Quirkiest sights in Lonely Planet’s top 500 UK experiences list

From a TOILET in Hull to giant metallic horse statues: The quirky sights Lonely Planet says are unmissable experiences in the UK

  • The Minack Theatre is a ‘craggy clifftop’ on the Cornish coast that hosts plays, gigs and other performances
  • Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is a pub in Nottingham that claims to be the oldest inn in the whole of Britain  
  • Quay House is located on the Conwy quayside is the UK’s smallest house and is just 122 inches high

A public toilet, a house that measures just six feet across and 98ft-tall stainless-steel horse sculptures.

Lonely Planet recently revealed its top 500 experiences in the UK – and some are decidedly quirky.

Scroll down to see our pick of the bunch…

Watch a clifftop play at the Minack Theatre – number 69 in the ranking of 500

The Minack Theatre above the beach of Porthcurno in Cornwall. Lonely Planet says it is Britain’s ‘most applause-worthy theatre’

Located on a ‘craggy clifftop’ on the Cornish coast, the Minack Theatre is a ‘stunning amphitheatre’ cut into the cliffs above the popular beach of Porthcurno.

According to Lonely Planet, it is Britain’s most ‘applause-worthy theatre’ and hosts a summer-long programme of plays, gigs and other live performances.

The book says: ‘With its epic backdrop of wheeling gulls and white-capped surf, few locations feel as intrinsically theatrical as this.’

Follow the Banksy trail in Bristol – number 85

In Bristol, fans of Banksy can follow an official walking trail that takes in some of his artwork. Pictured is his Vermeer spoof ‘Girl with Pierced Eardrum’

Described as the world’s ‘most subversive street artist’, Banksy hails from Bristol, where he is said to have joined a guerrilla graffiti crew in the 1980s.

According to Lonely Planet, Banksy’s celebrity ‘has helped put the city on the map’. And Visit Bristol has devised an official walking trail that takes in several of his artworks.

These include a ‘Molotov-cocktail wielding teddy bear, a Vermeer spoof and a sexual health clinic cartoon’.

Make the pilgrimage for a pint at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem – number 107

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem claims to be England’s oldest inn. Lonely Planet says it has a network of caves opening directly off the rear 

Located in Nottingham, this ‘white-washed edifice’ claims to be the oldest inn in England and is ‘steeped in legend’.

According to the book, the pub was established as a ‘stop-off for Holy Land-bound pilgrims with Richard the Lionheart supposedly among the former clients’.

And Lonely Planet points out: ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’s coolest feature is the network of caves opening directly off the rear, some used as drinking rooms or cellars. Characterful as the interior is, take a drink to the front garden courtyard if the weather allows: this opens up great views of the pub and castle above.’ 

Tour abandoned Aldwych, one of London’s ‘ghost’ Tube stations – number 139

One of the disused platforms inside Aldwych Tube station in London. Visitors can now take tours of the abandoned station 

London has a handful of no-longer-used ‘ghost stations’ and according to Lonely Planet, the most accessible is Aldwych, originally called Strand station.

It opened in 1907 and was temporarily closed during the Second World War to shelter Londoners during the Blitz as well as items from the British Museum. It finally closed in 1994.

Visitors can now take tours of the abandoned station. Lonely Planet explains: ‘Tours start in the ticket hall, complete with evocative old notices and impeccable tilework, pass the 1920s’ wooden-floored lifts and head down to platform level, where a 1970s Tube carriage is parked.’

Cruise by canal boat to the Kelpies – number 153

The 98ft-high duo of shining silver horse heads that are located near Falkirk. Each statue weighs 300 tonnes each 

This duo of shining silver horseheads, or Kelpies, are located near Falkirk and are ’98ft high, fashioned from 928 stainless steel dragon scale plates and weigh 300 tonnes each’.

They were unveiled in 2013 and according to Lonely Planet, were built as a monument to Scotland’s Central Belt’s horse-powered heritage during the industrial revolution.

The book suggests: ‘You can discover the gigantic metalheads from the inside on a guided tour, but it’s more memorable to see them from the water, cruising from the Falkirk Wheel (the world’s only rotating boat lift) to the eastern gateway of the Forth and Clyde canal.

Dive into the World Bog Snorkelling Championships – number 289

The World Bog Snorkelling Championships started 34 years ago and take place on the last Sunday in August in Llanwrtyd Wells in mid-Wales

The World Bog Snorkelling Championships take place in Llanwrtyd Wells in mid-Wales each year.

It started 34 years ago ‘when folk looked across the black and sodden land and came up with a cunning plan to liven things up’.

The championships take place on the last Sunday in August, when people ‘grease up, slap on a snorkel, fancy-dress outfit and a novelty hat and plunge into the tea-coloured bog along with equally bonkers bog snorkellers from all over the world’.

Spend a penny at Victoria Pier’s public toilets in Hull – number 483

The public toilets on Hull’s Victoria Pier make Lonely Planet’s list. It describes them as ‘no ordinary public toilets’ 

The toilets opened in 1926 to serve passengers waiting for the Humber Ferry. Lonely Planet says they are gorgeous temples of lavatorial luxury built in Edwardian style

The public toilets on Hull’s Victoria Pier are ‘no ordinary public toilets’, according to Lonely Planet.

That’s because ‘they are gorgeous temples of lavatorial luxury built in Edwardian style with art nouveau flourishes, resplendent with gleaming white tiles, polished copper piping, varnished mahogany and a minor jungle of potted plants’.

The toilets opened in 1926 to serve passengers waiting for the Humber Ferry and were restored in the 1990s. Lonely Planet says they often win awards for the best-kept public loos.

Squeeze into the UK’s dinkiest residence at Quay House, Conwy – number 484

Quay House, pictured, in Conwy has been certified as Britain’s smallest house. Lonely Planet says thousands of visitors descend on the ‘dinky abode’

Certified as the smallest house in Great Britain, Quay House is located on the Conwy quayside and measures in at 72 inches wide and 122 inches high.

Lonely Planet writes: ‘Incredibly, the last inhabitant was a 6ft3in fisherman, Robert Jones, who was unable to stand fully inside: authorities declared the abode unfit for living in 1900 and forced him to move out.’

Now, the book says that thousands descend on the ‘dinky abode to glean an insight into the 16th-century Welsh lifestyle’. 


1. Edinburgh Fringe Festival

2. British Museum, London

3. Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

4. Bath, Somerset

5. Hadrian’s Wall, Northeast England

6. A Sunday pub roast

7. Tate Modern, London

8. Stonehenge, Wiltshire

9. Windermere, Cumbria

10. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, South Wales

11. Punting in Cambridge

12. Glastonbury Festival, Somerset

13. St Paul’s Cathedral, London

14. Scilly Isles

15. Stratford-upon-Avon, West Midlands

16. Borough Market, London

17. Glencoe, Scotland

18. Yorkshire Dales National Park

19. Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

20. South Bank, London

21. Durham Cathedral

22. Skara Brae, Scotland

23. Shakespeare’s Globe, London

24. Harry Potter on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

25. Kew Gardens, London

26. Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire

27. Tower of London

28. Holkham Beach, Norfolk

29. Durdle Door, Dorset

30. York Minster

31. Bonfire Night in Lewes, East Sussex

32. Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

33. South West Coastal Path

34. Dinner and a show in Theatreland, London

35. Beachy Head and Seven Sisters cliffs, Sussex

36. Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour, Watford

37. North Coast 500, Scottish Highlands

38. Soho and Covent Garden, London

39. Blakeney Point, Norfolk

40. Lake District, Cumbria

41. Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

42. Hampstead Heath, London

43. Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

44. Gothic Whitby, Yorkshire

45. Snowdon, North Wales

46. Natural History Museum, London

47. Gower Peninsula, South Wales

48. Welsh rugby match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff

49. Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

50. Christ Church College, Oxford

Source: Lonely Planet. To read more click here. 

How the list was drawn up: The Lonely Planet team compiled every highlight from the Lonely Planet guidebooks to Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Every sight, attraction and experience that had caught their writers’ attention over the years were included. Everyone in Lonely Planet’s London office, plus 20 leading figures in the country’s travel sector, were then asked to reveal their favourite spots and experiences before the voting began. Everybody in Lonely Planet’s UK community was asked to vote for their top 20 experiences. With hundreds of votes cast, Lonely Planet ended up with a score for each of the 500 experiences in the book. 

Lonely Planet’s Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist is out now, priced £19.99

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