The United Kingdom, comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is usually ranked as one of the most popular and attractive tourist destinations. With its diverse scenery, rich cultural heritage, beautifully preserved country estates and castles and many world-class museums and galleries, it is an attractive holiday destination that many of us consider visiting once the travel limitations imposed because of the COVID-19 spread are lifted up.
One of the greatest pleasures of planning a trip to the United Kingdom is that it is really easy to explore. A superb public transport system and great roads make it easier to hop off and on buses and planes or simply rent a car to leisurely discover the true gems that can be found here. You can find some of the most interesting cities to visit in this article.
If you’d like to explore the different destinations on your own, renting a car is a good idea. Apart from remembering that people drive on the left here so you’ll need to be extra cautious on the road as driving will be more challenging for those used to driving on the right, you’ll need an International Drivers’ Permit. If you’re a US driver and your license is issued in English you won’t need an IDP. However, in these days of heightened security, car rental companies and insurance companies may ask you for one so ask in advance to avoid additional problems. American drivers have another advantage, they can purchase a car rental damage insurance policy from third party providers that offer thorough coverage without blowing up their budget. Bonzah is one option you may like to consider.
The English capital is not only one of the most beautiful European cities but also a must-see in any trip to the United Kingdom. It’s, by far, a great city to explore and enjoy as it offers visitors of all ages fantastic attractions that cater to diverse interests.
For those eager to learn more about the country’s rich history, there are a plethora of attractions they shouldn’t miss. The Tower of London where Anne Boleyne was beheaded, includes highlights such as the iconic 1000-year-old White Tower with its fascinating displays of weaponry and armor or the Jewel House, home to the Crown Jewels. Crossing over the London Bridge and visiting it on a guided tour is also worth doing as you can learn everything about its construction process and take splendid views of London’s skyline from the Thames. The impressive dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral or the overwhelming Westminster Abbey are also important attractions in the city. The stunning Parliament Building and the famous Big Ben that overlooks London and the Thames are also important tourist attractions.
Fans of the Royal Family will have Buckingham Palace as their must-go place. It’s been the Royal home in London since the times of Queen Victoria. If you are lucky, you can take a tour of the Palace’s State Rooms _ which are open only for a few weeks every year. The Changing of the Guard is a colorful and pompous ceremony that is held daily and that attracts locals and tourists alike. If you are lucky enough to find a great spot, you can watch the soldiers elegantly dressed riding horses and the entrance to the palace where the ceremony is held.
London is a captivating city that is steeped in history and it’s home of many of the country’s greatest individuals, from statestmen to writers or scientists. It’s cultural heritage is impressive and it can be appreciated in its many world-famous museums. Art lovers will enjoy exploring the Tate Gallery or the Victoria and Albert Museum with their interesting and rich collection of works of art and textiles from renowned artists from the UK and all over the world.
The British Museum is absolutely a must-see on any trip to London. It’s world-famous for its impressive, varied and rich collection of Egyptian mummies, ancient artifacts, and the Rosetta Stone, Assyrian antiques, the Greek Parthenon…you mention! Depending on your interests, you can spend a whole afternoon, a whole day or a whole week in the museum! It’s got so many things to admire and explore that it’s a good idea to look into its web page first and decide which exhibition halls you don’t want to miss!
Another fascinating museum is Madame Tussaud’s. Let the life-size wax replicas of famous celebrities and history icons surprise you! From the Royal Family to Nelson Mandela or Donald Trump, Harrison Ford or Brad Pitt and Michael Jackson, you’ll be able to get up-close and personal with all of them. Equally interesting is the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street, fantastic for admirers of this great fictional detective!
This cosmopolitan city is also famous for its beautiful and large parks. Hyde Park or St James Park are only a couple of the many green areas that you can find in London. They are great for long leisure walks, grab a bite, let the children run and play for a while and try to spot ducks and squirrels!
Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital and one of the country’s most attractive cities is also one of the UK’s most visited destinations. It combines the modern, cosmopolitan and lively atmosphere of a great university city and national capital with a dramatic and historic setting. Anyone visiting Edinburgh has to be prepared to have a close-up experience with history from the city’s cobblestone streets to Edinburgh Castle. It’s a city deeply steeped in history, beginning with the Old and New Towns, which have more than 4500 historic buildings and sites between them.
Edinburgh Castle, which sits atop a hill overlooking the city, represents Old Town. It overlooks the city and is home to the country’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, which was used at coronations for centuries. Across the way is Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano called for the legendary king who pulled the sword from the stone. It’s a great place for an afternoon pic-nic and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the city.
Old Town is home to the city’s most famous street: the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile connects Edinburgh Castle with the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the Royal Family in Scotland, and it’s a great way to start exploring the city. There you can see St Giles Cathedral and the beautiful Scottish Parliament. New Town, which actually dates from the XVIII century, is best known for its neoclassical architecture and for being home to the National Portrait Gallery. There you can see the faces of many famous Scots from Sean Connery to Mary Queen of Scots!
The Scottish capital seduces visitors with its great architecture, iconic historical landmarks and beautiful scenery. Art lovers will enjoy visiting the Scottish National Gallery, where they can admire magnificent paintings by Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Titian or Paul Cezanne.
It’s one of those cities that has it all: splendid panoramic views, interesting tourist attractions and museums, beautiful parks and a rich historic past. With such endless options, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with it.
Despite being smaller in size than Edinburgh or London, the Welsh capital Cardiff is equally charming and a top destination especially for those eager to explore the country’s breathtaking scenery, enjoy outdoor adventures and visit its splendid castles.
The city offers visitors an interesting sample of everything that Wales has to offer. Cardiff Castle, situated in the middle of the city and built on the ruins of an ancient Roman fort is one of Cardiff’s most important attractions. The Chapel, the Clock Tower, the State Apartments and the spectacular Banqueting Hall are open to the public and are absolutely splendid.
If you love shopping or if you’d like to take home a nice souvenir, wander the city’s Victorian shopping arcades; the best ones are around The Hayes. In fact, Cardiff is regarded as one of the main shopping destinations in the UK!
The Welsh capital is also known for its cutting edge arts scene.The National Museum Cardiff and St Fagans National History Museum are definitely worth visiting. Just outside St. Fagans National History Museum you can see more than 40 original buildings from different periods re-erected in a beautiful park. You can find out what life was like for the Celts living in Wales for instance!
Talking about parks, Cardiff is also famous for having the highest amount of greenery per person in the UK. That said, one of the best plans when spending some time here is to wander leisurely in its many parks and green areas: the elegant Bute Park is simply amazing!
Cardiff exquisitely combines the old and the new. While the Victorian Gothic towers of Cardiff Castle take you thousands of years back in time, the stunning Wales Millennium Centre on Cardiff Bay is a reminder of the city’s vibrant and exciting future.
The city is also the hometown of the famous author of children’s books Roald Dahl. Fans of “Matilda”, “The Magic Finger” or “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” can easily follow his steps in a great guided tour.
Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, has a rich and interesting history and cultural life and welcomes visitors with a plethora of things to see and do. It’s a city not to be missed. In recent years it has become a true destination city because of its wealth of museums and galleries, sweeping sea views and lively pub scene especially in the Cathedral Quarter. Talking about pubs, something not to miss is to sample the famous black beer Guinness and try the delicious Irish stew. Children are allowed in pubs until 9 pm and they can also enjoy French fries and local music.
As the birthplace of the RMS Titanic, you can explore the history of this famous vessel at the Titanic Belfast Museum. If you’d rather explore Gaelic mythology and the epic of Game of Thrones, rent a car and drive northwards to Giant’s Causeway, a collection of stacked basalt columns that _ according to legend_ were once a causeway built by a giant.
Belfast is incredibly vibrant and an enjoyable holiday destination for those travelling with children. You can explore the University District and check out the Ulster Museum. There are also loads of little shops and a gorgeous park nearby so that everybody can have a great time.
For spectacular views of the city, head up the Black Mountain in the Divi’s, a brisk mountain walk and a lovely cup of tea at the Stone Tea House. The beautiful Botanic Gardens or charming Cave Hill Country Park offer also interesting hiking trails. Belfast Castle, set on the slopes of Cavehill Country Park, provides unobstructed views of the city of Belfast and Belfast Lough.
Despite being one of the smallest cities in the UK, Bath largely makes up for its tiny size with tons of things to see and do. Named of course after the famous Roman Baths, this stunning city has been luring visitors to its healing waters for more than 2000 years. Even though it’s not now possible to bathe in the original Roman Baths, there are many nearby spas where guests can enjoy the city’s famous waters.
The city is also famous for its lovely Georgina architecture, the best examples of which can be seen along the magnificent curved Royal Crescent with its palatial townhomes. In fact, N°1 Royal Crescent is an interesting museum that offers a fascinating peek into life during Georgian times. The Royal Crescent is the city’s most Instagrammable landmark: a curved structure erected in the XVIII century with a sprawling garden out front.
Jane Austen, the famous writer, has a deep connection with the city. Fans can visit the Jane Austen Centre or take a trip to the Bath Assembly Rooms that were the setting for scenes from two of her novels: “Persuasion” and “Northanger Abbey”. Other interesting museums are the Museum of Bath’s Architecture, Bath Postal Museum and the unique Bath Aqua Theatre of Glass.
Needless to say, the Roman Baths are also worth exploring. You can visit them to discover how they were used by the Romans during their settlement in the city. You’ll need around two hours to explore the Roman Temple, Bath House, Sacred Spring and museum and the Grand Pump Room where you can have a nice afternoon tea.
Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city and the third in size in the UK and it’s one of the most visited cities in Scotland. It’s a vibrant city and a hip destination for contemporary art, jazz clubs, fashion and design.
Magnificent Georgian buildings abound together with hip bars and restaurants and the ex industrial heartland of the Clyde is today a rejuvenated cultural area. The banks of the river Clyde are stuffed with art galleries, shops, restaurants and bars.
It’s an incredibly budget-friendly city, not only in terms of accommodation but because of the many free things to do that it offers such as the Kelvingrove Museum or the Riverside Museum for Transport. The People’s Palace, Glasgow Cathedral and George Square are also important attractions within the city. Those interested in nature, can explore any of the various parks and green areas in Glasgow such as the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.
Last but not least, you can’t leave Glasgow without trying at least a glass of traditional Scotch whiskey!
Oxford is, together with Cambridge, one of the most important university cities in England. It was established in the XII century, which makes it the oldest-English-speaking campus in the world. Pullman or Oscar Wilde are amongst its alumni! Spend some time at the Bodleian Library; it’s one of the greatest libraries of the world and it’s been active since the XVII century. It holds every new book published in the UK holding almost 6 million books. Christ Church College can’t be missed either. It’s one of the filming locations of the Harry Potter films and it includes a splendid library and gorgeous gardens to explore.
Take a trip to the Oxford Botanic Gardens. It’s very refreshing especially after spending so many hours amongst books and university buildings. Did you know it’s Britain’s oldest botanical garden? Other famous sites include the Radcliffe Camera, the fantastic Oxford Castle and the beautiful colleges of Magdalen or Trinity.
In the evening you can relax at the many cafés and tea houses in the city and later grab something to eat at any of the pubs or restaurants in Oxford.
Those spending more than a day in Oxford should venture to Blenheim Palace, home of the Duke of Marlborough. It’s where Winston Churchill was born and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Loch Ness and Inverness
People from all over the world flock to Inverness in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster. However, there’s a lot more to see in this Scottish city than mythical creatures nobody has ever seen for certain. Inverness, in the north of the country, is a hub of highland culture. It’s the place to go if you want to see and do everything typically Scottish: see men in kilts, drink whiskey and listen to bagpipes.
We can’t promise you that you’ll get a selfie with Nessie, but you’ll definitely be rewarded with seeing some of the most beautiful scenery not only in Scotland but in the UK. Amongst the highlights of your trip to Inverness and the surrounding areas we can’t miss Urquhart Castle, overlooking Loch Ness, that dates from the XIV century, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, Inverness Castle, the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and St Andrew’s Cathedral.
If you love history, check out the Culloden Battlefield and Visitors Centre. It was in Culloden in 1746 that the English and Scots fought their last battles and after which Scotland became a British dominion.