The U.K./Great Britain

Planning a trip to the United Kingdom

Hail Britannia! Welcome to the British Isles. Great Britain make an excellent first stop on your European tour for one main reason: They speak English there—although if you've ever heard a true Scottish brogue, you'll know I use the term "English" broadly.

Starting here allows you to adjust to some of the quirks of traveling in Europe without having to deal with a foreign tongue right off the bat.

For some people, Britain feels somewhat more familiar than other parts of Europe. So although England may seem exotic when you arrive, if you've first spend time in Sicily, Bavaria, and Budapest, London may seem tame and ordinary by comparison. Not that it's just like home. They do drive on the left side of the road, after all.

London is a metropolis with world-class museums and a vigorous street life and an arts capital with a sightseeing list that could keep you busy for months (the food courts of Harrods alone take half a day). It's also the place to see hot new plays months before they open in New York.

You can go punting in Oxford, the univeristy City of Dreaming Spires; explore the ancient stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury on the Wiltshire Downs; have afternoon tea in the genteel Georgian Pump Room of Bath after touring the Roman ruins beneath; climb the spire of the cathedral at Salisbury; and pay your repsoects to the Bard in Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.

In Scotland, you can go kilt-shopping on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, search for the Loch Ness monster, visit the museums of Glasgow, and get funky at Edinburgh's Fringe Festival.

Whether you take high tea in London or hike the highlands of Scotland, the British Isles will be a memorable part of any European vacation.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in November 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.