Things to Do in England - page 4
The family-owned Bridlington Birds of Prey and Animal Park brings together endangered animals across different habitat zones. You can find everything from alpacas and raccoons to owls and meerkats, as well as many birds of prey; exhibits sit alongside educational exhibits and hands-on experiences.
Located in the grand King’s House, in the shadows of the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral, the Salisbury Museum is as impressive from the outside as it is on the inside. The award-winning museum is home to one of the UK’s most treasured archaeological collections, the Stonehenge Gallery, which displays items excavated from the iconic stone circle. Many visitors choose to complement their visit with a tour of nearby Stonehenge, just five miles (eight km) from Salisbury.
It’s not just Stonehenge that takes center stage—the fascinating Wessex Gallery exhibition chronicles more than 500,000 years of human history in the region and includes some of the oldest gold objects ever found in Britain. The Costume Gallery displays a colorful collection of clothing and accessories dating back from the 1750s, while the Ceramics Gallery includes rare and unusual items from the Victorian era.
Visit Salisbury Museum on a day trip from London that includes additional stops in Stonehenge and Windsor.
Though often confused with its grandiose neighbor Tower Bridge, London Bridge is, in reality, more functional than fancy. It does, however, have a long history, with its first iteration having been erected by the Romans way back in AD 50. No visible trace remains of the original bridge, nor of the handful of structures that replaced it, including the one that became the subject of that famous nursery rhyme. Though the current 1970s-built concrete version is not quite as eye-catching, the views it offers of Tower Bridge are hard to top.
A dramatic reminder of Bath’s Georgian heritage and one of the city’s most photographed historic landmarks, the Royal Crescent is aptly named, with its crescent-shaped row of terraced townhouses and regal architecture. Built between 1767 and 1775 by architect John Wood the Younger, the Royal Crescent features a row of magnificent terraced townhouses, looking out over a vast expanse of manicured lawns.
There are 30 houses along the crescent, each looming 47-foot (14-meters) high, fronted by gigantic Ionic columns and renowned for their beautifully preserved Georgian facades. Many of the houses are still private homes, but No. 1 Royal Crescent is now a museum, offering visitors a glimpse into life in Georgian-era Bath, while No. 16 is home to the luxurious Royal Crescent Hotel.
Inspiring the 1967 Beatles’ song Strawberry Fields Forever, Strawberry Field in the Liverpool suburb of Woolton functioned as a Salvation Army children’s home from 1936 to 2005. As a boy, Lennon would sneak in to play, and enjoyed watching the band at the annual garden party. These experiences would go on to inform his later songwriting.
The ancestral seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Chatsworth House in Derbyshire is a prominent example of 17th-century architecture, and one of Britain’s most popular stately homes. It draws visitors from all over the world who come to tour the building and see the famous gardens designed by “Capability” Brown.
Opened in 1896 and still a popular spot for an adrenaline rush, the 42-acre (17-hectare) Blackpool Pleasure Beach is packed with fairground attractions, in addition to the 11 white-knuckle roller coasters and simulator rides, gentle family carousels and the UK's only Nickelodeon Land, where kids can meet characters such as the Rugrats and Spongebob Squarepants.
The most popular daredevil rides include the notorious Grand National mega coaster and the 85-mph Big One, Britain's highest coaster at 214 feet (65 meters). The fun park's stomach-churning Red Arrows Skyforce was designed in collaboration with the world-renowned Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.
Indoor attractions include a Ripley's Believe it or Not!, skating performances at the arena, live musical shows, penny arcades and the Horror Crypt. Other activities include bowling, golf and talent shows, while more than 20 food outlets and shops are scattered across the park. There’s even luxury accommodation at the sleek Big Blue Hotel.
The World War II warshipHMS Belfast, moored on the south bank of the Thames, is an iconic symbol of British history. Discover interactive displays and preserved spaces across the vessel’s nine decks and learn about life on the naval ship, as well as its role in D-Day, the Arctic Convoys, and the Battle of North Cape.
World famous for its eponymous music festival, Glastonbury has a creative spirit that burns all year round. Steeped in history, the small town is known for its medieval abbey and links to King Arthur, as well as its lively markets, artisan boutiques, and thriving arts scene.
One of Oxford’s most recognizable landmarks, the Sheldonian Theatre is a neoclassical building dating to 1669. Designed by the celebrated architect Sir Christopher Wren, the venue is used for ceremonial events by the University of Oxford (including graduations), as well as lectures, concerts, and other publicly accessible performances.
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Piercing the sky like a gigantic shard of glass, the London Shard is every bit as spectacular as it sounds. This architectural wonder, designed by Renzo Piano, is not only one of the city’s most iconic structures—it also boasts the highest observation deck in London.
One of the best zoos in the United Kingdom, the Chester Zoo houses 20,000 animals from 500 species, all spread out over 125 acres for the park's 1.6 million yearly visitors to learn about.
Highlights include the Tsavo Black Rhino Reserve; the Realm of the Red Ape; the Fruit Bat Forest; the Hi Way family of Asian elephants; and the Islands at Chester Zoo, meant to replicate the environment of South East Asia with native species such as the Sunda gharial crocodile and the Sumatran tiger. To move about the park with ease, take a ride on the Zoofari Monorail (extra fee), which offers a great view from above and has stations throughout the park.
In addition, travelers can explore the historic Oakfield House, home to the Mottershead family when they opened the zoo in 1931, and a number of themed children's play areas. When you're hungry, stop in at one of the park's cafes and restaurants.
Meticulously constructed using period-appropriate materials to resemble the original Elizabethan Globe Theatre, which stood at a site just 656 feet (200 meters) away, Shakespeare’s Globe brings the theatergoing experience of yore to life. Plays—not exclusively Shakespeare’s, though the bard’s works do dominate the schedule—are staged in the atmospheric, circular, open-air auditorium.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hadrian’s Wall took a decade to construct from AD 122 onwards to prevent rebel tribes in Scotland from repeatedly crossing the frontier and attacking Roman territory. Standing around five m (16 ft) high and three m (9.5 ft) across, the wall was guarded day and night by soldiers housed in a series of 16 forts and settlements constructed along its 135 km (84 mile) length between Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast and Wallsend in the east. Housesteads Fort is located near present-day Hexham in Northumberland National Park and stands high on a hill with far-reaching and spectacular views across bleak, undulating moorlands. Originally known as Vercovicium, it was home to 800 soldiers at any one time and the garrison is one of the best preserved of all Roman forts, with the barracks, dining halls, hospital, granaries and even communal latrines still clearly visible in the neat stone layouts; parts of the gates and encircling wall still stand too. It was active for more than 200 years before the Roman Empire collapsed, after which Housesteads was abandoned for centuries and only rediscovered in the 19th century. Today a small museum by the fort highlights the history of the Roman invasion of Britain as well as the construction of Housesteads; artifacts recovered from the fort and displayed there include jewelry, scraps of leather shoes and weapons.
With its elaborate Perpendicular Gothic façade and exquisite stained glass windows, the King's College Chapel is worthy of the accolades that are ravished upon it. Often touted as the most impressive work of medieval architecture and Gothic design in Britain, it now ranks as the most visited attraction in Cambridge. Founded by Henry VI in 1441, who laid the foundation stone himself, the chapel was the design of royal architect Reginald of Ely and took almost 75 years to be completed, continuing through the reigns of Edward IV, Richard II, Henry VII and Henry VIII.
Visitors to the chapel are unlikely to be disappointed – the ornate interiors are truly show-stopping, with highlights including the magnificent fan vaulted ceilings, the elaborate Tudor motifs and screens, and Rubens' Adoration of the Magi, which overlooks the high altar. Also of significance are the remarkably preserved 16th-century stained glass windows and the gilded Harrison & Harrison organ, celebrated for its rich and distinctive sound.
As well as being the architectural star of Cambridge University’s prestigious King’s College, the King’s College chapel is also a working chapel, used for daily services and recitals by the acclaimed King’s College Choir. The famous ‘evensong’ (evening choral performances), performed by the resident choir, have become hugely popular among both locals and visitors. The most notable service is the Festival of the Nine Lessons, the carol service that has been held on Christmas Eve since 1918 and huge crowds gather for the event.
As striking as its namesake in Venice, the Bridge of Sighs is one of Cambridge’s most memorable landmarks, spanning the banks of the River Cam at St John's College. Built in 1831 by architect Henry Hutchinson, the bridge actually bears little in common with its Venetian counterpart, aside from being a covered bridge. It’s none-the-less a romantic spot, with its Neo-gothic arches and dramatically sculpted windows.
Now a grade I-listed structure, the bridge remains an important thoroughfare for college students, linking the New Court with the old college. For visitors, the best view of the bridge is from the river and Cambridge punting tours typically pass beneath its arches.
Between its baroque chapel, extensive gardens, and historic buildings, Trinity is one of Oxford’s prettiest small colleges. Founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope, it occupies a prime position in central Oxford, opposite the landmark Bodleian Library.
Welcome to cheese heaven! At the award-winning Wensleydale Creamery, visitors will learn everything there is to know about the famous British cheese and the art of cheese making. It’s even possible to see the cheese literally being cut, stirred, pitched, and salted by hand at the viewing gallery inside the Yorkshire Wensleydale Cheese Experience. The creamery is also home to a gift shop (where a vast array of cheese and cheese-related paraphernalia are available), a deli, a coffee shop, and a restaurant with views of the surrounding Yorkshire Dales. There is also a newly refurbished visitor center on-site, which explains the history and heritage of the Wensleydale cheese and where visitors will have the opportunity to taste the stuff for themselves.
Set on High Street in the heart of town, graduates-only All Souls College is Oxford’s most elitist institution. Only the university’s best and brightest are invited to sit the entrance exam, and just two are accepted as fellows each year. Fifteenth-century architecture mingles with Hawksmoor and Wren detailings for pure tranquility.
Just outside of Salisbury, England is the Old Sarum, one of the oldest settlements in the country. It was originally built as a hill fort and eventually grew into a castle and a cathedral. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the cathedral was demolished and the settlement was mostly abandoned. Building materials from the old cathedral were used in constructing the new one located in the modern town of Salisbury. Today you can wander through the remaining foundations of the cathedral and castle and learn about the history of Salisbury's origins. The ramparts consist of two banks of earth separated by a ditch.
On certain days, medieval tournaments, open air plays, and mock battles are held here. Old Sarum is located on 29 acres of rare grass chalkland making it a beautiful natural setting for exploring the Wiltshire countryside. Footpaths cross through the ramparts and offer views of the tall spire of the new cathedral. Old Sarum is not far from Stonehenge and is often included on tours of the region.
Located in a colonnade-fronted, early 20th-century County Hall building (the former headquarters for the Greater London Council), the SEA LIFE® London Aquarium is one of Europe’s aquatic museums with 14 themed zones. Marine-life displays include walk-over glass shark tanks, transparent tunnels where sea turtles swim overhead, and kaleidoscopic coral reefs. Visitors also love the penguin exhibit, where it’s possible to observe adorable orange-beaked gentoo penguins waddling on land and swimming gracefully underwater.
Despite its diminutive size at just over 1 km long, Rydal Water’s strong literary connections have cemented its status as one of the Lake District’s most visited spots. Wordsworth’s Seat, overlooking the western bank, was renowned as the poet’s favorite viewpoint, while nearby points of interest include Nab Cottage, once home to Thomas Quincey and three of Wordworth’s former homes – White Moss House, Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage.
One of the few boat-free lakes, Rydal Water makes a perfect spot for open-air swimming during the warmer months, while the lakeside hills are at their most beautiful in spring and autumn, when fields of wildflowers and colorful foliage add a rich range of hues.
Flowing through the heart of Cambridge, the River Cam is not only the city’s lifeline, but one of its most captivating natural landmarks. The most visited section of the river runs between Bishops Mill and Jesus Lock, lined by the grand buildings of Cambridge University and aptly nicknamed ‘The Backs’ as it’s framed by the ‘backs’ of eight colleges. Following the river along this stretch affords impressive views of King’s College, the Wren Library at Trinity College and landmarks like the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge.
For visitors to Cambridge, the quintessential local activity is punting along the River Cam – a chauffeured cruise in a flat-bottomed boat or ‘punt’, propelled along by a 5-meter-long pole. A romantic, slow-paced punting tour is ideal for sightseeing as you’ll float downstream with plenty of time to snap photos and admire the riverside landmarks.
The River Cam is also a popular recreational ground, with university rowing teams using it to practice for the prestigious Oxford-Cambridge boat race (held along the River Thames in London each spring). Walkways run along parts of the river and many pubs and restaurants offer riverside views, while the grassy banks make an idyllic picnic spot during the summer months.
Despite an association with all things spooky—goth festivals, Bram Stoker, and decrepit abbeys—Whitby remains one of the most popular seaside towns in England. Replete with natural beauty, the town is small enough to explore on foot and boasts numerous attractions that appeal to a cross section of visitors.
- Things to do in London
- Things to do in Liverpool
- Things to do in Manchester
- Things to do in Oxford
- Things to do in York
- Things to do in Southampton
- Things to do in Cambridge
- Things to do in Bristol
- Things to do in Birmingham
- Things to do in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
- Things to do in Wales
- Things to do in Ireland
- Things to do in North West England
- Things to do in South West England
- Things to do in Yorkshire