There are so many amazing historical sites in the UK (and the whole world if I’m being honest). They make for the perfect trip out, either by yourself or with friends and family. Luckily, for all history lovers the UK is literally littered with a huge selection of historical sites, so there is something for everyone.
The only issue with there being so many sites, is that it can make things incredibly tough to know which one to go to first. The good news is that the UK is fairly easy to get around, thanks to the popular destinations being nicely connected via trains and buses.
Of course, you can also drive to most of these places anyway and you’ll find that most of these historic sites are at every turn, from prehistoric megaliths and ancient Roman sites to centuries-old castles and town centers dating back to the Middle Ages.
So since the UK seems to be on the right path to opening up fully (fingers crossed that come June things will be a bit more normal), I thought it would be a good idea to look at the top historical sites in the UK. These are places that should be high on your bucket list once travel becomes normal!
Stonehenge: The Best Pre-Historic Monument
- Location: Wiltshire, SP4 7DE
- Price: Adult £21.10, Child (5-17 years) £12.70, Free for English Heritage members
This is one of the most popular historic sites for people to visit. So popular in fact, that people need to purchase a timed ticket in advance in order to guarantee entry.
It’s easy to see why this is so popular though. Even after 5,000 years the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge is still a unique and awe-inspiring day out with the kids or family; an exceptional survivor from a culture now lost to us.
The monument evolved between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC and is aligned with the rising and setting of the sun at the solstices, but its exact purpose remains a mystery. It was probably used originally as a burial site and in recent times has become a place of pilgrimage for neo-pagans. But we can’t say exactly what its purpose was/is – maybe you have some idea?
The Tower of London: Home to the Crown Jewels
- Location: London EC3N 4AB
- Price: Adult £25.00, Child (5-15 years) £12.50
This is one of the top attractions in London, and if you are ever down south then this is a must visit! It is widely considered as one of the most important building in England, mainly because it is home to the priceless Crown Jewels. But there’s enough there to keep visitors busy for hours here.
Built as a royal residence and prison nearly 1,000 years ago, there are some fascinating stories within its walls. It was built in 1078 by William the Conqueror, and is home to some amazing exhibits such as the Line of Kings.
You’ve also got the Crown Jewels (which in itself is impressive enough), but not only that, you’ve also got the classic Yeoman Warder Tours, the Royal Mint, and exhibits and displays regarding prisoners and executions.
If you’re traveling with children, be sure to check for special events for kids, including “Knights School” and other immersive programs that provide a fun insight into the castle’s history.
Warwick Castle: An Insight Into Medieval Life
- Location: Warwickshire, CV34 6AH
- Prices: Adult £26.40, Children £23.40, Family of Four £89, Book Online from £18.40, Half Price for English Heritage Members
This is a castle that is hugely popular with families for days out. This is a castle that is perfect for those who loves history though, you can immerse yourself in a thousand years of jaw-dropping history – explore the beautiful rooms inside the castle, enjoy the expansive grounds and have fun with all the events that go on at Warwick Castle.
This castle is now owned by Merlin Entertainments, which means that if you are looking for an action packed day out then this is the castle to go to. It offers a fascinating life into life in medieval times and has something for everyone. You can enjoy the beautiful city of Warwick on the River Avon, and the fact that this impressive fortress has dominated the landscape and history of the region for more than 900 years.
Today, it serves as a backdrop to medieval-themed events and reenactments, from jousting festivals to fairs and concerts. Be warned, it does become a bit of a tourist hotspot, but if you’re interested in exploring castles then you can also enjoy Kenilworth Castle which is a little drive away.
Stratford-upon-Avon: Home to Shakespeare
- Location: Warwickshire
- Prices: Depends on which house/attraction you are visiting in Stratford-upon-Avon
If you decide that Warwickshire is the place to visit, then you’ll be pleased to know that there are several other places to visit as well. I’ve lumped them together under Stratford-upon-Avon, as really if you are in the area you need to go to everyplace that the Shakespeare’s Trust has on offer.
This is a picturesque tourist town, but it actually has a lot more going for it. Mainly that a certain Elizabethan playwright was born here!
The birthplace of William Shakespeare attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year from all around the globe. Among the town’s many attractions, you can visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace; New Place where he died in 1616; the church where he is buried; Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (pictured above) and his mother Mary Arden’s house just outside the town.
I have been several times to these places and I love it every time. I would recommend buying the ticket that lets you visit every place in the Shakespeare’s Trust – plus as an extra bonus you can revisit as many times as you like in the same year, without having to re-buy the same ticket! Totally worth it!
Hadrian’s Wall: Stretching 73 Miles Across the North of England
- Location: North of England
- Prices: Free from the Public Footpath (if walking)
If you are a fan of roman forts, countless milecastles and turrets then this is MUST visit. You’ve probably heard of this site, but if you’ve never visited then you really need to change that. This is an experience which you can’t miss out on.
Having said that, there are more then 20 places to visit on Hadrian’s Wall and since it stretches over 73 miles this isn’t something that you can just visit in one day. The coast-to-coast wall was built by the Romans at the command of Emperor Hadrian to control and protect their newly won territory. It is impressive and is something which is so unique that you can’t afford to miss it.
This impressive structure was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 so that you tell you everything you need to know about why this is such an incredible site.
Sherwood Forest: Perfect for Robin Hood Fans
- Location: Nottinghamshire
- Prices: Free (parking is £4)
Sherwood Forest is a landmark thousands of years in the making, alive with nature, history and folklore, all waiting to be explored! This is a place to play (so perfect for kids), discover and leave your tales of your own. There are 420 hectares of beautiful woodland, a woodland that has become famous for its connections to Robin Hood.
Here you can learn all the different stories from the ancient oaks to the country’s most famous outlaw. The tree is thought to be 800 years old and according to local folklore, the hollow tree was once the hideout of Robin Hood and his men. There’s not much truth to this though, since the tree would have only been a sapling when Robin Hood was believed to have lived. But still, the story is legend and there’s not harm in a story.
I’ve never been to Sherwood Forest before, but is is high on my list of places I would like to visit at some point. Not just because of the connection to Robin Hood (and I am a huge Robin Hood fan), but because it was also a royal hunting forest after the Norman invasion of 1066, Sherwood Forest was popular with many Norman kings, particularly King John and Edward I. So just for that part of history, I think it’s fascinating.
The Roman Baths: The Georgian City of Bath
- Location: Bath BA1 1LZ
- Prices: Adult £21.00 (prices might change based on peak times)
This is something which has been high on my list of places to visit! Over 2000 years of history and it’s just sat there waiting to be discovered! It was first established in around AD 43 and is one of the most popular historic attractions in the south west of England.
Used as a sanctuary of rest and relaxation, and to wash away infirmities in the healing waters, from AD 70 the baths attracted increasing numbers of visitors from across Britain and Europe. Of course, now things are just a little bit different. But interestingly, it was still being used in the 16th and 17th centuries. There were regular royal visits during this time which just added to the attraction – the Princess, later Queen Anne visited Bath four times from 1688–1703 to take the waters.
It’s not just the Roman Baths that make this area incredibly popular though, it’s equally well known for its honey-colored Georgian Townhouses, such as those located on Royal Crescent.
Some 500 of the city’s buildings are considered of historical or architectural importance, a fact that has resulted in the entire city being granted World Heritage status. Bath makes an ideal location from which to explore some of England’s most stunning countryside, including the Avon Valley, the Mendip Hills, and countless other fantastic Somerset landmarks.
Caernarfon Castle: One of the Most Impressive Castles in Wales
- Location: Caernarfon, LL55 2AY
- Prices: Adult £9.90, Children £6.00, Family £28.90, Free for CADW Members
Wales hasn’t been mentioned much in this post, but there are so many incredible places in Wales that you must visit! There are a lot of castles in Wales so it was tough to just pick one (I have many castles that I would class as my favourite and the majority are in Wales). You won’t be disappointed if you decide to come to Wales, particularly if all you want to do is go and explore castles!
Caernarfon will always be one of my favourites though, partly because I always seem to visit it every time I’m in Wales, and secondly, because of the shop just outside the entrance that offers Jaffa cake ice-cream. Of course, that’s not the only reason, but I always have fond memories of this place.
This castle was built in the 13th century by Edward I and it has lasted incredibly well. You can get lost inside the many rooms and corridors that are still accessible today. Wander through the impressive castle walls, climb the many towers that it has (and there are a lot) and enjoy the views across Caernarfon at the top of the towers.
This is a castle that will probably tire you out by the end of the day, as there are so many towers to climb (twelve to be exact), but every tower offers a slightly different view, and it just gets better everyone you go up.
Chatsworth House: A Stately Home Fit for Royalty
- Location: Bakewell DE45 1PP
- Prices: Adult £14 (just for gardens), Children £7.50 (just for gardens), will update prices for house once I get given the information (parking is £4)
Chatsworth House is renowned for the quality of its art, landscape and hospitality, and it has evolved through the centuries to reflect the tastes, passions and interests of succeeding generations.
If you are in the area and are a fan of historic houses you have to visit Chatsworth House! The house itself is famous, and you’ve probably seen it on you TV at some point. But not only is the house incredible, but also the gardens as well. The famous gardens cover an area of 105 acres. You can easily get lost as you explore around the place, and you can spend all day here!
It has been selected as the United Kingdom’s favourite country home several times, so really you need to visit just because of this (although you don’t really need an excuse to visit a stately home that is basically fit for royalty)!
There are more than 30 rooms to explore, and it holds some of Europe’s most significant art collections. It also has some fascinating history behind it! It was purchased in 1549 by Bess of Hardwick and her husband Sir William Cavendish. In later years, at various times between 1569 and 1584, Mary, Queen of Scots was a prisoner at Chatsworth.
Edinburgh Castle: a Castle that has Existed Since around AD600
- Location: Edinburgh EH1 2NG
- Prices: Adult £17.50, Children (5-15 years old) £14.00
I have to include another castle in this list, and Edinburgh is definitely one that you cannot miss. If you are planning on going up north, then you need to have enough time to visit this castle. This historic fortress, set high on the volcanic crag known as Castle Rock, towers above the capital city of Scotland.
It is also home to the Scottish Crown Jewels, so I thought it rather fitting to include this one (as well as the Tower of London as mentioned earlier). Since 1996, it has also been home to the Stone of Destiny, following its return to Scotland from Westminster.
If you are planning on visiting Edinburgh Castle, don’t miss the opportunity to watch the One o’clock Gun being fired (daily, except Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas). This is a tradition that dates back to 1861 and is a special event. Also it’s a good time to make sure that your watch is set on time!
And there you have it, the top ten historical sites in the UK that you need to visit! There are so many incredible places that I haven’t included on this list and it was tough picking just ten. So I would like to ask you a question, particularly if I missed out one of your favourites…
What historical place in the UK do you recommend visiting?