Ask people what makes up an essentially English experience, and you’ll get a host of different answers. Here are just some of the great reasons to visit England. This green and pleasant land is full of history, heritage, treasures and plenty of cool cultural activities to enjoy. We asked fellow travel writers for their highlights to create this collection of essentially English experiences. From the natural beauty of the countryside to the stunning coast or the charms of exploring castles, theatres and art, there are plenty of fun things to do in this part of the UK. England does traditional, beautiful, cultural and edgy, and all of them well. Make yourself a pot of tea, take a comfortable chair, and we’ll show you some of the best things to do in England.
- 1 Changing The Guard At Buckingham Palace
- 2 Meet The Wildlife at St James’ Royal Park
- 3 Visit The Houses of Parliament
- 4 Meet Paddington Bear In His Natural Habitat
- 5 Feast at Borough Market
- 6 Savor a Delicious Afternoon Tea
- 7 Explore London’s Green Spaces On Hampstead Heath
- 8 Enjoy the Vibrant London Shoreditch Street Art Scene
- 9 Catch Theatre As It Used To Be At Shakespeare’s Globe
- 10 See The Longest Running Play In London’s West End: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap
- 11 Explore Her Majesty’s Weekend Retreat at Windsor Castle
- 12 A Treat For The Eyes: UNESCO World Heritage In the Lake District
- 13 The Wild Beauty Of The Yorkshire Dales National Park
- 14 Try Fish And Chips On The Coast At Whitby
- 15 A Haven For Walkers and Climbers: Peak District National Park
- 16 Meet Robin Hood’s Merry Men at Sherwood Forest
- 17 Check Out The Charming Cotswolds
- 18 Take a Punt On The River in Cambridge
- 19 Meet Hungry Wizards at Balliol College, Oxford
- 20 Be Beside The Seaside In A Beautiful Beach Hut
- 21 Durdle Door On The Jurassic Coast: UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 22 Ancient Mysteries At The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stonehenge
- 23 Enjoy Regency Splendor in Bath
- 24 From the Romans to Magna Carta And Beyond: Explore Lincoln
- 25 Find Middle Earth In Middle England: Tolkien’s Shire In Birmingham
- 26 The Best Cool or Unusual Things to Do In England
If you’re planning a trip to England, why not pin this for later?
Changing The Guard At Buckingham Palace
By Katy Clarke from Untold Morsels. You can read Katy’s recommendations for the best things to do in London with kids here and more of her travels via her Instagram.
One of the most iconic sights and sounds of England is the daily parade outside Buckingham Palace known as the ‘Changing of the Guard’. This centuries’ old tradition has all the pomp and ceremony you would expect from a royal parade and much more. During the ceremony The Queen’s Guard hands over responsibility for protecting Buckingham Palace and St. James’s Palace to the New Guard. It is a spectacular and free sight – there is no charge to watch the display.
The parade starts at Wellington Barracks from where the New Guard marches to Buckingham Palace accompanied by a regimental band playing classic and popular songs. Soldiers wearing distinctive scarlet jackets (grey in winter) and black bear skin hats march down Birdcage Walk. They reach Buckingham Palace at 11am where the captains of the guard march toward each other and exchange the keys to the palace. The Old Guard then marches down The Mall to St James’ Palace.
The Changing of the Guard takes place daily in summer and several times a week in winter. The atmosphere outside the palace is fun as there are always crowds there to watch the spectacle. You can also watch changing of the guard ceremonies at nearby Horseguards Parade and Windsor Castle. I can’t think of a more essentially English experience.
Meet The Wildlife at St James’ Royal Park
By Arzo Nayel from Arzo Travels. You can read Arzo’s things to do in London in 4 days itinerary here, or catch up with her travels via Pinterest.
If in the UK you need to stroll one of the Royal Parks in London.
There are eight Royal Parks in London and the most famous are probably Hyde Park, Kensington Park, Greenwich Park and St. James´ Park. In total, the Royal Parks cover more than 5000 hectares and are the perfect spot to escape the crazy busyness of London.
So, there is no shortage of the well-maintained and neat parks that belong to a charity that take care of the parks. But it is not only about unwinding and chilling – you can also see beautiful buildings, statues and animals.
St. James´ Park is home to very cute squirrels (you can even feed them, though it is probably not a good idea) and pelicans. Yes, you have heard right. Strolling the park you´ll stumble upon the pelicans that are close to the lake at St. James´ Park.
There is no entry fee to visit the lovely parks and if you ask me, you haven’t been to London, if you did not visit at least one these parks.
Don’t forget to bring some drinks (and don’t forget to take them with your or throw them in a rubbish bin) and some time – so you can enjoy this relaxing English experience.
Visit The Houses of Parliament
By Gemma Armit of Two Scots Abroad. You can read more of Gemma’s experiences at the Houses of Parliament when she discovers Westminster. Follow her travels on Twitter.
Nothing sounds more English than Big Ben striking the time but did you know that the Ben is only the bell and the building that it calls home is named the Elizabeth Tower? Take a tour of Westminster to find out other cool facts (yes politics is cool) about decision making in the UK.
Westminster is split into two houses, the Houses of Commons where the Members of Parliament (MPs), the Cabinet and the Prime Minister debate and pass legislation (just, in Brexit’s case!), and the Houses of Lords is where the unelected body of experts and ex-politicians suggest amendments to bills.
You can tell the difference between the two because the Commons has green leather seats and the Lords has red. Apparently, Michael Jackson loved the Lords set up so much he asked to buy it…
Meet Paddington Bear In His Natural Habitat
By Halef and Michael, The Round The World Guys. You can read more of their travels here and on the RTW Guys Facebook page.
One of the most exciting cities on earth is England’s Capital, London. And in the center of the busy metropolis is Paddington Station, a historical train terminal that was built in the 1850s. Paddington Station is the focal point of London train transportation, and the Heathrow Express terminates here.
For non-English, Paddington Station is associated with the fictional children character of Paddington Bear, written by Michael Bond and illustrated by Peggy Fortnum, in 1958. The friendly Paddington Bear has become a classic character in English children’s literature. The much-loved story has been translated into many languages and had inspired several movies and series’ about the friendly bear.
Paddington Bear is a very popular British character, and he was chosen to represent the British in the 1994 Channel Tunnel opening to France and the rest of Europe.
You can personally pay homage to Paddington Bear. In 2000, a permanent life-sized bronze statue of Paddington was installed inside Paddington Station. This is one of the most visited statues in London, and is very popular with visitors, especially kids who adore Paddington Bear. And in 2017, a special colorful board was installed in the middle of the station to promote the Paddington 2 movie.
It is always nice to stop by and say hi to Paddington, and to have a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city!
Feast at Borough Market
By Talek Nantes from Travels with Talek. You can read more about the top things to do in Southbank, London here, and check out Talek’s travels via Facebook.
Walk through London’s Borough Market and the song “Food, Glorious Food” from the musical Oliver will continuously play in your mind. This iconic London mainstay has been around for over 1000 years. The first you hear of a market in this area is in a chronicle dating to the early 1000s. By the Middle Ages, the market had been well established for hundreds of years. In the early 1400s, it officially became an extension of London. The market grew along with London over the years until it evolved into a major wholesaling operation by the 1900s. As the supermarket structure became more popular, it negatively influenced the market’s wholesale incarnation. The artisanal food trend found a welcome home in the market by the late 1990s, transforming it into what it is today, a large and remarkably varied collection of food vendors with a focus on products with a strong commitment to sustainability.
Many of the vendors produce the product themselves. The stalls include wild game, seafood, bakeries, every type of cheese you can think of, confectionery. It’s got everything! The market has a definite international flair to it which is to be expected in a cosmopolitan city like London. It also offers prepared foods, samplings, and restaurants. It’s fun to wander the stalls tasting whatever tempts you.
Savor a Delicious Afternoon Tea
By Alex Waltner at Swedish Nomad. Read more of his travels here or on Instagram.
Having an afternoon tea experience is probably one of the most English Experiences one could ever have. Even though it was more common in the past, it still has a proper place in the English culture and everyday life. Having an afternoon tea is a lovely experience for tourists as well.
I was recently in London, and went to the afternoon tea at Marriott Hotel County Hall, and it was lovely. You have a nice view over the river, and a very elegant and charming hall where the afternoon tea is being served. Normally you can also see the Big Ben from here, but it’s under renovation.
However, nothing to be sad about since the selection of tea is marvelous, the cakes and treats are delicious. The staff are dressed up and very serviceminded, just like a great afternoon tea should be like. All in all, I would say this is a must experience when you visit London!
Explore London’s Green Spaces On Hampstead Heath
By Eliza French from Digital Travel Guru. You can read more of Eliza’s travels here, and also on her Facebook.
Hampstead Heath is one of London’s largest green spaces, spanning over 791 acres, of fields, woodlands, bathing ponds, viaducts and old buildings. It is a popular place that Londoners frequent, as well as being one of London’s highest points. Hampstead Heath is well connected to the rest of London with good transport options such as trains and buses and is very easy to visit.
Hampstead Heath is world famous for many of its historical buildings and old pubs in the area which have been featured in countless films, books and poems. One of the oldest pubs in the area is called The Spaniards Inn, which was built in 1585 and made famous by John Keats, a poet who is said to have written ‘Ode to a Nightingale” here, it was also featured in both Charles Dickens’s books – “The Pickwick Papers” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”. Other famous buildings include Kenwood House which dates back to the 17th century, it is a former stately home. In the summer you can enjoy music festivals, concerts and shows here which are all hosted in it’s stunning grounds. The English film’s Notting Hill and Sense and Sensibility both had parts filmed here.
You can also visit John Keats the famous poet’s house which is now a museum; it was built in 1814. At the museum you can see Keats’ original works and things that inspired his poetry and get glimpses about his life, through the various displays and artefacts on show. The area of Hampstead offers you greats insights into English Heritage, from the architecture of the houses, the old historical buildings, the small old roads and little shops that still exist till today. Many of the buildings in Hampstead are listed buildings due to the special architectural or historic interest considered important to British Heritage.
Enjoy the Vibrant London Shoreditch Street Art Scene
By Carol Guttery of Wayfaring Views. You can see more of her travels on Instagram.
London England isn’t all high tea and royal relics. There is an edgier side to the city that I feel represents authentic English culture for the 21st century. Nowhere is that more in evidence than with the riot of street art in London’s Shoreditch neighborhood.
Historically, Shoreditch was a working class neighborhood populated by four hundred years of ongoing immigration. Street art tends to flourish in neighborhoods with economic adversity or an immigrant culture. A creative class has emerged in the neighborhood making it a fertile ground for graffiti and street art. The eye candy is on full display in Shoreditch.
Shoreditch’s street art culture is a mix of furtive, messy graffiti of the illegal sort that gets put up in the dark of night, mixed with world-class commissioned murals that crawl up the sides of buildings and down the block. On my most recent visit, I found a diversity of new images including an endangered tiger, Alice in Wonderland, tender portraits and goofy cartoons. You can see a lot on your own just by wandering the streets that connect to Brick Lane. But if you really want to understand the culture, it’s worth taking a tour.
Regardless of how you do it, I encourage you to make time for street art on your next visit to London. Doing so will help you better appreciate it’s modern, edgy culture.
Catch Theatre As It Used To Be At Shakespeare’s Globe
By Nat Took from Natpacker. You can check out her travels here and also on Twitter.
In London, the Globe Theatre is located at just a few hundred yards from the original site. There is quite a colourful history to this playhouse. The original was up and running by 1599, but it unfortunately burnt down in 1613, when a stage canon ignited the thatched roof during a performance of Henry VIII. This theatre was quickly rebuilt, but was then closed during the Puritan administration in 1642, like all playhouses. As it was no longer of use the theatre was demolished. The current Globe, which is a reconstruction, although no one actually knows what the original theatre looked like, was opened in 1997. And for me, it is a great experience to watch a Shakespeare play here.
Although it may not be the original, the Globe still has that ‘old’ tudor feel. There is no central roof and only the seats are sheltered from the elements. But come rain or shine, the show must go on. For me, nothing beats standing for the show. Not only is it (significantly) cheaper, but it is a truly immersive experience. You feel as though you have literally been transported back and are part of the peasant rabble that would once have gone to see these plays. The actors really work the audience that are standing in front of them. It is a powerful experience, although it takes me a bit of time to adjust to the language, seeing the plays like this never fails to move me.
See The Longest Running Play In London’s West End: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap
By Jacky from Nomad Epicureans. You can read more about her trip to see Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap here, and check out the Nomad Epicureans Facebook page.
Nobody impersonates English culture better than the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie. Agatha Christie is the world’s best selling crime writer and her works are an integral part of the British collective memory. Although there are many locations in London associated with the Dame, a more obvious place to go is the West End. In the heart of Theatreland, at St Martin’s Theatre, you can catch a performance of the longest running play in London (and perhaps the world). Premiered in 1952, Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap has been running continuously for 66 years. During its run, performances have been even been attended by Queen Elizabeth II herself. The Mousetrap is a classic murder mystery set in the English countryside in which everyone is a suspect.
There is no better way to spend an evening than watching the play and trying your hand at being a detective yourself. Just keep in mind that traditionally, the audience is asked not to reveal the ending. After the performance, you can grab dinner and drinks at one of the many great restaurants in the area. If you want to keep it classic British, make sure to stop by Dishoom for elevated Indian cuisine and smashing cocktails.
Explore Her Majesty’s Weekend Retreat at Windsor Castle
By Anisa Alhilali from Two Traveling Texans. You can follow more of Anisa’s travels on the Two Traveling Texans’ Instagram.
One of the most essentially English places I have visited is Windsor Castle. It’s where Queen Elizabeth II likes to spend her weekends and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had their wedding. Several monarchs are also buried in St. George’s Chapel.
You don’t want to miss the changing of the guard. Plan on getting there early as the traditional ceremony takes places daily at 11 am. Then the audio tour (included in your admission price) will guide you through the Castle including Queen Mary’s Dollhouse, the State Apartments, and St. George’s Chapel.
My favorite room was St. George’s Hall, where state dinners are held. You would never know that it was seriously damaged during a fire in 1992. The ceiling is so grand and the table can seat up to 160 guests. I could picture all the dignitaries dining with the Queen.
Windsor Castle is an easy day trip from London. It’s located in the town of Windsor, just an hour train ride from Waterloo station. Get tickets in advance (or use your London Pass) as Windsor Castle is popular and you will want to avoid the long lines.
Room after room is filled with priceless art and elaborate details! Windsor Castle is a real working palace, where so much history has taken place. The Castle is over 900 years old! It is such an amazing experience to be able to explore the grounds.
A Treat For The Eyes: UNESCO World Heritage In the Lake District
By Rachel Clarke from Earth’s Magical Places. You can read more about her travels here, and also via Twitter.
No place seems more essentially English to me than the Lake District. Located in the county of Cumbria, in the North West of the country, the Lake District national park is often overlooked by tourists visiting the UK, but they’re definitely missing out.
For one its scenery is breath-taking. Home to at least 150 mountains, every view in the Lake District is framed by high peaks. Meanwhile classic dry-stone walls divide the landscape, keeping free roaming sheep in place. There’s also (of course) plenty of pristine lakes that complete this picture-perfect landscape.
If this classic picture of England isn’t enough, the Lake District is also home to some of the most picturesque towns and villages in the country. One of the best is Ambleside. Located next to Lake Windermere, this small town is characterised by grey stone buildings and independent shops, bakeries and cafes. All of these are scattered amongst a maze of narrow streets, with the mountains of the Lake District forever present in the background. In this way, visiting the Lake District is an essentially English experience that you don’t want to miss.
The Wild Beauty Of The Yorkshire Dales National Park
By Sarah and Justin at Travel Breathe Repeat. You can follow their travels on Twitter.
Recently we had the loveliest holiday in Yorkshire and spent much of our time walking in the Yorkshire Dales. The whole experience was just so essentially English we had to write about it here! Imagine if you will walking up and over green hills and valleys, crossing little rivers, negotiating stiles, passing by other friendly walkers (most likely with their dogs), all the while being surrounded by sheep and lambs and even more sheep. That’s where you’ll find yourself if you go for a walk in the Yorkshire Dales.
There are walks for people of all walking abilities and fitness levels. And of course it’s all free and open to all. Just be careful to follow the path otherwise you risk getting penned in by tall, stone fences with the aforementioned sheep. Not that that happened to us… more than a few times! For a walking holiday we recommend the towns of Hawes or Masham as a base. They each have great accommodation and dining options and of course plenty of cozy pubs, where you can grab an essentially English pint of ale to reward yourself for all that walking.
Try Fish And Chips On The Coast At Whitby
By Claire Sturzaker at Tales of a Backpacker. You can read more of Claire’s foodie adventures in Yorkshire here, and check out Tales of A Backpacker’s Facebook page for more of her travels.
Fish and Chips are one of the most famous dishes in British Cuisine. There really is nothing like a crispy battered fish, with moist white flaky fish inside, drizzled with vinegar on a bed of soft and crispy chips. Fish and chips, of course, tastes better when you eat them in view of the sea, where the fish is freshest after being brought in by the fisherman that very morning.
Whitby, on the north-east Yorkshire coast, is one of the UK’s primary fishing ports, so unsurprisingly the fish and chips here is incredible. It seems like there are hundreds of fish restaurants in Whitby, and almost all of them have some kind of accolade awarding them the ‘best fish and chips’ in some year or other. However, I spoke to several people in Whitby and studied reviews online to find what I believe to be the best fish and chips in Whitby, at Trencher’s restaurant.
I arrived early at Trencher’s and avoided the queue of people who later gathered to enjoy their fish and chips. I ordered Whitby scampi to start with which was divine, and then a huge plate of sustainable cod and chips, with bread and butter to make a couple of chip butties. It was perfection on a plate. The batter was light and crispy, the fish was delicate and perfectly cooked, and the chips melted into the buttery bread to make that all important chip sandwich. The portion was generous, to say the least, but I finished every last mouthful, it was just too good to leave!
A Haven For Walkers and Climbers: Peak District National Park
By Becky Angell from Becky The Traveller. You can read more about exploring Castleton and Mam Tor in the Peak District here. Check out Becky’s travels on Instagram.
A trip to England isn’t complete without a beautiful day hike in the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire. The third most visited National Park in the UK, only an hour’s drive from my home in Nottingham I’m a regular visitor.
The Peak District’s green rolling hills and countryside sum up England perfectly. Yes, there’s lots of rain in England but with that, the trees and grass are a beautiful vibrant green, reminding me of the views I see when flying above England. The best thing is that from the top of some of the hills you can see for miles on a clear day. The sense of being outdoors is a wonderful feeling and makes you enjoy this stunning part of the UK.
A couple of my favourites walks are up to the summits of Higher Shelf Stones, Kinder Scout and Mam Tor in the Dark Peaks area of the Peak District. Of course, these are some of the higher peaks but they also come with the best views too!
Along with great hikes, the Peak District also has some cute villages to stop at for those well deserved after walk refreshments. Castleton village, has cute shops, cafes, and pubs where you can relax and enjoy the world go by. Now, what’s more English than a day’s hike in the countryside followed by a pint of beer to finish the day off?
Meet Robin Hood’s Merry Men at Sherwood Forest
By Amy at The Travel Fairies. Catch more of her travels here and on Instagram.
Nottinghamshire is not often on the top of people’s lists when they are visiting England, however it should be as it is home to one of the most famous English legends of all time. I am of course talking about Robin Hood. People the world over have heard the stories and legends of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. However, not as many know that you can actually visit his old haunts in Sherwood Forest.
Not far from Nottingham city centre, a small village called Edwinstowe contains the entrance to Sherwood Forest. There you will find a visitors’ centre which currently houses a museum, cafe and gift shop, craft centre and several woodland walks (although a brand new visitors’ centre is opening soon).
Right at the centre of the forest is the Major Oak. The Major Oak is one of the oldest English oaks in the whole of Sherwood Forest, estimated to be between 800-1000 years old. According to the legends, Robin Hood lived inside the hollow trunk of the Major Oak although in actual fact it would of only been an acorn at that time! But the legend is much more interesting so Sherwood Forest is still worth the visit. These days most forests in the UK are man-made and contain mostly imported pine trees. Sherwood is full of oaks and birches which means it’s like stepping back in time to when England was covered in natural forest. Walking through the trees you can really imagine what England would have been like for Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Check Out The Charming Cotswolds
By Justine Cross from Wanderer of the World. You can read more of her thoughts on the prettiest towns and villages in the Cotswolds here, and keep up with her travels on Instagram.
Of all the quintessential things to do in England, my mind immediately thinks of a visit to the Cotswolds. Travellers from all around often picture England like the cover of an old-fashioned chocolate box; green rolling hills, stone buildings, thatched roof cottages and field upon field of farmland. Covering almost 800 square miles across southern and central England, the Cotswolds has all of the above and more.
During your trip to the Cotswolds, it’s a must to visit one of the many beautiful villages here for a relaxing stroll, long mooch in the independent boutiques, swiftly followed by a cream tea. For me personally, the most essentially English day out I had in the Cotswolds was to Stow-on-the-Wold. I initially saw multiple shops here named after the Cotswolds. The Cotswold Frock Shop and Cotswold Tweed are two that immediately spring to mind.
But when I was peering more closely at these shops, I turned around and saw the most English sight I ever did see… Picture this: a woman in a pink flowery dress walked by with her little dog, followed by a man dressed head to toe in red and white (the colours of the English flag I’ll have you know), while Union Jack flags sailed overhead, all within your most typical Cotswold high street. Does it really get more essentially English than that?
Take a Punt On The River in Cambridge
By Jill Bowdery at Reading The Book. You can read more about Punting in Cambridge here, and follow Jill’s travels on Facebook.
If you are looking for a quintessentially English experience, how about giving punting a try? Beloved pastime of the ancient universities of Oxford and Cambridge, punting is the perfect summer activity and is still popular today with students and locals alike.
A “punt” is actually a large, flat-bottomed boat which can seat anything from 2 to 12 people. The punter stands on the wide, flat ledge at one end of the boat (back for Cambridge, front for Oxford!) and uses a long pole to propel the punt through the water.
The punt is steered by dragging the pole behind the boat – but this is easier said than done on a busy summer’s day when the river is crammed with punters enjoying their Pimms and strawberries in the sunshine! Getting in each other’s way is common, as is losing the pole over the side – fortunately they float, so if you see one pass your way, it’s polite to give it back to its owner!
If you fancy trying punting for yourself, head down to the river in either of these university towns. Punts can be hired for anywhere from an hour to a full day; or if you fancy sitting back and enjoying the view, why not book a punt tour where someone else does the hard work? It’s the perfect summer activity to really enjoy the city like a local.
Meet Hungry Wizards at Balliol College, Oxford
By Maria Spyrou from It’s All Trip To Me. You can read more of Maria and Katerina’s day trip to Oxford and their other travels here or on their Facebook page.
When it comes to Essentially English Experiences, few can beat a visit to the charming university city of Oxford. Home to the oldest English-speaking University in the world and famous for its legendary rivalry with Cambridge University, Oxford is also known as the perfect setting for most of Harry Potter’s adventures.
In this spirit, no visit to Oxford can be complete without the chance to wander around at least one of the University Colleges. Balliol College is among the oldest ones and seems as though it has sprung straight out of the pages of a Harry Potter book. Balliol College is a fascinating place to visit. From the buildings’ magnificent architecture and the wonderful gardens to the hilarious stories about its rivalry with neighboring Trinity College, Balliol has numerous exciting stories to tell. At Balliol College, you can admire the beautiful Chapel or even attend services there. Furthermore, you can relax in the beautiful gardens.
While there, look closely at the College’s walls. The Balliol College Boat Club is allowed to mark on them with chalk the team’s victories in rowing races. Don’t leave Balliol College without first going inside the Dining Hall, though. Whether a true Harry Potter lover or not, you can’t help but feel that hungry teenage wizards will storm inside taking their seats for dinner any minute now.
Be Beside The Seaside In A Beautiful Beach Hut
By Sonja Erin at Migrating Miss. You can enjoy more of Sonja’s travels at Migrating Miss, or on her Instagram.
Visiting a beach in England with beach huts, or better yet, hiring one out, is an essentially English experience. Beach huts became popular in the early 20th century, taking over from moveable bathing machines that were on many beaches in England. At first they were often made of abandoned materials but then purpose-built beach huts became popular, as they were cheap and easy to make, and so the tradition of beach huts at the English seaside were born!
Originally beach huts were used for changing and a place to use while at the beach and many are still leased for this purpose (because even there some Brits want a cup of tea at the beach!). More elaborate structures have also been built where you can also stay in for a seaside holiday. Councils lease the land to people for their beach huts, and you can often find them for rent. Should you ever see one for sale the price might astound you!
The huts are often regulated and can only be of a certain shape, size, or colour, which helps make them as photogenic as they are. When you’re in England you must take the time to visit the seaside and particularly somewhere with beach huts. There are plenty around Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, and Kent, as well as these delightful ones in Southwold, Suffolk.
Durdle Door On The Jurassic Coast: UNESCO World Heritage Site
By Julia at The Freckled Tourist. You can read more of Julia’s travels here, and also on her Instagram.
A beautiful spot in England not to be missed is Durdle Door. This World Heritage UNESCO site is found on the Lulworth Estate in Dorset and is considered one of the UK’s natural wonders. Durdle Door is a large natural limestone arch that extends over the turquoise waters of the Jurassic Coast. To access the landmark, you can drive, bike, or take public transportation and walk down the footpath from the parking lot to the pebble beach that lies beneath the arch.
After you’ve sufficiently enjoyed your time at Durdle Door and taken enough photos, you should also check out Man O’War Beach. Just minutes away by foot, you can soak in the stunning views as you stroll east from Durdle Door. Here you’ll find a beautiful double cove along the coast which is famous for its unique formation and bright, blue water. You can bring a picnic and sit on the green enjoying the view or head down to the pebble beach to lay out.
Between Durdle Door and Man O’War Beach you’ll find places to eat and drink as well as souvenir shops. You’ll want to spend several hours to a full day here in order to take in all the sights and truly enjoy it. Considered one of the most photographed areas in Southern England, this an Essentially English Experience that needs to be on your bucket list!
Ancient Mysteries At The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Stonehenge
By Pari Alva from Traveling Pari. You can read more of Pari’s travels here, and also via her Instagram.
Stonehenge has been on my bucket list ever since I saw a photo of it in my childhood. Two years ago, I had the chance to fulfill this life-long dream when I took a day trip from London. Stonehenge is very well-known and I’m sure that you’ve already heard and read a lot about it. Before visiting the place, I believed I knew all there’s to know about Stonehenge. However, when I actually did go, I was totally blown away.
All the pictures in books and magazines won’t prepare you for the sense of awe that you feel. It’s hard to imagine how this structure came together. It’s astounding how people in the prehistoric times could hoist such a heavy stone, to balance it on two vertical stones parallel to the ground. The height of the vertical stones is way above an average human’s height. As you go around in a circle inspecting the group of stones, you’ll marvel and try to assimilate from every angle how this is even possible.
After the visit, you will get a chance to visit the museum and shop where you can get mementos of your visit. You can also find a bunch of books detailing the history of Stonehenge and possible theories of their construction. One of them even suggested that giants or aliens were responsible for this! Ha! I laughed aloud at that one but couldn’t find any other plausible explanation.
Enjoy Regency Splendor in Bath
By Kirralee Baker from Escape With Kids. Read more of Kirralee’s travels in the United Kingdom here and also via her Facebook.
England has such a rich history of both architecture and literature, and for me the place where they come together most evocatively is Bath. Jane Austen’s novels, set in and around Bath, were written in the early 1800s and bring this era, known as the Regency period, to life. This was a glamorous time when lavish amounts of money were spent building magnificent structures. Many of Bath’s most loved sights date from this era and have been beautifully preserved. In fact it’s the only English city designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
A wander around town will transport you 200 years back in time to when Bath was the fashionable destination for elegant society. The Royal Crescent was where visitors would stay, the Assembly Rooms with its large ballroom was where they partied and the Pump Room was where they took the health-giving waters. The Circus and Pulteney Bridge were also built during this period. Most buildings are made from the local Bath Stone, which gives the whole city a golden glow.
Bath is a city uniquely dedicated to preserving the splendid Regency era and gives lovers of literature a chance to walk in Jane Austen’s footsteps.
From the Romans to Magna Carta And Beyond: Explore Lincoln
By Fiona Maclean of London Unattached. You can read more about Fiona’s top things to do in Lincoln then follow her travels on Instagram.
A castle, a cathedral and one of the quirkiest streets in England – prosaically named ‘steep hill’, Lincoln somehow still fails to be on the radar of most visitors to this sceptred isle. It may just be down to the rail network though as the service to Lincolnshire is currently a little patchy. It’s due an upgrade in the next few months so that trains WILL run regularly from London to Lincoln taking a little under 2 hours. When that happens, Lincoln will surely take its rightful place alongside Bath, York, Oxford and Cambridge as one of those ‘tick box’ destinations for everyone visiting the UK.
Until then, you have a chance to visit a City where you can see one of three remaining copies of the Magna Carta (dating back to 1215) and the Charter of the Forest (1217), explore the Roman remains and even visit the newly opened Bomber Command Centre where you’ll find a tribute to all the men and women from 60 Nations who were part of the World War II Bomber Command. The cathedral, built in 1092, originally had a spire. It was rebuilt after a freak earthquake and for 238 years it was the tallest man-made building in the world, until the spire collapsed again in 1549. Go sooner rather than later, before Lincoln is ‘discovered’. Right now, you’ll benefit from a City that isn’t overwhelmed with tourists.
Find Middle Earth In Middle England: Tolkien’s Shire In Birmingham
By Bernie Jackson from A Packed Life. You can read more about the Tolkien Trail in Birmingham here, and follow Bernie’s travels on Pinterest.
In England’s second city of more than a million people, you’ll be surprised to find an oasis of calm that’s a place of literary inspiration. When author J.R.R. Tolkien created the world of hobbits and The Shire, he looked no further than his own backyard. Today you can still see the Two Towers from Lord of the Rings, one the folly and former hunting lodge known as Perrott’s Folly, and the other part of Edgbaston Waterworks.
Head to Sarehole Mill, a mere four miles from the city centre, and you’ll find a working watermill which produces its own flour and bread. Tolkien came here, and also to Moseley Bog, a serene nature reserve in the heart of the city. Cross the road from the mill and you’ll find yourself in The Shire Country Park. The path here meanders gently alongside the River Cole, surrounded by trees so tall they must surely be Ents. There’s an urge to discover just what’s around the next corner. Maybe there’s even a hobbit hole or two. Birmingham’s million inhabitants might just as well be on another planet.
The Best Cool or Unusual Things to Do In England
Have we worn you out yet? Are you full of essentially English experiences yet ready for more? There are so many fun, cool and unusual things to do in England that one article can’t do justice to them all. But if you’re wanting more, you can check out our take on England’s hidden gems, and see more of the charms that England has to offer in Cornwall’s land of myths and legends or Devon’s moors and coasts. Don’t forget to explore the essentially English follies too.
Enjoyed exploring England? Why not pin this for later?
21 thoughts on “25 Cool Or Unusual Things To Do In England: Essentially English Experiences”
I absolutely LOVE this post, thank you for featuring Digital Travel Guru’s post On Hampstead, enjoyed putting it together. The best thing about this post is I have made myself a little bucketlist of places to visit in UK from this post!! How amazing is that?. Sometimes I get so focused on travelling abroad, I forget all the beautiful and amazing places where I live. Enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions and the stunning photos.
The backyard is beautiful, isn’t it? I learned lots about Hampstead from you; that’s definitely on my list for my next London trip. Whoever thought there was so much still wild in London! And there are lots of other things I’m looking forward to seeing.
England is one of my favourite countries! These 25 things to do are now on my to-do list
I really enjoyed exploring with everyone. From beautiful coasts and countryside to cultural icons and chips, it’s all there. 🙂
Great list of things to do. So many things here I haven’t done yet. Been there quite a few times. Saving this for next time.
We were chatting about the ones left to see last night. I still have to catch The Mousetrap and the Major Oak. Punting in Cambridge would be the one remaining, but I wonder if I can stay on the bank, as I fell in when I tried punting in Oxford! 🙂
I got so hungry for fish and chips reading this post! I love that you included a lot of things further north in England, many people focus on London only. I have never tried the markets in London, I am a market fanatic now. I always say you learn a lot about a country from their market. So much food and culture to be seen
Absolutely agree about the markets – there are so many clues about the way people live there. And that fish and chips had the same effect on me – I had a massive craving all the time I was proofing and editing! I’m glad you enjoyed the grand tour; I really wanted this to represent all England has to offer.
As a forestry worker I was glad to see a forest in this post. I always say that some of the best hidden gems we have found were in a forest or jungle somewhere
There’s something mighty calming about a walk in the forest. I live near the edge of the original Forest of Arden, and there’s a lot to be said for the beauty of the oaks that have seen so much. (And I’m intrigued about what you’ve found in forests – with me it’s mainly bluebells, squirrels, or if I’m really lucky, a deer.)
Wonderful list! Some are familiar and on my bucket list but some I did not know about so I have saved for when we visit. Your photos are lovely too.
I’m deeply in awe of all those skilled photographers in the travel writing community. They’ve done us proud here.
I need to go back to London and explore more. You listed so many cool places I didn’t get a chance to visit.
England’s good at always leaving you wanting more! 🙂
i been here too “St James’ Royal Park”
i love England so much !! beautiful place with the good people !
St James’ Park is lovely, isn’t it? I remember going there after a really long meeting and just chilling out watching the birds for a couple of hours. It’s a little slice of chilled-outness.
I thought this list might be all things I had never heard of but I’m quite excited to see I have actually done some of them already!
You are therefore most definitely cool! I still have some left on my list, but every one of them I’ve done so far has been great fun. And I have a bit of a soft spot for lovely Paddington bear, always with a marmalade sarnie in hand.
This is an awesome list! I’ve managed to do 10 so far, but now I’m back in England for a month, maybe I can squish some more in 🙂
That sounds like a brilliant idea! Hope you’ve got plans. Or maybe you’ve found some extras for me to add to the list? 🙂
Haha, I will keep you posted on that 🙂