The 50 Best Things to Do in England
While many travelers roll through London every day, not as many take the time to thoroughly explore all that England has to offer. From the rolling hills of the North York Moors to the expansive beaches of Cornwall to the small towns of the Cotswolds, there’s a lot to see, do and, of course, eat in Britain. It’s likely not possible to see it all in one go, but here are 50 of the best things you should include in an England itinerary.
1. Walk around LondonThe best way to see London’s iconic sites is by foot, strolling from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben to Buckingham Palace, or along the south bank of the Thames to the London Eye. Most of the major tourist attractions can be seen in a day if you plan a good route, leaving plenty of time for the rest of the country.
2. Visit the Tate Britain
The most visited tourist attraction in London is the Tate Modern. The modern art museum is great for art lovers, but its tenth-floor viewing balcony is also a good way to glimpse London from above.
3. Learn movie magic
Explore the magical world of Harry Potter at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which includes many of the sets, props and behind-the-scenes stories from the film series.
4. Indulge in afternoon tea
5. Explore Kew GardensKew Gardens, also known as the Royal Botanic Gardens, are the perfect place for an afternoon wander. Look for the Treetop Walkway, which puts you high enough to glimpse the city skyline.
6. Tour Windsor Castle
Explore the home of the queen with a tour of Windsor Castle, a quick train ride from London. The cute town is also great for boat tours on the Thames and dining in historic pubs.
7. Go punting
From London, head to Cambridge, where the River Cam is the perfect place to learn how to punt (which is basically guiding a small boat with a pole). Look for one of the many boat rental and tour companies around town.
8. Visit the Ashmolean Museum
Head to Oxford to peruse the Ashmolean Museum, England’s oldest public museum, which was established back in 1683.
9. Tour a gin distillery
The Brits love their gin, and you can learn more about the delicious spirit during a tour of the Bombay Sapphire distillery, located in Hampshire.
10. Dine at the Fat Duck
The small town of Bray is known for its collection of Michelin-starred restaurants, the most famous of which is Heston Blumenthal’s three-starred Fat Duck. Book early and save your pennies—this is a splurge.
11. Experience StonehengeThe prehistoric monument of Stonehenge is a sight to behold, even if it is now surrounded by a protective fence. Visit on your own via car or book a day-trip by bus from London.
12. Explore the Cotswolds
Rent a car and cruise through the quaint villages that dot the Cotswolds, a picturesque area to the west of London. Some of the prettiest towns include Burford, Painswick, Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water.
13. Visit Blenheim Palace
Near Oxford you’ll find the impressive Blenheim Palace, essentially England’s version of Versailles. The historic palace often has contemporary art exhibitions throughout its galleries, which can be a strange but engaging juxtaposition of objects.
14. Stay at Soho Farmhouse
You don’t have to be a Soho House member to book into one of the chic cabins at Soho Farmhouse, a relaxing countryside compound where you can swim, pet baby sheep and spot celebrities.
15. See a play at Royal Shakespeare TheatreHead to Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon and take in one of his plays at the historic Royal Shakespeare Theatre, run by the Royal Shakespeare Company. The company also performs in the town’s Swan Theatre and the Other Place.
16. Visit the Roman baths
Bath was once home to the Romans, who built expansive baths on the natural hot springs in the area. You can tour the ancient ruins and learn more about the history of the city in a not-to-be-missed museum.
17. Relax at the Thermae Bath Spa
If you’d rather be the one soaking in a hot springs pool, head to the Thermae Bath Spa, which offers treatments and a rooftop pool with an amazing view.
18. Visit the Isle of Wight
Hop a ferry from Southampton to the Isle of Wight, the former summer home of Queen Victoria. It’s best visited in warm weather when you can take advantage of the beaches and walking trails.
19. Sleep in a tree house
England boasts several tree house hotels, but none are more posh than those at Chewton Glen, a historic estate house that is now a five-star hotel.
20. Explore Brighton PierTake a train south from London to discover Brighton, a lively coastal town with a historic boardwalk and pier. The pier, formally known as the Brighton Palace Pier, features rides and games, snacks and great sunset views over the ocean.
21. Ride a roller coaster
Dreamland Margate is a kitschy seaside amusement park that also hosts special events and music festivals. There are rides, a roller disco and lots of opportunities for the perfect Instagram photo.
22. Visit Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral, located in Kent, is a World Heritage Site and one of the oldest churches in England. Anyone can visit or take a guided tour—no religion necessary.
23. Travel along the white cliffs
Everyone knows the white cliffs over Dover, but the Jurassic Coast of England has to be seen to be believed. Some of the best views are found at Seven Sisters Country Park near Seaford.
24. See a football match
Football, aka soccer, is a beloved sport in England and best experienced in a stadium full of rowdy fans, especially if you voyage up to Manchester for a Manchester United match.
25. Surf in CornwallIt can be a bit of a trek to get to Cornwall, but the coastal area of England is a highly sought after destination for surfers. Look for Fistral Beach in Newquay.
26. Discover St. Michael’s Mount
In Cornwall? Cross the causeway or take a boat to the tiny island with lots of history that is Michael’s Mouth Bay. Pack a picnic and make a fun half-day of it enjoying medieval cobblestone paths, sub-tropical gardens, castle walls and a gorgeous view of Mount’s Bay. Heads up: The island is closed to tourists on Saturdays.
27. Embark on a Magical Mystery Tour
Head north to Liverpool, hometown of the Beatles, where the Magical Mystery Tour will take you to see all of the band’s historic sites, including Strawberry Field and Penny Lane.
28. See modern art
Liverpool is also home to one of the Tate museum branches, the Tate Liverpool, which showcases modern and contemporary art (with free entry).
29. Stroll the Shambles of York
Next stop: York. Here take a walk through the Shambles, a narrow street in the center of town with overhanging buildings that date back to the 14th century—and which looks like Diagon Alley for Harry Potter fans.
30. Ascend the York MinsterFor a great view (and some history), climb 275 steps to the tower of York Minster, located in the center of York. After, walk the stone wall that still partially surrounds the city.
31. Explore the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Located in West Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, an open-air museum, showcases works by artists like Henry Moore, Damien Hirst and Barbara Hepworth.
32. Walk the Yorkshire Moors
You may not be in a Brontë novel, but walking through the rolling hills of the North York Moors National Park still has a romantic feel. Look for the Cleveland Way, a 109-mile trail the encircles the park.
33. Eat (fresh) fish and chips
While many seaside towns claim the best fish and chips in England’s, Whitby has some of the freshest. Opt for an order from Royal Fisheries, a 50-year-old establishment that will have you questioning why you ever ate fish anywhere but by the sea.
34. Climb to the Whitby Abbey
Explore the ruins of the Whitby Abbey, a seventh-century monastery that is now home to a museum. It’s 199 steps from the center of town to the Abbey, but there’s usually ice cream for sale at the top.
35. Stroll through Robin Hood’s BayThe quaint coastal village of Robin Hood’s Bay is about as picturesque as you can get, especially if you like wandering around on a beach or sitting quietly in a café that overlooks the North Sea.
36. Admire Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall once stretched 73 miles across England. Today the Roman monument is now in ruins, but can be visited at various spots around the country. The best place to admire the impressive construction is at the Housesteads Roman Fort in Northumberland.
37. Attend a play at the Theatre Royal
Newcastle’s Theatre Royal hosts plays, musicals, opera and other theatrical events throughout the year, rivaling the theaters of London’s West End.
38. See the Angel of the North
Located in Gateshead, just outside Newcastle upon Tyne, Antony Gormley’s famous Angel of the North sculpture is one England’s most famous piece of public art. The massive work of art is free (and accessible via bus).
39. Hike in the Lake DistrictThose who appreciate the great outdoors can do no better than the Lake District, an area in northern England that has been home to prolific poets like Wordsworth. Try a short hike, or opt for a several day trek through the mountains where you can stay at small pubs along the way.
40. Dance at Glastonbury
Prepare to brave the mud at Glastonbury, one of the world’s biggest and most popular music festivals. Expect camping, late night dancing and, hopefully, Beyoncé.
41. Sleep with lions
You might not associate lions with the English countryside, but at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserves guests can head out on a wildlife safari and even book a room in Lion Lodge.
42. Visit Highclere Castle
Experience the “real Downton Abbey” at Highclere Castle, which welcomes the public for tours throughout the year.
43. Have a royal overnight
Splurge on a room at Cliveden House Hotel, the luxury property where Meghan Markle spent the night before her wedding to Prince Harry. Pro tip: Go to the spa.
44. Dine in a historic pub in Nottingham
There are a lot of pubs that claim to be the oldest in England, but Nottingham’s Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is certainly one of the most ancient, dating back to the 12th century.
45. Spot puffins on the Farne IslandsTake a boat trip to the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, to see puffins, seals and birds. Sir David Attenborough has called it his favorite place to see nature in England and he’s never wrong.
46. Visit Guernsey
Situated between England and France, Guernsey (yes, the one from that novel) is a small island accessible by plane or boat.
47. Attend Wimbledon
If you like tennis—or just drinking Pimm’s Cups—snag a ticket to a match at Wimbledon, the annual championships tournament that’s the oldest in the world.
48. Have a Sunday roast
A great British tradition is the Sunday roast, a plate of roast meat, vegetables and a Yorkshire pudding topped with gravy. It’s usually eaten at lunchtime, at home or in a pub. For something extra special, book a table (and potentially also a room) at The Gunton Arms in Norwich.
49. Wave to the royalsWhile we can’t promise you’ll see any royals during a visit to England, there are a few times of year when the queen emerges. The best bet is the Trooping of the Colour, a festive parade held in June for her majesty’s birthday.
50. Toast with a martini
Bid farewell to your British journey with a classic martini (that’s gin, not vodka) at The Connaught Bar. The martinis are served via a martini trolley, which will arrive at your table with all the fixings.