Updated on January 28, 2023 by Axel Hernborg

Axel Hernborg

When it comes to traveling around the UK, you’ll be surprised just how much variety you’ll be able to find to do in this corner of Europe, even just in England alone.

There’s a long-running joke among many people in the British Isles that how much non-British people know about a place in Britain directly correlates to how close or far away it is from London.

The further it is, the more likely it is that people will have heard little to nothing about it.

(Many of the British people reading this will have no doubt heard the immortal phrase ‘is that near London’ when asked about the town they live in on the complete opposite end of the country.)

And while it can be quite funny from time to time to consider just how much of another country we know about besides its capital, it’s also a massive shame, especially for people who love to travel.

There’s so much of England that is unexplored by tourists and travelers, much less the whole UK.

Well, we’re here to change that!

In this guide we have put together, we have compiled the best things to see in the various regions across England, showing off the best that these regions have to offer a traveler.

We have also put together a potential itinerary plan that you can use to help roughly plan out your stay while in England, putting that knowledge to some practical use!

London

Of course, we had to start this guide with arguably THE place to go in England. Because, while there’s plenty to do across the whole of England, London.

You’ve got tons of stuff to explore in the City of Westminster and London, from historical landmarks such as the Tower of London where the crown jewels are kept and guarded, to the dozens of markets that you can find littered around the city, such as Borough Market that can be found on the South Bank, to Camden market in… well, Camden!

Add to that a ton of museums and theaters that you’ll find across the city, and it is no wonder why some people will only visit London in their travels to England. There’s so much there!

Even the Greater London area has tons of stuff to explore, from snack-sized portions of the English countryside to attractions like Harry Potter world near Watford.

East England

However, once you start to move out of the greater London area, you’ll soon start to realize that there’s so much more to explore in this part of the British Isles.

Also often known as East Anglia after its historical name, East England is the flattest region of the country, which lent itself to a rich history of agriculture and rolling fields, as well as the many rivers and coastlines along the North Sea lending this part of the country a strong fishing tradition too (see more about UK rivers here).

This is the part of the country where you’ll find many historical cities and towns, such as Cambridge and St. Albans, which may not be as big as the other cities and towns around England, but have a rich history all of their own.

This is the place to go if you’re looking to learn more about the wider history of England as a whole, as well as going to the eastern coast for some great fishing opportunities!

South West

If you’re looking to experience the more rural, smaller quaint side of England rather than the hustle and bustle of major cities, then you’ll probably want to consider checking out the southwest coast of England.

Here, you’ll find that there are relatively few large towns or cities, and in its place, there are tons of smaller settlements and villages, both inland and by the coastline, making for a picturesque stay in the area.

You’ll also find a ton of incredible natural beauty spots along the southwest coast, with arguably some of the best beaches and waters for learning how to surf in the UK.

There’s even a distinct folklore and culture that comes with the region as well, thanks to its distinct language and culture that formed somewhat separately from the rest of the country.

It is a history that many local places and museums take pride in, for sure!

The southwest has had a growing tourism industry over the past few decades as well, meaning that finding a place to stay will also be relatively easy.

(So long as you book well in advance. This is a very popular place for people to vacation to as well!)

South East

On the flip side of the more rural south-west, the south-east is arguably the most densely populated region of England outside of London, with plenty of large cities that have their traditions and factors that make them so popular

Brighton, for example, is considered a great place for many people across the country to visit for both its stretching coastline and the excellent entertainment industry that is established there, both for daily activities and excellent nightlife (see our guide to Brighton for more ideas of what to do on your trip).

Similarly, Oxford not only has its own thriving culture and history, but it is also home to the world-class University of Oxford, making it a center of education and culture in its own right.

Even the smaller cities and towns, such as Canterbury, have a strong written and literary tradition that is celebrated here.

And, in practical terms, the south-east’s proximity to London also makes ™ very easy to travel, making them even more appealing to visit if you’re looking for the best of both worlds in your vacation (for a guide to London train stations, read here)!

West Midlands

Moving a little northward for the next region, the West Midlands has a proud history of both industry and innovation, something that is on full display in many of the cities that have built up in the region.

Birmingham is one of the biggest cities in England, benign third only to Manchester and London, and has been through a massive period of regeneration in the past few decades, means makes this an amazing place to visit for a few days.

But don’t think that the metropolitan centers are the only place worth your time.

Many of the counties in the West Midlands are packed full of charming smaller towns and villages for you to visit and stay at, as well as plenty of natural beauty spots dotted across the region.

Stratford-Upon-Avon, the home of William Shakespeare, is a great example of this. 

East Midlands

Like its counterpart, the East Midlands has long been associated with industry and natural beauty, as well as a wealth of folklore.

It’s in East Midland counties like Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire where we see the greatest source of folklore for characters like Robin Hood, as well as major former industrial cities such as Nottingham.

Yorkshire & The Humber

Moving even further north, we have what is arguably the largest historical county in the country, Yorkshire. And as you can imagine, this means that there’s plenty for you to explore and discover.

Like its northern and midlands counterparts, Yorkshire has long been a place associated with strong industry and grounded, working-class roots, as well as plenty of natural beauty.

When it comes to a visit to the region, this manifests as cozy and welcoming pubs and bars across the county, as well as plenty of national parks, and smaller to mid-sized towns and cities like York and Whitby.

North West

Aside from the industrial heritage that the northwest shares with much of the rest of the country, there is also a strong musical tradition that you’ll find in many of the cities across the region.

After all, it’s from here that many world-famous bands, such as The Beatles and Oasis, come!

North East

Last, but certainly not least, we have the northernmost area of England, the north-west, which shares much of its traditions with the north-east, as well as a strong association with many historical and cultural events with Scotland, thanks to its proximity to the border (check out our guide to camping in Scotland).

You’ll find plenty of cultural and historical touchstones in this part of the country, as well as coastlines that are gorgeous to walk across, (even if they are a little windy)!

Creating Your Itinerary

So, as you can see, there’s a lot to do in just England, never mind the amazing sights and experiences that you can find in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (don’t worry guys, we haven’t forgotten about you, you’ll get your lists someday)!

An Essential Guide To The 9 Regions Of England (Great For Itineraries) (1)

Frankly, with so much information at our fingertips, it is a little overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start with all this knowledge.

If you’re looking for a little assistance here, then you may want to use this rough itinerary for your potential travel plans. You don’t have to follow it from day to day, of course.

But it could be a great way of actually putting what you want to see on paper, rather than fumbling between places that you think you should see.

Less Than 3 Days

So, if you only have a long weekend’s worth of vacation booked, where should you spend those 2 to 3 days when in England?

Well, this might sound a little basic, but we would recommend that you start with London.

That might feel like an easy answer for some, who perhaps thought we were going to say that the secret best place to start is Leeds or something like that (for more ideas for a Leeds day out, check our guide here).

But there’s a reason that people go to London for their vacations so much, even within the UK.

London simply has so much to offer in terms of history and entertainment, that you could probably spend an entire month in London seeing the sights and finding all the little hidden places to see, and still have not made a dent.

Still, 3 days should be enough time for most people to enjoy and see the major sights of the city.

Plus, London has some of the best transport connections to the rest of the country. So if you do end up staying longer, going to someplace new will be that much easier for you.

4–5 Days

So, If you’re staying a little longer, perhaps 4 to 5 days, where should you then go after exploring London?

Well, we would probably recommend going a little further afield, such as perhaps to either the southeast or southwest, depending on your personal preference.

The southeast has many cities that are just as old as London, while also having their distinct history and character that makes them enticing to explore (off the top of our heads, Bath is a great example that comes to mind).

The south-west does also have larger towns for you to explore, but perhaps the main draw to this region specifically is its natural beauty, with the warmer waters also making the beaches some of the beaches here the best in the UK.

In short, the southeast is for exploring cities and towns, the southwest is for enjoying nature hikes and beach relaxation!

6–7 Days

With a few extra days to sightsee, such as around a full week, you can start to go a little further afield.

With those extra days, we would strongly recommend taking a train up to the North of England, more specifically York.

This smaller city has plenty for you to explore and check out for yourself, from many natural parks such as the Peak District and Yorkshire Moors and Dales to the historical city itself that has its storied unique vibe and culture.

7+ Days

If you’re spending more than a week in England, that gives you plenty of time to explore many of the other places around England, from the natural beauty and traditions of the Cotswolds and the Lake District to historical towns and cities such as Stratford or Manchester (for more Cotswolds Villages you need to visit, read here).

Alternatively, this is also a great point to consider checking out other parts of the United Kingdom, such as checking out the Scottish capital Edinburgh and Hadrian’s Wall, or the Natural beauties of Northern Wales.

The UK is kind of your oyster, with more than a week to plan!

Final Notes

So, there you have it!

Hopefully, you’ll get plenty of use out of our guide to England!

England: 7-Day Travel Itinerary (Southwest Route)