We take a look at the most visited attractions in the UK (not including London – sorry London).
The UK welcomed 41.7 million tourists in 2018, with 2019 already looking set to break the record. Tourists came from every country around the world to experience the diverse sights, attractions and cultures which can be found across the British Isles.
Though summer has come to an end and the main swell of tourists has died down, people from overseas will no doubt continue to enter the UK in their millions before the end of the year. A recent study by Complete Holiday Homes looked at finding out just how people travel around the UK, where they go and what they do when they’re there.
Their research found that Scotland is the most popular place to visit outside of London, with England’s South East and South West coming second and third. Scotland is incredibly popular with overseas tourists, drawing in over 4,000 more people than the South East in 2018 and taking the most tourists outside of London for the past five years in a row.
Though Scotland is historically the most popular, the study into where tourists spend their money showed that only in the last two years has Scotland begun to take the most tourism money of any region. Previously, the South East took the most money despite welcoming far less tourists every year.
Taking London out of the picture
Because of its major international popularity, the study excludes London from the research. More than 50% of all tourists to the UK visit London and the capital takes over half of all tourism money spent in the UK.
Rather than talk about London, this article focuses on the places that tourists clearly love but may be neglected by those just spending their holidays in the capital. For tourists coming to the UK, travelling outside of London is essential to experiencing all the best things the British Isles has to offer. We’ve identified some of the most popular attractions in the most popular regions to give tourists a flavour of what lies outside of London.
National Museum of Scotland – Edinburgh
The National Museum of Scotland holds the current record for most visited attraction outside of London. This fantastic building has exhibitions covering every area of science, history and culture. Whether it’s Dolly, the first cloned sheep or fashion exhibitions from Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood, the museum has something for everyone from Scotland’s pioneering past.
Edinburgh Castle – Scotland
The most popular paid-for attraction in Scotland, Edinburgh Castle is home to a brilliant range of artefacts from Scotland’s history. Lying in the heart of the city, visitors can see the Honours of Scotland, the country’s crown jewels, and the Stone of Destiny, which is still used in British coronations to this day.
The castle is also home to the One o’clock Gun, which has been firing every day at one o’clock since 1861. Whether you are at the castle to hear the boom of the cannon or standing in the streets below, this is a great little taste of Scottish culture which is a must-hear for tourists.
Blenheim Palace – Oxfordshire
Welcoming almost 1m visitors in 2018, Blenheim Palace is the birthplace of legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The palace and gardens are a beautiful sight all year round. Exhibitions inside include the Winston Churchill experience and tours of the palace state rooms.
At £27 for an adult ticket, this experience helped bump up the South East’s tourism intake by around £27m just last year, showing why this area of the country is such a successful draw for tourists from overseas.
Stonehenge – Wiltshire
One of the UK’s most iconic historical sites, Stonehenge has sat in the countryside of the South East for 5,000 years. A remarkable feat of engineering, the site has inspired countless artists, architects and historians over the years. Visitors to the stones can explore the history of the site with hundreds of prehistoric artefacts found in the accompanying museum.
The stones aren’t usually accessible except for during pagan religious celebrations at the summer and winter solstice. During these times, which both happen just once a year, visitors can go right up to the stones and touch them while the celebrations go on well into the night.
Roman Baths – Bath, Somerset
The most popular attraction in the South West, the Roman Baths see more than 1m visitors each year as tourists come from all over to experience the history. Visitors can walk on original Roman pavements and see the original ancient baths where hot spring water still rises from deep within the ground.
Though millions of tourists only visit London on their trips to Great Britain, there are countless experiences in every corner of the UK to be enjoyed. For anybody looking to escape the crowded capital, Scotland and the south of England are filled with experiences waiting to be discovered.
If you have any of your own suggestions for the best places to visit in the UK outside of London, drop us a comment below!
This article was written by Damon Culbert for Complete Holiday Homes.