The Best Places To Visit In The UK And Ireland - Travel Guide

Updated: May 1, 2021

It was said that the first places to open up to visit would be local, followed by regional travel, long haul estimated to be the farthest into the future. Like many, I will be relieved to get out and explore. I may travel a lot internationally but at least once a year, we have also taken a staycation. These have included some of the pristine small Scottish Islands, to travelling by car to the furthest southern English coast of Cornwall and staying at Lizard Peninsula. Here are some of the best places to visit in the UK from John O'groats to Land's End.

Land's End, Cornwall, UK ©MDHarding

The Best Places To Visit In The UK - Travel Guide

Recently I wrote a travel guide on everything you need to know about Scotland, including the Scottish Islands, Highlands and much more. You can catch it again here: Highlands To The Islands - Scotland.

England, Wales and Ireland have lots to explore too from landmark attractions, historical sites and also the delights to experience from making or tasting a traditional Irish cream coffee, Welsh Cake or going the whole hog with a Sunday lunch. Yum!

Irish Coffee ©MDHarding

Travelling South From Scotland

The first place over the border and most accessible by public transport is Berwick Upon Tweed (not to be confused with North Berwick located in Scotland). Only 40 minutes by train from Edinburgh, the historical town located in the region of Northumberland is filled with character from the Berwick Castle to the Royal Border Bridge. It was once the chosen getaway destination for artist LS Lowry. There is something for all the family to enjoy from following the coastal paths, Lowry Trail, visiting Cocklaw Beach, walking along the Elizabethan Walls or Andy Howey's Birds of Prey Centre. My favourite is the 18th-century Palladian Country House - Paxton House. With its beautiful woodland and landscaped gardens. There are also house and boat tours, with a cafe on-site to rest before enjoying scheduled activities or a stroll through the gardens, with a permanent sculpture trail - Entrances. You might also be lucky to see a Highland Coo or two.

Paxton House, Paxton, Berwick Upon Tweed ©MDHarding

On the other side of the coast in the region of Dumfries and Galloway is the town of Gretna, located in Scotland but very close to the English border. Traditionally associated with eloping English couples because of the more liberal marriage provisions in Scots law compared to English law. Read more about Gretna and Touring The South West 300 here.

There are also places in the middle between both the East and West coast, you might like to visit if travelling by car down the A68. I've travelled all three main routes by car from Scotland South, taken the train and also by bus straight between London and Edinburgh. Sad to say I've never stopped on the A68 but continued on to Bradford. Did you know Bradford has one of the countries dedicated photography, film and television museums? Opening in 1983, it was also home to the first IMAX cinema and the largest screen in the UK.

Which route will you follow east or west?

Here are a few suggestions from the East Coast to the West Coast and in-between:

Lindisfarne Holy Island

Holy Island or also known as Lindisfarne is located in the county of Northumberland on the east coast of the UK, only a short distance drive from the Scottish Border.  The tidal island has a history dating back to the 6th century and Christianity.  The remote island was an ideal base for the monks that used to live there.  Today you can visit this small charming island measuring 3 miles (4.8 km) from east to west and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from north to south. Visiting Lindisfarne Holy Island should be included on any self-drive holiday to Northumberland, with its abundance of history, delicious food and not to be missed, Mead!

Read more on what you need to know about visiting Lindisfarne Holy Island.

Lindisfarne Holy Island ©MDHarding


The coastal town of Bamburgh in the heart of Northumberland is famous for its castle which was used during the filming of Downtown Abbey, Harry Potter and also Robin Hood. It was the seat of the former kings of Northumbria and for its association with the Victorian era heroine Grace Darling, who is buried there. Don't miss the beautiful coastal walks and rolling sand dunes. It's also been voted as the best seaside destination in the UK (2021!

Bamburgh Sand Dunes ©MDHarding


The market town of Alnwick dates back to the 7th century, sitting on a hill surrounded by its own protective wall. The castle famous for being filmed in Harry Potter as Hogwarts, today you can visit the home of the Duchess of Northumberland. The multi-award-winning attraction has incredible gardens filled with season interest and also for children a potion garden. Throughout the year there are also Harry potter inspired events, such as the dragon quest. I love visiting throughout the year, the cherry blossom trees in spring are spectacular but my other favourite time is autumn with the colourful foliage and eating fresh local produce in the treehouse restaurant (book ahead to avoid disappointment).

Did you know you can also visit on a day trip from Edinburgh?