Best Things To Do In England

updated 4/24/2019
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The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to England

, your essential guide for visiting England .

1. Discover the Lake District National Park, Cumbria

One of the best things to do in England is undoubtedly to visit Lake District National Park.

The largest national park in England is also many peoples’ favourite, boasting sixteen major lakes, including Ullswater

and Windermere and scores of mountains, not least the country’s highest peak, Scafell Pike.

Given a week you could easily see most of the famous settlements and lakes – a circuit taking in Windermere, with the towns of Ambleside, Windermere and Bowness dotted around it. Coniston, with its own lake and famous peak, the Wordsworth houses in Grasmere, the picture-postcard village of Hawkshead, and the more dramatic northern scenery near Keswick and Ullswater would give you a fair sample of the whole.

Check out our guide about the best places in the Lake District

in Cumbria to plan your trip.

Ullswater lake curves through the mountains of the English Lake District at Glenridding © Joe Dunckley/Shutterstock

Where to stay in the Lake District:

  • Briery Wood Hotel
  • Set close to Lake Windermere, just a 5-minute walk from Long Wood Bay Watersports Centre and a 2-minute drive from Ambleside, Briery Wood Hotel is surrounded by peaceful fields and woodland. The traditional property has its own restaurant looking out onto landscaped gardens.

  • Walkers Rest
  • Walkers Rest is located in Windermere, 7 km from Lake Windermere and 38 km from Derwentwater, in an area where cycling can be enjoyed. Set 1.9 km from World of Beatrix Potter, the property offers a garden and free private parking.

2. Experience the wilderness of Dartmoor, Southern England

Visiting Dartmoor

, the greatest expanse of wilderness in Southern England is a perfect thing to do in England for hikers and riders alike. It was not always so desolate, as testified by the remnants of scattered Stone Age settlements and the ruined relics of the area’s nineteenth-century tinmining industry.

The core of Dartmoor, characterized by tumbling streams and high tors chiselled by the elements, has belonged to the Duchy of Cornwall since 1307, though there is almost unlimited public access today. However, note that camping should be out of sight of houses and roads, fi res are strictly forbidden, no vehicles are permitted beyond fifteen yards from the road and overnight parking is only allowed in authorized places.

Dartmoors landscape at sunset © EvolvePhoto/Shutterstock

Where to stay near Dartmoor:

  • Duchy House Bed and Breakfast
  • Located in the heart of Dartmoor National Park, Duchy House Bed and Breakfast is nestled in the village of Princetown. Surrounded by hiking trails, the property offers free WiFi access and free on-site parking.

  • Dartmoor Inn
  • Boasting a restaurant, bar and views of garden, Dartmoor Inn is situated in Princetown, 30 km from Plymouth Pavilions. The property is set 30 km from Plymouth Hoe, 41 km from Newton Abbot Racecourse and 15 km from Morwellham Quay. Marsh Mills is 28 km from the inn and Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Boniface is 30 km away.

3. Visiting the Houses of Parliament - one of the many best things to do in England

One of the most majestic buildings in London are the Houses of Parliament

, where you can see the “Mother of all Parliaments” at work from the public gallery or take a summertime tour.

Perhaps it is London’s best-known monument thanks to its instantly recognizable, ornate, gilded clocktower popularly known as Big Ben, after the thirteen-tonne main bell that strikes the hour. After four years of silence as the tower underwent essential repairs, the bongs began ringing out once again in 2022.

The original medieval palace burned down in 1834. Everything you see now – save for Westminster Hall – is the work of Charles Barry, who created an orgy of honey-coloured pinnacles, turrets and tracery that attempts to express national greatness through the use of Gothic and Elizabethan styles.

River view of Big Ben and-Houses of Parliament © S.Borisov/Shutterstock

Where to stay near the Houses of Parliament:

  • Artist Residence London
  • A 10-bedroom award winning hotel just 10 minutes' walk from Victoria and its rail and tube station. This stylish property offers individually designed rooms and an all-day restaurant.

4. Relax in the serenity of the Cotswolds

Take time out and relax in the Cotswolds

, the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England, poised between Oxford and Gloucester . Among the main attractions are rolling hills, honey-stone villages and great walking.

Here in the Cotswolds the hills are high and wild, but rarely bleak, and simple stone cottages combine with church, manor house and tithe barn to create a picture of timeless beauty. Stone here is plentiful and it is this stone that gives the region its character. It creates a harmonious landscape of fields bounded by drystone walls, churches with majestic towers, opulent town houses, stately homes and humble cottages.

Get more information about Cotswold in our guide about 10 prettiest Cotswolds villages to visit

Peaceful Cotswolds scenery makes travelling here one of the best things to do in England © iPics/Shutterstock

Where to stay in Cotswolds:

  • Cornerstone Cottage
  • Cornerstone Cottage is located in Chipping Campden, 19 km from Royal Shakespeare Theatre and 19 km from Royal Shakespeare Company, in an area where hiking can be enjoyed. Set 3.7 km from Weston Park, the property offers a garden and free private parking.

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5. Enjoy the views of the medieval Northumbrian castles, The Northumberland coast

Symbols of a turbulent past, Northumberland’s many fortresses are worth a visit, especially mighty Alnwick Castle with its stunning medieval gardens.

Another Northumbrian castles worth to mention is the Bamburgh Castle and the the Chillingham Castle.

Solid and chunky, Bamburgh Castle is a spectacular sight, its elongated battlements crowning a formidable basalt crag high above the beach. Its origins lie in Anglo-Saxon times, but it suffered a centuries-long decline – rotted by sea spray and buffeted by winter storms.

Chillingham Castle started life as an eleventh-century tower. The castle was augmented at regular intervals until the nineteenth century, but from 1933 was largely left to the elements for fifty years, until the present owner set about restoring it in his own individualistic way. It describes itself as Britain’s most haunted castle; you can spend the night here if you dare.

Visiting Alnwick castle is surely the adventurous thing to do in England © Gail Johnson/Shutterstock

If you are looking for more castles to visit in England check our list of the most impressive castles in England

Where to stay near Northumbrian castles:

  • Tate House
  • Situated within the centre of the historic town of Alnwick, Tate House offers room only accommodation with en-suite facilities. Tate House is opposite the famous Alnwick Gardens and Treehouse. The property offers a large lounge for guests' comfort.

6. Take a walk through the streets of Oxford

The Radcliffe Camera stands at the centre of the old university town Oxford

, famed for its sublime architecture and lively restaurants.

When visitors think of Oxford, they almost always imagine its university, revered as one of the world’s great academic institutions, inhabiting honey-coloured stone buildings set around ivy-clad quadrangles. The image is accurate enough, but although the university dominates central Oxford both physically and spiritually, the wider city has an entirely different character, its economy built chiefly on the factories of Cowley, south of the centre.

It was here that Britain’s first mass-produced cars were made in the 1920s and, although there have been more downs than ups in recent years, the plants are still vitally important to the area.

Oxford should be high on anyone’s itinerary, and can keep you occupied for several days. The colleges include some of England’s finest architecture, and the city also has some excellent museums and a good range of bars and restaurants.

The Radcliffe Camera© Pajor Pawel/Shutterstock

Discover the highlands of England from busy London over historical Oxford to the mysterious Stonehenge with our tailor-made 11-day tour to England historical highlights

Where to stay in Oxford:

  • Old Parsonage Hotel
  • The Old Parsonage Hotel is a boutique hotel set in a building dating back to 1660. It has 2 terraces, a new residents garden library, a restaurant, a bar, and is a 5-minute walk from Oxford city centre.

7. Explore the ancient Avebury stone circle

The village of Avebury

stands in the midst of a stone circle that rivals Stonehenge – the individual stones are generally smaller, but the circle itself is much wider and more complex. A massive earthwork 20ft high and 1400ft across encloses the main circle, which is approached by four causeways across the inner ditch, two of them leading into wide avenues stretching over a mile beyond the circle.

It was probably built soon after 2500 BC, and presumably had a similar ritual or religious function to Stonehenge.

Stones in Averbury © Marc Cid/Shutterstock

Where to stay in Avebury:

  • Elderbrook House
  • Set in Avebury, 16 km from Lydiard Park, Elderbrook House offers accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a shared lounge. 26 km from Lacock Abbey and 32 km from Cotswold Water Park, the property features a garden and a terrace.

8. Take a long walk around the Hadrian’s Wall Path

Walk or cycle the length of this atmospheric Roman monument, which snakes its way for 84 miles over rough, sheep-strewn countryside.

Hadrian’s Wall Path takes on average seven days to complete and there’s an optional Passport system (May–Oct) involving collecting a series of stamps to prove you’ve done it. If you want to walk only short routes, you can link up with the bus that runs along Hadrian’s Wall between mid-April and October.

Hadrian’s Wall Path © Dave Head/Shutterstock

Where to stay near Hadrian’s Wall Path:

  • Hadrian's Wall
  • Hadrian's Wall is located in Bardon Mill. This holiday home features a garden and free private parking.

9. Have a blast at the Glastonbury music festival

Mud, mud, glorious mud... Glastonbury

may be the biggest and best-known music and arts fest, but every summer weekend sees celebrations of anything from folk to trance on greenfield sites nationwide in England.

Having started as a small hippy affair in the 1970s, “Glasto” has become the biggest and bestorganized festival in the country, without shedding too much of its alternative feel. Much more than just a music festival, large parts of the sprawling site are given over to themed “lifestyle” areas, from the meditation marquees of Green Fields to campfire-filled Strummerville and futuristic Arcadia.

Bands cover all musical spectrums, from up-and-coming indie groups to international superstars – recent headliners have included Foo Fighters, Radiohead and Ed Sheeran. Despite the steep price, tickets are invariably snapped up within hours of going on sale around October of the previous year.

Glastonbury music festival © benny hawes/Shutterstock

Where to stay in Glastonbury:

  • George & Pilgrims Hotel
  • Built in the 1400s, The George & Pilgrim is the oldest purpose-built pub in the South West of England. Situated in Glastonbury, it is steeped in history and old tales.

10. Go Surfing in Newquay

The beaches strung along the northern coast of Devon and Cornwall

offer some great breaks, with Newquay the place to see and be seen.

In a superb position on a knuckle of cliffs overlooking fine golden sands and Atlantic rollers, its glorious natural advantages have made Newquay the premier resort of north Cornwall. The “new quay” in question was built in the fifteenth century in what was already a long-established fishing port, up to then more colourfully known as Towan Blistra.

Newquay is England’s undisputed surfing centre, whose main break, Fistral, regularly hosts international contests. Boardmasters Festival - Newquay increasingly popular beach festival that takes place annually in early August, combining big-name rock acts with surf and skate competitions.

Surfers on the beach at Newquay © Mick Blakey/Shutterstock

Where to stay in Newquay:

  • Sands Resort Hotel
  • Situated along Cornwall’s picturesque north coast, Sands Resort Hotel & Spa overlooks golden beaches and offers 2 swimming pools and free activities such as mini golf and tennis.

11. Dip into a hot spring Roman bath at Bath

Admire England’s most elegant Georgian terrace, visit the Roman baths or do some serious shopping in Bath

, one of the most beautiful cities in England.

Water, stone and wool are the elements that have shaped the history and appearance of the city of Bath: the thermal waters that underpinned the city’s growth. Bath’s hot springs alone set the city apart from anywhere else in the UK.

Head to Thermae Bath Spa which allows you to take the local waters in much the same way that visitors to Bath have done since Roman times, but with state-of-the-art spa facilities. The complex is heated by the city’s thermal waters and offers both pool and shower sessions and a variety of treatments from massages to dry flotation.

Roman baths in Bath © RnDmS/Shutterstock

Where to stay in Bath:

  • Dukes Bath
  • Set in Bath and with Bath Abbey reachable within 700 metres, Dukes Bath offers concierge services, non-smoking rooms, a bar, free WiFi throughout the property and a garden. The property is around 1.4 km from Royal Crescent, 2.9 km from University of Bath and 3.7 km from Oldfield Park Train Station. The property is 21 km from Bristol Temple Meads Station and 22 km from Cabot Circus.

12. Tasting the original Fish and chips - sure thing to do in England for foodies

There’s nothing better than fish and chips, nor any better way to eat them than wrapped in paper and eaten on the beach.

For some visitors the quintessential English meal is fish and chips, a dish that can vary from the succulently fresh to the indigestibly greasy. Local knowledge is the key, as most towns, cities and resorts have at least one first-rate fish-and-chip shop (“chippie”) or restaurant.

Fish and chips - quintessential English meal © Andreea Tudor/Shutterstock

13. Visit the Eden Project, Cornwall

With its strong ecological thrust, the Eden Project as the West Country’s most spectacular attraction presents a refreshing alternative to the hard sell of most of the region’s crowd-pullers.

Occupying a 160ft-deep crater whose awesome scale only reveals itself once you have passed the entrance at its lip, the Eden Project showcases the diversity of the planet’s plant life in an imaginative way. Centre-stage are the geodesic “biomes” – vast conservatories made up of eco-friendly Teflon-coated, hexagonal panels.

Equally impressive are the neatly manicured grounds, where plantations of bamboo, tea, hops, hemp and tobacco are interspersed with brilliant displays of colourful flowers. In the summer, the grassy arena sees performances of a range of music – from Van Morrison to Foals – and in winter they set up a skating rink.

The Eden Project © Shutterstock

Where to stay in Cornwall:

  • Lower Deck
  • Within 1.2 km of Readymoney Cove Beach and 2 km of Coombe Haven Beach, Lower Deck offers free WiFi and a garden. The property is 1.7 km from St Catherines Castle and 14 km from Restormel Castle.

14. Stroll the New Forest, South England

Famed for its ponies, the New Forest

, an ancient hunting ground is a magnet for cyclists and walkers.

Covering about 220 square miles, the New Forest is one of southern England’s favourite rural playgrounds, attracting some 13.5 million day-visits annually. The trees here are now much more varied than they were in pre-Norman times, with birch, holly, yew, Scots pine and other conifers interspersed with the ancient oaks and beeches.

One of the most venerable trees is the much-visited Knightwood Oak which measures about 22ft in circumference at shoulder height. The most conspicuous species of fauna is the New Forest pony – you’ll see them grazing nonchalantly by the roadsides and ambling through some villages.

There are ten campsites throughout the forest run by Camping in the Forest. Most are open from Easter to late Sept, though some are open year-round. Some are very simple, with few or no facilities, others have electricity and hot shower blocks, but they all have open access to the forest. Many even have streams and fords running through them, with ponies and donkeys wandering freely.

New Forest ponies © Shutterstock

15. Shop local produce on one of the many Farmers’ markets

Plug into England’s sense of rural community at the growing network of markets where farmers and producers sell direct – not just fruit and veg but local cheeses, breads, pies, deli items, ales and more.

The wealth of fresh produce varies regionally, from hedgerow herbs to fish landed from local boats, and, of course, seasonally. In rural areas many farms offer “Pick Your Own” sessions, when you can come away with armfuls of delicious berries, orchard fruits, beetroot and the like. Year-round you’ll find superlative seafood – from crabs to cockles, oysters to lobster – fine cheeses and delicious free-range meat.

Check out the growing profusion of farmers’ markets and farm shops, usually signposted by the side of the road in rural areas, to enjoy the best local goodies and artisan products.

Broadway market, London © Shutterstock

16. Feel the reverence in the Windsor Castle

Towering above the town on a steep chalk bluff, Windsor Castle is an undeniably imposing sight. Its chilly grey walls, punctuated by mighty medieval bastions, continuing as far as the eye can see. Inside, most visitors just gape in awe at the monotonous, gilded grandeur of the State Apartments, while the real highlights – the paintings from the Royal Collection that line the walls – are rarely given a second glance.

More impressive is St George’s Chapel, a glorious Perpendicular structure ranking with Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster Abbey, and the second most important resting place for royal corpses after the Abbey. On a fine day, put aside some time for exploring Windsor Great Park, which stretches for several miles south of the castle.

Where to stay in Windsor:

  • Goswell House
  • 200 m from Windsor Castle, Goswell House is located in Windsor and provides free WiFi and express check-in and check-out. The property is set 4.1 km from Legoland Windsor, 12 km from LaplandUK and 12 km from Dorney Lake. The hotel features family rooms.

Windsor Castle © Shutterstock

17. Combine a beach holiday with an artistic experience at St Ives, Cornwall

Bustling seaside resort with great beaches and the southwest’s best arts collection located in Cornwall

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The road runs four hilly miles on to the steeply built town of St Ives. By the time the pilchard reserves dried up around the early 1900s, the town was beginning to attract a vibrant artists’ colony. Precursors of the wave later headed by Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Naum Gabo and the potter Bernard Leach, who in the 1960s were followed by a third wave including Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron.

Not far from the Tate, the Barbara Hepworth Museum provides further insight into the local arts scene. One of the foremost nonfigurative sculptors of her time, Hepworth lived in the building from 1949 until her death in a studio fire in 1975.

Porthmeor Beach dominates the northern side of St Ives, its excellent water quality and surfer-friendly rollers drawing a regular crowd, while the broader Porthminster Beach is usually less busy. A third town beach, the small and sheltered Porthgwidden, lies in the lee of the prong of land separating Porthmeor and Porthminster.

Porthmeor Beach, St Ives © ian woolcock/Shutterstock

Where to stay in St Ives:

  • Cornerways Guest House
  • Set in St Ives, within 100 m of Bamaluz Beach and 200 m of Porthmeor Beach, Cornerways Guest House offers accommodation with free WiFi throughout the property. The property is around 200 m from Porthgwidden Beach, 16 km from St Michael's Mount and 29 km from Minack Theatre. The guest house features family rooms.

18. Punting on the Cam in Cambridge - fun thing to do in England

A flat-bottomed boat that’s easy to fall out of, with no paddles but a pole… Unnecessarily complicated it may be, but punting on the River Cam

is the best way to see some of Cambridge’s beautiful university buildings.

Punting is the quintessential Cambridge activity, though it is, in fact, a good deal harder than it looks. First-timers find themselves zigzagging across the water and in summer “punt jams” are very common on the stretch of the River Cam beside The Backs. Punt rental is available at several points, including the boatyard at Mill Lane (beside the Silver Street bridge), at Magdalene Bridge, and at the Garret Hostel Lane bridge at the back of Trinity College

On the whole, Cambridge is a much quieter and more secluded place than Oxford. For the visitor what really sets it apart from its scholarly rival is “The Backs” – the green sward of land that straddles the languid River Cam, providing exquisite views over the backs of the old colleges. At the front, the handsome facades of the colleges dominate the layout of the town centre, lining up along the main streets.

Cambridge University © Shutterstock

Where to stay in Cambridge:

  • Gonville Hotel
  • Overlooking the famous Parker's Piece, this 4-star Gonville Hotel is a 5-minute walk from the historic centre of Cambridge. Refurbished to a high standard, the hotel offers free high-speed WiFi and on site parking at an additional fee. Free bike hire is available at this property.

19. Take a look at the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum, London

Alfred Waterhouse’s purpose-built mock-Romanesque colossus ensures the status of the Natural History Museum as London’s most handsome museum, both an important resource for serious zoologists and a major tourist attraction.

The central Hintze Hall is dominated by a full-size, 25m blue-whale skeleton, dramatically suspended from the ceiling. The rest of the museum is divided into four colour-coded zones. The Blue Zone includes the ever-popular Dinosaur gallery, with its fossils and grisly life-sized animatronic dinosaurs.

If you are travelling with kids note that visiting Natural History Museum is definitely the thing to do in England. Popular sections over in the Green Zone include the Creepy-Crawlies, and the excellent Investigate centre, where children aged 7 to 14 get to play at being scientists.

Read our guide about the best places to stay in London to find your perfect accommodation option

Statue of Charles Robert Darwin in Natural History Museum, London © Shutterstock

20. Experience the gothic atmosphere at York Minster, York

Soaring above the medieval streets of York

, Britain’s biggest Gothic church has a thousand-year history and treasures to match.

York Minster ranks as one of the country’s most important sights. The seat of the Archbishop of York is Britain’s largest Gothic building and home to countless treasures. Not least of which is an estimated half of all the medieval stained glass in England. The first significant foundations were laid around 1080 by the first Norman archbishop, Thomas of Bayeux, and it was from the germ of this Norman church that the present structure emerged.

York Minster © Jez Campbell/Shutterstock

Where to stay in York:

  • The Churchill Hotel
  • This Georgian mansion is in York city centre. It mixes original features with modern style and facilities, including car parking and free Wi-Fi. The house was originally built around 1827, and it mixes original character and high ceilings with modern luxury. It has many historical artefacts associated with Winston Churchill, and each room has a flat-screen TV and modern bathroom.

21. Visit one of the many stately homes, Oxford

Blenheim Palace near Oxford

is one of England’s most majestic stately homes, but dozens more up and down the country offer cultured days out.

The interior of the Palace is stuffed with paintings and tapestries, plus all manner of objets d’art, including furniture from Versailles and carvings by Grinling Gibbons. The Churchill Exhibition on the ground floor provides a fascinating introduction to Winston.

Blenheim Palace offers free guided tours inside the palace which depart about every quarter-hour, though you’re free to opt out and stroll at your own pace. On Sunday or when the palace is very busy, tours are replaced by guides stationed in every room, who give details as you move through.

Blenheim Palace © ChristianZscheile/Shutterstock

Where to stay in Oxford

22. Enter the mysterious Canterbury Cathedral

Mother Church of the Church of England, Canterbury Cathedral

is famous for its shrine to the murdered Archbishop, Thomas à Becket, and the tales that Chaucer weaved round a fictitious pilgrimage to the martyr’s tomb.

The spot where Thomas Becket was murdered, known as the Martyrdom, is just off the nave in the northwest transept, marked by a modern-day flagstone etched with the name “Thomas”. Next to it, the Altar of the Sword’s Point – where, in medieval times, the shattered tip of the sword that hacked Becket’s scalp was displayed as a relic – is marked by a modern sculpture of the assassins’ weapons.

Shrine in the Canterbury Cathedral © Ritu Manoj Jethani/Shutterstock

Where to stay in Canterbury:

  • Cathedral Gate
  • Dating back to 1438, the historic Cathedral Gate is in the heart of Canterbury. Once slept in by pilgrims, the hotel predates the adjoining gateway to Canterbury Cathedral and features wooden beams and sloping floors.

23. Relax on the seaside of Southwold

George Orwell didn’t like the place, but everyone else does: with its wide sandy beach and brightly painted beach huts, Southwold

is the most beguiling of seaside towns.

Perched on robust cliffs just to the north of the River Blyth, Southwold is one of the region’s most charming towns, its genteel delights attracting the well-heeled and well-spoken. It was not always so: by the sixteenth century Southwold had become Suffolk’s busiest fishing port, but thereafter it lost most of its fishery to neighbouring Lowestoft.

Today, although a small fleet still brings in herrings, sprats and cod, the town is primarily a seaside resort – and one with none of the crassness of many of its competitors. All of this together makes visiting Southwold one of the best things to do in England.

Getting out for a relaxed day at one of the many seaside towns is a top thing to do in England © Shutterstock

If you love a good day out at the sea, check out our list of the best seaside towns in Britain

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Where to stay in Southwold:

  • Sutherland House
  • With historical features dating back to 1455, Sutherland House is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in Southwold. Decorated with a delicate blend of Victorian and Georgian furnishings, it has free Wi-Fi and a restaurant.

24. Dive in the nightlife in Newcastle

From chic wine bars to first-rate theatres, the nightlife in Newcastle

is growing in sophistication – though there are still plenty of places for a traditionally raucous night out on the Toon.

There are a number of attractions near Newcastle, all accessible by Metro. The train runs east towards Wallsend, where Segedunum fort marks the beginning of Hadrian’s Wall, while out at Jarrow, Bede’s Museum pays homage to Christianity’s most important historian.

Further out again is the splendid Washington Wildfowl Centre near Sunderland, while the Angel and the Goddess of the North are two striking pieces of public art south and north of Newcastle respectively.

The view of the night Newcastle from water © Michael Conrad/Shutterstock

Where to stay in Newcastle:

  • Motel One
  • Featuring free WiFi throughout the property, Motel One Newcastle boasts modern features, and is centrally located just a 2-minute walk to the historic city centre. Newcastle’s Central Station is just a 6-minute walk from the hotel.

25. Marvel at the luxury of the Royal Pavilion, Brighton

George IV’s pleasure dome The Royal Pavilion in Brighton

, designed by Nash, is a supreme example of Oriental-Gothic architecture.

In any survey to find England’s most loved building, there’s always a bucketful of votes for Brighton’s exotic extravaganza, the Royal Pavilion. The building was the south-coast pied-à-terre of the fun-loving Prince Regent (the future George IV), who first visited the seaside resort in 1783.

The building you see today is the work of John Nash, architect of London’s Regent Street. In 1815 he redesigned the Prince’s original modest dwelling into an extraordinary confection of slender minarets, twirling domes, pagodas, balconies and miscellaneous motifs imported from India and China. The result defined a genre of its own – Oriental Gothic.

Royal Pavilion, Brighton © Alexey Fedorenko/Shutterstock

Where to stay in Brighton:

  • Drakes Hotel
  • Drakes is a luxury boutique hotel on Brighton’s seafront, overlooking the Brighton Palace Pier. It offers unique 4-star accommodation, and has a fine-dining restaurant and vibrant cocktail bar.

26. Get your art fix at Tate Modern, London

If you are into art - visiting Tate Modern in London should be on your list of things to do in England.

Housed in a spectacular former power station in London, Tate Modern is the largest modern art gallery in the world and simply awesome. Designed as an oil-fired power station by Giles Gilbert Scott, this austere, brick-built “cathedral of power” was converted into a splendid modern art gallery in 2000.

Such was its phenomenal success that in 2016 Tate opened a vast new extension, the Blavatnik Building, a distorted prism of latticed bricks that rises to 215ft, above the power station’s three original circular tanks. This extension is topped by a superb, open-air, tenth-floor viewing level. At the centre of this huge art complex is the original, stupendously large Turbine Hall, used for large installations.

The original building, the riverside Boiler House, and the extension are connected at the Turbine.

Tate modern London © cristapper/Shutterstock

Where to stay in London

27. Visit Shakespeare's birthplace - Stratford-upon-Avon

Despite its worldwide fame, Stratford-upon-Avon, some thirty miles south of Birmingham, is at heart an unassuming market town with an unexceptional pedigree. A charter for Stratford’s weekly market was granted in the twelfth century and the town later became an important stopping-off point for stagecoaches between London, Oxford and the north.

Like all such places, Stratford had its clearly defined class system and within this typical milieu John and Mary Shakespeare occupied the middle rank. They would have been forgotten long ago had their first son, William, not turned outto be the greatest writer ever to use the English language.

A consequence of their good fortune is that, in summer at least, this pleasant little town can seem overwhelmed by the number of visitors, but don’t be deterred. The Royal Shakespeare Company offers superb theatre and if you are willing to forgo the busiest attraction – Shakespeare’s Birthplace – you can largely avoid the crush.

Stratford’s key attractions are dotted around the centre, and three of them – as well as two more on the edge of town – are owned and operated by the excellent Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Where to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon:

  • Hotel Indigo
  • The central 4-star Hotel Indigo - Stratford Upon Avon is a 5-minute walk from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon. The hotel offers free WiFi throughout all areas of the hotel.

William Shakespeare's Birthplace at Henley street, in Stratford upon Avon © Alicia G. Monedero/Shutterstock

28. Treat yourself with the afternoon tea

London’s top hotels are the most wickedly indulgent places for a calorific afternoon tea of sandwiches, scones and cakes – though a Devonshire cream tea can give the capital a run for its money.

England’s most popular venues for a classic afternoon tea – sandwiches, scones and cream, cakes and tarts, and, of course, pots of leaf tea – are the top hotels and swanky department stores, though many restaurants offer their own version. Wherever you go, you should book well in advance.

Most hotels will expect at least “smart casual attire”; only The Ritz insists on jacket and tie. Prices quoted here are for the standard teas; champagne teas, or more substantial high teas, are more expensive.

Getting a proper afternoon tea is a great thing to do in England © Shutterstock

29. Enjoy the scenery of the Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove

This distinctive limestone arch of the Durdle Door

is the highlight of Dorset ’s Jurassic Coast and sits on one of the loveliest stretches of the South West Coast Path, close to some fine beaches.

A mile west of Lulworth Cove, the iconic limestone arch of Durdle Door can be reached via the steep uphill path that starts from Lulworth Cove’s car park. The arch itself sits at the end of a long shingle beach (which can be accessed via steep steps), a lovely place for catching the sun and swimming in fresh, clear water.

There are further steps to a bay just east of Durdle Door, St Oswald’s Bay, with another shingle beach and offshore rocks that you can swim out to.

Durdle Door at the beach on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, UK © Patryk Kosmider/Shutterstock

Our tailor-made 12-day tour to Jurassic Coast will help you to explore its magnificent scenery to the full

Where to stay near Durdle Door:

  • Lulworth Cove Inn
  • On the doorstep of Lulworth Cove, with coastal views and scenic Jurassic footpaths, the Lulworth Cove Inn features a pub/restaurant, free Wi-Fi, and rooms with stunning sea views.

30. Visit the great medieval Warwick Castle, Warwick

Towering above the River Avon at the foot of the town centre, Warwick Castle is often proclaimed the “greatest medieval castle in Britain”. This claim is valid enough if bulk equals greatness, but actually much of the existing structure is the result of extensive nineteenth-century tinkering.

It’s likely that the Saxons raised the first fortress on this site, though things really took off with the Normans, who built a large motte and bailey here towards the end of the eleventh century. Almost three hundred years later, the eleventh Earl of Warwick turned the stronghold into a formidable stone castle, complete with elaborate gatehouses, multiple turrets and a keep.

Where to stay near Warwick Castle:

  • The Rose and Crown
  • Ideally located in the heart of Warwick city centre, The Rose and Crown is a former coaching inn, providing comfortable accommodation and excellent food in a vibrant atmosphere.

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Warwick Castle © northallertonman/Shutterstock

Ready for a trip to England

? Check out the snapshot The Rough Guide to England or The Rough Guide to Great Britain . If you travel further in England , read more about the best time to go , the best places to visit and best things to do in England. For inspiration use the England itineraries from The Rough Guide to England and our local travel experts . A bit more hands on, learn about getting there , getting around the country and where to stay once you are there.

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Travel advice for England

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updated 4/24/2019
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