Britain might be a small place, but it is jam-packed with fascinating things to see and do, and here we have hand-picked 15 of the country’s best attractions to visit.
1. Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, N Ireland
Situated on the North-East coast of Northern Ireland, Giant’s Causeway is a fascinating collection of over 40 thousand interlocking rocks formed by a volcanic eruption around 60 million years ago. As well as exploring the incredible basalt columns, the area is famed for spotting rare birds and unusual plants.
Giant’s Causeway is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there is a legend that Finn McCool, a mythical giant, used the rocks to build a road to Scotland in order to fight Benandonner.
2. Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England
Believed to have been built around five thousand years ago, Stonehenge is mystical circle of huge stones situated on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England. Nobody knows who erected the stones and its purpose could be for anything from human sacrifice to astronomy.
Stonehenge is especially magical at sunrise and during the Summer Solstice celebration, when thousands of people come to celebrate the official beginning of summer.
3. The Roman Baths in Bath, England
Some two thousand years ago the Romans discovered the only hot spring in the United Kingdom and built a majestic temple and bathing complex. Situated below street level in Bath, Somerset, the complex has numerous interesting features, such as the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple and Courtyard, and Great Bath.
At the Roman Baths it is possible to walk in the footsteps of the Romans, learn about their lavish lifestyle and bathe in the thermal hot springs.
4. The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England
Built between 1787 and 1823, the Royal Pavilion is a breathtaking and luxurious Oriental-style palace used by King George IV as a seaside residence. The palace is an icon of Brighton, South East England, and epitomises the stylish reputation of the coastal city.
When visiting, be sure to check out the Music Room, Banqueting Room and Great Kitchen, which all tell stories of the life of King George IV and the Royal family.
5. Hadrian’s Wall in England
Original stretching for 73 miles from the east to west coast of Britain, Hadrian’s Wall was built during the years AD122-30 to mark the frontier of the Roman Empire in Northern England and protect it from Scottish invasion.
Today, sections of the wall and ruined forts remain, and the area is great for cycling and walking trips that retrace the footsteps of Emperor Hadrian and the Romans, from Wallsend, through Northumberland National Park to Bowness-on-Solway.
6. Snowdonia in Wales
As the largest national park in Wales, Snowdonia is blessed with deep valleys and rolling countryside, Mount Snowdon and Lake Bala, the highest mountain and largest natural lake in Wales.
Famed for its breathtaking natural beauty, Snowdonia has myriad attractions, from farm visits and a narrow gauge railway, to fishing, walking, cycling and kayaking activities.
7. York Minster in York, England
Situated in the heart of the city of York, England, York Minster is an ancient place of worship and one of Europe’s largest Gothic cathedrals. Dating back to AD627, the cathedral was first built for the baptism of Edwin, King of Northumberland, and today Roman, Viking and Norman influences can all be seen.
Tours of the cathedral explore the Tower and 275-step staircase, Chapter House, Stoneyard and medieval stained-glass windows. There are also Royal Recitals, Jubilee-themed organ concerts for 2012, that take place throughout the summer months.
8. Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England
Covering an area of around five hectares, Windsor Castle is a medieval fortress built by William the Conqueror in the early 11th century. Today, the castle, situated in the town of Windsor (26 miles west of London) is the world’s oldest and biggest lived-in castle, playing home to the British Monarchy.
Visiting highlights of the castle include, St George’s Chapel, Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, The State Apartments and the Changing the Guard ceremony.
9. Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland
Built upon an extinct volcano by David I, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline of Edinburgh, Scotland, and has been a symbol of Scottish heritage since 1130. The castle has served many purposes, from the home of the Kings and Queens of Scotland to a prison for sailors, and today it is the most popular tourist attraction in Scotland.
Inside the castle are three excellent museums – National War Museum of Scotland, Royal Scots Regimental Museum and The Regimental Museum of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Make sure to take a free guided tour of the castle.
10. Stratford-upon-Avon in England
Situated on the banks of the River Avon in Warwickshire, England, Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Visiting this one of the most important literary towns in the UK allows the opportunity to experience a classic medieval English town and walk in the famous playwright’s footsteps.
Be sure to check out Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Nash House, Mary Arden’s Farm, Hall’s Croft and, of course, watch a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
11. Eden Project in Cornwall, England
Famed for its characteristic white domes, the Eden Project is a huge eco-friendly theme park with an aim of educating people about plants, climate, environment and humans’ relationship with nature. Located in Cornwall, South West England, visitors can discover a rainforest in the world’s biggest greenhouse, explore stunning gardens and superb art, sample locally produced food and enjoy Eden Sessions concert performances.
12. Buckingham Palace in London, England
Arguably the most famous and iconic palace in the world, Buckingham Palace has been the London home and administrative headquarters of the British Monarchy since 1837. The most famous of all the Royal residences in the UK, it is unique in that it is a working palace and open to the public.
Not to be missed are the State Rooms, Picture Gallery, Garden Cafe and Changing the Guard ceremony.
13. Wales Coast Path in Wales
Officially opened on 5th May 2012, the Wales Coast Path is a footpath that stretches for 870 miles along the spectacular coastline of Wales and allows visitors to explore the traditional fishing villages, unconquered castles, deserted beaches and unspoilt countryside of the country.
Ideal for walking, cycling and horse riding, the path runs from Chepstow to the mouth of the River Dee in Flintshire, crossing two National Parks, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Snowdonia National Park.
14. The Falkirk Wheel near Falkirk, Scotland
The Falkirk Wheel is a giant rotating boat-lift, which was built to connect two Scottish canals. Amazingly, the wheel lifts boats via a gondola from the Forth and Clyde canal to a height of 35 metres where it joins an aqueduct and the Union canal. The best way to experience the wheel is on a 50 minute boat trip.
There is also a Water Activity Zone, Visitor Centre and Children’s Activity Zone to enjoy, plus four miles of woodland walks.
15. Isle of Skye in Scotland
The Isle of Skye is the biggest and northernmost island of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides (a chain of islands and skerries located off the west coast of mainland Scotland) and is blessed with unrivalled natural beauty, with one of the most unique and picturesque features being the Coral Beach at Claigan. Resembling a Pacific Island, the white powdery sand comes from a mixture of snail shells and hardened seaweed that has been bleached by the sun. The Coral Beach is best enjoyed on hiking trails, which present the chance of spotting seals and abundant birdlife.