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Bamburgh Castle in Scotland

Top 16 Things to See and Do in Northern England

Last Updated: 16/07/2024

You’re sure to be charmed by Northern England, whether by the lush hills, vast lakes or quaint villages. Imagine driving along the coast, strolling winding cobblestone streets, and uncovering historical sights.

In this guide, you’ll discover the best places to visit and top things to do in Northern England for your trip to the UK.


Yorkshire is the UK’s largest county, known for its vivid natural beauty, medieval history and proud regional identity. You’ll want to spend a few days exploring the area, visiting traditional towns and digging into its fascinating past.

1. Robin Hood's Bay

Stop off at Robin Hood’s Bay, a postcard-perfect fishing village on the Yorkshire coastline. At low tide, you can walk across the beach searching for fossils and seashells.

The town also has a long and intriguing history of smuggling goods like tea, alcohol and tobacco into England from mainland Europe. Wander the narrow, twisting cobbled streets and imagine the fishermen and smugglers working here hundreds of years ago.

Old narrow streets winding through Robin Hood's Bay
Robin Hood's Bay

2. Harrogate

Harrogate is a spa town known for its traditional Turkish baths and elegant gardens. It’s been a popular spot for travellers since the Georgian era, so you’ll find plenty to enjoy here.

Visit the Royal Pump Room Museum to learn about the mineral springs in the area. And don’t miss an afternoon tea at the famous Bettys Café Tea Room, the town’s most iconic eatery.

3. Whitby

You’ll find the town of Whitby perched on the coast overlooking the North Sea. Visit Whitby Abbey, which inspired the famous novel Dracula, with its spooky appearance. Investigate the ruins while listening to tales of this landmark in your audio guide.

Aside from the dramatic Abbey, Whitby has all the hallmarks of a traditional seaside resort. You’ll see sandy beaches and quaint streets that haven’t changed much since medieval times.

4. York

York is a historic city with Roman roots and a Viking past. Walk along the ancient walls for stunning views over the city and of the impressive York Minster cathedral. Stroll down The Shambles, a picturesque street with overhanging timber-framed buildings and rustic shop fronts.

The grand York Minster glistening in the sun
York Minster

The Lake District

While exploring Northern England, you should stop off at the idyllic Lake District. This national park is a haven if you enjoy the outdoors, with breathtaking landscapes, serene lakes and charming villages. You’ll certainly find yourself captivated by its tranquillity.

5. Hawkshead

A wool market during medieval times, Hawkshead is now one of the prettiest villages in the Lake District. Plus, with a car-free village centre, you’re free to wander around the enchanting streets without worrying about traffic.

You might know this village as the home of the Beatrix Potter Gallery. Visit to learn more about this beloved English author and illustrator of children’s books. The gallery here displays her original artwork.

Just a few minutes' drive away you can see Hill Top, the house where Potter spent much of her adult life.

6. Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike is England's highest mountain, standing at 978 metres (3,209 feet) above sea level. If you fancy a hike to its summit, you’ll be treated to some of the most dramatic panoramas of the Lake District. It’s undoubtedly one of the most rewarding things to do in Northern England.

Hiking to the top isn’t the only way to appreciate Scafell Pike. Stick to the valleys below, and you’ll still be delighted by the views. End your day with a traditional meal at the Wasdale Head Inn.

Scafell Pike jutting out of the earth with a blue sky backdrop

7. Keswick

Keswick is a centuries-old market town on the shores of Lake Derwentwater, surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. Your visit to Keswick wouldn’t be complete without soaking up the views along the lakeshore. Explore the town’s shops, cafés, and the fascinating Keswick Museum.

8. Grasmere

Grasmere is worth a visit to learn about the legacy of the famous poet William Wordsworth. Tour Dove Cottage, his former home, and the Wordsworth Museum to gain insight into his life and works.

9. Windermere and Ullswater

You can’t go to the Lake District without seeing the landmarks that give this area its name – the lakes. Windermere and Ullswater are the 2 largest lakes in the area.

Windermere is known for its bustling atmosphere and water sports. Meanwhile, Ullswater offers a more relaxed experience, perfect for a peaceful boat ride or lakeside walk.

A glassy Ullswater lake oh an overcast day


Experience the delights of Northumberland in Northeast England. Close to the Scottish border, this is a region steeped in history, with ancient castles, rugged landscapes, and a wild coastline.

10. Lindisfarne Castle

Just off the Northumberland coast, you’ll find Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island. It’s a tidal island that gets cut off from the mainland twice a day. At low tide, you can get to the island via a mile-long causeway.

Explore the castle perched on a rocky outcrop and wander the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory, a site with roots dating back to 634 AD. Follow the path 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometres) around Castle Point, passing historic lime kilns.

Afterwards, you can head to the village and reward yourself with a glass of Lindisfarne Mead.

Top tip: If you want to visit the Holy Island, make sure to check this table of safe crossing times before you travel.

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne

11. Alnwick Castle

Don’t miss Alnwick Castle, the second-largest inhabited castle in the area and home to the Duke of Northumberland’s family for over 700 years. You might even recognise its grand buildings from the Harry Potter films.

12. Bamburgh Castle

When you visit Bamburgh Castle, you'll discover heritage dating back to prehistoric times. Not to mention, the castle offers sweeping views over the North Sea.

During summer, you can watch archaeologists at work here, uncovering the past right before your eyes. Explore the grand King’s Hall, gloomy dungeons, and extensive armoury, each telling a part of the castle’s story.

Bamburgh castle overlooking calm waters

13. Hadrian’s Wall

Your trip to Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without seeing Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the UK’s most iconic wonders. Built in 122 CE under Emperor Hadrian’s rule, this Roman fortification once stretched 74 miles (118 kilometres) across Northern England.

You can walk alongside 2,000-year-old sections of the ruined wall at various points across England and imagine the Roman soldiers who once patrolled this frontier. To see one of the best-preserved forts along the wall, head to Birdoswald Fort.

Another spot you could visit is Vindolanda Fort. Although not directly on the wall, its remains include a 3rd-century bathhouse, a holy temple, and a mausoleum. At the museum, you can admire Roman artefacts, like ancient footwear, textiles, pottery and writing tablets.

Birds eye view of Hadrian's Wall

Top cities in Northern England

14. Durham

Be enchanted by Durham, a picture-perfect city with cobbled streets, an 11th-century castle and a grand Norman cathedral. Unwind with peaceful riverside walks, soaking in the calming beauty of the city.

You might recognise Durham Cathedral as a filming location for Harry Potter and the blockbuster movie Avengers: Endgame.

View of Durham cathedral and a peaceful river running beneath

15. Liverpool

Liverpool, a bustling waterfront city on England’s northwest coast, is known as the birthplace of The Beatles. You can delve into their legacy at The Beatles Story museum and visit beloved spots like Strawberry Field.

If you’re into football, you might want to catch a game featuring Liverpool’s famous teams, like Liverpool FC. Or lap up Liverpool’s maritime history as you stroll along the Royal Albert Dock. Then round the evening off with some riverside dining.

16. Manchester

Dive into the world of football and catch a thrilling match featuring legendary clubs like Manchester United and Manchester City.

For a taste of the city’s vibrant culture, wander through the Northern Quarter’s independent shops and quirky cafés, where creativity thrives in every corner.

Enjoy street art, boutiques, and a lively atmosphere that captures Manchester's spirit. Take a look at some of the museums and galleries, like the Whitworth Art Gallery.

Salford Quays in Manchester illuminated at sunset
Salford Quays in Manchester

See the best of Northern England with Nordic Visitor

Visit the UK for a blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re exploring the Lake District's stunning lakes or the ancient castles of Northumberland, there are plenty of things to see in North England.

Each destination has its own charm and story, ensuring an unforgettable journey.

Travel with Nordic Visitor and you’ll experience the best of the UK. Our UK-based experts will arrange your accommodation, local transport and activities. Choose a self-drive tour for the freedom to go at your own pace. Or choose a small group tour, led by a knowledgeable guide.

Get in touch and one of our local travel experts will start planning the getaway you always dreamed of.

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Post by: Emma Jackson

Hailing from Scotland, Emma has always pursued her love of adventure. With her trusty self-converted van, she roams Europe taking the roads less travelled to experience the natural beauty of each destination. When she’s not abroad, she fills her weekends going bouldering, cycling and hiking.

Find Emma on LinkedIn.

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Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.