When the 1960s finally dismantled its colossal overseas empire, Britain shrank to being again an island-nation. Still, it never ceased to exert an enormous influence in world affairs and culture. As such, Britain's contribution goes further than being the cradle of English, Shakespeare, and The Beatles. In terms of tourism, Britain is unique in its landscapes, attractions, and culture, becoming an integral part of world culture and even daily life. It comprises the nations of England, Scotland, and Wales.
It is the land of Big Ben, Banksy, and bangers and mash. From its busy cities to its beautiful flowering gardens, it doesn't disappoint.
What can be said of London which its landmarks haven't done already? For centuries, England's (and Britain's) capital and largest city have been the magnet of so much wealth, art, culture, and politics that it arguably replaced the ancient cities of Athens and Rome to become a 'New Rome' in its own right. London's immense cultural influence has made it a major global destination. The myriad variety of attractions is too much to be jotted down into a few places here and there because there's not enough you can do and visit in such a tremendously vibrant, cosmopolitan city. London has become so remarkably influential that it's arguably impossible to see something truly 'British' about it except its unique cultural, linguistic and culinary diversity, making London more of a world capital than a state one.
From Medieval to Elizabethan, to Georgian, to Victorian, to Edwardian, to 20th century, each segment of London bears the grace and greatness each monarch left in his or her reign. A 'modest' (and we mean modest) trip to London would include Westminster Abbey, the headquarters of Britain's Parliament and the so emblematic Big Ben clock; the iconic Tower of London; Buckingham Palace (try catching a glimpse of Kate and William, maybe even the Queen!); the Victoria and Albert Museum (museums in Britain are FREE!); the modern London Eye; and for the lovers of shopping…Harrods? Marks and Spencer? Anyone? Try Europe's most bustling shopping street, Oxford (its lights are fantastic during Xmas), or head to the hip Picadilly Circus for a daze of the giant LED Broadway lights.
Suppose you couldn't catch a glimpse of the rich and famous, why! You can have them all at your disposition at Madame Tussauds' famed wax museum. And if London reminds you of Shakespeare, why not visit the Globe Theatre on The Thames' banks and experience his plays as they would have been played five centuries ago.
London is also a major culinary center globally, and chances are you'll find more restaurants offering international cuisine than anything else. Indian chicken tikka masala (said to be, humorously, Britain's national dish), Thai tom yang goon, Middle Eastern kebab or mezze, Caribbean jerked chicken, Chinese beef chow fun, Russian stroganoff, German sauerbraten, French bouillabaisse, Afghan Kabuli pilaw, Italian chicken parmigiana, Spanish paella, Greek, Moroccan couscous, African chakalaka…an endless list of delicious dishes as fascinating to the palate as their nationalities are to the eyes. If you wish to culminate your trip with a journey to the obscure, mysterious entrails of history, take the train to the southwest, Grateley on the London-Salisbury Lane, and be inspired by the ever verdant English countryside. From there, head to nearby Amesbury, the UK's oldest, continuously inhabited place, and 2 miles away is the famous Stonehenge Neolithic complex. Try to wonder how they got those stones there, and above all, what for?
When they call it "The Green Emerald," it's because there's much substance to it: verdant all-year-round landscapes of valleys and mountains, and equally sparkling as the eponymous gem, Ireland is lively and tries to be less flashy than its Anglo-Saxon neighbor, but again, it cannot help being ultra-charming and nearly as vibrant. At the end of the rainbow, the story goes, is the pot of gold, but Ireland is far more prosperous and marvelous than that! Nowhere is this more evident than in its capital and largest city, Dublin.
Veined by the River Liffey and replete with iconic buildings, Dublin is ideal for those who seek something less flashy and clichéd than London. One of its landmarks is the imposing and history-rich Dublin Castle, but as it is also quite dynamic, Dublin is also modern and vibrant. For instance, Dublin's Spire, a gigantic stainless steel needle pinching the sky from one of the city's trendiest avenues, O'Connell Street. Dublin is also famed for its usually packed pubs and restaurants, which have long attracted artists like William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, the eccentric James Joyce, and (get a chill of this!) Dracula's creator, Bram Stoker. The city also offers tranquil public parks like Phoenix and St. Stephen's, both near Grafton and Henry Streets, Dublin's most picturesque and trendiest shopping centers. For a less formal yet more exciting experience, try the open market on Moore Street. In terms of architecture, St. Patrick's Cathedral stands as Ireland's tallest and most extensive, while the imposing Customs House presents neo-classical touches to mark its importance. Trinity College is Ireland's preeminent institution of higher education, while the National Museum complements the city's intellectual vibe. As far as fun, entertainment is an understatement for a city that boasts thousands of lively pubs and intense nightlife, but there are also daytime venues such as the ones held on St. Patrick's Day when the entire country enters in festive mode. Colorful parades and fairs begin to populate the country's cities. And if you claim to have visited Dublin without passing by the famed Guinness Brewery and Storehouse, you've never been to Dublin!
Scotland is the land of antique castles, with great attractions, galleries, and museums. It is a splendid place for hiker's lovers due to its majestic mountainscapes. You will also have the opportunity to roam through its natural beaches and experience its unique music and theatres.
Edinburgh has had an immense role in the arts, literature, and politics, with significant characters either hailing from or having resided there, like Samuel Johnson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Adam Smith J.K. Rowling, Charles Darwin, and Sean Connery. Edinburgh has also been a major science center, with many engineering and learning centers like Edinburgh's famed University. But what makes the city so much appealing is its unique Old Town skyline. It preserves many Medieval and Reformation-era buildings, cobbled streets, and a picturesque profile seldom seen elsewhere. The prominent landmarks are Edinburgh Castle with the quaint Grassmarket at its bottom, and the area containing Holyrood Palace, the monarch's official residence in Scotland. Edinburgh is also home to excellent museums, like the National Museum of Scotland, the National Gallery of Scotland, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which houses some of Britain's finest paintings. Edinburgh is also packed with crowded, cheery pubs and cafes. Beyond the city are a breathtaking expanse of verdant valleys, crags, rolling hills, and country mansions, all forming the pre-requisites for a truly romantic painting.
You will explore intact and sleepy villages. You will see many shops, restaurants, galleries, and adventure sports. Wales extends areas of outstanding natural beauty, national parks, miles of accessible coastal path, fantastic gardens, and more than 600 historic castles not to miss.
A city with no end of entertainment and plenty to do, Cardiff is a diamond for those looking for activities. From merging up the Welsh capital's incredible atmosphere to immersing yourself in some of its most unique ventures. Cardiff Bay is one of the most picturesque areas in the city. Besides, its castles, parks, beautiful churches, bars, and restaurants.
Top Things to do
London: The British Museum
The British Museum, established in 1753, performs host to numerous substantial collections of artifacts, which number over 8 million pieces in all
Woodstock, Oxfordshire: Blenheim Palace
It was designed in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the largest in England. The palace was the birthplace and old home of arguably the most famed British prime minister – Sir Winston Churchill. The dignified landscapers have redesigned the landscaped gardens as Capability Brown.
London: Natural History Museum
It plays host to over 70 million life and earth science units. Visitors can observe samples related to zoology, mineralogy, entomology, and paleontology.
It was UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1986. The ancient monument, which comprises stones that reach up to 9 m in height and weigh up to 22.6 metric tons, is thought to have been constructed around 3,000 to 2,000 BC, though the exact dates remain open to question.
In the West End, the energetic streets of Soho feature a variety of dining, nightlife, and shopping options. It is the center for noble celebrations: music, art, literature, theater, fashion, food, or film.
Created to celebrate the millennium, the Eye is an enormous Ferris wheel offering impressive views across the city. At night, the wheel is lit up in biennial colors and is the centerpiece of London’s annual New Year’s fireworks spectacle.
York: York Minster
Since the 7th century, the Minster has been at the heart of Christianity in the north of England. From the excellent, handcrafted stone through to the unrivaled collection of medieval stained glass, this antique building tells the story of Jesus Christ.
Liverpool: Maritime Mercantile City
The area describes the story of UK expansion throughout the previous centuries, including the mass movement of migrants to the United States, immigrants from northern Europe, and the slave trade. Maritime Mercantile City is additionally the home to important civic, commercial, and public buildings such as St. George’s Plateau.
Hyde Park is likely the most famous park in London, and it is one of the biggest. The park is home to several memorial features and two water bodies, the most notable being the Serpentine.
Cruises run as usual from several key locations. The cruises pass diverse key sightseeing locations, including Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye.
London’s Chinatown is located around Gerrard Street, between Soho and Leicester Square. This place is packed with authentic Asian restaurants, supermarkets, and secret bars. You will always find something new to traverse in Chinatown.
Oxford Street is not only London’s best point for shopping but is Europe’s most vibrant shopping street. It has 300 stores and receives over 500,000 visitors every day.
London is a whole city for art lovers with so many galleries to attend, emphasizing the best in classic and contemporary art. The city’s galleries are free to visitors, including the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. The National Gallery has something for everyone with da Vinci, Turner, van Gogh and Rembrandt on display.