I have a love/hate relationship with England. After a spending a freezing winter in St Albans and a broke summer in the Isle of Wight, I didn’t have the happiest of associations with the country. Not to mention the ridiculous waits at passport control to even be allowed in!
Several years and many positive visits later, I’ve changed my mind. Sure, I still hate waiting at passport control, but I’ve realised that England is a great place. It’s packed with history, full of interesting cities and stunning small towns, and there’s heaps to do! No top-10 list could ever do it justice, but luckily everyone’s allowed an opinion, and these are our top 10 things to do in England!
London is worth several weeks in itself, but make sure to get out of the capital and explore further afield.
1. Visit the Tower of London.
This incredible complex of buildings is located in the centre of London on the banks of the River Thames. Take a tour with a Beefeater, see the crown jewels, and skate in the moat in winter. Across the river, London’s Southbank has a lot to offer – it’s the home of the London Eye as well as dozens of theatres and pubs.
2. Visit Bath.
The Roman city and setting of many of Jane Austen’s novels is one of the prettiest towns in Britain, as well as being a haven for history buffs. Check out our What to do in Bath article for more information!
3. Head to the seaside.
Although most of England’s beaches aren’t suitable for swimming for most of the year, going to the seaside is a cultural institution, and there are other things to do beside actually getting in the water — eat fish and chips, play minigolf, try your hand at the penny machines! If you’re committed to spending time in the sea, head to Cornwall, where the weather is more favorable and you can even surf.
4. Have a Sunday roast washed down with real ale in a country pub.
Beef is the traditional option, but chicken, pork and occasionally lamb are also on offer. Don’t miss the Yorkshire pudding and lashings of gravy. Independent pubs are your best bet, but we’ve found that the chains like Wetherspoons (while not the best gastronomic option most of the time) actually do a reasonable and reasonably priced Sunday roast.
5. Holiday in the Isle of Wight.
Catch the ferry across and spend a few days relaxing near the sea. The Isle of Wight Festival draws thousands every year, or circumnavigate the island on foot on the IOW Coastal Path if that’s more your thing. Be aware that the ferry will set you back some cash — it’s one of the most expensive ferry routes by distance in the world! A day return may be cheaper than a single ticket, so bear that in mind when purchasing.
The UK is a great place for hiking, especially for longer walks. Walk the full length from Land’s End to John O’Groats in Scotland, or just stick to something smaller like the Pennine Way in Northern England.
7. Cruise a river or a canal.
A cruise down the River Thames is a nice outing on a summer day, but even better is to hire a canal boat and make a week of it. You don’t need a license and accommodation is included in the price!
8. See Stonehenge.
This ancient collection of stones needs no introduction, and is definitely worth a visit. We found the audio guide to be well worth the price.
9. Spend some time in a small town
Although you’re most likely to arrive in a city (most likely at one of London’s many, many airports), England’s charm is in the small towns. Attend a local festival, pick blackberries from the hedgerows, enjoy the local charm!
10. Drink local beer
With thousands of years of history behind it, the beer is worth a trip to England in its own right. If possible, make your way to a real ale festival to try as many types as possible.
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