The annual attractions survey by VisitEngland has revealed the most popular free and paid-for attractions visited during 2019.
Visits to England’s gardens increased by 10% in 2019 compared to the previous year, with farms and places of worship also seeing strong growth in visitor numbers, up 8% and 7% respectively.
Historic houses/castles and wildlife attractions/zoos saw good growth in visits, both up by 5%. Overall England’s visitor attractions saw a rise of 3% in visitors in 2019, the highest year-on-year increase since 2014.
Topping the list of free attractions was the British Museum with 6.2 million visitors followed by the Tate Modern with nearly 6.1 million and the National Gallery with 6 million.
The Tower of London remained the most visited ‘paid for’ attraction in 2019 with almost 3 million visits followed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, which saw a 25% increase in visitors to 2.3 million and Chester Zoo with 2.1 million.
Sally Balcombe, VisitEngland’s chief executive, said: “From world-renowned museums, galleries, castles and historic houses to rural, wildlife and outdoor experiences, England’s outstanding range of visitor attractions are a crucial and valuable part of our tourism offer, boosting local economies right across the country.”
“England’s attractions continued to provide a rich and varied canvas to capture the imagination of visitors and our stunning gardens were a proven tourism draw, admired for their beauty and variety.”
Sally Balcombe, VisitEngland’s chief executive
“Millions of jobs and local economies rely on tourism and this annual survey is also a timely opportunity to highlight the dedication of visitor attractions across the country who have been working so hard to welcome visitors back safely, adapting and innovating to meet new ways of working and still providing a great experience.”
Here are the top 20 most visited ‘paid for’ attractions, and the top 20 most visited free attractions:
|RANK||Most visited PAID attractions||Number of visitors in 2019||RANK||Most visited FREE attractions||Number of visitors in 2019|
|1||Tower of London||2,984,499||1||British Museum||6,239,983|
|2||Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew||2,316,699||2||Tate Modern||6,098,340|
|3||Chester Zoo||2,086,785||3||The National Gallery||6,011,007|
|4||St Paul’s Cathedral||1,716,417||4||Natural History Museum (South Kensington)||5,423,932|
|5||Windermere Lake Cruises, Bowness||1,613,785||5||Brighton Pier||4,901,221|
||Stonehenge||1,604,248||6||V&A (South Kensington)||3,992,198|
||Wesminster Abbey||1,574,401||7||Science Museum||3,301,975|
||Roman Baths||1,325,085||8||Somerset House||2,841,772|
||Old Royal Naval College||1,264,683||9||Tate Britain||1,808,637|
|10||Royal Academy of Arts||1,248,882||10||National Portrait Gallery, London||1,619,694|
|11||Canterbury Cathedral||1,241,030||11||British Library||1,534,860|
|12||RHS Garden Wisley||1,236,434||12||The Abbey Gardens and Abbey Ruins||1,228,564|
|13||ZSL London Zoo||1,157,076||13||Imperial War Museum London||1,073,936|
|14||National Museum Royal Navy||1,122,072||14||MAC Birmingham||993,108|
|15||Hampton Court Palace||1,072,823||15||Museum of Liverpool||956,918|
|16||Houses of Parliament||1,063,501||16||Horniman Museum and Gardens||952,954|
|17||Longleat Safari & Adventure Park||1,011,314||17||Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology||930,669|
|18||Eden Project||1,010,095||18||Serpentine Gallery||880,677|
||Blenheim Palace||984,913||19||Merseyside Maritime Museum||836,980|
|20||Tower Bridge Exhibition||889,338||20||Oxford University Museum of Natural History||792,282|
The survey, which gathered information from more than 1,300 English attractions, also showed that there were more local day trips to attractions than in the previous year, up 2%.
VisitEngland said almost 2,500 visitor attractions in England had now applied for the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and consumer mark to date with more than 22,000 businesses across England signed up to the scheme since its launch.