When you think of the United Kingdom, you may well summon up mental images of Big Ben in London, and the queen eating crumpets in the middle of a field somewhere, while men in big hats play polo all around.
There are few countries in the world which are quite as evocative and iconic as the UK, whether it be in the form of the fairytale legends of the middle ages, which continuously get re-told and re-expressed through the latest movies, TV shows and books, or whether in the more recent form of pop-cultural icons like the Beetles or the Rolling Stones.
If you were planning to visit the UK, whether through hdb room rental, or a standard bed and breakfast, however, what would you really know about where to start your sightseeing adventure?
Here are some suggestions and details — both for some of the obvious and common tourist hotspots, and also for some of the less well-known and more niche attractions
Go watch a play at Shakespeare’s Globe and then take a boat to Greenwich
Shakespeare’s Globe is the reconstruction of the Elizabethan-era theatre where William Shakespeare performed his most famous plays, and where the other leading lights of the Elizabethan theatre strutted their stuff in style, and told stories that are still popular today.
Located on the south bank of the river Thames in London, Shakespeare’s Globe is a fantastic throwback to the architecture and style of the period when the master playwright himself was active. With a wooden stage and stalls, standing room, and an open roof (which may be covered by a tarpaulin if the weather turns unpleasant), you will struggle not to feel as if you’ve been transported back in time, as you settle in to watch a performance here.
The theatre is only open at certain times of year, and features a variety of plays — some traditional, others more experimental or artsy — often performed by travelling theatre troupes who tour the continent, if not the world, putting on their performances.
Once you have finished watching a stunning rendition of Hamlet or Titus Andronicus, why not continue the day in style with a trip via river to Greenwich?
The London “River Bus” runs from directly in front of the Globe theatre, and for a small price, you can enjoy riding down the Thames on a boat, seeing the city in all it’s glory from the centre of the river — which is, itself, one of the nation’s natural treasures.
After a moderate-length journey on the river bus, you will come to Greenwich — site of the world-famous Royal Observatory, said to be on the world’s “Prime Meridian”, and the birthplace of the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) time zone.
Here you can see the clocks which revolutionised our understanding of the world, and of time, and step between the line which separates the world between East and West.
The view from the hilltop observatory is, of course, breathtaking, and Greenwich boasts other attractions for the enthusiastic explorer to enjoy — such as the Cutty Sark, a preserved 19th Century ship used in the tea trade.
Visit Land’s End in Cornwall, and stare out over the North Atlantic Ocean
Land’s End is the most Westerly, and (very nearly) the most Southerly point of Great Britain — often contrasted to John O’ Groats, in Scotland, as the most Northerly point of Great Britain.
Visiting Land’s End can be an incredible experience — not least of all because, in order to get there, you’ve got to drive for a considerable while through the weird and wonderful Cornish countryside, past abandoned tin mines, and along the breathtaking coastline which — with the right lighting and weather conditions — can easily seem like something straight out of Arthurian legend.
Standing at Land’s End and staring out into North Atlantic can give you a real, eerie sense of being at the end of the world as we know it, and doubtless, this wasn’t too far from the experience that Medieval Cornishmen would have experienced themselves.
On the way to Land’s End, there are many stunning attractions worth seeing in Cornwall. One of these is the famous seaside town of Penzance, known as a one-time centre of piracy.
Take a ride through Viking Britain, in York
York is easily one of the UK’s most beautiful and intact medieval cities, and any visitor could be forgiven for thinking he had fallen through a wormhole and ended up back in 16th Century England.
Beyond the town walls and beautifully laid out medieval buildings of the old town, York hides a deeper and more mysterious past. As you’ll find if you take a visit to York Minster Cathedral, and pay the entrance fee to walk around the lower levels — the area which is now York has been occupied by many different groups before, including the Romans and, of course, the Vikings.
Known as Jorvik during Viking occupation, York was the centre of the Viking presence in Britain — and many traces of that occupation can still be found today in the archaeological record.
One of the best ways of getting a sense of what it meant to be in the town during the age of the hairy Scandinavian conquerors, is to visit the Jorvik Viking Centre — a museum featuring an array of artefacts dug up from the Viking era.
What’s more, the Viking Centre includes an attraction where you get to ride, funfair style, through a reconstructed section of Viking Jorvik, complete with waxworks and animatronic figures who will be more than happy to harass you in Old Norse.
Visit Scotland hunting for the Loch Ness monster
Do you believe that there is a long-necked beast lurking in the depths of Loch Ness, just waiting to be discovered for once and for all by eager explorers and hunters of the supernatural?
Well, why not visit Loch Ness in person, pay a trip to the Loch Ness centre, to see what they have to say on the matter?
There are few places, perhaps in the world, but certainly in the British Isles, that you’re likely to find as breathtaking as the Scottish Highlands. A drive through the mountainous terrain will have you wide-eyed in moments, whether you’re only passing through, or taking the time to stop at significant historical sites along the way — such as the settings of ancient battles and centuries-long rivalries between the rugged clans of the region.
Scotland’s charms don’t just begin at the Highlands, either. Visiting the ancient city of Edinburgh — originally built on a hill, and with a stunning view to match — will give you the chance to see just what a Scottish castle looks like in person, not to mention allowing you to benefit from the many local tartan and kilt shops present.
If you’re keen on hearing the bagpipes on the wind, you’re sure not to be disappointed. Virtually every corner of Scotland, at virtually any point in the year, will find an excuse to bring out the bagpipes and introduce traditional Scottish culture to the hordes of enthusiastic tourists who make their way across the country annually.
As for the real test of your courage – whether you’ll try the haggis — that’s up to you.