Thatched roofs, cosy coastal retreats, endless amounts of greenery and heaps of history – Ah yes, England is bloody brilliant! And if you’re after the truest of quintessentially British experiences, these are some of the loveliest quaint village, charming cities, seaside resorts and perfectly groomed gardens around.
Let’s call it the Quintessentially Great British Bucket List of all the best places to visit in England…
Primarily known as a city full of British intellect and architecture, Cambridge is home to some of the oldest colleges in England, including the grand 16th century Gothic King’s College Chapel, and the elegant Tudor Trinity College. The ancient colleges are situated along The River Cam, which runs through the heart of Cambridge and is one of the cities absolutely must do, quintessentially British experiences – punting. Rowing down the river whilst sipping a Pimms or two is a great way to see the city. And in the evening? Grab your bikes and head to one of the many traditional pubs dotted along the cobbled streets.
You can’t visit England without taking a trip to Stonehenge. The stone circle is one of the oldest monuments in Europe, dating back to the late Neolithic Age, around 3000BC. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can walk in the footsteps of your Neolithic ancestors and explore the ancient landscape, world-class exhibition and visitors centre. You can give it a go on our London Explorer trip – we’ll take you there for the day to learn about the history of Stonehenge, followed by a trip to beautiful Bath, also on this list!
The Cotswolds, Painswick
If you’re after gently rolling hills and dozens of super cute quintessentially English towns, look no further than The Cotswolds, and in particular Painswick. The picture-perfect town is one of the best-preserved spots in the area, claiming the title ‘The Queen of The Cotswolds’ which makes it a worthy contender as another of the best places to visit in England. With views over the Severn Valley to the Welsh mountains beyond, plenty of pubs and an abundance of charming winding streets, this is an ideal place to get some down time whilst soaking up the very best England has to offer. Make sure you head to Painswick Rococo Garden, an absolute masterpiece of 18th-century design.
Rye, East Sussex
This English town near the coast of East Sussex will really take you back in English time. Tudor buildings, medieval houses, antique stores, quirky shops, cobblestone streets and even a pretty harbour result in the perfect destination to really appreciate the charm and beauty of England. It’s also got the seaside town of Brighton right on the outskirts which you can visit to enjoy a day by the sea, chips on the pier, cool street art and a vibey creative scene.
Seaside retreats done right, Cornwall is situated on the rugged Southwest tip of England and boasts some of the most beautiful beaches around – and why it’s continually voted as one of the best places to visit in England particularly in the height of summer. Polperro is one of the area’s prettiest unspoilt fishing villages with cottages clinging to the cliffs and narrow streets full of paintings, pottery, flowers and bakeries. Expect to find art galleries, exhibitions, shops and restaurants, and even air performances in this gem on the Cornish coast.
Situated on the Southwest hills, Bath is brimming with 18th century Georgian architecture and is undoubtedly one of England’s most stylish and beautiful towns. And the best bit? It really is known for its baths. Home to 2,000 year old Roman Baths and natural thermal spas, this is the ultimate relaxing weekend, and even offers a whole load of boutique shops, bars and restaurants to keep you entertained. Check out the beautiful botanic garden at Royal Victoria Park for a haven of calm whilst you’re there.
The medieval market town with more than 800 years of history is famously also the home of England’s most iconic playwright, William Shakespeare. Born in Stratford in 1564, you can immediately see the ‘Romeo & Juliet’ inspirations when visiting Shakespeare’s hometown. With The Royal Shakespeare Company theatre performances, Warwick Castle and the charming Tudor town, nowhere says quintessential Britain quite like this.
Best known for Oxford University, the oldest and most famous university in the English-speaking world, Oxford has educated 26 British prime ministers and 50 Nobel Prize winners. The prestigious city dates back to the 13th century and may be recognisable from the many Harry Potter scenes filmed here (reason enough to make it one of THE best places to visit in England!) . If you’re not buried away in books or Potter land, punt or cycle around the city and be sure to stop at one of the many afternoon tea spots. There’s no shortage of activities to enjoy.
IF YOU LOVE HARRY POTTER: 10 REAL-LIFE HARRY POTTER FILMING DESTINATIONS YOU CAN VISIT IN THE UK
The Lake District
If you’re after rugged British countryside look no further. As the UK’s most popular national park, the Lake District is one of the best places to visit in England, with its glistening lakes, never ending green hills and stunning natural beauty. The highest mountains in England are sure to give you some jaw-dropping panoramic views, tranquility and outdoor adventures. You can experience a taste of this on our England & Scotland trip.
The Peak District
Both the Lakes and the Peak are loved for the huge expanse of rugged wilderness they offer, whether it’s a day trip or week-long holiday you’ve got in mind – but each one is unique. The Lakes, as you’ve probably guessed, is more about the vast waters that surround those lush mountains, plus it’s roughly 1000 sq km bigger than the Peak, and contains more challenging walks. The Peak District is famed for its valley views, climbing crags and deep caves which you can explore. It’s also got some of Derbyshire’s best local pubs on its doorstep – you’ll need a hearty meal after stomping around the moors all day!
Visit Chatsworth House whilst you’re here too, a huge stately home in the Derbyshire Dales with beautiful gardens, a local farm shop and wild animals roaming the grounds.
Devon’s a UK treasure. In the summer months when it’s sunny and warm, this little pocket in the south west of England truly comes to life. With its stretch of sandy beaches, turquoise sea and luscious green landscape, you could be mistaken for thinking you’re in the balmy Med at times. Surf, swim, paddle-board, hike, immerse yourself in nature and really get off grid. Combine the rippling swell with mindful yoga on our Devon Detour trip; it’s nourishment for the mind, body and soul, with heaps of delicious food included in the experience too.
We recommend taking a road trip to the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which spans almost 100 miles between Dorset and Devon. It’s over 185 million years old and nature’s preservation of this staggering beauty spot can’t fail to impress.
And London. Would it really be a trip complete without a visit to the Big Smoke? Londoners will profess to the capital as the best place to visit in England (and probably the world) and we can give you plenty of reasons why. It’s crazy, chaotic, full-pelt, non-stop and that’s precisely why it rocks. Yes, you’ve got the landmarks: Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Tower London, Westminster Abbey (we could go on) but it’s the VIBE you’re gonna love most. Multicultural, every cuisine imaginable served at all hours of the day, so many eclectic people, and music and nightlife to suit every taste that’s out there.
Don’t let the traffic and crowded streets fool you – London’s a secret haven! It boasts over 3000 parks and so many beautiful bodies of water (Hampstead Heath Ponds: we’re lookin’ at you) so you’ve got plenty of chance to escape to more tranquil settings if the mood takes you.