Whether it’s one of the UK’s cities or one of the UK’s small picturesque villages, there’s always something quirky to find in this amazing country. The UK has been one of the most popular European destinations to visit, and when people are asked about their next destination for traveling, they would say the UK is second nature.
As everyone knows, the UK is short for the United Kingdom, and it consists of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England (NOT London). London is the capital city of England, not its own country just to get that off of your chest. What fascinates travelers to the UK is its rich history and unique culture. We have the longest monarch in history with Queen Elizabeth celebrating her Platinum Jubilee in 2022. We’re only an island, but we’ve colonized so many different countries (India, America, Asia), and we, by far have the best castles still maintained to visit.
The best thing about traveling around the UK too is the convenience of public transport from London. Although we’re not as advanced in technology compared to Japan, our transportation system is the best in Europe and you can find the best places to visit easily. We already have even contactless payments on our debit cards, and we can connect them to our smartphones where we just tap to purchase items, food and drinks, and public transport.
Included in this post, we’ll run down day trips starting from London you must visit. Let’s talk of course about the one and only London first.
If you’ve visited or plan to visit the UK without starting in London, then there’s something wrong with you. London has plenty of things to do in so little time, depending on how long your visit may be. Most of the major tourist attractions can be found in the Southbank area of London. Let’s start with one of my favorite top London attractions worth visiting though, the Tower of London.
The awe-inspiring Tower of London has been standing for more than 1000 years. It’s been home to the Royal Family, prisoners, Catholic and Protestant priests, and many more. There are 6 ravens in the Tower of London. Legend has it that if a raven dies or goes missing, the Tower of London will collapse. The Ravens aren’t supposed to be mistaken for crows that roam London everywhere. Crows are smaller, but ravens squawk louder for those who probably don’t know the subtle differences.
If you decide to take the Tower of London tour, make sure you include the Wardour Tour with the Beefeater. The Beefeater protects the Tower of London, performs as guards to the Queen, and you may recognize them for the red and black uniforms they wear with a black top hat to complete the ensemble. The Beefeater will guide you to different areas of the tower and entertain you with funny stories of famous politicians, bishops, and the royal families who were prisoners and residents there going back 1000 years.
It’s a good way to get an understanding of the history this location offers as well as its influence across the whole of the UK. The tour will last 40 minutes, then you can roam the grounds yourself for as long as you like. If you want to get to most of the Tower of London, people will usually spend 3 to 4 hours there.
Neal’s Yard is a colorful hidden spot for Instagram addicts located in the middle of Covent Garden. The 19th Century colored buildings, from a mix of red, yellow, blue, and green will take you into a small alleyway. Once there, you would find a quaint hairdresser, an intimate pub with an outside seating area, and a healthcare shop. That’s it. Although there are not a lot of shops, trendy youngsters and tourists would visit this hidden gem to put in their Instagram feeds.
Many people who have been to London more than once, are surprised that they’ve discovered different events, entirely different atmospheres, and different ways of living. If you plan to stay for an extended amount of time, try finding local travel itineraries from a day up to a week. You’ll have digital nomads, locals, family travelers, entrepreneurs, and a myriad of other characters. London is a mix of lively and intimate at the same time, there’s always something for introverts and extroverts.
After you are done with London, head over to Bath. When you visit Bath, the first thing that comes to mind is the well-preserved Roman Baths. It’s the reason why people visit this historic area. When the Roman Empire invaded the UK, they settled in Bath where they built a religious spa complex. It was then turned into a social gathering called Aquae Sulis meaning ‘The Waters of Sulis’. As soon as you see the washed-off brown-colored buildings and honey-colored façade, you already know you’re in Bath. The style dates to the 18th Georgian era which later changed to the Palladian revival style.
In and around Bath, you may come across some restored ancient Roman walls, bridges, and buildings during your daily walks. The Roman Baths aren’t the only attraction you can visit. There are many other things to do around this city.
Pulteney Bridge, completed in 1774, runs over the river Avon. It’s called the Pulteney Bridge because it connected the city with the land the historic Pulteney family lived in. The bridge is made of limestone, and by looking at the quality of the stones, you can tell it’s been around for more than 300 years.
Bath Christmas Market is situated under Bath Abbey, and it’s also pretty festive during the winter months. Wooden stalls in the shape of a cabin light up at night. These stalls sell Christmas warmers, mulled wine, tree decorations, and many more souvenir items you can pick up for friends and family alike.
When visiting Bath, you MUST explore the town itself, and admire the Georgian-styled buildings. The limestones dating back to the 17th Century are still standing strong to this day. Check out the Museum of Bath Architecture. Here is where you’ll learn about the history of the city of Bath dating back to the Roman period through to the Georgian period.
Queen Square is a public park in the middle surrounded by tall, brown, Georgian houses. Royal Circus is like Queen Square, which consists of a long rounded-shaped building surrounding a large 100-year-old tree in the middle, designed by architect John Wood. Royal Crescent is another wide-open-spaced Georgian building, surrounded by an open-spaced grass patch. It’s always kept in pristine condition, and worth admiring. Finally, Gay Street consists of brown Georgian-style properties, where you’d feel like stepping back in time.
2 days is enough to visit Bath as it’s just a small city. Bath is that special because of its mix of dark and light brown shaded buildings everywhere you go. You could see and also imagine Bath looking the same as it did in the 18th Century. If you want to go for a road trip to Bath from London, it takes around 2 hours and a half by car. You’ll see English villages, cute farms, and numerous hidden gems on your way there.
Cornwall is a popular coastal destination everyone visits in the UK. There are so many reasons to be in Cornwall that you’d have to choose a popular spot for a day trip or two. Here are my top 3 areas in Cornwall you must visit. Most of the activities you will find to do will be outdoors along the coastline. Compared to many coastal areas in the UK, Bude and the rest of Cornwall has enjoyable sandy beaches and clear refreshing waters. It is a busy place to travel to in the spring and summer months, even during COVID-19.
Aside from the sandy beaches and clear water, you will often see many reliable hiking footpaths with green grass on top of high clifftops, sheep, and cows along the country road. You can also see the idyllic views of the ocean. Be careful as some cliffs don’t have fences to keep you in, so it’s best you stay clear of the edges when taking photos. I recommend going on a delightful road trip as you drive from Cornwall and see beautiful villages, abandoned 15th Century townhouses made of 350-year-old stones, secluded farms, and many more.
Bude is a popular destination to visit when you’re traveling to Cornwall. The best thing about Bude is that it’s family and dog friendly. Here are some suggestions on what you can do while you are here.
Visit the Bude Sea Pool, it’s built in the 1930s. It’s a semi-ocean and semi-man-made tourist attraction. Its purpose is to draw in visitors to swim in the semi-ocean sea, and it’s a great spot to see the sunset and the sunrise. Surrounded by stony walls, it mimics a lagoon placed next to the ocean and the sandy beach nearby. Further along, you’ll see giant rocks that’s been sitting there for hundreds of years. It’s a great beach day out for all the family.
An alternative is Summerleaze Beach. If you’re a surfer, Summerleaze Beach is the best beach to visit. It’s a cross between a harbor, a beach, and people who love to lie on the beach getting a tan. You’ll often find giant 100-year-old stones piled on top of each other separating the grassy areas where people walk from the sandy beach where people sunbathe. In addition, you’ll see rows of colorful beach huts, wild shrubs, and lichens grown on rocks. In winter, Summerleaze Beach is a great walking outdoor activity with your dogs or just a place to get some fresh air.
UK Other Mentions
Wolverhampton – A perfect retreat is to spend a nice weekend in Wolverhampton. Here you can learn about the city’s significant role during the Industrial Revolution in the UK. Watch its popular football club the “Wolves” at an English Premier League game. Or just wander around exploring the several museums and art galleries in the area. It’s a nice break from the bigger city life.
Brighton – Enjoy some of the coastal experience here. It has great seaside charm with beautiful beaches and the popular North Laine, which has become a cultural hotspot of the city with popular pubs, boutique shops, and artisanal goods. 2 Days in Brighton is enough time to get a good feeling for this destination.
That’s it for now. I hope you enjoy reading places to go in the UK and I hope you enjoy the most out of your traveling here.