Britain’s top tourist attractions saw their best ever year in 2013 with visitor number boosted by the hot summer and international media coverage of the London Olympics.

London‘s British Museum, Edinburgh Castle and Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon all saw record attendances last year, while heritage sites, zoos and gardens across Britain saw an average increase of 6 per cent from 2012.

At outdoor attractions the average increase was eight per cent, as 2012’s wettest summer in 100 years was followed by a spell of scorching weather in 2013, while in London visitor numbers rose by 12 per cent the summer following the Olympics.

Overall attendances recorded by The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, which represents more than 2,000 sites across the UK and accounts for one in every four tourist visits, were the highest ever recorded at 106 million.

Bernard Donoghue, ALVA director, said the increase was due to a boost from the previous year’s Olympic Games, a rise in foreign tourists and more families enjoying a “staycation” during last year’s hot summer.

“There was an Olympic effect because London attractions in particular were the backdrop for a lot of the international Olympic media coverage, such as the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, the National Maritime Museum,” he said.

An estimated 73 per cent of British adults visited a heritage site last year, while tourism from overseas also increased due to a favourable exchange rate for European tourists, he added.

Outdoor venues saw a particularly high year-on-year rise, with visitors at Kew Gardens increasing by 29 per cent, London Zoo by 26 per cent and Stonehenge by 19 per cent.

“Last year after the dodgy spring, the summer was fantastic so the vast majority of outdoor attractions like Kew Gardens, the RHS gardens, zoos and national trust properties saw really good growth,” Mr Donoghue said.

Photo Credit: Tourists at the British Museum. tonyg5003 / Flickr