UK Travel Guide

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by Hertz AU - 11 September 2018

It’s fascinating just how much the United Kingdom packs into such a small island. Within ‘this Sceptred Isle’ you’ll find vibrant cities – including the capitals of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – plus the green and pleasant countryside that the UK is famed for.

Arrive in the UK and you’ll be struck by the sheer diversity – from the metropolitan buzz of big cities like London and Manchester, to the more rural areas with  their lovingly-preserved cultures and traditions. You’re free to explore the thousands of years of history here – of war and conquest, monarchs and more. You’ll also discover incredible music and food scenes on an island that has always punched well above it weight when it comes to the wealth of culture on show.

North, south, east or west, explore the United Kingdom and you’ll leave with memories to treasure forever. Dig a bit deeper with our travel guide to London.

History and architecture

Visit Britain and you’re only ever moments away from the site of an important slice of the country’s history. Life has been played out over thousands of years here and the  Brits are proud of their past with immaculately preserved castles, churches and monuments all waiting to be discovered.

Head for London and the streets teem with life, the modern interspersed with the ancient. Big Ben towers over the Houses of Parliament and nearby Westminster Cathedral, where the great and the good have married or been buried. Elsewhere in the city, the grand dome and intricate interior of St. Paul’s Cathedral speak to the ambitions of its architect, remarkably emerging intact after the Blitz of World War II.

At the Tower of London, take a tour with the Beefeaters who will lay bare the royal history and scandals that have made it such a focal point – the heart of the city back when London was the centre of the world.

They’ll show you where the young princes were interred, the dungeons and the chapels, the ravens that never fly beyond the tower. Leave your guide behind and enter the tower’s museums to see Henry VIII’s battle armour and the dazzling crown jewels. For another overview not just of the United Kingdom, but of the world at large, head for the vast and fascinating British Museum.

There’s marvellous architecture in the rest of the UK too, from the Roman cities of Bath, York and Chester to the Georgian sweep of Edinburgh with its castle sitting upon an ancient volcano. Away from the cities, you’ll find Stonehenge, its origins and layout still a mystery today and a place of pilgrimage for many.

As you make your way up the island you may pass Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Romans to protect themselves from the ‘barbarians’ of the north. Head across the short sea to Northern Ireland, home to Giant’s Causeway, a unique rock formation that has given birth to many tall tales.

What to do in the United Kingdom

Intrepid explorers will be in paradise in the UK. In London, you can walk in the footsteps of The Beatles at the famous crossing on Abbey Road before heading to Bond Street or the arcades off Piccadilly for world-class shopping. In the West End, there are theatres galore, especially along Shaftesbury Avenue, and you can pick up a ticket for the latest hit musical, a play featuring a Hollywood star or perhaps a Shakespeare adaptation at The Globe.

Talking of the famous bard, take a day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the place where he lived and worked, a town dedicated to arguably the country’s greatest ever writer. There’s culture beyond the big cities, of course, with the beauty of Warwick Castle or Leeds Castle in Kent, huge fortresses built against the verdant green countryside.

The beauty of Wales is breathtaking – lush valleys give way to small villages and towns, where they still speak the native tongue. By contrast, Cardiff is a regenerated and energetic city known for its passion for rugby and football.

In Scotland, you can time a visit for the annual Edinburgh Fringe – the city comes alive with comedy, music and performance. Alternatively, head to one of the famous Lochs – the sensational highlands surrounding still but mysterious waters, especially at Loch Ness.

Venture across the Irish Sea to visit Northern Ireland, a magical destination swathed in myths and legends. Begin your adventure in Belfast, the capital city with bag loads of naval history. Take a tour around the Titanic Belfast, the museum dedicated to the ill-fated ship, before heading out to the coast to experience its staggering natural beauty.

In England’s northern cities, you’ll find civic pride, different accents and some of the best nightlife to be found in Europe. Manchester boasts two of Europe’s best football teams in City and United, Liverpool gave the world The Beatles and more, while Leeds has brilliant bars and restaurants surrounded by the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside, nicknamed ‘God’s Own County’.

If that’s not enough for one trip, perhaps there’s time for the Cornish coves of the west country. So clear and blue are the waters here, you’d think you were in the Mediterranean. While you’re in this glorious pocket of the UK, stop by the Eden Project. It’s a true original, designed to preserve rare flora and fauna from all around the world.

There’s plenty for thrill-seekers too, with extensive theme parks such as Alton Towers or Chessington World of Adventures, while fans of Harry Potter should join the studio tour to see where the famous film adaptations were made.

Where to stay and eat in the United Kingdom

UK hotels

There are wonderful places to stay the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. If you’re craving solitude, you’ll find hip getaways with private hot tubs in the woods, while city slickers can stay at fashionable boutiques right in the heart of things. There are reliable chains, grand old country houses converted to hotels with lavish grounds and legendary London boltholes that have been hosting people for centuries – places that come with stories attached.

In Scotland, treat yourself at the Gleneagles Resort. A hotel that has hosted not only world leaders but international sportsmen, it boasts superb rooms, world-class golf (the Ryder Cup has been played here) and, arguably, Scotland’s best restaurant, the two Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie. This is five-star luxury with a spa, in easy driving distance of both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

You’re spoiled for choice in London. The legendary Ritz in London is a place where elegance is assured, right on Piccadilly in the West End. Splash out on a signature suite, enjoy a cocktail in the jewelled Rivoli Bar or throw yourself into a quintessentially English experience – afternoon tea at The Ritz. Those in the know, however, might want to take tea at the Lanesborough – another five-star destination where you can feast on dainty sandwiches, scones, cakes and fizz to the soundtrack of a pianist.

For a romantic break in Wales, look no further than Palé Hall. Here you’re at Llandderfel in Gwynedd right on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, perfect for those who love outdoor adventures. Seclusion is the watchword here – you’re on the hotel’s own estate, with only mountains and waterfalls for company. It’s a place with a past, both Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria have stayed here before you, rooms are plush and the restaurant is incredible.

If your trip to the UK includes time in Northern Ireland, then plump for Belfast’s Merchant Hotel. Based in a former bank – albeit a very grand one – it has a perfect location for seeing the city plus a spa to relax in. Décor combines art deco with the occasional four-poster bed – if you’re lucky.

UK’s best restaurants

There was once a time – not too long ago – when the United Kingdom had a dismal reputation for food. Thankfully, those times are long, long gone. The UK is now one of the world’s premier destinations for foodies, with top chefs and restaurateurs from all over the globe clamouring for a piece of real estate.

The undoubted epicentre of this is London. Wander the streets of Soho or Shoreditch and you’ll be able to choose from Chinese dim-sum bars, Thai noodle spots, incredible Indian food and fine French dining.

London’s melting pot nature is most evident in its food. Head to Borough Market for fresh produce and trucks selling pizza, oysters or chorizo sandwiches. Any trip to the UK wouldn’t be complete without trying the fish and chips, doused in salt and vinegar.

For destination dining, Gordon Ramsay and Alain Ducasse both hold three Michelin stars in England’s capital, while the classic French cuisine of the Roux family has made Le Gavroche – arguably the UK’s first great restaurant – an experience to be savoured.

Outside the capital, indulge in regional specialities, the amazing seafood of Scotland, Northern Ireland’s hearty dishes and the game of Wales. One thing the UK does particularly well is small, boutique chains. For steak and service, look no further than the Hawksmoor group – with several branches in London and now spreading further afield. It’s modern British cooking at its finest.

Food, fine hotels, history and culture galore. There’s more to see and do here than you could ever fit into one trip. But with car hire in the United Kingdom, you can make the most of your time here, venturing beyond the cities to discover the beauty and breadth of the country beyond.

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Article by Hertz AU

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