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Going on Holiday in Great Britain. A Guide to Where to Go, What to See and What to Do

Updated on July 23, 2014
Compared to most countries, the UK (or Britain, British Isles depending on what you want to call it) is quite small geographically at least. It does pack an astonishingly diverse array of possibilities to consider when planning a visit. Furthermore, is it is possible to visit all four corners of Britain in a 2 or 3 week visit if you wanted to, something which would be much more difficult in places like Australia, USA, China etc!
So what places are worth visiting? The list is practically endless, and will vary considerably depending on your interests, but here are some possibilities.



When coming to the UK, London is top of most people’s list of places to visit. Chances are you will fly into London, so it is a good place to start or end your visit. Whatever you are after, London has it all: fabulous monuments, great museums, art galleries, shops, restaurants, theatre and lots more besides. London needs an article on its own to do any kind of justice to all of the possibilities, but here are just a few things you can do in London.

  1. British Museum – One of the biggest museums in the world, the British Museum has vast collections of exhibits, which it has been collecting for well over 200 years. Make sure you see the fabulous Egyptology Collection while you are there. The British museum has a café, extensive gift shop and also has visiting exhibitions which change periodically (the last time I went the Terracotta Warriors were visiting from China). Definitely a full day out.
  2. Madame Tussauds – literally thousands of waxworks of people both historic and current. Many of the world’s most famous people have had a waxwork of themselves done, and if you stop by the café you might find yourself having lunch a famous celebrity – they won’t be much of a conversationalist though!
  3. Go see a show – London’s West End is world renowed for its theatres. Whether you like musicals, comedy or great drama, there will be lots to choose from.
  4. Do a spot of shopping – head to Oxford Street, Bond Street or maybe one of the big department stores – Harrods, Selfridges or Harvey Nichols. Or if you want to go bargain hunting or book shopping, try Notting Hill or Charing Cross.
  5. Take afternoon tea at the Ritz, Claridges or the Connaught and experience the taste of old England.

Visit Bath Video


Bath is a World Heritage Site, one of the most popular tourist destinations outside London. It is a spa town in Somerset a couple of hours from London. It has been a settlement since Roman times (Bath being named for the Roman Baths there), and is famous for its hot springs, the only naturally occuring hot springs in Britain. It became popular as a holiday resort in the Georgian era, which is when much of Bath was built, including architectural gems like the Royal Crescent. Visitors can visit the Roman Baths and take the waters (i.e. drink it) as well as tour the various parts of the undergrounds baths and visit the museum. Visitors can bathe in the waters at the Thermae Bath Spa. Bath also has several theatres, museums and many other cultural attractions.

Lake District Video

Lake District

The Lake District is a National Park in Cumbria, in the North West of England, and is probably the best known place in the UK outside London. I live about an hour’s drive from the Lake District and if I am abroad and anyone asks where I live I usually reply ‘near the Lake District’ which never fails to work! It is very famous for its beautiful scenery, and natural wildlife. The Lakes, as the national park is popularly known, is a regular destination for walkers who enjoy climbing up the many fells in the Lake District (including Scafell Pike, England’s tallest mountain), and also with water sports enthusiasts who head to the many lakes including Lake Windermere, Ullswater and Coniston. There are great many things to do in the Lake District, including a wide variety of outdoor activities. There are a few tourist towns which are well worth a visit, including Bowness-on-Windermere, Keswick, Ambleside, Grasmere, Kendal, Penrith and Hawkshead.

While museums and indoor attractions are not the main draw of the region, there are nevertheless quite a few worth considering, especially on rainy days. These include the World of Beatrix Potter, Aquarium of the Lakes and the Museum of Lakeland Life.

Cornish Coast
Cornish Coast | Source

Devon & Cornwall

For a trip to the seaside you can’t beat the allure of Devon and Cornwall, with some of the most gorgeous beaches and breathtaking coastal scenery you will see anywhere. Honestly, Spain, Portugal, Greece, none of these places can match up to the beauty of England’s South-West coast. Except for, erm, the weather that is. Unlike other European beach destinations, you just can’t guarantee the weather, though Devon and Cornwall are much milder and sunnier than the rest of the UK (due to favourable Atlantic currents and being on the South coast).

There are so many places to choose from, lots of popular resorts and well known visitors attractions but what’s nicest about visiting this region is finding that small quaint fishing village or quiet out of the way beach. As a starting point however some of my favourite places are:

Looe, Cornwall - a bustling seaside resort with great beaches, a harbour and lots going on in the town. It still has that small town feel however and isn’t big and brash like some of the larger resorts.

Salcombe, Devon - a lovely little Devon town, popular with yachters and water sports enthusiasts.

Dartmoor, Devon - a national park, mostly moorland, inland in the middle of Devon. Very popular with walkers, and famous for being the setting for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story, ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.

Torbay - the area of Devon coast which includes the resort towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. Called the English Riviera, it has a very mild climate and even has palm trees growing along the sea front.

Edinburgh City Video


Edinburgh is the capital of Edinburgh, and is divided between the ‘Old Town’ and the ‘New Town’. The heart of the Old Town is the Royal Mile, which runs from Edinburgh Castle to historic Holyrood House. As well as the two attractions at either end, the Royal Mile has many other worthwhile museums and visitors attractions including the Whiskey Tour, Museum of Childhood and Mary King’s Close (walk round the underground streets of old Edinburgh). There are lots of quaint shops, cafes and pubs along the Royal Mile too.

The ‘New Town’ is not all that new, but dates back to the comparatively recent 18th century and was built to relieve over-crowding in the Old Town. Today there are lots of modern high street shops, restaurant chains and pubs in the New Town, as well as Jenners department store, Scotland’s answer to Harrods.

As well as the Old and New Towns, there are many other areas on the outskirts of Edinburgh, including Leith, the port of Edinburgh only a couple of miles from the centre. A number of cruise ships come to the port and the you can take a tour round the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is berthed here in its retirement.

This is only a brief look at some of the places you might consider when visiting the UK. There are many, many more equally good places I could have mentioned, I haven't mentioned anything about Snowdonia, the Pembroke Coast, the Scottish Highlands and Islands or anything about Northern Ireland. I haven't mentioned the great historic cities of Oxford, Cambridge or York, nor the quaint English villages of the Cotswolds or the beauty of the Wye Valley. There is only so much space though, so these will have to be covered in another Hub.

My British Travel Articles

Advice for Visitors

How to Get Around in Britain - An article about driving in the UK as well as bus, train and air travel, including the best websites to use to plan your trip.

Booking holiday accommodation in Britain - A look at the different types of accommodation you can book in the UK, including B&B's, budget hotels, hostels and cottages.

What Maps to Buy - All about maps in the UK, from road atlases to Ordnance Survey walking maps.

Britain - What to See and Do

Visit Britain - Where to Go, What to See - A brief look at some at the best things to see and do while you are in the UK.

Polling Station

Where would you most like to visit in Britain

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