7 spots tourists never visit but should
Britain’s most popular tourist spots are well known by all, and certainly well worth a visit. But what about those hidden gems that tourists don’t usually get to see? If you want to avoid the crowds but still see some of Britain’s most fascinating sights, check out these seven alternative tourist spots.
Popular tourist spot: Big Ben
Alternative: The Eastgate Clock
Everyone recognises the iconic sight of Big Ben, but who can name Britain’s second most photographed clock? The Roman city of Chester’s Eastgate Clock is far less known than its London counterpart, but equally impressive. Built in 1899 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, the clock is meticulously crafted from wrought iron, with intricate gilded details in gold on the four faces. Whilst experiencing the view from the top of Big Ben requires booking a specialist tour, climbing the Eastgate Clock is completely free and open to the public 24 hours a day. Tourists who make the climb will be rewarded with a view down Chester’s historic main high street, which is made up of fascinating black and white storefronts, some which date back to the Tudor period.
Popular tourist spot: Stonehenge
The mystery surrounding Stonehenge has baffled historians the world over for hundreds of years, and has been the subject of countless academic debates. Although it’s definitely the most famous, Stonehenge certainly isn’t the only prehistoric site worth visiting in Britain. Head just two miles north of Stonehenge and you’ll find Woodhenge, which is a ceremonial monument dating back to the Bronze Age. Re-discovered in 1925, it’s believed the monument was a circular structure made up of 168 wooden posts, which have been recreated with concrete pillars. Unlike Stonehenge, you won’t find any restricted areas here. The rules surrounding the site are much more relaxed than Stonehenge, which means you can explore the monument in its entirety and walk around the pillars at your leisure.
Popular tourist spot: The London Eye
Alternative: The Wheel of Liverpool
Famed for its stunning views across Britain’s capital, the London Eye is undoubtedly a must-see attraction. After experiencing the London Eye you’ll no doubt want to witness an aerial view of other major British cities, and you’ll be glad to hear you can. Positioned next to the Echo Arena in the famous Albert Dock, The Wheel of Liverpool is slightly smaller than the London Eye at 60 metres tall, but still offers fantastic views across one of Britain’s most architecturally varied cities. The 42 individual capsules of the wheel are spacious and air conditioned, so you’ll be able to view the city in absolute comfort.
Popular tourist spot: Hadrian’s Wall
Alternative: Antonine Wall
When it comes to Scotland’s history, the first thing that springs to mind is probably Hadrian’s Wall. However, despite being slightly less intact than Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine fortifications even further north are still well worth a visit. Built in 142 AD as an extra line of defence against the Scots, the Antonine Wall was the most northern point of the Roman Empire, lending it an undeniable significance in Britain’s history. Along the route of the Wall are the remains of defensive forts built by the Romans, as well as signs of the Scottish tribes who started using the Wall’s structures after the Romans had retreated to the south in 160 AD.
Popular tourist spot: Hyde Park
Alternative: Hampstead Heath
Hyde Park and the adjoining Kensington Gardens in the centre of London have always been a popular spot for tourists seeking brief respite from the hustle and bustle of the capital. Still think a park in the middle of the city isn’t peaceful enough? Journey just four miles away from central London and you’ll find Hampstead Heath, a parkland area that is so tranquil and beautiful that you’ll hardly believe a major metropolis is nearby. The highlight of the park is Parliament Hill, from which a jaw-dropping vista of London’s skyline will be laid out at your feet. The view is particularly impressive at night, when the city is transformed into an illuminated monument on the horizon.
Popular tourist spot: The Angel of the North
Alternative: Another Place
Britain’s artists are a talented bunch, none more so than sculptor Antony Gormley, whose famous piece the ‘Angel of the North’ has been welcoming travellers to Tyneside in the Northeast of England since it was built in 1998. Gormley’s contemporary works can in fact be spotted all around Britain, and any tourist who seeks them out will be well rewarded. Unveiled just a year before the Angel, Another Place is a sculpture on an even wider scale that is no less thought-provoking. The piece, situated on Crosby Beach in Merseyside, consists of 100 six-foot tall cast iron figures, which are all positioned to gaze out at the sea towards the horizon. The figures are at the mercy of the tide, gradually enveloped and revealed again throughout the day by the movements of the water.
Popular tourist spot: The British Museum
Alternative: Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
London is famed for its wide variety of museums, boasting some of the most visited in all of Britain. These museums are obviously fascinating places to visit, but if you can’t make it to London there are still plenty of cities to consider. Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery dates back to the nineteenth century, and contains a vast range of European pieces of art and artefacts. The museum has even released an iPhone app, which will give you a guided tour of the exhibitions. The museum itself is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of its architect, who supposedly took his own life by leaping from one of the towers after realising he’d built the museum backwards.