Crowning glory: Queen’s former yacht tops survey of UK’s favourite historic attractions

The Royal Yacht Britannia has been rated the UK’s favourite historical attraction, according to a new Which? survey.

The Queen’s former yacht, permanently moored on the waters of Leith in Edinburgh, came out on top when over 4,000 Which? members were asked to rate the UK’s 50 most visited attractions on criteria including facilities, entertainment and lack of crowds. 

The Royal Yacht Britannia, which visited 144 countries during its 44 years in royal service, topped the table with a customer score of 90 per cent. Visitors gave it a five-star rating for food and drink, information, and value for money.

Visitors told Which? it was an “outstanding attraction”, “immaculately kept” and that staff were “very kind and helpful”. One respondent told Which?, “I thought we would spend about two hours there and in the end were practically the last to leave”.

It was followed by Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden in Yorkshire, the country’s largest monastic ruins, with a customer score of 89 per cent. Those who rated it highly described the setting as “magical” and “suited to a slow pace and contemplation”. 

The Abbey also scored well for information and value for money with both receiving five stars. It also achieved a further five stars for lack of crowds and queues, meaning visitors can enjoy the ruins and the Water Garden with plenty of space to roam between the two.

Stourhead House and Gardens received the third highest customer score (88%), followed by the Tower of London (87%), the most expensive of the 50 attractions. Entry to the popular London attraction costs £30.30 a head for adult non-members, but visitors gave it four out of five stars for value for money, with a wide range of exhibitions to enjoy as part of the ticket price.

Durham Cathedral was the highest scoring free attraction, with a customer score of 85 per cent – putting it joint seventh out of the 50 attractions (alongside Dover Castle, Culzean Castle, Titanic Belfast and Tyntesfield). Visitors gave it five stars for lack of crowds and value for money. 

While visitors recommended the guided tours and attending a service to enjoy music from the choir, the Cathedral has since temporarily suspended singing and choral music as a result of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

At the other end of the table was Southend Pier, the world’s longest pleasure pier, with a respectable customer score of 63 per cent. Although it features at the bottom of the list, it scored four stars for accessibility and lack of crowds. Visitors praised the walk along the pier as a way to blow away the cobwebs and liked the option of taking a train from one end to the other to enjoy the views.

However, it scored just one star for entertainment and engagement, facilities, and food and drink. Some visitors complained that the pier was “run down” and “not the most exciting place in the world”.

Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: 

“With so many of us holidaying in the UK this year, we’re all looking for new places to explore and these results provide plenty of inspiration, with some excellent lesser-known attractions alongside the favourites we already know and love.  

“Our findings show that visitors value learning something new from the historical attractions they visit, while providing value for money is another common feature of those near the top of the table. What’s clear though is that whatever your budget, whether you’re looking for a stroll down a pier or a saunter through a palace, the UK is blessed with fantastic locations for great days out.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Which? reveals the UK’s top 50 historic attractions
  2. Which? surveyed 4,283 members of its online panel between 9th and 30th March 2020. Members could comment on multiple attractions, generating 5,402 responses.
  3. Full table of scores:

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