Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

What is it that makes Britain so appealing to the tourist?  Is it the bustling cities with iconic sights like Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and red double-decker buses?  Or is it the quaint rural villages, meandering streams, cosy country pubs and historic cathedrals?  It's all this and much more.  The three countries that make up Great Britain - England, Scotland and Wales - are all fiercely, and rightly, proud of their history and culture, and all make a wonderful holiday destination.


buckingham-palace-picture-3Official name:The United Kingdom of Great Britain and North Ireland - commonly known as 'the UK' or 'Britain'.  Great Britain includes the countries of England, Scotland and Wales.


Population: 61 million

Capital: London (population 8 million)

Other significant cities: Birmingham (2.6 million), Glasgow (2.3 million), Liverpool (1.1 million).

Highest mountain: Ben Nevis in Scotland at 4408 feet (1343 metres)


The capital London is home to many attractions that have lured Australians to England for years.  Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch are just some of the 'big name' sights that usually top the 'must see' list.

But England is more than just famous landmarks in a very big, very busy city.  Think quaint rural villages, ruined castles, cathedrals, country pubs, prehistoric stones and Roman baths, and you get an idea of the diversity of the nation.

From Land's End in the far south to Hadrian's Wall in the north, England offers plenty to see and do for the tourist.  Cambridge, Stonehenge and Bath are all popular day trips from London, but venture further afield and there are plenty more uniquely English sights well worth a visit.

The villages in the Cotswolds are known for their quaint honey-coloured, thatch-roofed buildings, meandering streams and lush, rolling fields whilst further north, England's Lake District offers visitors a real back-to-nature experience and for those with an interest in Wordsworth or Beatrix Potter, the chance to retrace their footsteps.


A typical village in the Cotswolds

The craggy, bare landscape of the Yorkshire Moors is vastly different to most of England.  About the only thing that grows here is the scraggy brown heather which flowers briefly at the end of Summer, but that doesn't seem to worry the thousands of sheep that graze the Moors. A well-known and popular spot for hiking, the region also boasts an interesting visitor centre and a steam train that takes visitors through some of the best parts of the Moors between Pickering and Grosmont.

Still fascinating man today, almost 2000 years after its construction, is Hadrian's Wall.  Built from coast to coast across northern England's narrowest stretch, the wall was built by the Romans around AD 122, under the reign of Emperor Hadrian.  Hadrian's Wall attracts visitors by the thousands every year who marvel at the remaining ruins.

England's coastal villages are a popular getaway spot for Londoners, with the Devon and Cornwall regions amongst the favourites.  Both are possibly more well-known now for their tasty offerings - Devonshire teas and Cornish pasties - and no visit would be complete with sampling the local dish!



Home to just over five million people, Scotland offers two very different types of landscapes.  The southern part of the country, known as the Lowlands, is quite flat and this is where most of the population live. Edinburgh and Glasgow are the two main cities.  The northern part of Scotland, the Highlands, is where you will find an abundance of hilly terrain and the country's famous lochs.

Many tourists head straight for Loch Ness in search of the elusive 'Nessie' but other popular destinations are St Andrew's, the medieval university city, (particularly popular with golf fans), and of course Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Those with Scottish ancestry may go in search of their family's traditional clan tartan or just a tipple of whisky!


Ruined castle near Loch Ness


Located to the west of England, Wales has a population of just three million. Two thirds of all Welsh people live in the south of the country, including the capital, Cardiff. The northern, more mountainous part of the country, is home to less people but more sights of interest.


With castles-a-plenty, picture postcard villages, Britain's second largest national park (Snowdonia) and Mount Snowdon, the north of Wales offers plenty for the visitor to see and do.

The Welsh have a proud history and they are particularly proud of their ancient, and difficult, language.  Make sure you take the time to listen to some locals speaking the native language and try and get your tongue around a few Welsh words!  Town names and road signs will give you plenty of opportunity to practice, and when you think you have it mastered, head to the small town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch where you can really test your skills - or just have your photo taken next to the sign at the railway station!


Images courtesy