Where to go
There are thousands of incredible places to visit in the UK and Ireland
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Viewing: Central England
Cambridge is one of Britain's most famous cities. It combines the atmosphere of a rural town with the grandeur and tradition of its ancient university which dominates the city. The university began in 1209, when fighting between scholars and locals in Oxford, led to students setting up a university in Cambridge. Today punting on the river Cam is commonplace. Cambridge is also a very bicycle friendly city with plenty of cycle paths connecting all the major attractions. Cambridge has lots of museums including the Fitzwilliam Museum, which houses an outstanding picture collection. The city is also home to one of only 4 round churches in Britain.
Cambridge boasts Michelin starred restaurants, and has an diversity of culinary delights including Thai, Italian, French, Spanish and many gastropubs.
Cheltenham was transformed into Cheltenham Spa in 1738 when the 'Old Well' was discovered. King George III came to enjoy the waters in 1788 and stayed for 5 weeks and soon it became Britain's most important spa. Cheltenham Spa is probably the most complete Regency town in England; the 'town within a park' offers beautiful parks and gardens, tree-lined avenues and colourful floral displays. Cheltenham's most famous son, Gustav Holst (composer of 'The Planets'), was born here in 1874 and his birthplace is now the Holst Museum.
The town is also a great base from which to visit neighbouring Gloucester, a historic city with a magnificent cathedral built by Benedictine monks in the 12th century.
Lincoln is a beautiful town of Celtic origin, and one of the richest cities in Britain during the sixteenth century due to the fabrics and garments they produced. The main attraction in Lincoln is of course its outstanding and beautiful cathedral but that's not all that's on offer here. The region has many beautiful natural features making it a wonderful centre for nature lovers as well as historians. The area has a wealth of fascinating museums dedicated to everything from its Aviation history to its place of significance in British history. The region does of course have another claim to fame – the rich Christian heritage which it's many sites and houses have played a significant role in. The region was the birthplace of the Baptist, Methodist and AOG (Pentecostal) churches which are now International denominations.
Nestled in the beautiful rolling Malvern Hills, the Victorian Spa-town of Great Malvern's steep rambling streets and tree lined avenues still retain an air of refinement from the Victorian era. More than the town itself though, it is the surrounding countryside that draws people here now. The Malvern Hills have been described as a mountain range in miniature, the eight mile ridge containing some of the oldest rocks in Britain, With a myriad of trails and 18 peaks to climb it is a walkers delight. In the Malvern Hills you can enjoy walking, horse riding, mountain biking, hang-gliding, climbing and fishing.
Today Nottingham has one of the most stylish urban environments with more café-bars and elegant restaurants than any city of the same size. Despite its modern sophistication, history is never far away, with many reminders of Nottingham's legendary hero Robin Hood and his historic adversary the Sheriff of Nottingham. The Sheriff of Nottingham still has an important role in 21st century civic life, working alongside the Lord Mayor to represent the city. The city is also famous for its lace shops and factories which were internationally renowned following the industrial revolution. Among Nottingham's important historical sites and features are its unique labyrinth of caves under the city, the splendid mansion that is now Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, and the spot where Charles I raised his standard to begin the English Civil War.
Oxford is most famous for having the oldest university in the English speaking world, with teaching occurring as long ago as the 11th century. The many university colleges and riverside setting give the city a great character and charm.
Oxford has many literary links and some stunning film and TV locations. Its many shops are filled with local character and you can be entertained by music and drama ranging from candlelit evensong in college chapels to Shakespeare in the park.
Finally, Oxford's lively mix of restaurants, pubs, theatres and tourist attractions give this historic city an extremely vibrant and cosmopolitan buzz. The compact nature of the city means that it is very easy to explore this intriguing old city on foot.
Peak District National Park
Britain's first national park is a diverse landscape, comprising heather-dappled moorland, murky limestone caves, gentle hills and gritstone outcrops. For the energetic, there's a huge choice of activities to do from walking, cycling and horse riding to climbing, caving and paragliding. Within the national park are a number of cultural gems including the sumptuous stately homes of Chatsworth house and Haddon Hall and the Georgian architecture of spa-town Buxton. The peak district is also home to the famous Bakewell tart.
Shropshire and Ludlow
Ludlow in Shropshire is one of the finest examples of an authentic English town. Described as "the loveliest town in England" by John Betjeman and as "the most vibrant small town in the Country" by Country Life, it's a little gem nestled in the heart of the country. Sitting on a cliff above the River Teme, Ludlow is surrounded by the unspoilt and beautiful hilly countryside of south Shropshire and the Welsh border country, known as the Welsh Marches. The centre of the town is an amazing concentration of architectural heritage, with buildings from different eras rubbing shoulders with one another (the town is said to have around 500 listed buildings!). Apart from the diversity of this built environment, Ludlow is also unique in that many of the buildings are in regular, commercial use which brings a real village feel to the town. Besides boasting a rich historical core, the town is also known as a gourmet capital with more Michelin stars per head than anywhere but Paris!
Shrewsbury is another picturesque town in Shropshire renowned to be one of England's most splendid heritage towns with over 600 listed buildings. You will very quickly fall in love with the medieval cobbled streets, alleys and squares, time-worn Tudor buildings and sweeping gardens along the River Severn.
Stratford upon Avon
Stratford is the birthplace of William Shakespeare who was born here in 1564. There are 5 houses linked to Shakespeare and his family and each offers a unique experience of the Stratford world in which the famous dramatist was born, worked and was buried. Stratford is also home to the Royal Shakespeare Company and its 'Courtyard Theatre' in which you can take a backstage tour. Of course, as well as all things Shakespeare, the 800 year old scenic market town has a number of other attractions so if you are more interested in music, sport, movies or dining out there is plenty to keep you busy. The town is also a pleasant place to stay to take in nearby attractions such as Warwick and Kenilworth Castles to the north, and the picturesque Cotswolds region to the south.
Filled with market towns, old fishing towns and villages, ancient abbeys, stunning woodlands and award-winning beaches, Suffolk is a perfect county to enjoy what England has best to offer.
With towns such as Lavenham which is known as England's best preserved medieval village and Bury St Edmunds which is home to an array of fantastic independent shops and Britain's smallest pub which is a fascinating historical archaeological site.
Tewkesbury is renowned for having one of the best medieval black and white townscapes in Britain. The crooked half-timbered houses make wandering the narrow streets of this town a fascinating experience.
The 12th-century Abbey with the highest Norman tower in England, dominates the town. Its fine stained glass windows and carefully sculptured tombs still remain. Other attractions include the award winning Out of the Hat visitor centre, the fascinating John Moore Countryside Museum, the Town Museum and the Old Baptist Chapel.
Warwick, the county town of Warwickshire, is most famous for its magnificent castle which may well be Britain's greatest medieval attraction, with lavishly decorated state rooms, towers, ramparts and of course the dungeons!
There is more to the town than just the castle though, as venturing into the town centre you will find an attractive mix of Georgian and medieval architecture which include Oken's House - There are also a number of fascinating museums such as the Doll museum, Warwickshire museum and the impressive Leycester Hospital