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The Most Popular Attractions in the UK

At Blacks we champion exploration of all kinds, whether it be taking on the Three Peaks Challenge or simply sightseeing on a rainy Sunday. With exploration on our minds, we decided to discover:

'What are the most popular attractions in the UK?'

The most visited, the highest rated and the most Instagrammable, we've crunched the numbers to put together a useful guide to the ultimate list of must-see attractions throughout the UK.

With plenty of indoor options, many of these attractions make for the perfect cold weather day out.

What Are The Top 10 Most Visited Attractions In The UK?

Using the most recent data from ALVA*, we've reviewed figures to uncover the top 10 most visited attractions in the UK.

Attraction Name Position in 2017 Position in 2018 Position Change Visitors in 2017 Visitors in 2018 Percentage Change
Tate Modern 2 1 +1 5,656,004 5,868,562 +3.76%
British Museum 1 2 -1 5,906,716 5,828,552 -1.32%
National Gallery 3 3 - 5,229,192 5,735,831 +9.69%
Natural History Museum (South Kensington) 4 4 - 4,434,520 5,226,320 +17.86%
Southbank Centre 7 5 +2 3,232,655 4,451,934 +37.72%
Victoria and Albert Museum (South Kensington) 5 6 -1 3,789,748 3,967,566 +4.69%
Science Museum 6 7 -1 3,251,000 3,174,963 -2.34%
Somerset House 8 8 - 3,223,350 3,143,626 -2.47%
Tower of London 9 9 - 2,843,031 2,858,336 +0.54%
Royal Museums Greenwich 10 10 - 2,607,099 2,549,833 -2.20%

Visits to attractions in the UK are on the up, with an overall 1.69% rise in visitors for those recorded in the previous year.

Of the top 249 attractions, 152 are free to enter or have free options.

What Are The Top 10 Highest Rated Attractions In The UK?

Another measure of popularity we've researched is the highest rated attractions from the dataset, using live TripAdvisor average review scores to uncover the top 10 highest rated attractions in the UK.

Attraction Name Region Review Position TripAdvisor Rating** Number of Reviews**
Fountains Abbey Estate Yorkshire & the Humber 1 5 3,692
RAF Museum Cosford West Midlands 2 5 2,427
Bodnant Garden North Wales 3 5 2,197
British Museum London 4 4.5 70,489
Tower of London London 5 4.5 62,784
Edinburgh Castle South East Scotland 6 4.5 48,947
National Gallery London 7 4.5 38,536
Tower Bridge Exhibition London 8 4.5 37,348
Natural History Museum (South Kensington) London 9 4.5 35,542
Victoria and Albert Museum (South Kensington) London 10 4.5 30,804

An impressive achievement, the vast majority of attractions making the top 100 averaged either 4 or 4.5 out of 5 review scores on TripAdvisor. Furthermore, all attraction types secured an average review score of more than 4.2 out of a possible 5 stars, proving that the UK has some incredible and varied sights to see.

What Are The Top 10 Most Instagrammable Attractions In The UK?

Instagram enables users with a public profile to be found for relevant hashtags used when searched for. We took the top three hashtags for each of the attractions falling in the top 100 most visited last year and added them together to find the most Instagrammable attractions in the UK.

Attraction Name Position Instagram Hashtag 1 Instagram Hashtag 2 Instagram Hashtag 3 Total Hashtags**
Tate Modern 1 #tatemodern #tatemodernmuseum #tatemodernlondon 985,054
Stonehenge 2 #stonehenge #stonehengerocks - 691,785
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew 3 #kewgardens #kewgardenslondon #royalbotanicgardens*** 662,658
Natural History Museum (South Kensington) 4 #naturalhistorymuseum*** #naturalhistorymuseumlondon - 639,976
National Gallery 5 #nationalgallery*** #nationalgalleryofart*** #nationalgallerylondon 555,357
Tower of London 6 #toweroflondon #toweroflondon (GB Flag Emoji) - 551,088
British Museum 7 #britishmuseum #britishmuseumlondon (GB Flag Emoji) #britishmuseum (GB Flag Emoji) 525,080
Edinburgh Castle 8 #edinburghcastle #edinburghcastleview - 493,690
St Paul's Cathedral 9 #stpaulscathedral*** #stpaulscathederal #stpaulscathederallondon 365,490
Kensington Palace 10 #kensingtonpalace #kensingtonpalacegardens #kensingtonpalacegarden 336,440

Tate Modern

#1 most visited attraction in the UK - #1 most Instagrammable attraction in the UK

Tate Modern

Situated in the Bankside area of the London Borough of Southwark, Tate Modern is a modern art gallery that houses four art museums. On display are the UK's national collection of British art, and international modern and contemporary art. The gallery was opened by the Queen in May 2000 and has since grown to become one of the most visited attractions in the world.
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British Museum

#2 most visited attraction in the UK - #4 highest rated attraction in the UK - #7 most Instagrammable attraction in the UK

British Museum

Founded in 1753, The British Museum houses a collection of approximately 8 million objects and is open to the public free of charge. Set in one of Britain's historical landmarks within the Bloomsbury area of London, its permanent collection is amongst the largest in existence, having been built up during the early times of the British Empire.
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National Gallery

#3 most visited attraction in the UK - #7 highest rated attraction in the UK - #5 most Instagrammable attraction in the UK

National Galley

Located in London's Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery is home to a collection of over 2,300 works of art that date back from the 13th Century to 1900s. Founded in 1824, the National Gallery has been open to the public for free ever since. With new exhibitions being hosted regularly, The National Gallery remains a fascinating place to visit time and again.
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Natural History Museum (South Kensington)

#4 most visited attraction in the UK - #9 highest rated attraction in the UK - #4 most Instagrammable attraction in the UK

Natural History Museum (South Kensington)

The South Kensington Natural History Museum is one of three major London museums, along with The Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Well worth a visit, The Natural History Museum displays a collection of more than 80,000,000 specimens spanning billions of years of natural history.
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Southbank Centre

#5 most visited attraction in the UK

Southbank Centre

The Southbank Centre opened on the 1st May 1951 and is a complex of artistic venues located on the south bank of the River Thames. The complex is made up of three main performance venues, and the Southbank Centre is Europe's largest centre of arts. Here you can catch dance, theatre, comedy, cabaret and everything in between.
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Victoria and Albert Museum (South Kensington)

#6 most visited attraction in the UK - #10 highest rated attraction in the UK

Victoria and Albert Museum (South Kensington)

Named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, The Victoria and Albert Museum is home to the world's largest collected works of applied and decorative arts and designs. Founded in 1852, the museum comprises a permanent collection of approximately 2.3 million objects, covering an impressive 12.5 acres of land and offering free access to the public.
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Science Museum

#7 most visited attraction in the UK

Science Museum

© Science Museum Group

The Science Museum is another of the 3 major museums in Kensington London. Opened in 1857, the museum has since become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. The museum offers free general admission, but you can also pay to enter many of their exclusive must-see exhibitions, including the 'Spy-ence Show' and 'Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery'.
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Somerset House

#8 most visited attraction in the UK

Somerset House

Somerset House can be found on the south side of the Strand in Central London. Overlooking the River Thames, this neoclassical building is a working arts centre designed by Sir William Chambers. Tackling some of the most topical modern-day issues, recent exhibitions have covered the works of Black creative pioneers and addressed climate change. Somerset House is famous for its winter skating, making it a great destination for a fun-filled day out for the family.
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Tower of London

#9 most visited attraction in the UK - #5 highest rated attraction in the UK - #6 most Instagrammable attraction in the UK

Tower of London

The Tower of London is a historical castle located on the north bank of the River Thames. Opened in 1066, the tower has become a popular landmark to many, offering a chance to look at how the weapons and ammunition were guarded during the Norman Conquest of England. Purchasing a ticket will enable you access to the famous Crown Jewels and the White and Bloody Towers.
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Royal Museums Greenwich

#10 most visited attraction in the UK

Royal Museums Greenwich

© National Maritime Museum, London

Made up of four museums: The Cutty Sark, Queen's House, National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory, the Royal Greenwich Museum has something to interest all the family. Based within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, each attraction can be explored by foot for an adventure-filled day of exploration. Tickets for access to all attractions are priced at an affordable £13.15 for children and £26.25 for adults, or you can choose to pay for each attraction separately.
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Fountains Abbey Estate

#1 highest rated attraction in the UK

Fountains Abbey Estate

One of the largest Cistercian monasteries in England, Fountains Abbey world heritage site is surrounded by beautiful North Yorkshire countryside. One of the wealthiest monasteries in England, the abbey was founded in 1132 and operated for 407 years until its dissolution in 1539 under the order of Henry VIII. Exploring the park and the 7 bridges is free of charge, however you can also opt to pay to enter the Fountains Abbey.
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RAF Museum Cosford

#2 highest rated attraction in the UK

RAF Museum Cosford

© Royal Air Force Museum Cosford

Dedicated to the history of aviation and the Royal Air Force in particular, Shropshire's Royal Air Force Museum is famous for its aircraft exhibitions. Here you can discover the history of aviation and learn about famous aircrafts. If you decide to pay a visit, don't forget to take a look at the Spitfite: the most famous British fighter aircraft in history recognised for its "superb characteristics". Visiting the Museum is free of charge for all ages.
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Bodnant Garden

#3 highest rated attraction in the UK

Bodnant Garden

An ideal location for outdoor and garden enthusiasts, Bodnant Garden is a National Trust property overlooking the Conwy Valley towards the Carneddau mountains. The garden was established in 1874 by Henry Pochin, a scientist, businessman and politician. You can explore 80 acres of seasonal colour around the garden and join the upcoming events that Bodnant Garden are hosting for all members of the public. National Trust members can enter the gardens free of charge.
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Edinburgh Castle

#3 highest rated attraction in the UK - #8 most Instagrammable attraction in the UK

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress situated in the capital city of Scotland. Originally built in the 12th century by David I, it now serves as a military station. The legendary castle is known globally for its historic significance and stunning views, which capture the hearts of millions of visitors each year. Edinburgh castle is reportedly the site of a 350-million-year-old plug of an extinct volcano and is home to the Scottish National War Memorial.
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Tower Bridge Exhibition

#8 highest rated attraction in the UK

Tower Bridge Exhibition

Tower Bridge is famous around the world for its iconic features, which have made it synonymous with London City. The bridge opened to the public for the first time in 1910, within which is the exhibition 'The Tower Bridge Experience'. This popular experience includes a bird's eye view from the 42m high bridge, with a glass walkway that provides gorgeous city views above the famous River Thames. Journey across the Tower Bridge by foot to marvel in the spectacular views of the London skyline, or use a vehicle to cross the bridge for no additional cost.
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Stonehenge

#2 most Instagrammable attraction in the UK

Stonehenge

Based in Wiltshire, Stonehenge is one of the UK's most famous monuments. The remains of a ring of standing stones, it is central to the highest concentrated complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England. Archaeologists believe the first stones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC and the site was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. Managed by English Heritage, Stonehenge and it's beautiful setting owned by the National Trust has become the second most Instagrammable attraction out of those on record.
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Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

#3 most Instagrammable attraction in the UK

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

Formerly a royal palace, Kew Gardens was founded in 1759 and has since developed into a well-established scientific institution specialising in plant and fungal research. With over 300 acres to explore, these famous gardens are recognised globally for housing "the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections". The gardens are free to enter for National Trust members.
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St Paul's Cathedral

#9 most Instagrammable attraction in the UK

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral is located on the highest point of the city of London, on top of Ludgate Hill. Construction of the Cathedral started in 1675 and since then there have been redevelopment projects following damage during World War II. An impressive sight to behold, to enter this religious monument costs £17.00 per adult and £7.20 per child. Guided tours are available at no extra cost but be sure to reserve a place before you visit.
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Kensington Palace

#10 most Instagrammable attraction in the UK

Kensington Palace

© Historic Royal Palaces

Kensington Palace is a royal home in London's Kensington Gardens, built in 1605 by Sir George Coppin. This beautiful palace is known globally for being home to 15 high-ranking royals, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Highlights include King's State Apartments, the Queens State Apartments, Victoria Revealed and Diana's Fashion Story. There's no entrance fee for Kensington Palace Gardens but those wish to access more of the Palace are required to purchase a ticket. Each attraction in the top 100 received a minimum of over 600 hashtags. Living up to our reputation of being a nation of animal lovers, zoos were the most Instagrammable attractions when averaged by attraction type.
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The UK is home to some of the world's most popular attractions for the whole family to get out and explore. Make sure you get wrapped up for your next adventure!

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Notes

* Visitor stats used are from 2014-2018 and are available to view on the ALVA website. ALVA members are the UK's most popular, iconic and important museums, galleries, palaces, castles, cathedrals, zoos, historic houses, heritage sites, gardens and leisure attractions. They comprise over 2,200 tourist sites, hosting over 119 million domestic and overseas visitors each year - around 28% of the visits made annually in the UK.

** Figures checked throughout October 2019 via Instagram and TripAdvisor websites

*** Multiple locations use this hashtag

Most popular 2-3 hashtags used to calculate number of hashtags for each attraction

 

Are there any attractions you'd like to see feature? Let us know in the comments below.

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