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Are you looking for some ideas about places to visit in the UK? With opportunities to live in and visit the UK from 2012, I travelled a fair number of places in the UK, enough to list my top picks. Take a look at the list below if you’re fairly new to the UK for inspiration. If you’re a regular visitor or a resident in the UK, please tell me if any of these is your favourite too!
The Shambles, York, North Yorkshire, England
As expressed in the previous post about York, I love this city so much that I’ve visited here multiple times; and the Shambles accounts for 90% of the reason! 🙂 This old street makes me feel like I’m in the wizarding world as if I walk down the Diagon Alley. I’ve only been to York during spring and summer, and hopefully, my next visit can happen in winter. The dark wooden beam on the buildings along the street must be looking so gorgeous in the snow! Similarly, the Christmas Market season will be amazing, with the Shambles becoming just too irresistible not to visit. 😉
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England
I had a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon with my Mum during her short stay for my graduation ceremony. We had done a road trip to some Cotswolds areas with Dad and my boyfriend previously, but Stratford-upon-Avon wasn’t part of it back then. The day when Mum and I were at Stratford-upon-Avon everything went perfectly; stunning weather despite an occasional shower, fewer people thanks to a lower season, and the wonderful landscape. We took loads of photos together thanks to the most hospitable setting! As most of you already know, Stratford-upon-Avon is the go-to place for Shakespeare. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is one of the related attractions. Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare, used to live in this cottage before she got married to him. We bought a combo ticket to visit the other Shakespeare attractions, but you can also get a single ticket just to the cottage!
Tintern Abbey, Tintern, Monmouthshire, Wales
In Korea, I’ve seen quite a lot of Buddhist temples built deep in the mountains; and Tintern Abbey in Monmouthshire, Wales seemed the British equivalent. Although the abbey has neither ceilings nor window glass anymore, the frames of the structure are pretty well intact. To me, Tintern Abbey is wonderfully evocative of the monks’ life, which is why it’s more memorable than the others I’ve seen. I think there are a few elements that contribute to the atmosphere.
First, the natural surroundings of Tintern Abbey are tranquil enough to let you get into the zone. Furthermore, this historical site doesn’t attract as many (certainly international) tourists as England’s popular sites do. The combination of these two settings helps you a lot to maximise your Tintern Abbey experience. I gave myself as much time as I wanted to read descriptions and picture the abbey hundreds of years ago.
Additionally, I was overwhelmed by the size of the window frames that used to be filled with stained-glass windows. Here’s where your imagination skill comes. I couldn’t help wondering how sacred this place would’ve looked then, definitely even more so than what we see now! You know, certain landmarks make you have awe and wonder regardless of religion; Tintern Abbey was the case for me. One final fascinating thing about this abbey is its night view. Tintern Abbey presents you with an awesome scene in the dark sky, shining in the moonlight and lights by the site.
Rylstone Tea Gardens, Isle of Wight, England
It’s pretty common and so easy to encounter squirrels in the UK, and we don’t need to go far for it; Hyde Park in London is one of the top spots to see grey squirrels! These cute grey squirrels, however, are not native to this country but red squirrels are! Now you’ll get why I pick this random place in the Isle of Wight as one of my favourite places in the UK. Yes, I was lucky and saw a few red squirrels running on a tree and munching on the grass here! After seeing a lot of photos of British red squirrels with irresistible cuteness, encountering them in real life was bliss…
We had only a few hours in the Isle of Wight, arranged a day before as Josh and I were changing a train in Portsmouth to go to Winchester. We searched for any potentials to spot red squirrels and listed them up based on accessibility without a car and timeline. Rylstone Tea Gardens was our first bet, which was rather quiet as it was winter. It might have helped us though, to see the awww-some red squirrels! The one we got the photos of had less distinctive red fur sadly, and I think it was slower and less shy than the more red ones. The others we spotted but failed to photograph were 2 little ones and an older one, and two more adult red squirrels, all of which had clearly more red fur.
Lower Slaughter, Gloucestershire, England
Lower Slaughter was one of the villages I visited with my parents and my boyfriend during our Cotswolds road trip. As what the Cotswolds AONB stands for, Lower Slaughter boasted the beauty of the English countryside. After stopping over in Bibury and Burford, we reached here at around 5-6 pm. Thanks to either this awkward time or the lower awareness compared to Bibury or Bourton-on-the-Water, we appreciated the dream-like atmosphere of the English countryside and country life. Having visited quite a few Cotswolds areas so far, Lower Slaughter came up on the list for giving me the peaceful image of the Cotswolds.
Calton Hill, Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh has a lot of world-famous festivals, one of which is the Hogmanay Festival, held at year-end. While Edinburgh is already one of the most popular destinations in the UK, during this period it attracts domestic and international tourists even more! And this means it’s difficult to book accommodation unless you’re an early bird… In my case though, although I was a night owl arranging this impromptu trip, my boyfriend and I luckily managed to stay with his family. On the very last night of 2016, we went up to Calton Hill with hordes of people. Then we managed to find a free spot on the hill to watch the fireworks after the countdown. It was pretty exciting to send off the old year and welcome the new one with so many people, sharing the spectacular night view!
Cornwall County, England
Unlike the other favourite places in the UK, this time I picked a whole county rather than a city or a village. Cornwall is a county in South West England, normally popular for a surfing spot and Cornish pasty. It’s also known for having a dispute with Devon over ‘cream first or jam first on scones’, hence, the origin of cream tea. I couldn’t pick one favourite spot in Cornwall, because quite a few candidates had all different, unbeatable reasons.
- St. Ives: I tried surfing for the first time in my life! I also managed to stand up on the surfing board, although each try lasted a few seconds only. Plus, Cornish pasty and ice creams after surfing was so rewarding.
- Portloe & Gorran Haven: it seems the movie About Time wasn’t that popular to local audiences, but somehow it was in Korea. As I was one of the fans of this movie, I wanted to visit some of the filming locations in Cornwall. Portloe and Gorran Haven were two of the beautiful locations, and my favourite scenes were shot here. The summer weather was perfect and the scenery of these places was absolutely gorgeous. Here I had a lovely time, illustrating Tim and Mary’s wedding scene and the movie’s last scene. I think it’s more unforgettable by the fact we made it without a car but only train and local buses. It was tricky to do so to put it mildly…
- Penzance: This place features a special theatre where the wide sea and blue sky become a background of plays. There is an entrance fee to see Minack Theatre itself, not even watching a show, but it was worth it. ‘If I were an actress it could be challenging but exciting, and it would be a treat as an audience’ was my review about this theatre.
The Downs, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
I started to properly explore the UK from 2012 thanks to the student exchange programme at the University of Nottingham for 6 months. The Downs is my No.1 pick on the campus, which was right next to the hall I lived in. My friends and I played football at this huge, lovely field after supper. One of them, who is now my boyfriend, also taught me tree climbing here! (haha) These happy memories have led me to have more interest in the British culture & history as well as the UK as a travel destination. The Downs comes up first in my head when it comes to the Nottingham experience, as I always passed here for lectures too. Despite the photo quality, taken in 2012, I do want to go back here anytime!
Seven Sisters, East Sussex, England
My first visit to Seven Sisters was in 2012 too right after the 6 months in Nottingham. The subsequent trips were in 2014 and 2016 as my friends wanted to see the white cliffs before their return. Each time I went to Seven Sisters, I could clearly notice a remarkable increase in the number of tourists! On the latest visit, it almost felt like Hyde Park in summer when many people come out for picnics and the summer sunshine. There were also A LOT of names written on the grass with white pebbles, especially Korean names. This place was never that busy on my first and second visit, so the scene in 2016 was a surprise. At that moment, I really felt the power of blogs and social media which created all the buzz.
The popularity especially among young Korean travellers actually makes sense in a lot of ways; the landscape of the white cliff by the sea is unusual, which also creates Instagram-worthy photos. Seven Sisters is also easily reachable as a day trip from London, which is a typical itinerary for Korean backpackers.
Despite all this surge in tourism, I still put this spot on the list, recalling the sweet memory from the very first trip in 2012. Seven Sisters is still an amazing place to stroll along, as long as people are aware of its danger. The white cliffs can crumble away easily as their component is basically chalk!
These were my favourite places in the UK! Now, do you have any spot that tempts you to visit? Or, did you have a point where you nodded agreeing with my selection and the reasons? To be honest, many other places in the UK that I travelled could have easily made the list. So I might end up adding more with time! (Haha) Please leave a comment about your favourite places in the UK, so I can also get more intriguing travel ideas! 😉
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