Planning an England trip in 2024? Consider these 16 top places to visit


The story of England stretches back more than 5000 years (and likely many more). Which means its impossible to escape the past here.

As you wander its historic urban centers, mysterious monoliths, misty landscapes and rugged coastlines and national parks, you’ll discover a country filled with unparalleled places to visit that are are the more compelling thanks to all those who have visited them before.

As you plan a trip to England this year, here’s our list of 16 historic, exciting and all-around fabulous highlights to consider.

The Coast Guard Cottages and Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, Eastbourne, Sussex, England, UK
The Seven Sisters chalk cliffs make for dramatic views indeed © Paul Daniels / Shutterstock

1. The Seven Sisters 

While Dover’s iconic white cliffs grab the most attention, the colossal chalky walls of the Seven Sisters are a more spectacular affair, a four-mile roller-coaster of sheer white rock stretching along the Sussex shore and overlooking the waters of the English Channel. It forms an impressive southern border to the South Downs National Park, and is most dramatic at the towering headland of Beachy Head. Hikes through the grassy clifftop fields provide wide sea views, breathtaking in every sense.

Local tip: Stop for a breather at the tiny seaside hamlet of Birling Gap, where the secluded beach is a sun trap popular with locals and walkers.

The great hall of Christ Church, University of Oxford, Oxford, England, United Kingdom
Storied educational traditions live on in the academic halls of Oxford © Shutterstock

2. Oxford

Oxford lets visitors feel close to the brilliant minds and august institutions that have made this city famous across the globe. This rarefied world comes to life in the cobbled lanes and ancient quads where cycling students and eccentric academics roam. The beautiful college buildings and stunning architecture have changed little over the centuries, coexisting with a lively, modern, working city. As befits a city of students and professors, Oxford is one of the last bastions of the great British pub, with irresistible old watering holes dotted all over its central lanes and alleyways. 

A view of King’s College and King’s College Chapel seen from The Backs, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
Hop on a punt for the best views of Cambridge’s extraordinary architecture © DrimaFilm / Shutterstock

3. Cambridge

In England’s other great historic university city, Cambridge, you can tour a college, and spend time marveling at the intricate vaulting of King’s College Chapel. But no trip to Cambridge is complete without an attempt to take a punt (flat-bottomed boat) along the River Cam by the picturesque Backs, the leafy, green lawns behind the city’s finest colleges – an experience that offers the best views of the exquisite architecture. Polish off the day with a pint at one of Cambridge’s many rustic pubs. 

People walk by an arcade in in Bath, Somerset, England, United Kingdom
Bath is a showcase of superb Georgian architecture © Christian Mueller / Shutterstock

4. Bath

In a nation packed with pretty cities, Bath stands out as the belle of the ball. Founded by the Romans, who established the spa resort of Aquae Sulis to take advantage of the area’s hot springs, Bath hit its stride in the 18th century, when the rich industrialist Ralph Allen and architects John Wood the Elder and John Wood the Younger oversaw the city’s transformation into a model of Georgian architecture at its most refined. Bath is awash with golden stone townhouses, sweeping green crescents and Palladian mansions, along with appealing pubs and restaurants, and you’ll take great pleasure in plunging in. 

A hiker walking alongside Hadrian’s Wall near Crag Lough in Northumberland, England, UK
You can trace English history almost literally by hiking along Hadrian’s Wall © Duncan Andison / Getty Images

5. Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall is one of the country’s most dramatic Roman ruins, a 2000-year-old procession of abandoned forts, garrisons, towers and milecastles marching across the wild and lonely landscape of northern England. While the Romans built the fortification to defend and control its territory, this edge-of-empire barrier also symbolized the boundary of civilized order in the ancient world: to the north of the Roman settlement lay the unruly land of the marauding Celts. Near Newcastle you can visit Segedunum, the wall’s last stronghold, for an insight into life during Roman times.

Planning tip: Hiking the full 84-mile distance coast to coast along the national trail takes around a week. If you have less time and your own car, you may want to select from a few of the wall’s highlights.

People walking the city walls in York, with a view towards the Gothic Minster
Don’t miss the 13th-century walls that encircle the city of York © travellinglight / Getty Images

6. York

With its Roman and Viking heritage, ancient city walls and maze of cobbled streets, York is a living record of English history. A magnificent circuit of 13th-century walls encloses a medieval spider’s web of “snickelways” (narrow alleys), each one the focus of a ghost story or historical character. At the city’s heart lies the immense, awe-inspiring York Minster, the biggest medieval cathedral in all of northern Europe, and one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in the world. Admire feats of engineering of a more recent vintage at the National Railway Museum, the world’s largest collection of historic locomotives.

York’s long history and rich heritage are woven into virtually every brick and beam, and the modern, tourist-oriented city – with its myriad museums, restaurants, cafes and traditional pubs – is a carefully maintained showcase of that heritage.

Local tip: You’ll find some of the finest views of York from its old city walls, particularly the bucolic section behind the Minster. 

Aerial view of people riding across a viaduct in the Peak District National Park, England, United Kingdom
Walking, caving, rock-climbing, cycling: there are many ways to take in the Peak District’s beauty © Jonny Essex / Shutterstock

7. The Peak District

Curiously, you won’t find many peaks in the Peak District. You will find blissful miles of tumbling moorland, plunging valleys, eroded gritstone crags, lush farmland and ancient pocket-sized villages. This beautiful landscape attracts a veritable army of outdoor enthusiasts – cyclists, hikers, cavers and rock climbers – on summer weekends, while those seeking more relaxing enjoyment can admire the rural market and famous puddings of Bakewell, the Victorian pavilions of spa-town Buxton, and the architectural drama of Chatsworth House – the “Palace of the Peak.”

People enjoying the Brighton Pride Parade, Brighton, Sussex, England, United Kingdom
Brighton is a hub for the UK’s LGBTIQ community © MagicBones / Shutterstock

8. Brighton

Barely an hour’s train ride from the capital, the seaside city of Brighton has a quirky character that’s completely its own. Overlooking the English Channel on England’s pebbly south coast, this is a city that’s long been known for its oddball, alternative character. The warren of streets known as the Lanes is a good place to soak up the vibe, with vegan cafes, espresso bars, chaotic pubs, record stores and bric-a-brac shops. (Browsers will be in heaven at local institution Snooper’s Paradise.) You’ll also find the UK’s biggest queer scene here, and the region’s best small clubs. The highlight for the sightseeing visitor is the Royal Pavilion, a 19th-century party palace built by the Prince Regent, who kicked off Brighton’s love of the outlandish.

Revellers gather for the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England, United Kingdom
With some planning, you can get up close to the ancient monoliths at Stonehenge © paul mansfield photography / Getty Images

9. Stonehenge

Mysterious and compelling, Stonehenge is England’s most famous ancient site. Even though people have been drawn to this myth-laden ring of boulders for more than 5000 years, we still don’t know quite why it was built. An ultramodern makeover at the ancient site has brought an impressive visitor center and the closure of an intrusive road (now restored to grassland). The result is a strong sense of historical context, with dignity and mystery returned to an archaeological gem.

Most visitors gaze at the approximately 25-ton stones from behind the perimeter fence, yet with enough planning, you can arrange an early-morning or evening tour and gain access to the inner ring itself. In the slanting sunlight, away from the crowds, it’s an ethereal place. This is an experience that stays with you.

Actors perform pieces of Shakespeare’s plays in his birth house in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, United Kingdom
Shakespeare’s legacy lives on in his hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon © trabantos / Shutterstock

10. Stratford-upon-Avon

The pretty town of Stratford-upon-Avon is where William Shakespeare was born and later shuffled off this mortal coil. Today, its tight knot of Tudor streets form a living map of Shakespeare’s life. Huge crowds of thespians and theater lovers come to take in a play at the famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Bard fans will love visiting the five historic houses owned by Shakespeare and his relatives and the schoolroom where he was educated, before taking a respectful detour to the old stone church where he was laid to rest.

Buildings along the waterfront by the River Mersey, Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
The revivified waterfront of Liverpool is once again the center of this port city © SilvanBachmann / Shutterstock

11. Liverpool

It’s hard not to be infected by Liverpudlians’ love for their hometown. The love endured despite decades of decay and all manner of social ills – finding its expression in a renowned gallows humor and an obsession with football. With some of the most passionate crowds in the country, taking in a game at either Liverpool FC or Everton FC is a rite of passage here.

Outside of the stadium, the rejuvenated waterfront is once again the heart of Liverpool. The focal point is Albert Dock, an iconic docklands flanked by protected buildings, including a batch of top museums. The Merseyside Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum ensure the good and bad sides of Liverpool’s history are explored in equal measure, while the Tate Liverpool and the Beatles Story museum celebrate popular culture and the city’s most famous musical sons (still).

A group of older walkers on the Cotswold Way near Broadway, England, UK
The Cotswolds are the epitome of English country charm © Leadinglights / iStockphoto / Getty Images

12. The Cotswolds

A tangle of impossibly quaint villages of rose-clad cottages and honey-colored stone, The Cotswolds is a region that spreads over six English counties. It’s a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and its most wonderful quality is that no matter where you go or how lost you get, you’ll still end up in a spot with a charming village green, a pub with sloping floors and fine ales, and a view of the lush green hills. Crisscrossed by long-distance trails including the 102-mile Cotswold Way, these gentle yet dramatic hills are perfect for walking, cycling and horse-riding.

Local tip: It’s easy to leave the crowds behind and find your very own slice of medieval England here – and some of the best boutique hotels in the country.

People braving the rain as they attend the Whitby Goth Weekend in Whitby, Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Weird, wet and wonderful Whitby embraces its macabre reputation at its annual Goth Weekend s© Danny Lawson / PA Images via Getty Images

13. Whitby

A little weird, occasionally weather-beaten and all-around wonderful, the classic northern seaside town of Whitby has haunted lanes, fossil-hunting and arguably England’s finest fish-and-chips. The huddle of 18th-century fisher’s cottages along the East Cliff are testament to its longtime role as a busy commercial and fishing port: it was here that 18th-century explorer Captain James Cook earned his sea legs. Atop the West Cliff, a sandy beach, amusement arcades and promenading holidaymakers show Whitby’s beach-resort side.

Keeping a watchful eye over the town and the River Esk that divides it is an atmospheric ruined abbey, the inspiration and setting for part of Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror story Dracula. But tales of witchery and ghostly legends have haunted Whitby ever since Anglo-Saxon St Hilda landed here to found a monastic community in 657 CE.

Planning tip: The town embraces its pseudo-sinister reputation, which culminates in two hugely successful Goth Weekends each year.

Grandparents cross a stream with their grandchildren, Lake District, England, United Kingdom
In the Lake District, you can immerse yourself in landscapes that inspired countless writers © monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images

14. The Lake District

William Wordsworth and his Romantic friends were the first to champion the charms of the Lake District – and it’s not hard to see what stirred them. Already the UK’s most popular national park, the Lake District also became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, in recognition of its long history of hill-farming. But for most people it’s the chance to hike the humpbacked fells and drink in the gorgeous scenery that keeps them returning year after year.

The region is filled with outdoor pursuits, from lake cruises to mountain walks – excursions that help reveal why the region has such deep literary connections. In addition to Wordsworth, writers who found inspiration here include Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Arthur Ransome and Beatrix Potter.

People visit the Mediterranean biome at the Eden Project, Cornwall, England, UK
The Eden Project in Cornwall both educates and inspires © David Pimborough / Shutterstock

15. The Eden Project

A cross between a lunar landing station and a James Bond villain’s lair, the gigantic hemispherical greenhouses of the Eden Project have become a symbol of Cornwall’s renaissance. Built in an abandoned clay pit near St Austell to mark the start of the new millennium, and now considered one of Britain’s modern architectural wonders, the Eden Project aims to explore issues of environment and conservation, and point the way to a cleaner, greener future for us all.

Exhibits cover everything from global warming to rubber production and chocolate-making. The glass-domed “biomes” recreate major world climate systems in microcosm, from the lush jungles of the Amazon rainforest (complete with treetop walkway winding through the canopy) to the olive trees, citrus groves and colorful flowers of the Mediterranean, South Africa and California. It’s incredibly impressive – not to mention educational, and inspiring, too.

A young couple enjoying each others company outdoors in London, England, United Kingdom
London’s cultural riches never disappoint © AzmanJaka / Getty Images

16. London

Shoulder-deep in history, London’s rich seams of eye-opening antiquity appear at every turn. The city’s architecture pens a beguiling biography, and a multitude of buildings – the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben – are internationally recognizable landmarks. It’s also a tireless innovator of art and culture, a city of ideas and imagination. This legacy is enshrined at world-class institutions such as the British Museum, Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, as well as such world-leading art galleries as the Tate Modern, Tate Britain, the National Gallery and the recently reopened National Portrait Gallery, all of which are free to visit. 

Local tip: However you budget your time and money in London, make sure you take in a show. Big names perform on the West End (London’s equivalent of Broadway), and on the South Bank at the National Theatre and the Old Vic. Smaller theaters from the Almeida to the Lyric Hammersmith are places to discover up-an-coming talent.



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