THE most widely recognised prehistoric monument in Europe, Stonehenge, is the number one visited attraction in the South West, according to a new study published last week.

The world heritage site on Salisbury Plain hosted 1,555,868 visitors from the UK and overseas last year. This was a drop of 1.68 per cent on the previous year but still enough to put it ahead of other South West tourist hotspots.

The beautiful 1,072-hectare National Trust estate at Stourhead was the best performing attraction in the South West. It welcomed 3.28 per cent more visitors last year than it did in 2017.

In contrast, Bristol Zoo Gardens experienced a 8.61 per cent decline in visitor numbers from 523,166 in 2017 to 478,126 last year, making it the worst performing attraction of those that featured in the region.

Outdoors specialists Blacks analysed official visitor data, TripAdvisor review scores and thousands of Instagram hashtags to uncover an ultimate list of must-see attractions in the South West and throughout the UK.

Four of the top seven attractions in the South West received an impressive 4.5 average review score on TripAdvisor, whilst the remaining three scored a 4-star rating.

Despite achieving an average of 4.29 out of a possible five stars, the South West scored the lowest in the list of regions that featured.

Despite only being the fourth most visited, the South West was the second most Instagrammable region in the UK with over 1.1 million (1,139,577) hashtags from the top three most hashtagged attractions with Stonehenge contributing 691,785 hashtags to this success.

The most Instagrammable attractions in the South West were Stonehenge, Longleat near Warminster, the Eden Project at St Austell in Cornwall, the Roman Baths and Pump Room in Bath, and Bristol Zoo Gardens.

The research showed UK attractions are becoming more popular, with overall visits to attractions rising by an average of 1.69 per cent against the previous year.

London-based attractions secured all 10 of the most popular attractions in the UK by visits. Eighty of the top 100 were based in England and almost half of these (37) were located within London.

Of the 43 outside of London but in England, there were ten in the South East, eight in the North West, seven in the South West, five in Yorkshire and the Humber, five in the West Midlands, four in the East of England, three in the East Midlands, and one in the North East.

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