Explore More: Our top ten places to visit in the UK
From the dizzy heights of Inverness to the sunny (ish) shores of Cornwall, families up and down the country are looking for something fun to fill a day out. The essential question though is where to go? There are so many places to visit in the UK and billions of UK attractions just waiting to be explored.
After careful consideration and a whole lotta’ research, we’ve whipped up our list of the top 10 places to visit in the UK based on the best attractions and the cities themselves. From incredible castles to cosy farm parks, we think there’s something for both tourists and locals alike. Please don't fret though if your hometown hasn’t made ’the cut’; we wish we could namecheck every town but, sadly, our top 10,000 doesn’t have quite the same ring to it!
Buckle up and take a look at our top 10 places to visit in the UK.
BirminghamSome people call it in the Venice of the Midlands (count those canals) or sometimes even the second city; we just call it good, old Brum, where there are some fantastic family attractions and Bright Ideas, like Drayton Manor and its rides, dinos and everyone’s favourite train, Thomas the Tank Engine. Birmingham has traditionally been a capital of industry, with cars and Balti curries both being made here. In fact, it’s even home to Cadbury World AKA the tastiest day out in town. The chocolate company was established in 1824 and today families can go behind the scenes and meet the Freddo the Frog himself.
After a tough time during The Blitz, the city has sprung up as one of the most architecturally diverse places to visit in the UK with the famous Thinktank (a DOWTK favourite), or the bubbly Selfridges building which looks like it landed from outer space! But it’s not all about the architecture: for an animal adventure, escape to either Dudley Zoo and Castle or Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park - both are brilliant in their own ways. You could also try something totally new with our what’s on in Birmingham blog.
EdinburghAlongside historic streets, spooky dungeons and their famous Castle, Edinburgh is one of the best places to visit in the UK for a really riotous celebration. Take their annual Hogmanay party which boasts the world’s biggest rendition of Auld Lang Syne, or the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Families travel from far and wide to get a piece of that Scottish spirit so we suggest that you join them.
Science is on the agenda at either Dynamic Earth or Camera Obscura and World of Illusions with interactive exhibits and plenty of mind-bending media. On the other hand, curious critters are up for meeting, greeting and feeding at Gorgie City Farm. Get nose to nose (or indeed nose to beak or snout) with pigs, hens, tortoises and more, before playing the afternoon away at The Yard - a specially designed activity centre for SEN kids and their families. For any extra info, check out some ideas for the school holidays or our trusty guide to Edinburgh events.
ManchesterOf all the places to go in the UK, Manchester has been a rising star in recent years. In certain corners, it’s been deemed ‘the first modern city’ and was once a major player in the Industrial Revolution, which today means there are loads of lovely, red brick factories dotted along the streets. They’re not the only bricks though… the LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre is just minutes away from the city centre and has all sorts for your budding builders. Also just out of town: Chill Factore where you can ski, snowboard or simply be silly in piles of fluffy snow.
A day out in Manchester means a trip to Media City where the BBC have set up shop. Why? Because you can do a CBBC tour, of course! It’s also a great chance to visit the Museum of Science and Industry where lively shows and experiments will more than fill an afternoon. The final thrill comes with a ride aboard a mini JCB digger at Lancaster Park & Animal Farm. Oh, and be sure to try our guides to what’s on in Manchester or 'modern' days out for a few more factoids.
KentWe know we’ve sidestepped a bit here; Kent isn’t a city but it’s certainly one of the best places to visit in the UK. You’ll realise as much with a ramble through the Kent Downs which have earned the title of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and cover a massive 878 square kilometres. They’re perfect for walking, cycling and exploring with our guide to greenery in Kent. They’re also right next to the confusingly titled but magnificent, Leeds Castle (check out our review right here) or Kent Life where kids can become farmhands for a day.
The old saying goes, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do’, so when in the Kentish countryside make like the locals and hang out with some adorable animals. Wildwood is home to beautiful British wildlife, while Howletts Wild Animal Park houses a horde of exotic beasts, including Kent’s only giant anteaters. You could then take a total left turn at Groombridge Enchanted Forest: one of the craziest, most creative places to visit in the UK.
CardiffCroeso I Cymru or, in other words, welcome to Wales! Cardiff flies the flag for Wales as an international destination, especially for Doctor Who fanatics who make a pilgrimage to the city to celebrate the beloved classic. Not only that but sports fans by the busload come to watch rugby in the Millenium Stadium, and the waterfront has undergone a massive redevelopment in recent years branding it a must in your list of the best places to visit in the UK - explore for free with our guide. On a visit to this Welsh wonder, you could hop along the coast and pay a visit to Barry Island or even take your cheeky monkeys to meet more of their kind at Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary.
A great way to get around would be by touring the town on a Cardiff Spy Mission Treasure Trail. You can take in the sights while hunting down the truth, including saying hello to the many creatures that adorn the walls of Cardiff Castle. (Here’s our review) Next on your list, win a daring hole in one at Treetop Adventure Golf or get experimental at Techniquest. Annual events will also be easy peasy with our blog to what’s on in Cardiff.
GlasgowGlasgow has long had a reputation as a rough and tumble type of place, but Scotland’s second city has now emerged as a tourist favourite with alternative arts and easy access to national heritage sites like Loch Lomond. In fact, the surrounding countryside is known as one of the most beautiful places in the UK so be sure to bring your mac for a trip above the border or to Palacerigg Country Park. Well, that and your magnifying glass to get up close and creepy with all sorts of crawlies at Amazonia.
What about some of those Glaswegian institutes, like the Glasgow Science Centre or the Riverside Museum? Both are interactive and you could learn loads about the city or even the science that makes the world go round, that is before allowing your wildlings to let loose at Flip Out Glasgow! For full coverage, take a peek at our guides to what’s on in Glasgow or how to handle the school holidays. They’ll add to the fun factor and make things a whole lot easier.
LondonWhere do we begin with a place like London? It’s the capital of the country with an enormous 8.788 million residents and over 300 languages spoken daily. Out of all the places to visit in the UK, it’s got the most landmarks like Big Ben, the British Museum and Westminster Abbey; the Natural History Museum is a classic London sight, as is ZSL London Zoo which is the world’s oldest scientific wildlife centre. You can spot animal skeletons in the former and the living, breathing variety in the latter - it just depends how dark you feel on the day...
We’ve got three very different but equally brilliant London outings to come. Take a dip in one of the few water parks in the city at Leyton Leisure Lagoon or, much like the many professionals that fill the streets, your brood can give working a go at the ultimate role play centre: Kidzania. Finally, escape to Hobbledown which is a mythical farm park that sits just outside the city in Surrey. Not everything has to cost the world either; here’s our blog for five free days out in London. We’ve also found our favourite annual events and some expert suggestions. You’re welcome!
LeedsThis Northern Powerhouse is built on a history of industry - textiles in particular - but also runs on the most powerful fuel out there: Yorkshire warmth! You could get a taste of it on a ride aboard the Middleton Railway with all the traditional trimmings, or at Swithens Farm and Play Barn where the resident creatures are a welcoming bunch. One of our personal favourites has got to be The Rainbow Factory, or you could get your kids to grips with the local farming history at Diggerland Yorkshire where a whole host of diggers and dumpers will have them wanting to move up north asap! You may even follow suit after discovering what’s on in Leeds throughout the year, or after a peep at our guide to the school holidays.
Referred to as ‘God’s Own Country’, a trip to Leeds wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Yorkshire Dales. Alongside the Scottish wilds, many see it as one of the most beautiful places in the UK with rolling hills and dramatic skies. That doesn’t mean you can’t take a trip inside though, like at Roundhay Tropical World with its hidden world of exotic inhabitants. All this and more make Leeds one of the most diverse cities that you’ve probably never visited, so take a look at our guide to some of the best nature days out in and around the city.
BristolBristol is a bit of gem tucked away in the South West with wonderful views, festivals and one of our favourite science centres, We The Curious. Take a stroll along the waterfront and stop off at SS Great Britain - a little piece of the city’s port past. In fact, if you’re a family of history buffs be sure to scoot down the road to the ancient Roman Baths and Museum. It’s an international destination and is sure to get tots excited about having a thorough scrub!
Famous street artist, Banksy, was born out of the Bristol underground scene and if you fancy taking the trail, you could see some of his work that still sits on the walls around the city. From here things get a little more animal-oriented at the Bristol Aquarium (check out our review), Bristol Zoo and Gardens or even Chew Valley Country Farm. You’ll be fully fledged zoologists after visiting all three! If that doesn’t sound like quite enough to keep your gang busy, pinch tips from the blog with days out for toddlers, family favourites or what’s on throughout the year. They make a trip to the West well worth the petrol!
BelfastHop across the Irish Sea to explore our final and furthest location: Belfast. It’s got some classic family days out, like Belfast Zoo or action-packed adventures at Cave Hill Playground. County Down is also just south of the city and has its own draw in the form of eco-trails at WWT Castle Espie or splashtacular fun at Lagan Valley LeisurePlex. The LeisurePlex is a real winner with kids, especially the Sunken Pirate Galleon.
Much like many of the other cities on this list, Belfast has long been a hub of industry with a history of rope-making and shipbuilding in the Titanic Quarter; it’s also experienced years of unrest, something families can learn all about by hunting down the near-2,000 political murals which are peppered all over the place. Explore the streets on The Belfast Mystery Treasure Trail or take one of their famous black cab tours where a local will fill you in all the essential extras.
Thanks for walking the length and breadth of Britain with us - we hope you found something totally new and fantastically fun to do on your next trip away. If you have anywhere to add to our list of the best places to visit in the UK, why not leave a comment below or let us know on our Facebook page? We’re always excited to discover new UK attractions so fill us in.