If you were going to pick anywhere in the world to go sightseeing, I’d argue that the UK is your best port of call. After all, the capital city of London alone is packed full of thrilling landmarks and tourist hotspots, which are variable in nature and highly sought after.
While sightseeing in the UK is almost guaranteed to deliver a fun and immersive experience, however, choosing the best and most exciting landmarks to visit can be a challenge.
In this post, we’ll explore some best sightseeing holidays in the UK, while considering what attractions you can cover in such locations. Let’s get into it!
Sightseeing in the UK – What You Need to Know
#1. Visit the South of Europe – in Wales!
While the above heading might seem a little confusing, it refers to the picturesque but largely overlooked tourist village of Portmeirion in Gwynedd.
Interestingly, Portmeirion is described as a folly tourist village, which means that it has been deliberately structured and designed to be largely decorative and has been set on its own peninsula that reaches into an estuary.
Certainly, taking a stroll around Portmeirion is a unique and tranquil experience that can make you believe you’re basking in the sunlight of southern Europe or the Mediterranean.
The village itself was masterminded by the esteemed Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, while it has a distinctly Italian theme running throughout. Once you arrive in Portmeirion, you’ll certainly see a stunning collection of rainbow-coloured buildings, which immediately put you in mind of seaside Italian resorts such as Capri, Positano and Cinque Terre (which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
As top sightseeing experiences in the UK go, a trip to Portmeirion offers a unique opportunity and is highly recommended. Sure, it may not provide the most accurate representation of Welsh life or culture, but it’s unlike any other location in Great Britain and is chock-full of stunning architecture, sunlit coastline and lush gardens.
#2. Enjoy the Magnificence of Stonehenge
When it comes to sightseeing in the UK, few sites are as popular or iconic as the magnificent Stonehenge.
Of course, this world-renowned prehistoric stone circle on the tranquil Salisbury Plain doesn’t look like much at first glance, but its deceptively unique formation and rich heritage enable the site to draw millions of visitors every single year on average.
While it has become the quintessential tourist attraction over time, however, this shouldn’t distract from the site’s immense intrigue and the mystery that surrounds it. Sure, we know that Stonehenge was built in multiple stages, with the first monument constructed as a primitive henge monument around 5,000 years ago.
The site’s unique stone circle was built during the late Neolithic period, with experts estimating its construction date at around 2500 BC. Throughout the early Bronze Age, a number of burial mounds were built nearby, causing many to speculate that Stonehenge was at the epicentre of a vast burial ground.
However, nobody really knows what these imposing standing stones represent, with other origin theories suggesting that Stonehenge was part of a celestial calendar or site designated for Pagan rituals and sacrifices. The site has also spawned some more outlandish conspiracy theories throughout the ages, with a cult following of people believing that Stonehenge is either supernatural or extraterrestrial in nature.
Our own particular favourite is that the site was constructed by either Merlin the Wizard or a group of giants, with these betraying the unusual design and sheer level of construction work that would have been involved.
On this subject, it should also be noted that the stones in question are bluestone, which would have originated in Wales some 150 miles away from the site. Geologists have confirmed that 42 of Stonehenge’s smaller stones came directly from the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire in West Wales, with the mystery of their transportation only adding to the site’s mystique and broader appeal.
#3. Why Not Perch on Arthur’s Seat?
While the next option on our list may not feature on everyone’s list of the top 10 sightseeing experiences in the UK, it’s another that’s truly unique and categorised as one of the region’s hidden gems.
The intriguingly named Arthur’s Seat is perched in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, while it describes an ancient volcano with a loam-covered peak that sits some 351 metres above sea level.
Visible from most locations in the city, it’s also barely a stone’s throw from the Royal Mile in the centre of Edinburgh, making it highly accessible even during a brief (but hectic) day trip. You can begin your ascent from the similarly popular Holyrood Park, this hike upwards is relatively easy and should suit people of most ages and fitness levels.
However, the ascent will still get your heart pounding, and once you’ve reached the top, you can proudly perch on Arthur’s Seat and enjoy some spectacular views of one of the UK’s most ancient and history-rich cities.
These views include glimpses of the Scott Monument and iconic Edinburgh Castle, which also helps to explain why a trip to the Scottish capital is considered to be one of the best sightseeing holidays in the whole of the UK.
Sightseeing in the UK: The Last Word
If you were to analyse sightseeing in UK maps and similar resources, you’d see that the region is home to a huge number of unique sites, tourist hotspots and thrilling attractions.
For example, we’ve managed to compile this list without referencing classic British landmarks like Big Ben and the Tower of London, while we’ve also overlooked the atmospheric and mountainous clifftop of Cornwall (which contributes to one of the best and most attractive coastlines in the UK).
Of course, the Cornwall coast is also the subject of numerous urban legends and speculation, as are many of the sightseeing locations described above.
It’s also similarly dramatic, and there’s no doubt that visiting such locations can add a thrilling dimension to any sightseeing holiday and create memories that last a lifetime.