The United Kingdom consists of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), plus Northern Ireland. Relatively small in size, the United Kingdom nonetheless can give you a little bit of every country in the world, as it continues to draw immigrants – and their foreign cultures - making its mix even richer, more diverse. Birthplace of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and many other literary greats, the UK’s varied landscape inspires stories of romance and adventure. Rolling moors, fabled castles, sprawling mountains and quaint villages are just some of the UK’s irresistible attractions. Of course, a trip to London is a must for the first-time visitor, but side trips to see world-renowned such as the haunting Stonehenge and historical Windsor Castle are just as necessary.
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Capital of Northern Ireland, Belfast was a big industrial city in the 19th century, famous for its linens and shipyards - a city of great pride that was transformed by the Industrial Revolution. Belfast curls around the west bank of the River Lagan. Tour its grand public buildings or travel to the mythical Giant's Causeway, a fascinating volcanic rock formation that is one of the UK’s greatest natural wonders and a designated World Heritage Site.
- Irish Linen Center, which traces the history of linen from ancient times to the present. Fascinating exhibits show how generations of families were involved at all levels of the industry, from growing to weaving.
- Grand Opera House, more than 100 years old and a beautiful example of classic Victorian style architecture.
- Botanic Gardens Park, which features the Palm and Tropical Ravine. Established in 1828, the gardens have been open to the public since 1895.
If ever there were a town made for walking, it would be Scotland's capital. Renowned as one of Europe's most attractive cities, Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town are a Marvelous mixture of elegant streets, charming squares and quaint alleyways. Of course, the city's most distinctive landmark is Edinburgh Castle, set high up on a craggy cliff in the center of the city. A must-see.
The great Rock of Gibraltar is a sight to behold, towering 1,400 feet above the mouth of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by beautiful countryside. Home to the semi-wild and curiously tailless Barbary Apes, and St. Michael's cave - long believed to be bottomless - Gibraltar is the only link between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Located at the southernmost tip of Europe, the Rock of Gibraltar is literally between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Its unique location has played a pivotal role in history, as countries fought for control over this busy seaport.
- The famous Rock of Gibraltar, one of the world's most important military strongholds
- Gibraltar Museum, for the history of this interesting landmark. The museum offers audio/video presentations and galleries filled with old artifacts.
- Cable car ride from the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, for breathtaking views of the Strait of Gibraltar, the southern coast of Spain and the Mediterranean Sea.
- St. Michael's Cave. Consisting of two caves, the old and the new. The old cave has been known since Roman times and the new one was discovered in 1942.
- The warm waters surrounding Gibraltar are perfect for water sports like surfing and sailing. Scuba diving is also very popular because of wartime shipwrecks and Roman relics that are scattered on the ocean floor.
The town's name means military settlement, from Old English.
The town received its charter in 1238, although there is evidence of earlier settlement - for example, a record of a chapel in 1177, and some indications of a possible Roman presence.
A chart of Harwich published in 1804 from a survey by Graeme Spence
Because of its strategic position, Harwich was the target for the invasion of Britain by William of Orange on November 11, 1688. However, unfavourable winds forced his fleet to sail instead into the English Channel and eventually land at Torbay. Due to the involvement of the Schomberg family in the invasion, they were made Marquesses of the town.
Inverness/Loch Ness, Scotland
Invergordon is a gateway to the heart of the Highlands, Scotland's northernmost district, including Loch Ness and the town of Inverness. This area of Scotland serves as the setting for many a tall tale and legend, but its scenic beauty of high green hills and sparkling lochs will captivate you as well.
- Loch Ness, home of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, which draws thousands who hope to see her. The Urquhart Castle ruins stand on a rocky peninsula on the dark, moody banks of Loch Ness, and it was near here that "Nessie" was reportedly sighted in 1977.
- Cawdor Castle, romantically linked to the intrigue and plot of Shakespeare’s MacBeth, even though it was built After the play was written.
London has been called a ‘world in one city.’ Quintessentially British, whether it’s those boxy black cabs, the red double deckers or those grand symbols of Britain – from Big Ben to the Thames to Westminster and more – London is also a melting pot. The city still draws immigrants whose unique cultures enrich London’s life blood and make it one of the most stimulating destinations you can ever visit.
- Sights to see: Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace.
- St. Paul's Cathedral, site of many great events, including Sir Winston Churchill's funeral in 1965 and the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981.
- The famous Tower of London, built in 1066 as a fortress to guard the entrance to London. Today, it is home to the Crown Jewels and other precious objects. The Tower is guarded by the famous Yeoman Warders, better known as Beefeaters.
- The world-famous Harrods department store, with its awe-inspiring food hall.
- The world-famous Victoria and Albert Museum, with seven miles of galleries on four floors.
- Covent Garden, full of open-air cafés, stylish boutiques, and lively street entertainers. The famous Punch and Judy puppet show has been performed here since the 1600s.
- London Eye, for a bird's eye view of almost all of the city (weather permitting).
- If you can, make a side trip out of London to see: Windsor Castle, vacation home of the Royal Family for 900 years and the world's largest, oldest occupied castle; Stonehenge, the mythical collection of gigantic stones that continue to baffle many, especially with regards to how they came to be there; the town of Bath, famous for its elegant Georgian architecture, beautifully proportioned streetscapes and the best preserved Roman spa from the ancient world.
One of the world's most famed ports, Southampton served as the launching point of the Mayflower and the Titanic. Today, it's one of the busiest passenger ports and home to a waterfront dotted with restaurants, shops and curios.
- The Southampton Maritime Museum, which chronicles the history of Southampton and its significant role as a port for ocean liners, the most famous being the Titanic. Don’t miss the "Titanic Voices" exhibit to hear the tragic story in the words of survivors and those touched by the tragedy.
- The City Art Gallery, which was 1994’s "National Fine Art Museum of the Year"
- Old Southampton and walk along the medieval town wall.
- The Common, more than 300 acres of open park, with an amazing collection of flora and fauna, so remarkable, in fact, that it has been designated a site of special scientific interest.