UNESCO Sites in the UK / Part one

 SUMMARY   Welcome to our UNESCO World Heritage Sites information guide in the United Kingdom! This guide serves as a comprehensive resource for travelers and heritage enthusiasts, providing valuable information to help you organize an engaging and memorable journey through these remarkable places.

Part one (you’re here) Part two

We’ve created this guide to make your journey through UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the United Kingdom as comfortable and informative as possible. Enjoy the richness and diversity of this amazing country and immerse yourself in its cultural and natural heritage!

Discover how to conveniently and efficiently reach UNESCO sites using public transportation. We also provide links to tourist resources for cities where UNESCO sites are located. This way, you can expand your journey, learn more about local culture, cuisine, and entertainment.

Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd

The Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd is a remarkable collection of medieval fortifications and walled towns built during the reign of King Edward I in the late 13th century. These structures were constructed to subdue the Welsh and establish English dominance in the region. The ensemble includes:

The county of Gwynedd encompasses the lovely Lleyn Peninsula and Cambrian coast, with attractive seaside resorts and award-winning beaches. Inland is Snowdonia National Park, with spectacular scenery and Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales.

Location & Access: The Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd are situated in the historic county of Gwynedd in northwestern Wales. Information about public transport.

Durham Castle and Cathedral

Durham Castle and Cathedral are two architectural marvels nestled within the historic city of Durham (map), England.

Dating back to the late 11th century, Durham Cathedral (map) is a masterpiece of Romanesque design. Its soaring arches, intricately carved stone, and iconic rib-vaulted ceilings make it one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in Europe.

Adjacent to the cathedral, Durham Castle (map) serves as a testament to Norman military might and strategic genius. Originally constructed to defend the city against marauders, it later became the residence of the Prince Bishops of Durham. The castle’s striking architectural features include its massive Norman keep, bailey courtyard, and a picturesque Norman chapel.

Location & Access: Durham is well-connected by train services from major cities like London, Edinburgh, and Newcastle. The cathedral and castle are a short walk from the Durham railway station, making them easily accessible on foot.  Information about public transport.

Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast

The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast is a natural wonder and a geological marvel located along the rugged coast of County Antrim in Northern Ireland.

The centerpiece of this natural wonder is the Giant’s Causeway (map) itself, where over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns create a surreal landscape. Beyond the Giant’s Causeway, the Causeway Coast stretches for miles, offering breathtaking coastal views, hidden coves, and striking cliff formations. The coastal scenery is a photographer’s dream, with waves crashing against the dramatic cliffs, and it’s a hiker’s paradise with scenic trails offering panoramic vistas of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Location & Access: The Giant’s Causeway and Causeway Coast are located in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, near the town of Bushmills (map) and approximately 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Belfast. Take a train to Coleraine (map), the nearest major railway station. Various bus services operate from major cities, including Belfast and Derry, to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre (map). Information about public transport.

Ironbridge Gorge

Nestled in the heart of Shropshire, England, this gorge encompasses a stunning valley landscape, along with a collection of historic industrial sites and museums that offer a captivating glimpse into the birth of the modern industrial world.

The gorge earned its name from the famous Iron Bridge (map), a cast iron bridge constructed in 1779. This bridge was the world’s first of its kind, marking a revolutionary advancement in engineering and architecture. Visitors to Ironbridge Gorge can explore several well-preserved industrial sites, including the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron, the Blists Hill Victorian Town, and the Darby Houses.

Location & Access: Ironbridge Gorge is located in Shropshire, West Midlands, England, and is easily accessible from major cities like Birmingham and Manchester. The nearest train station is Telford Central Station (map), which is well-connected to major cities. Information about public transport.

St Kilda

St Kilda is an isolated archipelago located in the North Atlantic Ocean, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. This remote and awe-inspiring group of islands, known for its dramatic landscapes and unique wildlife. St Kilda also holds a fascinating cultural history. Visitors can learn about the history of the St Kildans and their unique traditions at the St Kilda Museum.

The National Trust for Scotland has improved the village on Hirta (map) over the years. “They have reroofed the cottages on the main street, restored the church, and re-stacked stones that years of gales had toppled from the cleits, or bothies, that dot the volcanic landscape”

Location & Access: Reaching St Kilda is an adventure in itself. Visitors typically take a boat trip from the nearby town of Leverburgh (map) on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. Information about public transport.

Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites

Stonehenge (map) stands as the most famous and iconic of these ancient monuments. It consists of a circle of colossal standing stones, known as sarsens, capped with lintels. Avebury Stone Circle (map), situated approximately 17 miles north of Stonehenge, is another remarkable site. It features a massive circular arrangement of megalithic stones, encircled by an enormous earthwork ditch, and includes several smaller stone circles and avenues.

Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow: Within the same archaeological complex as Avebury, you’ll discover Silbury Hill (map), an enormous man-made mound that stands as one of the largest prehistoric mounds in Europe.

The Sanctuary and Woodhenge: Adjacent to these renowned sites (map), the Sanctuary is an ancient monument composed of concentric timber circles and stands as a testament to the sophistication of prehistoric engineering.

Location & Access: The Stonehenge, Avebury, and Associated Sites are located in Wiltshire (map), England. You can reach Stonehenge by taking a train to Salisbury (map) and then connecting to a local bus to the site. For Avebury (map), you can take a train to Swindon (map) or Pewsey (map) and then use local bus services. Information about public transport.

Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey

The centerpiece of this site is the Ruins of Fountains Abbey (map), founded in 1132 by Cistercian monks. This once-great abbey stands as an evocative testament to the grandeur and spirituality of medieval monastic life.

In contrast to the abbey’s solemnity, Studley Royal Park (map) features an exquisite water garden that was created in the 18th century. It’s a stunning example of Georgian landscaping, featuring serene ponds, cascading waterfalls, classical temples, and serene woodland walks. Studley Royal Park also includes a medieval deer park (map), which adds to the historic charm of the site.

Location & Access: Studley Royal Park and the Ruins of Fountains Abbey are situated near the town of Ripon in North Yorkshire, England. The nearest railway station is Harrogate (map), and from there, you can take a bus to Fountains Abbey or Ripon (map). Regular bus services run from various nearby towns, including Ripon and Harrogate. Information about public transport.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace (map) is an architectural masterpiece and a symbol of British heritage. The interiors are equally impressive, with lavishly decorated rooms, ornate ceilings, and an extensive collection of art and historical artifacts. The Great Hall, Long Library, and the State Rooms are among the highlights of the palace’s interior. The palace is surrounded by extensive parkland and beautifully landscaped formal gardens, designed by renowned landscape architect Capability Brown.

A significant part of Blenheim Palace is dedicated to commemorating the life and legacy of Sir Winston Churchill, the renowned British Prime Minister who was born at the palace in 1874.

Location & Access: Blenheim Palace is located in the town of Woodstock (map), Oxfordshire, England, approximately 8 miles northwest of the city of Oxford. The nearest railway station is Oxford (map). Regular bus services run from Oxford to Woodstock. Information about public transport.

City of Bath

The City of Bath (map), often referred to simply as Bath, is a historic and picturesque city located in Somerset, England. The Roman Baths, a complex of well-preserved thermal baths and temples, offer a fascinating glimpse into Roman life and bathing rituals.

One of Bath’s most striking features is its elegant Georgian architecture, characterized by uniform rows of honey-colored Bath stone buildings. The Royal Crescent (map) and the Circus (map) are iconic examples of Georgian architecture in Bath. Bath Abbey, officially known as the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (map), is a magnificent Gothic cathedral in the heart of the city. Pulteney Bridge (map), designed by Robert Adam, is one of the most iconic bridges in the city.

Location & Access: Bath is located in Somerset, England, approximately 97 miles (156 kilometers) west of London. Bath is well-connected by train from London Paddington Station (map), and the journey takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. There are also regular bus services from various cities and towns in the region. Information about public transport.

Frontiers of the Roman Empire

Hadrian’s Wall is one of the most iconic and well-preserved Roman frontier defenses in the world. It was constructed during the reign of Emperor Hadrian in the early 2nd century AD. The wall stretched approximately 73 miles (117.5 kilometers) across northern England, from the North Sea in the east to the Irish Sea in the west.

Hadrian’s Wall was not just a wall; it was a complex system of fortifications that included milecastles (small forts), turrets, and larger garrison forts at strategic points along its length. The Hadrian’s Wall Path, a long-distance hiking trail, allows hikers to follow the course of the wall and explore its history and scenic beauty.

Location & Access: If you’re traveling from a major city like London or Edinburgh, the nearest major train station to Hadrian’s Wall is Newcastle upon Tyne (map). Hexham is a town located near Hadrian’s Wall and has its own railway station. Trains from Newcastle also run to Hexham. Information about public transport.

Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret’s Church

The Palace of Westminster (map), often referred to as the Houses of Parliament, is the heart of the United Kingdom’s political and legislative affairs. Notable architectural features of the Palace of Westminster include the iconic Big Ben clock tower (now officially known as the Elizabeth Tower), the Victoria Tower, and the Central Lobby.

Westminster Abbey (map) is a magnificent Gothic abbey church that has witnessed countless royal ceremonies, including coronations, weddings, and funerals, over the centuries. The abbey’s remarkable features include its stunning nave, beautiful stained glass windows, and the breathtaking Lady ChapelSaint Margaret’s Church (map) features a mix of architectural styles, including Gothic and Renaissance elements.

Location & Access: Westminster, central London. The closest London Underground stations to these sites include Westminster (for the Palace of Westminster), and St. James’s Park (for Saint Margaret’s Church). Information about public transport.

Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church

Canterbury Cathedral (map), officially known as the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Christ at Canterbury, is one of the most important religious sites in England. The Trinity Chapel houses the shrine of St. Thomas Becket, a destination for pilgrims for centuries. The cathedral’s stained glass windows, historic tombs, and beautiful cloisters are among its many highlights.

St. Augustine’s Abbey (map), also known as St. Augustine’s Monastery, was a Benedictine monastery founded in the 6th century by St. Augustine of Canterbury. St. Martin’s Church (map) is often referred to as England’s oldest parish church still in use. It dates back to the Roman period but was restored and rebuilt during the Anglo-Saxon era.

Location & Access: Canterbury (map), Kent, in southeastern England. Canterbury has two main railway stations: Canterbury West (map) and Canterbury East (map). Both stations are well-connected to London and other major cities in southeastern England Information about public transport.

Henderson Island

Henderson Island (map) is a remote and uninhabited coral atoll located in the South Pacific Ocean. It is part of the Pitcairn Islands group, a British Overseas Territory. Henderson Island is renowned for its natural beauty, unique ecosystem, and ecological significance. It has no permanent human population and limited human activity.

Location & Access: Henderson Island is extremely remote and challenging to access. It does not have an airport or regular transportation links. The nearest inhabited island is Pitcairn Island, which is about 120 miles (193 kilometers) to the southeast. To visit Henderson Island, travelers typically need to arrange specialized research or expedition trips with proper permits.

Tower of London

The Tower of London (map), often simply referred to as the Tower, is a historic castle and fortress located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. Over its long history, the Tower has served various purposes, including as a royal palace, a prison, a treasury, and a place of execution.

The Tower is home to the Crown Jewels of England, which include the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross, the Imperial State Crown, and the Cullinan diamonds. The White Tower, a central keep, is the oldest and most iconic part of the complex. Traitor’s Gate is the water gate entrance to the Tower, historically used for bringing prisoners by boat to the Tower.

Location & Access: The Tower of London is located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The nearest London Underground station to the Tower of London is Tower Hill (map), served by the District and Circle lines. Information about public transport.

Gough and Inaccessible Islands

Gough Island (map) and Inaccessible Island are two remote and uninhabited islands located in the South Atlantic Ocean (approximately 2,200 miles / 3,540 kilometers southwest of South Africa). Inaccessible Island is located about 23 miles (37 kilometers) to the southwest of Gough Island. They are part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha.

The island’s isolation has led to the evolution of unique flora and fauna, including endemic plants and insects. Gough Island is home to a variety of bird species, with millions of seabirds nesting on the island, including albatrosses, petrels, and penguins.

Location & Access: Access to Gough and Inaccessible Islands is extremely limited due to their remote locations and challenging environments. Visits to these islands are typically undertaken for scientific research and conservation purposes, and special permits are required.

Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

The Old Town of Edinburgh (map) is the historic heart of the city and is characterized by its medieval and Renaissance architecture. It is a labyrinthine network of narrow streets, alleyways, and historic buildings that have witnessed centuries of Scottish history. Key features include the Royal Mile, which runs from Edinburgh Castle (map) at one end to the Palace of Holyroodhouse (map) at the other.

The New Town of Edinburgh (map) is a masterpiece of Georgian town planning and neoclassical architecture. Princes Street (map) is the city’s main shopping street, featuring gardens along its southern edge and offering stunning views of the Old Town and Edinburgh Castle. George Street (map) is known for its upscale shopping, dining, and nightlife.

Location & Access: Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Waverley Railway Station (map) is located in the heart of the city, making it easy to access both the Old and New Towns on foot. Information about public transport.