Explore England: A Trip Across the Pond
Want to get a peak at Buckingham Palace or see where the Beatles got their start? Then head to England and wander through the countless small-town pubs, experience the multicultural metropolis of London, or simply explore the historical countryside, like the medieval town of Knaresborough.
A trip to London may be on everyone's list, but why not consider a true English vacation? The British island offers much more than the metropolis on the Thames. Whether you're hiking in the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales, relaxing on a beach vacation in the south coast, or perusing enchanting historic sites and medieval castles, there's plenty to discover in this fascinating European isle.
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General Facts About England
Sometimes it can feel like its all about England, but nothing annoys the Scots, Welsh, and Irish more than lumping them together with their English counterparts. Therefore, first a small clarification is in order: The U.K. (United Kingdom) consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The latter shares the Irish island with the independent Republic of Ireland, while England, Scotland and Wales share the British island. This is also called Great Britain. Incidentally, the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea and the Channel Islands between England and France are not part of the United Kingdom.
Seem complicated? When vacationing in England, its best to speak about "the UK" or "Britain", unless you are explicitly referring to England. The data below is in reference to England alone:
- Size: 130,395 square kilometers
- Inhabitants: 55.27 million
- Currency: Pound Sterling
- Capital: London
- Time difference to EST: London is 5 hours ahead
The most beautiful destinations for a vacation in England
The region you choose for your vacation in England depends mainly on your interests. Scenic areas such as the Cotswolds, Yorkshire, and the Lake District mainly attract hikers and nature lovers. If you are interested in English history you will find magnificent old castles and picturesque viewpoints, especially in the south. Beach trips are possible in Cornwall and in the neighboring county of Devon—as long as you remember that the weather in England is legendary for being tempermental. Some of the most beautiful stops:
- Cornwall and Devon in the southwest
- the south of England between Bournemouth and Brighton
- the Cotswolds
- the Lake District
If you want to spend your vacation in England in one of these rural areas, you should rent a car. Don't forget that cars in England use left-hand drive and you must drive on the left as well! Alternatively, you can do city trips by train and see Liverpool and Manchester in the north, or take day trips from London to nearby points of interest such as the university cities of Cambridge and Oxford.
The Lake District
The Lake District in northwestern England is another natural landscape of breathtaking beauty, immortalized by the poet William Wordsworth. Here you will find England's highest mountain (the 978-meter-high Scafell Pike) and England's largest lake, the Windermere. You can go paddling on the lake, hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding.
If you are looking for a bit more hustle and bustle, spend a day or two in England's largest seaside resort, Blackpool on the West Coast, south of the Lake District. It's not just for kids—anyone will love the amusement parks, piers, and other tourist attractions such as the SeaLife Aquarium and the famous Blackpool Tower.
South England between Bournemouth and Brighton
If you would like to combine hikingtrips, beach days, sightseeing, and culture, you should choose the counties to the east for your vacation in England. The seaside resort town of Bournemouth in the county of Dorset has one of the most beautiful beaches in the south of England and is located in the middle of the Jurassic Coast, so called due to its fascinating rock formations. You can also quickly and easily reach famous inland sights such as Stonehenge by car.
If you also want to visit London during your vacation to England, you can go to seaside resort towns such as Brighton in East Sussex, where you will find beaches and spectacular stretches of coastline like Beachy Head, and regional trains will bring you to the metropolis in just one hour.
When you think of England, do you envision picturesque little villages, blooming gardens, and rolling hills? Then the Cotswolds are the best choice for your trip to England. The Cotswolds Hills, also known as the "Heart of England," bordered by the Thames to the south and the Avon to the north.
Numerous well-known cities like Bath, Cirencester and Shakespeare's home town of Stratford-upon-Avon invite you to day trips and sightseeing. Medieval fans should not miss the magnificently restored Warwick Castle .
Further north, Yorkshire County is known for its rugged hills and bogs, as well as the picturesque Yorkshire Dales. Historic cities like York and Durham are perfect for day trips. Literary fans should visit Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters.
If you're pulled towards the sea, the east coast of England, with pretty places like Whitby and the seaside resort town of Scarborough, is not too far away.
Cornwall and Devon
These two counties in the southwest of England are strongly affected by the Gulf Stream. You will find numerous beautiful sandy beaches for a beach vacation or day trip, especially on the south coast facing the English Channel.
The north coast of Cornwall is rougher and particularly attractive to surfers. Everywhere you turn you will find beautiful trails along the coasts and inland, such as in Dartmoor National Park.
The most famous sights of England
Of course you should also use your holiday in England to visit some of the famous sights. Many of England's best-known attractions are in the southeastern catchment area of London. You can easily reach these on a day trip. Some examples:
- Windsor Castle, the principal residence of the English royal family
- the Cathedral of Canterbury, where King Henry II had his archenemy Thomas Beckett murdered in 1170
- the university city of Oxford with its numerous museums and scientific collections
- Portsmouth, with its historic harbor and the restored HMS Victory, where Lord Nelson won the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805
- the medieval Anglo-Saxon capital Winchester, in whose cathedral (allegedly) the round table of King Arthur hangs
- the magnificently restored castle of Arundel, which is one of the finest in England
On the other side of the southeast you will find many more great sights to discover during your holiday in England, for example:
- the famous stone circles of Stonehenge
- the Salisbury Cathedral with a copy of the Magna Carta
- Liverpool, with its restored docks, diverse museums, and heritage of the Beatles
- Manchester, the mecca of football fans who flock to its stadiums and the Museum of Football
- the pretty Chester, which was the northernmost ancient Roman settlement ever
- Newcastle upon Tyne, the rebuilt city in the northeast with its legendary nightlife