World Heritage Sites in Britain

There is no shortage of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Britain. Explore some of the 32 sites from natural beauty spots like the Dorset and East Devon Coast to cultural riches such as the Tower of London and mysterious marvels like Stonehenge.

 

London

England's capital has some of the most emblematic sites in the world, many of which are protected by World Heritage status. Step back in time at William the Conqueror's imposing Tower of London and see the Crown Jewels. Be sure to talk to one of the Tower's guards, known as Beefeaters, for a fascinating history lesson including the importance of the ravens that reside there!

Discover Westminster Abbey, not only has it been the setting for every Coronation since 1066, it is also the burial place of scores of great Britons from Charles Darwin to Charles Dickens. Go to Maritime Greenwich, home of Christopher Wren's baroque masterpiece, the Old Royal Naval College, and the Cutty Sark - the world's last surviving tea clipper ship.

And if all that history proves a little exhausting, head west and recharge your batteries at the Kew Gardens. This 18th century Royal Botanical garden is home to 300 acres of enchanting greenery, ancient trees, palm houses and even a treetop walkway.

Tower of London
Tower of London, London © VisitBritain / Andrew Pickett
 

England

To witness thousands of years of history and architecture, explore the great cathedrals of Durham and Canterbury and the largest monastic ruin in Britain, Fountains Abbey.

Follow in the footsteps of Roman invaders, and take a trip to Hadrian's Wall which Romans started constructing in the year 122. If you're interested in our industrial heritage don't miss Derwent Valley Mills, Saltaire, Ironbridge or the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape where mining technologies spread across the world.

If you want to explore one of the world's biggest and oldest mysteries, head to Stonehenge, the most famous megalithic (literally meaning ‘big stone’) monument in the world. Dating back an amazing 50,000 years, it’s drawn visitors for millennia.

Stonehenge
Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England © VisitBritain / Richard Allen

 

Visit the City of Bath, where novelist Jane Austen once lived, to see its ancient Roman Baths, the elegant Pulteney Bridge, gorgeous Georgian architecture, and Bath Abbey. Not far from here, near Oxford, is the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace. It's a perfectly preserved 18th-century stately home set in a 2,100-acre park landscaped by Capability Brown and has been used as a filming location for some of your favourite movies!

Further north, Liverpool is recognized as a ‘supreme example’ of a Maritime Mercantile City and it's here where you can see the towering Liver Building, the Albert Dock and take a ferry across the Mersey river.

Elsewhere, the Dorset and East Devon Coast, also known as the Jurassic Coast was the first ever site to be inscribed as a 'natural' World Heritage Site. It spans 95 miles of dramatic coastline that's exposed to provide an almost continuous geological 'walk through time' spanning 185 million years of the Earth's history.

Durdle Door, an eroded rock arch off the Jurassic Coast National Park
Durdle Door, an eroded rock arch off the Jurassic Coast National Park, Dorset, England © VisitBritain / Adam Burton
 

Scotland

Any trip to Scotland must include a visit to Edinburgh, the Scottish capital. The Old Town, topped by Edinburgh Castle, oozes history and a stroll along its cobbled streets and dark alleyways is an easy way to imagine what life was like hundreds of years ago. The Georgian New Town is equally evocative with its graceful crescents, squares and terraces.

Just a few miles outside the city you’ll find the remarkable Forth Bridge, linking Edinburgh with Fife. Opened in 1890, it’s the world’s oldest cantilever bridge and remains one of the longest of its kind, spanning an impressive 2,529 metres.

West of Edinburgh is New Lanark, a beautifully restored 18th-century cotton mill village set in the stunning Scottish countryside. Further north is Orkney, a group of islands in Northeast Scotland, home to prehistoric monuments that predate the Egyptian pyramids.

St. Kilda, in Scotland's famous Outer Hebrides is one of only 24 locations in the world to be awarded World Heritage Status for both natural and cultural significance. Uninhabited since 1930, St. Kilda bears the evidence of more than 2,000 years of human occupation and is the most important seabird breeding station in north-west Europe, and is home to the largest colony of puffins in the UK!

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland © VisitBritain / Andrew Pickett

 

Wales

In the land of more than 600 castles, Harlech, Conwy, Caernarfon and Beaumaris stand out for their sheer scale and sophistication. Well-preserved, atmospheric and enormous, they represent the pinnacle of medieval military architecture.

More recent, but no less impressive, is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain. Towering 126ft above the River Dee, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a 200-year-old engineering marvel. It looks fantastic from a distance but walking or travelling by canal boat over the top is truly exhilarating.

Not far from the Welsh capital Cardiff is Blaenavon, an area shaped by the coal and iron industries. It highlights the importance of South Wales in the world's production of coal and iron in the 19th century. You can get a feel for life at the coalface on a subterranean tour of the Big Pit National Coal Museum.

Conwy Castle
Conwy Castle, Conwy, Wales © VisitBritain / David Angel
 

Northern Ireland

The Giant's Causeway lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs along the rugged Antrim coast of Northern Ireland. This intriguing rock formation is made up of some 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out of the sea and has been shrouded in myth and legend for centuries. See the amazing views of the wild North Atlantic Ocean and try to come up with your own theory of how these columns came to be!

Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway, Antrim, Northern Ireland © VisitBritain / Craig Easton

 

You can find out more about Britain’s World Heritage Sites on the UNESCO website.

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