In this extract from Lonely Planet India’s Great Britain travel guide, we look at some of the country’s most unmissable sights.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London and the adjoining Tower Bridge are more than just tourist destinations. Over the years they have come to be symbolic of the city of London and indeed of Britain. Inside the castle is an exhibition of the Crown Jewels, which includes the legendary Koh-i-Noor diamond. The famous ‘beefeaters’ in their red coats look exactly like the souvenir dolls found all over London. Both the tower and the bridge have guided tours, but you can also explore on your own.
Great Britain’s world-famous universities of Cambridge and Oxford are situated in towns not very far from London (or each other). Both are historical, beautiful and unique (although you’ll find a ‘Bridge of Sighs’ in each). Apart from the college buildings, these university towns feature cathedrals, museums and pretty town centres. Don’t miss a chance to go punting on the river Cam (Cambridge), or retracing Harry Potter’s footsteps in Christ Church College (Oxford) where much of the movies were shot. Try and time your trip in the summer, when the students are away and the college grounds are open to visitors. Some grounds will charge for entry.
If all you knew about Scotland was Sean Connery and scotch, you seriously need to get your priorities adjusted as Scotland is best known for its rich history and its magical landscape. The town of Inverness is the base from which to explore the surrounding countryside. The glens and the lochs are unmatched in their scenery. The most famous of the lochs is Loch Ness – see if you can spot Nessie, the elusive monster that allegedly lurks under the waters. Awe-inspiring castles and forts are all around and you can also spot dolphins or whales.
Stonehenge, an iconic and mysterious monument from the prehistoric era, attracts millions of visitors all through the year. It is to Great Britain what the Taj Mahal is to us! It is also one of the great unsolved mysteries – it has been speculated that the stone circle was built for purposes of astronomy, prayer, or as a spot for sacrifice, among other reasons – but significant it certainly was. It is now a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. For picture-postcard photography, try going around sunset.
The Lake District
Lake Windermere is the largest lake in England, and part of the gorgeous Lake District National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty. It might not be as high as India’s Lake District, but the scenery is to die for. A boat ride is a must and you could visit William Wordsworth’s home, Dove Cottage, near the town of Grasmere (which also has a lake). If you are an adventurous and active type you could go sailing and canoeing but if you are not, there is always walking in the woods!