in the middle
The United Kingdom is a collection of countries – England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland – that gather together cultural capitals, rolling valleys and unblemished woodland. In England, the capital city of London boasts a bounty of regal architecture, high-class history museums and vast art galleries – not to mention luxury shopping centres, fine dining and bohemian arts districts.
Southern England is strung with seafront towns – perfect for a summer vacation. Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh, meanwhile, champions a mix of Medieval and Neo-Classical architecture, and offers a booming nightlife of clubs and live music venues.
During summer, sun seekers flock to England's southwestern counties of Cornwall and Devon, where stretches of flower-rich meadowland and rippling fields give way to a long sandy coastline, dotted with resort towns and quaint villages. It's true that England's not known for its temperate weather – but the summer sun frequently shines on this English riviera.
The New Forest, based in southeast England, is a top spot for nature lovers, providing idyllic scenery in spring, summer and autumn alike. This protected spread of heathland and dense woodland is home to an abundance of rare wildlife – including wild horses and majestic stags. There are plenty of cottage rentals and cheap hotels in the area.
The English counties of Wiltshire and Somerset are popular with history buffs, as they provide easy access to the ancient English sight of Stonehenge.
London is the United Kingdom's top city break – a mega metropolis of ultramodern high rises, counter cultural boroughs and seemingly endless heritage sites, all gathered around the mighty shimmering River Thames. Take the kids to the London Zoo, tour the marble art-lined corridors of the National Gallery and visit the Tower Of London – a stone castle complex dating as far back as the 11th century.
Outside of London, Oxford makes for a quieter UK break, where you can tour the hallowed halls, immaculate gardens and centuries-old quads of the Oxford University college campuses. The small city of Bath, based around a Roman spa site, also offers a tranquil city getaway, while culture vultures interested in Scottish city breaks will fall in love with Edinburgh during August, when the city's Fringe Festival plays host to oodles of live comedy, theatre and music.
Music fans will love the thrumming waterfront city of Liverpool, home of The Beatles, which toady continues to celebrate its artistic heritage with museums, galleries and live music clubs. While those seeking all the trappings of a traditional British seaside break, can't miss Blackpool with its famous piers, sandy beachfront and thrilling amusement parks.