The United Kingdom contains some historically fascinating and enchanting destinations. Last year, more than 37 million people visited the UK and it’s currently the 8th most popular tourist destination in the world. Many people around the world travel to the UK to visit its historical sites and experience its rich and diverse culture as well as being drawn to this country by the royal family. Here are just five of the most popular historical destinations to visit in the UK.
The Orkney Isles are a collection of islands located to the north of mainland Scotland and contain some of the most important and well-preserved evidence of Neolithic life in Europe. Its name is an Anglicised version of the name given to it by Norwegian settlers meaning “seal islands”. Some of the places of interest include the Standing Stones, which are older than the Egyptian pyramids and are shrouded in mystery and the comparatively modern Balfour Castle, which was originally constructed in the 18th century. You can also take an archaeological tour or visit the Fossil and Heritage Centre. The historic highlight though is Skara Brae, a Neolithic settlement and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Cambridge is truly a city for history fanatics; it is home to majestic architecture, including the famous university buildings, several beautiful churches and fascinating stately homes. If you enjoy learning about history as well as just visiting historical sites, there are 14 museums that cover everything from evolution to technology. You can even partake in the famous activity of punting down the River Cam, which dates back to the 19th century and has a rich and interesting backstory.
As England’s capital city, London has seen more than its share of famous historical events and is home to both monarchy and parliament. As well as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey, which attract the crowds and have been associated with the Royal Family, there is also the Tower of London by the River Thames, which has a rich and fascinating history. If you take an open-top bus tour, you learn a lot about the city as well or there are several walking tours, such as the Sherlock Holmes Tour around points featured in the books.
The east Kent town of Canterbury is known worldwide thanks to Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ and many people still recreate the pilgrimage to Canterbury cathedral, one of Britain’s oldest religious buildings, albeit not on foot! As well as the beautiful architecture, the town is also home to the Marlowe Theatre, named after Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe and the remains of Canterbury Castle. Although it is a relatively small town, it is one of the most visited places in the UK thanks to its historic buildings.
Located in the South West of England, the city of Bath is a World Heritage Site and was originally used as a spa town by Roman settlers. You can witness centuries of history in Bath, from the Roman Baths to the Georgian Royal Crescent. It was also the home of author Jane Austin and the city boasts a centre dedicated to her. It is possibly the UK’s first tourist destination as people have been visiting it for over 2000 years.
From exploring ancient ruins in Canterbury and Orkney to enjoying the traditional activity of punting down the River Cam, the UK is full of history for you to immerse yourself in. Where’s your favourite historical UK destination?
Guest post courtesy of the lovely people at letsgopunting.co.uk.
*Simon Godfrey is the owner of Cambridge based punting specialist ‘Lets Go Punting’ and as well as spending ample time at the riverside he is often found writing about events and travel topics in the UK*