Some top travel bloggers have spilled the beans on their favourite destinations in England, from bustling cities to off-the-beaten-track villages. Many of the bloggers are UK based – so they know what they’re talking about! Whether you’re visiting from abroad or trying to plan your next ‘staycation,’ keep reading to discover 14 of the best places to visit in England.
Bristol’s fabulous Balloon Fiesta @igersbristol
Bristol recommended by Elle Croft from A Bird in the Hand Travel
My criteria for a great destination is one that has a vibrant food scene, plenty to see and do, and preferably has a bit of a hipster vibe. And luckily for me, I don’t have to hop on a plane to find somewhere that ticks all of these boxes. Bristol is a city that seems to steal a little bit more of my heart with every visit. No matter when you arrive, there’s always something to do – from the historic SS Great Britain to the mesmerising aquarium and incredible street art everywhere you look (including some original Banksy pieces).
Travel there during the summer, and you’re bound to stumble upon a festival like the weekend-long Harbour Fest that provides non-stop free entertainment, or the stunning International Balloon Fiesta, which sees hundreds of hot air balloons taking to the skies. Grab lunch at St Nick’s – a covered marketplace with plenty of food stalls – and finish your day with pizza and cider at The Stable, or for something a little different, go for tapas and a glass of wine overlooking the harbour at The Olive Shed.
Grisedale Tarn from St Sunday Crag @fellsidephotography
The Lake District recommended by Simon from Simon’s Jam Jar
The Lake District is my favourite national park in the UK, and one of the gems of the north of England. If you’re interested in hiking, photography, canyoning, cycling, outdoor adventures, cosy pubs with home-cooked food or visiting the homes of famous poets, then the Lake District is for you. Getting there couldn’t be easier, reaching the Lake District by train is easy, with frequent departures from London taking a little over 2.5 hours, and prices from £22.
Speaking of trains, you can take a train into the centre of the National Park from Ravensglass deep into the Eskdale valley. This is a narrow gauge steam train ride, a journey you won’t find anywhere else in the UK.
This city is so quaint and has so much history @sunshinetogold
Bath recommended by Emily from Emily Luxton Travels
One of my favourite cities in the UK is Bath. Aside from simply being one of the prettiest cities in the south of England, there’s just so much to do there. For me, the highlight is Thermae Bath Spa, which is the only local spa to use the natural thermal springwater that first put this town on the map. And of course, you can’t miss the Roman Baths to learn all about the history of my favourite spa town.
I love all the Jane Austen connections in Bath, too. As well as the Jane Austen Centre, which is great fun, fans should also take a trip to the Bath Assembly Rooms. Then there’s all the lovely Georgian architecture – I love The Circus, and of course, there’s the famous Royal Crescent. Just go for a walk around the city centre and enjoy it all. If you’re looking for something a little bit quirky to do, check out the Bizarre Bath comedy walking tours – unique, silly, and definitely memorable.
South Dorset recommended by Emily from Emily Luxton Travels
If you’re looking for a staycation with gorgeous landscapes, incredible seafood, and loads of outdoor adventures, you should definitely down to south Dorset. I grew up in Weymouth, a cute little seaside town with loads of vintage charm, so I might be a little bit biased. Nonetheless, I genuinely think this is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK!
One of the highlights is the famous Jurassic Coast, which starts down in East Devon and runs as far as the stunning Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in Dorset. The cliffs here were formed between 252 and 201 million years ago, during the Triassic Period, but as well as fossils and geology there are some really pretty landscapes and great cliff walks. Don’t miss Durdle Door, a stone archway over the sea at one of Dorset’s most beautiful beaches. A kayaking tour is a great way to see it!
I love Corfe Castle, a ruined castle at the top of a hill, which was the inspiration for Enid Blyton’s Kirrin Castle. For something a little different you have the village of Tyneham. It’s one of my favourite places in the county and not a lot of people even know it’s there – a ghost village abandoned during WWII where you can explore the ruined houses and the beautifully restored 1940’s schoolroom.
Brighton recommended by K&H from KH Travels
Brighton is fantastic for everyone, whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic getaway, a family in need of some seaside fun or a group of friends wanting to party the night away. We love wandering around the streets and often you don’t need to plan what to do in order to have a good time – the markets, graffiti art, and street entertainers are some of the things that make this city so lovable. Keep an eye out for events when you’re planning to visit – Brighton Pride being one of the biggest ones of the year.
We love a classic fish and chips along the beach or strolling through The Lanes where you’ll stumble across a series of little eateries. A couple of our favourite places to eat include the famous Choccywoccydoodah which any chocolate lover would be mad to miss indulging in! Dos Sombreros is another favourite, an independent Mexican with a wide selection of delicious food and cocktails.
The Cotswolds recommended by Victoria Brewood from Pommie Travels
If you’re looking for the most quintessentially English place to visit – The Cotswolds is it. Stone cottages, flowing streams, winding roads and pretty villages make The Cotswolds a postcard perfect destination for a Great British escape. With a driving time of just 2 hours from London, it’s not too far for a weekend break, plus you can stop off in Bath if you want to make the most out of your trip. Driving around The Cotswolds and admiring the scenery is an experience in itself, although if you’re visiting in peak summertime expect to be joined by tourists in some of the bigger towns. For food, I’d highly recommend a pub nearby called The Old Fleece, which serves a gastropub-style menu and a brilliant Sunday roast.
There are so many beautiful towns and places to visit in The Cotswolds that you could spend days touring around, but my top picks are Castle Combe, Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, and Stow-on-the-Wold. My favourite thing to do here is to pay a visit to Cotswold Wildlife Park, which offers the most up-close-and-personal experience with wildlife I’ve ever encountered. You can walk through an enclosure filled with lemurs hopping from tree to tree and snap photos of the rhinos grazing freely in front of the Manor House. Another great place to visit is Sezincote Estate which is a 4,500 acre estate with a 200-year-old Mogul Indian palace.
It might be touristy, but sometimes I just love being a tourist in my own city! I think one of the best ways to see London is by river with a hop-on-hop-off river cruise. These usually cost around the £10 mark and (as the name suggests!) you can get on and off as many times as you like. Starting at Westminster Pier, the cruise goes all the way down to Greenwich where adrenaline junkies can climb the O2 Arena and you can ride the Emirates cable car to get an awesome view of the city from the sky. The last time I rode the cable cars was pretty windy which makes for an, erm, exciting ride!
Once you’ve done the well-trodden tourist track, head east to the trendy Shoreditch – home of the hipster and the backdrop for an awesome Instagram picture or two. This is my favourite part of London as you can’t turn a corner without bumping into some awesome street art (you can even take a street art walking tour if you fancy it!) and there are some amazing places for brunch – smashed avocado galore!
Albert Dock on a sunny day @j1llj0nesLiverpool recommended by Olivia McDonald from Liv On A Shoestring
Let me guess, when you think of Liverpool your mind immediately goes to the infamous Scouse foursome, The Beatles? This UNESCO maritime city has SO much more to offer and is the perfect addition to any UK trip. If you like architecture, this northern port town has the most Grade I listed buildings in the UK as well as Britain’s largest cathedral! A 3 hour free walking tour departs every day at 11am in front of the Prince Albert Statue, which attempts to explain the origins of the distinctive ‘Scouse’ accent – it’s really interesting and a great way to spend a morning.
The magnificent Tyne Bridge @lolarobertoNewcastle recommended by Gemma from Girls That Travel
Newcastle is possibly the friendliest city you could visit in the UK and the liveliest! Start your day with breakfast on the quayside at the bijou Quay Ingredient, but get there early to beat the queues at the weekend, and order their famous eggs benedict. Then, take a stroll along the riverside and cross the Millennium Bridge to The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, which is free of course. Housed in a converted flour mill, The Baltic has featured artists such as Anthony Gormley and Damien Hirst, and has amazing views from the terrace on level 4.
You have to visit The Victoria Tunnel, a 19th century former wagon way used for delivering coal, and later, as a World War II shelter. Take a warm layer as it’s damp and chilly down there and make sure to book tours (around £7) in advance! If you fancy a night out, visit Madame Koo, a hidden gem with cosy booths and Asian vibes.
Chilling on Porthgwidden Beach, St Ives, Cornwall @whoiskristylai
Cornwall recommended by Simon from Simon’s Jam Jar
It still amazes me how many people have yet to visit Cornwall. When it comes to coastal holidays and getaways, very few places in the UK can match the breathtaking scenery and beaches of Cornwall. The South West Coastal path is a gem for hiking lovers, and many of the bays on the North coast provide some of the best surfing spots in the UK.
Every town, no matter how big or small, will have its own hidden pubs, walks and beaches. There is also a lot of history in Cornwall too. Go and explore Tingagel and the coastal ruins of the birthplace of King Arthur. Visit Michael’s Mount, a tidal island on the South Coast, and especially Perranporth – a place I’ve visited every year since I was 8 years old – for its 2-mile long, spectacular golden sands, and the Watering Hole – the only pub on the beach in the UK!
Cambridge recommended by Kash from The Budget Traveller
Cambridge for me is a perfect escape from reality – I often feel like I’ve stumbled into some Tudor fantasy. One of the key attractions of Cambridge that you can’t miss is the world famous university – the thirty odd colleges essentially pin the city together. You can enter some of the haloed ivory towers for free but expect to pay around £5 to enter some of the more famous colleges. I recommend visiting Newnham which has a gem of a garden encircled within its brick walls, or Christ’s College, which is also free. For me, attending the evensong is one of the most memorable parts of a visit to Cambridge and the best thing is that it’s absolutely free! King’s College holds the most famous evensong, but Trinity, Selwyn, St. Johns and many other colleges also have crisp-voiced choirs.
Take a walk along ‘The Backs’ (Queens Road) from autumn to early spring to get one of the best views in Cambridge: King’s College Chapel across the meadow. The Backs itself is beautiful – sticking my head out punting on the River Cam definitely has to be one of my most romantic travel experiences in England and Europe – Venice, eat your heart out!
Whenever I feel like a staycaytion I always head down to Whittstable on the Kent coast. It’s a super cute little seaside town, with oodles of classic charm. A quick one hour train ride from London (St Pancras offers a high-speed service), you can spend a week, weekend or even just a day here. My top tips is to head for the harbour, grab some Whitstable ‘native’ oysters (I had these at my wedding!) and lobster on the beach at The Lobster Shack before strolling along the beach to The Old Neptune pub to quench your thirst.Harbour Street is full of lovely lifestyle shops so you can grab something to commemorate your trip, or even just stuff yourself with some more food – the Crab & Winkle is a must-visit for some stand-up seafood on the go. And if you linger a night or two book yourself a spot at the Michelin starred Sportsman in nearby Seasalter for a delicious dinner.
The New Forest recommended by Jodie from The Little Backpacker
I’ve been lucky enough to spend my whole life growing up in this part of the UK and it is seriously amazing. Located a mere two hour drive from London it is perfect destination for anyone traveling the UK. From the moment you enter the New Forest national park you are surrounded by forests, commons, and a large number of walking/cycling trails. Look a little harder and you’ll realise that there are wild animals roaming free – think horses, cows, and even the occasional pig. The New Forest consists of many small villages and towns which are worth a visit, namely: Burley, Lyndhurst, Lymington and Beaulieu.
I’d highly recommend hiring a bike and hitting the trails to really get the most of out your trip – even better, make it into a bit of a pub crawl. Talking of pubs, they would be my biggest recommendation for food and drink, just about every town and village has one.
Gorgeous views over West Lulworth @irkkuliri
Devon Recommended by Katie from What Katie Is Doing
Whenever I feel like I need a tropical fix but my budget can’t quite stretch to a jaunt overseas, I head for Lydford Gorge in Devon. When you’re standing at the foot of the White Lady waterfall, you could legitimately be in Bali, or Mexico. Take a stroll up the path cut into the side of the gorge, step into the famous ‘Devil’s Cauldron’, where the raging torrent has cut far down into the shiny black rock, and you’ll be convinced that you’ve left England far behind you. Once you’ve emerged from the gorge, dazed, head for Brentor, just as dramatic, but a world away. Climb the rugged ‘tor’ to the chapel perched at the top, which, amazingly, still puts on Sunday services, and drink in panoramic views over the moor all the way to the south coast.
Explore Devon’s winding lanes and head south to the likes of the regency seaside resort of Sidmouth, which comes alive with its Folk Week in the summer, or north to Ilfracombe, where waves crash on a coast which, on a sunny summer’s day, gives the Med a run for its money and surfers flock.