The UK is an incredibly vast region made up of four countries; England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. If you are looking to explore some of the UK’s most beautiful destinations, get off the beaten path, or uncover some hidden gems in popular tourists cities like London or Edinburgh, this list is only the beginning of the adventures you can go on!
Take a day trip from London to the countryside, plan a road trip through the Scottish Highlands, or find the charm and culture in a small town or remote island. There’s plenty of architecture to admire and history to be learned in many of England’s cities such as York or Bath, or take a flight somewhere a bit more adventurous like Northern Ireland.
With the help of some fellow bloggers who have submitted their ideas in addition to some of my own, I’ve created this UK Bucket List that is sure to inspire your next adventure in the United Kingdom!
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Destinations to Add to Your UK Bucket List
1. Road trip around the Cotswolds – England
Rolling hills with grazing sheep and picture-perfect villages filled with pubs, cafes, and shops, the Cotswolds is an untouched space in the English countryside that must be high on your UK bucket list.
There are many different cities that make up the Cotswolds and getting here is only a couple hour’s day trip from London. The best way to explore is to rent a car and road trip through the different towns and villages but if you are limited on time or would prefer to have a guide you can also join a day tour from London.
If you are driving I recommend staying at The Falcon Inn bed and breakfast in Painswick. Our romantic junior suite had the most beautiful panoramic windows and the meal at the on-site restaurant was absolutely delicious!
While summertime has the nicest weather the best times to avoid the crowds are late spring or early autumn. Going to the Cotswolds during Christmastime is a sure way to get rid of the winter blues as the towns come alive with lights and events.
2. Ride the Harry Potter Steam Train – Scotland
Riding on the iconic Harry Potter Stream Train will have you swept away into another realm as you pass by rugged mountains, moody lochs, Scottish Sea lookouts, and luscious glens (narrow valleys). If you are a Harry Potter fan you can keep your eyes open for the filming locations from the movies including Loch Shiel, Loch Eilt, and the most famous, the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
I rode the train during the fall so the multi-colored landscapes made it all the more stunning! You can typically ride the Harry Potter Train from early April through the end of October.
The Jacobite is located in Fort William, Scotland so you can either get your tickets through West Coast Railways and drive yourself to the station or you can join a guided tour from Inverness or Edinburgh.
There is also a guided tour that departs from Glasgow, however, it only includes viewing the train as it crosses the Glenfinan Viaduct, not the admission to ride on the train.
Whatever you do, make sure to book your tickets many months in advance because they do sell out quickly!
3. Take a punting tour on the River Cam in Cambridge – England
This UK bucket list activity is for those looking for a relaxing afternoon filled with history and nature. In Cambridge, you can go for a float down the peaceful River Cam in a punt.
While you can paddle yourself I recommend going with a chauffeur. The price isn’t that much different than going independently and you can sit back and focus on the many interesting landmarks, many of which are colleges.
On our student-led punting tour, our guide did an excellent job narrating and we learned way more than we anticipated to! For the best weather, I’d recommend visiting from late spring to early fall.
Taking a day trip to Cambridge from London is only an hour’s journey on the fast train. We made the most of our time in Cambridge and also checked out the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and ate at Browns Brasserie for dinner.
You can also unwind with a beer or two at one of the pubs or join in on this pub tour to learn about the local pub culture.
4. Stay in a castle hotel
With more than 4,000 castles in the UK, its Brozen and Iron Age past stands strong to this day. As time goes on more and more of these castle sites are being turned into full-fledged hotels and resorts offering much more than just a night’s sleep.
Staying at a castle hotel can be quite the royal experience depending on where you stay! Think vaulted ceiling with canopy beds, on-site spas, perfectly manicured grounds, and fine dining.
You don’t have to spend lavishly though to check this UK bucket list experience off of your list. I booked a junior suite at the Dalmahoy Hotel & Country Club in Edinburgh for around 200 GBP a night!
Weather you want luxury or affordabe there are tons of other great castle hotels throughout the UK on Booking.com. You can browse them all here!
5. Pony Trekking in the Scottish Highlands
Most often people explore the Scottish Highlands on a guided tour or a road trip because there are so many great stop-offs and viewpoints along the way. Another alternative worthy of being on your UK bucket list is seeing the Highlands from the back of a pony or horse!
There are a few different companies you can do this through near either Glasgow or Inverness. We chose Loch Lomond Pony Trekking because their trek provides awesome views of Loch Lomond and it was very convenient to get to from Glasgow. Plus, the pricing of their tour was very reasonable!
6. Drink tea at England’s first known tea room – Central London
An under-the-radar destination that should be on your UK bucket list is Twinings Tea’s flagship store located on No. 216 Strand in London.
It dates all the way back to 1717 and it still operating to this day!
Originally opening as The Golden Lyon Tea and Coffee House it was England’s first-ever tea room and many speculate that it was also the world’s first tea and coffee shop that didn’t sell liquor.
The history of the Twinings family is so interesting and there are beautifully illustrated posters and interactive displays inside the store that cover the timeline of events. The best part is that you can try any one of the Twinings teas at the tea sampling bar for free!
7. Explore the Jurassic Coast – England
The Jurassic Coast is one of England’s most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the English Channel coast that spans roughly 95 miles from Exmouth to Studland Bay. The cliffs and expansive coastline views are quite spectacular and I often reminisce on the memories I made here!
Popular things to do here include going fossil hunting, walking along the South West Coast Path, admiring the majestic Durdle Door, having a cozy seaside stay in Weymouth, adventuring on the Isle of Portland, or paddleboarding out to the Old Harry Cliffs on the southernmost tip.
All around, the Jurassic Coast is an epic UK bucket list destination that is sure to convince you to keep exploring all that it has to offer!
8. Try Scottish whisky
Being as whisky is the national drink of Scotland it is only fair that you give it a taste while visiting Scotland! There are five different whisky regions in Scotland so no matter what Scottish cities you are planning on visiting there will be ample opportunities to taste locally distilled whisky.
These regions include Speyside, Lowland, Highland, Campbeltown, and, Islay. Speyside is the most densely populated region for whisky anywhere in the world and the Highland region is the largest geographical area covered in Scotland.
Most people choose to go on a whisky distillery tour so they can learn about the distilling process, whisky flavor profiles, and of course to sample various whiskies. While we were in Edinburgh we chose to do the Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour Tour and we learned so much and had the best time tasting whisky from all of the different regions in Scotland!
9. Watch a Premier League football match
What would the UK be without its beloved game of football? This sport was born in England so do yourself a favor and add watching a Premier League football match to your UK bucket list because there’s no better way to feel like a local!
My fiance’s allegiance is with Manchester United so we traveled to Manchester to watch their match against West Ham. Man United won and the crowd was electric!
If you don’t have a particular favorite team I would recommend watching a historic club such as Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, or Arsenal.
Based on your travel dates you can always look up when and where the nearest Premier League team is playing. The best part about the Premier League is that they have teams all over England, seven of which are in London!
10. Take the Beatles photo on Abbey Road – North London
We all have seen the iconic album cover of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road in 1968 – it’s one of the most famous of all time!
You can see this historic spot for yourself right in London! Better yet, if you are traveling with a group of four you can replicate the photo exactly.
Now of course everyone at this zebra crossing will be looking to do the same so you’ll need to be patient and cautious of the cars. When I visited a man even walked across barefoot because he said he was walking on sacred ground.
This completely free UK bucket list activity can be found here just next to the Abbey Wood Studios where you can pick up some keepsakes afterwards.
If you are a hardcore Beatles fan you could also join one of the many guided tours for an in-depth learning experience. This particular walking tour is only 26 GBP and during the 2.5 hours, you’ll listen to many interesting stories while being shown to various Bettle-related sites including Sir Paul McCartney’s home and where “Yesterday” was composed.
11. See Puffins on Skomer Island – Wales
Visiting Skomer Island to see puffins was a remarkable experience. The island, located off the coast of Pembrokeshire in Wales, is a perfect spot for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers.
To get there, I traveled to Martin’s Haven and took a short boat trip across Jack Sound to Skomer Island. Martin’s Haven is a small cove where the boat departs and can be reached by taking the B4327 from Haverfordwest in the far west of Wales before taking increasingly smaller roads. There is a small information center, but nothing more. You need to make sure you take plenty of food and water with you as there is nothing on the island other than compost toilets and thousands of birds.
On the island, the puffins are everywhere. Nothing beats sitting and watching the puffins as they potter around you, arriving with beaks full of sand eels and having arguments with their neighbors. Besides puffins, Skomer Island is also home to other seabirds like guillemots, razorbills, and Manx shearwaters.
The best time to visit Skomer Island is from May to July, with late May and early June being the prime time during the breeding season. Thousands of puffins gather on the island during this time, creating great photo opportunities and a chance to witness their behavior.
Experiencing puffins in their natural habitat on Skomer Island is a must for any UK bucket list. The chance to connect with nature and see these charismatic creatures up close makes it an unparalleled wildlife experience. Most wildlife encounters are not guaranteed but the Skomer puffins are a certainty during the breeding season.
Recommended by Suzanne from Meandering Wild
12. Oxford – England
Oxford is home to the world-renowned Oxford University, one of the best universities in the world. It’s also the oldest university in an English-speaking country.
I’ve been to Oxford three times so far and I love walking around in this historic city. On your first time to Oxford, I highly recommend getting a university tour from an actual student or alumni. It’s a good side income for them and it was so interesting to learn about the UK university system (at least it was to me since I had no idea about it).
You can get the best view of the city and its colleges from the top of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin. The stairs and viewing platform are very narrow, however, so there’s only a small number of people allowed to go up at the same time.
Another reason I love visiting Oxford is the fact that many Harry Potter scenes were filmed there, and when you visit them it feels like you’re in Hogwarts itself.
You can visit Oxford year-round. The advantage of visiting in summer is that you can enjoy a traditional punting tour in warm weather. And to me, a boat tour is always better in nice weather.
Oxford is easily accessible as a day trip from London. There are multiple trains going each day, or you can take a tour if you want to add an additional stop on the way.
All in all, I think Oxford is one of the most impressive cities to add to your UK bucket list because of its historic importance, stunning architecture, and beautiful green areas next to the river.
Recommended by Tina from Veganderlust
13. Brick Lane – East London
Brick Lane in East London is an absolute must-visit on your UK bucket list! Located in the Shoreditch / Bethnal Green area, it’s often said to be the best place to visit in Bethnal Green! It’s definitely an experience like no other as it really embodies London’s multicultural soul.
Brick Lane is a true melting pot of history, art, cuisine, and creativity. One of the highlights of Brick Lane is its world-famous Sunday market – so try to visit on a Sunday! This is when you’ll find a maze of stalls offering everything from vintage clothing to handcrafted jewelry and unique art pieces.
Brick Lane however is most famous for its food! With lots of affordable restaurants and food stalls featuring food from all corners of the globe, from Bangladeshi curries to mouthwatering bagels that pay homage to the area’s Jewish heritage, there’s so much to try!
Getting to Brick Lane is very easy. You can take the Central line on the Underground and alight at Liverpool Street station, then walk to Brick Lane. Alternatively, get the Overground train to Shoreditch High Street station or take the number 8 bus from Tottenham Court Road.
The best time to visit Brick Lane is during the spring and summer months. The vibrant atmosphere is at its peak, and you can fully enjoy the outdoor markets, pop-up stalls, and street performances that come alive under the sun!
As the day turns to night, Brick Lane transforms. The nightlife here is amazing, with lots of pubs, bars, and live music venues catering to all tastes. Live bands and DJs will have you dancing all night long!
Recommended by Catrina from 24 Hours Layover
Tour Recommendation: For the ultimate foodie experience this 4-hour East End London Food Tour to several gastronomic neighborhoods including Brick Lane!
14. Hunt for Nessie in Loch Ness – Scotland
The famous Loch Ness in Scotland is shrouded in mystery and legend and deserves a spot on your UK bucket list. This freshwater body of water, located in the Scottish Highlands, is particularly dark, and particularly deep sparking tales of creatures who lurk down below, namely the Loch Ness Monster.
Nessie is probably the most well-known of Scottish folklore, making her media debut in the 1930s but there have been recorded sightings of a creature in the loch since the 6th century. Many of us grew up hearing tales of the long-necked dinosaur-like figure in Scotland. As an adult, I was fascinated by documentaries that were determined to solve the mystery once and for all.
The moment I knew I was going to Scotland I knew I had to make my way to the famed Loch Ness. Hunting for Nessie is a popular pastime for tourists and makes a great addition to your Scotland itinerary. I quite enjoyed my time gliding across the water with one eye on the expansive lake and the other studying the sonar monitor. This activity is doable year-round and there are day tours from both Edinburgh and Glasgow. I like Rabbies because they offer small group tours.
Recommended by Angie from We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
15. Lavender Farms London
London is packed full of lavender farms and is missed by so many, so make sure you head to one of the spectacular Lavender farms. Fields upon fields of purple extend into the distance, an endless vista that captures the eye’s imagination.
One of the best lavender fields in London is Hitchin Lavender, thanks to its rolling fields and incredible landscape. The thick lavender bushes are some of the largest of all the lavender fields in London which gives the landscape a very deep purple hue. If you’re lucky enough to go at sunset, you’ll see the sky turn a beautiful resplendent orange, pink, and eventually purple.
Hitchin Lavender also comes with a quaint pop-up cafe, offering lavender-infused teas and coffees for your tasting pleasure. Be prepared to discover a wide range of extraordinary lavender-based products; candles, creams, scented bags, lip balms, cookies… there are tonnes!
There’s also a great flower field nearby as well as a straw & barley field nearby, meaning there are plenty of picturesque places to take photos. Make sure you stop to have a picnic on one of the built-up hay bales. The lavender fields bloom from June to August, but bear in mind that lavender blooms at different times thanks to the weather.
Recommended by Adriana from Wanderlicious
16. Arthur’s Seat – Scotland
One of the most appealing things about Scotland’s capital is its close proximity to nature. Perhaps nothing better illustrates this than Arthur’s Seat. There’s seemingly no end to the unique experiences you can have in Edinburgh, however, hiking Arthur’s Seat is truly an unmissable UK bucket list adventure if you love the great outdoors.
Although this urban mountain is accessible by foot via the Royal Mile and Holyrood Park, it’s still very rugged terrain. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and dress in layers for Scotland’s unpredictable weather. Arthur’s Seat is open 365 days a year, however, the ideal times to go are summer, spring, or fall. Take care in the winter months as the path can be slippery with ice and snow.
To make your visit to Arthur’s Seat even more unique, on your way to the summit, take a detour to St. Anthony’s Chapel. This ruin located on a jagged outcropping of rock dates back to the 11th century and offers sweeping views of Edinburgh and St. Margaret’s Loch.
From there, follow the path directly to the summit, or continue your hike over the rocky knoll and cross over to the quaint and charming Duddingston Village. If you’ve worked up an appetite from your hike, pop into the Sheep Heid Inn, an authentic country pub where you can enjoy a hearty lunch. It’s also worth checking out Dr. Neil’s Garden while you’re there. Known as Edinburgh’s secret garden, this secluded spot offers a variety of beautifully curated plant life and winding paths to explore.
If you don’t want to venture out to Arthur’s Seat on your own you could also go for this privately guided tour that is customizable so you could add in some of the other spots I mentioned.
Recommended by Alyssa O Writes
17. Old Man of Storr Hike – Scotland
The Old Man of Storr hike, in Scotland’s Island of Skye, is one of the most incredible trails you’ll find in the United Kingdom—and arguably, on the planet so it’s definitely deserving of a spot on your UK bucket list.
On this challenging trail, you’ll trek up a steep hill and find jagged rock formations, jutting out of the impossibly green earth. On any given side, there are stunning views—rugged cliffs, towering mountains, and sweeping ocean views.
The trailhead is located 15 minutes north of the small fishing village of Portree on the Isle of Skye, along the Atlantic coastline in the northwestern corner of the country. It’s a five-hour and 15-minute drive northwest from both Glasgow and Edinburgh or can be reached by either city via a series of buses.
The Old Man of Storr is accessible year-round but is best enjoyed during the dry season of May through early October. During this period, you’ll have the best chance of having clear views of the dramatic rock formations and ocean and a dry trail. If you happen to visit while it’s raining (it is Scotland, after all!), just be careful on the trail’s stone steps—they can get quite slippery while wet!
Recommended by Jess & Austin from Uprooted Traveler
18. Causeway Coastal Route – Northern Ireland
The Causeway Coastal Route has a bit of everything – rugged landscapes, castles, waterfalls, a distillery, and a rope bridge to name but a few. This bucket-list-worthy route starts a short distance from Belfast and is well signposted throughout. It is a beautiful route to drive but check out DiscoverNI for details on public transport from Belfast and a map showing a full Causeway itinerary. If you are short on time, there are also an array of guided tours so you don’t have to miss out on any of the highlights.
There are several National Trust stops including Gleno Waterfall, Mussenden Temple (closed from August 8 2023 for conservation), and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge (prebooking essential). I would highly recommend the rope bridge over the summer months to avoid weather cancellations.
Of course, Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage site – the infamous Giant’s Causeway – shouldn’t be missed (open all year, 9 am – 6 pm). The route also offers three castles – Carrickfergus (open Tues – Sun), Dunluce (daily, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm), and Ballygally Castle Hotel (reportedly haunted!).
If walking the great outdoors is more your thing, head to either Slemish Mountain or Glenariff Forest Park, both located in the Glens of Antrim (an AONB) for stunning views. The Gobbins Cliffpath (daily, weather permitting) is also a unique experience.
Between September and April, you will find many photographers and aurora chasers heading straight for the north coast – particularly Dunluce, Giant’s Causeway, and Mussenden. You can often see the spectacular northern lights and these places provide the perfect backdrop.
As with any outdoor experience in NI, the weather can be very changeable and many of these spots are weather-permitting. The coastal road can be hit with strong waves, and though the north coast can still be reached via the motorway, please heed all weather warnings.
Recommended by Travel of a Solo Passport
19. Stonehenge – England
If you have extra time in London, consider taking a day trip to Stonehenge! This UNESCO site southwest of London attracts over 1.5 million visitors every year. How the stones were arranged the way they were remains a mystery to historians and visitors, and was said to have been built as a burial site. It is estimated that there are about 200 people buried under Stonehenge according to experts.
While you can visit Stonehenge any time of the year, most tourists visit during Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Up to 20,000 visitors attend to celebrate the sun rising, and unlike during the rest of the year when Stonehenge is blocked off, visitors can walk around the ruins.
If you’re not comfortable driving in the UK, there are so many group or private tours you can take from London in an air-conditioned bus. A lot of these tours including this one include an extra side trip to Bath and Windsor Castle!
Recommended by Hannah from Hannah on Horizon
20. Eating Oysters in Whitstable – England
Whitstable is one of the closest and most quaint seaside towns directly on the train from London. Located only 1 hour and 20 minutes from London the trains connect Whitstable with London from either London Kings Cross or London Victoria. Making Whitstable the perfect charming day by the seaside.
Whitstable is renowned for producing Oysters, which thrive in its tidal waters near the shore. Throughout the town, there are numerous places offering freshly shucked oysters. The best places in Whitstable to get freshly shucked Oysters are The Oyster Shed at Harbour Market and The Forge, both situated along the seafront. However, if you’re looking for a range of seafood with high quality make sure to check out Wheelers Oyster Bar, an iconic building in the middle of Harbour Street.
There is also an oyster festival in Whitstable in October to celebrate their prized Oysters as well as celebrate the town’s local oyster and fishing industry.
Recommended by Seb & Aimee from Our Salt Souls
21. Warner Bros Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter
Whether you’re a parent of a Harry Potter fan or grew up reading the novels and watching the movies, visiting Warner Bros Studio for the Harry Potter Studio Tour is an absolute must and definitely a UK bucket list activity!
This incredibly magical experience shouldn’t be missed. You can easily spend at least half a day touring through Warner Bros Studio to soak in all the Harry Potter movie sets, costumes, and props used in all 8 films over the course of 10 years.
The adventure starts in the Great Hall and winds its way through the Dark Forest, 4 Privet Drive, Dumbledore’s Office, and Gringotts Bank. There is so much to see here, so take your time going through each section – the finest of details are right under your nose!
From the mechanisms of the Whomping Willow to the history of the animal actors, you’ll be fully immersed in the world of Harry Potter.
There are a number of incredible photo opportunities and an inside look at how the magic tricks were made.
The easiest way to get to Warner Bros Studio – The Making of Harry Potter is by guided tour such as this one. Most tours depart from Victoria Station in London and travel an hour north to Watford.
Alternatively, you can find your own transportation there and take a free shuttle bus from Watford Junction to the Studio. Since all tours are self-guided, feel free to spend as much time there as you like. Be sure to save time for the gift shop – it’s a destination in itself!
Don’t miss out on this UK bucket list activity!
Recommended by in Search of Sarah
22. Explore the Lake District – England
The Lake District is a stunning national park in the northwest of England, offering visitors a range of incredible experiences. Some of the best things to do in the Lake District include hiking Scaffel Pike, sailing on Windermere, or rock climbing Napes Needle.
The Lake District is known for its stunning scenery, and while you can book a tour from London the best way to experience it is by taking a scenic drive. The A591 between Kendal and Keswick is a particularly picturesque route with many beautiful spots such as Stock Ghyll Force or Rydal Cave.
The Lake District has also a rich history and is home to several historic sites including prehistoric stones and castles. Some popular sites are Muncaster Castle, Wray Castle, and Castlerigg Stone Circle which is even older than Stonehenge.
It is also home to several charming market towns such as Keswick. The town is surrounded by stunning fells, including Skiddaw or Blencathra. There are numerous hiking trails to cater to different abilities and preferences, making Lake District one of the best bucket list destinations to visit in the UK.
This stunning National Park filled with picturesque lakes, rolling hills, and dense forests offers visitors a unique opportunity to connect with nature in an idyllic setting.
Recommended by Paulina from the UK Every Day
23. Walk The Glass Floor On Tower Bridge – North Bank London
Glass floors have become quite popular in the last decade, and I couldn’t wait to try one in London – on Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge didn’t always have a glass floor, but its bridge was always an iconic landmark on the River Thames.
While the bridge started offering tours in 1982, the glass floor was added to the west walkway in 2014. Since Tower Bridge is near the Tower of London, I was able to visit both on the same day.
Expect to spend up to two hours touring the exhibition and learning its history. Admission includes access to the walkways between the towers, engine rooms, and a gift shop.
I enjoyed views of the Walkie Talkie Building, The Shard, The Gherkin, the Tower of London, and HMS Belfast from the west walkway. The east walkway offers less picturesque vistas towards the commercial area along the River Thames.
The glass floor features six panels with a mirror overhead. Many tourists lay on the floor to take a selfie. After our selfies, we stood on the polka-dot panels and watched the traffic pass beneath us.
Since Tower Bridge still operates, you may be fortunate to witness the rising of the bridge during your visit, as we did.
Recommended by Forever Karen
24. St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall – England
The iconic St Michael’s Mount is Cornwall’s answer to the famous Mont Saint-Michel in France. It is one of the most romantic spots on this UK bucket list, where nature and history come together in perfect balance.
St Michael’s Mount is a small tidal island topped with a medieval castle perched on rugged cliffs. The castle is surrounded by beautiful terraced gardens featuring exotic plants. The island is also home to a picturesque village where a small community of 30 people still resides.
The island is connected to the quaint coastal village of Marazion by a cobbled causeway, accessible only at low tide. When the causeway is underwater during high tide, you can only get to St Michael’s Mount by boat.
Visitors to the island can explore the castle, enjoy incredible views over Mount’s Bay, and stroll around the tranquil gardens. There is also a cafe where you can enjoy breakfast or a light lunch.
For easy access to St Michael’s Mount, I recommend staying in the nearby town of Penzance. It is home to cozy historic pubs, quirky shops, cool art galleries, and a beautiful seafront promenade.
Several bus routes connect Penzance and Marazion, and the journey takes about 30 minutes. You can also walk to Marazion from Penzance along the South West Coast Path. It takes about an hour to get to the castle by foot.
The best time to visit St Michael’s Mount is in the summer when you can enjoy the most sunshine and warmth. However, this is also the busiest and most costly time to visit.
To balance pleasant weather with smaller crowds, you may want to consider going in early autumn or late spring. You will still enjoy pleasant weather and encounter fewer people.
Recommended by Ksenia at Explore with Wonder
25. Callanish Stones – Scotland
On the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, you will find a 5,000-year-old stone circle called the Callanish Stones. Visiting the stones is one of the most interesting things to do on Isle of Lewis.
The Callanish Stones have some similarities to Stonehenge but they are actually older. Best of all is that because it is less well known and more difficult to get to than Stonehenge there are also far fewer visitors. When I visited my husband and I were the only people there so it’s safe to say that this destination isn’t on many people’s UK bucket list!
What makes this such a special stone circle to visit is you can walk right up to and in amongst the stones. Whilst wandering around the stones it is fascinating to think about why they might have been placed there. Very little is known about what these stones were used for.
A museum at the entrance to the stones is open Monday to Saturday during the summer. It has audio displays, graphic panels, and models. There is a small charge to visit the museum but visiting the stones is free. When the museum is closed you can still visit the stones.
The best time to visit is from May to the end of September.
Given the stones are located on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland you have to get a ferry or a domestic flight to get there. The ferry leaves from Ullapool and domestic flights leave from Inverness, Glasgow, or Edinburgh. Both the ferry and the planes arrive in Stornoway which is the largest town on the island. From Stornoway, it is a 30-minute drive to the stones.
This 3-day guided tour of Isle of Lewis departs by coach from Inverness and while it is pricey it does include all of your transport including the ferry to the Isle and 2 nights of accommodations in Stornoway.
Recommended by Kristen from Scotland Less Explored
26. Watch the Ceremony of the Keys in the Tower of London – North Bank
Photography is not allowed for the actual ceremony so the photo is just the tower by day!
The Ceremony of the Keys in the Tower of London is a tradition which goes back over 600 years and is in fact one of the oldest ceremonies in the world. Unlike many other UK bucket list experiences, this one costs very little, even though the tickets are hard to come by.
The Tower of London is famous across the globe and its White Tower built by William the Conqueror the highlight of many tourist photos. Receiving over 3 million visitors a year, by day the Tower is packed with people admiring the Crown Jewels, the infamous dungeons, and the Line of Kings and Traitors Gate.
By night, however, the lucky few who have booked tickets for the ceremony can stand on those ancient cobbles inside the thick stone walls and watch the medieval ceremony of the Kings Keys play out in front of them. Beefeaters and Guards, resplendent in their red uniforms recite the same words their forebears have for centuries before they hand over the keys, followed by the playing of the Last Post in a truly unique and moving tradition, set against the black night sky with the gentle lapping of the Thames behind you. It feels as if you have front-row seats for a trip back in time.
You can book this experience year-round and the tickets, which are £5 per person, can only be booked through the Tower’s website and sell out incredibly quickly – perseverance is required.
You can also book this VIP nighttime tour that begins after the tower closes to the public. You’ll see where the Yeoman Warder lives inside the tower and learn secrets of the tower’s past before watching the Ceremony of Keys.
The Tower is easily accessible as it is in central London – the nearest tube stop is Tower Hill.
Far more enthralling though is using an Uber boat which leaves from right outside the Tower; a trip down the Thames admiring all the city lights against the inky black sky rounds off a truly memorable bucket list adventure.
Recommended by Sarah Nash from Slow Travel
27. Experience the Arundel Castle Tulip Festival – England
Tulips may not be the first thing you think of for a UK bucket list, but these spring flowers flourish in the UK with spring gardens bursting into bloom with thousands of tulips each year.
Arundel Castle is the best place to see tulips in the UK, with tens of thousands of tulips planted across its remarkable gardens. The castle itself dates back to medieval times, with a long and storied history with characters from William the Conqueror to Queen Victoria. It is now the home of the Duke of Norfolk and his family.
The Tulip Festival runs at Arundel Castle between mid-April and early May each year. Tulips spring up in the castle’s moat, in ornamental pots, dotted through meadows, and in my favorite spot, the tulip labyrinth. It’s a joy to discover the garden at Arundel Castle and seeing the tulips here is a truly memorable experience.
Arundel is easily reachable by train from London Victoria, so it’s a doable day trip for any visitor to London. If you want a more personalized experience you can join this private tour that goes by car from London.
Visiting the Arundel Castle Tulip Festival is like stepping into a fairytale. From spring flowers to castle architecture and the charming market town, it’s a historic day out to put on your UK bucket list.
Recommended by Hannah from Art Distance
28. Hike the West Highland Way – Scotland
The West Highland Way is a trail in Scotland that stretches from just outside of Glasgow to Fort William. The trail is 96 miles (154 kilometers) long and you can see incredible views of the Scottish Highlands the entire way.
I hiked a section of the trail in 2023 from Tyndrum to Fort William; it was one of the most beautiful and memorable hikes I’ve ever completed. The trail is challenging but easy to follow, stunningly beautiful but not entirely off of the map. Hiking the entire West Highland Way is a huge accomplishment and definitely deserving of a spot on a UK bucket list.
The trail is broken up by small towns and villages, many of which have a few hotels and restaurants. You can hike with the assistance of a bag service, which will deliver your bags from one hotel to the next at your pre-determined stops.
Safety along the West Highland Way isn’t a huge concern. With very little crime in the Scottish Highlands and generally gentle terrain on the trail, the West Highland Way is the perfect destination for solo travelers, young hikers, or those without much through-hiking experience.
You can reach the West Highland Way by train or by this guided tour from Glasgow. The West Highland Line loosely follows the trail, with stops in Milngavie and Fort William, the official start and end of the trail. You can also break the hike into smaller sections, as there are train stops in Inverarnan, Crianlarich, Tyndrum, Bridge of Orchy, Glen Coe, and Ballachulish.
The best time of year to hike the West Highland Way is from April to October. If possible, I’d recommend that you hike in April, May, September, or October. The shoulder seasons have smaller crowds and fewer obnoxious midges.
Recommended by Amber Everywhere
29. Titanic Belfast – Northern Ireland
A must-see attraction while visiting Belfast is the Titanic Belfast. Located in the up-and-coming area of the Titanic Quarter, the museum is in front of the actual slipway where the famous ship was built. It is a large structure that is beautifully built – leaning panels made of three thousand aluminum sheets make for a fascinating outside façade.
Inside there are exhibition rooms – give yourself 2 ½ to 3 hours to visit as they are spread out over 118,000 square feet. The exhibits start with the history of Belfast and how it evolved as a city eventually including shipbuilding as a major source to its economy. From there it details the project of the Titanic including design elements, materials, and the actual construction of the massive ship even highlighting the conditions for the workers of that time.
There are many displays and fun stats about the interiors as well – such as how many linens and pieces of cutlery were required to stock the ship. After you discover the grandeur of the ship and the excitement of what a modern marvel it was, the exhibits turn to the devastating demise that beheld the voyage. They cover the inquiry and even have interesting underwater footage of where the ship currently lives at the bottom of the ocean.
This museum is expertly curated and provides a memorable experience to help understand this incredible undertaking.
The Museum is open year-round, seven days a week. Check the website for opening times as they fluctuate. Tickets must be booked in advance and are based on a timed entry. You can add an audio guide to your ticket reservation that provides many details as well. Guided Tours are also available at an additional cost.
Recommended by Kim Gervais from Explore Your Bucket List
30. Hike Pen Y Fan – Wales
Hiking Pen Y fan is certainly one for the UK bucket list.
It’s the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales and thousands of people flock to tackle it each year.
You’ll find dozens of different ways to climb Pen Y Fan – from relatively easy to extremely hard. Yet, regardless of which route you choose, you’ll enjoy the same magnificent views across the Welsh countryside.
This particular hiking tour is led by a passionate local Andy who takes you along a lesser-traveled trail to reach the summit of Pen Y Fan. He also runs this sunset tour where you can be awestruck as the sun sets over Black Mountain.
If you’re not familiar with the Brecon Beacons, then you’ll need to know that in between the rolling hills, it’s mostly made up of small towns and villages connected with narrow country roads. This means that traveling around can be difficult unless you have a car.
The other thing to know is that the weather in Wales can be incredibly fickle. Often, you’ll have blue sky and sunshine followed by a hefty downpour of rain, but it soon passes.
Whilst you’ll almost certainly need to prepare for all weather eventualities, the best time of year to embark on a Pen Y Fan walk is between May and October.
Hiking during this time should provide you with a better chance of decent weather than at other times of the year.
Recommended by Stay Wild Travels
31. Spotting Orca in Orkney – Scotland
The Orkney Islands are a set of over 70 islands off the top of mainland Scotland, although only 20 of these are inhabited. Located where the North and Norwegian Seas meet the Atlantic Ocean, Orkney is home to rolling mountains, dramatic cliff faces and expansive beaches.
Known for its diverse landscapes, Orkney boasts several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which feature historical remains from Neolithic settlements dating back over 5,000 years ago. But it’s the indigenous wildlife that will be sure to boost Orkney to the top of your UK bucket list, as it’s also one of the best places in the UK to spot orca, whales, porpoises and dolphins.
Cetaceans can be seen around Orkney at any time of year. Orca are most frequently spotted during summer but can be seen all year round. Despite also being known as Killer Whales, Orcas are actually the largest species of dolphin. Your best chance of seeing them is on one of Orkney’s many lovely coastal walks, but wildlife boat trips can also be arranged.
It’s also possible to see migratory whale species like humpback whales during the spring/summer transition, but minke whales are the most commonly sighted whales here. The summer months provide better weather for getting outdoors, increasing your chances of a sighting. While in the winter months, Orkney is home to the incredible phenomenon of the Northern Lights.
Orkney is easily accessible from the Scottish mainland, with ferries departing from Scrabster, Gills Bay, and Aberdeen. From Orkney Mainland, you can get connecting ferries to the other islands. It’s also possible to fly into Orkney’s main airport at Kirkwall from many UK cities with Loganair.
Recommended by Thoroughly Travel
32. Holy Island, Northumberland – England
Located in my favorite place off the coast of England’s most northerly county of Northumberland the island of Lindisfarne is a UK bucket list-worthy place of mention. Also known as Holy Island, this is a tidal island, meaning that it is accessible by a manmade causeway just twice a day when the tide is low enough. The causeway has been there for centuries, but as the island has been a site for Christian Pilgrims for centuries, the “Pilgrims Path” across the treacherous sands is a secondary way to access the island.
The ruins of Lindisfarne Priory, now managed by English Heritage are a popular place to visit and the glorious Lindisfarne Castle, under the management of the National Trust, is a stunning building with fabulous gardens. Aside from these places and the St Aidan’s Winery, which provides Lindisfarne Mead from one of the Priory Monks ancient recipes, there is very little else here, and that’s what makes this wild part of the Northumberland Coast so special.
The journey here is part of the attraction, having to manage the tide tables to get across the causeway, and staying overnight to experience the island when the day visitors have departed is a magical experience. There are quite stunning cottages to rent, a lovely hotel, and some bed and breakfasts. The priory and castle are great to visit, but one of the most special things I’ve done here is to take hikes around the coast of the island, the Northumberland sea life here is spectacular.
If you don’t have your own transport then this guided tour from Edinburgh is one of the highest rated options.
Recommended by Sarah Carter from Northumberland’s Best
33. Bath – England
As a huge lover of history, the city of Bath tops my list when thinking about UK bucket list destinations. There’s Roman history with the historic baths, the amazing abbey right next door, and all around are the most amazing Georgian buildings and wide streets. It really feels like you’re part of a period drama as you wander around and I half expect one of Jane Austen’s characters to walk around a corner at any time.
It’s easy to reach Bath from London in a couple of hours by train or by one of the many organized tours such as this one. There’s so much to do in Bath, both indoors and out that it’s a great place to visit at any time of the year. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen like me then you’ll want to go in September when there’s the Jane Austen festival. It’s a time when events about the period happen and lots of people dress up!
Recommended by Lost in Landmarks
34. Hike the Seven Sisters – England
Adventurous travelers can’t skip adding these iconic chalk cliffs to their UK bucket list. Located on England’s southern coastline, about 40 minutes west of Brighton, the dramatic cliffs are a part of the beautiful South Downs National Park, home to stunning views of the English Channel and picturesque rolling hills — it’s a popular spot for photographers too!
There are a couple of hiking options to enjoy these striking ivory cliffs and the coastline. The first and the longest is to start in Seaford and hike to Eastbourne, which is approximately 14 miles (one-way). If that’s too much for you, you can also begin at the Seven Sisters Country Park and end at the Birling Gap (where the cliffs are located). The route still features stunning scenery and is only about three miles round trip.
Getting to the area is relatively easy via local buses, which make the trek between Brighton and Eastbourne regularly during the week, but they only stop at the Birling Gap on the weekend. It would be easiest to explore the area with a car.
If you are short on time you could opt for a sightseeing day trip like this half-day experience from Brighton.
The best time to visit the area is during the summer when you can enjoy longer days with more sunshine which helps emphasize the vibrant turquoise sea.
After the hike, you’re guaranteed to be hungry, and there’s no better place to go than Brighton! The fun seaside town is home to a diverse dining scene that includes amazing vegan-friendly options.
Recommended by Rebecca from Veggies Abroad
35. York – England
York is a small city packed with character and historic attractions. It is easily reached by a two-hour train journey from London or by flying into Leeds Bradford International Airport.
York is a compact city with a pedestrianized city center, so it is easy to explore on foot or join a guided walking tour.
Any visit to York should start at York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe. Your entrance ticket includes a tour of the ornate cathedral, and, for a small additional fee, you can climb the 275 steps to the top of the Minster’s central tower for a bird’s eye view of York.
Take a walk on York’s mediaeval-era city walls which are the longest city walls in England or discover York’s diverse history at the Jorvik Viking Centre or York Castle Museum. Climb to the top of Clifford’s Tower, the remains of a Norman keep, for another fantastic view of the city center.
Learn about what life was like in York in Georgian times with a trip to the lavish Fairfax House or the Victorian-era Mansion House, home of the current Lord Mayor of York.
Shop for souvenirs on York’s stone-flagged streets which are lined with historic Victorian, medieval, and Georgian buildings. See the cobbled Shambles, voted Britain’s Best Street which is said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter movies.
York is a unique city that should be on any UK bucket list and can be visited at any time of year. I recommend visiting in spring as you will have longer, warmer days for sightseeing, and the slopes of the city walls are adorned with daffodils and cherry blossoms. Christmas in York is also a magical time.
Recommended by Sinead from York Travel Expert
36. Yorkshire Dales – England
One place that everyone needs to add to their UK bucket list is the Yorkshire Dales. Since my partner is from Leeds, we have visited this national park several times; however, it continues to amaze me.
The Yorkshire Dales are pretty big, so you can easily spend a week there. Whether you love going on scenic hiking trails, eating the local food or immersing yourself in history, you can do this in the Dales.
If you are into nature, you can challenge yourself to complete The Yorkshire Three Peaks walk or visit the beautiful Malham Cove.
If you prefer history, the small town of Skipton won’t disappoint you. Skipton Castle is over 900 years old and one of the best-preserved medieval castles in the UK. I loved exploring its rooms and learning how people used to live there.
The best times to visit the Yorkshire Dales are summer and early autumn, as it probably won’t rain as much as in other seasons, and there is more daylight.
You can travel to the Dales by train or guided tour from cities like York or Leeds, but I highly recommend driving because it will give you more freedom to discover different places across the park.
Recommended by Cristina from My Little World of Travelling
37. Windsor and Windsor Castle – England
Windsor was at the top of my list when I mapped out my UK bucket list experience. As a royal enthusiast, I knew I wanted to visit Windsor Castle, the oldest inhabited castle in the world. I discovered there is much more to do in Windsor than just the castle visit.
Windsor is situated in Berkshire and is most easily accessible from London via two primary train routes: from London Paddington to Windsor & Eton Central (with a change at Slough) and a direct route from London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside. The journey ranges from 30 to 60 minutes.
Considering when to go? I found autumn to be genuinely incredible. The foliage started changing colors and made the perfect fall backdrop for exploring.
The marquee attraction is undoubtedly Windsor Castle. The State Apartments are lavishly decorated with impressive artwork from the Royal Collection. I could have spent all day here. The highlight was St. George’s Chapel, located within the castle grounds. It’s the resting place for ten monarchs, including the infamous Henry VIII. The chapel is beautiful and was the location of Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding.
After visiting the castle, I recommend indulging in a classic afternoon tea or checking out the town’s eclectic shops.
Many quaint and cozy eateries serve traditional British menus within walking distance from the castle and the train station.
For additional exploration, consider walking across the bridge to Eton. This prestigious school was once home to many of Britain’s politicians, celebrities, and even Prince William and Harry. Eton’s main street is lined with antique shops, art galleries, and quirky cafes.
I highly recommend a visit to Windsor. It’s got that touch of royal history, a sprinkle of modernity, and a whole lot of charm.
Recommended by Gleason Family Travels
38. Bamburgh Castle – England
If you’ve visited the UK before then you’ll know that we aren’t short of castles! So what makes Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland worthy of being on your UK bucket list? The most obvious reason is the location, not only does Bamburgh Castle overlook an incredible beach but has also been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). In addition to the stunning surroundings, Bamburgh Castle is steeped in history with its earliest recorded history beginning in AD547.
During your visit, it’s worth taking a stroll through the town of Bamburgh. The town is within a few minutes walk of Bamburgh Castle and has an excellent playground, quaint gift shops, and several delicious cafes and restaurants. Bamburgh Castle is located on the North East coast of England, around 50 miles (80 km) north of Newcastle.
The easiest way to get to Bamburgh Castle is by car and you can park at the castle if you’re just visiting to explore inside the castle walls. If you’re more interested in exploring the outside of the castle and Bamburgh town then there is a parking lot opposite of the entrance to the castle.
Given that Bamburgh Castle is in the North of England I’d recommend visiting from mid-June to mid-September, especially if you want to combine a castle visit with an afternoon playing on the beach.
Recommended by Travel With the Whitrows
Final Word on UK Bucket List Experiences
That’s a wrap on the top bucket list expereinces in the UK! I hope you enjoyed reading these firsthand experiences that we have shared with you.
There are endless places to roam, from the stunning coastline and solotude in Northern Ireland, to the plentiful castles, history, and nature in England. From the fokelore and lush landscapes in Scotland to the natural wonders and minimal tourists in Wales.
I hope you’re already planning your next UK bucket list adventure! Feel free to browse around RachelsFindings for more wonderlust from all around the world.