Packed with treasures and pleasures, London entices with superb museums, royal pageantry, and exciting theater, shopping, and nightlife. Its iconic sights include the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and the British Museum, but parks and pubs offer memorable diversions as well.
Shaped by ice and sliced by rivers, the dales (valleys) are bounded either by wild, rocky formations and crags or soft-rounded hills. Cascades of waterfalls, drystone walls, and enchanting cottage gardens invite hikes, which can be as easy or challenging as you please.
Stonehenge and Avebury
Prehistoric monuments dot England's landscape, silent but tantalizing reminders of the distant past. Of these, the great circle of stones at Stonehenge is one of the country's icons. Nearby, the Avebury Stone Circles surround part of a village and are also deeply intriguing.
Brighton and Its Seafront
England is more than stately homes and pretty towns. This longtime seaside resort lives it up with classic seaside fun as well as the eccentric Royal Pavilion. Good shopping and restaurants, plus energetic nightlife, keep the action going nonstop.
Exquisitely preserved but entertaining, this Georgian town still centers on the hot mineral springs that made it a fashionable spa for the wealthy in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Streets lined with Palladian buildings made of golden limestone, an ancient abbey, boutiques, and the ruined Roman baths give Bath real character.
Begun in AD 122, the thick stone wall built by the Emperor Hadrian across the rugged far north of the country is a remarkable survivor from Roman Britain, where it protected Roman soldiers from invading tribes. Biking, hiking, and horseback riding are wonderful ways to explore.
Oxford and Cambridge
It's hard to choose a favorite between these two ancient university towns. Oxford is larger and more cosmopolitan, but lovely with its fairytale cityscape of steeples and towers. In Cambridge you can stroll through the colleges, visit the university's museums, and relax in the city's pubs.
The coasts of Cornwall, in the far southwest, are beloved by many (too many, in summer) for different reasons. The rugged northern coast has cliffs that drop to tiny coves and beaches; ruined, cliff-top Tintagel Castle and Padstow with its lively harbor are here. The south coast has resort towns such as Penzance and arty St. Ives.
Marked by rolling uplands, green fields, and mellow limestone cottages with prim flower beds, the Cotswolds, 100 miles west of London, make a peaceful getaway. There's little to do in idyllic villages, but that's exactly the point. Exquisite gardens and stately homes add further charm.
Sprawling across northwest England, this area of 16 major lakes and jagged mountains inspired Romantic poets. You can hike the trails or view the mountains from a boat, or visit the retreats of Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.Updated: 10-2013
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