Whether you’re visiting from other shores, or just a native planning a stay-cation, you probably already know that for a tiny cluster of islands, the UK offers its guests a colossal range of things to see and do. What with thousands of years of history to discover and tons of cultural pursuits to enjoy, getting through a comprehensive ‘British bucket-list’ would be a real feat – so instead, here are our top recommendations for what to get up to on your UK break.
- Go back in time with your inner ancient historian…
The Romans brought all kinds of innovations with them 2000 years ago, and helped shape Britain as we know it today. Anyone exploring the UK should be sure to schedule in a visit to one Roman landmark, such as the Roman baths, the remains of the Verulamium theatre in St Albans, or, in the north, the magnificent Hadrian’s Wall. Don’t forget either the UK’s strange prehistoric sites dating back even further – such as the world-famous Stonehenge in Wiltshire, or the eerie Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis. Also in Scotland, Mainland, an island of the Orkney archipelago, is home to Skara Brae, a nearly perfectly preserved little Neolithic village sometimes referred to as the ‘Scottish Pompeii’.
- …then even further back with your inner geologist.
As well as ancient relics, the UK is a great place to see breath-taking landscapes formed thousands of years ago – from the caves of the huge Cheddar Gorge in Somerset (where Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, the Cheddar Man, was discovered) to the vast mountain ranges of Snowdonia, Wales. Walk across the iconic white cliffs of Dover, or explore the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site; you can see beautiful rock formation Durdle Door near Lulworth, and go fossil hunting at the Spittles, where Mary Anning found the first complete ichthyosaurus skeleton.
- Visit the seaside…
Brits feel much the same way about the seaside as they supposedly do Marmite; we either love or hate it, and often both simultaneously. Nevertheless, many seaside locations possess a sort of charming rubbishness that can’t be beaten. For the authentic experience, head to Blackpool, Brighton or Broadstairs; enjoy the beachside rides, the dazzlingly bright arcades, and fight the local seagulls for your fish and chips. Those looking for something a little more peaceful should try the beautiful beaches of the Channel Islands, which are on a par with Europe’s best, or head for the much-loved seaside town of St Ives in Cornwall.
- … or the countryside.
Perfect for peaceful weekend breaks away from it all, there’s more to the UK countryside than the quintessential image of green rolling hillsides and meadows – although these shouldn’t be neglected! The Lake District in Cumbria is one area of remarkable beauty and has been a muse to many, from William Wordsworth to Beatrix Potter, while in the south the New Forest is a picturesque home for ambling ponies and beautiful wild flowers.
- Fall in love with London…
The absolute must-visit city of the UK is, unsurprisingly, London. Home to iconic buildings such as Elizabeth Tower (or ‘Big Ben’), Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral and a myriad of world-famous galleries and museums, it’s no wonder that the city is one of the most popular tourist destinations worldwide. While it’s a paradise for the history aficionado, London has also always been an innovator when it comes to culture (and counter-culture), and is so diverse that you could turn a corner one second and feel like you’re in an entirely different city the next. There’s something for everyone in London – so be sure to explore, and enjoy.
- …and don’t forget the rest.
Remember that there’s more to UK holidays than just London, or even England; be sure to explore the great cities of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland if you can. See the dazzling waterfront of Cardiff Bay, be mesmerized by the medieval castles in Edinburgh, and discover the unsinkable industrial juggernaut that is Belfast.
- Learn of the literature and legends…
Alongside a lot of history, the UK is known for its famous names and legendary figures. Discover the home of Shakespeare, the little market town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, where you can see the Bard’s childhood home, as well as Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Head to Canterbury to discover the destination of Chaucer’s band of pilgrims, or to Nottingham to explore Sherwood Forest and see the huge Major Oak where Robin Hood and his merry men were said to shelter, according to local folklore.
- … and finish off with a nice cup of tea.
Preferably sitting down, and with your feet up.
What do you consider the must-do activities (or must-see sights) of the UK?