Holiday in Great Britain? The country of Shakespeare, King Arthur and Jane Austen’s rich culture and really has something to offer everyone!
First-time visitors to Western Europe’s third most populous nation often arrive expecting warm beer, double-decker buses and red telephone boxes on every street. Instead they discover a country that has dramatically moved on from such clichés. But just because the classic Routemaster double-deckers are disappearing and the telephone boxes have taken on a steely-grey hue (and room-temperature beer can still be found if you find the wrong pub), it doesn’t mean that Britain has abandoned the qualities that still make it great for travelers.
The Cosmopolitan capital of England, London, remains one of the world’s most exciting cities, with rising postindustrial challengers like Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff jostling for the mantle of Britain’s second most vibrant metropolis.
For nature-huggers, recommended areas of jaw-dropping beauty include the desolate Devon moors, the dramatic landscapes of the Lake District and the craggy Scottish Highlands. And for those who like easy access to history, almost every town has an ancient market square and clutch of centuries-old churches.
Whether it’s history, nature or contemporary culture that attracts you to the beautifull shores, it’s clear that leaving your preconceptions at the border is essential. This diverse yet easily travelled land is ideal for off-the-beaten-path wandering. And if you happen to spot a double-decker bus along the way, don’t forget to take a photo.
The British Culture
With a population of 60 million, Britain is one of the world’s most densely populated nations. Despite this, there are myriad distinct regional identities: it’s common to travel less than 50 miles and find a completely different accent with its own special vocabulary.
Southerners will tell you they don’t understand a word uttered by the Geordies, while northerners will happily tease the Welsh over the way they speak. For the most part, this regional rivalry is fairly friendly – although it’s wise to avoid calling someone ‘English’ if they come from Scotland or Wales. Indeed, the independent-minded Scots and Welsh often view themselves as separate races.
Britain has a colorful and important cultural history that stretches for centuries. While theatre and literature are at the forefront of these historic achievements, the UK’s latter-day popular culture and conceptual art movements continue to resonate throughout the world.
Travelling in the footsteps of storied English, Scottish or Welsh writers can be the highlight of any trip to Britain. An amble through the cobbled streets of Canterbury recalls Chaucer’s ribald comedy, while a stroll in the Scottish glens should easily evoke the spirit of Robbie Burns. Spirits of a different variety should be sampled in the pubs of Wales, some of which inspired the poetry of Dylan Thomas.
For most lit-lovers, a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon is a must. Not only is this the historic hometown of Western literature’s greatest playwright, it’s also the world centre of Shakespeare performance and the home of the renowned Royal Shakespeare Company.
British musicians enjoy huge record sales around the world, with entertainment juggernauts like the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Paul McCartney routinely topping lists of highest-grossing concert tours. Back home, the reality is much edgier. Although Coldplay are in danger of becoming ubiquitous, bands like Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and British Sea Power continue to attract the indie crowd, while talented youngsters like Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys can still burst on the scene as if they were born with 50 great songs ready to play. Britain’s contribution to contemporary art has undergone a transformation in recent years, with new galleries and public installations creating feverish debate.
While cities like Glasgow, Manchester and London, house some of Europe’s finest galleries, exciting new developments like the capital’s Tate Modern and Newcastle’s Baltic arts centre have become popular showcases for the latest artistic movements.