Cities, Countryside, Coast, with a Dash of Royalty - It’s England
“I love England, the people, the parks, the theatre.” - Woody Harrelson
England’s 50,000 square miles of space makes it the UK’s largest territory but, yet, it remains one that is easy to explore and there really is something for everyone here. Discover bustling cities or take time out to enjoy the country’s green spaces and quaint seaside towns.
English cities feature an intriguing blend of historic remains, traditional hotels, and modern architectural wonders. A trip to the capital offers iconic attractions such as the Natural History Museum, TATE Modern, and the Tower of London. Savvy travellers will enter the Open House London ballot for a chance to see inside the Gherkin and 10 Downing Street. Less than two hours west lies Bristol, where a Banksy Street Art Tour is a must, and Bath, where you can enjoy a soak in the rooftop Thermae Spa. In the North West, the waterfront city of Liverpool offers visitors everything from top flight football to the musical pedigree of The Beatles, and in nearby Chester, ancient roman walls and the iconic Chester Rows beg to be explored. Head north to Durham where you will find one of England’s 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Durham Castle and Cathedral, the latter providing indoor and outdoor film sets for the first two Harry Potter films.
Glorious Green Spaces
England is renowned for its green spaces and outdoorsy types should visit at least one of the country’s national parks. Since they cover almost ten percent of the landscape, they’re not too difficult to reach. Popular parks include the Yorkshire Dales, where the country’s highest waterfall, Cautley Spout, can be found on the outskirts of the hamlet of Hardraw, and Dartmoor National Park, where the sight of wild ponies grazing is enough to give anyone a warm and fuzzy feeling. If vast open spaces aren’t your thing but you’d still like to get back to nature, you can take things down a notch and mingle with the arty crowd on London’s Hampstead Heath or step back into a distinctly Victorian past by visiting Brodsworth Hall and Gardens in South Yorkshire. Younger guests will enjoy the magnificent Trentham Estate on the southern fringe of Stoke-on-Trent where stunning gardens are complemented by an adventure playground, a whimsical fairy trail, and the fabulous Monkey Forest.
With almost 6,000 miles of coastline to explore, it will be of little wonder that some of the country’s best experiences are to be had beside the seaside. Stick with tradition and kick off your exploration of England’s coastal towns and cities with a trip to Clacton-on-Sea. This iconic east coast destination has been drawing crowds to its pier since the late 1800s. The south of England invites you to explore the maritime history of Portsmouth, the fun and frivolity of Brighton, and the colourful timber beach huts of Hove. In the South West lies Cornwall where you can combine seaside favourites such as fish and chips and ice cream with surfing lessons at Fistral Beach and trips to the Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan, and Minack Theatre. Hotels in Cornwall don’t necessarily come cheap but you can keep a tighter rein on your budget by opting for a stay in a traditional surf lodge or B&B.
The Royal Seal of Approval
No trip to England would be complete without a spot of royal watching. Gaining an audience with the Queen will prove difficult but visiting royal landmarks is much easier to tick off your bucket list. Buckingham Palace in the capital is an obvious destination and one where you can see the sumptuous spectacle that is the Changing of the Guard. Just a ten-minute walk from the palace lies the Goring Hotel, a royal favourite and a spot where the Queen Mother frequently enjoyed dining. From April to October, Norfolk’s Sandringham Estate opens its doors on most days while, in June, The Royal Ascot event attracts not only the finest horses but also the Queen (who is yet to miss a meeting during her reign). Of course, Queen Elizabeth II is not the only Royal to discover. Peek into 900 years of history at Kenilworth Castle or head to nearby Leicester where the remains of Richard III were discovered in 2012.
Even More to Enjoy
Dotted between England’s cities, countryside, and coast are one-off experiences you won’t want to miss. Discover architectural oddities such as the Crooked House in Canterbury, the Williamson Tunnels in Liverpool, and the Witley Wonder Underground Ballroom in Surrey. See last-standing attractions such as the Cutty Sark in Maritime Greenwich, the world’s last surviving tea clipper ship, or enjoy a pint in Olde Trip to Jerusalem, an ancient ale house in Nottingham. Get your groove on at famous festivals such as Glastonbury, the BBC Proms, and the Notting Hill Carnival, treat your taste buds to culinary delights such as traditional afternoon tea at The Ritz, or explore literary England by visiting Broadstairs, the house in Kent where Charles Dickens penned David Copperfield. And don’t forget to take home a few souvenirs. London is an obvious choice for Union Jack-themed gifts but Manchester and Bristol are equally acceptable destinations for retail junkies.
England: The kind of place to enjoy life at your own pace.