Fifteen places to visit in the UK

Two years ago, a friend of mine asked me to compile a list of places for her to visit in Britain before going back to Taiwan. Naturally with Britain being such a wonderful place, I could have produced an almost endless list. However, unfortunately, time was of the essence. Therefore I decided to pick a select number of places that I felt conveyed the essence of this country; places that will be remembered long after flying back to Taiwan. The list that follows counts down to what I felt at the time was the best place to visit, ranking each of the fifteen entries on a number of criteria. Note that some of the information may have changed since then. 

  • Excitement (how exciting the place is)
  • Relaxation (how relaxing the place is)
  • Value for money (how much does it cost to have a good time)
  • Britishness (how well the place portrays British culture and history)

Each ranking is from 0 to 10, with 0 being the worst and 10 being the best. Note that the prices given next to value for money are, where relavent, those for a single student. Travel and accomidation are not factored into this price. 

I feel that this list includes a wide array of different places to see and do (from tourist hotspots to tranquil rural locations) . While it is far from exhaustive, I hope it gives a good snapshot of Britian.

15 – Cadbury World

“We really enjoyed the liquid chocolate, it was delicious”

At Cadbury World you can discover the story of chocolate, see how chocolate is made, watch chocolate demonstrations…..oh and eat some chocolate too!

  • Excitement = 7
  • Relaxation = 3
  • Value for money = 6 (£10.00)
  • Britishness = 3 

Recommended length of stay = ½ day

14 – The Trafford Centre

“The Trafford Centre has 1,478,387 square feet (137,346.6 m²) of retail space and attracts 30 million visits annually (2005 figures). It is made up of 4 main areas: Peel Avenue, Regent Crescent, The Dome, and The Orient.”

With 280 stores, The Trafford Centre is one of the largest shopping centres in Europe. If shopping is your thing, it is highly recommended as part of a visit to Manchester.

  • Excitement = 5
  • Relaxation = 4
  • Value for money = 5 (depends on you!)
  • Britishness = 2 

Recommended length of stay = ½ – 1 day

13 – Alton Towers

“Family Fun great for kids, big and small. There is something for the whole family, with tons of terrific roller coasters, rides, amazing live shows, weird and wonderful costume characters.”

Alton Towers is a theme park in northern England, it is home to the World’s first inverted, vertical and ‘flying’ roller coasters, perfect for thrill seakers. Get there in June-early July (before the kids do!)

  • Excitement = 9
  • Relaxation = 2
  • Value for money = 3 (£28.00 – online)
  • Britishness = 4

12 – Warrick Castle

“Bursting to the towers with action and adventure including the world’s biggest siege machine, thrilling jousting tournaments, breathtaking birds of prey, daredevil knights, an entire castle-full of colourful characters.”

One of the most complete castles in all of Britain, plus plenty else to see and do. According to my mum, I have been here and enjoyed it! Oh and there is a medieval jousting tournament between 24th May and 1st June.

  • Excitement = 5
  • Relaxation = 6
  • Value for money = 5 (£11.15 – online)
  • Britishness = 7

11 – Snowdon

“Snowdon offers some of the most extensive views in the British Isles; on exceptionally clear days, Ireland, Scotland and England are all visible.”

Snowdon is the highest mountain in England and Wales, offering excellent opportunities for walking and climbing. There is also a steam train that takes a 2 1/2 hour round trip to the top and back. I have never personally been there, however it is top of my list of things to do.

  • Excitement = 5
  • Relaxation = 9
  • Value for money = 6 (mountain train costs £8 – £19 (depending on ticket type))
  • Britishness = 5

10 – Oxford

“Oxford, The City of Dreaming Spires, is famous the world over for its University and place in history. For over 800 years, it has been a home to royalty and scholars, and since the 9th century an established town, although people are known to have lived in the area for thousands of years.”

A historic and majestic city, Oxford contains many famous attractions including The Bodleian Library, The Ashmolean Museum, The Botanic Gardens and Christ Church Cathedral.

  • Excitement = 6
  • Relaxation = 6
  • Value for money = 8 (entrance fee to many of the popular attractions is reasonable)
  • Britishness = 8

9 – Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

“Discover the world famous historic ships – HMS Victory, the Mary Rose & HMS Warrior 1860 that have shaped British history at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.”

Comprised of three separate attractions (plus other museums), Portsmouth Historic Dockyard lets you explore what you want at your own pace. The Mary Rose, a personal favourite of mine, was raised from the sea bed a number of years ago and has been preserved by being sprayed with salt water since.

  • Excitement = 6
  • Relaxation = 5
  • Value for money = 6 (£18.50 for all attractions, £12.00 for a single attraction)
  • Britishness = 7

8 – Plymouth Waterfront

“Start your coastal tour with Plymouth’s superb natural harbour and spectacular Plymouth Hoe, where you can enjoy a visit to Smeaton’s Tower. A walk along Plymouth’s waterfront walkway allows you to explore the history and magnificent setting of the maritime city.”

Plymouth, the home of my Gran and birthplace of my Dad, is a place where I have spent a lot of time over the past 22 years. Despite this I have never been bored there. Aside from the Waterfront, there is plenty else to do; the Barbican, National Marine Aquarium, city centre and boat trip to Cornwall are all highly recommended.

  • Excitement = 7
  • Relaxation = 7
  • Value for money = 5 (prices vary)
  • Britishness = 6

7 – Wells Cathedral

“It is a prayer in stone and glass. In rooms dimly glimpsed beyond there are shadows and shafts of light beckoning pilgrim or seeker to discover what lies within”

Wells Cathedral begun in 1180 and according to their website (I have never been), is one of the most impressive English cathedrals in England! Visitors are welcome, either to attend one of the daily services, or to simply look around. Oh, and it’s the closest place to Bath on this list, with a bus and train services running to and from the city!

  • Excitement = 3
  • Relaxation = 9
  • Value for money = 9 (entrance is free, although a £2.50 donation is welcomed)
  • Britishness = 7

6 – Brecon Beacons

“The Brecon Beacons National Park spans 519 square miles (1,344 square kilometres). Established in 1957, it is located in mid-Wales in the UK, and contains some of the most spectacular and diverse landscapes in Europe.”

The most recently visited place on this list by me; the Brecon Beacons encompasses many hills, canal paths, waterfalls, market towns and castles. One of the high points (pun intended) is Pen y Fan, the highest peak in South Wales and the “highest Old Red Sandstone summit in Britain” (ummm how many Old Red Sandstone summits are there?). Needless to say, fantastic views!

  • Excitement = 6
  • Relaxation = 8
  • Value for money = 10 (the countryside is free!)
  • Britishness = 7

5 – Weald and Downland Open Air Museum

“Set in 50 acres of beautiful Sussex countryside is a very special place to wander amongst a fascinating collection of nearly 50 historic buildings dating from the 13th to the 19th century, many with period gardens, together with farm animals, woodland walks and a picturesque lake.”

One of my first (and only) school trips, Singleton open air museum was, at the time, incredibly boring. Judging such a place from a nine year old’s perspective does not do it any justice however. On later reflection, I think that this attraction would be a wonderful place to visit, offering a window into Britain’s colourful past. Best save for a sunny day!

  • Excitement = 4
  • Relaxation = 8
  • Value for money = 9 (£4.50)
  • Britishness = 8

4 – St Fagans National History Museum

“St Fagans is one of Europe’s foremost open–air museums and Wales’s most popular heritage attraction. It stands in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans Castle, a late 16th-century manor house.”

I went here quite recently and was plesantly supprised. St Fagans is an open-air museum that features over forty original buildings from different historical periods, a small working farm, traditional shops, some Celtic huts and St Fagans Castle. Best of all, entrance is free.

  • Excitement = 6
  • Relaxation = 7
  • Value for money = 10
  • Britishness = 9

3 – The Isle of Wight

“The Isle of Wight is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing break, at any time of the year. It is a stunning Island with unspoilt scenery and a wealth of fascinating attractions.”

Despite measuring only 23 miles by 13 miles, the Isle of Wight has over 60 places to visit with plenty of things to to do. Many magical summer holidays during my innocent childhood were spent here. I have particullary fond memmories of the constantly eroding Blackgang Chine, the chair lift at Needles Park and fossil hunting on the many beaches.

  • Excitement = 7
  • Relaxation = 8
  • Value for money = 6 (varies)
  • Britishness = 8

2 – Hollycombe Steam Fair

“Hollycombe is a unique collection of working steam powered attractions providing fun and entertainment for the whole family. The centre-piece is a complete Edwardian Fairground where you can experience all the fun of the fair from the 1870’s.”

I have been visiting Hollycombe since I was a young lad! Located in the Hampshire countryside, it offers a window into the past with a working steam fair, a variety of trains and a farm.

  • Excitement = 6
  • Relaxation = 7
  • Value for money = 8 (£11.00)
  • Britishness = 9

1 – Cornish coast

“The Coast of Cornwall is one of the most beautiful coastlines in England. From towering cliffs, windblown estuaries, superb surf beaches, fishing coves, harbours, to sheltered tree lined creeks, even an island topped by a castle.”

With so much amazing coastline, it’s difficult to know where to start. I will however give a short list of highly recommended coastal locations. Firstly the beaches:

 The following are all other possible places of interest along the coast:

And finally, the ratings…

  • Excitement = 6
  • Relaxation = 9
  • Value for money = 9
  • Britishness = 8

One thought on “Fifteen places to visit in the UK

  1. Pingback: My blog – 2010 in review « Michael's Blog

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