The Very Best Things to Do in the UK
From fish and chips to Edinburgh Fringe, enjoy all the UK has to offer with our guide.
With four countries to choose from, it’s no wonder that the UK is a popular place to spend your precious holiday time in. There are many varied and interesting things to tick off your bucket list here, with different languages, dialects, traditions and cultures to explore. The landscape throughout the UK varies from tranquil lakes and countryside, buzzing cities, rolling hills and rugged cliffs and beaches. With an eclectic mix of cities, villages and beauty spots to visit, you’re all but guaranteed to have a great trip wherever you end up. Here’s our Plum Guide pick of the best things to do in the UK.
Eat fish and chips on the beach
This first suggestion combines two of the great British pastimes of eating fried food and sitting on a beach in what is all but guaranteed to be less than idyllic weather. We’re sorry, but unless you’ve squinted out at a grey sky and stormy sea while a nearby seagull eyes up the malt vinegar-soaked chip in your hand, you basically haven’t even properly set foot in Britain. We don’t make the rules, we just encourage them.
There’s no shortage of beaches to choose from. Brighton, a funky city on the south coast not too far from London, has a countercultural air, a pier stuffed with terrifying roller coasters and arcade games and a plethora of vintage shops, restaurants serving locally cooked food and a great selection of chippies to pick up a haddock and chips and some mushy peas.
For something a bit more rural, try the small Suffolk town of Aldeburgh, home of composer Benjamin Britten. It has two rival fish and chip shops opposite each other, both of which sport queues at peak times. The batter doesn’t get crispier than this.
This cosy house is right by Aldeburgh beach, so if the seagulls get too much you don’t have to run too far. Even better, there’s a fireplace in the living room where you can thaw out from the cold beach. This is definitely one of the best things to do in the UK.
Get dramatic at the Edinburgh Fringe
Each August, the Scottish capital is overrun by an influx of performers, comedians and actors to take part in a month of shows, performances and theatre known as the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Everyone from well-known comedians trying out new material to scrappy up-and-comer improv troupes – essentially anyone who’s anyone in the world of comedy and arts – will be there. The world’s largest arts festival, it transforms Edinburgh into the most buzzy, happening place in the world while it’s going on.
You can pre book shows, but the tried and tested method for discovering the hottest, funniest new thing is simply to wander the streets, chat to other attendees and locals and follow your feet along the narrow cobblestone passageways. You’ll probably see some absolute stinkers, but there’s always raw diamonds among the muck. You’ll be able to recommend comedians to your friends who they’ve never heard of, and enjoy feeling culturally superior.
Just make sure you book somewhere to stay in Edinburgh in advance – it's very popular. Luckily, Plum Guide will have you spoiled for your choice in that department. For a group trip, try this high-ceiled city centre apartment with a grand piano for late-night singalongs and thoughtful touches such as hot water bottles in the guest room to fend off those chilly Scottish nights. For a more intimate accommodation, this cosy flat has huge windows great for people watching and is near the station for great transport links.
Wander the halls of London’s famous museums
One of the centres of the world, you simply can’t have a list of things to do in the UK without including London on the list. And you can’t visit the English capital without heading to some of its many excellent museums and galleries - almost all of which are free to enter.
If you’re a dedicated culture lover, stay close to the action in south Kensington (to pass as a real Londoner, call it ‘south ken’). This chicly minimal home with a glass-walled conservatory is ideal for a family vacation. Or try this smaller pad, which is so close to the museums to be practically on their doorstep, and has an exceptionally well-equipped kitchen to whip up breakfast before you start pounding the pavements.
For cultural history, rare artefacts and an excellent display on the history of fashion, you’ll want to hit the Victoria & Albert. For dinosaur skeletons and animals a-plenty, the Natural History Museum is the one for you. Next, try the Science Museum, full to the brim with interactive experiments, spaceships and a famously entertaining kid’s floor.
You can’t miss the Tate Modern and the Tate Britain for modern and classical art respectively. The British Museum has too many historical artefacts to count, and you’ll leave the Museum of London far more knowledgeable about the city’s past than when you entered.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you book your stay with Plum Guide. Each of our homes have been professionally vetted by our particularly choosy home critics, so you know you're in for a great night's sleep.