24 Must-Visit British Landmarks

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Written by our Web Team

20 min read | 28 June 2024

Embark on a journey through the British Isles, a treasure trove of history, culture, and heritage. Each corner of the UK boasts its own unique tapestry of stories, landmarks, and traditions.

In this guide, we will help you explore some of these most remarkable British landmarks. From the rolling hills of Scotland to the historic streets of London, discover must-visit sites that embody the essence of the UK.

Famous British landmarks

Many popular British landmarks are found in the historical cities of Britain, such as London, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Cardiff.

When visiting these cities, you can look forward to an array of captivating sights. From majestic castles and historic bridges to iconic monuments, the full breadth of British history will be on display.

London landmarks

Home to nine million people and 250 languages, London is one of the most enticing and exciting cities to visit in the world. Here you will find landmarks that aren’t just significant to British culture but are also considered iconic to the world.

It is a beautiful and enriching place to visit, eat, go out and be entertained. Top landmarks to visit include Big Ben, the London Eye, The Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

1. Tower Bridge 

Tower Bridge is over 130 years old and is one of London’s defining landmarks and tourist attractions. 

During your visit, you can explore its walkways and historic engine rooms. You can even walk along two high-level glass floors for panoramic views over the River Thames and beyond. 

It regularly hosts community events each year, like the Artist in Residence programme where this iconic landmark is captured from new artistic perspectives. 

There are also plenty of family activities for children, including the ‘Tower Bridge Cat Trail. Based on the award-winning children’s book, it offers various drop-in activities set up for young ones each week. 

  • Address: Tower Bridge Rd, London, SE1 2UP

  • Opening times: Tower Bridge is open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm, with the last entry at 5:00 pm. It is closed from the 24 to 26 December. On 1 January, Tower Bridge opens at 10:00 am.

  • Getting here: Tower Bridge is within a 10-minute walk from both the London Bridge and Fenchurch Street Stations. The nearest Tube station is Tower Hill which is a seven-minute walk away.

A wide-angle view of the neon-lit London Eye standing across from Westminster in the late evening.

2. The London Eye

The London Eye is an iconic feature of the London skyline. Standing at 135 metres tall, it provides a unique vantage point to observe London's historical and modern landmarks in one panoramic sweep.

Each rotation offers a leisurely, yet breathtaking, 30-minute journey above the capital. Whether you're capturing skyline photos or simply soaking in the views, it's an experience not to be missed.

  • Address: The Queen's Walk, Bishop's, London, SE1 7PB

  • Opening times: Open daily from 10:00 am but its closing times change across the year. Check their website for closing times and pre-book your tickets.

  • Getting here: Situated on the South Bank of the Thames, it's a short walk from several Tube stations, including Westminster and Waterloo.

Manchester landmarks

Manchester is a city that’s celebrated for its rich industrial heritage and vibrant cultural scene. Unsurprisingly, it offers an array of landmarks that reflect its dynamic history and modernity.

From cutting-edge media hubs to restored historic gems, Manchester's collection of landmarks is as diverse as the city itself.

3. MediaCityUK

MediaCityUK represents modern Manchester and its role in the evolution of British media. It also features many fun and engaging activities for visitors. 

Within MediaCityUK, there are two particularly compelling landmarks to visit, The Lowry Theatre and the Imperial War Museum. Between them, they offer a mix of artistic performances and historical exhibitions.

There’s also a diverse range of places to eat and drink here. From casual cafes to fine dining, there's something for everyone. A standout is 11 Central, a unique microbrewery and bar known for its creative cocktails and classic comfort food.

  • Address: MediaCityUK, Salford, M50 2EQ

  • Opening times: Public areas are open at all times. Specific venues have their own operating hours.

  • Getting here: MediaCityUK is connected to Manchester’s Metrolink tram service, with its own 'MediaCityUK' stop.

4. Victoria Baths

Victoria Baths is an iconic example of early 20th-century architecture that shows a unique part of Manchester’s history.

Once a bustling public bathhouse, it has been meticulously restored and now serves as a captivating venue for events and tours. Its ornate tiles, stained glass, and spacious pools offer a glimpse into the city's past leisure and social life.

  • Address: Hathersage Rd, Manchester, M13 0FE

  • Opening times: Open for guided tours and events but you will have to check their website for specific dates and times.

  • Getting here: Victoria Baths is accessible by bus from Manchester city centre or a 20 minute walk from Ardwick train station.

Cardiff landmarks

Cardiff, the bustling capital of Wales, is a melting pot of culture, history, and modernity. This city, with its unique blend of Welsh tradition and contemporary flair, is a must-visit destination.

The capital is well worth the visit and you can see some significant Welsh landmarks such as Cardiff Bay, Animal Wall and Flat Holm Island.

A view across the water of Cardiff Bay at twilight.

5. Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay, once a busy port, has transformed into a lively waterfront and is now a symbol of Cardiff's regeneration. 

As you stroll along the scenic quay, you'll encounter a variety of dining options and entertainment venues like the Wales Millennium Centre.

  • Address: Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF10

  • Opening times: The bay area is open all year round. Specific attractions have their own opening times.

  • Getting here: Cardiff Bay is easily accessible by train with a direct link from Cardiff Queen Street Station to Cardiff Bay Station.

6. Bute Park

In the heart of the city lies Bute Park, a sprawling green space offering a tranquil escape from Cardiff’s urban hustle and bustle. 

With its extensive walking paths, beautifully landscaped gardens, and the River Taff flowing through, the park is perfect for leisurely strolls or picnics.

  • Address: North Rd, Cardiff, CF10 3ER

  • Opening times: Open daily from 7:30 am to half an hour before sunset.

  • Getting here: The park is a short walk from Cardiff's city centre and is well-signposted.

Edinburgh landmarks

Steeped in artistic and literary history, Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh is a gothic, fairytale city. No visit would be complete without a walk along the historic Royal Mile or through the Royal Botanic Garden.

If you’re looking to get an aerial view of the city’s landmarks, you’ll want to take the walk up Carlton Hill. It reveals a spectacular view of the cityscape without the crowds of Edinburgh Castle.

7. The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is the iconic thoroughfare in Edinburgh. It joins two significant and historic buildings, The Palace of Holyrood and Edinburgh Castle. 

Running for one mile through the heart of the Old Town, a recognised UNESCO heritage site, it features many of the towering buildings that define the city’s unique skyline.

The Royal Mile is also dotted with restaurants and pubs. These offer a wide selection of cuisine for all tastes and a cosy atmosphere to enjoy and drink and soak in the local culture. 

  • Address: Edinburgh, EH1 1QS

  • Opening times: Public areas are open all the time but it’s best to visit during retail hours.

  • Getting here: The Royal Mile can be reached on foot from the main entrance at Edinburgh Waverley Station. It takes just over two minutes to walk.

8. The Royal Botanic Garden

Renowned for its scientific importance, the Royal Botanic Garden are home to one of the largest collections of living plants. It's a place of beauty and learning, inviting visitors to explore its lush greenhouses and diverse plant species.

It’s a perfect location for both gardening enthusiasts and those just seeking a peaceful stroll. Its meticulously maintained landscapes and gardens will provide you with a relaxing experience. 

The garden also hosts art and science events, highlighting the educational work it supports.

  • Address: Edinburgh, EH3 5NZ

  • Opening times: The Garden is open daily from 10:00 am but the time it closes and lets the last entrants in changes across the year.

  • Getting here: Easily accessible by bus from the city centre or a leisurely 20-minute walk from Edinburgh's New Town.

Buckingham Palace and the Victoria Memorial in the early evening.

Famous UK Historic Buildings

Britain’s architectural heritage is one of the many reasons to visit this country. Its landscape is dotted with an array of historical buildings that span centuries, each telling its own story of the past.

Exploring these architectural wonders provides a journey through time, showcasing the artistry, power, and evolution of British society.

Historic buildings in London 

London, steeped in history and tradition, boasts some of the world's most renowned historic buildings. These structures are not just architectural marvels but are also entwined with the nation's history and culture.

From the grandeur of royal residences to the pillars of democratic governance, each building tells a unique story of Britain's past and present.

9. Buckingham Palace

The royal residence of the British Monarch is situated in the heart of London and is synonymous with modern-day Royal celebrations. Buckingham Palace is truly an iconic British Building and it offers visitors a glimpse into the pageantry and history of the Royals.

A seasonal highlight is the opulent staterooms that open to the public in the summer months. Here you can view iconic artefacts, elegant furniture and historic art. It provides a captivating view of royal life and its legacy.

Buckingham Palace’s sprawling and beautifully landscaped gardens also offer a place to contemplate and relax away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

  • Address: London, SW1A 1AA

  • Opening times: Buckingham Palace State Rooms are open to the public from 9:30 am during the summer season, closing at 7:30 pm in July and August and at 6:30 pm in September. They are always closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

  • Getting here: The nearest train station is Victoria and the nearest tube station is St James’ Park, both are just a 10-minute walk away.

10. The Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament, also known as the Palace of Westminster, stands as a monumental piece of British history and politics. This iconic structure, with its striking Gothic Revival architecture, houses both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

One of its most famous features is Big Ben, which dominates the London skyline. Guided tours offer insights into the UK's political history and a chance to see the intricately designed interiors.

  • Address: London, SW1A 0AA

  • Opening times: Guided tours are available to the public on selected days. Check their official website for current availability and timings.

  • Getting here: Westminster Tube station is the nearest, offering easy access to the Houses of Parliament.

Historic buildings in Edinburgh

Edinburgh's landscape is defined by its historic buildings, each echoing Scotland's rich past. The city's architecture, from the commanding Edinburgh Castle to the stately Palace of Holyroodhouse, showcases Scotland's royal and political heritage. 

These landmarks are not just historical icons but also integral features of Edinburgh's modern cultural identity.

11. Edinburgh Castle

Offering spectacular views of Edinburgh and its surroundings, Edinburgh Castle takes you into Scotland’s captivating past.

Visitors can marvel at the Crown Jewels, discover the legendary Stone of Destiny, and wander through the atmospheric Great Hall. The castle is also home to the National War Museum, providing poignant insights into Scotland's military history. 

A highlight of the visit is the One O’Clock Gun, a tradition dating back to 1861, marking time with a daily ceremonial gunshot. This historic practice adds a unique touch to the already rich experience at Edinburgh Castle.

  • Address: The Esplanade, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG

  • Opening times: Open daily from 9:30 am but you’ll want to check the website for the closing and last entry times as they change across the year.

  • Getting here: The castle is a short distance away from Edinburgh Waverley and can be seen as soon as you leave the station.

12. The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Sitting at the end of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland and is closely associated with Scotland's turbulent past. 

Here, visitors can explore the state apartments, which feature an array of decorative art and furniture. The palace also hosts an array of special exhibitions and the Queen's Gallery, featuring works from the Royal Collection. 

The beautifully landscaped gardens also add to the allure of this historic site.

  • Address: Canongate, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH8 8DX

  • Opening times: Opens every day at 9:30 am, closing at 4:30 pm November to March and 6:00 pm April to October. It does close several days a year, so be sure to check their website ahead of time.

  • Getting here: A short walk from Edinburgh Waverley Station, situated at the opposite end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle.

Manchester Cathedral flanked by trees still in bloom on an autumn’s day.

Historic buildings in Manchester

Manchester, known for its Industrial Revolution roots, is also home to architectural marvels that narrate its historical journey.

These structures not only represent Manchester’s architectural heritage but also play a vital role in its contemporary cultural fabric. They are reflections of the city's evolution from an industrial powerhouse to a modern, dynamic metropolis.

13. Manchester Cathedral

The Manchester Cathedral, an embodiment of Gothic architecture, stands proudly on Victoria Street. Dating back centuries, it has witnessed both wars and renovations, all while maintaining its magnificence.

Highlights include Victorian stained glass and the 14 angel sculptures. Open for tours, the cathedral also features The Explorer Trail, an engaging way for families to learn about its history.

  • Address: Victoria St, Manchester, M3 1SX

  • Opening times: Open 9:30 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Saturday and 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Sunday, although these times can vary during special events.

  • Getting here: Located in the city centre, it’s easily reachable from various points in Manchester, including a short walk from Manchester Victoria Station.

14. Manchester Town Hall

Located in Albert Square, Manchester Town Hall is a masterpiece of Neo-Gothic design. Completed in 1877, it's known for its striking exterior and richly decorated interior, featuring marble figures and Manchester-related crests.

Visitors can explore its grandeur on guided tours and enjoy the many dining options around Albert Square.

  • Address: Albert Square, Manchester, M2 5DB

  • Opening times: Open every day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

  • Getting here: Situated in the heart of the city, it's easily accessible from many central locations, including a short walk from St Peter's Square tram stop.

Historic buildings in Cardiff

Cardiff is home to many historic buildings that reflect its long-standing heritage and distinct identity.

These landmarks, ranging from medieval fortresses to innovative open-air museums, offer visitors a unique glimpse into Welsh history and culture.

15. Cardiff Castle 

Cardiff Castle sits in the heart of the city, and is one of the most well-known historic buildings in Wales. Exploring the castle allows you to wander through beautiful apartments and chilling wartime air raid shelters.

You can even walk up the medieval keep to enjoy the views of the city. Guided tours can be taken that delve into its early history as a Roman settlement right up to the modern day with its use as a backdrop to TV shows like ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Torchwood’.

  • Address: Cardiff, CF10 3RB

  • Opening times: Open seven days a week, all year round excluding Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Opening times are 10 am Monday to Friday and 9 am Saturday and Sunday but closing times can vary depending on the time of year. Last entry is one hour before closing.

  • Getting here: Cardiff Castle is conveniently located, with both Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street stations within walking distance.

16. St. Fagans National Museum of History

St. Fagans National Museum of History, an open-air museum located to the west of Cardiff, showcases Welsh history through its costumed characters and traditional crafts.

The museum includes various original and reproduction buildings, offering tours and demonstrations of old machinery. Regarded as one of the UK's best tourist attractions, it provides a deep dive into Welsh cultural heritage.

  • Address: St Fagans, Cardiff, CF5 6XB

  • Opening times: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, including Bank Holiday Mondays.

  • Getting here: Located four miles west of Cardiff city centre, off the A4232. The nearest rail station is Waun-gron Park, which is just a Ten-minute taxi ride away.

Famous British monuments

British monuments stand as timeless symbols of the nation's history and cultural identity. These iconic sites, from the imposing Big Ben in London to the mystical Stonehenge in Wiltshire, each tell a story of Britain's rich past.

While also popular tourist attractions, these monuments offer insights into how the country was shaped.

A view of the Monument to the Great Fire of London through a series of office buildings.

Historic monuments of London

In London, historic monuments punctuate the cityscape, each representing key chapters in the city's and nation's history.

From the renowned Big Ben to the Monument to the Great Fire of London, these landmarks are central to understanding London's historical narrative. They offer a tangible connection to significant events and cultural shifts that have shaped both the city and Britain.

17. Big Ben

Big Ben towers over the London skyline, its infamous chimes marking the passing hours. It is a global icon, synonymous with London and a symbol of democracy.

Big Ben stands as one of the most visited landmarks in London and has appeared in countless books, TV, Film and Art. It is no wonder that it is the most photographed building in Britain.

  • Address: London, SW1A 0AA

  • Opening times: Ben Ben Tours can be taken up the 334-step spiral staircase of the Elizabeth Tower to the Great Bell, Big Ben but tours need to be booked months in advance of your visit. 

  • Getting here: Big Ben is situated by Westminster tube station. The Victoria, Charing Cross and Waterloo train stations are a 20-minute walk from Big Ben.

18. Monument to the Great Fire of London

The Monument to the Great Fire of London, commonly known simply as 'The Monument', stands as a lasting reminder of the catastrophic fire of 1666. This towering stone column, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, is located near the starting point of the fire.

Visitors can climb the 311 steps to the top for panoramic views of the city. The Monument commemorates the rebuilding of the city and is an enduring symbol of resilience and renewal.

  • Address: Fish St Hill, Bridge, London, EC3R 8AH

  • Opening times: Open daily from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. This is sometimes closed for certain occasions, so check the website before visiting.

  • Getting here: The nearest Tube station is Monument, aptly named after this historical structure. It is also within walking distance from Bank and London Bridge stations.

Historic monuments of Edinburgh

Edinburgh's monuments, like the Scott Monument and Greyfriars Kirkyard, are key highlights of the city's rich history. 

These landmarks offer a glimpse into Edinburgh's literary heritage and its historical narratives, bringing to life the stories and characters that have shaped the city.

19. The Scott Monument

The Scott Monument, dedicated to Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, is a striking feature of Edinburgh’s cityscape.

This gothic spire, one of the tallest in the world for a writer, stands in Princes Street Gardens, offering unique views of Edinburgh Castle. Visitors can climb the 287 steps to learn about Scott’s work and enjoy vistas from the viewing platform.

  • Address: Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2EJ

  • Opening times: Open daily from 10:00 am. Last tour at 3:30 pm. Closed for lunch between 12:30 pm and 1:45 pm.

  • Getting here: Easily accessible on foot in the city centre, near Waverley Station, and well-served by buses and trams along Princes Street.

20. Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard, nestled in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town, is renowned for its historical and cultural significance. With its 400 years of history, it offers a serene and reflective space amidst the city.

This storied graveyard is not only the resting place of notable historical figures but also the site that inspired elements of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, including the grave of Tom Marvolo Riddle. 

It's also famous for the touching tale of Greyfriars Bobby, the loyal dog who guarded his owner's grave for years.

  • Address: Greyfriars Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2QQ

  • Opening times: Accessible 24 hours a day.

  • Getting here: Conveniently located in the city centre, it’s just an 11-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley.

Historic monuments of Manchester

Manchester is also home to several significant monuments. These landmarks celebrate key historical figures and events that have not only shaped Manchester but have had a profound impact on the world.

From the Alan Turing Memorial, honouring a pioneer of computing, to the Monument to Frederic Chopin, a nod to the city's cultural ties, these sites offer a unique glimpse into Manchester's diverse legacy.

21. Alan Turing Memorial

The Alan Turing Memorial, located in Manchester's Sackville Park, pays tribute to Alan Turing, a key figure in the development of computer science and artificial intelligence. Turing, a Manchester University alumnus, is also remembered for his role in breaking the Enigma code during World War II.

This poignant sculpture of Turing holding an apple, a symbol of his tragic end, is a must-visit to reflect on the life and contributions of this remarkable individual.

  • Address: Sackville Park, Manchester, M1 3HB

  • Opening times: The memorial is accessible year-round in Sackville Park.

  • Getting here: The memorial is a short walk from Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road train stations.

H4: 22. Monument to Frederic Chopin

The Monument to Frederic Chopin, located in Deansgate, celebrates the famous composer's visit to Manchester in 1848. 

This sculpture commemorates Chopin's contribution to classical music and also highlights Manchester's historical connection to prominent cultural figures.

The monument, a popular spot for music lovers and history enthusiasts, captures the city's appreciation for artistic heritage.

  • Address: Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3WR

  • Opening times: The monument is publicly accessible throughout the year.

  • Getting here: The monument is located near Manchester Victoria station, within walking distance.

Historic monuments of Cardiff

Cardiff, the vibrant capital of Wales, is not only celebrated for its stunning natural landscapes but also for its rich tapestry of historic monuments.

These landmarks, ranging from the iconic Water Tower to the unique Animal Wall, capture the city's historical evolution and architectural diversity. They serve as a window into Cardiff's past, from its Victorian-era opulence to its modern-day cultural significance.

23. Water Tower

The Water Tower, situated at the entrance of Cardiff Bay, is an emblematic structure of the city's modern redevelopment. 

This striking piece of contemporary architecture, with its constant stream of cascading water, has become a symbol of Cardiff's rejuvenation and forward-thinking attitude.

This landmark is especially captivating when illuminated at night, offering a mesmerising spectacle and a perfect photo opportunity for visitors.

  • Address: Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff, CF10 5BZ

  • Opening times: The Water Tower is viewable at any time, with special lighting effects visible after dark.

  • Getting here: The Water Tower is a short walk from Cardiff Bay Station.

24. Animal Wall

The Animal Wall is a unique and whimsical feature, located adjacent to Cardiff Castle. Created in the late 19th century, this wall features a series of sculpted animals, from lions to anteaters, peeking out as if guarding the castle grounds.

This charming attraction reflects the Victorian era's fascination with the natural world and adds a touch of whimsy to the historic landscape of Cardiff.

  • Address: Castle St, Cardiff, CF10 1BJ

  • Opening times: The Animal Wall is available all day, all year round.

  • Getting here: The wall is easily accessible from Cardiff Central train station, just a short walk away.

A steam train travelling through the Highlands on the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Exploring British history by train

Britain’s historic monuments, buildings and landmarks can be easily discovered by rail. Using Avanti’s convenient train routes means you can effortlessly plan a journey to visit any one of these landmarks, buildings or monuments. 

To potentially save up to 75% on your fare, be sure to grab one of our Advanced Tickets. We release these up to 12 weeks before departure, so you’ll want to sign up for our Priority Ticket Alerts to guarantee your chances of securing one.

Savings can also be found by getting a Railcard. From Senior Railcards, 16-25 Railcards and Family Railcards, find out if you can qualify to receive an additional third off your rail travel.

Finally, for convenience and peace of mind, the Avanti West Coast app is a dependable digital companion. Available on both iOS and Android, use it to book tickets, change your itinerary and receive instant travel updates.

Buy train tickets for your next journey

Buying through our website or app saves you money because we never charge booking fees.

To take a look at more ways to save including using a Railcard, booking in advance, and booking as a group, visit our ways to save page.

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