Nairne McBeath & Laura Kirkhouse July 31 2023

The United Kingdom is a treasure trove of cultural, historical, and natural wonders, and its World Heritage Sites are a testament to its rich and diverse heritage.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are recognised for their outstanding universal value and are essential destinations for travellers seeking unique and immersive experiences.

The UK boasts a total of 33 such sites, each offering a captivating journey through the history of this land. At Absolute Escapes, we’ve curated a list of our favourite World Heritage Sites that can easily be incorporated into your self-drive tour or walking holiday in the UK.



The Forth Bridge

Built between 1882 and 1890, this magnificent feat of Victorian engineering holds a special place in the hearts of Scottish people. Its iconic red colour makes it a distinctive and recognisable landmark across the world.

Sometimes referred to as the “Eight Wonder of the World”, the Forth Bridge earned its UNESCO World Heritage status in 2015, recognising its outstanding universal value as an engineering and architectural landmark.

You can enjoy awe-inspiring views from the villages of South Queensferry and North Queensferry on either side of the estuary. For an immersive experience, our Great Scottish Railway Journey crosses the Forth Bridge en route from the Scottish Highlands to Edinburgh.


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Heart of Neolithic Orkney

Dating back over 5,000 years to the Neolithic period, Orkney’s ancient wonders invite you to journey back in time, immersing yourself in the enigmatic world of Northern Scotland’s prehistoric past.

Archaeology enthusiasts will be captivated by the well-preserved village of Skara Brae, which offers an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of Neolithic inhabitants. Wander among the stone houses, marvelling at the ingenuity of our ancestors as you imagine their day-to-day activities.

The Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness are awe-inspiring stone circles that have stood for millennia, shrouded in myth and legend. Standing amidst these ancient stones, you can’t help but feel a profound connection to the past.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site has an ethereal quality that makes it an experience unlike any other in the UK. You can read more in our blog: Hunting Historic Treasures on Ancient Orkney.


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St Kilda

This remote archipelago in the Outer Hebrides gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1986 for its stunning natural beauty and rich heritage. Inhabited for thousands of years, the islands were home to a resilient community that lived in harmony with the rugged and remote environment.

With evidence of human habitation dating back 4,000 years, St Kilda‘s history reflects a unique way of life built on farming, fishing, and bird hunting. Explorers marvelled at the islanders’ skills and abundant wildlife in the 19th century, but in 1930, the last residents chose to evacuate, marking the end of an extraordinary chapter.

Today, these islands stand as a poignant reminder of human resilience amidst wild landscapes. Visiting offers a rare chance to step into the past, witness the islanders’ indomitable spirit, and celebrate the preservation of this exceptional heritage.

To find out more about visiting this awe-inspiring place, don’t miss our Essential Guide to Visiting St Kilda.


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The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns collectively form a UNESCO World Heritage Site, inscribed in 1995. This site showcases the contrasting, yet complementary, architectural and urban planning styles that coexist harmoniously in Scotland’s capital city (and the hometown of Absolute Escapes!).

From the impressive Edinburgh Castle in the Old Town to the elegant Georgian buildings in the New Town, you can fully immerse yourself in the charm and heritage of this historic city. A leisurely walk through the city’s picturesque streets will give you a sense of the vibrant tapestry of Edinburgh’s past and present.


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Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway & Causeway Coast

Let’s venture to Northern Ireland, where the legendary Giant’s Causeway has earned its place as a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This natural wonder is renowned as one of the most remarkable in the world, drawing visitors from all corners of the globe. The captivating coastal scenery and extraordinary hexagonal columns, bearing names inspired by various shapes and objects, form a truly awe-inspiring natural landscape.

Why not walk the Causeway Coast Way, take in the breathtaking views, and learn about the fascinating geological and mythical history associated with this legendary site?




When it comes to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK, Stonehenge is undoubtedly the big ticket item. These iconic, prehistoric standing stones are not to be missed when visiting the south of England.

Visiting Stonehenge is an experience filled with an indescribable atmosphere and sense of sanctity, as you step into the footsteps of prehistoric people who lived there over 4,000 years ago. The enigmatic mystery surrounding the purpose of the Stone Circle has ignited the curiosity of archaeologists, historians, and travellers alike, drawing millions of visitors to catch a glimpse of this remarkable feat of ancient architecture.


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City of Bath

Bath is undoubtedly one of our favourite English cities, and the elements of the city that have achieved its World Heritage status are a massive part of why we love it so much.

Uniquely, the City of Bath is double-inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1987 it was inscribed for its hot springs, Roman archaeology, Georgian buildings, and natural landscape setting. More recently, in 2021, a second inscription was received as one of the Great Spa Towns of Europe.

As you ramble around this charming city, there is so much beautiful architecture to uncover. Why not get in touch to discuss one of our English self-drive itineraries that encompass an escape to Bath?


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Hadrian’s Wall

Stretching an impressive 73 miles long, Hadrian’s Wall was originally constructed in 122 AD during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, serving as a protective barrier along the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire. Exploring this historical marvel offers an abundance of wonders, with over twenty different sites waiting to be discovered.

To experience this remarkable site, we provide two enticing options. Hadrian’s Wall Path is an unforgettable long-distance trail that takes you on a coast-to-coast journey across Northern England. Alternatively, our Hadrian’s Wall & Northumberland self-drive itinerary allows you to savour the beauty of the wall and its surroundings at a pace that suits you.


The Jurassic Coast

I promise you will not regret a visit to our next heritage site – the spectacular Jurassic Coast that stretches from Devon to Dorset. This geological gold mine is unrivalled as the only place on the planet where rocks from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous Periods can be seen in one place.

As you traverse this ancient coastline, you’ll find yourself surrounded by dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and fascinating geological formations.

The joy of visiting the Jurassic Coast is its diversity. Whether you want to explore the area from the comfort of the beach, via a coastal walk, or by immersing yourself in the history in the museums on offer, there is a means by which each of us can be enthralled by this UNESCO World Heritage Site.



The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales

We’re moving to Wales now, and it’s time to talk about a relatively new World Heritage Site – the Slate Landscape. Rooted in the cultural backdrop of Wales’ mining history, the Slate Landscape has now become a key sightseeing destination in this part of the country.

If you’re seeking a unique and exhilarating way to explore the Slate Landscape, look no further than Penrhyn Quarry. Here, you can experience the fastest zip line in the world, reaching speeds of over 100 miles per hour as you soar through the world’s largest slate quarry. This thrilling adventure offers a bird’s-eye view of the landscape, providing a perspective like no other.

Why not embark on our Snowdonia 360 road trip to explore the wonders of this historic landscape?


Explore the UK with Absolute Escapes

Now that we’ve tempted you with all these wonderful sites to visit, you might be thinking that you want to embark on a journey of discovery through the UK’s most captivating World Heritage Sites.

At Absolute Escapes, our Travel Specialists would love to work with you to make this possible. Let us handle the logistics and planning, while you focus on immersing yourself in the wonders of these remarkable places. Get in touch with us and we’ll create a memorable journey together.

Nairne McBeath & Laura Kirkhouse

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