Category Archives: Things to see and do
What’s New in Britain for 2013
From special anniversaries to cutting edge exhibitions, enticing attractions to mouth-watering musicals, the hottest hotel openings and brand new events for your travel calendar, VisitBritain presents its guide to What’s New in 2013 across London, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
So – what’s new in Britain?
2013 is a year of GREAT anniversaries. The 200th birthday of the publication of Pride and Prejudice will celebrate Regency Bath and Austen’s Hampshire as much as the timeless tale of wit and romance between Darcy and Elizabeth; while the 60th anniversary of the Royal Yacht Britannia coincides with the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation. It’s the perfect time to visit the Britannia – the only place you can sneak a peek into Her Majesty’s bedroom.
2013 is a year of GREAT events. The Year of Natural Scotland will celebrate all that’s exciting about the great outdoors making it the best time to explore the country’s rugged landscapes and beautiful scenery. Meanwhile the first UK City of Culture will be Derry-Londonderry in Northern Ireland, tipped as one of the top 10 places to visit in 2013 by Lonely Planet. Join in a year-long programme of world-class music, art, dance and sports events, and discover a vibrant new visitor destination.
2013 is a year of GREAT culture. On stage Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw (aka M and Q in Skyfall) star in new play Peter and Alice; Helen Mirren reprises her role as The Queen in The Audience; and the award-winning play War Horse tours the UK, starting in Devon, where the original book is set. The Welsh National Opera takes on Madame Butterfly, Berg’s Lulu and Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen while fans of musicals will be happy with Hairspray at the Wales Millennium Centre and Wicked, which tours the UK in Autumn.
For art lovers there’s Lichtenstein at Tate Modern in February, The Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber at Hampton Court Palace, Vikings! at the National Museum of Scotland, a retrospective on David Bowie at London’s V&A and lots more fantastic exhibitions throughout the year.
2013 is a GREAT year to bring the kids to Britain. With a new Children’s Literature Festival in Cardiff, the launch of the £3.6million Tiger Territory at London Zoo and the tastiest musical of the year, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – directed by the man behind Skyfall, Sam Mendes – there’s plenty to keep children entertained in 2013.
2013 is a year of GREAT attractions. From 1 February The View from Shard will be a new must-do for visitors to the capital, while iconic and ancient attraction Stonehenge will benefit from a dramatically improved visitor experience, opening in Autumn.
Plus, read about exciting hotel and accommodation news: the opening of the much-anticipated Shangri-La at The Shard, restored castles in Wales Ruthin and Glandyfi and a new Malmaison in Dundee opening next year ahead of the arrival of a new V&A in Dundee, due to open in 2015.
In addition to fantastic new openings, don’t forget Britain’s GREAT annual events. Download VisitBritain’s guide to 2013’s annual events calendar here.
Visiting the U.K in 2013 ?- Plan ahead and save money !
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The tree is an annual gift from Norway to London as a mark of thanks for British support during the Second World War.
After it was hand picked by an expert panel and felled from a forest near Oslo two weeks ago, the tree travelled more than 700 miles to light up the West End.
At 21 metres, the Norwegian Spruce – which is estimated to be aged between 115 and 120 years old – is taller than normal and required extra lights to be lit.
Nearby Nelson’s Column stands 52 metres tall.
Up to 1,000 people turned out to see the tree lit by The Governing Mayor of Oslo, Stian Berger Rosland, at a special ceremony last night, which was also attended by The Lord Mayor of Westminster, councillor Angela Harvey.
There were also festive musical performances by Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth, the St-Martin-In-The-Fields church choir and the Regent Hall Band of the Salvation Army.
Children from St Clement Danes primary school also read a specially written poem called Friendship, inspired by the tradition.
Councellor Harvey, who helped to fell the tree in Oslo, said: “For many Londoners, the lighting of the tree at Trafalgar Square heralds the beginning of the festive season, and I am delighted to welcome all of Westminster’s residents and our visitors to share this iconic symbol of Christmas.
“I would like to thank the people of Oslo for this wonderful tree, the gift of which is a tradition that goes back many years, and has come to represent not only the start of Christmas, but also a long-standing friendship between Norway and the United Kingdom.”
Mr Rosland added: “We hope the tree will contribute once again to the festive atmosphere of London. On behalf of the citizens of Oslo I wish you all a joyous Christmas season.”
For the first time Londoners can follow the tree, which will remain lit 24 hours a day until the twelfth night of Christmas on January 6, on Twitter at @trafalgartree.
Follow @bestvaluetours for festive news and Christmas special offers
London Christmas Tours – Click here
Travel Editor – Best Value Tours
900,000 spectators came to UK for big matches last year, with one in five going to Manchester United
Nearly a million overseas visitors travelled to Britain last year to watch football matches, according to research confirming the popularity of the UK as a leading sports tourism destination. Despite the high price of tickets and the problems of violence and racism in the game, new figures from the national tourism agency reaffirm the global allure of British football, particularly the Premier League.
Figures compiled by VisitBritain show that 900,000 football supporters visited Britain last year, a figure tourism bosses hope will be further supplemented by the sporting success of the Olympics.
Hugh Robertson, the minister for sport and tourism, described the Premier League as “one of this country’s most successful exports”. He said: “It is no surprise that it has become a big draw for tourists who want to experience the most exciting league in the world.”
Football tourists collectively spent £706m, or £785 per fan – £200 more than the average visitor to Britain – with many arriving during the traditionally quieter period for tourism between January and March.
The allure of British football is most keenly pronounced in Norway, with one in 13 visitors from the country – 80,000 – watching a match. Other countries generating high numbers of football spectator visits include Ireland (174,000), the US (61,000), Spain (54,000) and Germany (48,000).
Four in ten of those who attended a match said watching sport was their principal reason for visiting the UK. Football was also found to encourage visitors to explore beyond London, with the stadiums attracting the largest number of overseas fans in the north-west.
Almost one in five watched a game at Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground, followed closely by Anfield, home of Liverpool.
In terms of armchair support, the Premier League is already established as the biggest continuous annual global sporting event on television in the world, with matches viewed in 212 countries and coverage available in some 720m households.
Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, said: “It is now the most watched and supported football league in the world and there’s a huge amount of effort being made to connect with our 900 million international fans. Our clubs have worked very hard to make Premier League grounds more welcoming and are striving to deliver a first-rate experience for all fans.
“Little, though, beats the thrill of a Premier League match day and it’s very encouraging to hear that football can play an important role in increasing the numbers of international visitors to this country.”
The research also found that around 1.3 million tourists travelled to Britain for a live sporting event last year, four per cent of all visits, with the estimated total spend calculated as £1.1bn.
The greatest number of spectators for golf came from the US, rugby was popular with the Irish and French, while cricket attracted the most visitors from Australia.
Mark Townsend – The Observer, Sunday 21 October 2012
Full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/oct/21/football-tourism-premier-league
Stadium Tours: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/london-tours/london-attractions
Sport Tickets: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/search-discount-sport-event-tickets–169
Football Match Tickets: http://sightseeingtours.tickets-partners.com/dock/competition/premier-league
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10 most beautiful places in Britain
Britain is renowned for being a naturally beautiful country, with its rolling hills, dramatic coastlines and towering mountain ranges. Whether you want to explore a nature trail, gaze out at breath-taking views, or simply spend the day relaxing in the presence of natural beauty, here are 10 of the most picturesque spots Britain has to offer.
The Lake District
Situated in the North West of England, the picturesque Lake District is the physical manifestation of Britain’s famous nineteenth century Romantic Movement, having inspired some of the most renowned poems of Coleridge, Wordsworth and Blake. The landscapes that make up this area are full of enormous crystal clear lakes, including Windermere, which is the largest natural body of water in England. Bordering these vast bodies of water are dense green forests that take stillness and serenity to levels you never before thought possible.
The mystery of Stonehenge is one that may never be solved, despite the best efforts of historians all over the world. This enigmatic landmark is thousands of years old, and consists of a circle of around 30 standing stones. Although undeniably breath-taking during the day, the best time to visit Stonehenge is at sunrise or sunset. During this time the site takes on a whole new persona, with dramatic shadows forming as the low sunlight meets with the jutting monoliths.
Isle of Skye
The inner and outer Hebrides are a series of islands off Scotland’s east coast, the largest of which is the Isle of Skye. Walkers will be in their element on this picturesque island, with a huge array of routes and paths to pick from. Whether you choose the island’s sweeping coastline, the dramatic Cuillin mountain range further inland, or the rolling highlands dotted with ancient castles, Skye is sure to impress.
White Cliffs of Dover
For thousands of years the imposing sight of the White Cliffs of Dover looming out of the Atlantic has greeted invaders and visitors alike as they arrive at Britain’s south coast. These striking white chalk cliffs are flecked with jet-black veins of flint, creating one of Britain’s most distinctive natural landmarks. Take a walk along the cliffs and you’ll be met with stunning views all the way to France on clear days, as whispering winds caress the coast around you.
The Brecon Beacons
Taking their name from the burning red sandstone peaks that surround the area, The Brecon Beacons are arguably the pinnacle of Wales’ abundance of beautiful scenery. The surrounding national park is full of fascinating natural landscapes, as well as a variety of wildlife including wild mountain ponies and sheep. The Brecon Beacons Railway is the ultimate way to see the park, passing through the mountains and past the reservoir on an authentic steam locomotive.
Starting along the banks of the River Twiss on the boundary between North Yorkshire and Lancashire, the Ingleton Waterfall trail follows a series of cascading waterfalls set against intertwined woodland, before joining the River Doe. Along the way you’ll also see the famous money tree of Swilla Glen. This huge fallen tree is embedded from top to bottom with decades-old coins, which were hammered into the tree over time by people making wishes.
Often referred to as the ‘Glen of weeping’, Glen Coe is not quite as depressing as its grim moniker would suggest. Quite the opposite in fact. This U-shaped valley in the Scottish Highlands offers picture-perfect scenery that almost seems too good to be true. Divided by the winding form of the River Coe, the glen is filled with towering mountain ranges, glorious expanses of greenery, and imposing waterfalls. Rolling fog frequently seeps its way into the valley, making for impressively dramatic vistas as you climb the glen’s lofty peaks.
The Peak District
Picture an image of a stereotypically idyllic British countryside and it’s likely you won’t be far off the Peak District. Equal parts rugged and resplendent, this national park designated area in central England draws visitors from all over the world, and for good reason. Split into the limestone-filled White Peak and the imposing Dark Peak areas, the Peak District offers variety and distinction like no other region of Britain, and makes for the perfect relaxing day out.
The Royal Botanic Gardens in south-east London are a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of life in the capital. Explore these enormous (121 hectares in fact) gardens, and you’ll be awash in a wave of floral beauty, with dazzlingly colourful displays on offer wherever you turn. The gardens have been gradually expanded since they opened in 1759, and now contain a Japanese garden, a huge greenhouse, and even a palace.
A large section of Wales’ south-west coast is made up of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which is a lengthy expanse of coastal paths, coves, cliffs, and white sandy beaches. Considering its popularity, the area is impressively clean and undisturbed, so there will be nothing to ruin the calming atmosphere as you wander the trails. Dotted along the coast are quaint seaside villages, where you’ll be able to stop for a well-earned lunch break as your explore Pembrokeshire.
Needless to say we offer tours to all the above detinations
Travel Editor: www.BestValueTours.co.uk
The days are getting shorter, the mornings are getting colder and the trees are getting barer. Fall has arrived, bringing the onset of Halloween with it, and there are plenty of attractions around the UK where you can indulge your fondness of a fright, your taste for terror and your soft spot for some spookiness.
IT WAS promoted as an opportunity to appreciate the splendour of your own country while saving a pound or two. Yet the “stay-cation” has failed to make a lasting impression on the British public, according to a new poll which found that holidaymakers are better at recognising foreign landmarks than one in their own country.
Despite having some of the most iconic buildings and scenery in the world, such as Edinburgh Castle and the white cliffs of Dover, British landmarks faired poorly in a new survey that sought to discover the most recognisable tourist icons among British holidaymakers.
While not a single person out of the 1,714 British holidaymakers polled by sunshine.co.uk, an online travel agent, failed to recognise the Eiffel Tower, only 77 per cent recognised Stonehenge, it is claimed.
To add insult to injury, places such as the Sydney Opera House and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge were more recognisable than Trafalgar Square and the London Eye.
Only Big Ben in London and Stonehenge made it into the top ten of the most recognised landmarks in the world. While 98 per cent recognised the Pyramids, 96 per cent identified the Statue of Liberty in New York and 95 per cent recognised the Great Wall of China. Big Ben had a “score” of 93 per cent but Trafalgar Square and the London Eye failed to make it into the top ten of most-recognised landmarks.
The Great Wall of China came fourth with 95 per cent of those polled recognising it, while the Taj Mahal came in sixth with 84 per cent.
The top ten most recognised landmarks for UK holidaymakers was completed by Stonehenge in seventh place, the Sydney Opera House in eighth place, the Colosseum in Rome in ninth place and San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge in tenth place.
Yesterday, Chris Clarkson, the co-founder of Sunshine.co.uk said: “I actually can’t quite believe that more UK-based landmarks didn’t feature in the top ten here. To see that more people recognised the Golden Gate Bridge above the likes of the London Eye and Trafalgar Square is a bit of an eye opener.”
However, Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland said it aimed to make people more familiar with Scotland’s landmarks as well as the more out-of-the-way places in the country.
He said: “One of the main aims of our ongoing marketing campaign, Surprise Yourself, is to encourage more Scots to get out and about and explore what’s on their very doorstep.
“From iconic landmarks, such as Edinburgh Castle or Loch Ness, to hidden gems that you won’t find in the guidebooks, VisitScotland is working hard alongside Scotland’s tourism industry to promote every area of our stunning country and make sure Scots staycationers have every reason to stay close to home for their autumnal break.
“No matter how well you think you know Scotland, the beauty of it is there’s always something new to discover.”
1. Eiffel Tower – 100%
2. Pyramids – 98%
3. Statue of Liberty – 96%
4. Great Wall of China – 95%
5. Big Ben – 93%
6. Taj Mahal – 84%
7. Stonehenge – 77%
8. Sydney Opera House – 71%
9. Colosseum, Rome – 69%
10. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco – 65%
By ANGUS HOWARTH – http://www.scotsman.com
Published on Monday 8 October 2012 00:00
Best Value Tours – www.SightseeingTours.co.uk
Visiting the Christmas markets of Europe is a great way to pick up some Christmas shopping bargains whilst grabbing some Christmas cheer and spirit along the way too in some of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Alternatively if you are more Prada than Pretzel, we’ve also included our favourite Christmas shopping destinations around the world
Munich Christmas Markets (25 Nov 11 – 24 Dec 11)
Visit Munich for some of the oldest and best Christmas markets in Europe. The Christmas markets are held daily between 25 November and 24 December where you’ll find festive gifts, decorations and typical Bavarian food and drink. You’ll be amazed by the bright lights and smells of delicious fare on sale on the market stalls located in the shadow of the wonderful Rathaus building.
Bruges Christmas Markets (26 Nov 11 – 02 Jan 12)
Come to Bruges for a Christmas market that offers all the traditional gifts you would expect, all set in a festive atmosphere of bright lights and tempting aromas. Visit this beautiful old city where the festival stalls are set amongst a backdrop of cobbled streets and historic buildings. Browse for Belgian chocolates, wooden toys and other jolly gifts before relaxing in a bar as you sample a local beer.
Copenhagen Christmas Markets (11 Nov 11 – 29 Dec 11)
Copenhagen’s main Christmas markets are hosted in Tivoli Gardens, the city’s amusement park. In the land of Hans Christian Andersen you will find a Christmas market that is just as magical, with hundreds of Christmas trees and half a million lights illuminating the festive stalls and surrounding park. Browse for traditional gifts like Copenhagen porcelain or wooden dolls as well as local arts, crafts and decorations.
Helsinki Christmas Markets (07 Dec 11 – 22 Dec 11)
The largest Christmas market in Helsinki is held at the Vanha Ylioppilastalo (old student house) where you’ll find local delights including fried herring, mulled wine and tempting pastries. There’s also the Ladies’ Christmas Market with gifts that are all made and sold by women, and St Thomas Christmas Market held at Esplanade Park where you can buy baked goods and other specialities.
Cologne Christmas Markets (21 Nov 11 – 22 Dec 11)
Offering six Christmas markets, the German city of Cologne attracts almost two million visitors every year. The most impressive is at the Cologne Cathedral due to its imposing backdrop, whilst the oldest is at the Neumarkt, the city’s shopping area. Stalls offer a vast selection of festive goods including arts and crafts, Christmas tree decorations and handmade candles.
Krakow Christmas Markets (01 Dec 11 – 24 Dec 11)
Krakow Christmas market is centred on the city’s huge market square, the Rynek Glowny. Poland’s most beautiful city offers fantastic value and you can pick up some real festive bargains. Take your pick from the handmade Christmas decorations, jewellery and woollen slippers on offer. For New Year’s Eve, Krakow’s entire Old Town historical district turns into one giant ballroom. Thousands of revellers swarm its huge Grand Square and pack into the area’s countless clubs, cafes and restaurants.
Prague Christmas Markets (03 Dec 11 – 01 Jan 11)
The largest and most popular Christmas market in Prague is located in the central square of the Old Town. Between this Christmas market and the one on Wenceslas Square there are about 100 festive market stalls for you to visit. As well as the sparkling rows of decorated stalls you’ll find Christmas concerts and short plays on an open-air stage. A live nativity scene with donkeys, sheep and goats completes the festive setting.
Vienna Christmas Markets (19 Nov 11 – 26 Dec 11)
The Christkindlmarkt on the Town Hall square is Vienna’s famous Christmas market. It is one of the best-known and most visited in all of Europe and when you come you’ll soon see why. It is an unforgettable experience where you’ll be delighted by the smells of spiced fruits, sweets, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts that float around the traditional market stalls.
New York Shopping Break
There’s nothing quite like a Christmas shopping trip in New York City and New Yorkers really like to push the boat out at this time of winter with all of their ‘flagship’ stores such as Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Tiffany and Co’s & Barneys New York going to great lengths to come up with the most beautiful window displays. Take a walk down the famous 5th Avenue to see the best.
Paris Shopping Breaks
Paris boasts some of the world’s most breathtaking department stores, where visitors can browse the latest trends in designer fashion such as Dior and Chanel, browse gourmet food shops, or attend free fashion shows. The Paris department stores are not only shopping shrines, but also architectural treasures, as all are beautifully sculpted and eye catching.
Christmas Market Tours: http://www.sightseeingtours.co.uk/uk-day-tours/christmas-tours-britain-london
Christmas Markets Link: http://www.christmasmarkets.com/UK.html
Next week we focus on UK Christmas Markets
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Planning your trip to London
There’s one hell of a lot to do in London some basic planning will avoid unnecessary trapsing around on foot or irritating waiting for public transport. It’s best to plan a day out so as to maximise the number of things you can see – and to go for variety. Below are a few mornings, afternoons and whole days out we’ve arranged for visitors – time permitting, we can offer advice by Email (email@example.com) if there’s anything you particularly want to see. Our Walks and itineraries link points of interest – see the separate page.
Weather – likely to make or break your visit. Although there are plenty of things to do in London in the rain, a week of low slate-grey skies and constant rain is not condusive to having a good time. The best season to come weatherwise is Late Summer or Autumn – latterly we’ve been having Indian Summers from mid-September to the end of October with clear blue skies and 20 degree temperatures. Eventually the weather breaks as the storm fronts move in off the Atlantic, then clears up for Christmas. February – April can be dire, and the heights of summer are very unpredictable. Consult the Meterological office here for facts and figures but beware predictions – they are so often wrong.
When it’s raining there are plenty of museums and galleries to visit – and the tube system is generally very good outside of rush hour. What you’ll miss out on is strolling through London and seeing the many unique pleasures by the wayside. Click here to see when to visit London.
Hotel Location Best to be near a tube station, buses can be slow and unreliable, and taxis expensive. The yellow circle line on the tube map marks the division between central and not-so-central London. Outside of that Zone your transport bill will rise – and once you’re in LT zone three, considerably. The best restaurants are in Islington, Soho/Chinatown and the south west of London which is where the life is. The City is a dead zone evenings and weekends. Hotel accommodation click here.
Baker St tube, Madame Tussauds, walk north to Regent’s Park, the Zoo, then up Primrose Hill, Primrose Hill ‘village’ to Chalk Farm (or cut through Primrose gate by the zoo and along the canal towpath to Camden Lock) and Camden Market (weekends only), Camden Town tube, on a weekend. 4-5 hours.
Train Waterloo – St Margarets, walk 10 mins to Marble Hill House, 5 mins to the foot ferry to, Ham House, walk 25 mins along river to Richmond, tube to Kew Gardens,& back to Waterloo – (can be heavy on the admission charges) Afternoon.
Freemason’s Temple on Great Queen Street, 10 mins from the tube, Covent Garden market, Transport Museum in the Piazza, Backstage tour of Theatre Royal Drury Lane at the back of the transport museum, walk 10 mins to the Strand, the Law Courts and the Inns of Court. Three hours. Circuit round Covent Garden tube.
Tottenham Court Road tube, 10 mins walk to the British Museum, 10 mins walk south to Sir John Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, Inns of Court – starting at Lincoln’s Inn, walk 10 mins to the strand and the Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House & Galleries, Charing Cross/Strand. (3-4 hours, depending on how long you stay in the British Museum, Inns of court best weekdays)
Charing Cross tube, 5 mins walk to the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, 5 mins walk down Whitehall to Horseguards, 10 Downing St and the Cabinet War rooms. 10 Mins across St James Park to St James’ Palace, Green Park tube. 3-4 hours.
Westminster tube, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey. 10 mins walk along the river to Tate Britain, Pimlico Tube 2 hours
High St Kensington tube, 10 mins walk to Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, 15 minute walk to Notting Hill, 10 minute walk to Portobello Road market (Saturday – 3 hours) Notting Hill Gate tube.
Old St or Liverpool St tube, 15 min walk/or by bus to Geffrye Museum 10 minute walk to Colombia Road Flower Market, 10 minute walk to Brick Lane, then to Spitalfields Market, Liverpool St tube (on Sundays, 11:00-1500, including lunch)
South Kensington tube, 5 minute walk down tunnel to Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria And Albert Museum, 10 minute walk to Harrods. Knightsbridge tube (for a rainy day)
Queensway or Bayswater tube, hire Skates on Queensway, skate down to Albert Memorial, and thence to Kensington Palace and back to Queensway, exploring the park. Circuit.
Oxford Circus tube, Oxford Street (west half of), St. Christopher’s Place, Wallace collection, Bond Street, Burlington Arcade, Royal Academy. Green park tube.
Waterloo station/tube, London Eye, River walk, Oxo tower, Tate Modern, Shakespeare’s Globe, London Bridge station/tube. 3 hours. See also our walks section.
Tower Hill DLR station/Bank tube, Island gardens DLR station, 10 minutes walk under the foot tunnel, Cutty Sark, Greenwich market, Naval Academy, 10 mins walk to the Queen’s House, Royal Observatory, 15 mins back to Greenwich Pier – boat back to Tower Hill – 4 hours.
Monument tube, Monument, 5 mins to Leadenhall Market & Lloyd’s Building, 10 mins walk to Tower of London, St katherine’s dock, Tower Bridge, Shad Thames. Tower Hill tube. (3 -4 hours)
Mansion House tube, Mansion House, 10 mins walk to Guildhall Art gallery, walk round back of Guildhall up the walkways through the Barbican, Museum of London, 10 mins walk to St Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s tube. 4 hours.
Leicester Square tube, Leicester Square, Wardour St, walk through Chinatown to Charing Cross Rd, north to Cambridge Circus, along Old Compton St and Brewer Street through Soho, tp Piccadilly Circus, up Regent Street to Liberties, turn right to Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Circus/Oxford Circus tube. (1-2 hours)
London Attractions – click here
Rest of Britain
Virtually everyone flies into London, even if their reason to visit lies elsewhere. Booking a train trip from London to see the rest of the UK is best done AT LEAST TWO DAYS IN ADVANCE – very cheap fares are available, especially on Virgin Trains – as little as £9 return to Chester 2 weeks or more in advance.
Outside of London the major places of interest (apart from those listed on our trips page) would be the Cotswolds (for which you need a car), North Wales: Snowdonia and the Castles (ditto), Oxford, Cambridge, Chester, York and Bath (easily accessible by train), and we’d recommend the North of Norfolk and the Yorkshire Dales (car needed). In Scotland, Edinburgh is the only city attraction – flights are very cheap on Easyjet (much cheaper than rail travel) if you book in advance. For scenery visit the Fort William area, but beware the midges in summer, and the weather in winter. Cornwall and the Devon coast are beautiful, but a long way from anywhere and quite tourist – you can fly there using the cheap internet airlines – cheap if you book enough in advance. No city except London merits more than one day.
So many tourist boards will bombard you with information trying to sell themselves – caveat emptor is the rule. Britain earns millions of pounds from tourists, make sure you get good independent advice on places outside of London before you even think of visiting them . Many tourist boards have been caught lying and taken to court, and one Chief Tourist Officer of a large northern city resigned because he could no longer go on lying – his city really wasn’t worth visiting despite the tourist propaganda his department put out One seaside resort has been prosecuted for doctoring photos and the 2007/8 season ads for Scotland featured snow footage that was decades old and unlikely to match the reality, due to global warming.
We wouldn’t recommend Manchester (except the Lowry), Liverpool (except for the art galleries – see our art page) despite it being city of Culture, Birmingham or anywhere in the Midlands (except for Chatworth House near Chesterfield), The Lake District ( very beautiful but too crowded unless you’re going hill walking which is excellent – if you are stay at the Gilpin Lodge and do some of the set walks, but allow two/three days minimum.), Leeds, Bradford, Hull, Newcastle (unless you like drunkenness) South Wales except the Black country or the Gower Penninsula, Blackpool – or any seaside resort except Brighton, Portsmouth, The Isle of Wight (expensive ferry) Aberdeen, Inverness (the Lochs excepted), Lancaster or Sunderland (except Hadrian’s Wall). Some of these places are grim by any standards.
If you’re a party animal only, then Manchester has a good club scene and Newcastle is good for overindulgence in alcohol and loose women, as well as streetfights – it’s where the Rolling Stones’ ‘Streetfighting Man’ comes from… A male friend was beaten up by some Geordie lasses outside a nightclub, so maybe streetfighting women as well.
The Knowhere site is good for info on smaller tourist locations, but is aimed at skateboarders – its judgement on the overall character of a place is often spot-on – though generally they’re not a very helpful bunch .
Tours of Britain departing from London – Click here
Best Value Tours – www.SightseeingTours.co.uk
The Italian Job Mini Cooper London Tour.
Avoid the crowds with this truly bespoke and personal sightseeing experience around the most iconic sights in London. You will have the chance to travel in real style, as you hop into the coolest car in town, joined by your local and knowledgeable guide, ready to point out some of the most amazing stories and facts about one of the world’s most amazing cities!
With your private guide, in your exclusive groovy car, you will have the opportunity to tailor your tour to your needs and interest, requesting pick up and drop off location, specific interests, and areas of London that you want to discover. This really is the ultimate in exclusive and personal sightseeing travel!The tour will include all of the most famous sights of London, cruising through the famous areas famous across the world. You will discover Royal Parks and Palaces, the illustrious West end and its many theatres, and the Roman and Medieval London, with tales and stories to bring every part to life. Discover famous film locations, unknown stories, the best restaurants, and all the best shopping and markets.
The Italian Job Tour takes in all of London’s iconic sights: – Royal Palaces, Including Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace – London Royal Parks – Whitehall, the home to many Government buildings and history (think James Bond !) – Big Ben – Houses of Parliament – London Eye – West End London – Famous for shopping, dining and Theatre – Mayfair, Bond Street, Regent Street – for upmarket boutiques and expensive jewellers – Medieval and Roman London – with history dating back to over 2000 years – Bank of England and London’s financial district – Tower Bridge – Tower of London – And so much more
You will even have the choice of blue jumpsuits to really get you in the spirit, and you can discover where the gold bars are hidden! The Tour will last for 1.5 hours, and you have the opportunity to select a pick up and drop off location. The cars can carry up to three passengers each. You will have a knowledgeable and charming local guide ready to answer your every query, to help you get the most out of London long after your tour has finished. Step away from the crowds and experience some of the charm of the coolest cars from the 60’s.
You’ll feel like a true Londoner!
Directions Pick-up point: St James’s Park Tube Station Times
Tours depart at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 19:00 and 21:00 daily, subject to availability.
The tour lasts approximately 1 hour.
Dates and Prices – £139.00 is per car for up to three people in a car. So for 2, £46.33 per person or 3, £39.50 per person
Travel Editor – Best Value Tours
The London Underground is one of the most advanced railway systems you’ll find in any city in the world today. Not only is it one of the most popular but it is also the oldest railway system that operates underground in the world. In fact, it is over 150 years old. The majority of people do not call it the London Underground, they call it the “tube”.
Considering the number of people that travel on the London Underground every single day, it is actually quite an efficient and well organised way to travel. Tickets can be purchased from every station on the Underground by machine, these allow you access to get on the train that you want. You then use these tickets to go through the exit barriers on the station that you’re getting off the Underground. This really speeds things up as actual people are not required to check each individual ticket. Obviously if you need help, then there is always the staff on hand to give you all the advice you need.
The safety on the London Underground is improving all the time. There is a constant presence of police and security staff that patrol the stations as well as the trains themselves. It was once considered to be quite risky to travel at night but that has changed with the new security measures and improvement of CCTV.
The London Underground itself consists of different lines which are all coloured differently so can be easily recognised. You will see the maps that show you the different coloured lines at every Underground station, so you should easily be able to recognise which train you need to get on and which stations it will run through before it reaches the one you need. It will be hard to imagine how busy London would be without the London Underground. It really allows for easy travel throughout the whole city and will make your journey a more pleasurable one.
More London Travel Tips here: http://www.londontraveltips.net
Transport for London: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/
Travel Editor –
Best Value Tours. www.SightseeingTours.co.uk