Britannia once ruled the waves as the song goes, and in its hey-day the sun literally never set on its Empire. The Brits effectively were the world’s super-power in those days, imposing a pax-Britannica on the rest of the globe. But super-powers come and go, and like the Romans before them, the British eventually lost their Empire.
Great Britain might have lost its status, this doesn’t mean it has lost all of its former grandeur. There are in fact few areas of the country where evidence of this former glory are absent. Relics of an industrial past dot the landscape, expansive stately homes display the profits reaped both at home and abroad, and monuments and statues testify to an era in which countries were subdued and enemies crushed. Combine that with a population that expresses the width and breadth of the former Empire and you get a picture of what the British Empire once was. From the Indian sub-continent to the Caribbean, and from Africa to Australia and New Zealand, they all have come to Britain because of the historical ties this country holds with its former colonies.
Although famed for its rain, the British climate is temperate, with mild winters and pleasant summers. The British countryside offers a taste of both the quaint and the unkempt, and provides opportunities for various outdoor activities. From the craggy Scottish highlands, to sunny Cornwall and from the cliffs of Dover to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom offers a diverse range of landscapes for the adventurous to explore.
Britain's cities are vibrant and exciting, with long and diverse histories of development, historic buildings and stunning modern architecture. Whether it’s multicultural London or up and coming Glasgow, there is something special about all of them.
Highlights from United Kingdom
- London with its museums, statues, memorials, government buildings, palaces, and a population that hails from all over the wold all emphasise that this was once not just the capital of Great Britain but of an Empire. Watch the changing of the guard at noon outside Buckingham Palace, stroll through Hyde Park, visit the British Museum, take in Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, admire the views from the Shard, eat in Camden, and take pictures of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge at night
- Hike around the Lake District with its beautiful hills and lakes
- Climb Mt. Snowdon in Snowdonia National Park
- Punt around Cambridge or Oxford, soaking in some of the intellectual atmosphere of those towns
- Get mystical in Stonehenge
- Tramp around the Scottish Highlands in search of Loch Ness
- Eat haggis and drink whisky like the locals in Edinburgh
- Make your way down to Cornwall and the Cornish Coast for some surf and sun
- Take in the Northern Irish Coastline from Belfast all the way to The Giant's Causeway
- Walk the length of Hadrian Wall, contemplating the fate of another fallen Empire
Hints and Tips for United Kingdom
- The Brits drive on the left, which is especially tricky when crossing a street as you tend to look the wrong way for cars coming.
- Be aware that English in Britain can be hard to understand for outsiders, including other English speaking countries. There are as many accents and dialects as there are stars in the universe. Some of the harder accents are the Glaswegian, and the Jordie (people from Newcastle) dialects.
- While officially part of the metric system, the British still use the Imperial system in most cases, length or height are in inches, feet, yards and miles, and weight in ounces, pounds and stones.
- A lot of British museums are free, make use of the opportunity!
- The Oyster card in London will save you money if you take public transport.
- Don’t call a Scot, or a Welsh English. The United Kingdom constitutes four different nations, Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland, who are all proud of their distinct nationalities.