The UK is a stunning place to visit for a holiday, with a huge variety of tourism attractions, from cosmopolitan cities to rolling countryside, sensational coastlines to quaint country villages, so we’ve come up with our own list of top places to visit and see in the UK. The sights and experiences on offer differ wildly from region to region but there is always something for everyone, whether you’re in a big group of friends or celebrating a family occasion.
Our original blog on the 23 things to do and see in the UK before you die proved so popular that we’ve decided to update it with a few new ideas. We hope you enjoy the read and it inspires you to book a luxury holiday in one of our unique group accommodation properties around the UK.
Edinburgh is Scotland’s compact, hilly capital, boasting a medieval Old Town and elegant Georgian New Town with gardens and neoclassical buildings. We at House Parties have several wonderful holiday properties in Edinburgh for you to rent, whether you’re looking for group accommodation or a smaller property in Edinburgh’s New Town.
The city’s beauty is both staggering and inimitable. Edinburgh Castle is home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, used in the coronation of Scottish rulers. Arthur’s Seat is an imposing peak in Holyrood Park with sweeping views, and Calton Hill is topped with monuments and memorials. But what of its hidden gems?
Foodies who are willing to be daring should visit Aizle, where there is no traditional menu. Instead diners are presented with a list of potential ingredients and asked to cross off any they don’t like – your dinner is then created from this! If you’re looking for cocktails in Edinburgh, all (well, almost all) roads lead to The Lucky Liquor Co. Look out for the bright neon sign pointing to the entrance of this Queen Street bar. Lucky Liquor isn’t afraid to push the boat out with its flavour combinations and presentation so be prepared to be wowed. For larger group gatherings who may be coming together for a special 40th or 50th birthday party, for example, why not organise a surprise dinner at The Scottish Whisky Experience? Catering for parties of between 10 and 80 for a private dinner, what better way to celebrate during your weekend at one of our holiday properties in Edinburgh?
Indulge your inner childhood
For those with a more adventurous spirit, visit The Museum of Childhood. This is the first museum in the world dedicated to the history of childhood. Get rid of the iPads and instead indulge your memories in the little tin soldiers, trains, and spinning tops. See history from the mind of a child, and appreciate the impressive collection, which dates back several hundred years.
Staying with the children’s theme, Harry Potter fans can visit Nicolson’s Café, the place where J K Rowling, as a newly divorced single mother, wrote some of her first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Please note that Nicolson’s Café has long since closed. The location was turned into a Chinese buffet restaurant but has more recently been turned into a bistro named Spoon.
The Kyoto Friendship Garden is located in the grounds of 16th century Lauriston Castle in Cramond. Opened in 2002, it was created to celebrate the twinning of Edinburgh with Kyoto in Japan. The garden has blossom trees, calming water features and zen galore for those lucky enough to find it.
Scotland is all about tartan. The Tartan Weaving Mill occupies a building which used to be a reservoir. With five storeys to explore, the exhibition runs you through the entire process involved in tartan production and visitors can be fitted for full Highland dress.
House Parties have several unique group accommodation holiday homes to rent in Yorkshire, the biggest county in England. For outdoor enthusiasts, Malham Tarn Estates is a must. This outstanding area of limestone pavements, upland hill farms and hay meadows provides a wonderful setting for outdoor pursuits such as walking, cycling or simply enjoying the great outdoors.
Then, there’s always Bolton Abbey. On the banks of the river Wharfe in the Yorkshire Dales, this country estate is the Yorkshire home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Visitors are drawn to the breath-taking countryside and impeccably well-maintained site. The surfaced paths along the riverside and through the ancient woodlands, offer walks to suit all ages and abilities, all year round. Visitors are invited to explore the Priory Ruins which stands proudly on the banks of the Wharfe and discover how it might have been in the thriving Priory Church. This is one of our favourite places in the Dales and should definitely make your list of places to see in England before you die.
The Yorkshire Dales are one of the best places in the UK to enjoy stargazing, with four designated Dark Sky Discovery Sites where you could see as many as 2,000 stars on a clear night. You might even catch a glimpse of the Milky Way, and if the conditions are right the Northern Lights. See more about how to go stargazing in Yorkshire.
THE CITY OF YORK
If you’re on a group or family holiday in York, why not try the York Maze for an exciting adventure? Billed as Europe’s largest maze, it promises a family fun-filled day out.
If you’re staying at one of our York properties and are looking for somewhere special to host a celebration dinner, why not try The Countess of York, a restored railway carriage situated in the South Gardens between Great Hall and Station Hall at The York Railway Museum. According to the website, the opulent vintage décor and elegant furniture promises a wonderful private dining experience for 12-24 guests and is a lovely place to host a wedding dinner or milestone birthday, or to celebrate an anniversary or retirement.
York Chocolate Story – York is the home of chocolate in the UK (you learn something new every day!). Apparently, this wonderful tradition continues to this day and there are echoes of this sweet past all over the city. Wonderful if you’re taking an Easter break in the city but, if you’re there for a special 40th or 50th birthday celebration, they also do private dining experiences.
The Golden Fleece is said to be York’s most haunted pub. Built in 1503, it is not only one of the oldest pubs in York but also has a reported 15 resident ghosts! The most talked about is Lady Alice Peckett, wife to John who used to be the Major of York and also the owner of this pub. Many guests have reported seeing Alice wandering the corridors.
Another wonderful sounding experience for foodies in York. The Grand is a well-known landmark in the city and offers speciality cooking courses where you can choose from a selection of express, half and full-day courses which will not only be fun but will help to enhance your skills in the kitchen. Let the chefs guide you to culinary heaven. Perfect for an activity on a hen party weekend.
Brighton is a quintessential English seaside resort town, also known for its nightlife, attracting many hen and stag parties, arts scene, shopping and festivals. Also known for its culture, diversity and eccentricity, there are many historical and modern attractions within Brighton and Hove, but it may not come as any surprise that there are some more unusual things to do.
Take three hours out of your holiday to enjoy Chocolate Chuckles, the ultimate endorphin combination of Laughter Gym and a Love Chocolate Making Workshop. Billed as the cross between a stress busting, energy boosting laughter yoga session and an indulgent, educational and playful journey through chocolate, what more could you ask for on a weekend away in Brighton?!
For those looking for an even more unique experience (can you get such a thing?), try out the Bewilder Box Escape Room Experience. Bewilder Box escape rooms are puzzle-based adventure games in which you and your team race against the clock to complete challenges, whilst taking part in a tantalisingly silly and immersive story. Apparently ideal for families, friends, stag/hen parties and team building..
Fancy a wood-fired sauna spa right on the beach? Beach Box Brighton comes highly recommended – this is an all year round, wood-fired public beach sauna, set up on a secluded area of Brighton beach, and including a wood-fired sauna, changing area and showers, cold showers/buckets and chill-out area. Perfect for those morning-after mornings on a hen weekend!
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles, located in Scotland. Standing at 1,345 metres (4,411 ft) above sea level, it is located at the western end of the Grampian Mountains in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William. There are a range of walks on offer, depending on experience. Fort William is known as the “Outdoor Capital of Scotland” but, if conquering the UK’s highest mountain isn’t at the top of your bucket list, there are other ways to enjoy magnificent mountain scenery.
The Fort William Treasure Trail is a fun and imaginative way to explore. Try the Fort William Treasure Trail, a two-mile walking route which takes around two hours to complete. The task is to follow the sneaky clues based on interesting and quirky permanent features – all you have to do is try and solve the puzzle.
A visit to Scotland wouldn’t be the same without a Whisky Distillery tour. With over 120 whisky active distilleries spread around Scotland, where a whisky is made can have a huge bearing on its flavour. Check out Scotland’s Whisky Map to see what tours are near your group accommodation.
Taking a train journey around Scotland is one of the best ways of seeing the magnificent vistas the country has to offer. There are overnight journeys which take you deep into the Highlands or you can do a quick round trip perfect for kids – try The Kyle Line which leads through charming Highland villages such as Achnasheen and Plockton before arriving in Kyle of Lochalsh, taking just two and a half hours.
When in Aberdeenshire, do as the locals do and think the sea. Footdee (‘Fittie’ as it is pronounced locally) is a quaint former fishing village tucked away off the main tourist route.
Today, it’s a vibrant area with an eclectic mix of cottages and other buildings and regarded as one of the most unique communities in the UK.
Fresh seafood is still a local speciality here, so why not try out the menus at Moon Fish Café? or for dining with a sea view try Silver Darling, they also have a private dining room seating up to 14 guests.