25 Best Things to Do in England

Written by Alex Bird
Updated on
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The name “England” was first taken from Englaland, which is derived from “land of the Angles”. The Angles were a Germanic tribe that resided in England during the Early Middle Ages.

Currently, the population of England stands at just over 53 million, most of which is located around the London area, London being the largest city in Europe in terms of populace. England also hosts over 600 miles of fascinating coastline in addition to a number of the world’s top tourist attractions.

The country is divided into nine separate regions, each of which has its own unique culture, history, and personality – from the charming villages of Cornwall and beautiful rolling hills in the Cotswolds, to the striking coastline in the North East and the bustling city life in the capital.

It really does make the perfect destination for those who wish to pay a quick visit or for those who are intent on savoring the experience over the longer term.

But let’s get on with the best things to do in England!

1. London: Chinatown

Chinatown, LondonSource: IR Stone / shutterstock
Chinatown, London

At the East End of London, during the beginning of the 20th century, many Chinese immigrants flocked to London and set about creating businesses as a way to cater to the throngs of Chinese sailors who frequented the docklands area.

Nevertheless, due to the World War II Blitz, a large inflow of immigrants from Hong Kong, and a growth in popularity of Chinese cuisine, many Chinese restaurants opened elsewhere.

Today, the finest Chinese cuisines can be found just off Shaftesbury Avenue.

2. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Cambridge University, EnglandSource: Evikka / shutterstock
Cambridge University

Cambridge University, which was founded in 1209, represents the fourth-oldest surviving university in the world (the oldest being the University of Karueein, Fez, Morocco).

These days, it is a collegiate university and is comprised of 31 colleges together with some 18,000 students. The university was first established when a group of scholars left the University of Oxford after having been involved in a dispute with the local townspeople.

Of particular note is Trinity College, with its exquisitely carved chapel, a masterpiece of architecture in the English Baroque style.

3. Cornwall: The Eden Project

The Eden Project, CornwallSource: Brian S / shutterstock
The Eden Project, Cornwall

The Eden Project in Cornwall represents a number of environmental and social projects all under the auspices of sustainable growth.

Visitors can view a variety of beautiful landscapes in addition to numerous works of art. It also plays home to regular music events and hosts a botanical and conservation research division.

The Eden Project is far more than a sizable horticultural theme park. It is a cultural revelation whereby visitors can learn through interactive displays together with detailed information given throughout the 10 hectares of natural wonder.

4. Liverpool: Maritime Mercantile City

Maritime Mercantile City, LiverpoolSource: Debu55y / shutterstock
Maritime Mercantile City

Visitors to Liverpool’s Maritime Mercantile City can venture throughout the docklands and historic center.

The area relates the story of UK development throughout the preceding centuries, including the mass movement of emigrants to the United States, immigrants from northern Europe, and of the slave trade. Maritime Mercantile City is also the home to significant civic, commercial, and public buildings such as St. George’s Plateau.

Based on the recent drive for modernization, however, the area has been bestowed with the accolade of an endangered World Heritage Site, being one of only two such sites within all of Europe.

5. Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and Gloucestershire: Malvern Hills and Commons

Malvern HillsSource: Dominic Warren / shutterstock
Malvern Hills

Located in the counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and Gloucestershire, the Malvern Hills and Commons provide for 3,000 acres of spectacular natural beauty.

The igneous and metamorphic rocks are regarded as among the oldest within Great Britain, and are dated at 680 million years.

To gain the best vantage point, it’s prudent to climb the Worcester Beacon, the summit of which stands at 1,394 ft. (424 m).

6. Northern England: Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, EnglandSource: Michael Conrad / shutterstock
Hadrian’s Wall In Northumberland, England

Hadrian’s Wall was once a defensive fortification built by the Romans from AD 122 onwards under the advocacy of Emperor Hadrian.

The wall stretches from Ravenglass on the west coast to Wallsend on the east coast. The wall served not only as a military fortification but also as a point for levy taxation and a customs post.

Visitors to the area can still view a significant portion of the wall, given that much of it was reconstructed during the 19th century by John Clayton.

7. Durham: Durham Castle

Durham CastleSource: DMC Photogallery / shutterstock
Durham Castle

Durham Castle, which was erected during the 11th century, was initially a strong-point for King Norman, and served as a way for him to display his power and prestige throughout the northern regions of the country.

The castle is now occupied by University College, Durham, but it still offers a fine example of an early bailey and motte style castle.

It is open to the general public, albeit through pre-booked guided tours. The castle sits atop a hill in the Durham Peninsula and affords beautiful views over the River Wear and across to Durham Cathedral.

8. York: York Minster

York MinsterSource: Shahid Khan / shutterstock
York Minster

Considered as one of the finest cathedrals in all of Great Britain, York Minster is likewise the largest in Northern Europe.

Among the highlights are the chapter house and the Gothic nave, together with the beautiful stained glass windows which date back to medieval times.

The Five Sisters Window stands out, stretching to over 52 ft. (16 m) in height.

York Minster was originally constructed in the 14th century as a way to demonstrate a clear Christian presence within England and far beyond.

9. London: The British Museum

The British Museum, LondonSource: Claudio Divizia / shutterstock
The British Museum

The British Museum, which was established in 1753, plays host to numerous permanent collections of artifacts which number over 8 million pieces in all.

It holds some of the most prestigious and comprehensive collections hailing from every continent around the globe.

Doors open daily from 10 a.m. and close at 5.30 p.m. and 8.30 p.m. on Fridays. Entry is free of charge.

10. London: Royal Observatory, Greenwich

Royal Observatory, GreenwichSource: PitK / shutterstock
Royal Observatory, Greenwich

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, has played a global role in the history of astronomy and navigation.I

t was established in 1675 by King Charles II with the key function being to “rectify the motions of the heavens and the places of the fixed stars and in order to find the desired longitude of places in order to master the art of navigation.”

With its vantage point overlooking the River Thames in central London, it makes for an excellent tourist attraction on a year-round basis.

The observatory is one of the features of Maritime Greenwich and was bestowed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997.

11. London: Soho

Soho, LondonSource: vvoe / shutterstock
Soho, London

Soho is known for its live entertainment, opulent cuisines, and of course for the pulsating nightlife.

Arguably, Soho is London’s center for gallant celebrations, be that music, art, literature, theater, fashion, food, or film.

Furthermore, for those who enjoy meandering around little quirky shops and then relaxing in the most fashionable and luxurious of hotels, Soho is the place to be. It boasts the most “creative” square mile in all of London.

12. Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire: William Shakespeare’s Home

William Shakespeare birthplace in Stratford Upon AvonSource: MY stock / shutterstock
William Shakespeare Birthplace In Stratford Upon Avon

For all those with a passion for literature, there’s no doubt that a thrilling experience is to be had upon visiting the home of Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

The sizable living quarters have been surprisingly well-preserved over the centuries since his birth in 1564, and you can still witness various remnants pertaining to the life of this outstanding poet, whom many regard as the most celebrated writer in the world of English literature.

13. Warwick, Warwickshire: Warwick Castle

Warwick CastleSource: Premier Photo / shutterstock
Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is a medieval castle which dates back to 1068, and was built by William the Conqueror not long after the Norman Conquest. Originally, it was created using wooden motte and bailey, though it was then rebuilt in the 12th century using stone.

Until the early 17th century, it was utilized as a stronghold, after which it was gifted by King James I to Sir Fulke Greville and converted into a country dwelling.

It remained under the Greville family name until The Tussaud Group purchased it in 1978, at which point it was developed into a tourist attraction.

The castle is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

14. Cumbria: Lake District National Park

Lake District National Park, CumbriaSource: stocker1970 / shutterstock
Lake District National Park, Cumbria

The Lake District National Park is frequently referred to as The Lakes and is famed due to the beautiful lakes, mountains, and surrounding forests.

It is associated with great writers such as the 19th Century poet William Wordsworth who would often meander the foothills.

Aside from the amazing landscapes, The Lakes are also recognized on account of the fact that the area plays host to the longest and deepest lake in England. Wastwater is 3 miles (4.6 km) long and 258 feet (79 m) deep.

15. London: Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum

Madam Tussaud, LondonSource: DaLiu / shutterstock
Madam Tussaud

Madam Tussaud’s is a famous waxworks museum created by the wax sculptress Marie Tussaud.

The first Madam Tussaud’s museum, which opened in 1884, is located on Allsop Street, Marleybone, London, though there are now a variety of other branches within different cities around the globe.

The museum hosts lifelike figures, including royal people, film stars, sports stars, models, and infamous murderers.

A large section of the basement, known as The Chamber of Horrors, features historical characters from the French Revolution such as Robespierre, Marat, King Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette, all of whom were modeled by Ms. Tussaud herself upon their death or execution.

The museum’s opening times vary depending on the season but in general the doors are open between 9.30 a.m. and 5.30 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

16. Cornwall: Lizard Peninsula

 Lizard Peninsula, CornwallSource: ian woolcock / shutterstock
Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall

Lizard Peninsula is a peninsula in the southern part of Cornwall.

It is recognized for its rare botanical specimens and geological formations and belongs to Cornwall’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. According to some researchers, the name “Lizard” is taken from the Cornish name “Lys Ardh”, which literally translates to “high court”.

In previous centuries, the peninsula was frequently referred to as “Graveyard of Ships” on account of the number of vessels that came to a devastating end upon the coastal rocks.

17. East Devon to Dorset: Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site

Jurassic CoastSource: Patryk Kosmider / shutterstock
Jurassic Coast

Covering a distance of 95 miles (153 km.) and stretching along the coastline of the English Channel between East Devon and Dorset, the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site offers a unique insight into the Earth’s geological foundation.

Take a walk through time and marvel at the variety of rock formations which span through three of Earth’s time zones: Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous, 185 million years in all.

18. Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds

Bibury, EnglandSource: Nella / shutterstock
Bibury, England, The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds, which mainly reside in the county of Gloucestershire, are a range of rolling hills that are dotted with small attractive towns and villages.

The name “Cotswold” comes from the stone, which is Jurassic limestone.

The Cotswolds are approximately 25 miles (40 km) wide and 90 miles (145 km) long.

Throughout the Middle Ages, it became a lucrative route for wool traders, and in turn, the entire area prospered. The highest point in the area is Cleeve Hill which stands at 1,083 ft. (330 m), and is just north of the large spa town of Cheltenham.

19. Woodstock, Oxfordshire: Blenheim Palace

Blenheim PalaceSource: Fulcanelli / shutterstock
Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace represents the principal residence for the dukes of Marlborough.

Built in the English Baroque style, it’s the only non-episcopal non-royal country home in England to have been bestowed with the title of palace.

The home, which is one of the largest in England, was constructed between 1705 and 1722, and in 1987 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The palace was the birthplace and ancestral home of arguably the most famed of British Prime Ministers – Sir Winston Churchill. The landscaped gardens are also notable, having been redesigned by such dignified landscapers as Capability Brown.

The palace opened to the general public in 1950. It closes between mid-December and mid-February but otherwise is open every day from 10.30 a.m. until 5.30 p.m.

20. London: Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum, LondonSource: elRoce / shutterstock
Natural History Museum, London

Until 1992, the Natural History Museum in London was known as the British Museum.

It plays host to over 70 million life and earth science specimens, and visitors can witness collections which are related to zoology, mineralogy, entomology, and paleontology.

It is one of three museums on South Kensington’s Exhibition Road, and a number of the collections possess great scientific value such as specimens that were collected by the preeminent English naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin.

Doors open between 10 a.m. and 5.50 p.m. Monday through Sunday and admission is free of charge.

21. Berkshire: Windsor Castle

Windsor CastleSource: Mistervlad / shutterstock
Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, one of the British royal family’s residences, is located in the county of Berkshire.

It was originally built during the 11th century, not long after the Norman invasion led by William the Conqueror. Ever since Henry I came to the thrown in 1100, the castle has been utilized by succeeding monarchs, and represents the longest-occupied palace in all of Europe.

Originally, the castle was built to ensure Norman dominance within and around the outskirts of London, as well as to oversee what was then a particularly strategically important part of the River Thames.

It is now the favored weekend residence of the current British regent, Queen Elizabeth II, and also serves as a venue for state visits and as popular tourist attraction.

22. Pilton, Somerset: Glastonbury Festival

Glastonbury FestivalSource: Amy Laughinghouse / shutterstock
Glastonbury Festival

The Glastonbury Festival is a five-day music festival which is centered around raising funds for good causes such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, and WaterAid.

It has taken place almost every year since 1981 and attracts approximately 175,000 people making it the largest greenfield festival in the world.

Over the years, the festival has witnessed such favorites as Oasis, Elvis Costello, The Cure, Radiohead, Sir Paul McCartney, Rod Steward, and David Bowie.

Tickets for Glastonbury Festival are generally on sale from October for the forth-coming year, and the festival takes place during the last week of June.

23. Salisbury, Wiltshire: Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury CathedralSource: martinjamescook / shutterstock
Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury Cathedral, otherwise known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was constructed in the 13th century.

It is a leading example of early English architecture, and possesses the tallest church spire in the entire country which stands at 404 ft. (123 m).

The church tower is open to the public and visitors can view the rather spectacular wooden innards of the ancient spire.

The cathedral also plays home to the world’s oldest working clock which was crafted in 1386, and the best surviving copy of the Magna Carta (there are four original copies in all) is safely held within the cathedral walls.

24. Canterbury, Kent: Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury CathedralSource: shutterstock
Canterbury Cathedral

Arguably the most popular of Christian structures within England, Canterbury Cathedral is the home to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the principal leader and senior bishop of the Church of England as well as the symbolic head of the global Anglican Communion.

The cathedral was founded in 597 and reconstructed between 1070 and 1077. Further renovation occurred in 1174 when it was bestowed with a more Gothic style at which point it housed pilgrims as they ventured to worship at the shrine of Thomas Becket, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury until the year 1170 when he was unceremoniously murdered.

25. Wiltshire: Stonehenge

StonehengeSource: Roger Nichol / shutterstock

Stonehenge in Wiltshire is considered to be among the most remarkable sites within the entire modern world.

The prehistoric monument, which comprises stones that reach up to 30 ft. (9 m) in height and weigh up to 25 tons (22.6 metric tons), is thought to have been constructed around 3,000 to 2,000 BC, though the exact dates remain open to question.

The site was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1986, and although it is not entirely clear as to its true purpose, a number of studies have suggested that Stonehenge was utilized as a burial ground by Neolithic and Bronze Age peoples.


25 Best Things to Do in England:

  • London: Chinatown
  • Cambridge: Cambridge University
  • Cornwall: The Eden Project
  • Liverpool: Maritime Mercantile City
  • Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and Gloucestershire: Malvern Hills and Commons
  • Northern England: Hadrian’s Wall
  • Durham: Durham Castle
  • York: York Minster
  • London: The British Museum
  • London: Royal Observatory, Greenwich
  • London: Soho
  • Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire: William Shakespeare’s Home
  • Warwick, Warwickshire: Warwick Castle
  • Cumbria: Lake District National Park
  • London: Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum
  • Cornwall: Lizard Peninsula
  • East Devon to Dorset: Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
  • Gloucestershire: The Cotswolds
  • Woodstock, Oxfordshire: Blenheim Palace
  • London: Natural History Museum
  • Berkshire: Windsor Castle
  • Pilton, Somerset: Glastonbury Festival
  • Salisbury, Wiltshire: Salisbury Cathedral
  • Canterbury, Kent: Canterbury Cathedral
  • Wiltshire: Stonehenge