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Lock Shiel in the Scottish highlands on a bright, sunny day, with the Glenfinnan Monument in the foreground and mountains on the left and right of the loch
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 35 best things to do in the UK

World-famous landmarks, incredible music festivals and some unexpected gems: this is our pick of the best things to do in the UK right now.

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The United Kingdom is a glorious destination, and the four countries that constitute our island nation all bring something to the table. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are all stunning places to visit in their own right, with fantastic museums and galleries, buzzing music scenes, incredible scenery and intriguing histories. 

Whatever kind of trip you’re planning next, our round-up should have you covered. We've got all the world-renowned stuff as well as some more under the radar things to get up to. Happy travels!

RECOMMENDED:
🧙 The most mystical places in the UK
🏰 The best castles in the UK
🏖️ The best seaside towns in the UK
👀 The best new things to do in the UK 2024

Best things to do in the UK

Bristol's cultural scene is just as exciting as London’s, but it’s still only a short coach journey away; it has picture-perfect streets and bustling, diverse nightlife. And in 2024, its arts offering is only getting better. There's DIASPORA!, Undershed, a new immersive gallery on track to launch in Spring, Boxhall – a street food, beer and events space by the same people who behind London’s Boxpark – and Bristol’s newest music festival, Forwards, which is being headlined by Loyle Carner and LCD Soundsystem. 

Discover the best places to visit in the UK in 2024

Festivals don’t get much more famous than Glastonbury. The UK’s biggest music festival takes over a chunk of Somerset countryside most summers with mud, music, mischief, hippies and healing. It’s difficult to convey quite how vast Glasto is, with whole worlds of activity taking place beyond the stages as well as an awe-inspiring musical line-up ranging from pop to reggae to rock to dubstep to metal to folk to techno. If you’re lucky enough to bag a ticket, bring an open mind, a sense of humour and a jumbo pack of baby wipes.

Discover our full guide to Glastonbury Festival 2024

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Lace up your walking boots to take on Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in mainland Britain, at 1,345 metres above sea level. There are two main routes up – the Mountain Track, which is used by most walkers or Carn Mor Dearg Arête, a more challenging ascent for experienced scramblers and hill walkers which can take more than ten hours to complete. If you really love heights, consider taking on the National Three Peaks Challenge. Plan your own or join an organised event to climb Snowden, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis, the highest mountains in Wales, England and Scotland, usually within 24 hours.

Discover the best hikes in the UK

Notting Hill Carnival – the annual celebration of London’s Caribbean community, its culture and traditions – is Europe’s biggest street party. It takes place every August bank holiday weekend on the roads around west London, transforming the area into one huge, packed, pulsating party. The carnival, which runs over two days (Sunday is family day), features a colourful parade, fantastic live music, thumping sound systems, soca floats, steel bands and a whole lot of delicious Caribbean food.

Discover our full guide to Notting Hill Carnival

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The Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland is a geological marvel. The dramatic coastal feature, made up of 40,000 basalt stone columns, has attracted visitors for centuries, but it became Northern Ireland’s first and only Unesco World Heritage Site in the 1980s and now also boasts a great visitor centre thanks to the National Trust. There are no museum ropes holding you back here. Wander over the shiny stones, sit on the Wishing Chair – a natural throne polished by thousands of bottoms – look out for rock formations the Camel and the Giant’s Boot. The result of volcanic eruptions over 60 million years ago or the remains of a pathway built by a giant? You decide.

Discover the best things to do in Northern Ireland

When it comes to literary tourism, Hay-on-Wye is a real bucket list spot. It proudly proclaims to be the world’s first ever book town and is famed for its annual book festival that has attracted the likes of Hillary Clinton, Dua Lipa and Stormzy. With over 30 bookstores, this is a bibliophobes mecca. If you had to go to just one, make it Richard Booth's – a three-storey emporium of new and used books spread over three glorious floors.  

Discover the best things to do in Wales

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The UK might be small but its countryside is mighty and incredibly diverse, from rolling green hills and ancient woodland to impressive mountain peaks, idyllic lakes and rugged moors. To see all the different kinds of landscapes the UK calls its own, take a tour of the UK’s 15 national parks, from the flat Norfolk Broads and the wilds of Exmoor to the high drama of the Lake District and Snowdonia and the internationally recognised dark skies of Northumberland.

Discover the most beautiful national parks in the UK

The world-famous prehistoric stone circle on Salisbury Plain attracts millions of visitors a year, but its popularity doesn’t detract from its intrigue. Were these imposing standing stones – bluestone from more than 150 miles away in Wales – a celestial calendar, a burial ground or a site for sacrifice? Was it built by Merlin the wizard and a band of giants? Are its origins supernatural, or even extraterrestrial? Or just an incredible feat of human will? Visit to figure out what you think the true story of the monument is.

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Get a ticket to ride around the city The Beatles called home. Liverpool is the place the Fab Four met and started performing. Learn about their incredible musical career at The Beatles Story before visiting Mendips and 20 Forthlin Road, the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, now managed by the National Trust. Finish off your visit with a night out at the rebuilt Cavern Club which sits near where The Beatles first started to play in the early ’60s.

Discover the best things to do in Liverpool

It may not have the white hot sands of Miami, but Cornwall is one of the best surfing destinations in the world (and we're not just being biased). And Fistral Beach in Newquay is widely thought of as the jewel in Britain's surfing crown. First timer or wave-riding veteran, this natural playground has opportunities for anyone to give surfing a go. The Cornish coast is also just really, really beautiful. 

Discover the best things to do in Cornwall

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