The UK’s favourite historic attractions ranked – Fountains Abbey and Royal Yacht Britannia are top


Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire and the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh have tied in first place in a Which? survey of the best historic attractions in the UK.

In the survey, Which? members were asked to rate over 6,700 experiences using nine criteria, including overall value for money, helpfulness of staff and lack of crowds. Both Fountains Abbey and the Royal Yacht Britannia achieve an impressive overall score of 88 per cent, beating well-known attractions including Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey and The Tower of London to the top spot.

This year marks the second time the Royal Yacht Britannia has topped the UK historic attractions ranking, having done so previously in 2020.

The Royal Yacht Britannia has been ranked by Which? as Britain’s top historic attraction for the second time. It ties in first place this year with Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire

The Royal Yacht Britannia served the Royal Family for more than 44 years, travelling over one million nautical miles and visiting 135 countries over its lifetime

Now docked permanently on the Firth of Forth in Leith, visitors can explore the state apartments, crew's quarters and even the engine room, accompanied by a free audio guide, a facility highlighted as an especially 'nice touch' by one respondent, Which? reveals

The Royal Yacht Britannia served the Royal Family for more than 44 years, travelling over one million nautical miles and visiting 135 countries over its lifetime. Now docked permanently on the Firth of Forth in Leith, visitors can explore the state apartments, crew’s quarters and even the engine room, accompanied by a free audio guide, a facility highlighted as an especially ‘nice touch’ by one respondent, Which? reveals

Top-ranked Fountains Abbey is managed by the National Trust and is one of the most extensive Cistercian abbey ruins in Europe

Top-ranked Fountains Abbey is managed by the National Trust and is one of the most extensive Cistercian abbey ruins in Europe

The Royal Yacht Britannia achieves an almost clean sweep of five-star ratings, dropping just one point to a respectable four stars for food and drink and helpfulness of staff.

The ship served the Royal Family for more than 44 years, travelling over one million nautical miles and visiting 135 countries over its lifetime.

Now docked permanently on the Firth of Forth in Leith, visitors can explore the state apartments, crew’s quarters and even the engine room, accompanied by a free audio guide, a facility highlighted as an especially ‘nice touch’ by one respondent, Which? reveals.

In the survey, Which? members were asked to rate over 6,700 experiences using nine criteria, including overall value for money, helpfulness of staff and lack of crowds

In the survey, Which? members were asked to rate over 6,700 experiences using nine criteria, including overall value for money, helpfulness of staff and lack of crowds

Fountains Abbey is managed by the National Trust and is one of the most extensive Cistercian abbey ruins in Europe. It was a thriving monastic community for 400 years, explains Which?, until the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.

Those who rated the attraction highly praised the ‘calm atmosphere’ and ‘leisurely walks’ on offer in over 800 acres of grounds, says Which?, with the attraction scoring a full five stars for lack of crowds, as well as how accurately the description matched reality.

Coming a close joint second in the consumer champion’s survey of 2,944 people are Culzean Castle and Country Park in Scotland, managed by the National Trust for Scotland, and the Roman Baths and Pump Room in Bath, both achieving a score of 87 per cent.

Coming a close joint second in the consumer champion's survey are Culzean Castle and Country Park in Scotland (above), managed by the National Trust for Scotland, and the Roman Baths and Pump Room in Bath

Coming a close joint second in the consumer champion’s survey are Culzean Castle and Country Park in Scotland (above), managed by the National Trust for Scotland, and the Roman Baths and Pump Room in Bath

Which? says: ‘Perched atop rugged Ayrshire cliffs, the magnificent Culzean Castle was designed by architect Robert Adam in the 18th century and boasts 40 buildings and secret follies across its extensive country park, as well as a Swan Pond, formal gardens, play areas and an icehouse. With so much on offer, it unsurprisingly scoops a full five stars for facilities, as well as a further five for how well the description matched the reality of the experience on offer. One respondent enthused that the castle “is not to be missed”, while others commended the “amazing views and walks”.’

The Roman Baths, meanwhile, drew praise for the opportunity to explore the ‘fascinating’ and ‘well-preserved’ ruins in the heart of the honey-stoned city, says Which?. The attraction scores an impressive five stars for its engagement and entertainment value, with several respondents telling Which? that they appreciated the high-quality video exhibits on offer.

Durham Cathedral is the highest-scoring free attraction, with a customer score of 86 per cent. It ranks joint third in the table overall, tying with Stirling Castle. While Durham Cathedral is awarded a full five stars in five of the nine categories, including lack of crowds and value for money, it gains just two stars for facilities.

The Roman Baths in the city of Bath (above) scores an impressive five stars for its engagement and entertainment value, with several respondents telling Which? that they appreciated the high-quality video exhibits on offer

The Roman Baths in the city of Bath (above) scores an impressive five stars for its engagement and entertainment value, with several respondents telling Which? that they appreciated the high-quality video exhibits on offer

At the other end of the table is Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the playwright’s childhood home in Stratford-upon-Avon, with a score of 63 per cent. While respondents praised the building’s cultural significance, says Which?, it scores just two out of five stars for value for money and facilities, and rates no more than three stars in any category.

Despite scoring five and four stars in multiple categories, the Titanic Belfast attraction has an overall score of only 65 per cent and comes second from last. Which? explained to MailOnline Travel that this is because the overall scores are a weighted average of recommendation and satisfaction scores (50/50), independent of star ratings.

Guy Hobbs, Editor of Which? Travel, says: ‘This year two very different but equally impressive historic attractions top our survey, and it’s easy to see why. Both Fountains Abbey and the Royal Yacht Britannia offer a unique day out with visitors telling us they enjoyed the opportunity to immerse themselves in a slice of history for the day.

‘Whether you’re looking to get back to nature or explore the hidden histories of our remarkable cities, Which?’s rankings of the UK’s best historic attractions have plenty to inspire you.’

At the bottom of the table is Shakespeare's Birthplace (above), the playwright's childhood home in Stratford-upon-Avon, with a score of 63 per cent. While respondents praised the building's cultural significance, says Which?, it scores just two out of five stars for value for money and facilities, and rates no more than three stars in any category

At the bottom of the table is Shakespeare’s Birthplace (above), the playwright’s childhood home in Stratford-upon-Avon, with a score of 63 per cent. While respondents praised the building’s cultural significance, says Which?, it scores just two out of five stars for value for money and facilities, and rates no more than three stars in any category

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