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London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times. At its centre stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, site of British monarch coronations. Across the Thames River, the London Eye observation wheel provides panoramic views of the South Bank cultural complex, and the entire city.
A delightful blend of ancient and modern, Newcastle is one of the liveliest cities in northern England. Originally built in the 11th century, the Castle Keep was the “new castle” for which the city is named. Stroll along the River Tyne and marvel at the different bridges that have transformed the face of the city. Modern art is the main attraction at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, while the history of Newcastle unfolds at the Great North Museum.
Savor the old town’s marvelous Georgian and Victorian architecture and impressive Edinburgh Castle, high on its volcanic crag with a fabulous view. Stroll along the medieval Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse to see the abbey and Queen Mary’s chambers. Visit St. Giles’ Cathedral where John Knox once preached.
Known as “Inverbreakie” until the early 18th century, Invergordon has long been recognized for its rich naval history and jewel of a harbor in the northern Highlands. Invergordon perches on the northern bank of the Cromarty Firth, a lengthy estuary that provides welcome sanctuary for a multitude of water birds and one of only two species of resident bottlenose dolphin in the British Isles. Venture into the Highlands, where the local clan castles perch on craggy hills and on the shores of lochs and firths. And there’s always the chance to see the mysterious Loch Ness Monster.
Enjoy a taste of the Highlands here in the rugged landscape and heathered moors, the ruined castles, steep cliffs and sea air. Drive through beautiful valleys and flower-filled meadows with romping Shetland ponies to quaint villages like Scalloway with its ruined castle, or explore the fascinating Jarlshof prehistoric site, occupied for more than 4,000 years.
This starkly beautiful island holds many ancient treasures like the enigmatic Standing Stones of Stenness and the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae, amazingly discovered with furniture and indoor drains preserved. Visit the imposing trio of St. Magnus Cathedral, the nearby ruins of the Earl’s Palace, and the earlier Bishop’s Palace.
Catch one of the ever-changing exhibitions of works by local artists at the Ullapool Visual Arts Centre and view impressive textiles, ceramics, paintings and photography. Trace your Scottish ancestry in the genealogy section of the Ullapool Museum housed in a repurposed Telford Parliamentary church or go hillwalking on one of the many slopes that rise from the sea up to the Scottish Highlands.
Offering some of the finest Victorian architecture in the UK, Glasgow is a major center of commerce and culture. Glasgow Cathedral is one of the only cathedrals in Scotland to have survived the Reformation in tact and houses a celebrated collection of stained glass windows. The Burrell Collection showcases a range of work by major artists such as Rodin, Degas and Cézanne, as well as examples of late medieval, Chinese and Islamic art. When exploring Scotland’s culinary culture, be sure to taste some of the famed single malt whiskies.
One of the oldest continuously inhabited places in Ireland, Londonderry traces its roots to the 6th century. Walls from the 17th century still fortify the city center where you will find St. Columb’s Cathedral, built in 1633. Take a stroll across the River Foyle on the newly constructed Peace Bridge, or enjoy gorgeous views of the Irish countryside on a visit to the Sperrin Mountains. The geological marvel known as the Giant’s Causeway lies just east of the city.
A wealthy port city since the 19th century, Liverpool is noted for its rich architectural heritage, diverse communities and innovative infrastructure, as well as being the birthplace of The Beatles. The history of the city as one of the world’s greatest seaports unfolds at The Merseyside Maritime Museum, and the exhibitions at The Beatles Story take you on a journey through the lives and times of the Fab Four. For a spectacular panoramic view of the city, climb the tower of Liverpool Cathedral.
Enjoy the beautiful Welsh countryside with its charming towns and farms and visit the imposing Caernarfon Castle begun by Edward I in 1283. This mighty fortress was a residence and seat of government as well as a military stronghold. The current Prince of Wales received his title here in 1969.
Tour majestic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Jonathan Swift is buried, and stroll through lovely St. Stephen’s Green, a beautiful city park immortalized by James Joyce in Ulysses. The magnificently decorated Book of Kells is on display at the venerable Trinity College. For more secular pursuits, tour the Guinness Storehouse or the Jameson Distillery and learn the secrets to making great Irish beer and whiskey.