Great Britain continues to thrive as one of the hottest international destinations for tourists. Whether you’re a Downton Abbey fan or a Manchester United fan, there’s something for you here.
Learn about English culture through a variety of remarkable historical and cultural treasures, including monuments from the Neolithic time period, widely renowned cathedrals and abbeys dating back to the 11th century, preserved Roman architecture and prehistoric artifacts. England also has a wide array of shopping, art galleries, restaurants, and theaters for different interests.
(And after a day of Museums and Galleries you might say, “Sod it!”– and hit the pub for a pint.)
As of April 2012, there are 60 theaters in London. There are also many amateur theatres. Most London shows are found in the West End. You can get tickets before you go or take your chances when you get there!
First time visiting? There are so many itinerary options!
As Europe’s biggest city and capital of the United Kingdom, London is a lively place that draws crowds year round. Begin the day at St. James Park, the oldest Royal Park in London. Enjoy its serene landscape and magnificent wildlife. Take a self-guided tour through Buckingham Palace, the office and London residence of the Queen. You’ll be able to view the lavishly furnished state rooms in the heart of the working palace, which contain many of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection.
Embark on a deep journey into medieval Britain’s history at the Westminster Abbey, a timeless masterpiece and shrine to several great leaders. It holds valuable remnants of the monastic, gothic and modern architectural styles, exhibiting three centuries of development in response to the changing religious influences. Visit the Temple Church, where you’ll learn of the Knights Templar, the infamous order of knights founded on the avowed mission of protecting Christian pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem during the Middle Ages.
Next, wander through the Spitalfields and Brick Lane Markets, two neighboring street markets with a rich diversity of antiques, foods, home accessories, electronics, furniture and everything else in between. Uncover stories of past kings and queens at the Tower of London, an iconic symbol of Britain and home of the Crown Jewels, which still remains the greatest working collection of crown jewels in the world. Up until the 19th century, it was maintained as a fortress against enemies, place of imprisonment and execution and base for royal power. if you’ve read “Wolf Hall” or “Bring Up the Bodies” (or any of the many books detailing English history) you may feel horrifyingly familiar with The Tower.
Travel across the River Thames and experience the life and art of Shakespeare at the Globe Theatre. You may choose to watch a Shakespearean classic performed in the circular arena modeled after his original Renaissance theater. Or discover the remarkable stories of the famed poet/playwright and the magic he brought to the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition.
Taxicab drivers are required to be able to decide routes immediately in response to a passenger’s request or traffic conditions, rather than stopping to look at a map, relying on GPS or asking a controller by radio. Consequently, the ‘Knowledge’ is the in-depth study of a number of pre-set London street routes and places of interest that cab drivers in that city must complete to obtain a licence to operate a black cab. It was initiated in 1865, and has changed little since. It is claimed that the training involved ensures that London taxi drivers are experts on London, and have an intimate knowledge of the city.
Your vacation isn’t complete without visiting the University of Cambridge, which has thrived for 800 years in extraordinary academic excellence and original research. The King’s College Chapel features an exquisite Gothic design, the world’s largest fan vault and more than 20 arched stained-glass windows stretching to the high ceilings. “The Backs,” an expansive area of gardens that runs next to the River Cam, offers a spectacular view from the rear grounds of five colleges. The best way to view this area is from a punt, a flat-bottomed boat that is poled along the river.
At the Queens’ College, behold five centuries of classical, elegant architecture preserved in the Old Hall and Chapel. The Cambridge Botanical Garden is a 40-acre oasis of charming gardens and glasshouses right in the heart of the city. Take on the passage through Cambridge history at the Fitzwater Museum and Cambridge Folk Museum, piecing together the stories of the town and the everyday life of its people since 1700.Stroll through the lush green paths at the Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Britain’s oldest nature reserve and haven for wild ponies, otters, rare butterflies and a colorful variety of birds.
See the Ely Cathedral, an Anglo-Saxon monastery that flourished for centuries as a refuge for medieval pilgrims. Travel north to Peterborough, where you’ll find England’s most beautiful Norman cathedral. An important sanctuary for Christian worship for 1,350 years, the cathedral contains an original wooden ceiling in the nave (one of the few remaining in Europe) and modern Gothic architecture.
If you’re a Masterpiece Theater buff (and by now you know I am!) then you will know Oxford as the setting for both “Inspector Morse” and “Inspector Lewis.” Rather hard to believe SO many people are murdered so viciously on such a regular basis, but…
Oxford is not a college town — it is the college town. Its namesake university’s 38 colleges are so steeped in scholarly history they make Harvard and Yale seem like baby-faced freshmen. To wit: Oxford’s New College was last considered “new” in the 14th century. (Even the obsolete term “New World” is newer.) Students here get into the act, many dressing in tweed coats, sometimes even with elbow patches, and ordering pints of cask ale at pubs that have been in business for nearly four-fifths of a millennium. But Oxford has a modern side, too: night spots blare house and electronic music; restaurants serve modern takes on local food and exotic ethnic cuisine; and comfortable boutique hotels and bed-and- breakfasts beat medieval lodging houses for comfort any day.
It’s hard to admire Christ Church college for what it really is — the hallowed halls of learning where Sir Christopher Wren, John Locke, William Penn and 13 British prime ministers were educated. That’s because it’s the place that stood in for the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in several “Harry Potter” movies. And the place where the math tutor Charles Dodgson concocted the story he would publish under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll as “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
Leeds offers a wide selection of fine arts, cultural experiences and nightlife for travelers. Spend some time at the Granary Wharf, located next to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. A continually developing area, the public square on the Wharf has a good selection of waterside bars, restaurants, glamorous shops, waterway walks and boating excursions. Just up the road is the Kirkgate Market, housed in impressive Edwardian buildings famous for their ornamental dragons and huge open-air market featuring more than 800 traders. Leeds is also a great shopping destination with popular fashionable clothing stores and one-of-a-kind craft shops in the Harewood/Eastgate Quarter, The Light, Trinity Shopping Quarter, Harvey Nichols and Victoria Quarter.
Travel back in time to get a glimpse of early English monastic life at Kirkstall Abbey, a Cistercian monastery on the outskirts of Leeds that was founded in 1152 and remains one of Britain’s best preserved abbeys. Visitors will see many of the original carved arches, pillars, stone coffins and traditional ideals of austerity and simplicity found throughout its structural design. Perched on the hillside is the Abbey House Museum, where you’ll find a wealth of historical artifacts from the Abbey.
A stunning city bustling with 2,000 years of history and award-winning attractions, York is an unforgettable destination central to Britain’s colorful heritage. York Minster is a breathtakingly beautiful site that is renowned around the world as an artistic masterpiece.
Situated in the heart of the city, York Minster is the largest Gothic Cathedral in northern Europe. As is the way with many christian buildings, it was built in the shape of a cross, and faces East, towards Jerusalem. The name “Minster” is derived from the Latin Monastarium, which means ‘Place of Learning’.
Explore its vast history through Roman, Norman and Viking remains, its hand-carved Gothic design and gargoyles. At the top of the Central Tower, you’ll have an incredible view of the city’s ancient streets and surrounding countryside. Next, uncover the fascinating tales of the Vikings, a wave of ship-born warriors that swept across medieval England, at the Jorvik Viking Centre.
Walking the York city walls is a very popular activity for tourists and local residents. To this day, substantial portions of the old Roman walls remain, and York has more miles of intact wall than any other city in England. Start at Micklegate Bar, the main entrance into the city. It was also the famous place once decorated with traitors’ heads to discourage rebellion. Stop by the other three main gates – Monk Bar, the most elaborate of the city gates, Walmgate Bar and Bootham Bar. You’ll spot the Multiangular Tower, a notable Roman remain and the most intact portion of the walls that stands 30 feet tall. Go north to Clifford’s Tower, an unusual four-lobed keep that is now the principal surviving stonework remnant of William the Conqueror’s castle.
Bath~The city was first established as a spa by the Romans sometime in the AD 60s about 20 years after they had arrived in Britain (AD43), although oral tradition suggests that Bath was known before then. Jane Austen lived in the city from 1801 until 1806. Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are largely set in the city and feature descriptions of taking the waters, social life, and music recitals.
That’s a little overview…
We can personalize your tour of England, complete with top-rated hotel reservations, flight arrangements, custom sightseeing tours of the spots you choose and all of the special details that make the trip one you’ll never forget.