For hundreds of years, the small country of England has been home to the royal family, the birthplace of multiple revolutions, and the stomping grounds of a bevy of pop culture icons.
Whether you have family overseas or are fascinated by English culture, a trip to England is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many people. To make the most of your visit, you should start planning your itinerary well in advance. After all, there are hundreds of English landscapes, monuments, and landmarks that are worthy of your attention.
Book your airfare, reserve a luggage storage service in London, and get ready to start exploring Old Blighty. Here are nine of the best things to do on your trip to England!
1. Visit the Historic Stonehenge
Perhaps the most impressive landmark in all of Great Britain, Stonehenge is an ancient wonder of the world and an architectural feat that has stood for over 5,000 years. While its original purpose is largely unknown, the fact that its materials were dragged from over 160 miles away and assembled on this quaint Wiltshire countryside makes it no less impressive.
An ever-popular tourist destination, Stonehenge is visited by approximately one million people every year. Make sure you add your name to the tally at some point during your visit!
2. Walk the Halls of Westminster Abbey
As the place of both coronation and burial for British monarchs, Westminster Abbey is virtually inseparable from the royal family. In addition to 30 kings and queens, over 3,300 people have been buried at the church in the last millennium. Some of the most notable names include Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, and Stephen Hawking, to name only a few.
Today, you can witness Westminster Abbey’s jaw-dropping gothic architecture in-person by booking a 90-minute tour with a church official. Just be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time and show up early, as the church closes to the public by mid-afternoon.
3. Watch a Shakespeare Play in His Hometown
If you want to experience Shakespearean prose and iambic pentameter in its purest form, be sure to visit Stratford-upon-Avon, the famous playwright’s hometown.
At the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, you’ll be able to watch a traditional or modern take on one of his famous works. With everything from Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to The Merchant of Venice, the theatre makes sure to offer a steady diet of Shakespearean plays year-round!
4. Ride the London Eye for a Spectacular Panoramic View
One of the world’s tallest Ferris wheels, London Eye offers a one-of-a-kind view of the city. From its location on the Thames River, you’ll be able to spot Big Ben, the House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and other famous English monuments.
With over 3.75 million visitors vying for a spot on the enormous Ferris wheel each year and each ride taking 30 minutes to complete, it’s important to plan ahead. Purchase a fast-track ticket to not only skip the line but also save a few dollars in the process!
5. Marvel at Big Ben’s Iconic Silhouette
Arguably the world’s most famous clock, Big Ben measures 315 feet tall and possesses four heavy dials that span 22 feet. Formally known as Elizabeth Tower, this landmark stands adjacent to the House of Parliament and only several hundred feet from Westminster Abbey.
Big Ben chimes every hour to this day, and outside of routine maintenance, the clock has only stopped a handful of times in 180 years. Feel free to book a tour of Big Ben if you’re not easily intimidated by its sheer height or averse to climbing its 334 steps. However, the clock is just as impressive when viewed from a distance!
6. Trek Across the White Cliffs of Dover
Lining the southern beaches of England, the chalky White Cliffs of Dover provide a picturesque view of the Dover Strait from heights of over 300 feet. On a clear day, you can even spot France from across the channel!
After experiencing the cliffs, be sure to stop by Dover Castle—the largest castle in all of England. Established in 1066 by William the Conqueror, this historic fortress has something for people of all ages. Explore the secret wartime tunnels, check out the medieval kitchens, or take on the challenge of an escape room.
7. Peer Through the Glass Floors of Tower Bridge
England’s spin on the bascule bridge, Tower Bridge is equal parts functional and ornamental—allowing vehicles to cross the River Thames while also providing Britons with a stunning view.
Of course, you can view the famous bridge up close by vehicle or by standing on the riverfront, but the locals will agree that the best way to experience the Tower Bridge is by traversing its suspended walkway. Through the structure’s glass floors, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the traffic below and countless attractions throughout London.
8. Watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
The official residence of the royal family for close to 200 years, Buckingham Palace deserves a spot on your bucket list. You can enjoy an exclusive tour of the palace if you happen to be visiting England during the summer months. Otherwise, you can watch the changing of the guard year-round.
At 10:30 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, soldiers of the British Army will line up outside the palace—complete with bearskin hats and red coats—to hand duties off to the new guard. To the tune of marching songs, the new guard will head toward the palace gates and take part in a short ceremony filled with longstanding English traditions!
9. Sink Your Teeth into Authentic Fish and Chips
While Britons aren’t exactly known for their flavorful dishes—in fact, many visitors have called their cuisine bland—there is one traditional meal you must enjoy at least once during your stay: fish and chips.
Most establishments serve cod or haddock, but other species of fish may be available as well. The English deep-fry their fresh fish in beer batter to give it a crispy coating and pair it with thick, straight-cut fries. Don’t forget to try the tartar sauce!