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Top 10 historical places to visit in the UK

The UK is a land of history. From Roman ruins to Gothic cathedrals, from ancient castles to modern museums, plenty of historical places in Britain are worth visiting. If you want to explore the past, there are many options available. Read on for our list of 10 top historical places that should definitely be on your bucket list to visit in the UK.

1 – Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, 2 miles (3.2 km) west of Amesbury and 8 miles (13 km) north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is an ancient site of religious importance dating from 4000 BC. The site and its surroundings were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986.

Stonehenge consists of a circular setting with a diameter of about 330 metres (1,083 ft). It contains several hundred standing stones set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.

It has been a significant tourist attraction for centuries, drawing visitors from across Europe and modern-day tourists from around the globe.


Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland. Photo by Frank

2 – Hadrian’s Wall

The Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of a wall across northern England in the 2nd century AD. The wall is 70 miles long, with 21 forts and milecastles along its length, and was designed to mark the northernmost limit of the Roman Empire. It’s now known as Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts visitors worldwide each year.

The most prominent part of this historic structure is Housesteads Fort, built around 117 AD on top of a natural hillock overlooking an important passage through Whin Sill escarpment—one side looks out towards Scotland while the other faces west towards England. A visitor centre has been constructed nearby at Vindolanda where visitors can learn more about life on Hadrian’s Wall during different historical periods. You can also visit Birdoswald Fort or continue northwards to Maryport if time allows (all within easy driving distance).


The Tower of London at night. Photo by Nick Fewings

3 – The Tower of London

The Tower of London is a historic site in the United Kingdom. It was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, who used it as a royal residence and prison. The Tower served as a prison for high-ranking prisoners, including some of England’s monarchs, until the early 19th century, when they were moved to Newgate Prison. Since then, it has been used as an armoury, mint and home to the Crown Jewels of England.

The Tower is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions, with over 2 million visitors annually. It has welcomed millions more over its 900-year history since being built by William I (the Conqueror).


Dover Castle. Photo by Ian Murphy

4 – Dover Castle, Kent

Dover Castle is one of the most famous castles in England. It was built between 1078 and 1086 after the Norman Conquest of England and has been called “the Key to England”. In fact, it remains one of only two castles (the other being Windsor) that still have all their original parts intact. The castle played an important role during the Napoleonic Wars when it became a prison for captured French officers. Today you can visit Dover Castle, explore its dungeons and climb up to see views of the white cliffs from above!


Westminster Abbey. Photo by Ian Branch

5 – Westminster Abbey

A great place to visit. Westminster Abbey is located in the heart of London, England and has been a site for many important events in history. It was built over 1,000 years ago by King Edward I in 1245 as part of his plan to rebuild the city after it had been destroyed by fire.

The architecture at Westminster Abbey is beautiful and unique; it features Gothic-style arches and flying buttresses that make it look like an elaborate cathedral made out of wood instead of stone. There are also lots of stained glass windows depicting religious scenes from all over Europe and statues depicting saints or martyrs important to Christianity like St Patrick or King Henry VII, who was crowned there when he became king!

You should visit Westminster Abbey for many reasons: You can see beautiful works by artists such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael inside; you can explore its long history through interactive exhibits inside too! You’ll also find out how influential this church has been throughout British history by touring some sections that date back centuries ago, like tombstones. But not limited -to famous people who lived during those times, such as Charles Dickens’ gravesite, where he spent most days writing books about life in Victorian England (1830-1870).


Nottingham’s most famous outlaw. Picture by Steve Harvey

6 – The Nottinghamshire Lace Market and Caves

Nottingham… possibly most famous for Robin Hood but also notable for The Nottinghamshire Lace Market and Caves – a historic lace-making district in the city. It has been a centre of lace-making since the 17th century and is home to over 100 businesses in this industry today. The caves at the site were used as a hiding place during the English Civil War. They have been open to the public since 1938, making them one of Britain’s most popular tourist attractions.


Ironbridge. Photo by Alan Roberts

7 – Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire

Ironbridge Gorge is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a place where the whole family can get involved and enjoy themselves. It’s easily accessible from London and Birmingham, so there’s no excuse not to take advantage of this stunning World Heritage Site.

The gorge itself has been carved out over centuries by the River Severn, which runs through England and Wales before flowing into the Bristol Channel in Wales. You’ll be able to see some great examples of industrial architecture and beautiful scenery along your journey. What more could you want?


Canterbury Cathedral. Photo by Zoltan Tasi

8 – Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral is one of the greatest cathedrals in England, and it’s also the mother church of the Anglican Communion. Though it was originally built in 597, most of what you see today was constructed during its medieval heyday. The cathedral was damaged by an earthquake in 1228—at which point it also lost its central Tower—and again by German bombs during World War II. The cathedral stands as a popular tourist attraction with more than six million visitors each year (it’s one of only four churches to have hosted two royal weddings). And though some might argue that Canterbury Cathedral isn’t technically a castle (it’s not), don’t leave this historical site off your list!


Pendennis Castle. Photo by Mark Jordan

9 – Pendennis Castle, Cornwall

Pendennis Castle is a castle built in the 1540s and located on the coast of Cornwall. It was originally built to protect Falmouth Harbour, and its strategic position helped to defend against French and Spanish invasions.

The castle has been owned by English Heritage since 1984, which has opened it up for public visits. Guided tours, along with an onsite café and gift shop, are available from April to October each year.


Edinburgh Castle. Photo by Jorg Angeli

10 – Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle has been in use for over a thousand years. It’s the most visited attraction in Scotland, attracting over 1 million people each year. The castle is known to be the home of Scottish crown jewels, situated on the highest point in Edinburgh. This makes it an excellent landmark to use as you explore this city.

The castle is open daily from 9 am until 5 pm (final entry at 4 pm). Entry tickets cost £11 per adult; under 16s go free when accompanied by an adult ticket holder (maximum 2 children per paying adult).

The United Kingdom is a country whose heritage has been shaped by a rich and diverse history. The UK has been populated by people from across the globe and there are hundreds of historic sites around its shores that tell stories about the past.  

If you’re looking for places to visit on your next trip to the UK we hope this list has given you some ideas!

About the author

Having worked across the heritage and tourism sector for over 10 years, Monty Beaumont is an expert when it comes to discovering new places to visit and great days out for the whole family. 

He has previously worked for the National Trust as a General Manager in Cornwall, coordinated the complex operations of running a castle in Devon and the mastered the intricacies of providing exceptional hospitality and service at some of the finest historic houses in the UK. 

As part of his vision and drive for Monty’s Guide, Monty travels across the country to find new places to visit and explore, and sharing his finding on, which is used by 1,000s of people each week to find their next great day out.

His experience and knowledge of the historic and cultural sector gives him a unique insight into the elements that make tourism and learning so important in our quest to understanding more about our heritage.

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