London is undoubtedly the most popular destination for travelers heading to the U.K. While the English capital is definitely worth visiting, the United Kingdom is also home to several other destinations that you’ll want to include on your UK road trip itinerary. Shrouded in splendor, history, and culture, these towns, cities, and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty don’t get nearly enough credit as they deserve.
If you’re interested in seeing stunning sights and passing the time in some of the most historically significant locations across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, keep reading. Here are 10 magical destinations that need to be on your U.K. itinerary.
10 The Scottish Highlands, Scotland
The Scottish Highlands is simply one of the most naturally mesmerizing areas you will encounter, in the United Kingdom or anywhere else. Filled with rugged mountains, green valleys, and outstanding lochs nestled in among rolling hills and medieval ruins, the Scottish Highlands will make you feel like you’ve landed in a fairy tale.
You have the option of basing yourself in a city like Edinburgh or Glasgow and then taking a day trip up to the Highlands. But if you have a little more time, we recommend spending a few days exploring the majestic region.
9 Bath, England
The city of Bath is often thought of as one of England’s most beautiful cities. Home to the iconic and historic Roman Baths, the city is like a gateway into the past. Set against the Somerset countryside, Bath offers stunning architecture and views that could appear on the back of a postcard.
Many people choose to tour the famous Roman Baths while in town, but there is also the phenomenal Abbey to explore. Grab a Cornish pasty on the central streets of the city and then indulge in some high-end shopping.
8 Snowdonia National Park, Wales
If you’re into stunning vistas and serene wilderness, you have to add the Snowdonia National Park to your bucket list. Located in the northernmost region of Wales, the park is home to the dominating Mount Snowdon, which is equally beautiful to look at in summer as it is in winter.
The park also features several other mountains and great lakes. If you’re not up to climbing up to the summit on foot, you can take the Snowdon Mountain Railway. It’s definitely worth taking in the view from the top, which stretched all the way to Ireland.
7 Robin Hood’s Bay, England
While Robin Hood may never have actually set foot in Robin Hood’s Bay, the Yorkshire coastal destination is still worth a visit. Come to this cliffside village and you’ll be surrounded with sublime views of the Northern Sea coast and buildings that symbolize 1000 years of history.
Robin Hood’s Bay was once the top destination for smuggling in Yorkshire, according to Hand Luggage Only. The cellars beneath the centuries-old houses were used to store alcohol and other goods that were illegal at the time. Nowadays, though, it’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy a pint in one of the local pubs.
6 Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Londonderry, or just Derry to the locals, is one of the most unique and stunning destinations to visit in Northern Ireland. While the capital city of Belfast also has plenty to offer, it’s the preserved medieval walls that give Derry its fantastical appeal. This fortification once allowed the city to withstand a siege for a phenomenal 105 days.
Once you’re finished trailing the surrounding city walls, be sure to visit the Tower Museum for more panoramic views of the historic city. There are also some spectacular views along the River Foyle, where you’ll find the famous Peace Bridge.
5 Edinburgh, Scotland
The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is well worth visiting and spending at least a couple of days in. Home to a remarkable Old Town that serves as a testament to the fascinating history of the city, Edinburgh is packed with magnificent architecture and notable landmarks. You’ll see examples of medieval buildings still standing in the city, in addition to “new” buildings dating back to the 18thcentury.
As Planet Ware points out, Edinburgh is home to the famous Fringe Festival each August. Visit during this time and you’ll experience a city alive with festivities, celebrating art, talent, entertainment, and culture.
4 The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
No visit to Northern Ireland is complete with a stop at the Giant’s Causeway, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country. The naturally layered basalt has drawn tourists in from all over the world, and today renders the region an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
According to Gaelic legend, the formations were carved out by a giant named Finn McCool, who abandoned his home to travel to Scotland and battle another famous giant, Benandonner. He built the causeway so he could travel across the water.
3 The Cotswolds, England
There is perhaps no other area in England that is as charming as the Cotswolds. Home to several sleepy villages and rolling hills of greenery, the Cotswolds is a must-visit for anyone interested in experience the quaint English countryside away from the bustle of London.
Stretching over six counties, the Costwolds features quintessential thatched cottages and quaint pubs, as well as extravagant palaces and other historical artifacts. There is a 102-mile walking trail through the area, and several tour companies that will guide you through by foot, car, or bus.
2 Stirling, Scotland
Located halfway between the two major Scottish cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Stirling is an ideal place to base yourself during any trip to Scotland. The centuries of history contained within the boundaries of the city is what makes it so magical.
Be sure to check out Stirling Castle, which was once a residence of Mary, Queen of Scots. The skyline is also marked by the Wallace Monument located in the nearby village of Bridge of Allan. Here you’ll learn about the renowned William Wallace, of Braveheart fame.
1 Cambridge, England
Straddling the River Cam, Cambridge is one of the most famous and beautiful cities in eastern England, known for housing the internationally acclaimed University of Cambridge. Explore the buildings of the University Colleges, including the Gothic chapel of the popular King’s College.
Inside the chapel, you’ll be able to see a huge wooden screen that was gifted to Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII. When you’re done taking in the sublime views of the historic buildings, discover the University museums which offer various exhibits on all subjects from anthropology to zoology.