England is a fantastic destination whatever your interests and budget. There are so many great things to do in England from seeing the famous sites of London to exploring the quaint towns and villages, national parks and thousands of miles of coastline.
I have spent most of my life in England and have explored this wonderful country from top to bottom (though there is still plenty for me to discover too).
From the serene southeast to vibrant London, the gorgeous Westcountry, and the wild and windswept north, there are so many amazing England attractions to explore.
Sightseeing in England is a joy thanks to its rich history. You can explore ancient castles, drink in pubs that are hundreds of years old, swim at the many beautiful beaches, and hike through England’s national parks.
One thing’s for sure, there are plenty of fun things to do in England and you’ll find the top attractions in England detailed below.
25 Best Things To Do in England
The below list of things to do in England contains some of the top tourist attractions and experiences across the country. From Harry Potter and Manchester United, to pub pints and charming castles, there’s something for everyone in England.
1. Take a London Sightseeing Tour
One of the best ways to see the top sights of England’s dazzling capital is to take a sightseeing tour by open-top bus. This fab sightseeing tour will take you on a journey through London old and new and includes some of England’s most famous landmarks like the Tower of London.
This is definitely one of the best things to do in England for first-time visitors.
This 75-minute experience will take you across Tower Bridge, through Westminster and past Big Ben before heading through Victoria to Buckingham Palace. You’ll be treated to an onboard commentary so you’ll learn about each historic place, and the best thing is you can hop on and hop off anywhere along the route at places of interest.
I’ve spent much of my adult life in and around London and even though it’s like a second home to me, I still enjoy doing the “tourist things”. I still frequently go sightseeing with friends (usually before finding a decent bar or pub to settle in for the evening).
2. Visit the Roman Baths in Bath
I am obsessed with Roman history (probably something to do with being born in the Roman capital of Britain) and England is bursting with remarkably well-preserved Roman walls, buildings, mosaics and more. One of the most impressive sites is the Roman Baths in the Somerset city of Bath.
These sumptuous bathhouses are fed by hot springs and surrounded by classical Roman architecture with arched rooves, plinths and columns dating back over 2,000 years.
This day trip from London not only takes in the baths at Bath, but includes a trip to one of England’s most famous attractions, Stonehenge.
Unfortunately, you can’t enter the baths for a dip like in other destinations such as Budapest, however, there are plenty of hot springs where you can stay and enjoy the healing waters nearby. Have a look at this rooftop thermal bath spa and pool. Visiting romantic Bath is one of the best things to do in England for couples.
3. Explore the Home of Royalty at Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is one of the official residences of King Charles III. This huge Norman castle dates back to the 11th Century and has been an official residence of the reigning monarch for almost 1,000 years making it the oldest and largest occupied palace in Europe.
Windsor Castle is set within 13 acres of land, including manicured gardens, outbuildings and even a small town. It’s possible to visit the palace and grounds on a tour from London, and this is definitely one of the best things to do in England for those interested in history and the royals.
I’ve cycled past Windsor Castle on my way from London to Bristol and the area around the palace is home to some of the most scenic English countryside imaginable.
With over 500 freely-roaming deer on the estate, it’s not difficult to see these marvelous creatures frolicking on open pastures in the nearby woodland.
4. Visit Old Trafford (Manchester United Ground)
England is famous for a few different things, and football (soccer) is certainly one of those.
I must confess that I’m not much of a footy fan myself (sorry Dad), however, the “beautiful game” is intrinsically linked to England, for better or worse.
Arguably England’s most famous team is Manchester United and fans can visit the Man-U stadium and grounds at Old Trafford to see where dreams are made and dashed. With this two-hour stadium experience, you’ll get to immerse yourself in the history and legends of Manchester United Football Club.
You’ll get to see the pitch, tunnel, dugout, and players’ dressing room among other exclusive areas usually off-limits to the public. You’ll also get to see the Man-U Museum with fun, interactive exhibits and memorabilia from the club’s long history.
5. See Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury in the English county of Kent is one of my favorite English cities.
With charming, cobbled streets, quaint cafes, rustic pubs and old Tudor buildings, this is one of the best places for sightseeing in England. The jewel in Canterbury’s crown though is the stunning stone cathedral dating back to 597AD.
The city is famous as the setting for Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and of course the Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest-ranking priest in the Church of England, founded by King Henry VIII.
The city is a short day trip from London, either two hours by bus or 90 minutes by train. One of the best ways to discover the town and Cathedral is on a walking tour like this one where you’ll learn the fascinating history of one of England’s most famous cities.
6. See the Gardens at Kew
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew is one of the most impressive garden sites and biggest tourist attractions in England. This UNESCO World Heritage site holds over 50,000 species of plants from all over the world. The landscaped gardens are located along the River Thames in Richmond, Surrey (England’s Garden).
In addition to the beautifully manicured gardens and interesting plant species, there is an arboretum, bamboo garden, Japenese Garden, giant pagoda, children’s garden a fun treetop walkway and an onsite cafe and restaurant.
Kew Gardens is open daily from 10:00am to 3:00pm and tickets can be booked online.
7. Have Fun at Thorpe Park
England has some great theme parks and the top one of these is Thorpe Park. This is one of the great things to do in England for families With thrilling rides like the Samurai, Vortex and Tidal Wave, Thorpe Park makes for a great day out for thrill-seekers old and young.
There is an artificial beach and pool to cool off in during the summer, lots of cafes and restaurants, shops and different events throughout the year. You can even book a stay at Thorpe Park Hotel or one of the cabins so you can have early access to all the best rides.
Thorpe Park is open from March to October from 10:00am to 6:00pm. There are daily trains and buses from London to nearby Staines, where you can change for the 950 shuttle bus to the theme park.
8. See the Standing Stones at Avebury
Avebury is a beautiful village in Wiltshire in southwestern England famed for its standing stones on the village green.
The area is surrounded by myths and legends and is home to a large archaeological site that has the remnants of a neolithic settlement dating back 4,000 to 5,000 years.
Visiting the standing stones at Avebury is one of the best free things to do in England as this English Heritage site is completely free to enter. If you’re looking for an alternative to the more well-known Stonehenge and want to get off the beaten track, then Avebury is a great choice.
After exploring the enchanting stones, be sure to pop into the Waggon and Horses for a pint and a bite to eat (their Sunday carvery is a must-try). The pub is housed within an ancient stone building with a thatched roof dating back to the 16th Century.
9. Take a Harry Potter Tour (One of the Best Things to do in England)
I missed out on the whole Harry Potter craze as the books came out in my late teens, but it’s no secret how hugely popular the books and films have become. If you, like many, are a fan of all things Hogwarts, then this Harry Potter tour is just the thing for you.
See the Warner Bros studios where the franchise was filmed and explore the magical world of this popular film series. You’ll get to walk the cobblestone alleyways and see Olivander’s Wand Shop, Weasleys’ Wizzard Wheezes, the Gryffindor Common Room and take a ride on the Hogwarts Express.
10. Go Surfing in Cornwall
Cornwall is hands down my favorite part of England.
I’ve been traveling there since I could barely walk and go back time and again to enjoy the great surfing beaches, miles of coastal walkways and paths, and picturesque fishing villages and harbor towns. Newquay is the home of surfing in England and a great place to have a go at this fun sport.
This two-hour beginner surfing lesson will see you learn about surf safety, basic techniques and have you standing up and riding waves by the end of the session. Surfing is one of my favorite things to do in Cornwall and I can’t wait to get back out there and ride waves again.
You might be surprised to learn that you can surf at any time of the year in Cornwall, though you’ll definitely need a wetsuit to brave the water outside of the summer months. Bude, Polzeath and St Ives are also excellent options for surfing. If you’re looking for calmer waters, then head to the south coast around Penzance.
11. See the Collections at the British Museum
Along with the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan in New York, the British Museum is one of the top museums in the world thanks to its vast collection of exhibits dating from antiquity to the modern day.
If I have a spare hour or two in London I’ll usually head here and explore an unseen section or check out the latest exhibition.
Visiting the British Museum is one of the best free things to do in England, as like most major museums here, it’s free to enter. You can spend as long or as little time as you like exploring anything from Egyptian mummies to the Rosetta Stone, ancient Greek and Roman sculptures and so much more.
If you want to get the best out of your trip to the museum, then consider a guided tour like this 90-minute small group tour that concentrates on ancient Egypt, ancient Greece and ancient Rome (some of the most interesting periods in history).
12. Spend a Day at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
If you want a real English seaside experience with exhilarating rides, deck chairs, sticks of rock, ice cream, and fish and chips, then head to Blackpool’s famous pleasure beach.
Blackpool has been a popular holiday destination since Victorian times and still retains some of that old-world charm.
At the pleasure beach, you can watch one of the many shows and performances that are put on throughout the year, and enjoy food and drink at the many onsite restaurants and cafes from Burger King to Bubble Waffle (though really you should definitely try the fish and chips).
There are many things to do in and around this northern city. Enjoy a day at the beach, climb the famous Blackpool Tower, and take selfies with celebs and superheroes at Madam Tussauds Blackpool. The city is easily reachable by road and rail from Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London.
13. See the White Cliffs of Dover
The White Cliffs of Dover are one of England’s most iconic landmarks. The towering cliffs of white chalk rise up to 350 feet (110 meters) above the beaches of the English Chanel. At the top of the cliff is Dover Castle which dates back to 1066 and was an important defense of the land for over nine centuries.
You can walk along the beach beneath the cliffs or on the grassy clifftop for amazing views across the Chanel. On a clear day, you can just about see France in the distance. I’ve seen the cliffs many times, most recently three months ago when I took the ferry to France, and I always marvel at the sight.
The White Cliffs of Dover are one of the most remarkable natural phenomena in England and should not be missed. The journey from London to Dover by train takes just over one hour, so you can witness this fantastic sight and be back in London in time for dinner.
14. Visit Colchester Castle
England is a land of castles. From King Arthur’s castle at Tintagel to the royal residence at Windsor and many, many more, you don’t have to go far to see one of these impressive fortifications.
Colchester castle is one of the most impressive and earliest castles in England (and being from Colchester I should know a thing or two about it).
The Norman Castle sits on the site of a Roman temple dating back over 2,000 years and evidence of this can be seen in the cellar/basement/dungeon. It was built on the top of a hill surveying the surrounding countryside and the views are incredible. The large castle park is a great place to relax or have a picnic.
There’s also a lot more to do in Colchester than just the castle. The town is surrounded by sections of Roman walls still intact and it is also the site of the only Circus Maximus found outside of Italy. There are also some great pubs and restaurants in the town (head to Coda for the best cocktails and Three Wise Monkeys for food).
15. Take a Beatles Tour in Liverpool
I’m not really a huge fan of the “fab four” but there’s no denying the Beatles’ influence on music. Liverpool has been home to many creative legends over the years and John, Paul, Ringo and George are arguably the most well-known and best-loved around the world.
The Beatles Story is an immersive experience where you’ll get to learn all about the history of the band, see rare memorabilia on display in the Beatles Museum and enjoy some of their music along the way. For music fans, this is definitely one of the top things to do in England.
There are plenty of other great Liverpool attractions, museums and galleries to keep you occupied, and the local Scoucers are famed for their friendliness and hospitality. I was in Liverpool recently and had a fantastic time.
16. See a Play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on London’s South Bank is the reconstruction of the original Elizabethan playhouse where the Bard wrote his plays for. I’ve seen Shakespeare’s plays performed across the country, but for some reason, I haven’t yet seen one at the Globe (though I’ve visited it as a tourist attraction).
There are nightly performances of Shakespeare’s plays such as The Tempest, Titus Andronicus, and classics such as Romeo and Juliet, plus an assortment of other contemporary plays, workshops, and more.
If you’re looking for cultural things to see in England, then watching a play at The Globe is just the thing.
17. Punt Along the River Cam in Cambridge
Cambridge is one of my favorite cities thanks to its rich history, gorgeous colleges and pleasant walks.
If you’re looking for awesome stuff to do in England then punting down the River Cam along the famous backs of the colleges is an excellent idea. You’ll get to see some of the most famous colleges such as Trinity, King’s and Queen’s.
This guided punting tour takes you on a journey through the historic center of the city while your chaperone introduces some interesting facts about the places you pass, along with some funny stories. I would tell you one of these stories now, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Cambridge is also home to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology which is one of my favorite museums for its Roman exhibition, and it’s free to enter too.
It’s just over an hour by train from London to Cambridge and makes for a great day trip. This tour from London takes in both Oxford and Cambridge and is a great option if you want to see both university cities.
18. Have a Curry in Birmingham
Birmingham is home to one of England’s largest south Asian communities and as such, it is the home of curry. This is where the British pallet was first introduced to balti back in the seventies and the city is famed for its many curry houses.
Opheem is one of the best Indian restaurants in Birmingham as it blends traditional south Asian cuisine with a swanky, modern touch and fine dining experience.
Chef Aktar Islam has even won a coveted Michelin star for his efforts. You can try the ten-course tasting menu for £95.00 per head (vegetarian and pescatarian options available).
If that all sounds a bit too grand for your tastes, then I can also recommend my local, Curry India Tandoori in Colchester (the lamb shashlik is to die for). Expect to pay a very reasonable £10 to £15 per main.
19. Visit the Eden Project
The Eden Project is a large sub-tropical garden and eco-park housed under specially designed biomes (biodomes) in Cornwall. Explore sections from the rainforest to the Mediterranean, invisible worlds and much more while learning about the natural world around you.
This is one of the great things to see in England and is a fantastic day out for the whole family.
There is even a zip line, a winter ice rink for skating, and during the summer music performances by top stars at the Eden Sessions (Lionel Ritchie and Jack Johnson have been confirmed for 2023).
20. Hike the South West Coast Path
The South West Coast Path is a 630-mile (1,014 km) hiking trail around the coast of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset. The trail takes in some of the most beautiful parts of the country from the stunning beaches of Cornwall to Exmoor National Park and through the picturesque towns and villages of the south coast.
You obviously don’t need to hike the entire 630 miles (though that is an option for hardcore hikers of course) and you can pick and choose from any of the sections from short walks to longer day and multi-day hikes.
My favorite section is that between Polzeath and Port Isaac. It’s a good day’s walk and the views are phenomenal.
The northern section of the trail is the most picturesque, with dramatic clifftop vistas over the North Atlantic and in spring the cliffs are awash with the color of sea campion, spring squill and ox-eye daisies.
You can spot a lot of wildlife and sealife from the cliffs and beaches including seals, whales and basking sharks if you’re lucky.
21. Have a Pint in a Proper English Pub
If there is one thing that England does very well, it’s the humble pub. For centuries Englishmen and women have been enjoying a tipple in one of the thousands of public houses and inns across the land (and I’ve got a fair bit of experience in this field myself).
Many of England’s pubs are in buildings hundreds of years old. Think wooden beams and roaring fires, with horse tack and other trinkets adorning the walls.
Beer gardens are a favorite place for Brits in summer and many pubs have outside seating where you can enjoy the great British weather (sometimes) with a pint and some proper pub grub.
Enjoying a few pints in a homely pub is one of the best things to do in England at night. You’ll not have any problems finding a good pub wherever you are in England, but I’ll list a few of my favorites to give you some inspiration:
- Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, Fleet Street, London
- The Rose and Crown, Wivenhoe, Essex
- Three Wise Monkeys, Colchester, Essex
- Sole Bay Inn, Southwold, Suffolk
- The St Kew Inn, St Kew, Cornwall
22. Hike England’s Tallest Mountain
It’s not exactly Everest, but it’s located in the beautiful Lake District National Park in northern England, not far from Lake Windemere. Hiking Scafell Pike is best done from May to September to ensure the best weather, as it can become dangerous in winter.
The round-trip hike (there is no technical climbing) should take around three to four hours, though I highly recommend taking a picnic and spending longer to take in the incredible views.
The charming Lake District town of Kendal makes a great base for exploring the National Park and climbing the Pike.
23. Walk Along the Famous Brighton Pier
Visiting the vibrant seaside city of Brighton is one of the best things to do in England, especially in summer, and walking along the iconic pier is a must.
Take in the views of this pleasant stretch of the south coast, enjoy the amusement arcade and feast on fish and chips (though watch out for hungry seagulls, I speak from experience).
Brighton is just over one hour from London by train and makes for a perfect day trip from the city, though ideally, you’ll want to spend at least a couple of days exploring the place.
Brighton is one of my favorite places for a weekend break and I love exploring the Lanes, the old quarter of the city with lots of interesting boutique shops and bars.
24. Enjoy a Sunday Roast
The Sunday Roast is one of England’s favorite foods and the one I missed the most when I was living abroad. This traditional Sunday lunch usually comprises roasted chicken, lamb, pork or beef (nut roast being the vegetarian alternative) served with “all the trimmings”.
Trimmings include roast potatoes (crispy on the outside, fluffy inside), carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, Yorkshire puddings and bread sauce. Cauliflower cheese also makes a great accompaniment. All this washed down with a nice glass of red and you have pure heaven.
Pubs up and down the country usually serve a Sunday roast between 12:00pm and 3:00pm. The Garden Gate at Hamsped Heath in London is one of the best places for a roast and somewhere I always try and visit when I’m in town.
25. Take a Boat Trip on the Norfolk Broads
The Norfolk Broads is a National Park and England’s largest protected wetland. This series of waterways crisscrossing the East Anglian county of Norfolk is the perfect place for messing about on the river in stunning nature.
There is lots of wildlife to be spotted, and many great pubs to stop off at along the way.
You can hire a boat for around £500 per week and this includes your accommodation on board (with sleeping for up to four people). This is one of my favorite summertime activities and I’ve been visiting this gorgeous part of England since childhood. Look out for the windmills, wading birds and quaint villages around the broads.
Quick Travel Itineraries For England
If you’re looking for ideas on what to see in England, then the below itineraries will help you get the best out of your trip. Whether you have just one day, or much longer, these top tourist attractions in England will keep you entertained for your stay.
1 Day in England Itinerary
If you have just one day in England then spending it in London makes the most sense. Take the London sightseeing tour to see all the major attractions.
2-3 Days in England Itinerary
With two to three days in England, base yourself in London and follow the above itinerary for your first day. Add in trips to Colchester Castle, Cambridge, Canterbury Cathedral, or Brighton Pier, all within easy reach of London within an hour or two by train.
While in London be sure to spend at least a couple of hours exploring the British Museum. and if your trip happens to include a Sunday, head to the Garden Gate for a Sunday roast with all the trimmings (though even if it’s not Sunday you can pick something delicious from the menu).
1 Week in England Itinerary
One week will allow you to explore more of the England attractions. For the first two or three days base yourself in London and follow the above itineraries.
After you’ve explored some of the things to do in and around London, head to the Westcountry. You can hop on a train to Bath and marvel at the ancient Roman baths, and relax at a thermal spa.
From Bath, it’s easy to get to Cornwall, either by train to Bodmin Parkway or by driving (having your own transport is preferable to get the best out of your trip).
After Cornwall head north and depending on your proclivities, you can check out the Beatles Story in Liverpool or visit the Manchester United grounds at Old Trafford. If you have the time, add in a trip to Blackpool for a day at the seaside and enjoy the famous Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Make your way to the Lake District and hike up Scafell Pike before continuing back down south to Birmingham for a curry and back down to London. Any Harry Potter fans among you shouldn’t miss the trip to the Warner Bros Studios to ride the Hogwarts Express.
Getting to England
Getting to England is easy with excellent connections to mainland Europe, Asia and the United States from London’s three major airports (Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted). London is also linked to France and Belgium via the Eurostar which takes just 2.5 hours from Paris to London.
There are many affordable airlines connecting Europe to England, check out Wizz Air, Ryan Air and Easy Jet.
There are also boats connecting England to the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, France and the Netherlands (which is one of my favorite ways to travel between England and the rest of Europe).
I’ve also recently been using buses to get to and from England and Flixbus has some excellent deals (Munich to London cost me just £35 including the ferry).
England has an excellent public transport network making it easy to travel between the major towns and cities, though trains can be pricy if not booked well in advance.
Buses are cheaper than, but take longer to get around. Hiring a car is the best option as it gives you the most freedom and you can get to some of the harder-to-reach hidden gems like Avebury.
Things To Do in England: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting England.
England is known for its many historic landmarks and castles from Buckingham Palace to the Tower of London, Stonehenge, and the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge. It’s also famous for football (Man-U), music (the Beatles), and of course that most English of places, the pub.
England is a fantastic destination year-round, but in summer it really shines. It’s the best time for getting into the great outdoors and enjoying the many beaches, national parks and outdoor attractions.
England is definitely worth visiting as there are so many amazing things to do. From exploring ancient ruins, castles and palaces to hiking in the stunning countryside or by the coast and sampling the fantastic food and drink on offer, England is one of the top travel destinations in the world.
You should allow at least a week to see all of the top England tourist attractions. 10 days would be better so you can experience more than just London and the south east.
England is a very safe country with very little in the way of extreme weather or poisonous, maneating animals. Violent crime towards tourists is rare, and if you exercise the same caution you would anywhere else, your visit should be trouble-free.
Visiting the Tower of London and the British Museum are two of the most popular things to do in England. Hitting the beaches of Cornwall for surfing, exploring the cities such as Cambridge, Oxford, Liverpool and Manchester are also popular things to do.
Kynance Cove in Cornwall is the most beautiful beach in England, but the best beach in England has to be Fistral Bay at Newquay as there is so much do to and it’s a short walk from all the bars, cafes and restaurants of the town.
When in England you should try some of our most famous dishes including fish and chips, a Sunday roast, real English ale (craft beer) and a Cornish cream tea among many other wonderful foods.
Windsor gr3at Park (including Windsor Castle and grounds) is the number one tourist attraction in England and received over 5 million visitors in 2021.
Now you know what to do in England which of these fantastic activities would you like to start with? From all the sights and sounds of London to the beautiful Cornish coastline, the historic cities of Cambridge and Colchester to Harry Potter, Manchester United and the Beatles, there really is something for everyone.
One thing’s for sure, you’ll not be short of fun things to do in England whatever the weather or time of year. Whether you’re looking for fresh air and gorgeous countryside, excitement, entertainment or top-notch food, England has it all and is waiting for your visit.