Holidays in England consist of much more than cups of tea and pints of ale. England's multicultural make-up, trendy cities, green rural landscapes and sleepy seaside towns make this country a fun and varied destination for all ages. Walkers will love all the English Heritage trails through the gently undulating countryside, and shoppers will be delighted by the range of quirky items on offer in the stylish cities. There's so much to see, from the historic university towns of Oxford and Cambridge to the thumping nightlife of Newcastle.
Meanwhile Scotland, in the north of the UK, boasts magnificent castles, historic cityscapes, romantic mountains and inky black lochs. While its cosmopolitan cities show off their modern sophistication in everything from chic restaurants to cutting-edge theatre, you'll still find plenty of wild beauty, mists and heather across the lowlands and highlands. In this, one of Europe's last great wildernesses, let your imagination roam free.
Things to do
No trip to England would be complete without a stop-off in its massive capital. London is packed with historic attractions such as St Paul's Cathedral and the V&A museum. In seaside Brighton the Royal Pavilion and famous pier await. Head west to witness the Georgian splendour of Bath and marvel at the Royal Crescent, or set your sights further north and visit Manchester, a fashionable former industrial city, or Blackpool, for its illuminated seafront.
Beautiful Edinburgh Castle, the 'Stronghold of Eidyn', has given the Scottish capital its name as well as anchored 800 years of the country's turbulent history. Journey back in time further, to ancient Orkney where the Ring of Brodgar – a stone circle - has stood for 5,000 years. Travel to Braemar, a short distance from Royal Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, for the spirit of the Highland Games. Then there is Speyside - famous Scotland tourist attractions - and iconic Loch Ness with its fabled monster.
Food & restaurants
Restaurants in England have a lot to offer, thanks to a burgeoning foodie scene. Steak fans should head to the Hawksmoor in London, or Bob Bob Ricard for fine dining in chic surroundings. In seaside towns, there's no greater pleasure than eating hot fish and chips near the beach, or oysters fresh from the shell. Afternoon tea is an English institution to be enjoyed in cosy village tearooms such as Huffkins in Burford. And don't miss the English pubs: Bath's Raven is a classic.
It may be the country that is known for the deep-fried chocolate bar but when visiting Scotland, most visitors choose from an array of fresh produce - salmon, oysters, Arbroath-smoked haddock, Aberdeen Angus beef and venison are all typical Scotland food. Traditional dishes are hearty and include haggis served with tatties and neeps (turnip and potatoe) and the ubiquitous fish and chips. In sophisticated Scotland restaurants inventive chefs put a modern twist on national staples. Each region is waiting to tempt your taste buds.
Hotels in England range from little owner-run bed and breakfast affairs to huge tiered palaces. Brooks Guesthouses in Bristol and Bath are fantastic upmarket B&Bs with great breakfasts. The Lowry in Manchester and Hotel du Vin in Harrogate offer chic environments and good onsite food and drink. Choose the Hoxton Hotel in London for contemporary cool or The Rookery for traditional charm. In Brighton take a group with you to the lovely Looking Glass Cottage.Luxurious or simple, lively or peaceful, Scotland accommodation caters to all whims with a range of options in castles, townhouses, farmhouses, crofts and even lighthouses. At the luxury end Gleneagles in Perthshire near the famous golf course, is five-star bliss. For those with a more prudent budget, charming B&Bs abound and 24 Saxe-Coburg Place in Edinburgh and 15Glasgow in Glasgow are two good choices. Kildrummy Castle Hotel gives you a flavour of bonny Scotland at its rural best.
Shopping in England is simply brilliant. In London, secondhand enthusiasts should head for Alfie's Antiques Market and Brick Lane, whereas luxury fans will find their niche in Harrods and along the King's Road. Birmingham's Bullring hosts a world of high street and designer shopping within its landmark building, and Manchester has a massive vintage scene centred around Afflecks and Oldham Street. Liverpool One keeps the city's shoppers happy with a vast range of clothing, homeware and technology shops.
With a brisk climate, it's no surprise that Scotland has earned a reputation for classy woollens: Kinross Cashmere and Brora are two of the best purveyors. There isn't anything more quintessentially Scottish than tartan and family-run Kinloch Anderson – with a smart shop in Edinburgh - has been making authentic kilts for centuries. A stalwart of Scotland tours, the liquid gold of fine malt whisky is available from Scotland shopping specialists such as The Whisky Shop in Edinburgh or the famous distilleries in Speyside.
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