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United Kingdom > Culture and festivals > World heritage in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland

UNESCO World heritage sites in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and British Overseas Territories

As for world heritage sites in England, click here. 


   1. Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd
   2. Blaenavon Industrial Landscape
   3. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal    

   1. Old and New Towns of Edinburgh
   2. The Forth Bridge
   3. New Lanark
   4. Heart of Neolithic Orkney 
   5. St Kilda

Northern Ireland

   1. Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast

British Overseas Territories
   1. Henderson Island
   2. Gough and Inaccessible Islands
   3. Historic Town of St George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda.
   4. Gorham's Cave Complex, Gibraltar.

You find hereunder some details about the UNESCO world heritage sites in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.


1. Castle and walls of King Edward in Gwynedd, north Wales 

The dramatic history of north Wales is sealed in the walled towns and spectacular castles that date back to the 12th century when King Edward I invaded the area and defeated the local Welsh princes. Determined to colonise the area, he set about building a network of fortified towns and castles, where English immigrants could settle and administer his new province.  

Many of these impressive buildings remain; Harlech and Beaumaris castles and the city walls of Caenarfon and Conwy are each part of the UNESCO site and are considered to be some of the finest examples of 13th and 14th century architecture in Europe. Web: discovergwynedd. Com 

Getting there: Caenarfon, the capital of the region, is around a two-hour drive west of Manchester. Bangor station is a 20-minute taxi drive away. 

2. Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, Monmouthshire, south-east Wales 

Surrounded by the spectacularly beautiful landscapes of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the former mining village of Blaenavon has turned its industrial heritage into a number of fascinating visitor attractions. The historic Ironworks, dating back to 1789, and the workers' cottages, are open to visitors. 

But the real draw is Big Pit, the National Coal Museum of Wales, which takes visitors on an underground tour 300 ft below the surface, to discover what life was like for those who spent their lives working in the darkness. In addition to the history, the modern town of Blaenavon has a charming high street, with a chocolatier, cheese maker and several tea shops. Web: visitblaenavon. 

Getting there: Blaenavon is just under an hour's drive north of Cardiff, or three-and-a-half hours from London. 

3. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wrexham County Borough in north east Wales 

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a must-see, built in 1795 with an entire length of 1,007 ft and 19 arches; it is an engineering masterpiece for its day and now a World Heritage Site. 


1. The Old and New Town Edinburgh, Scotland 

Edinburgh's two 'towns' give a very different perspective on the Scottish capital's history. The Old Town perches on Castle Hill, dominated by a spectacular medieval fortress and characterised by a lattice of winding lanes dotted with 16th and 17th century merchant's houses.  

Below, the New Town has a world-class array of nee-classical buildings, with carefully designed parks and green areas. Every visitor to Edinburgh should walk 'the Royal Mile', which leads down from Edinburgh Castle at the top of the hill, to Holyrood Palace, where the Queen spends one week's holiday each summer. Web: 

Getting there: Edinburgh is four-and-a-half hours by train from London Euston, and there are regular flights from London Heathrow. 

2. The Forth Bridge, west of Edinburgh, Scotland 

The spectacular Forth Bridge links Edinburgh to Fife 2.5km across the Firth of Forth in the east of Scotland. 

3. New Lanark in Lanarkshire, Scotland 

The Industrial Revolution turned Britain into one of the world's richest nations. One of the key inventions was Richard Arkwright's spinning frame. First invented in 1768, factories that wove strong, cheap cloth sprung up across the north of England and Scotland as a result. Forty kilometres south east of Glasgow, the New Lanark Mill was run by the philanthropist Robert Owen who was determined to treat his workers fairly in the early 19th century. The imposing cotton mill buildings, the spacious and well-designed workers' housing, and the dignified educational institute and school still testify to Owen's humanism. 

This "model" factory is now a World Heritage site. As well as touring the site you can also stay in the hotel and apartments there. New Lanark is a small 18th- century village set in a sublime Scottish landscape. Web: 


4. Heart of Neolithic Orkney, northern Scotland 

Lovers of ancient history will find much to fascinate on Orkney's biggest island, known as   the 'mainland', located just off the northernmost tip of the Scottish mainland. Here there are spectacular standing stones, one of which reaches up to six metres, a stone circle set in a three-metre deep ditch and Skara Brae, Northern Europe's best preserved Neolithic village. Perhaps most spectacular is the chambered cairn (a burial monument), built so that the central chamber is illuminated on the winter solstice.  

When the conquering Vikings looted the chamber, they left one of the most impressive displays of runic inscriptions in the world. Orkney is also a wonderful place for wildlife and birds, with seals, otters, puffins and kittiwakes all calling the island home. Web: 

Getting there: The easiest way to get to Orkney is by air. Flybe operates flights from Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and London. 

5. St Kilda archipelago, Scotland 

This volcanic archipelago, with its spectacular landscapes, is situated off the coast of the Hebrides and comprises the islands of Hirta, Dun, Soay and Boreray. It has some of the highest cliffs in Europe, which have large colonies of rare and endangered species of birds. The archipelago, uninhabited since 1930, bears the evidence of more than 2,000 years of human occupation in the extreme conditions prevalent in the Hebrides. 


1. Giant's Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland 

Northern Ireland's most iconic site, the Giant's Causeway is on the north-east coast of Country Antrim, a spectacular array of around 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that were caused by an ancient volcanic eruption. The tallest columns stand 12 metres high and the tops of the lower columns form stepping stones right down to the sea.  

A new visitor centre opened in 2012, with exhibits and explanations of how the Causeway was formed. Twin a visit to the Causeway with one of the other major attractions in the area, including the Bushmills Distillery and Carrick a Rede, a tiny island joined to the mainland by a 100-ft high-rope bridge. Web: 

Getting there: The Giant's Causeway is one hour 20 minutes' drive north of Belfast, while Portrush station is a 20-minute taxi drive (an hour by train from Belfast).

Sources: Visit Britain and UNESCO.


UK Department for Culture
the world heritage sites in the united kingdom
world heritage list.
world heritage cities
pictures from world heritage sites in the united kingdom.

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Find here some details about the UNESCO world heritage sites in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, incl. the Castle of King Edward, the town Edinburgh, Giant's Causeway, and more.