Here is English vocabulary for some typical places of interest for tourists to a city, town, or the countryside.
Famous tourist attractions
There are many types of museum:
Local history museum / Town museum = where there are displays of objects found in the local area, or which are important to the local area.
Art gallery = where you can see paintings, photographs and sculptures, as well as exhibitions of particular artists.
In London (for example) there are many other types of museum, such as:
Natural History museum = a museum where you can see everything related to Earth and to the history and development of Earth, such as dinosaur skeletons, fossils, etc.
Science Museum = a museum where you can see scientific and technological developments and discoveries. Often these museums have interactive displays.
Others are Madame Tussauds (a waxworks museum), the London Dungeons (a museum which recreates historical events), a Maritime museum, the Imperial War museum and the Tower of London (an old prison which also contains the Crown Jewels).
Tourists often visit churches and cathedrals, as well as other historic buildings.
Other attractions include historical sites of interest (such as Roman ruins and famous battle or burial sites), as well as parks, gardens, and stately homes (= big house owned by aristocrats) and castles.
Some palaces (= house for the royal family) or parliament buildings are also open to visitors.
Things to do
You can go and see an exhibition (in a museum or art gallery).
You can also go to a festival (such as a music or arts festival) or a fair (often an annual event with various stalls to raise money for a charity or a town).
You can also go to hear live music (a concert of classical music or a “gig” of rock or folk music).
Other cultural attractions are the opera, plays (with actors) and the ballet.
In some towns you can also go to the funfair (where you pay to go on rides) and theme parks, such as Disneyland, for example.
These might be areas of natural beauty, such as mountains, lakes and the coastline. (See our page on Scenery vocabulary for useful words and phrases to describe the countryside.)
For towns on the sea, other places to enjoy can be a promenade (walking area next to the sea), a pier (a long walking area built out over the sea) and a lighthouse (tall building where a light shines to show ships where the dangerous areas of the sea are). The harbour (area where ships come in) can also be a popular area for restaurants and shops.
English speaking: Information for tourists and visitors
In the Tourist Information office you can ask about the opening hours (or opening times) for parks, museums and galleries, etc.
You can also ask if there is an entrance fee or admission cost. For many attractions there is a car park nearby (but not always free parking). Some parks, gardens and historical buildings are open to the public only at some times of the year.
You can also ask if there is a gift shop (or souvenir shop) or refreshments (a bar or cafe that serves drinks, snacks or light meals).
Many tourist attractions arrange tours for visitors (guided tours or audio tours) and you can find information in brochures and leaflets (a one-page brochure folded vertically into two, three or four pages), or on posters and flyers (very small leaflet often left on cars, for example).
Practise your listening!
Listen to three conversations at the Tourist Information office. You can also read the tapescript as you listen.
Hello Can I help you?
Do you have any information about local places of interest?
Have a look at these brochures.
Hi – can I help you?
Oh, yes. Er, can you recommend any interesting towns nearby?
How can I help you?
We’re looking for information about the Picasso exhibition.
Oh yes, here are the leaflets.
Now go on to the next page to get phrases to ask for and give directions: Useful English Phrases for Giving Directions