landmarks and it’s most likely going to have Blackpool Tower on it. Built in Blackpool in 1894, this iconic tower was the tallest structure in the British Empire. 125 years later, even today, it’s still pretty impressive. But you won’t fully appreciate the scale of its design until you’re standing underneath or, if you’re brave enough, up on top.
Best for: A trip inside a fairytale.
If you’re only going to visit one castle this lifetime (although we highly recommend that you see a few more), Windsor Castle is the one to choose. The largest and oldest occupied castle in the world, this magical structure can be found in Windsor. Founded by Willian the Conqueror in the 11th-century, it’s been the home of 39 monarchs in the royal family and is where the Queen mostly likes to unwind.
Best for: A slice of rustic beauty.
Home to the tallest tale in Britain, Loch Ness attracts thousands of visitors every year on the hunt for Scotland’s most myserious monster. But hoping to catch a glimpse of Nessie is far from the only reason to come here. This stunning loch sums up everything great about Scotland. From the way mist rolls out across the water to the rugged hills that gaze down from overhead; Loch Ness is a slice of rustic beauty, awash with Celtic magic.
Best for: Seeing a pillar of British society.
Salisbury Cathedral is downright stunning. Regarded as one the most beautiful gothic buildings in the UK, its spires are said to pierce the sky, almost reaching the heavens. Salisbury is also home to the Magna Carta, one of the most important texts in British history. It established the idea that no one was above the law, not even the King, and everyone has the right to a fair trial.
Best for: Seeing the ‘loveliest spot man hath found’.
The Lake District is known worldwide for its stunning scenery. The national park is listed alongside the Taj Mahal and the Great Barrier Reef as a UNESCO World Heritage Site of ‘outstanding importance’. Of all the Lake District’s many misty mountains and shimmering lakes, Grasmere has our vote for the most beautiful. After all, it was the spot that most inspired William Wordsworth to call Cumbria the ‘loveliest spot man hath found’.
The Jurassic Coast
Best for: Wandering back to the dawn of time.
Think of British history and you probably picture medieval castles and ancient burial grounds. But this prehistoric monument tells a story that’s older and far more impressive. On the surface, the Jurassic Coast is 95 miles of stunning scenery. But to those who know what they’re looking for, it’s 185 million years of history on earth. A wander down the coast, finding fossils and spotting rock formations, is a wander back to an era almost 1,000 times older than humanity itself.
The Roman Baths
Best for: Bathing like royalty.
In 863 BC, Bath’s naturally warm springs were discovered by Prince Bladud. After bathing in the mineral-rich waters, the prince’s persistent skin disease magically disappeared. Since then, these soothing springs have been enjoyed by civilisation after civilisation. From the Celts to the Romans, the Saxons to the Georgians, and now finally, on to you. After thousands of years, the source of the springs remains a mystery. What we do know is that they feel incredible.
Best for: Watching a medieval battle.
Looming over the Scottish capital, Edinburgh Castle dominates the city skyline. It’s hard not to let this rugged castle capture your imagination and be transported back to an age of sword fights and noblemen between England and Scotland. However, even if the sight of the castle alone doesn’t transport you back to the 12th-century, its expertly choreographed battle reenactments certainly will.
Houses of Parliament
Best for: Being in the heart of the capital.
Sat on the banks of the Thames in the heart of London are a handful of landmarks. These include the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. Step inside the House of Commons, listen to the chimes of Big Ben or marvel Westminster Abbey.
Tower of London
Best for: An incredible slice of English history.
Of all buildings in the UK, the Tower of London may have the most fascinating history. Sitting slightly further up the River Thames, the tower is now best known as the home of the Crown Jewels. In the past, however, it housed even more precious cargo. For centuries, controlling the Tower of London was seen as synonymous with controlling the country so it was besieged by countless rebels. It has been a prison, an armoury, the Royal Mint and will forever remain a pillar of English history.
Best for: Being amazed by the past.
We’ve all seen the pictures of this famous stone circle, standing atop the Wiltshire hills. But you can’t appreciate it’s scale until you see it in the flesh. Each stone stands at 13 feet high, seven feet wide, weighs an immense 25 tonnes and, most bafflingly, came from over 50 kilometres away. Stand beneath these prehistoric statues, and only one thought can spring to mind. ‘How on earth did they get here?’.
Best for: Wandering through Medieval Britain.
If you’re looking for somewhere to play Medieval warriors, this is the perfect place. Built under the reign of Edward I almost 800 years ago, Conwy Castle has survived the centuries (and the numerous battles) in shockingly good condition. Wandering through its well-preserved walls, it’s easy to be transported back to the 13th-century and hear the echoes of battle cries and clashing swords bouncing down its dark and brooding halls.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Best for: The perfect place for choir practice.
We’re back to London, for maybe the most famous cathedral in the country. Sitting atop the highest point in the city, St Pauls is a flawless example of curvaceous Baroque architecture. Maybe the most incredible things about this building, however, is its phenomenal acoustics. Head down during choir practice, or when a performance is on, and you’ll be stunned by the way voices bend, echo and meld as they bounce across the cathedral.
Angel of the North
Best for: England’s statue of liberty.
Huge, imposing and world-famous, we end our list with northern England’s answer to the statue of liberty. Designed by the award-winning sculpture, Antony Gormley, the Angel of the North first spread its wings in 1998 and has since then remained (according to most people’s accounts) the largest angel sculpture in existence. At 20 metres high and 54 metres wide, it’s as tall as ten Asian elephants stacked atop each other and has a wingspan greater than a jumbo jet.