Where to go

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There are thousands of incredible places to visit in the UK and Ireland

Viewing: South West England


Bath

Bath

South West England

Bath owes its importance to its hot springs, which are unique in Britain. The Romans built a great bathing complex here, and the site (now of world heritage status) includes the most impressive Roman remains in Britain and one of the best preserved Roman spas in the world. The Pump Room directly above the Roman Baths offers an opportunity to drink the spa water, or have traditional afternoon tea there.

A visit to Bath must include the majestic Royal Crescent as well as the city's other famous landmark, the Pulteney Bridge, which is lined with tiny shops in an Italianate style. Bath Abbey is beautiful both inside and out, and you can also take a tour including 220 steps to the bell tower. But, Bath is not all about the history. The city also hosts a great choice of Theatre entertainment, and has a great array of fine dining options.

Bournemouth

Bournemouth

South West England

Bournemouth's main attraction has to be its 7 mile long sandy beach fit for sunbathing, swimming and surfing. Bournemouth's latest addition is Europe's first artificial surf reef. The reef is made up of 55 giant sandbags and is the size of a football pitch. The town itself has an excellent shopping, a huge variety of restaurants and great nightlife.

Next door, the town of Poole with more water sport offerings plus a historic 18th century harbour and some attractive buildings. Along the coast Corfe Castle and although a ruin, it is still impressive, as is the beautiful surrounding countryside and views from it. Further along the Jurrasic coast is Lulworth Cove with the fascinating Durdle Door, an archway carved out by the sea.

Bristol

Bristol

South West England

Bristol's most famous son is Isambad Kingdom Brunel the greatest Victorian designer and architect, building railways, bridges, steam boats and the SS Great Britain culminating in his finest work - the Clifton Suspension bridge. Bristol has played an extremely important role in sea trade for hundreds of years, and the harbour is still at the centre of the city today. In recent years the Harbourside has undergone an impressive development, which includes new science and nature discovery centres and IMAX cinema and plenty of trendy restaurants as well as good nightlife. You can take a boat to explore the city's historic waterways. King Street is both picturesque and lively and includes the Theatre Royal – the oldest continuously working theatre in Britain. In Central Bristol Broadmead and Cabot Circus are where you'll find an array of high street names and department stores to fulfill all your shopping needs.

Cornwall

Cornwall

South West England

The mighty cliffs and crashing wave, the glorious sandy beaches, the wild moorlands and peaceful woodlands make Cornwall one of the favourite UK destinations. Situated in the South West of England, this region has never formally been integrated into England, which is why some still believe that Cornwall is a separate country! It is known to have the strongest national identity in the UK, in fact Cornwall has had an identity distinct from the English for centuries as is evidenced by the existence of the Cornish language as a mother tongue up until the early 19th century.

Cornwall has two coastlines: the Atlantic coast famous for its surfing beaches and huge expanses of golden sand, and the English Channel coast which is gentler with hidden coves and tranquil creeks. In fact, 80% of Cornwall is surrounded by water and the region hosts more than 300 beaches! It's no surprise that you will plenty of tourist activities to suit everyone from walking or bird watching to the extremes of kite surfing and coasteering.

Exmoor

Exmoor

South West England

Exmoor is one of the smallest of Britain's National Parks, but contains within it an open landscape of wild open moors and wooded valleys so you can enjoy walks, cycle or take a horse ride along the excellent trail network, including 600 miles of marked footpaths. The national park is home to many rare and important species of plants, birds and animals, a treat for all nature lovers. You can also enjoy the comforts of a local cream tea in one of Exmoor's beautiful villages including Dunster with its 14th century church and priory, 18th century water mill and castle which overlooks the village.

On the north coast of the National Park lie the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth - dubbed the Little Swizerland of England bye the Victorians because of the spectacular scenery and cliff railway.

Newforest

New Forest

South West England

The New Forest was only designated a National Park in 2005, but the forest is far from new. As far back as 1079 William the Conqueror designated the area as a Royal Forest for private hunting, and at the time people were forced to leave their settlements.

As well as taller trees, there are large areas of lowland habitats, including bogs and heath land which provide for a wealth of flora and fauna. Today ponies graze on wild heaths speckled with purple heather and wild deer flit beneath gnarled oak and beech trees. Streams flow to the wide expanse of the Solent where forest meets shining sea. But there's more to the New Forest than natural beauty – thatched villages, inviting pubs and a real sense of history combine with watersports, scenic walking and cycling to make one of Britain's most enchanting and varied destinations.

There are also some charming villages lying in or bordering the New Forest. Lyndhurst, the largest village is a popular tourist location with many interesting shops, cafes, pubs and hotels. Bucklers Hard became an important ship building village, using timber from the New Forest.

Salisbury

Salisbury

South West England

Salisbury is most famous for having one of Britain's great Cathedrals and indeed the tallest spire of any Cathedral in England. The medieval city of Salisbury set in typically English countryside has a range of architecture from timber framed Tudor buildings to Georgian and Victorian styles. All this history combined with a modern cafe culture make it a perfect destination to explore. The tourist office also offer a decent city tour.

Apart from Salisbury's own attractions it is also a great base for exploring the many local delights such as Europe's most famous ancient site Stonehenge as well as a number of other historic sites including the the World heritage stone circle at Avebury.

Cotswolds

The Cotswolds

South West England

The Cotswolds are quintessentially English. Spanning an area of gentle hills lying between the enticing cities of Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, and Oxford, the area has pretty villages of honey-coloured stone, manor houses, charming churches, dry-stone walls and country pubs in abundance. There is a variety of architecture from black and white medieval buildings in Chipping Campden, elegant regency houses in Cirencester to traditional antique shops in Stow-on-the-wold and crooked stone cottages in Broadway.

The mix of wealth, a cosmopolitan population and strong local communities creates an audience for what is a lively arts scene. You'll find festivals, arts events, cultural happenings and galleries tucked away in even the smallest towns. If walking is your thing, why not walk the famous Cotswold Way.

Torquay

Torquay

South West England

Torquay, often referred to as 'The English Riviera' and certainly has a continental feel about it, with a lively harbour, palm tree lined promenades, gardens and Italianate villas. It's also renowned for a great nightlife, offering many fine restaurants with great views out to sea, before you head to a theatre or club.

Paignton is a town down the coast from Torquay and offers long sandy beaches and is little more family friendly than Torquay.