England is the largest of the four countries which make up the United Kingdom of Great Britain. This tiny country, which is just over 400 miles long, has a long and impressive history which can be brought tangibly to life by visiting places such as Stonehenge (2400BC), 2000-year-old Roman mosaics at Cirencester, 6th century Canterbury Cathedral, Windsor Castle (1078), Portsmouth Historic Dockyard (1212) and many more ancient palaces, cities, castles, monuments and churches.
Shaped by its Roman, Viking, Saxon and Norman rulers, England has a rich history which makes a fascinating tableau for visitors, whether your passion is for history, architecture, parks and gardens, museums, family estates, scenic national parks, railways, beaches, walking, shopping, fashion, music, art or a whole combination of these interests.
England’s Most Historic Cities
On their first visit to England, most visitors want to tick off London with its world-famous attractions such as Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London, Palace of Westminster, Trafalgar Square, and historic Greenwich, all within easy reach of the River Thames. Broadening your horizons to include some of England’s other destinations will reward you with a richer perspective of this beautiful island and its wealth of treasures.
Cities such as Bath with its Roman Baths and Royal Crescent, the glorious university cities of Oxford and Cambridge, and Brighton with its Royal Pavilion and famous pier and are within easy reach of London. They can all be explored in-depth with a knowledgeable local guide, either on foot, by double-decker bus, or on a private taxi tour.
Further north, the walled cities of Chester and York preserve sites and remains dating back to Roman times. The Yorvik Centre in York transports visitors beneath the city to experience the sights, sounds and smells of York as it would have appeared over a thousand years ago. The reconstructed houses are littered with genuine excavated remains gathered from a five-year long in-situ archaeological dig beneath Coppergate.
Walk around the compact city of Chester on top of the city walls and explore the Roman amphitheater. The black-and-white Tudor architecture is particularly photogenic along “The Rows” where the overhanging upper stories almost cover the narrow cobbled streets. Discover the mediaeval gates and magnificent Chester Cathedral or take a peaceful river cruise along the River Dee.
Glastonbury offers a magnificent cathedral, a 7th century Abbey and a blend of Celtic myth, folklore and history concerning the Holy Grail and the legendary King Arthur. This interesting town also hosts the contemporary Glastonbury Music Festival each summer.
Unique Things to Do in England
Those looking for an experience around which to plan their visit to England should consider dates coinciding with Royal Ascot, Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Trooping the Color on the Queen’s official birthday, The Proms Concerts or the spectacular Chelsea Flower Show.
The English climate and love of gardening are reflected in the many public parks, gardens and town centers which are bedecked with cascading blooms and floral displays from spring through fall. More natural scenic beauty can be found in the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, such as the Cotswolds, South Devon and the Norfolk Broads.
England’s nationals parks protect and preserve some particularly unspoiled areas of England including Dartmoor, the Lake District, the Peak District, the New Forest and the Yorkshire Dales. These areas provide publically owned green space for walking, hiking, birdwatching, sailing, fishing, cycling, horseriding and other outdoor activities.
Exploring off-the-beaten-path you will stumble upon charming thatched cottages with pretty gardens in the Cotswolds, Tudor architecture in Stratford-upon-Avon dating back to Shakespeare’s era, tiny coves and fishing harbors in Cornwall and a host of wildlife and peaceful countryside along Britain’s many canals and waterways.
The National Trust is a wonderful institution which owns and manages over 200 historic homes, castles, landmark buildings and estates including Highclere Castle, better known as “Downton Abbey”. The Trust oversees priceless collections of antique furniture, artworks, books, ceramics, clocks, textiles and other rare and unusual items. It also opens the homes of famous people such as Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie and John Lennon as public attractions. Its huge team of volunteers allows it to maintain more than 610,000 square miles of coastline, woodland and gardens, making it a fantastic resource for any visitor to England.