England is the United Kingdom’s largest constituent country and one of the most recognized and most visited destinations in the world. Much of England’s appeal stems from its history and culture. This is the same country that has given the world the legendary tales of King Arthur, the masterful plays of William Shakespeare, the moving speeches and WWII leadership of Winston Churchill, and a long line of famous monarchs and royalties – from King Henry VIII and his six wives, to the “Virgin Queen” Elizabeth I, to the “Grandmother of Europe” Queen Victoria.
England’s strength has long been attributed to its rich cultural mix, the result of invaders, immigrants, and settlers who have made this island country their home. Even today, people from around the world continue to settle in England, bringing with them their customs, cuisine, and language. In fact, England is easily recognized as one of the most multicultural and multi-ethnic countries in the world – you’ll find people of Anglo-Saxon, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish descent, along with large African, Asian, Caribbean, and Indian communities. It has long been described as a collision of races and socioeconomic classes, giving it a deep well from which to draw. Not surprisingly, England has contributed to the world political philosophies and institutions and inventions like the steam engine or the light bulb.
Geographically, England is a diverse land of great sceneries, boasting idyllic plains, rock peaks in the Peak District, glacial forests like the Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, gorgeous lakes like the Windermere in the Lake District, and coastlines of golden beaches overlooked by cliffs found in Cornwall and Devon. But the real hidden charm of England is its classic countryside, a portrait of small village life characterized by duck ponds, farmyards, and dirt lanes. The bucolic side of England is especially illuminated along the thousands of walking trails, at the prehistoric sites of the famous stone circles, and at the local pubs and village festivals held in rural communities.
At the same time, England brings to bear a vibrant and metropolitan side to it, found in its major cities like Manchester and London – havens of world-class museums and galleries, boutique shops and complexes, opera houses and theatres, football stadiums and concert stages, and eclectic restaurants that range from old fashioned fish and chip stands, to cosmopolitan venues serving popular dishes like the chicken tikka masala. One thing you’ll notice is the predilection of the English for celebrity gossip, afternoon tea, and beer drinking at rowdy bars and pubs. And above all else, they take their football (or soccer for Americans) seriously. Rivalries between Premiere League teams and their fans are fierce and intense, giving the English a reputation for hooliganism.
England is divided into nine distinct tourist regions, each with a unique geography and culture. These regions include the East Midlands, Eastern England, Northeast England, Northwest England, Yorkshire, Southeast England, Southwest England, Central England, and Greater London.
The East Midlands is a beautiful and scenic agricultural region that features the Peak District with its limestone caves, moorlands, bogs, rock climbing peaks, and hiking trails. Also in the East Midlands is the legendary Sherwood Forest where Robin Hood, the Prince of Thieves, resided.
The main destinations in East Midlands area Leicester, Nottingham, Lincoln, and Derby, and the main tourist attractions include the National Space Centre in Leicester, the Blue John Cavern in Castleton, the Sherwood Forest in Mansfield, the Rutland Belle in Rutland Water, the medieval Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire county, and the Lincoln Cathedral in Lincoln, which once held the title as the tallest building in the world for 200 years from 1300 to 1549.
Eastern England with its country lanes, poppy fields, timbered inns, and blooming gardens is known as the “Bread basket” of England. But it is also one of the more rural and preserved of the regions, full of historic cities, longstanding traditions, and idyllic villages, gardens, and country houses. In addition to the medieval colleges in Cambridge, the old churches of Norwich, and the ancient Roman ruins found at Colchester, you can enjoy the here-and-now in quirky events such as the World Snail Racing Championships and the leisure and comfort at seaside resorts like the Great Yarmouth and Aldeburgh.
The main destinations in Eastern England include Cambridge, Great Yarmouth, Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich, Peterborough, and Luton. The main attractions include the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, the Blickling Hall at Blickling, the Kings College Chapel in Cambridge, the Hatfield House in Hatfield, the Colchester Zoo in Colchester, the National Stud in Newmarket, the Woburn Abbey in Woburn, and the Sutton Hoo Burial Site in Woodbridge.
Northeast England features a bit of everything. It has mountains, hills, countryside valleys, seaside coasts, and historic landmarks scattered throughout, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s wall, which cuts through the heart of Northeast England. While major cities like Tyne and Wear, Newcastle, and Gateshead offer the amenities of metropolises, villages and small towns like Jarrow and Durham embody history; the latter is home to one of the greatest Norman Cathedrals in the world.
The main destinations in Northeast England include Durham, Newcastle, Gateshead, Middlesbrough, Darlington, Berwick-upon-Tweed, and Stockton-on-Tees. The main attractions include Hadrian’s Wall in Hexham, the Durham Castle in Durham, the Alnwick Garden in Northumberland, the Lindisfarne Priory in Holy Island, the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Middlesbrough, and the Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art in Newcastle.
Northwest England is the industrial region of England. Its attractions focus on museums and galleries, sports games, and the gorgeous lakes of Cumbria’s Lake District. Home to such cities like Manchester and Liverpool, Northwest Englanders spend their leisure soaked in a lot of sports, from Premiere football (or soccer) games, to international cricket and rugby, to championship golf. But you’ll also find rural villages and old country houses outside of the big cities.
The main destinations of Northwest England include Liverpool, Manchester, Chester, Cumbria, and Blackpool. The main attractions include the Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail in Cumbria, Lancaster Castle in Lancaster, the Tate and the Beatles Story museum in Liverpool, Tatton Park in Knutsford, the Chester Zoo in Chester, and the Imperial War Museum North in Salford.
Yorkshire in northern England is centered around the bustling cities of Leeds and Sheffield where you’ll find fine restaurants, boutique shopping, and a vibrant night life. But outside of these two cities are seaside resorts as well as traditional villages set in the scenic countryside. Yorkshire is known for its fine cuisine and for having some of the best fish and chips restaurants in England.
The main destinations in Yorkshire include Leeds, York, Sheffield, Hull, Barnsley, Whitby, and Halifax. The main attractions include the National Railway Museum in York, the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield, the Deep theme park in Hull, the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, the York Minster in York, and the Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo near Malton.
Central England has both modern and vibrant cities like Birmingham with its world-class shopping, museums, and nightlife, and sleepy villages trapped in timelessness like Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon and the villages in the Cotswolds. These latter villages with their Victorian-era buildings provide visitors with a window into the past, as the traditions, arts, and crafts of the old days are still alive and well. Be sure to check out the counties Shropshire and Herefordshire, where England’s best restaurants are found. Worcestershire, on the other hand, is more cultural and architectural, home to old buildings, an arts scene, and numerous international festivals and events.
The main destinations in Central England include Birmingham, Coventry, Shrewsbury, Hereford, Ludlow, Stoke-on-Trent, and Stratford-upon-Avon. The main attractions include the Herefordshire Light Infantry Museum in Hereford, the Coventry Transport Museum in Coventry, and the Ironbridge Gorge Museums in Coalbrookdale.
Southeast England is a leisure region of spas, seaside resorts, and serene parks and lovely gardens. The scenery in Southeast England consists of a countryside overshadowed by beautiful sea. You’ll also find a bit of history, as many naval battles have taken place in the southeast. The region also features some of the best shopping centers in England, a hotbed of designer outlets and boutique retails.
The main destinations in Southeast England include Brighton, Dover, Canterbury, Oxford, Windsor, New Forest, and the Isle of Wight. The main attractions include the Leeds Castle and Gardens in Kent, the Windsor Castle in Berkshire, the Hever Castle and Gardens in Edenbridge, the Dover Castle and wartime tunnels in Kent, the 1066 Battle Abbey and Battlefield near Hastings, and the Blenheim Palace in Woodstock.
Southwest England is a diverse region of sandy beaches, rugged coast, dramatic bluffs, hidden coves, fishing ports, natural springs, and bucolic countryside. History is represented by the Roman ruins found in Bath, the medieval castles dotted throughout, and the prehistoric remains found at the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
The main destinations in Southwest England include Bath, Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Bournemouth, Poole, and the Isles of Scilly. The main attractions include the famous Stonehenge in Wiltshire, the Roman Baths in Bath, the Wells Cathedral in Somerset, the Exeter Cathedral in Devon, and the Bristol Zoo Gardens in Bristol.
Greater London is the metropolitan area of London and is the heart and soul of England. This city beams with culture and sophistication, featuring endless fashionable shops, fine restaurants, live music and theatre venues, and open-air street markets. London is best known for its art museums which rank among the most visited in the world and its landmarks like the Tower of London, London Bridge, the Big Ben, and the London Eye. But other attractions like the London Dungeon, Kensington Palace, and the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum are also notable.