The best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Britain
Visiting a World Heritage Site is a great way to learn about the history of a new place when you’re travelling – but what about closer to home? Here in Britain we’re lucky enough to have 28 designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites right in our backyard, and from amazing architecture to stunning landscapes, each showcases a unique aspect of life and history in the UK.
Ready to go? Here’s our pick of the best UNESCO sites in the UK…
- Old Town Edinburgh
Edinburgh has firmly been Scotland’s capital since the 15th century, so it’s no surprise there is history here. From Edinburgh Castle, the medieval fortress, cobbled streets and winding closes that dominate the Old Town, to the neoclassical architecture that makes the New Town distinct, one look at the area makes it obvious why this city is a cultural highlight.
The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London attract visitors in the thousands, but it’s the garden’s huge contributions to the study of plant diversity and economic botany since it first opened in 1759 that helped land it on UNESCO’s list. Visit and you’ll find one of the best gardens in the world – stunning landscape gardens, exotic plant collections, amazing glasshouses and stunning examples of botanical art are just a few of the things that await.
The prehistoric monuments at Stonehenge and Avesbury are among the most famous in the world, and have been a topic of almost constant speculation since being first discovered in the early medieval period. From an ancient Roman temple, to a meeting place for the Druids, a primitive calendar, or perhaps a centre of healing, one thing is clear – whatever the original purpose of Stonehenge, the structure is still as impressive thousands of years later.
The basalt cliffs that make up the Giant’s Causeway offer some of the most beautiful landscapes in Northern Ireland. Visitors from around the world come to walk along the 40,000 black basalt columns poking out from the sea, formed by volcanic activity more than 50 million years ago.
The Scottish island of St Kilda in the Hebrides is one of the most remote locations on earth – it’s home to rare and endangered birds, and is the largest seabird sanctuary in Europe. The archipelago bears evidence of more than 2,000 years of human occupation, though has been officially uninhabited since the last residents were evacuated in 1930. Today, visitors can take the boat and discover the stunning landscapes that make up the farthest corners of Great Britain.
It’s unusual for an entire city to receive such a prestigious designation, but visit the old town in Bath and it’s not difficult to see why. With its own thermal spring and a history that stretches back as far as Roman times in the 1st century AD, there is history and culture packed into every corner in Bath, from the famous Georgian architecture of the Royal Circus to the Roman Baths that gave the city its name.
- Dorset and East Devon Coast
Visit the coast at Dorset and East Devon and you’ll find more than 185 million years of the earth’s history on display on the towering cliffs that line the ocean and beaches of this area. This place is significant for so much more than its landscapes, though – the area boasts important fossil sites and its geomorphologic features have helped further the study of earth sciences for some 300 years.
It’s one of the most iconic buildings in the city of London, drawing tourists from around the world who come to see rooms where famous figures like Elizabeth I and Guy Fawkes were once imprisoned. More than a thousand years of British history are on show here, and its impressive architecture, plus the role it played in key historical events, have helped earn the Tower of London its place on UNESCO’s world heritage list.
What are your favourite UNESCO World Heritage Sites?
Latest posts by Sally - Silversurfer's Editor (see all)
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!