For a relatively small country, the UK has an awful lot to offer. We may not have the best weather and we may be famed for our grey cloudy skies. But there are plenty of incredible things to do and places to see across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So much in fact, that trying to pick a select number of UK bucket list ideas has been an immense challenge!
Whether you’re after long walks, a culture hit, or an outdoorsy activity – the UK has it all. From civilised afternoons through to adrenaline pumping activities, here are 30 amazing ideas for your UK bucket list.
1. Enjoy high tea in London
What better place to start than with a classic British tradition: afternoon tea. You can enjoy afternoon tea just about anywhere in the UK. But for a real bucket list addition, high tea at one of the famous London locations is a must.
Don your gladrags and head to one of the glamorous London high tea spots. There is plenty of choice but my personal favourites are as follows:
- The Savoy – for a world-famous afternoon tea experience
- The Ritz – for elegance and class with a resident pianist and harpist
- Fortnum & Mason – for over three hundred years of afternoon tea expertise
- Claridge’s – for a truly traditional afternoon tea
- Sketch – for a modern twist on high tea and the recognisable pink room
2. Go punting in Cambridge
Another activity that is unique to the UK is punting. A punt is a flat-bottomed boat that is moved along by pushing off the river bed with a long pole. One of the original and most popular punting locations is in Cambridge, along the River Cam.
Have a laugh with a self-guide punt along the river, or enjoy a more relaxing experience with a chauffeured punt. A perfect activity for the warmer summer months, there’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than floating down the river in a city as beautiful as Cambridge.
3. Walk the Seven Sisters Cliffs
An iconic site, the Seven Sisters are a series of chalk cliffs situated in the South Downs National Park. To take in the beautiful landscapes and sea views, hike one of the many available trails. There are a number of stunning view points, with the most popular being Beachy Head.
Hiking aside, you can also go paddleboarding in the Seven Sisters Country Park, or simply relax on the beach. Seven Sisters is the epitome of rural England with its idyllic countryside and charming villages.
4. Pay a visit to Windsor Castle
As one of the top attractions outside of London, it’s easy to see why Windsor Castle should be on your UK bucket list. Bursting with over 900 years of royal history, Windsor Castle is both the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world.
Open to visitors for most of the year, you can tour open areas of the castle. These include St George’s Chapel, the State Apartments, the Semi-State Rooms, and The Middle Ward and Round Tower. It’s also home to The Queen, so be sure to give her a wave if she’s home!
5. Explore the Cotswolds
For open landscapes that will take your breath away, look no further than the rolling countryside and honey-coloured towns of the Cotswolds. Its status as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) tells you all you need to know.
The Cotswolds is a top UK bucket list item because it is exceptionally pretty. There is nowhere quite like it. Towns and villages of the Cotswolds ooze with fairytale charm and enchanting tranquility. It also has a strong reputation for its culinary offering, so it’s perfect for avid foodies.
6. Visit the Natural History Museum
A world-renowned museum, London’s Natural History Museum cannot be missed from your UK bucket list. Fun for kids and adults alike, you’ll find unique collections, incredible specimens, and interactive activities. All housed within a spectacular and iconic building.
The museum is free to visit so there’s really no excuse not to go. If you’d like an extra special experience then you can even go ice skating at the Natural History Museum in December each year. Or for the last Friday of every month, the museum holds Lates where you can buy a drink of your choice to take around with you. What’s better than exploring the Natural History Museum? Exploring with a glass of wine in hand!
7. See the ponies of the New Forest
The New Forest is a national park comprising ancient woodland, open moors, and plenty of wildlife. It’s a peaceful and beautiful place to visit, so it’s no wonder that it’s an incredibly popular holiday destination. Home to some fantastic hotels and spas, as well as plenty of outdoor activities, the New Forest is a must-visit.
Famous for its ponies, a visit to the New Forest wouldn’t be complete without seeing these hardy animals. The New Forest pony is a recognised breed of its own, and they are valued for their strength and vigour.
8. Spend a weekend hiking the Lake District
For spectacular scenery and an abundance of outdoor activities, look no further than the Lake District. From towering peaks and beautiful valleys to rolling hills and enticing bodies of water, the Lake District offers truly jaw-dropping natural beauty.
There is plenty to do in the Lake District, whether it’s walking, cycling, kayaking, paddle boarding, tree swinging, or swimming. Add to that some truly exceptional places to eat and stay, as well as the opportunity to spot all manner of wildlife – and it’s easy to see why the Lake District is such a popular UK travel bucket list destination.
9. Tour the Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is a fantastic bucket list destination for Game of Thrones fans. The majority of the popular television series was filmed in Northern Ireland and visitors can enjoy tours of the filming locations.
Even if you aren’t a Game of Thrones fans, many of the filming locations are worth a visit in their own right. From historic castles to rugged coastlines, you’ll find some seriously impressive scenery in Northern Ireland. Whether it’s the Dark Hedges or Cushendun Caves, there are plenty of amazing sights.
10. Experience the fastest zipline in the world (if you dare)
An absolute bucket list must for the adrenaline junkies. Wales is home to the world’s fastest zipline, shooting you through the air at up to 100mph. It’s about as close as you’ll get to flying and you can also take in spectacular views over the mountains of Wales.
Perhaps not one for the faint-hearted, but you surely can’t beat the exhilarating thrill of whizzing over the land. An unmissable bucket list activity for the adventurer.
11. Learn how the Harry Potter films were made
A magical day out at the Warner Bros Studio Tour, take a step into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and learn how the popular films were made. Explore the iconic sets and find out how they made the magic come to life. Open the doors to The Great Hall, explore the Forbidden Forest, and wander down Diagon Alley.
See the incredible costumes and discover the extensive collection of expertly crafted props – from the Sorting Hat to the broomsticks. Find out how the special and visual effects teams made the characters fly, and how the art department created the jaw-dropping sets.
12. Witness the Changing of the Guard
Changing of the Guard is a formal ceremony at Buckingham Palace where The Queen’s Guard hands over responsibility for protecting the palaces to the New Guard. It’s an event of traditional British pomp and military ceremony.
It’s free to watch and no tickets are required. Just make sure you don’t get in the way of the Guards as they march!
13. Explore Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park is 823 square miles of beautiful scenery. As the adventure capital of North Wales, there are plenty of activities to enjoy, whether it’s walking the extensive hiking trails or cycling and golf. For more adrenaline-fuelled adventures, try white water rafting, paragliding, or rock climbing.
A hotspot of breathtaking natural beauty, Snowdonia has over 50 lakes and 15 peaks over 3000ft in height. You’ll also find an array of beaches, sand dunes, castles, and railways, as well as a rich cultural heritage with various Roman ruins.
14. Visit the magical Fairy Pools in Isle of Skye
Located at Glenbrittle on Isle of Skye in Scotland, these natural rock pools are famous for their crystal clear spring water. The magical turquoise blue of the waters – fed from a series of waterfalls – are an unusual sight in the UK.
For those feeling brave, you can swim in the enchanting rock pools. But it’s only recommended for the most adventurous of swimmers, as the water is icy cold. A wetsuit is definitely advisable! The Fairy Pools are accessible on foot from a nearby carpark.
15. See the bluebells at Micheldever Wood
Micheldever Wood is an ancient woodland located five miles from Winchester in Hampshire. It is home to a diverse range of birds and insects, including an impressive butterfly population. You’ll also find an abundance of wildflowers, along with roe and fallow deer roaming the woods.
Perhaps most well-known for its beautiful bluebells in the spring and arguably one of the best places to see them in the UK. Walk one of the many paths through wood and enjoy the tranquility of the surrounding nature. If you’re a keen photographer then visit at sunrise or sunset to capture the dappled golden light that enhances the colour of the bluebells.
16. Go surfing at Newquay
The UK’s surf capital, Newquay has gained a world-renowned reputation for its excellent surfing provisions. Home to beautiful beaches, Newquay is a popular surfing destination for beginners and seasoned pros alike. Some of the best surfing spots include:
- Fistral Beach
- Watergate Bay
- Great Western
- The Cribbar (only for the pros!)
Due to its windy climate, Newquay benefits from continuous big waves from the Atlantic Ocean. There are a number of surf schools for those looking to learn or improve their skills.
17. Soak in the thermal waters at Bath
The beautiful Georgian city of Bath is famous for its natural thermal springs. Rich in minerals, particularly sulphate, calcium and chloride, the waters are known for their healing qualities. It’s for this reason that the thermal springs are seen as a centre for wellbeing and relaxation.
Visit the Roman Baths for a more historical experience of the thermal springs. Or for a more modern twist, pay a visit to the Thermae Bath Spa, which includes a rooftop pool with beautiful views over the city.
18. Take in the scale of Giant’s Causeway in Ireland
A world-famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, Giant’s Causeway is located on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route. Flanked by the North Atlantic Ocean, it’s a dramatic landscape of towering cliffs and rugged coast.
Giant’s Causeway comprises around 40,000 black Basalt columns which were formed following a Volcanic eruption nearly 60 million years ago. There are a variety of walks available (including guided tours if you’d prefer), all promising jaw-dropping scenery. In the Visitor Centre you can learn more about the legend surrounding Giant’s Causeway. Hint: it involves an Irish giant!
19. Visit the Isles of Scilly
An archipelago off the coast of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly are a truly magical place to visit. There are five inhabited islands with a small population, meaning it is largely uncrowded and untouched. It’s this isolated characteristic that offers such wonderful appeal.
There are extensive coastal paths and natural trails which make for beautiful walks. The Isles of Scilly could almost be considered the UK’s equivalent of the Caribbean with its white sandy beaches and bright blue ocean. It is natural beauty at its best.
20. Explore the Jurassic Coast
England’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast stretches for 95 miles between Exmouth in East Devon and Old Harry Rocks in Dorset. It is famous for its rocks, fossils and landforms, boasting millions of years of geological history.
Take in the stunning scenery on a long walk. Explore the dramatic coastline with imposing white cliffs and dilapidated castles. Go fossil hunting, visit a museum, or explore one of the many iconic seaside towns along the route.
21. Attend Glastonbury Festival
A world-famous music festival in Somerset, Glastonbury is a five-day festival attended by around 200,000 people. It celebrates the very best in music, arts and culture. There is a wide range of music at the festival – from pop and rock to jazz and grime.
Headlined by the world’s best pop and rock artists, it is a major music event in British culture. There is also a whole array of performing arts, including cabaret, circus, comedy, dance, and theatre. Just be sure to take your Wellies because mud and rain is almost guaranteed – it is England afterall!
22. Visit Hadrian’s Wall
Built as a defensive barrier to guard the northwestern frontier of the Roman Empire, Hadrian’s Wall stretches 73 miles from coast to coast. It took over six years to build and is set amongst the stunning scenery of the Cumbrian and Northumbrian landscapes.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can explore the remains of the wall, including the forts, towers and turrets. Visit the museums to discover the ancient Roman artefacts and learn more about its history. George R.R. Martin even used it as an inspiration for the Wall in the Game of Thrones series.
23. Enjoy a romantic weekend in York
Cobbled streets and quintessentially British: York has to be the most romantic city in the UK. With its Roman roots and Gothic buildings, all surrounded by ancient walls, York boasts a rich history. Yet there is a vibrant range of independent shops and fantastic eateries to explore too.
York is home to The Shambles, one of the most famous medieval streets in the world. With a strong cultural identity and an impressive number of museums, there is plenty to do in this fascinating city. It’s perfect for every type of traveller, but its romantic charm makes it the perfect place for a romantic getaway.
24. Visit the Eden Project
Located in a crater the size of 30 football pitches in Cornwall, the Eden Project is an educational charity with the aim of working towards a better, greener future. It is home to huge tropical biomes which house beautiful gardens. Discover the tropical plants and waterfalls of the Rainforest Biome or explore the lemon trees and olive groves of the Mediterranean Biome.
Consistently recognised as the Best UK Leisure Attraction by the British Travel Awards, a visit to the Eden Project is great for a family day out. Various events are run throughout the year, including workshops, concerts, and activity days.
25. Wild camp in the Scottish Highlands
For something a little more adventurous, wild camping in the Scottish Highlands is a must for your UK bucket list. It’s the best way to discover the breathtaking landscapes of Scotland. An opportunity to get off the beaten track and get away from the crowds.
Explore all the scenery on offer, from rugged coast and towering mountains to stunning lakes and peaceful woods. The hardest part is choosing where to camp, as you are spoilt for choice. Before wild camping, have a read of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
You may have to sacrifice some modern conveniences and put up with a bit of unpredictable weather – but the rewards will be worth it!
26. Explore Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle is widely recognised as the film location for the popular television series Downton Abbey. A grand country house in Jacobethan style that is located in Hampshire, five miles south of Newbury in Berkshire. It was designed by Sir Charles Barry, the architect who also designed the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
Visitors to Highclere Castle can explore the stately home, along with its expansive grounds and gardens. You can even stay on the estate in one of the two converted lodges, which would make for a perfect country escape.
27. See the beach huts at Whitstable
Whitstable is a beautiful seaside town in Kent, renowned for its fresh seafood and annual oyster festival. With pastel-coloured shop fronts and a thriving arts scene, it is a postcard-perfect English town.
Famous for its colourful beach huts which adorn the coast, they are a must-see feature. They may be small but these wooden shacks come with an excruciatingly high price point – which hints at how sought-after they are! Whistable is the perfect escape from London and the chance to soak up some fresh sea air.
28. Visit Longleat Safari Park
Longleat is a grand stately home that sits on 900 acres of landscaped grounds. It is home to the UK’s number one safari park, it makes for a great family day out. There are various attractions to keep everyone entertained, including the Jungle Kingdom and Animal Adventure.
A visit to Longleat Safari Park gives you a chance to get up close and personal with a variety of different animals. Watch the giraffes and majestic lions amble past, find yourself face-to-face with the cheeky monkeys, and look out for rhino, camel and tigers.
Aside from the safari park and animals, you can also explore Longleat House and Grounds. Embark on a guided tour through the stately rooms and marvel at the artwork and intricate tapestries.
29. Wander the Christmas markets
What better way to enter the festive spirit than with a beautiful Christmas market. The UK has plenty of charming Christmas markets on offer and a visit is a must for your UK bucket list. Some of the best Christmas markets in the UK are as follows:
Enjoy the bustling atmosphere and soak up the sounds and smells as you wind your way through the stalls. Many Christmas markets also have ice rinks and fairground rides, which are great for keeping kids entertained.
30. Visit Canterbury Cathedral
With stunning architecture and a rich history, Canterbury Cathedral is a world-famous religious site. One of the oldest Christian churches in England, it is the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Take in the grandeur of the cathedral, with its breathtaking size and scale. Go inside where you can visit the Romanesque crypt and see the medieval stained glass windows. There is plenty of history to soak up at this beautiful cathedral.
This list could go on but I couldn’t possibly squeeze in every single bucket list worthy activity in the UK. If you have any amazing suggestions then please do share in the comments or get in touch with me on social media. I always love hearing your recommendations!