One of the most visited countries in the world, England offers almost endless possibilities for things to see and do. Part of the beautiful British Isles, this small but influential country bursts with fascinating history, exciting cities, and rich cultural traditions. 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.
England is also extremely easy to get around, with its most popular tourist destinations well connected by trains and buses. Or you can drive between points of interest on a well-planned system of motorways. Whether you choose to tour the country by car or public transport, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience.
Stonehenge, 10 miles north of Salisbury on Salisbury Plain, is Europe’s best-known prehistoric monument (the site is so popular that visitors need to purchase a timed ticket in advance to guarantee entry). Exhibitions at the excellent visitor center set the stage for a visit, explaining through audio-visual experiences and more than 250 ancient objects how the megaliths were erected and telling about life when they were placed here, between 3000 and 1500 BC. After walking around the enormous stones, visit the authentic replicas of Neolithic Houses to see the tools and implements of everyday Neolithic life as volunteers demonstrate skills from 4,500 years ago. Although you can’t go inside the circle to wander among the stones during normal opening hours, you can reserve special early morning or late evening access into the circle through English Heritage, which manages the site.
Location: Shrewton, Wiltshire
Official site: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Stonehenge
2 Tower of London
Prison, palace, treasure vault, observatory, and menagerie – the Tower of London has done it all. Widely considered the most important building in England, there’s enough to see and do at this World Heritage Site to keep visitors busy for hours. The centerpiece is the White Tower. Built in 1078 by William the Conqueror, it’s home to amazing exhibits such as Line of Kings, the world’s oldest visitor attraction (1652) with its remarkable displays of royal armor. Other highlights include the wonderful Crown Jewels exhibition, classic Yeoman Warder Tours, the Royal Mint, and exhibits and displays regarding prisoners and executions. All told, the Tower of London covers some 18 acres, so there’s a great deal of exploring to do.
Location: Tower of London, London
Accommodation: Where to Stay in London
Visiting the Tower of London: 10 Top Attractions, Tips & Tours
17 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in London
3 The Roman Baths and Georgian City of Bath
If you only have time to visit one smaller city in England, you couldn’t do much better than Bath. This remarkably beautiful city boasts more fantastic tourist attractions than you could hope to visit in a day. While most famous for the magnificent 2,000-year-old Roman Baths built around the city’s rejuvenating hot springs, 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.
Location: Abbey Chambers, Abbey Churchyard, Bath
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Bath: Best Areas & Hotels
16 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Bath
4 British Museum
With collections of antiquities that are among the world’s finest, the British Museum holds more than 13 million artifacts from Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt, Greece, the Roman Empire, China, and Europe. The most famous ancient artifacts are the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon in Athens and the Rosetta Stone, but there are many other outstanding pieces on show here. The Ancient Egyptian collection is the largest outside of Cairo, and the hoard of Roman silver dating from the fourth century known as the Mildenhall Treasure, unearthed in Suffolk in 1942, is nothing short of spectacular.
Address: Great Russell Street, London
Official site: http://www.britishmuseum.org
British Museum: A Visitor’s Guide
17 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in London
5 York Minster and Historic Yorkshire
The magnificent York Minster is second in importance in the Church of England only to the cathedral at Canterbury. It stands in the center of York, surrounded by half-timbered homes and shops, medieval guildhalls, and churches. In turn, York’s romantic streets are surrounded by three miles of magnificent town walls that you can walk atop for views of the city and its surroundings. While there, visit the National Railway Museum, one of England’s most visited tourist attractions. York is a good base for exploring the countryside, in particular the rugged beauty of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. Elsewhere in Yorkshire, you’ll find some of England’s most beautiful historic towns and cities, including Durham and Beverley.