With the warmer months upon us, many of us may be planning a few summer day trips to make the most of the sunshine. And the good news is that when it comes to places to visit, the UK has a lot to offer.
To give you some ideas, we’ve put together a list of 20 popular places to visit for a day out in the UK. While it’d be impossible to cover everything, here you’ll find everything from adventure days in underground caves to exciting museums and outdoor activities, so hopefully there’s something to appeal to everyone.
1. Puzzlewood, Gloucestershire
Described as ‘the most magical forest on the face of the earth’, the ancient woodland of Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean is the perfect destination for anyone who loves being outdoors.
Rumoured to have inspired author JRR Tolkien in his works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, once you’ve arrived, you’ll understand why Puzzlewood is also such a popular film location. It’s featured in productions such as Merlin, The Secret Garden, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Visitors can enjoy a mile and a half of pathways through the trees and rocky gorges, and say hello to the range of animals that live there – including Highland cattle, donkeys, chickens, and ducks. If you wanted to, you could also download the free Puzzlewood app, which features two augmented reality games that you can play onsite, including an interactive Roman coin treasure hunt in the forest.
2. Discovery Point, Dundee
RRS Discovery is the legendary three-masted ship that British explorer, Captain Scott, and his team used to reach Antarctica (which they then explored on foot) in 1902. The ship remained there, frozen in ice, until 1904 when two relief ships arrived to free her and the expedition travelled home.
Following its expedition to Antarctica, RRS Discovery was used by sailors to explore the globe. It then became a research vessel and was used to train young Sea Scouts for many years.
Today, RRS Discovery is moored at the Discovery Point museum in Dundee – and visitors are able to climb aboard and learn about the ship’s fascinating history.
3. Alton Towers, Staffordshire
Set in 500 acres of beautiful countryside, Alton Towers is a popular theme park and waterpark resort. It’s the perfect destination for anyone looking for an adrenaline rush or to get in touch with their inner child.
With over 40 rides and attractions, Alton Towers is the UK’s biggest theme park and there’s a lot to explore here. In fact, many people find that one day simply isn’t enough. So, to make sure you have time for everything, why not consider turning your trip into a short break – either at the Alton Towers Resort itself or a nearby hotel?
Whether you decide to ride The Smiler (the rollercoaster with a world-record number of loops) or get soaked on one of the rapids, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
If Alton Towers is too far away, you might find an alternative closer to home on this list of theme parks in the UK.
4. Alnwick Castle, Northumberland
Dubbed ‘the Windsor of the North’, Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in the UK and had been the home of the Northumberland family for over 700 years.
While the castle’s fascinating history is one benefit, in more recent times, Alnwick has also served as a film set for various film and television productions, including Downton Abbey and Harry Potter.
Exciting bird of prey displays and medieval demonstrations are held at the castle, and you’ll also find plenty of information about which scenes of your favourite productions were filmed at Alnwick. So whether you like medieval history, modern television, or simply enjoy exploring magnificent buildings, Alnwick Castle offers a mix of everything.
5. OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory, County Tyrone
If you want to get lost in the stars, then you might want to consider taking a trip to OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory, located in Northern Ireland’s Davagh Forest.
Opened in April 2020, it’s one of only 78 areas in the world to be accredited as an International Dark Sky Park. This is because the area’s lack of light pollution means the night sky is dark enough to see the stars properly.
Visitors are welcome to visit any time during the night to stargaze – though if you’re visiting later, the park recommends staying close to the observatory building and car park.
There’s also plenty of archaeology to discover here if that’s more your thing, with standing stones, stone circles, and burial tombs also on site. With OM Dark Sky Park Exhibition guided tours, lunar observing sessions, and twilight river strolls as well, you won’t be stuck for choice.
6. The Centre for Computing History, Cambridge
The Centre for Computing History in Cambridge is unknown to many of us, but is a must visit for any computer history enthusiasts or for anyone simply wanting to learn something new.
Here, visitors can play around with old vintage monitors and marvel at the early game consoles and calculators that are on display. There are also interactive exhibitions and educational workshops, as well as various activities and events running.
7. Go Ape, Nationwide
If you’re looking for an action-packed outdoor activity that tests your fears, then look no further than Go Ape. This high ropes, zipline, and tarzan swing course is available across the country in a variety of exciting outdoor locations – including secret forests, stately homes, and urban jungles.
Go Ape has no upper age limit on their adventures and is built on the mantra that everyone should live adventurously, regardless of age.
So, if you’re ready to step outside of your comfort zone and have some fun, Go Ape will take you on a journey you won’t forget. And the best part is that, once completed, you’ll be handed a certificate to recognise your achievements, which you can hold onto as a keepsake.
8. Didcot Railway Centre, Oxfordshire
Didcot Railway Centre is a living museum of the Great Western Railway. Here, you can immerse yourself in the history and progression of locomotives, imagine yourself in the shoes of a train driver or fireman, and explore beautifully restored coaches from Victorian times to the 1940s.
Guests can enjoy unlimited rides on Great Western Railway heritage steam trains, some of which are 180 years old. Rides on heritage diesel trains are also available and the centre’s ‘discovery days’ allow visitors to explore the 21-acre museum at their leisure and enjoy the various exhibits up close.
Since some activities are only available on certain days of the week, it’s recommended that you plan your visit in advance to avoid disappointment.
9. The Wave, Bristol
If you’re hoping to try out some water sports this summer, why not head down to Bristol’s inland surf destination, The Wave?
Welcoming absolute beginners to pros, The Wave offers all its visitors the opportunity to experience surfing in a more secure and accessible environment. Even better, The Wave uses 100% sustainable energy to power their wavepool.
With various food options to choose from and beautiful surrounding nature, there’s plenty of opportunity to relax and spend quality time with loved ones while you’re here. Camping is also available on site for those who wish to extend their stay.
For a clearer idea of what to expect, why not check out our introduction to surfing?
Alternatively, if surfing isn’t for you, you could consider learning to ski or snowboard at Chill Factore in Manchester instead. This snow park features the UK’s longest indoor real snow slope, caters to all ages, and is a great destination for an active day out. You’ll find more information on how to book the Chill Factore on their website.
10. Limitless Adventure Centre, County Londonderry
Thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies will love the range of experiences on offer at Limitless Adventure Centre in County Londonderry.
The centre has everything from hovercrafts, powerturn buggies, and archery, to laser tag, laser clay shooting, and football golf. Whether you come with family, friends, or work colleagues, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.
Plus, located a few miles off the Causeway Coastal Route and nearby the River Foyle, you can enjoy adventure and beautiful scenery all in one.
11. Silverstone Interactive Museum, Northamptonshire
If you’re a British motor-racing history enthusiast, then a trip to Silverstone Interactive Museum is well worth it. Having provided the stage for many remarkable Formula 1 moments, there’s much to explore and uncover at Silverstone.
The relaunched Silverstone museum is packed with interactive shows and displays of unique racing cars and memorabilia from over 70 years of motorsport. And if you’d like to see what it’s like to sit behind the wheel yourself, consider finishing your tour with the simulator experience.
12. Visit a festival
If you think festivals are a place only for teenagers and young adults, think again. Today, festivals are wide-ranging and broad; focusing on everything from music and food, to arts, culture, and animals. So whether you fancy dancing among the crowds to live music, discovering great food, or trying a new activity – there’s a festival for everyone.
Festivals are the perfect place to get away from everything and make special memories with loved ones. And while many offer full weekend tickets, you can choose to book just for a day if you’d prefer.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer something a bit more low-key, why not consider one of these 20 British festivals you’ll never have heard of listed by The Guardian? You’ll find everything from festivals specialising in country music, to those capped at 500 people, and alcohol-free festivals.
13. Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness, Inverness-shire
Set in Scotland’s dramatic Highlands with views over the legendary Loch Ness lies the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Steeped in medieval history, visitors can climb the Grant Tower, explore the castle’s prison cell, stand in wonder at the Great Hall, and discover the castle’s impressive collection of artefacts.
Though, if history isn’t your thing, don’t worry, you’ll be free to enjoy the views of the castle ruins with the stunning backdrop of Loch Ness and hills of Great Glen from the cafe.
Containing more water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined, Loch Ness is the UK’s most voluminous lake, and there’s plenty to do here. Plus, we’re all familiar with the tales of the Loch Ness monster, which have spanned the world since the first photograph appeared in 1933!
Whether you simply want to walk around and take in the Loch’s scenery, or prefer to take a canoe or fishing trip from the water itself, this list of 9 hidden gems you mustn’t miss around Loch Ness from Visit Scotland should give you some ideas.
14. Longleat Safari Park, Somerset
More of a safari experience than a regular zoo, Longleat was the first place in the world to offer safaris outside of Africa. Many of the animals roam freely here and there are plenty of exciting opportunities to get up close and personal with them.
One of Longleat’s most famous attractions is the drive-through safari where you can explore the park either in your own car or one of the park’s vehicles – driving past deer, monkeys, wolves, lions, tigers, cheetahs, rhinos, and much more.
Alternatively, there’s also a jungle cruise where you can float along in a river boat and spot everything from gorillas to hippos and sea lions.
If you fancy an animal-themed day out but Longleat is a bit far away for you, why not consider one of these 15 best zoos and wildlife parks in the UK from Travelness instead?
15. Prison Island, Belfast
Inspired by British game show ‘Crystal Maze’, Prison Island in Belfast is a fun day out for anyone seeking a bit of challenge and adventure.
With 25 different prison-themed challenge cells,you’ll need to work together in teams of two to four people to complete a mix of tactical, physical, and skill-based games in order to score as many points as possible. Each challenge lasts a maximum of five minutes and you can repeat as many times as you wish to.
Unique to Northern Ireland, Prison Island Belfast is a bit like an escape room, except players are free to leave cells at any point.
16. Ironbridge Gorge Museums, Shropshire
Named the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Ironbridge Gorge is a World Heritage Site with award-winning attractions.
Running 10 museums and multiple historic sites, you won’t run out of things to do here. Visitors can experience Victorian life at the recreated Victorian Town in the Blists Hill open-air museum, or marvel at the Iron Bridge and Tollhouse – an iconic symbol of the Industrial Revolution.
There’s plenty to do here, so if you’re finding it tricky to decide where to spend your time, you might want to check out this list of 10 fantastic museums in and around Ironbridge from Ironbridge Holidays. It provides useful information about what to expect at each museum.
17. Birdworld, Surrey
Birdworld in Farnham, Surrey, is home to over 2,000 birds, as well as many other animals from all over the world.
From parrots, to penguins, flamingos, and threatened species, Birdworld is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature and learn more about some of earth’s most wonderful creatures. The centre hosts regular displays, including an animal’s daily feeding tour, named the ‘Owl Prowl’.
Alternatively, Eagle Heights in Eynsford – one of the UK’s largest bird of prey centres – is another popular day out. If you’re not the biggest fan of birds, don’t worry – Eagle Heights has also become a wildlife sanctuary for a wide variety of animals, including meerkats, African servals, reptiles, and huskies.
18. Jorvik Viking Centre, York
For something a bit different, why not take a trip to the world-famous Jorvik Viking Centre in York? Here, you’ll be standing on the site of one of the most famous discoveries of modern archaeology.
Between 1976-81, archaeologists revealed the workshops, houses, and backyards of the Viking-age city of Jorvik as it stood almost 1,000 years ago.
Since then, the Jorvik Viking Centre has been built to create a one-of-a-kind visitor experience. With everything from a new ride experience that features the sights, sounds, and smells of the Viking age, and an art gallery of unique artefacts, guests can experience life as it would have been in York in the 10th century.
19. Titanic, Belfast
Titanic Belfast is a museum that opened in 2012 to share the famous ill-fated ship’s history with the public and has since become a world-leading visitor attraction.
If museums aren’t typically your thing, then Titanic Belfast might change your mind. Modern and chic even in its exterior features, the museum features special effects, full-scale reconstructions, and over nine interactive galleries.
Visitors also have the opportunity to climb abroad and explore the decks of SS Nomadic – Titanic’s tender and the world’s last remaining White Star vessel.
20. National Showcaves Centre for Wales, Swansea
If you’re seeking adventure, why not take a trip to explore the three different caves – Dan-yr-Ogof, Cathedral Cave, and Bone Cave – that are open to visitors at the National Showcaves Centre for Wales?
Created around 350 million years ago, these caves offer a unique underground experience and were recently voted as Britain’s Finest Natural Wonder. Visitors can walk through the beautifully decorated passageways carved out millions of years ago and, once you’ve completed the 1km cave trail, you’ll find yourself marvelling at the 40ft waterfalls which mark its end.
On site, there are also life-sized dinosaur models as well as an Iron Age village, museum, and stone circle.
With summer upon us, now’s the perfect time to start planning some fun trips to make the most of the warmer days. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing, as this article’s hopefully shown, the UK has so much to offer.