The United Kingdom may be a small island. But within its 93 thousand square miles (and change) are a diverse wealth of natural treasures and man made wonders. Not to mention extraordinary cultural diversity, incredible regional pride and some of the friendliest and most welcoming people you could ever hope to meet. Yet, for those who live outside the UK, it’s easy to assume that there’s very little to this island nation outside London. When characters in American sitcoms venture to the UK, they invariably visit The Big Smoke. When many of us think about famous British landmarks we think of Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the houses of parliament. Which is a shame, because Britain is far more diverse and sprawling than our obsession with the capital would have you believe.

Don’t get us wrong, London has many wonderful attractions that are well worth visiting, including many that are a little further off the beaten track than Madame Tussauds, Leicester Square or The London Eye. Still, the awesome locations and attractions of the UK are as wonderfully diverse as the different types of British accents. Whether you’re looking for picturesque historic sites, trendy bars, Michelin star restaurants or areas of incredible natural beauty, you’ll be able to find it all without approaching Watford Gap. 

Let’s take a look at the best British breaks for you and the family…

Edinburgh

The birthplace of Harry Potter and a filming location for Avengers: Infinity War, Edinburgh is a magical city that bewitches all who visit with her stunning castle, charming architecture, vibrant arts scene,  friendly locals, boutique shopping and Michelin star restaurants. Many tourists flock to this vibrant Scottish City for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Yet, while the city may certainly come alive at this time, it’s probably not the best time to get to know the real Edinburgh. It’s a lovely place to spend some time in the summer, but its Gothic spires are especially charming in the winter months. Whether you want to catch a show or do your Christmas shopping it’s an absolute must-visit.

Edinburgh Castle scotland

Edinburgh Castle. Photo: Stuart Caie via Wikipedia

Manchester

You can’t really get to know Britain’s industrious history without visiting Manchester. The Mancunians’ beloved emblem is the bee which reflects the hardworking, industrious and community-minded attitudes of the city’s residents. The “Capital of the North”, Manchester remains a hub of scientific innovation while its beautiful and intricate canal network and converted mill and warehouse buildings serve as a striking homage to her industrial history. A visit to the Museum of Science and Industry is an absolute must for those seeking to understand the spirit of Manchester as is the beautiful Manchester Gallery. Manchester received a boost in the popular consciousness in the “Madchester” era of the early 90s when bands like Oasis, James, The Stone Roses and the ubiquitous boyband Take That.  

Oxford

One of the world’s most prestigious Universities, Oxford actually has some of the oldest colleges anywhere in the world, going as far back as 1096. Just 8 years younger than the University of Bologna in Italy, the world’s oldest institute for higher learning. Over the centuries, the prestigious colleges have continued to lend Oxford its sense of sophistication, culture and civility. While its beautiful waterways are perfect for those who want to enjoy a punt on the Thames without visiting The Big Smoke. If you can stand the inevitable lines, the best place to do this is the famous boathouse on Magdalene Street. 

Newcastle

Believe it or not, Newcastle has actually been voted the friendliest city in the whole of the UK. “Geordies” are regarded as some of the most outgoing, down to earth and welcoming people in the country, giving visitors a warm northern English welcome that belies the often chilly weather. A quintessential port town, it is also a vibrant arts hub. Just don’t mention the football team of hated rivals Sunderland. 

Glasgow

With some of the country’s most beautiful Romanesque gothic architecture, a diverse and flourishing arts scene and fast-talking, hard-laughing locals Glasgow is a brash and beautiful Scottish city. While there are numerous wonderful attractions throughout the city, arguably the greatest attraction is the city itself. From the Gothic spires of the University to the many incredible works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the idiosyncratic Gorbals Glasgow has so much to offer those who want to pound spoke pavement and immerse themselves in the city’s unique character. Comic book fans should keep their eyes peeled too, because the city also doubles as Gotham in the upcoming 2021 film The Batman.

As you can see, when it comes to the best British breaks, London really is just the tip of the iceberg. 

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