9 Oct 2023
Britain is home to some of the most iconic sights in the world. From London to Edinburgh, castles and lakes, here are some of the best sights to see on a tour of England and Scotland. This is not an exhaustive list — more a whistle-stop tour from south to north of historical and natural landmarks to create a wonderful memory-making staycation.
Tower of London, London
Starting with one of the most famous London landmarks, this Historic Royal Palace has stood by the River Thames since 1070. Built as a palace, but, arguably, more well known as a prison, hundreds of people were incarcerated at the Tower of London over the centuries. The Tower was constructed as a symbol of the country’s royal power, storing weapons, the Royal Mint, which produced the nation’s coins for over 500 years, and housing lavish royal apartments.
As history reveals, the Tower also became a prison for those who posed a serious threat to national security and was the location of many goulish executions, including three former queens, Anne Boleyn (1536), Catherine Howard (1542) and Lady Jane Grey (1554).
Explore the castle, which is a World Heritage Site, view the Crown Jewels, and meet the regally-dressed Yeoman Warders and the famous guardians of the Tower, the black ravens, before enjoying a relaxed stroll along the River Thames. The Tower of London is close to Borough Market, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Southbank, London Eye and well-placed for many other central London attractions.
Blackpool Tower, Lancashire
One of the most famous landmarks in the north of England, Blackpool Tower has stood over the northwest’s Fylde coast since 1894. At the time of its debut, it was the tallest structure in Britain, standing 518-feet tall — inspired by Paris’ Eiffel Tower, which opened five years earlier in 1889.
Blackpool Tower is one of the most iconic buildings in the UK — and a symbol of ‘seaside Britain’ with its family-fun attractions. Scale to the 380-foot-high SkyWalk with far-reaching views as far as the Lake District in the north and Liverpool to the south on a clear day. There’s also the Blackpool Tower Circus, Blackpool Tower Dungeon and, arguably, best of all the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. The Ballroom is one of the most lavish ballrooms in the country, where, once per series, you can even watch an exhilarating live Strictly Come Dancing episode being filmed.
Lake District National Park, Cumbria
The largest national park in England and home to the country’s tallest mountain, Scafell Pike, Lake District National Park is a World Heritage State that’s a must-visit in the UK. You’ll find glassy lakes, waterfalls, pretty towns and villages and endless hiking opportunities all offering spectacular views.
Bowness-on-Windermere on the east shore of Lake Windermere is home to The World of Beatrix Potter and an array of shops, cafes and restaurants. Take a boat tour on the lake from the pier or enjoy a traditional afternoon tea with gorgeous views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Royal Yacht Britannia, Leith
Once a floating palace for the Royal Family, the Royal Yacht Britannia is now permanently moored in Leith, Edinburgh. The elegant vessel was built in Clydebank, Scotland, by the famed John Brown & Company shipyard, debuting on 16 April, 1953. Royal Yacht Britannia sailed the world — and over one million nautical miles — during 44 years of service as a loyal mode of transport for HM, The Queen. The ship served as a venue for Royal receptions, hosting visiting monarchs and heads of state, and travelled to events in Europe and beyond.
The stunning ship, operated by a 250-strong crew, features the Admiral’s Quarters, Crew’s Quarters, the Royal Deck Tearoom, state apartments and the bridge. There’s also the State Dining Room, the largest room on board, where The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh entertained powerful figures, including Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
Explore the ship from bow to stern, including all five decks on a self-led audio guided tour. Wander the decks where young Royals would play and The Queen and The Queen Mother, along with other members of the Royal Family, would enjoy private downtime.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh
Arguably one of the most recognisable historic castles in Europe, the great Edinburgh Castle is a must-visit attraction when in the Scottish capital. The castle is set on a hulking rock, overlooking the city — a strategic advantage point for fighting off enemies attacking the city. The most famous former resident of the 1103-built castle is Mary Queen of Scots, and her son, James VI, the only monarch to ever be born at the castle.
Pass beneath the spiked fortified gate to discover the Great Hall and St Margaret’s Chapel. Walk the 70 steps of Lang Stairs to the summit of Castle Rock. Explore the Royal Palace, occupied by past monarchs, featuring the gilded initials ‘MAH’ for Mary Queen of Scots and her second husband Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, above the entrance.
View the gorgeous city of Ediburgh from Half Moon Battery, where cannons once fired down on enemies. Pick up a bottle of the award-winning Edinburgh Castle Gin before its time to leave.