The United Kingdom is a great place to visit. In fact, England, Scotland, Wales and the Offshore Islands offer a host of great vacation and holiday destinations with something for everyone - singles, couples and families - whether they plan to cross an ocean, take a cross country train trip or simply drive down the motorway for their next trip.
1. The Great British Royals
The power of the Royal Family is mostly symbolic these days but it is certainly impossible to forget that the United Kingdom is a monarchy - it's part of the name for heaven's sake. Love them or loathe them - and in Britain you get both opinions, sometimes uttered in the same sentence - they are woven into the fabric of life. Their comings and goings, their homes and the events they traditionally attend are a fine spectacle for visitors and natives alike. When you visit the UK, Royal watching is a must:
* Royal Ascot
* The Royal Windsor Horse Show
* Princess Diana's Childhood Home
* Buckingham Palace
From as early as the 17th century, the gentlemen - and lady - horticultural of the British Empire explored exotic locales to bring back unusual plant specimens. A traditional interest in plants, the UK's relatively mild climate, an early taste for landscapes as works of art and the fortuitous genius of 18th century landscape gardener Lancelot "Capability" Brown have produced an abundant bouquet of beautiful and fascinating gardens all over Britain.
Visitors to the UK regularly make literary pilgrimages in search of the landscapes, villages and towns that inspired the classic authors of the English language. But this is no dusty paper chase. From Chaucer and Shakespeare to Jane Austen, William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns, the legacy of Britain's world class authors is alive and flourishing.
Thatched cottages, fairytale castles, soaring cathedrals, stately mansions - the UK has them all. The half-timbered streets of Chester look like something out of Disney - but they are real and they are really old. So much of what gives the UK its unique appeal for visitors is the look of its heritage buildings - the stuff of dream and story :)
The British are masters of the weird and wacky. From cheese rolling in Gloucester shire and fireball whirling in Scotland, to Morris Men dancing and banging sticks, or hobby horses terrorizing villages on May Day, there are wonderfully eccentric traditions all over the British Isles. Most have origins lost in antiquity. No one cares how they got going - the point is to have a good time :)
Some of the world's greatest set piece events draw visitors to the UK year after year. In England, just about everything stops for a fortnight for Wimbledon, tennis's biggest grand slam tournament. While up in Scotland, everything seems on the go, 24/7, for the whole month of August, as thousands reel from one event to another during the Edinburgh Festivals, the world's biggest performing arts party.
The best British pubs are more than places to eat and drink; they are landmarks of continuity that have existed in the same spot for hundreds of years. Their names tell stories, often linked to local history, outlaws, wars and customs. Their architecture - whether half-timbered, thatch-roofed or built of brick - adds to the character of their villages. But not all pubs are equal and some are, frankly, dreadful if you aren't a local. That's why our Pub Pundit is continually compiling a list of great pubs where you can find a good pint and a hearty meal.
From the prehistoric Britons, Gaels, Celts and Picts through Vikings, Romans and Normans, wave after wave of conquerors and migrants have shaped the United Kingdom - and most have left fascinating traces for visitors to explore.
London is one of the world's great cities, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. The UK's cities and towns have a lot to offer visitors - from the hip, indie scene of Manchester to the amazing Balti food of Birmingham, from the dreaming spires of Oxford and medieval passageways of York to the lively art scenes of Glasgow. Edinburgh Castle looks down on the vibrant capital of Scotland and Liverpool rides a tide of history beside the Mersey.
Well ... I am sure I would enjoy it.