The centre of British dominance and the heart of one of the world’s most enduring empires, England is a conglomeration of vibrant, buzzing cities, lush pasturelands, and monumental scenery.
London offers an exceptional cultural backdrop, with thousands of years of history on display, uncountable artistic masterpieces to discover, an incredibly diverse ethnic community and some of the best shopping to be found on earth. Further afield, the south of England offers delightful seaside cities bursting with nightlife, stunning natural scenery and as well as quaint, sleepy villages that live life at a quieter pace; the Lakes District in Cumbria is a landscape of never-ending beauty with dramatic peaks, beautiful valleys, and stunning lakes; in the north of England, history abounds. Experience the medieval history of Chester, circled by Roman-built walls and featuring distinctive 19th-century architecture, and in York, you'll find the oldest shopping street in Europe, Viking history and ghosts a-plenty.
There are simply not enough superlatives to accurately describe the sprawling, exciting and vibrant city of London. Fresh from hosting the 2012 Olympic Games, this quintessential international metropolis is at once big, brash and bustling, ancient and modern, cutting-edge and traditional. A city full of promise, culture and adventure: over the centuries, thousands of people have arrived in London, one of the biggest and most exciting cities of them all, seeking a change, a new life, or a once-in-a-lifetime holiday experience
An essential destination for history lovers, London not only has an impressive array of museums, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum, it's also a place where history is incorporated into everyday life. From the Old Bailey, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge and the Tower of London, to Big Ben, the Marble Arch and Westminster Abbey, everywhere you look is a glimpse into a glorious past. London's entertainment scene is diverse and exciting. Its electrifying West End, the hub of all things entertainment, is an essential stop for everything from theatre, drama, dance and performance, to comedy, dining, music and clubs. Shoppers are kept happy too: from Oxford Street, Portobello Market and Camden Lock to Knightsbridge and the famous Harrods, there's a district with something for everyone.
You can't always entice children with old buildings and history, so luckily, London offers a number of activities to keep the kids entertained. Feel the earth shake like an earthquake at the Natural History Museum, try a virtual flight on the Concorde at the Brooklands Museum, visit the V&A Museum of Childhood for free activities ranging from storytelling and treasure hunts and explore the extensive collection of teddy bears and dolls houses, climb aboard the HMS Belfast, the largest preserved WW2 warship, and of course, go behind the scenes of the Harry Potter films at Warner Bros Studios.
Visitors who venture away from the capital are rewarded with an amazing variety of experiences, from cosmopolitan cities like Manchester and Liverpool, to historic towns such as Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath or York. You could explore the windswept North East, home of Hadrian's Wall near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, or the lively south coast cities of Brighton or Southampton, or slow down in the sleepy sea-side town of Plymouth.
Once industrial cities, both Manchester and Liverpool are now thriving modern metropolis', both brimming with cultural diversity, award-winning restaurants, exceptional art galleries, museums, shopping and an exciting nightlife. The World Heritage city of Bath features the famous remains of the Roman Baths that were built there between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, and from which the city took its name.
Stratford-upon-Avon is perhaps best known as the birthplace of Shakespeare, and the walled city of York offers a fascinating glimpse of the entire length of Britain's history, from Roman occupation, Viking conquest, middle-age feudalism and right through to modern times.
As well as the towns and cities, England's charm can also be found in the countryside, and what better way to explore the charming village pubs and markets, than basing yourself in a country cottage, or splurge on a truly one-of-a-kind experience in a real castle or stately manor.
The English countryside is astoundingly quaint and romantic and there are plenty of locales which offer you the opportunity to immerse yourself among the pretty green-lined roads, meandering streams, pathways and fields. Go for a hike, take a picnic ... just get off the main roads.
The villages of England can be breathtakingly picturesque, especially in summer when everything is in its most vibrant state of green, and the flower boxes on the sills are in bloom. There are many areas of England where you can find these quaint villages, but the most famous is The Cotswolds in south-central England which is a fairly large area and has been officially designated as "An Area of Great Natural Beauty" (AONB). Another fantastic region for picturesque villages is in the south-west county of Cornwall. St Mawgan, Kingsand and Cawsand are just three of them.
Stunning scenery really comes to the fore in the Lake District and East Anglia. Discover the wonders of the crystal-clear lakes and rivers, water-meadows and lofty, forest-clad peaks of the picturesque regions that have won the hearts of artists and writers for so many generations. Yorkshire is a wonderland of vast, windswept moors and dales, with a bracing ruggedness that strikes a chord with all visitors.
Believe it or not, England has some beautiful beaches. They aren't like your typical Australian beaches and their beauty has a different cool, windswept sort of vibe. Nonetheless there is a small surfing culture, mainly in the south-west. Watergate Bay in Cornwall has miles of golden sand, Porthcurno, also in Cornwall, has white sand and Adriatic-blue water. Not all the great beaches are in the south-west however, Sandsend in Yorkshire and Bamburgh in Northumberland are also famous, albeit in a chillier setting.
Whether you're a history buff, retracing your family tree, a fan of great British bands like the Beatles, or a lover of fashion, culture and the arts - there is a holiday experience for everyone in England.
In London, be sure to get a sky-high view of the city at the top of the Shard, London's highest and best view (you can even buy a glass of bubbles in the viewing gallery bar!). Wander the market streets of Camden and keep and eagle-eye out for a Banksie-adorned wall. Walk the spooky walls and cells of the Tower of London, or taking a chilling stroll through old London on a Jack The Ripper walking tour.
Outside of London, be sure to visit Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Will Shakespeare, or head north to Hadrian's wall, a ribbon of history that straddles the stunning Northumberland countryside. For more Roman history, dip your toe into the historic city of Bath, or party the night away in the hedonistic clubs of Brighton. If you love your sport, be sure to mingle with the masses on the terraces at a Premier League football game.
There's nothing quite like an English pub, especially in the country. Many have tried to reproduce them around the world, but there is nothing like the real thing. Quaint public houses or Pubs are dotted all over the country and are a major focus for local communities, or if food is your thing, be sure to check out the restaurants of some of England' famous chefs, Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver (if you can get a reservations that is!)
Points of Interest
Generally, Australians travelling to the UK as tourists for a period of up to six months do not require a visa. However, it is ultimately the prerogative of the UK authorities to determine who is granted entry. Any individual they believe is entering the UK for any non-tourist purpose and does not hold the corresponding visa, may be refused entry. Australians planning to do paid or unpaid work, to volunteer or get married in the UK are required to obtain a visa before they depart Australia. For more information visit - www.smartraveller.gov.au.
Best Time to Visit
|Catch a Megastar performance at a summer festival||Glastonbury Festival (July) / Reading Festival (August)|
|Watch a huge fireworks display||London's Southbank on New Year's Eve|
|Watch grown men and women roll cheese down a hill||Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling Festival is held in May|
Getting around England is easy. If you're in London, make the most of the impressive Tube system. Pre-purchased Tube passes can be bought from your travel agent, or at any newsagent or Tube station once in London.
England's train network is a great way to visit the other parts of the country, with most of the country well covered by rail services. Be sure to book advance tickets if possible to save money.
Car hire is another great way to get around (it's worthy to note that most lead-in hire cars are manual in Europe, you'll need to pay for an upgrade if you want to hire an automatic), England's road numbering system makes it easy to navigate, and handy motorway signs like "The North" let you know you're heading in the right direction.
It's not all just Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash and Curry! England has some incredible cuisine on offer, from small village Gastropubs to the high-end celebrity chef-run restaurants of London, the British table is surprising varied.
Of course, if you are after some traditional delights, be sure to try some West Country Cider, a Melton Mowbray pork pie, a traditional Devonshire cream tea, Cornish pasties and incredible cheeses like Stilton or West Country Farmhouse Chedder.
For truly gastronomic delights, the Visit Britain website offers a list of the Best British restaurants.
From affordable High Street chains like Top Shop and H&M, to famous designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith and Burberry, England is a fantastic shopping destination. England's High Streets and Shopping centres have become quite generic, with the same department stores and chains popping up in all corners of the country - this does mean you'll find consistent products and pricing wherever you are. If your are looking for something unique, London plays host to some fantastic marketes, including Brick Lane and Spittalfields in the East End, as well as the world-famous Portoblello Road and Camden Markets.
If you are planning to grab some British bargains, you can claim your VAT back at the airport when you leave - visit the VAT Refunds Website for more info.
What to Pack
Although not a land of extremes, England is always hard to predict the exact weather for your trip. If you are travelling in the summer months, pack the shorts and summer dresses, but make sure you include jeans and a jumper for those cooler nights, and if you are travelling in winter, be sure to pack gloves, scalf and a beanie. Spring and Autumn are variable and you are probably best to pack for all seasons!
With so much culture, history, music, theatre, scenery and amazing experiences to immerse yourself into in Britain, you'll be spolit for choice on what to do next - check out some of our favourites below - or drop by the Visit Britain website.