There’s a reason why the UK is one of the most visited countries in the world. It’s steeped in rich history, from the Roman invasion nearly 2,000 years ago to the Second World War in the 20th century. But what makes it even more remarkable is that there are locations dotted around Britain where you can experience this past, whether it’s wandering along Hadrian’s Wall or uncovering archaeological secrets at Stonehenge.
With 29 UNSECO World Heritage Sites to explore around the UK, and plenty of British heritage sites besides, there are so many brilliant historical attractions to dive into. If you’re looking to discover more about this small island’s past, these are the best historical places in the UK you can visit today.
The mystery of Stonehenge has been puzzling historians for decades. How was it built? What was it for? Although we’re still unsure as to how and why Stonehenge was built thousands of years ago, we know it’s a manmade structure. The beauty of the site, combined with its mystery, makes it one of the most famous and fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Visit during the summer or winter solstice for the annual festivals.
How to get to Stonehenge by train:
Starting from the nearest CrossCountry train station, Southampton Central, you can reach Stonehenge by taking a two-stop train ride to nearby Salisbury, followed by a direct bus to Stonehenge.
Warwick Castle, Warwick
Some castles are perfect for taking a step back in history, while others are just a great family day out. Warwick Castle is both, with a knight school, Horrible Histories maze, birds of prey display, and castle dungeon perfect for kids and history buffs alike. The grounds alone are worthy of a visit, with gardens, towers, and historic rooms that give you a sense of the castle’s grandiose history. Glamping tents, lodges, and suites are all available to make a whole weekend of it!
How to get to Warwick Castle by train:
Warwick Castle is situated in one of Warwickshire's most beautiful towns, Leamington Spa. You can get to Leamington Spa station from a wide range of stations across the UK, including Manchester, Birmingham, and Oxford. From there, Warwick Castle is a 15-minute bus ride away.
Roman Baths, Bath
Few landmarks have given birth to a city’s name, but the Roman Baths in – you guessed it – Bath have that distinct honour. Built around 70AD, the bathhouses carry a rich history and are still explorable today. The excellent preserved condition of the baths makes it a site where you get a particular sense of its usage and feel the history. Visit late on a winter’s day for the ultimate experience: steam, fire torches, and stunning architecture.
How to get to the Roman Baths by train:
You can get to Bath easily from a wide range of locations across the UK making use of the CrossCountry network. Simply take a CrossCountry train to Bristol Temple Meads station, followed by a 10-minute connecting service to Bath Spa station.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
One of the oldest fortified castles in Europe and one of the most impressive in the world, Edinburgh Castle is a beacon of Scotland’s capital. This historic UK site dates back to at least the 12th century – the oldest section, St Margaret’s Chapel, was erected around 900 years ago. Hear the One o’clock Gun, discover the Stone of Destiny, or marvel at Mons Meg. You can search for the castle’s secrets yourself or take a guided tour to ensure you don’t miss a thing.
How to get to Edinburgh Castle by train:
Arriving in Edinburgh, courtesy of CrossCountry, is super easy. Our trains operate to Edinburgh Waverley from a dozens of stations around the UK, including Bristol Temple Meads, York, Exeter Central, and Glasgow Central. From here, you can take a 10-minute walk to the castle.
Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland
Stretching 73 miles from coast-to-coast, Hadrian’s Wall is one of the most historical places in the UK. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was built around 2,000 years ago to guard the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire, and today it’s a hub of temples, rare artefacts, and ancient workshops. Make your way to the Eastern wall from Newcastle, and wander alongside the wall and within its turrets and forts to get the best experience of the attraction.
How to get to Hadrian's Wall by train:
The Hadrian's Wall Path begins (or ends) in Wallsend and runs through Newcastle-upon-Tyne, onwards through Northumberland and Cumbria. Take a CrossCountry train to Newcastle from a range of stations around the UK, followed by a 30-minute Metro journey to Wallsend.
Caerphilly Castle, near Cardiff
Dating back to the 13th century, Caerphilly Castle is Wales' biggest castle and one of the most impressive historical sites in the UK. With an architectural design not seen in Britain before Caerphilly was built, this is a castle with an incredible story to tell. Explore the fortress, surrounding water defences, and, of course, the leaning tower for a glimpse at Wales' interesting history.
How to get to Caerphilly Castle by train:
Although Caerphilly is situated outside of Cardiff, you can easily reach the castle by travelling with CrossCountry to Cardiff Central station. From there, you can hop on a Transport for Wales service to Caerphilly, taking roughly 20 minutes.
St Michael's Mount, Penzance
An absolute staple of Cornish tourism, a trip to Cornwall is not complete without a visit St Michael's Mount. Whatever you're looking for when visiting a UK heritage site - whether that's an ancient castle, gorgeous gardens, historical chapels, or art exhibitions - you'll find it at St Michael's Mount. This unique place is perfect for a visit with family or friends, to soak up Cornish history, sample a cream tea, and paddle in the sea.
How to get to St Michael's Mount by train:
Located in Penzance, you can reach St Michael's Mount with a 15-minute bus journey onwards from Penzance station, followed by a walk over the causeway or a ferryboat journey at high tide. Penzance is accessible on a wide range of CrossCountry routes beginning across the UK.
If you’re planning a trip to one of the best historical places in the UK, 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 castles in the UK, the best theme parks in the UK, or the best waterparks 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.