posted by Guest expert - Alex Gradwell | 2 Comments
To celebrate our partnership with VisitBritain we've asked one of their Super Bloggers Alex Gladwell for what he thinks are ten must-dos in Great Britain. To keep up to date with all things great about Britain make sure to follow VisitBritain on Twitter and Like them on Facebook. Oh...and make sure to check out their 'Love Wall' also - you really will love it.
Looking for things to do on your next trip to the UK? It can be tricky deciding how much to fit into your holiday and you’ll want to see all the big sights. I love our world-famous attractions like the London Eye, Stonehenge and Welsh Castles, but it’s the hidden gems you’ll find all over the UK which I’ll share here. From drinking up the history in quirky pubs to sampling British cheeses and camping wild in the Scottish Highlands, here are my 10 great insider tips for any trip to Britain.
1. Britain’s buildings
Look up and you’ll see inspiring architecture from prehistoric monuments to towering 21st-century skyscrapers. It’s hard to pin down my favourite British building but if pressed I’d say the modernist curves of Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion are hard to beat. If you want to see something older, our gothic cathedrals and imposing castles are a must see.
2. Small museums and galleries
For every world-beating collection of art housed in a gargantuan gallery there’s a small museum oozing character. Don’t miss the biggies but make time to explore Britain’s less well-known museums and galleries. I love the small but perfectly formed Wallace Collection of fine art and the Geffrye Museum of historic interiors in London.
3. Pubs with character
Britain has hundreds of unique, historic and quirky pubs. It’s worth doing some research to unearth the ones with real character. Squeeze into Britain’s smallest pub, the Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds, make a pilgrimage for a pint in the Old Forge (mainland Britain’s most remote pub), see where Crusaders drank in Nottingham’s Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem and many more.
4. British cheese
Last time I counted, Britain was producing well over 700 types of cheese. It’s a national obsession with whole festivals devoted to it. Get up to Wensleydale in Yorkshire to try Wallace and Gromit’s favourite snack, brave Britain’s smelliest cheese (Stinking Bishop) or visit our food markets to sample a whole range. If you’re around in September don’t miss Cardiff’s Great British Cheese Festival.
5. Intimate live music venues
There’s no better way to see a band than up close and personal in a small pub or club. In London check out the historic 100 Club, in Manchester try the Deaf Institute and in Glasgow catch the next big thing at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.
Cheap, green and great fun, camping is my favourite way to explore the countryside. Britain has hundreds of campsites but if you camp on Dartmoor in Devon or in the Scottish countryside, you can camp wild without breaking the rules. Enjoy a night’s free accommodation in a deserted Scottish glen or share your breakfast with wild Dartmoor ponies.
7. Tea with a twist
Everyone knows the Brits are a nation of tea drinkers and our afternoon teas at posh hotels are legendary. Tea with perfectly made sandwiches and cakes is a real treat, but I like places offering something a bit different. Try Glasgow’s ‘magic’ tearoom Tchai-Ovna (a cross between a hippy commune and an opium den), Liverpool’s Leaf Tea Bar which has club nights, or Brighton’s Tea Cosy which is festooned with camp royal memorabilia.
8. UK theatre
In the land that brought you Shakespeare there’s no shortage of quality drama. But for my money you can’t beat seeing the most famous actors in the land performing at The Globe in London, the beautiful recreation of The Bard’s Tudor theatre. And for just £5 you’ll get a standing ticket right in front of the stage.
9. Weird and wonderful traditions
With thousands of years of history come hundreds of ancient traditions formed over the centuries. Get up to the Shetland Islands to help the locals celebrate their Nordic roots and the New Year at Up Helly Aa (Europe’s largest fire festival), celebrate ancient fertility rites in Cornwall at the Padstow Obby Oss day on May 1 or visit on 5 November when the whole nation explodes with noise and colour on Bonfire Night.
10. Britain’s markets
I’m not much of a shopper but a day spent scouring a market for one-off finds, old records or local delicacies is never a day wasted. London’s Brick Lane Market has a great atmosphere and cool fashion, St Nicholas Market in Bristol is set in beautiful Georgian buildings and St George’s Market in Belfast has everything from fresh fish to entertainment from local musicians. My favourite, though, is the buzzing Borough Market in South London where you’ll find a mix of excellent foods from around 150 stalls including fish, game, artisan cheeses, rare-breed meats and ales.
Planning a trip to Great Britain? See the top destinations, read country guides and more in our Great Britain page. To keep up to date with everything at VisitBritain make sure to follow VisitBritain on Twitter and Like them on Facebook.
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