There’s so much to love about England: the diversity, the history, the unmistakably British sense of humour… or maybe just the fact that there are so many interesting and quirky things to do here.
As a first-time visitor to England, it’s tempting to head straight to the Tower of London, Tate Modern or Stonehenge – but there’s much more to do here besides the obvious.
Here are just five suggestions.
Discover the enchanting Roman Baths
The Roman Baths complex in the Somerset city of Bath is a site of considerable historical interest, together with the Grand Pump Room attracting more than a million visitors each year.
The first shrine here was built by Celts, although the Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level, with the buildings above street level having only been constructed in the 19th century.
Sadly, it’s no longer possible to bathe in the historic Roman baths, although you can enjoy spa water from its ‘fragrant’ (sulphur) source in the Grand Pump Room.
Survey the stunning view from the Blackpool Tower Eye
Blackpool’s just one of those old-fashioned seaside resorts where your Nan used to go for bingo, right? Erm, no it isn’t – it’s actually very much a tourist draw of the 21st century.
Perhaps the best illustration of this is the truly breathtaking Blackpool Tower Eye with its five-centimetre thick glass viewing platform, from which you can enjoy remarkable panoramic views of North West England, 380ft in the sky.
Then, there’s the other – slightly more traditional advantage of visiting Blackpool to consider: the sheer affordability. You can find a cheap B&B in Blackpool at Toprooms.com, after just a few minutes of searching.
Enjoy a walk around Camden
Yes, you simply have to schedule a trip to London as part of your stay in England, but there’s so much more to this staggeringly varied, stimulating and heaving metropolis than the National Gallery and Buckingham Palace.
Camden – in the north-west of the capital – is certainly one area that you have to experience. It’s the place to come for alternative culture in the city, with the punks, rockabillies, Goths and – of course – tourists helping to give it a vibrant and eclectic vibe.
Why not sift through the vintage clothing, unique artwork and used books on sale at Camden Market, or head to Camden Lock for a stroll along Regent’s Canal right through to King’s Cross?
Visit Isaac Newton’s fabled apple tree
It’s the story that has been told time and time again, and that so many of us presume to be a myth: the great mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton, while sitting in his garden at Woolsthorpe Manor near Grantham in Lincolnshire in the late summer of 1666, observed an apple falling from a tree.
The legend says that Newton was duly prompted to think about gravity and devise his gravitational theory that changed how we think about our world forever.
The amazing thing is that the story also appears to be true. What’s more, you can still visit Newton’s ‘Flower of Kent’ apple tree today, now in the care of the National Trust.
Wander around a tropical island
Wait a minute… a tropical island? In notoriously grey and drizzly England? That can’t be right…
However, it is right. The Isles of Scilly are a remarkable part of the British Isles, with their location some 30 miles from the coast of Cornwall exposing them to warm Gulf Stream air that creates a climate quite unlike that elsewhere in the country.
The 17-acre Tresco Abbey Gardens are a particular must-visit, on account of their lush palm trees, exotic plants and flowers that’ll make you think of almost anywhere except England.
As you can see, England offers you more than a few opportunities to head off the beaten path – even when you’re a complete newcomer to the country. What are your own highlights of this intriguing and charming part of the world? Mine are never-ending, but these are 5 that I have seen or that are on my list!