The 20 Best Places to Visit in the U.K. in 2020 (Outside London)

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If you are thinking about visiting Britain sometime soon, then this is a handy-dandy guide to the 20 best places to visit in the U.K. in 2019, outside London.

It is very easy to fly into Heathrow, take the Tube into London and then settle down to do all the sightseeing and shopping and shows you can fit into your time in the U. K., without leaving the city.  Many people do.  (A taxi – or Cab – from any of the London airports into the city will cost you around $100, and take longer than the tube or rail links – so I only recommend this if you have a lot of luggage.)

London is the most visited place in the U. K., and deservedly so.  People ask “What is the best month to go to London?” and my answer is always the same – February, after Valentine’s Day.  Bad weather means fewer tourists.  It makes everything easier

This however is not a guide to the best places to visit in London – we will leave that for another time.  This, rather, is a guide to alternatives you might want to try. Many of the best places to visit in the U. K. are beautiful and fascinating places, hidden in remote and unusual spots around these islands. Most of these are all but unknown in Europe, the USA, and beyond.

So let’s assume you have ‘done’ London and now want to stretch your legs and your imagination.

Going Beyond London

For this trip I strongly recommend hiring a car. Although getting from Big City A to Big City B in the U. K. is very easy, finding more interesting out-of-the-way places is much more difficult and time-consuming.

And this is not simply about the best cities to visit in the U.K. – it’s about some of the best places to spend your time in,  in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Don’t worry if you are not used to driving on the ‘wrong side’ of the road – just remember to check that you, as the driver, are always in the middle of the road, closest to the oncoming traffic.  It is particularly important to check this point every time you get in the car and set off, it will save you a lot of embarrassment and a lot of peril.

Remember too that there is no turn on red and that all the many, many rotaries are the same as at home, it’s just that you have to go in the opposite direction.  If in doubt, follow the guy in front.

Now let’s take a look at the 20 best places to visit in the U. K. in 2019

#1 Marlow

The first place to get to is Marlow, just 20 miles west of London, on the banks of the River Thames. There is nothing dramatic about Marlow, no fabulous palaces or soaring cathedrals; no famous historical figures were born in Marlow.  But as an introduction to the English rural idyll, I can think of nowhere better to begin your journey.  Marlow is one of the best places to visit in the U.K. simply because it serves as a fantastic guide to what you can expect, in the parts of Britain which lie outside London. Park your car by the side of the road and walk down Marlow’s bustling main street to the river, and you will say to yourself – “This is England!”

#2 Henley

For the next part of your journey simply follow the river upstream, heading north-west towards Oxford and you will arrive at Henley, another beautiful English town on the river.  But this is a much more significant place altogether because of one thing – The Henley Royal Regatta.  In the first week of July each year, Henley is simply swarming with the well-heeled champagne-set enjoying the biggest and busiest (And most profitable!) rowing event in the world.  If you are not into rowing, then go there just to watch the people.  Of the 20 best events to visit in the U.K. in 2019, the Henley Royal Regatta would certainly be in the top five.  This truly is an unbelievable and unforgettable occasion.

#3 Warborough

Next, keep following the river North toward Oxford.  Just before you get to Oxford itself though, look out for a small sign at a rotary, pointing right to a place called Warborough.  Drive along that road, turn right just before the church and park outside the Six Bells pub.  If Marlow is the quintessential English town then Warborough is absolutely the quintessential English Village.  This IS rural England! In any list of the best English villages to visit, Warborough would be near the top.  A huge village green, a fabulous village pub, 800-year-old houses, thatched cottages to die for, and the feeling that this place has hardly changed since before the war, and by that I mean the English Civil War.  (1642 – 1651)

#4 Oxford

Next stop Oxford – except we’re not going to go to Oxford, not directly.  Unsurprisingly, given its history (The university opened its doors in around 1096.) and the beauty of the architecture in this ‘city of dreaming spires,’ there are quite a few people who like to visit Oxford, and tens of thousands of students who like to live there.  It is busy and very, very unfriendly to cars.  They have knocked down or closed nearly all the city-center car parks, and set up huge out-of-town parking lots called Park’n-Rides, where you pay for parking but the bus in and out of town is free.  This is one possibility, but I have a much better idea.

Is Oxford worth a visit? Absolutely – it is always ranked as the most visited university town in the U.K.  But don’t go by car – either take the train out of London while you’re there, or take the train back to Oxford from our next destination, Bath. Do not drive to Oxford – it simply isn’t worth it!

#5 Bath

Bath is quite simply astonishing: from its 2,000-year-old Roman Baths, to its beautiful Georgian streets – built in the 1770’s out of almost translucent local stone.  And there’s the fabulous Pulteney Bridge, which crosses Bath’s own river – not the Thames this far west, but a far more romantic river, the Avon.   Bath is full of fabulous shops, restaurants, bars and cafes and has been voted the best place to live in the U. K. on many occasions.  You can easily spend all day just strolling and admiring – well, everything! There are however two particular reasons for visiting Bath.  One is the outstanding American Museum at Claverton Down, just outside Bath, and the second is to take a look at the original Stairway to Heaven, on the façade of Bath Abbey.  If you can, plan to stay a full night and day in Bath – I promise it’s worth it!

#6 LuLworth

Let’s head south now, through Wiltshire towns like Warminster and Blandford Forum, perhaps stopping briefly to admire village names such as Child Okeford, Cerne Abbas, and the unforgettable Sixpenny Handley.  (Perhaps with a brief detour to the welcoming King John’s Inn in nearby Tollard Royal.) We are heading for Lulworth Cove.

Lulworth is hard to explain.  I can’t recommend the local food or nightlife.  What little commercialism there is, is rather sad.  But Lulworth Cove should not be missed, it is spectacularly beautiful.  It is an awe-inspiringly heart-crushingly mind-jolting statement by Mother Nature that she cares not one jot for the affairs of man, and is quite content to shape the world as she wants it to be.  Stop a while and be delighted.

#7 Thornbury

In the country to the west of Lulworth lies an area of outstanding natural beauty called, somewhat unimaginatively, The West Country.  I could do a full 20 best places to stay in South-west England list just for this area, and perhaps someday I will, but for now we must miss these western delights and start our journey north.  But not too far, because tonight we sleep in a fairy-tale castle!

There is nothing much in the village of Thornbury itself, The Swan or the Anchor for a beer or three, a few shops and a little café.  But, this is one of the best places to stay in the U. K. for couples.  The reason we are in Thornbury lies just outside the village (On the banks of yet another river, the Severn!)

Thornbury Castle used to be owned by King Henry the Eighth (He of the six wives.) and you can elect to stay in his bedroom if you have a mind to be more than a tad extravagant.  Of all the places you might stay on this trip around the U.K., this one will probably be the most expensive, but will certainly be the place which brings you closest to understanding the incredible history and overwhelming majesty which lies barely hidden and ever-shimmering, just beneath the surface of this green and pleasant land.

#8 Ross-on-Wye

I am afraid we seem to be bouncing from river to river, as our next port of call (Quite literally an old port, though many miles from the sea.) is a place called Ross-on-Wye – and suddenly we are in Wales. We have traveled north and west, to this fabulous country of myth and legend.  Wales has its own language, a beautiful soft accent in the English, and a rebellious spirit which dates back to the ancient First and Last King of Wales, Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, who died in 1063 and whose name reveals some of the intricacies of the Welsh language.

(Look out for such magical place names as Plwmp, Pant y Wacco, Splott, and of course the unforgettable village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.)

Wales also deserves a 20 best places to visit guide all of its own – later perhaps!

But we are here in the beautiful Welsh market town of Ross-on-Wye for one particular purpose – the Hay Festival.  This is one of many hundreds of festivals which happen up and down the U. K. in the summer months, but the Hay is unique because it is all about writing and writers.

Every year hundreds of world famous writers come along to talk about their craft- and sell a few books no doubt.  Sounds dull and dry perhaps, but Hay is never that.  It is a vibrant and exuberant celebration of the written word.  If you have a few days around the end of May and start of June and fancy meeting the odd author or twelve, then Ross is the place to be.

#9 Betws-y-Coad

We must get on, so our only other stop in beautiful Wales is a place called Betws-y-Coed, gateway to Snowdonia, a fabulously scenic and mountainous National Park. Betws-y-Coed, is also home to the Fairy Glen (or Ffos Nodun) which is yet another hidden gem.  Ffos Nodun is a shaded gorge where the River Conwy runs through a narrow ravine and drops down a Victorian fish ladder, where you can see silver-flashing fish leaping up towards their spawning grounds.  There are also beautiful walks along the river and through the Gwydir Forest.  But none of this is why we are here.  We are here simply because of the name.

For many years I knew of the existence of Betws-y-Coed, but I simply assumed that this was one of the many excellent private schools in Wales, and that this one was particularly distinguished for being co-educational.  I honestly thought that this was a co-ed school until I actually drove through the town myself, on the way to the town of Conwy itself; an ancient and beautiful town on Wales’ north coast, which would certainly be on the list of the best places to visit in Wales.

Betws-y-Coed is well worth a visit because of its own attractions and its proximity to many others, but I would recommend a visit, just to assure yourself that it is more than simply a school.  But perhaps, after Betws-y-Coed, we should pop into Conwy for a look at one of the largest castles in the U.K. and the smallest house in Britain.

Are you a world traveler? Check out 40 Cheapest Places to Travel in 2019

#10 Port Sunlight

Onward, Onward! Back east along the Welsh coast, turn north before we hit Chester, (Another beautiful town, but we just don’t have the time on this trip!) because now we are heading north towards Port Sunlight. Port Sunlight Is a unique experience, and would certainly find a place on my list of the best 20 industrial sites to visit in the U.K.

Most of us will have heard of the company Unilever and their huge range of brands which includes such disparate products as Bovril and Brylcreem.  (My advice: try not to mix these two up.) The original British component of what is now Unilever was a soap manufacturer called Lever Brothers. This company bought the land at Port Sunlight to build a huge new soap factory, however the two brothers who owned the company also wanted to offer their employees a better way of life.

William and James Lever built their workers a model village: with 800 houses, a hospital, an art gallery, a swimming pool, a church, and a concert hall, all dedicated to the welfare of the workers and their families.  Port Sunlight is unique not just as a social experiment, but because even today this stands as a simply beautiful place to walk and wonder.  And when you have had enough of this cultural haven, Liverpool is just a short drive away, so you can overnight there, and perhaps visit the legendary Cavern Club and relive the birth of The Beatles.

#11 Brighouse

Our next stop is Brighouse, about 60 miles east of Liverpool in the beautifully scenic Calderdale area of West Yorkshire.  Brighouse is one of hundreds of such towns dotted over this rolling landscape, and would merit only passing interest but for a singular event from forty years ago.

Brass bands are very popular in this area, but this kind of music had never really hit the big time with the British public.  That was until 1977, when The Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band released a version of an old tune called “The Floral Dance” which was a huge Christmas hit, coming second only to Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre.  This put Brighouse on the map and so now, every year, Brigstock hosts a Festival of Brass at the beginning of July, where we can go along and listen and watch the brass bands play and march, and where we can also, almost inevitably, produce our own unique interpretations of The Floral Dance.  Brigstock is on our list of the 20 best places to visit in the U.K. purely because of the opportunity it presents to experience something so unique and unusual and so utterly local, that it defies description.

#12 Buttermere

So now we have a bit of a drive north up the M6 motorway, turn off at a place called Penrith, and head for the tiny hamlet of Buttermere.  (Pop.  127)

Firstly let us straighten something out.  Earlier on we talked about the West Country, which is the part of the country which is in the west.  Well, now we are entering the Lake District, which is a district with a lot of lakes.  To be honest, the British are not famous for their literalism, preferring to talk in general with as much circumlocution as possible, if only to hear the sound of their own voice.  But with place names at least they tend to be more straightforward.  So today we are in the Lake District, and tomorrow we will be in the Southern Uplands, which is an area in the south (of Scotland) where the land is, on the whole, up!  However, right now we are heading for Buttermere, and we are going there for one very good reason.

Coming off the motorway, Buttermere is right at the far side of the lakes, and so is one of the least visited and least crowded of the lakes.  (Buttermere is the name of the village and also of the lake it sits beside.) What this means though, is you get to drive through all of the beautiful grandeur of the lakes and the lake towns without spending too much time in the more crowded areas. The Lake District is certainly one of the best places to visit in the U.K. as a whole, but that does mean it gets pretty busy. (If you want to visit Beatrix Potter’s house, go early – it gets extremely busy in the season.)

Press on through to Buttermere and you will be rewarded with a serene and silent lake with only a few brightly-clad hikers to distract you.  This is undoubtedly one of the 20 most beautiful places to visit in the U.K. so stop a while and sample its serene majesty. Or stay overnight just to sample the breathless beauty of sunrise in the Lakes; the Bridge Inn offers good food and comfortable, if not lavish, accommodation.

#13 Gretna Green

At last we get to Scotland, if only for a short while.

As we cross the border, the aforementioned Southern Uplands lie before us, but the tiny, tawdry town of Gretna Green lures us in.  Why? Well, for a very long time, young couples in England required parental consent to get married. However, no such law applied in Scotland. For more than two hundred years, many unlikely pairs made their way north to the first suitable stop across the border, the Blacksmith’s shop in Gretna Green.

You can still get married there to this day, though the legal rationale has largely gone.  Didn’t stop Atomic Kitten babe, Kerry Katona marrying her cab-driver there on Valentine’s Day 2007.  In the US you go to Vegas, in the U. K., Lord help us, we go to Gretna Green.

Our next stop is Belfast, or actually the whole of Northern Ireland.  “Hold on a second, what happened to Scotland?” I hear you clamor.  Don’t worry we’ll get back to Scotland in a jiffy. However, transport-wise, the best thing to do after leaving Gretna Green behind (As far behind as possible!) is to drive west along the Solway Coast. (Which is the coast along the Solway Firth – see its easy!)  We ignore the delights of Dumfries and Castle Douglas and Newton Stewart and the semi-tropical climate they enjoy because of the Gulf Stream, and head straight for the port of Stranraer.  At Stranraer we can catch the ferry to Belfast.

#14 Belfast

Belfast is a lively city with a sad history and some fabulous buildings, the foremost of which is Stormont Castle.  But we are not here for buildings, we are here for the sea.

There are two things you must do in Northern Ireland.  The first is to drive north to the Giant’s Causeway, a natural rock formation which looks like it has been built by giants out of hexagonal building blocks. This is far and away, one of the best 20 natural features to visit in the U.K.  It looks like a mad engineering project gone badly wrong, but it is all entirely natural and it will, I promise, astonish and delight you with another fine example of the tricks Mother Nature likes to pull.

The second thing to do is to drive back to Belfast the next morning, drive straight through the city to the Docks, and spend the whole day at Titanic Belfast.  The Titanic was built in Belfast and everything about her is here, in this amazing memorial to all that Titanic was and is.

#15 Alloway

From Belfast we take the ferry back to Troon in Scotland, from where (Ignoring all the international standard golf courses which includes, of course, Trump Turnberry.) we head for Alloway.  “What’s in Alloway?” you might ask, “Never heard of it!”  Well, Alloway is a beautifully preserved old Scottish village, with architecture and textures completely different from those we have seen in the south. But, most importantly, it is the birthplace of Rabbie Burns, who wrote such gems as A Red Red Rose, Tam O’Shanter and of course, Auld Lang Syne.  We missed the English Bard’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon, because we were in such a hurry, so I think it is only fitting we visit the home of the Scottish Bard.

#16 Lanark

From Alloway we travel west and north to the County Town of Lanarkshire, the ancient town of Lanark (Think State Capital), where every June they hold the Lanark Lanimers, a festival dating back to the town’s birth in 1140.  But that’s not what we are here for.

Just outside the town lies New Lanark.  Earlier on this trip we visited Port Sunlight, and enjoyed the quaint and quirky ideas of the Victorians and their search for a degree of social equity.  A full hundred years before that however a Welshman named Robert Owen came to New Lanark, then a rough and tumble conglomeration of woolen mills and set up one of the first truly functional assisted housing and worker welfare schemes in the world.

Where Port Sunlight is fascinating, New Lanark is staggeringly impressive, one of the best 20 social history locations to visit in the U.K, and indeed the world.  Now fully restored to reflect its amazing story, the whole of New Lanark is full of the clamor of the River Clyde, which powered the flying shuttles until the first mighty steam engines were installed. Here you can still see the way life was for these workers, 250 years ago.

#17 Edinburgh

What is there to be said about Edinburgh? Rather like London, Edinburgh merits a “the 20 best places to visit in Edinburgh” guide, of its own – but here we have time for only a few very brief highlights.

Arthur’s Seat

Firstly, Edinburgh is the only capital city I know of where you can go Hill Walking, Rock Climbing and real Mountain Biking, right in the heart of the city.  Edinburgh has a mountain slap-bang in the middle of it – it is known as Arthur’s Seat. This is open, empty countryside and a steep climb, just ten minutes walk from the salons of Morningside and the rock-cellars of the Old Town (The bit of the town that’s old – I think you’re getting the hang of this now.)


Secondly, and perhaps strangely, we have the Edinburgh geology.  Edinburgh is built on the side of an old volcano (With the castle stuck right on the top!) and the main part of the town was built on its very irregular contours.  So there are buildings in the main streets of Edinburgh which tower seven or eight stories high.  Interestingly though, they also extend downward for another seven or eight stories.  One of my favorite eateries in Edinburgh, a place called Bannermans, is on the ground floor of one of these buildings.  Walk out of the bar and negotiate a few of Edinburgh’s steeper streets and you can walk into the ground floor of a swanky hotel, on a street with a completely different name, and yet it is all the same building, only eight floors higher.  (There is even a night-club in Edinburgh with dance floors on seven different levels – none of them on the ground floor!)

The Edinburgh Festival

The third and last thing I will say about Edinburgh is simply this – The Edinburgh Festival.   The Edinburgh Festival is the biggest Arts festival in the world and, probably, the biggest Festival period.  The population of Edinburgh is close to half a million.  This rises during the festival to around 4 million and stays like that for a month (Mid-August to Mid-September.) During the festival there are at least 50,000 performances of more than 3,000 shows at more than 300 different venues – and that doesn’t include street theatre, of which there is probably at least the same amount again.

This all too brief guide can tell you a little about one of the best places to visit in the U. K. in the summer, but it can only serve as a tiny flavor of Edinburgh and its festival – which has to be experienced to be believed.  Personally, I would leave you to enjoy Edinburgh, but we are on kind of a road trip, so I had better get you headed back towards London.  Our next stop therefore is a hundred miles or so south of Edinburgh – Lindisfarne.

#18 Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne is an Island off the northwest coast of England, connected to the mainland by a causeway which is completely covered at high tide.  This makes it kind of hit or miss whether you can get out to the island, and you have to check on the posted tide tables to make sure you leave in time to get back.  Is it worth all this hassle?  Well, Lindisfarne (or Holy Island) is a bleak and windy spit of land thrusting out into a turbulent North Sea.  It might be pretty enough on a sunny day, but those are far from common.

Here is something which I will leave you with however, which might spark your interest.  Lindisfarne is named after the ancient Priory on the island, and the monks there had their very own (And the very first!) Black Friday, when the island was invaded and sacked by the Vikings.  Their Black Friday was Friday 8th of June, 793.

Of all the places you might visit amongst the best 20 places to visit in the U.K. – Lindisfarne is the one which will truly transport you back to a dark age, before even Leif Erickson had made it to the Americas.

#19 Boston

As with any list of this sort there seems to be a million places I have missed out, and now we are nearing the end of our journey it becomes ever more difficult to pick and choose.  I was going to suggest Cambridge at this point, because we did have a look at Oxford earlier, but of course, Cambridge University is just a spin-off from Oxford – a fact of which they hate to be reminded.

Cambridge does have a lot of fabulous architecture, but, well – we’ve seen a lot of that:  time for a change perhaps.  (Though Cambridge does boast an area of parkland called Christ’s Pieces – which is surely worth investigating in its own right.)  Instead of Cambridge therefore, let’s head for Boston.

Boston is a small seaside town and port on the east coast of England, featuring a beautiful church with an unspired (and uninspired) tower – locally called the Stump.  There are a bunch of windmills dotted around the flat, flat landscape and a small but fascinating Bubble-Car Museum.

Boston is not a favorite tourist destination and that, on its own, should make it a welcome change on this trip, for it is well off the beaten tourist track. It is probably on the list of the best 20 undiscovered towns in the UK.  But that of course is not the point of this detour.  The point is in the name.  This is the original Boston, from which the US city derives its name.  I could have taken you to Woodstock, a quaint little town just west of Oxford, or Birmingham in the West Midlands, and I’m afraid that, on our mad dash south, we missed the grand-daddy of them all, York – or Old York as we might decide to describe it.

#20 Old Sarum

Last of all we come to somewhere which simply cannot be left out of any tour of the best 20 places to visit in the U. K. – Old Sarum.  We have to hook around London to get to this one, and I feel as if we are missing the whole southeast corner of England, which is unfortunate and regrettable – perhaps another time.  But what and where is Old Sarum? It is not a name which immediately rings the bell of familiarity.

With Old Sarum it is all about location.  Old Sarum itself is an amazing concatenation of different histories, having been built up and knocked down over at least four thousand years.  Wandering around Old Sarum itself is like wandering through the entire history of England.

Perhaps more importantly though is what is around it.  To the west lies the city of Salisbury, with its fabulous cathedral, (Possibly the finest Gothic building in Europe, and therefore the world!), its sixteenth-century cinema (I kid you not!) and of course The New Inn, so called because it replaced the old one, which burned to the ground in 1242.

A short drive to the north of Old Sarum however, lies a much greater monument to man’s ingenuity – Stonehenge.  If you want to go see Stonehenge, (And you definitely do!) go mid-morning and mid-week on a rainy and windy day.  That way you may find you have the space and the quietness to enable you to appreciate the scale of the place, and the scale of the effort required to build it, and the scale of the motivation behind the project, and the scale of the organizational skills of the not-quite civilization which built it.

Wherever you go –  “Leave nothing but your footprints, take nothing but your memories.”

 Things to take along when you travel:

The Story of Holy Island: An Illustrated History

If you are going to Visit the Holy Isle on your trip, and I strongly recommend it, then it might be both useful and fascinating to study a little about the long and often difficult history of this unique place. The author, Kate Tristam is a well-known island resident whose talks on the history of Lindisfarne hold visitors spellbound. A historian and a priest in the Church of England, she is ideally qualified to tell the remarkable story of this captivating place.

XPETI Women’s Thermator Waterproof Hiking Outdoor Boot

If you are planning to do any serious walking while you are in the U.K. then prepare for one thing – RAIN!  This rubber-soled, fabric-and-synthetic boot, offers a waterproof mesh upper and Hydroshield Membrane so it keeps feet dry and warm during walks through puddles, mud and snow.  If you are planning to visit Buttermere for example, good footwear is essential.

2019 Collins Handy Road Atlas Britain and Ireland

If you are going for a trip to see some of these hidden gems around the U.K. you will be well advised to have a good atlas in your car. Not that your car won’t have SatNav of course, they all do. But that is not at all the point. What an atlas allows you to do is look at the roads between where you are now and where you want to go, and then pick the most interesting route for YOU. Until we get AI based GPS systems, the best bet is to look at the map and say “That looks interesting, let’s go that way.” and then plug your idea into the SatNav. 

Building the Titanic: An Epic Tale of the Creation of History’s Most Famous Ocean Liner

If you get to Ireland on your trip around the U.K. then, one of the most amazing opportunities you will have is to visit the birthplace of the legendary Titanic. Rod Green’s book takes you into why and how the Titanic was built, and helps you to understand what it was like for the men who toiled in the shipyards and drawing offices you will see in Belfast.

Frequently Asked Question by travelers:

Do Americans need a visa to visit the UK?

No. So long as they have a full passport, Americans can visit the UK for up to 90 days without a visa.

How do I get to the UK from the USA?

Well, it’s still possible to go by boat which takes at least a week, but is a super cool way to travel. Most people arrive by plane though, and there are more than 30 flights a day between the US and any of seven international airports in the U. K. – London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

How do I pay for things in the U. K.?

The U.K. has its own currency, the Pound Sterling which is currently trading at around 0.80 against the Dollar – so a hundred bucks ($100) is worth about eighty Pounds (£80) Shops and restaurants in the U.K. – ONLY accept payment in Pounds, and will not take Dollars or Euros.  However, most places accept Visa and Master Card and some accept American Express.  Diners Club Cards are now treated as Master Cards and can be used in most places. Digital payment is only just beginning in the U.K. so don’t expect to pay by phone any time soon.

Which places are “must visit” in the UK?

There are so many possible places to visit in the U.K. that this is impossible to answer.  There is a solution however. Define for yourself what you’re interested in:

  • Famous People
  • Famous Places
  • Famous Buildings
  • Famous Landmarks
  • Scenery
  • Architecture
  • Historical Significance
  • Family Connections
  • Quirky and unusual places and events

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Once you have narrowed down what interests you, then look at guides such as this list of the best 20 places to visit in the U.K. in 2019, and pick and choose the ideas which suit you best. Map out where they are and then plan a way to get to them and travel between them.

Why do they drive on the wrong side of the road in the U.K.?

In pre-industrial Britain, riders going in opposite directions on the same narrow track, which were then the normal kind of roadway, always passed each other on the left, so that their sword arm, their right arm, was closest to their opponents. This was later taken up in jousting, and the same trend carried on when coaches came on to the wider roads coming in and out of London. Thus, the U.K. has been ‘driving’ on the left for at least the last 800 years, while the US has been driving on the right since about the 1790s, when Pennsylvania passed a law requiring carts and wagons using their new turnpike to drive on the right.

When is the best time to visit the U.K.?

The simple answer is Mid-May. The countryside is blooming, the weather is mild, and summer is in the hedgerows: but the tourist crowds haven’t quite made it out of London yet and the roads and attractions are not as busy as they will be later. Arrive around May 10th, spend a few days in London and then head-out – North, East, West or South (NEWS) to wherever your fancy and your guidebooks take you.


Any tour of the best 20 places to visit in the UK in 2019 will inevitably miss out a lot of truly wonderful places. We didn’t make it to the West Country, we never touched the Garden of England in the southeast. We have been to only one island, Lindisfarne or Holy Isle, but there are 136 inhabited islands dotted around the coastline, six of which actually boast their own parliaments! We never made it to the Highlands of Scotland or explored the flat fens in the eastern marches.

And perhaps we never will – we have only one life and only so much time and money. But this is my point –such is the rich diversity of this these tiny islands, (The U.K. is smaller than Michigan!)  that I could have built you a compendium of the best 200 places to visit in the U.K.

But I don’t have the time to write it and you wouldn’t have the time to visit them all, so let’s take this endeavor merely as a pointer to just SOME of the best places to visit in the U.K. in 2019.

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