Merry Christmas Eve! I’ve spent most of this month enjoying time with friends and family, but also planning my 2016 travels! Surprise surprise, England is definitely at the top of my list. I’ve studied there, lived there, and revisit every year; there’s just no keeping me away. In the meantime, here’s a guest post of England’s top attractions. I’ve been to most of these places but there are definitely a few, like Stonehenge and The Cotswolds, which I’ll be visiting in a few months. Enjoy!
England has a wonderful reputation as a tourist destination, largely because there’s just so much to see and do. It’s a country packed with both historical and modern attractions, not to mention a lively and diverse culture. Many who have traveled in Europe will agree that while it doesn’t seem like the most exotic place to visit on the continent, England has as much to offer as any other popular country. With that said, here are 10 of the best attractions to keep in mind if you consider adding this destination to your travel list.
Like many other wonders of the ancient world, Stonehenge has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. The sheer magnitude of the construction, and that it occurred some 4,500 years ago, is simply mind-blowing when you’re standing in plain view of it all. What many don’t realize is that Stonehenge is also extremely accessible, located just north of Salisbury and less than 100 miles from London.
#2 London’s Historic Buildings
Listing each of London’s historic buildings individually would take up just about this whole list, so instead I’ve grouped them together. Big Ben, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and even the British Museum and the National Gallery – all of these are exceptionally beautiful and significant structures that should be part of any first-time visit to London. And the best part is, you can see them all fairly easily in a single day.
#3 Castle Regions
One of the coolest things about England is that its history is scattered across the land in a very real and visual way. This is evident largely in the number of ancient castles that are still standing throughout the country. There are plenty of ways to take in these sights and attractions, but British Tours’ overnight castle tour can get you a pretty full sampling if medieval history is high on your list of reasons to see England. Go here to learn more and prepare for a historic trip!
#4 Shakespeare’s England
For those interested in the literary history of England, and the man most widely recognized as mankind’s greatest writer, a tour of what’s sometimes called “Shakespeare’s England” is also a worthwhile attraction. Basically, the area around Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s hometown) has been transformed into something of a luxury retreat. The area is as picturesque and pleasant as ever, and visitors can now enjoy spa treatments and cozy accommodations while getting a taste of history.
#5 The Lake District
If one were to debate the most beautiful places in Britain, the Lake District National Park would certainly wind up high on the list. A mountainous region in northwest England dotted with glassy lakes, it looks like something out of a fantasy novel, and indeed has served as an inspirational location for countless British authors.
#6 The Cheltenham Festival
England is known for a number of different high-profile sporting competitions, but its spring horse racing festivals are some of the most unique ones of the bunch. The Cheltenham Festival is the first major event in this category, and by many accounts the most fun. Held in Gloucestershire each March (and dating back to 1860), it’s a four-day event filled with top-notch races, enthusiastic spectators, and the fashion, food and drink typical of European races. And as explained by Betfair, each day is marked by a particularly significant race. That makes it more like a collection of major sporting events as opposed to a single one, which also means they’re more to follow. Head here for more information as March draws closer.
#7 The Boat Race
The London Boat Race is a hallowed tradition that takes place each year on the River Thames. It’s basically a rowing competition between Oxford and Cambridge, and it was first held almost 200 years ago in 1829. That makes it one of the longest-running sporting events in the world, and over time it has only gained a more enthusiastic following. The day of the Boat Race in London is wonderfully festive and makes for a thrilling occasion for any tourist.
#8 The Cotswolds
If the Lake District has a hold as the most beautiful region in England, the Cotswolds might be a close second. This area has to make the list because it represents so much of the picturesque imagery for which England is widely recognized: rolling hills, beautiful forests, and towns full of cottages that look so flawless as to have been imagined into being by an author. The cottages and the villages they belong to are the real attraction, and Escape to the Cotswolds has a whole list of towns visitors might enjoy seeing.
#9 The Eden Project
For a taste of the modern side of England’s beauty, the Eden Project is difficult to beat. It’s basically a cluster of gigantic greenhouses that look as if they belong about 50 years in the future. Within the greenhouses are plants from all over the place, including some that call to mind a Mediterranean environment. The area has now become a popular place for various cultural and musical events as well.
As mentioned before, there are numerous sporting events for which England is known, but perhaps none is as impressive or as uniquely British as Wimbledon. Held annually in London, it’s considered the most prestigious event on the worldwide tennis calendar, and its carefully maintained atmosphere almost transcends the sport. Travelers should know, however, that tickets to Wimbledon get very competitive very far in advance. Telegraph has a nice guide to attending the event, and it’s certainly worth some planning if this is on your travel wish list.
There’s plenty more to see and do in England than just what’s on this list. But these 10 ideas should give you a few nice ideas to start with, whether you’re looking for history, sport, culture, or even beauty.
Which of these attractions have you visited? Are any of them on your 2016 travel list? I’d love to know in the comments below!