Last Updated on December 14, 2023
Above all on this island nation, the cliché holds true: to travel through England is to travel through time…
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
By Jim Ferri
Many first-time American travelers find England so attractive because of our shared heritage and language. Once they travel about England, however, they find the appeal of various places much deeper.
England, after all, is the country that gave us Shakespeare as well as the Beatles, Beatrix Potter and Harry Potter, Diana and Darwin; Chaucer, Churchill, Chaplin…and innumerable others.
Even when you put its pedigree aside, you discover that England provides an incredible number of experiences. More incredible is that England is smaller than the state of Alabama, or approximately one-third the size of Japan. One morning you can be admiring Big Ben, the National Gallery or riding on the famous London Eye. The next morning you can be far away in another place in England, perhaps being entranced by the beauty of the Lake District.
So go visit Roman England in Bath and medieval places in York. Wander about seaside towns in picturesque Cornwall, and bucolic villages in the Cotswolds. See castles in Windsor and Warwick. And along the way visit any number of good restaurants that have put modern England on Europe’s culinary map. Read on to discover the best places to visit in England. You can also find information on many more places to visit in England from the very good website VisitBritain.
The Best Place to Visit in England: London
Most travelers begin their tour of England with a tour of London. It’s a world-class city in all respects, offering travelers art, culture, shopping, dining, heritage and everything else in-between. It’s the very best place to first visit in England.
Furthermore, London is also home to some of the most iconic attractions in the world. From the double-decker bus to the red telephone box, from black cabs to the Tate Modern, London’s sites are instantly recognizable.
Some landmarks that you shouldn’t miss include the London Eye, London’s Tower Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey and, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. There are several museums that are worth a visit, including the National Gallery, Tower of London and the British Museum. Furthermore, I’ve fond the quirky Soane Museum to be quite interesting.
Visitors also have an array of Michelin-starred restaurants where they can dine. Or you can always opt out and enjoy a show at the West End theatre. No matter what the budget or occasion is, you’ll find that London has something to accommodate everyone.
It’s one of the world’s most important prehistoric sites and surely one of England’s most popular tourist attractions. The old ring of Neolithic stones at Stonehenge has attracted hordes of pilgrims, philosophers and mystery seekers for centuries.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Stonehenge is one of the most archaeologically rich spots in all of Europe.
It’s the best place in England to learn of the country’s prehistoric past. You’ll also learn of the mysteries about its construction, but also with the unsolved mysteries and theories that are connected with its use.
The Jurassic Coast in Devon and Dorset
Another UNESCO World Heritage site is the Jurassic Coast. It’s a 95-mile (155 km) stretch of coastline in southwestern England, located the shores of east Devon and Dorset. It’s one of the wildly beautiful places to visit in England.
Although you won’t find T-Rex, you might go home with some Jurassic treasures, as fossils are scattered along its beaches. If plowing through the sand and mud is not your definition of fun, then just enjoy a leisure walk. The wild beaches have sheer white cliffs and stunning rock formations with millions of earthly years frozen in them.
One of the Best Places in the North of England: The Lake District
There are numerous reasons to explore the Lake District in northwest England. First of all, it is postcard perfect with heather-covered moors and soaring fells, deep-green forests and shimmering lakes. It’s also an ideal place to hike. If you enjoy the outdoors, it’s one of the best places to visit in England.
Explore the 3210-foot-tall Scafell Pike the highest mountain in England, or Helvellyn, which can also be a distinct challenge. For those less strenuous adventurous, the region offers countless trails for walking.
You can also enjoy boat cruises on the area’s 16 lakes, and visit Dove Cottage where William Wordsworth lived. Another place os great interest for many is the Museum of Beatrix Potter, the author of Peter Rabbit tales.
The British consider the Lake District the most beautiful area of England. It’s been a love affair since Victorian times when railroads made the area more accessible to affluent Londoners. Go see for yourself. It’s beautiful.
One of the Prettiest Places in England: Stratford-upon-Avon
Apart from the fact that it’s birthplace of Shakespeare, the world’s greatest dramatist, and a primary source of his inspiration, Stratford-upon-Avon is also one of the prettiest places in England. And it’s less than two hours by car or train from London.
Set in the charming countryside of Warwickshire in The Cotswolds, it’s steeped in culture and history. Moreover, since it’s brimming with picture-perfect little houses, the town adds a magical quality to most down-to-earth activities like dining or shopping.
Stratford is one of the best places to visit to sample Old England at its tastiest. Serving as a romantic (though crowded) hideaway for all the Romeos and Juliets, it’s also a hotspot for theater-goers.
Above all, be sure to see the old Church of the Holy Trinity where Shakespeare, along with his wife Anne Hathaway, is buried. Also, you’ll likely find Anne Hathaway’s cottage quite interesting, as well. If you enjoy Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon may be the best place in England for you to visit.
Manchester, a Stunning City
Located in central England, Manchester is England’s second city, and with the most visitors outside of London. A city of sport (with two Premier League football clubs), Manchester also offers a mix of culture, fashion, and shopping.
Manchester’s Chinatown, located right next to the Gay Village, is one of the city’s most bustling and colorful areas. It is an eye-pleaser for architecture buffs, a never-ending story for Orient lovers and a garden of Eden of restaurants.
A Wonderful Place for Music: Liverpool
Liverpool is a city of music that is synonymous with The Beatles. If you’re a fan of the Beatles you’ll likely find Liverpool to be the best place to visit in England. But this best-of-England city is also a cultural capital, and a destination for art lovers, fans of the theater and museum-goers. You cannot visit Liverpool without seeing The Beatles Story at Albert Dock – a brilliant tour through the Beatles’ lives. You’ll find tons of memorabilia and insights from friends and family.
Also, to fully comprehend the significant influence Liverpool had throughout the centuries in the development of the British Empire, be certain to visit the Maritime Mercantile City.
A Wonderful Place in Southern England: Cornwall
Cornwall is that toe of land jutting out into the Atlantic in southwestern England. It’s a wonderful place in southern England, a beautiful place of land and sea, with good restaurants, and plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy. If you love little the seacoast and little seaside towns, this will be the best place to visit in England for you.
In my opinion, the Lizard Peninsula is stunningly beautiful no matter what time of the year you visit. Staggering cliffs, whitewashed cottages clustering around picturesque harbors, colorful fishing boats drying upside down on the beaches. It has a mild climate so you’ll see sub-tropical vegetation coming together with stunning views.
And if you’re in for a tidal spectacle, especially on a stormy day, don’t miss Kynance Cove. It’s considered by some to be the most beautiful stretch of coastline in the South West. A trip to the Eden Project will provide a full lesson on botany and the botanical enterprise found in Cornwall.
Also visit Polperro, a picturesque fishing village and old smuggler’s haven. I fell in love with beautiful Mousehole and the Minack Theater a few miles away. With a layout mimicking an ancient Greek theater, it’s set on a cliff overlooking a stretch of wild rocky coastline. Also quite popular (and, sometimes, quite crowded) is St. Ives.
One of the Best Places in England: Medieval York
Experience the great medieval walled-in city of York, in which the old encompasses the new. Although it’s one of the best places for anyone to visit in England, many pass it by in search of the more famous places.
First, you’ll likely be inspired by its exquisite architecture and its vibrant café-culture. Then enjoy a stroll through its cobblestone streets below York Minster, the beautiful Gothic Cathedral that dominates the city’s skyline.
Join the millions of travelers who have strolled through 1900 years of history on York’s impressive city walls. And also, if you take a walk there, be sure to look at the overhanging timber-framed buildings that line The Shambles. Take a boat ride on the River Ouse and walk through the world’s largest maize maze in the autumn.
There you can relax as the Romans once did, in a rooftop spa with perfect views over this Georgian City. Located in The Cotswolds, Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some award-winning restaurants, luxurious hotels, and romantic B&Bs. And, of course, there’s the Thermae Bath Spa, which uses the same waters Celts and Romans used 2,000 years ago. Also, don’t miss the ancient Roman Baths and the nearby Bath Abbey.
Exceptionally easy to navigate on foot, Bath also gives you a peek into Georgian England. Visit the magnificent Royal Crescent and the Circus, a Colosseum-like circle of homes). Also popular is the Jane Austen Centre, which pays homage to Bath’s most famous resident, and the small Holburne Museum.
You can also enjoy the city from above on a memorable champagne balloon flight.
If You Go: