10 Best Places To Go in England—And Where to Stay

Stone circles, buzzing cities, and the castle from Bridgerton all feature in our list of favorite spots.

The Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall

The Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall is Britain’s most southerly point.

Photo by Matt Jessop

From the southern reaches of Cornwall’s craggy coastline to the fells of the Lake District, the variety in England—one of the four nations that make up the United KIngdom—is enchanting. There’s astonishing history in its stone circles and ancient earthworks, some of the world’s most impressive castles and palaces built for kings and queens over the centuries, and plenty of modern culture. These are the best places to go in England to experience it all.

1. Liverpool & Manchester

Manchester and Liverpool are just 35 minutes apart on a train line, making this pair of dynamic northern cities a brilliant twin-center urban break in England. Manchester is all about the people; the residents are proud and the sense of community here is strong—and you only have to look up its mayor, Andy Burnham, to understand why. You can get a feel for the city’s steadfast identity—and its role in democracy and workers’ rights—in the People’s History Museum. Stop for lunch in the trendy Ancoats neighborhood; Rudy’s has the best pizza, while the handsome Edinburgh Castle pub is a great British “boozer.” In Liverpool, music both old and new is the main attraction. Head to the Albert Dock to delve into the world of the Fab Four at The Beatles Story exhibition before taking in a gig in one of the city’s thriving bars. The Dovetale Towers is a favorite among locals.

Where to stay

Book now: The Alan

One of Manchester’s hottest hotels, the Alan is all pared back neutrals and industrial style with a few splashes of clever design. We especially like the terrazzo details in the flooring and bedroom desks.

2. Brighton

Days in Brighton should largely be spent in two places: on the large pebbly beach and Victorian pier where you can play traditional arcade games, ride a merry-go-round, and scoff fish and chips; or in the tangle of pedestrian streets known as the Lanes, with vintage clothing and antiques shops and a smattering of excellent eateries, serving everything from vegan tapas to local oysters and scallops. Don’t miss a mosey around Snoopers Paradise—a fantastic cooperative with 90 different traders inside—before a bite and glass of natural wine at Plateau.

Where to stay

Book now: Drakes Hotel

With seaview suites and some retro decor, Drakes Hotel is a favorite. It’s popular with A-listers, too, from Woody Allen to Cate Blanchett.

Outdoor pool at Thermae Bath Spa

The rooftop pool at Thermae Bath Spa offers memorable views of the city.

Courtesy of Visit Bath

3. Bath

Handsome Georgian architecture and Roman history make Bath one of England’s most charming city breaks. Travelers have flocked here for centuries since the Romans built the world-famous baths after discovering hot springs beneath the ground. Tour the baths and have a taste of the mineral-rich waters that still reach the surface here today, then enjoy your own bathing time at the Thermae Bath Spa, which uses the natural springs in its hydrotherapy pools.

Where to stay

Book now: The Roseate Villa Bath

Sitting opposite Henrietta Park, this elegant hotel is a 10-minute walk from the city center and has 21 regal rooms within its handsome stone walls.

4. Birmingham

Street scene of historic building in Birmingham

Birmingham in the West Midlands was a manufacturing hub in the 18th century.

A much-overlooked city, Birmingham has long been one of the U.K.’s most important urban centers. It’s home to Cadbury’s, the British chocolate brand that’s beloved all over the world, and a neighborhood dubbed the Jewellery Quarter, where 40 percent of all British bling is made. (You could even commission your own piece at the likes of James Newman.) This industrious city is a creative community of proud “Brummies” offering experiences that will help you get beneath the surface: Take a tour of weird and wonderful histories with Kevin Thomas, kayak on the canals, or head to the Custard Factory for delicious food and unique boutiques.

Where to stay

Book now: The Edgbaston

This 20-room hotel is a boujie bolthole with bathtubs in bedrooms and a cracking cocktail bar for predinner drinks. Based in leafy Edgbaston, it’s just a 10-minute cab ride from the city center.

Room in Castle Howard

Castle Howard was on film long before Bridgerton, as the setting for the adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited.

5. Castle Howard

You might recognize the opulent 18th-century Castle Howard from Netflix’s much-loved Bridgerton series; this ostentatious palace played a starring role as Clyvedon Castle. Do as they do in the show and promenade around its manicured gardens to enjoy the exterior of this baroque and Palladian palace before heading inside to explore its grand staterooms, bust-lined corridors, and pre-Raphaelite–style chapel.

Where to stay

Book now: The Hare

A 25-minute drive from the castle is this 12th-century pub with only two bedrooms. People flock here for the inventive tasting menus combining British produce with Asian ingredients like dashi and miso.

6. Avebury Stone Circle

Stonehenge is Britain’s most famous stone circle, but it’s also its busiest. Avoid the crowds and instead beeline for Avebury Henge. It’s hard to grasp the deep history that surrounds the landscape here, but as you place your hands on the enormous slabs of sarsen sandstone that were dug into the ground thousands of years ago, you can at least get a feel for it physically—something you can’t enjoy at nearby Stonehenge. The monument was used in burial ceremonies during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods and is the largest in the U.K.—so large there are several homes including thatch cottages inside the circle. Walk around its ditches and banks before heading into the Alexander Keiller Museum to see archaeological finds from the region.

Where to stay

Book now: Hill House B&B

Perched atop a steep hill on the edge of the Cotswolds, a half-hour drive from Avebury, Hill House B&B has a pair of luxurious shepherd’s huts with bucolic views.

7. Calke Abbey

Britain’s historic elite might have been considered a better class, but they were not immune from hoarding tendencies, and Calke Abbey is proof. This 16th-century manor house is rather handsome from the outside, but inside it’s a more of an “unstately home,” as described by the National Trust, thanks to the sheer amount of stuff crammed within its walls. Wander its rooms—packed with curiosities from a vast shell collection or eerie children’s toys—before a ramble across the grounds to the nearby Milking Parlour, where Tollgate Brewery serves its best pints alongside excellent pizzas.

Where to stay

Book now: Breedon Hall

Stay in Georgian style in the 18th-century Breedon Hall, where its five bedrooms feature period dressers and four-poster beds.

A lake and hills in Lake District National Park

8. Lake District National Park

If it’s walking and big views you’re after, you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Lake District on your trip to England. This is by far one of the U.K.’s most spectacular landscapes, where mountains (known locally as fells) rise up above a network of large lakes. On Ullswater, you can ride the Steamers across the water to break up hikes on the Ullswater Way (take a boat from Glenridding to Howtown, walk the lakeshore to Pooley Bridge, then return via boat to Glenridding), or head further into the national park to tackle peaks like Scafell Pike (978 meters/3,200 feet) and the Old Man of Coniston (802 meters/2,635 feet). The lovely town of Keswick has appealing pubs and restaurants serving British classics, like Cumbrian sausage and mash or roast dinners, and shops stocking locally made crafts, from candles to handmade ceramics.

Where to stay

Book now: Another Place

Right on the shores of Ullswater, Another Place has bright and bold bedrooms or cosy, country-style shepherd’s huts. The Rampsbeck restaurant serves excellent regional produce.

A castle near beach on Northumberland coast

9. Northumberland’s coastal castles

The British have a history of building vast castles, and the Northumberland coast, in the northeast of England, has some of the most beguiling. Spend a day castle hopping by road, starting from Warkworth, where a 12th-century ruin stands above the River Coquet less than a mile from the coast, and finishing on Holy Island—only accessible at low tide —where Lindisfarne Castle towers above the ocean. In between, you can stop at Dunstanburgh’s ruins from the 14th century and head inside the still privately-owned Bamburgh Castle, the most enchanting of them all, especially when admiring its towering red sandstone ramparts on the vast beach below.

Where to stay

Book now: Beadnell Towers

Claw-foot and copper bathtubs in the bedrooms at the 18-bedroom Beadnell Towers will restore your weary legs after long walks on the beaches on the Northumberland coast.

The Lizard Peninsula with people on rocky beach, viewed from overhead

Photo by Matt Jessop

10. The Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall

Tiny sandy coves, gnarly rock formations beneath the cliffs and, in summer, a host of wildflowers on the coastal path make the Lizard Peninsula one of England’s most spectacular coastal spots. Come to hike the coast path around Lizard Point—the most southerly part of mainland England—and take a dip in the emerald seas around Kynance Cove. Scones with jam and cream at Wavecrest Café on Lizard Point are essential consumption.

Where to stay

Book now: Polurrian on the Lizard

This storied hotel—with both World War and Hollywood history—is right on the beach and has bright, contemporary bedrooms with sea views.

Lottie Gross is a travel writer based in Oxfordshire, England, who has spent the last four years exploring her home isles to become an expert on all things Britain. She has over a decade’s experience as a travel writer and has specialized in dog-friendly travel across the U.K. and Europe, penning various books on traveling with pets, including Dog-Friendly Weekends.
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