London is often the starting point for a tour of the UK and England’s capital contains some of the world’s most recognisable landmarks. Tours of the city’s many attractions can be undertaken on board a traditional open-topped double-decker bus or on one of the river cruisers that ply their trade up and down the River Thames. You can even find your own way on London’s Underground rail system as you’re never far from one of its 274 stations.
The best way to get an overview of the city is on the London Eye, the world’s tallest cantilever wheel which offers views of all of the capital’s most famous buildings including St Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace from one of its 32 glass gondolas.
Back at ground level, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square are all within walking distance of each other, as is floating museum HMS Belfast and Downing Street, home of the British Prime Minister.
Edinburgh is less than five hours from London’s Kings Cross station via rail and the Scottish city also has excellent road links and its own airport. Famous for its Military Tattoo and annual Comedy Festival, Edinburgh’s chief attractions can be explored in a couple of days and the city has plenty to occupy the visitor all year round, including the magnificent castle that has kept guard over the citizens for almost a thousand years.
A walk down the ancient Royal Mile brings you to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, official Scottish residence of The Queen whose former yacht, the Britannia, is also now a permanent exhibit in Edinburgh. A climb up Arthur’s Seat gives stunning views of the new Scottish Parliament Building and the surrounding countryside, while shoppers can hunt for a bargain on Princes Street.
Glasgow’s history may not be as impressive but this former European city of culture has much to recommend it nowadays. The Science Centre is proving a big hit with children, while the Gallery of Modern Art and the Burrell Collection house significant collections. Loch Lomond and the magnificent Trossachs National Park are only 20 minutes by car or taxi from Glasgow Airport.
But, of course, there is also plenty to see between the south of England and Scotland. The spectacular Lake District borders Scotland to the south and to the west of the UK lies Wales.
Snowdonia dominates the north of the country, sandwiching traditional seaside resorts like Colwyn Bay and Llandudno, the inspiration behind Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, between the mountains and the sea.
Caernarfon and Conway are both home to impressive medieval castles, while the walled city of Chester guards the gateway to England. Outside of its walls, the remains of a Roman coliseum are slowly being uncovered by archaeologists.
York, two hours by train from London or four hours by road, is another medieval walled city and only a short drive from the picturesque Yorkshire Dales. Its Minster is one of the UK’s finest cathedrals while the history of the city can be examined at the interactive Jorvik Centre. The UK’s transport links are fairly reliable nowadays, so when you get to the country don’t be afraid to get out and explore.