- 1 UK LANDMARKS
- 2 Big Ben, London
- 3 Edinburgh Castle
- 4 Rhossili Beach, Wales
- 5 Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
- 6 Buckingham Palace
- 7 Tower Bridge London
- 8 St David’s Cathedral, Wales
- 9 Stonehenge, England
- 10 Conwy Castle
- 11 Roman Baths, Bath, England
- 12 Snowdon
- 13 Lake District
- 14 Jurassic Coast, Dorset and Devon, England
- 15 Ben Nevis
- 16 Portmeirion Village, Wales
- 17 The Kelpies, Falkirk, Scotland
- 18 Blackpool Tower
- 19 Titanic Belfast
- 20 Brecon Beacons, Wales
- 21 White Cliffs of Dover
- 22 Cardiff Castle, Wales
- 23 Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Wales
- 24 Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland
- 25 V & A Dundee, Scotland
- 26 Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
From Big Ben to Ben Nevis, the Giant’s Causeway to the Jurassic Coast and Stonehenge to Snowdon, there is such an enormous wealth of UK landmarks to explore as the country gradually opens up again. Read on to discover 25 of the very best places to see in Britain.
For such a small country, there is an incredible number of famous places in the UK. Some landmarks in the UK are renowned throughout the world, especially the most famous sights in London. We explore all four countries that make up the UK, covering all corners of England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland along the way.
Big Ben, London
Big Ben is officially the name of the bell within the Elizabeth Tower of the Houses of Parliament, but many use the name to refer to the entire tower. It’s possibly the most famous of all landmarks in the UK, and one of the most graceful, dominating the views of the Thames between the waterloo and Lambeth bridges in London. This popular London icon has been hidden away behind a forest of scaffolding since 2016, but is due to re-emerge fully restored later in 2021.
The greatest of all Scottish castles sits high on a volcanic outcrop above the capital, besieged and bombarded many times over yet surviving 900 years since its founding by David I in the 12th century. It has been a royal residence and military stronghold, and houses the oldest building in Edinburgh, the simple 12th century St Margaret’s Chapel. The 16th century Great Hall is another survivor from medieval times – much of the Castle has been rebuilt since the 19th century. Edinburgh Castle is also home to the Scottish National War Memorial and National War Museum of Scotland, and is the backdrop to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo every August.
Rhossili Beach, Wales
Rhossili Bay is the best-known beach on the Gower Peninsula, the first part of the UK to be declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s the westernmost of the Gower beaches, a three-mile (5 km) curve of glorious golden sand that’s far too large to get even remotely crowded. One of the easiest Gower walks takes you along the fairly flat clifftop path to the end of the headland looking out to the tidal island of Worm’s Head, one of the most striking coastal landmarks in Britain.
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
The Giant’s Causeway is probably the best-known of the main Northern Ireland landmarks, a geological wonder formed by a volcanic eruption. The Causeway is a series of around 40,000 basalt columns of varying height, shape and size formed as lava cooled, cracking in a similar way to mud. According to Irish legend, giant Finn MacCool built the causeway over to Scotland where he confronted the Scottish giant Benandonner. It’s located on the Antrim coast, a few miles from two other Northern Irish landmarks in this article.
‘Buck House’ is the official London residence of the Queen, and one of the most familiar London landmarks throughout the world. It’s the first place in royal London most visitors head for, to see the centuries-old ceremonial Changing of the Guard, and to visit the State Rooms for ten weeks a year between July and September. The Palace is at the end of The Mall, a tree-lined processional avenue along which the Queen and rides on her official birthday, marked by the Trooping the Colour ceremony held on the second Saturday of June.
Tower Bridge London
One of the foremost landmarks in England and icons of London, Tower Bridge is magnificent, a combined suspension and bascule bridge over the river Thames. It’s a wonder of late 19th century Gothic Revival architecture, its twin towers like gateways to a fairytale world. It also does the more prosaic job of raising its central section to allow shipping above a certain height to pass through safely. It was designed by Horace Jones and completed in 1894, and is one of the most beautiful bridges in Europe, if not the world.
St David’s Cathedral, Wales
This remote cathedral in the far west of Wales is by far the most impressive church in the country. It was built on the site of a monastery founded by St David, the patron saint of Wales, in the 6th century AD. It was built down in a valley to remain out of sight of potential invaders, and its simple stone exterior contrasts with the interior, with its ornate wooden nave roof and stunning central tower vault. There are enough things to do in St Davids, the smallest city in the UK, to keep you busy for several days with some outstanding beaches and coastal walks.
This stone circle is one of the oldest man-made landmarks in the United Kingdom, believed to be around 5,000 years old. The site and visitor experience have changed greatly in recent years with the removal of a road that ran close by. Now you can enjoy a grand approach across the Wiltshire fields, much more fitting for one of the great prehistoric monuments of Europe. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage SIte along with the stone circles surrounding the Wiltshire village of Avebury. Recent research suggests that the stone circle may have originally been sited in the Preseli Hills in West Wales, and moved or rebuilt at the present site sometime later.
Conwy Castle is one of the most impressive landmarks in UK, a formidable 13th century fortress with eight towers guarding the last crossing point of the River Conwy before the sea. The town’s defences were augmented by the adjacent town walls, stretching over ¾ mile (1.2 km) around the medieval town. It’s one of four of the Castles of Gwynedd built by Edward I to become a World Heritage Site in 1984.
See more: things to do in Conwy
Roman Baths, Bath, England
The Roman Baths that give the fine city of Bath its name date from the 1st century AD. The original Roman settlement grew around these natural springs and the small town became known as Aquae Sulis. The Museum incorporating the Baths is fascinating, and one of the best times to visit is late on a winter afternoon, with the main Bath lit by fire torches, steam rising off the water and magnificent Bath Abbey lit up. The adjoining Pump Room Restaurant – the place to be seen in high society 18th century Bath – is another essential part of the Roman Baths experience. One of the most evocative of all U.K. landmarks.
Snowdon – Yr Wyddfa – is the highest mountain in Wales at 1,085 metres (3,560 feet) above sea level. It’s the focal point of the Snowdonia National Park, which takes up much of mountainous north-west Wales, and surrounded by several other peaks. You can reach the top by the rack-and-pinion Snowdon Mountain Railway or on foot up six different paths, but don’t underestimate this mighty Welsh landmark, which provided the training ground for the first climbers to conquer Mount Everest in the early 1950s.
The Lake District of north-west England was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2017. However, it’s about much more than the alluring Lakes, however – the area (a National Park since 1951) is also home to the highest mountains in England. The landscape – from the pastoral lower slopes to the heights of Scafell Pike- was a great inspiration to the Picturesque movement of the 18th century and the later Romantic movement, and the area has been uniquely conserved, with most trappings of the industrial world kept well away. It’s one of the great landscapes of England and, indeed, Europe.
Jurassic Coast, Dorset and Devon, England
The Jurassic Coast is a 95-mile (153 km) stretch of Dorset and East Devon coastline that comprises England’s sole natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a unique and varied stretch of coast formed over the Mesozoic Era (250 to 65 million years ago, and is particularly fossil-rich. Its name is a little misleading as the area also contains many miles of Triassic and Cretaceous (the eras before and after the Jurassic) coastline as well. It contains several great coastal English landmarks, from the white chalk cliff stacks of Old Harry Rocks to the iconic Durdle Door sea arch, nearby Lulworth Cove, and Golden Cap, at 191 metres the highest hill and cliff on the south coast of England.
Ben Nevis has a special place among famous landmarks of UK, as it’s the highest mountain in Great Britain. It looms 4,413 feet (1,345 metres) above the town of Fort William and the west coast of Scotland. The most popular route up the mountain is the Pony Track, and it’s by no means an easy option, criss-crossing scree slopes on its way up. The climb takes 4-5 hours in summer, and you need to allow at least 3 hours to descend. The best views of Ben Nevis are from nearby lakes, including Loch Eil, just to the west of Fort William.
Portmeirion Village, Wales
This whimsical fantasy village is surely one of the prettiest landmarks of the UK. Built on a wooded hillside overlooking the sublime Dwyryd estuary in North Wales, it’s a village of ‘rescued buildings’ rebuilt along with an Italian-style belltower and cottages which was the setting for much of the 1960s TV series The Prisoner. It’s open to visitors during the daytime, but one of the best things to do in Portmeirion is to stay overnight, either in one of the two hotels or holiday cottages around the main Piazza.
The Kelpies, Falkirk, Scotland
The Kelpies are a compelling pair of horse-head sculptures at the entrance to a new extended section of the Forth and Clyde canal which links east and west Scotland. One of the newer Scotland landmarks, completed in 2014 by sculptor Andy Scott, they represent mythical shape-shifting creatures from Scottish folklore – some of which took on the form of horses – and also the actual horses used in the development of Scottish industry.
Blackpool Tower is one of the most celebrated British landmarks, dominating the seafront of one of the most popular British seaside resorts. The Tower soars high above the beach, piers and funfair below, and you can climb most of the way up this 158-metre (518 feet) landmark to take in superb views of the Lancashire coast. The Blackpool Tower complex also includes the ornate Tower Ballroom, which hosts daily tea dances, a Circus and Dungeon.
Titanic Belfast is an impressive museum on the site of the old Harland & Wolff shipyards where the ill-fated ocean liner Titanic was built and launched from in 1912. The striking building symbolises a series of ship prows, though some locals have nicknamed this newest of Belfast landmarks ‘The Iceberg’. The interior of the building is a series of rooms, taking you through the shipyards, to a re-creation of cabins on board the Titanic, a gallery depicting the launch and another the fatal collision with an iceberg.
Brecon Beacons, Wales
They are among the most scenic Welsh landmarks, yet the Brecon Beacons are made up of three distinct mountain ranges. The central Brecon Beacons, including the tallest summit in southern Britain, Pen y Fan (886 metres or 2.907 feet), pull in the most visitors, while you can enjoy many of the gentler contours of the Black Mountains to the east in near-solitude. The moorland Black Mountain to the west offers one of the most scenic drives in the UK and one of the most romantic castles in Europe, Carreg Cennen Castle, in the steep valleys below.
White Cliffs of Dover
The gleaming White Cliffs of Dover are among the most recognisable UK landmarks, a potent symbol of the country and homecoming, especially during the Second World War.
They are visible from the north coast of France 22 miles (35 km )away, and stretch 8 miles (13 km) either side of the busy port of Dover. They were especially resonant during the 1940s Dunkirk evacuations, when troops could see the Cliffs across the English Channel. They were also immortalised by Dame Vera Lynn in her wartime song ‘(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover’.
Cardiff Castle, Wales
Cardiff Castle has become one of the most recognisable landmarks of Britain because it dominates the centre of the Welsh capital. You can’t possibly miss it, its extensive walls and Clock Tower close to some of the main Cardiff shopping streets. One of the best castles in South Wales to visit, Cardiff has been a Roman fort and boasts an 11th century keep, a 15th century gatehouse and – the main draw – some of the most extravagant Victorian Gothic Revival architecture and decoration you’ll find anywhere.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Wales
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is one of the great landmarks of the UK from the Industrial Revolution period. It was built by the ‘Colossus of Roads’, the great civil engineer Thomas Telford, to carry the Shropshire Union Canal high above the scenic Dee Valley and on to the nearby town of Llangollen. Narrowboats carrying visitors make up most of the traffic nowadays, and you can hire one yourself from Trevor Wharf on the north side of the Aqueduct. It was the third site in Wales to be accorded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2009.
See also : Things to do in Llangollen
Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland
It has become one of the more famous Scottish landmarks over the last fifteen years or so, having appeared in four Harry Potter films, but the Glenfinnan Viaduct would have made our list no matter what. It’s the highlight of one of the most spectacular rail journeys in Europe, the West Highland Line branch line to the remote fishing port of Mallaig. The line curves as it passes over the 21 arches, surrounded by an amphitheatre of rugged mountains and the waters of Loch Shiel below. At the time of writing (April 2021), three trains pass in each direction between Glasgow Queen Street and Mallaig daily.
V & A Dundee, Scotland
The V&A Dundee is one of the newest Scottish landmarks, completed in 2018. It’s Scotland’s first Design Museum, and the first ‘branch’ of the V&A outside London. The building was designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, and is said to have been inspired by the cliffs of the east Scottish coast. It’s a striking presence on the Dundee waterfront, especially combined with the RRS Discovery, the tall-masted ship which took Scott and Shackleton on their first voyage to the Antarctic.
Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
You’ll find another of the most famous landmarks in Northern Ireland a few miles east along the scenic Antrim coast from Giant’s Causeway. The current version of this rope bridge – linking the mainland with tiny Carrick-a-Rede Island – was completed in 2008, but the original is believed to have been raised in 1755 by local salmon fishermen. Only eight people can use the bridge at any one time, and with clear views to the sea and rocks 30 metres (98 feet) below some can’t stomach the return journey and have to be helped off the island by boat. One to test your head for heights!