The UK is one of the most-visited countries in the world, with tourists travelling to the island from every corner of the globe. While many journey for the culture, most are seduced by the rich history England and its neighbouring countries offer. What makes this history even more alluring is that much of it can be seen in sites and monuments across the country.
If you’re looking to step back into the past to learn and experience more about the history of this island, these are the best English Heritage sites you can visit today.
Thought to be over 4,500 years old, Stonehenge is one of the most famous historic sites in the world. How and why it was built is the source of much debate, but it’s believed to have been spiritually significant for people at the time. The stones align with the sunrise and sunset, making it an important monument during the summer and winter solstice, with hundreds gathering to celebrate every year.
As legendary as it is stunning, Tintagel Castle is the rumoured birthplace of King Arthur. Today, you can experience the best of the Cornish seaside by climbing to the top of the castle and soaking up the outstanding views. But most visit here because of its magical feel: a suspended footbridge connects the ruins on the mainland and a small island with the Great Hall. On the beach below is Merlin’s Cave, believed to be the former home of the mythical wizard.
Built around 2,000 years ago to guard the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire, Hadrian’s Wall is one of England’s most recognisable heritage sites. The UNESCO World Heritage Site stretches 73 miles from coast-to-coast, and is home to the remains of temples, rare Roman artefacts, and workshops. Beautiful walks take you alongside the wall and within its forts and turrets, making it the perfect heritage site for families.
Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens
There are three heritage sites you have to visit in Belsay in the north-east of England: Belsay Hall, Castle, and Gardens. Belsay Hall replaced the castle after it was abandoned, and both are surrounded by 30 acres of stunning, Grade 1-listed gardens. The architecture was taken straight out of Ancient Greece, and you can feel it as soon as you walk through the hall and castle. The Quarry Garden is a must-visit, home to some of the rarest plants in England.
Built 2,000 years ago, Dover Castle in Kent is home to enough history to keep you coming back for days. The heritage site played a vital role in both World Wars, which you learn about through its defences and secret wartime tunnels. Take a step back and you can also discover Henry II’s recreated rooms, with protective medieval tunnels below. Set on the backdrop of the iconic white cliffs, it’s easy to see why Dover Castle is one of the most-visited English Heritage sites.
It’s easy to see why Osborne was a favourite resting place of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as soon as you step foot on the grounds. The state rooms still hold the original stunning designs, the gardens are magnificent, and it even has its own private beach. The site is straight out of a Hollywood movie, making Osborne perfect whether you’re visiting for the royal history or architecture.
Walmer Castle was once home to a former Prime Minister, but the Tudor site is now open for the public to experience in all its glory. It’s surrounded by eight acres of beautiful gardens and perfectly shaped hedges. The Kitchen Garden is home to all manner of seasonal fruit and veg, while the Glen Garden has some of the best woodland paths Kent has to offer. A Natural Play Trail for children makes it one of the best English Heritage sites for families.
The name Whitby conjures up images of the sand, sea, and sunshine. The opposite is the case with Whitby Abbey, gothic ruins located just outside of the Yorkshire seaside town. It’s rumoured that the building inspired Bram Stoker as he began writing Dracula, with its imposing architecture and haunting colour palette. It isn’t all doom and gloom, though: the views from the top are incredible.
Similar to Stonehenge in all but fame, Avebury is one of the most fascinating English Heritage sites. It’s the largest stone circle in Britain and, like Stonehenge, its original purpose is up for debate. It’s thought that settlers used it as a ceremonial site, not too dissimilar to its Salisbury cousin. The quintessentially beautiful nearby town makes Avebury every bit worth seeing.
Warkworth Castle was once home to the Percy family, the most powerful family in the north at the time. Today, it’s a glimpse into their lives and a world when England and Scotland were at war. The keep played an essential role in the war, which you can learn about when you visit. Visit the Duke of Northumberland’s rooms and admire the stunning grounds surrounding the castle.
If you're planning a trip to one of the best English Heritage sites, don't forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or our Train Tickets app. You can also find information on how to get cheaper train tickets via our special offers page. If you need more information, you can contact us here.
The UK is bursting with fun activities. Whether you're visiting one of the best places to find fossils in the UK, the most famous landmarks in the UK, or the best indoor ski slopes in the UK, you can always travel by train. CrossCountry has services running up and down the country to ensure you can get to the places you need to be.