Last year, it was all about the UK as the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee brought a sense of national pride to the country. There’s lots of excitement in store for summer 2013, too -- a new addition to the Royal Family is imminent and festival season is upon us.
Continuing our UK appreciation theme, we’ve put together a list of the local cities that really should be on your bucket list.
Bath is a city steeped in history, with cobbled streets and stunning architecture. Take a trip to the Roman Baths for a cultural journey through Roman history, then retreat to the swanky Thermae Bath Spa to sample the scented steam rooms and take a dip in the heated rooftop pool.
Couple your city stay with a trip to the Cotswolds (just 20 minutes by car) for some of the UK’s best scenery and enough chocolate-box villages to induce some serious property envy.
A trip to the Scottish capital combines the best of the UK: culture, shopping, sightseeing and food. Edinburgh is a great place to visit year-round, but if you can wangle a hotel room during the festival (9 August-1 September), you’ll be treated to top-notch theater, live music and comedy in just about every performance space in town. While you’re there, stroll up the historic Royal Mile, take a hike to Arthur’s Seat for some of the best views in town and partake in a spot of shopping on Princes’ Street. The military tattoo takes place from 2-24 August with bagpipes, drums and military bands performing against the impressive backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.
These two quaint university towns attract a plethora of tourists each year and it’s easy to see why. Whether you’re reveling in the stunning stone architecture of Oxford’s Bodleian Library or punting down the River Cam in Cambridge, a trip to one of the UK’s top university towns truly feels like stepping back in time.
While Yorkshire is awash with great little market towns, York is arguably the best of the bunch. This great historic city combines cobbled streets with little boutiques, delicious tea rooms (the Fat Rascal at Bettys is a must) and cultural delights including York Minster and the stinky Jorvik Viking Centre (perfect for kids). And don't miss the Shambles, York's most famous street, which boasts some of the best medieval architecture still around. From your York base, take a trip out to the Yorkshire Dales for hiking trails through rugged scenery and some exemplary local ales in cozy country pubs.
Fancy seeing some of the world’s best art for free? Then the Tate galleries are an essential item on your UK bucket list. Stroll among the masters at the more traditional Tate gallery in Pimlico, or hop to Bankside (there is a boat that runs between the two) to meander among modern art masterpieces at the Tate Modern. While you’re in the foodie capital of the UK, combine your day of culture with a sumptuous dinner somewhere swanky, or wander over to Borough Market (not far from Tate Modern and open Thursday-Saturday) sample treats from some of London’s finest suppliers -- the perfect picnic stop.
No trip to the UK would be complete without a trip to Shakespeare country. Visit the Bard’s birthplace, have a snoop around Ann Hathaway’s cottage and enjoy a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. While you’re in the area, be sure to take a day trip to Warwick Castle (20 minutes by car) to swot up on 11 centuries of history.