We’ve put together some of the best towns and cities in south England for a day trip, holiday, or vacation.
From epic coastline to quaint villages and ancient cities, there’s just a lot to explore in Southern England.
Here are our picks…
Table of Contents
We start with the biggest place in the South of England, and the UK: London.
With about 20 million people in Greater London there’s bound to be something for everyone. Whether it’s the history and spectacle of central London, or areas like Greenwich, Camden, Covent Garden, and Chiswick are all great.
London’s also a melting pot of different cultures and people, best scene via the vibrant food scene.
If you want to know more about this great global city, visit here for all our London articles. In the meantime, here are a selection of posts:
Bath is one of the unique and most beautiful cities in South England. It is a historic town with an ancient history of Roman baths.
The city is full of fantastic Georgian buildings built from bath stone.
It’s also got a close connection with Jane Austen, who lived in the town, and fans of the author can visit the excellent Jane Austen museum.
Home to some of England’s most popular villages, the Cotswolds is a place worth visiting. This town is known for its cosy cottages and honey-coloured stone. Visit Broadway, Bibury, Castle Combe, and Burford – which are beautiful, charming, and historical.
If you’re adventurous, you can go hiking on the Cotswolds way, about 100 miles to Bath or participate in the water sports at the Cotswolds water park.
Newquay is a famous beach town in Cornwall. The town is a great vacation destination for families, especially for its bounty of blue flag beaches, bars, and clubs. However, that’s not all.
Newquay is home to unique villages such as Holywell, Perranporth, and St Agnes.
You can visit Rick Stein’s restaurant in Padstow for some special breakfast treat. Then hit the Watergate beach, home to some of the best family hotels in Cornwall.
The county town of Cornwall is a lovely market town on a river of the same name.
It’s notable for its cathedral which, despite its ancient looks, is actually only about 100 years old (a youngster for a English cathedral).
Salisbury boasts a beautiful, ancient high street and a cathedral. There are several boutique shops, independent bars, and eateries to explore.
But the main attraction is Stonehenge. The giant stone circle in Stonehenge remains one of the historical mysteries in the country. Built 5,000 years ago, no one knows why or how the stone was built. This mystery is a source of attraction for visitors from across the world.
Sitting right in the hills of West Sussex, Arundel is one of the most stunning places to visit in the South Of England, especially if you love history.
When you get there, visit the Arundel castle and cathedral and explore the numerous antique stores on the main street. Also see the Parsons table restaurant to taste some of the native Arundel foods. Their meals are incredible.
Located around the seaside, Bournemouth is an exciting city to visit in the south of England, especially for its excellent sandy beaches.
The city comprises over 7 miles of beaches, making it a popular destination for beach lovers. The good part is that the beaches offer some of the warmest waters in south England.
In addition, head over Freida’s Tabus to visit the harbour area for afternoon tea. To fully enjoy your outdoors, visit the Bournemouth Pier for some rock climbing and zip lining.
Located a few miles from London’s best areas, Brighton and Hove is a famous city in England. Plus, it is one of the best places to enjoy a mix of food, seaside, and culture.
Visit the Brighton Palace pier to grab some fish, and take a walk around the wooden walkways at noon. For the best food, hop over to Halisco which prepares some of the most delicious Latin food.
Canterbury’s history in England is phenomenal as it was formerly a spiritual pilgrimage site.
In fact, it remains an epic location for visitors who love history.
Visit the Roman museum if you love to go a bit further back in time. When you’re hungry, quickly stop by Pinocchio’s Restaurant to enjoy some of the delicious moat pasta.
But it’s key draw is Canterbury Cathedral which looms over the city.
Located on River Exe’s bankside, the history of Exeter dates back to the Roman days. The town offers a lot of exciting sights to see and things to do. The original city walls are located in the town’s central location next to the gigantic Exeter Cathedral.
Be sure to wander around to explore the history of this city. Then head to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum to explore all kinds of nature’s art and history. Hop over to Harry’s Restaurant to satisfy your craving for yummy steaks in Exeter.
Located a few miles from Central London, Windsor is a beautiful place in southern England, especially for people who love castles.
Today, it’s easier to reach Windsor from London by train, and it takes about 30 minutes. When you get there, hop over to Windsor Castle to explore the ancient history of the city.
12. Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis – often called the Pearl of Dorset – is a fine traditional English seaside town on the south coast of England.
But it’s also in the middle of the Jurassic coast, known for its ancient background such as the fossils and rock formations which have been around for 185 million years.
The coast offers plenty of activities to explore. You can go hiking on the cliffs or visit unique seaside towns like Weymouth and Lyme Regis.
With over 95 miles of incredible coastlines to explore, Dorset Jurassic Coast delivers a memorable adventure experience.
Hastings is a reasonably non descript town in East Sussex.
However it was also the site of one of the most consequential battles in British history: the Battle of Hastings.
The actual site of the battle is the village of, well, Battle, just outside the town and is definitely worth the visit.
Penzance is located in Mound’s Bay in Cornwall, and it’s a beautiful place to visit.
When you get there, head to the historic Walk down chapel street with old buildings from the 18th century. It has that warm and exciting Cornwall charm that attracts visitors from everywhere.
Visit the Morrab Gardens and Jubilee pool for a natural view, and head to Trengwainton restaurant to satisfy your craving for delicious food.
Plymouth is popular for its historical naval background. It is where the Pilgrims departed for the new world in 1620. When you get there, visit the Plymouth Hoe, Plymouth sound, and the Mansion of Saltram.
Head over to the Tudor Rose Tea Rooms and Garden for a lovely afternoon tea. For dinner time, visit the Artillery Tower for delicious fresh fish.
Another town with a strong naval history, Portsmouth is popular as a port and naval city and essential visit for tourists looking to know about naval and British maritime history. But that’s not all! Also called Pompey by locals, Portsmouth is a crucial base for the British Royal Navy.
Explore the beautiful museums and historic dockyards, and enter the town to grab some traditional chips and fish with great beers to wash them down.
Situated on the southern coast, Southampton city is easy to reach.
When you get there, head to the SeaCity Museum, explore the Tudor house, and hop over to the Southampton Town walls.
You can visit the Uptons of Bassett for the best chop experience.
But if you want a sweet fix, hop over to Stacks Pancake House for some tasty dessert and brunch.
Also called England’s Riviera, Torquay is known for amazing beaches and Babbacombe.
When you get here, visit the Babbacombe Model Village. Then head over to the Kents Cavern, an iconic historical monument in Torquay. Finally, explore Cockington Country Park with lots of fun activities.
If you love birds, hop over to Living Coasts, a place that showcases the local seabirds and emphasis on conservation.
Then head over to Small World Tapas for dinner. They’ve got great selections of delicious tapas.
Weymouth is one of the best places to visit in the South of England, especially for its beautiful promenade of Georgian-style townhouses.
Weymouth has a fantastic beach, an old town to explore, and a completely kitsch harborfront suitable for a walk.
The beautiful Yeovil town is home to the Fleet Air Museum with gardens and parks. This means if you love parks and planes, you’ll enjoy Yeovil. After a visit to the museum, head to Ninesprings Park, a popular and beautiful spot with lush scenery and impressive waterfalls.
Then you can take a 25-minute drive out of Yeovil to visit the Cerne Abbas Giant, a huge nude figure of a male. This image has been used in historical practice for hundreds of years, where couples dance around the image and pray for fertility.