VisitBritain’s annual study on the number of visits to different attractions has been released, with two London sites taking first place in the top ten paid and free places to go. 

Tower of London

Source: Historic Royal Palaces

See where Anne Boleyn lost her head at the Tower of London.

The survey is carried out through a mix of postal and online interviewing by the tourist board, with the English attractions listed choosing to take part in the study, also allowing VisitBritain to make their results public.

Most visited PAID attractions

The Tower of London finished in top spot with an estimated total of just under three million visitors in 2018. Groups can visit the actual Crown Jewels and also take part in a Yeoman Warder tour, giving an insight into the gruesome of the tower.

Further London attractions in the top 10 include Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Royal Academy of Arts and ZSL London Zoo. 

Chester Zoo, which came second place, welcomed more than 1.9 million visitors throughout last year. The zoo provides shelter to more than 27,000 animals and includes around 125 acres of zoological gardens to explore.

Windermere Lake Cruises, Bowness also finished in fifth spot, offering a unique day on the water in the Lake District.

The top 10:

  1. Tower of London
  2. Chester Zoo
  3. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  4. St Paul’s Cathedral
  5. Windermere Lake Cruises, Bowness
  6. Royal Academy of Arts
  7. Stonehenge
  8. Westminster Abbey
  9. Roman Baths and Pump, Bath
  10. ZSL London Zoo

Most visited FREE attractions

Tate Modern on the banks of the River Thames welcomed nearly 5.9 million people in 2018, making it the most visited free attraction according to Visit Britain. The gallery showcases a range of exhibitions to complement its permanent features.

Tate Modern

Source: Rikard Osterlund

The gallery showcases a range of unique artworks.

The list is made up of some of the country’s most well-known museums and art galleries, including the British Museum, V&A, Science Museum and National Portrait Gallery. 

Brighton Pier welcomed just under five million people last year, making it the most popular pier in the country and fifth on the list. The attraction includes all the usual arcade and amusement favourites, as well as fairground rides and a Dolphin Derby at the end of the walkway. 

The top 10:

  1. Tate Modern
  2. British Museum
  3. National Gallery
  4. Natural History Museum (South Kensington)
  5. Brighton Pier
  6. V & A (South Kensington)
  7. Science Museum
  8. Somerset House
  9. National Portrait Gallery
  10. British Library

For the full lists outlining the top 20, visit