Old village houses of Castle Combe, England

Things to do in  England

Look right, not left

Leaning into the old adage that good things come in small packages, England packs a surprisingly big punch. That’s especially true of its history, culture, and natural beauty, which are crammed into every corner of the island, from Cornwall in the South West to Cumbria in the North. While most visitors to the British Isles gravitate to the shining streets of the capital, many of the best things to do in England are outside London. In the British countryside, the accents, attractions, and landscapes change around almost every corner. Explore vibrant cities in Northern England like Manchester and Liverpool. You can also follow in Shakespeare’s footsteps in Stratford-upon-Avon. And head to Canterbury Cathedral to learn about the history of the Church of England. There’s always something worth seeing, no matter what the weather.

Top 15 attractions in England

Buckingham Palace

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Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence and administrative office of the British royal family since the 19th century and is one of the few remaining working royal palaces in the world. Public access to the interiors is limited to the summer, but it’s worthwhile for those who arrange a visit.More

Stonehenge

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As one of the world’s most enigmatic tourist attractions, Stonehenge draws up to 1.3 million visitors annually. This UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of an inner and an outer circle of gigantic stones standing in the heart of the English countryside——is made even more impressive by its mysterious history. Although Stonehenge’s original purpose remains unknown, onlookers gather to admire the sarsen stone circles and ponder its astronomical, spiritual, or even supernatural meaning.More

Tower of London

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From medieval torture to grim executions and infamous royal prisoners, the Tower of London has long found itself at the center of the city's dark history. Built by William the Conqueror in 1066, the historic castle has served as a Royal Menagerie, Her Majesty's prison, an execution site, a royal observatory, a Royal Mint, and a military storehouse over the course of its existence.More

Westminster Abbey

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A UNESCO World Heritage site with a legacy dating back more than 1,000 years, Westminster Abbey is among London’s most historic landmarks. The Gothic church is best known for hosting headline-grabbing events involving the British royal family, such as the Queen’s coronation, Princess Diana's funeral, and Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding.More

Houses of Parliament & Big Ben

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Few landmarks epitomize central London as perfectly as Big Ben, the iconic clock tower of the Houses of Parliament that's officially known as Elizabeth Tower, after the late Queen Elizabeth II. Heralding Great Britain's political nucleus in Westminster, Big Ben stands as the striking centerpiece of the Thames waterfront and is backed by the historic Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Parliament.More

London Eye

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The London Eye offers panoramic views of world-famous central London landmarks from its prime location on the Thames River waterfront, opposite Houses of Parliament & Big Ben. The 443-foot-tall (135 meters) Ferris wheel was built to mark the millennium in the year 2000 and has since become one of the most popular paid tourist attractions in the United Kingdom.More

Windsor Castle

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Windsor Castle is the largest occupied castle in the world still used by resident monarchs. William the Conqueror built a wooden fortress on the site 900 years ago—and Windsor has been a royal palace and residence since. Despite its daily use for royal business, much of the palace is open to the public and well worth a visit.More

St. Paul's Cathedral

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An architectural masterpiece with a magnificent dome, St. Paul's Cathedral is one of London’s most recognizable sites. The 17th-century cathedral boasts a rich history as host of the jubilee celebrations of late Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II, the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.More

Tower Bridge

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With its Gothic towers and central bascule flanked by dramatic suspension bridges, Tower Bridge is both a remarkable feat of engineering and one of the most recognizable of London’s landmarks. The famous bridge is a popular subject of London postcards, leading many to mistake it for London Bridge, which is actually the next bridge upstream.More

Thames River

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Flowing right through the heart of central London, the Thames River offers a dramatic backdrop to the city's famous skyline with landmarks lining its shores. Walk along the riverfront from Westminster to Tower Bridge and you'll pass London icons such as the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, the Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral, Southbank, Shakespeare's Globe, and the London Bridge.More

Trafalgar Square

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Trafalgar Square—the living, breathing, and beating heart of London’s West End—plays an integral part in local life as a site of celebrations, protests, performances, parades, and public gatherings. Overlooked by grand, stately buildings such as the National Gallery and St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, this vast square is dotted with iconic fountains and statuary. Most famous among them is the 144-foot (44-meter) Nelson’s Column, which commemorates a British naval victory over France and Spain, and is guarded by four oversized bronze lions.More

London Shard

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Piercing the sky like a gigantic shard of glass, the London Shard is a spectacular sight. 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.More

Covent Garden

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In the heart of London’s West End, Covent Garden is one of the city’s most popular dining and entertainment hubs. Home to the Royal Opera House; several top theaters, including the Lyceum and the Donmar Warehouse; world-class restaurants; and many major brand-name stores, most travelers to London plan to explore this area while visiting.More

Piccadilly Circus

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Famous for its giant illuminated screens and near-constant stream of traffic, Piccadilly Circus in London’s West End has been featured in so many movies and TV shows that even first-time visitors feel they recognize the surroundings. Almost every visitor to London will pass through this major tourist hub at one point.More

London Bridge

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Often confused with the grand Tower Bridge, London Bridge, UK is more functional than fancy. It does, however, have a long history: It was first erected over the Thames River 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 concrete bridge, which opened to traffic in the 1970s, isn't so photogenic, its views of London are hard to beat.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in England

Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, and Bath from London
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Harry Potter Tour of Warner Bros. Studio with Luxury Transport from London
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The Premier Classic London: Private 4-Hour Tour in a Black Cab
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Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford Day Trip from London
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Guided Luxury Paris Day Trip with Optional Lunch at the Eiffel Tower
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Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter with Transportation
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Oxford and Traditional Cotswolds Villages Small-Group Day Tour from London
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London: Tower of London Opening, Boat Ride & Westminster Tour
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Warner Bros. Studio Harry Potter Tour with Superior Transport from London
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All about England

When to visit

The only thing guaranteed about England’s weather is that summer is warmer than winter—and rain is always possible. July through August brings comfortable average highs of 73°F (23°C), but this season also brings big crowds. March through May sees temperatures around 64°F (18°C), extremely lush countryside, and quieter sights. From late September through November, fall’s foliage and mild temperatures compensate for regular rain. Summer is festival time, with events like Glastonbury Festival and London’s Trooping the Colour ceremony drawing crowds.

Getting around

Trains are the fastest way of getting between England’s cities. Check schedules online at National Rail and click into regional operators’ websites for tickets. Long-distance buses also cover the country, but they can be slow and patchy. If you want to explore rural England, the best option is to rent a car. In London, however, congestion and a lack of parking can make driving challenging. In the capital, take the London Underground (also known as the Tube), buses, and black cabs.

Traveler tips

Every November 5th, communities across the United Kingdom celebrate Bonfire Night (also known as Guy Fawkes Night) to commemorate the anti-monarchy Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605. While most places have some kind of fireworks display, things reach a fever pitch in Sussex. Here, “bonfire boyes" from different towns hold local processions, then gather in the country town of Lewes. Visit after dark to see spectacular torchlit processions, burning barrels tipped into the river, giant effigies, and lots of fireworks. It’s one of the best (and weirdest) things to do in England.

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People Also Ask

What is the most famous thing about England?

The very thought of England summons visions of London’s landmarks and royal pageantry, from UNESCO World Heritage sites like Big Ben and Westminster Abbey to the British Museum and Natural History Museum. Other things forever associated with the country are ancient Stonehenge; World War II history; and rolling green hills, medieval villages, and wood-beamed pubs.

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What can you do in England for a week?

You could spend a million years just attempting to explore London’s must-sees, such as Big Ben, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace (now home to King Charles). The best things to do in England include seeing Bath, famous for its exquisite Roman baths. Then, admire the mysterious stones of Stonehenge, and see the glowing lakes and fells of the Lake District.

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What kind of activities can you do in England?

Aside from experiencing top attractions like Tower Bridge, Bath, and Stonehenge, there’s plenty else. Visit museums, explore the elegant university towns of Oxford and Cambridge; roam stately homes and castles; absorb the rural beauty of regions like the Cotswolds; and experience culinary rituals like afternoon tea and fish 'n' chips.

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What is the most popular outdoor activity in the UK?

Enjoying England’s great outdoors is a national hobby and visitor-must. Popular activities include hiking and cycling in National Parks like the Lake District; taking Thames sightseeing cruises; surfing and picnicking on Cornwall’s craggy and sandy beaches; and walking the Seven Sisters hills overlooking the English Channel.

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How can I have fun in the UK?

The English have more fun than many tourists imagine. For your share, down pints at cozy pubs; hit a nightclub in any big city; or join those who go hiking, cycling, or wild swimming. Or watch a Premier League football match, see the Beatles Story in Liverpool, or enjoy a summer game of cricket on a village green.

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What should I avoid in England?

In London, try to avoid traveling during weekday rush hours when the city’s roads and transport systems are typically clogged. It’s also wise to visit popular museums, cities, and attractions outside public holidays, when big crowds usually descend. Also, never push into a line of people: English people consider it extremely rude.

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Frequently Asked Questions