While it's possible to plan a trip to the UK without visiting London, it's certainly not to be advised, as the nation's sprawling capital boasts plenty of attractions to keep you busy. For those interested in learning more about the UK's rich history, one of the top things to do in London is visit the Tower of London. Located beside the spectacular Tower Bridge on the banks of the River Thames, this former palace and prison includes highlights such as the iconic 1,000-year-old White Tower, with its fascinating displays of armor and weaponry, and the Jewel House, home to the Crown Jewels. Fans of Britain's Royal Family will want to head to Buckingham Palace, London's Royal home since Queen Victoria's reign. Here, you can enjoy the colorful pomp of the Changing of the Guard or even take a tour of the Palace's State Rooms (be sure to book in advance as they're only open for a few weeks each year).
One of Scotland's most attractive cities, the capital city of Edinburgh is also one of the UK's most visited destinations. Popular for its many well-preserved historic buildings, Edinburgh is perhaps best known as the home of the majestic Edinburgh Castle. Perched high above the old city on a rocky promontory, this 13th-century royal fortress includes highlights such as the famous One O'Clock Salute, held daily at Half Moon Battery; the Scottish Crown Jewels in the Royal Palace; the Scottish National War Memorial; and the famous Stone of Destiny (the Stone of Scone), only returned to Scotland after being held for 700 years in London. From the castle, it's easy to explore the other most important historic sites in the city, most notably the Old Town's Royal Mile with its fine architecture, boutique shops, cafés, restaurants, and art galleries, as well as the splendid old Palace of Holyroodhouse. Other Edinburgh highlights include broad Princes Street, popular for its shopping and dining, as well as for the Royal Botanical Garden and the National Gallery of Scotland.
Although one of the UK's smaller cities, Bath more than makes up for its diminutive size with a multitude of things to see and do. Named after its famous Roman Baths, this beautiful city has been luring visitors to its healing waters for more than 2,000 years. Gushing from three hot springs, the water-known to consist of 43 different minerals, hence its curative properties-travels upwards some 3,048 meters at a rate of 275,000 gallons per day, before spilling out at a consistent 46.5 degrees Celsius. While it's not possible to bathe in the original Roman Baths, a number of nearby spas-most notably the superb Thermae Bath Spa-offer guests the chance to enjoy the city's famous waters. In addition to its ancient history, Bath is also famous for its lovely Georgian architecture, the best examples of which can be seen along the magnificent, curved Royal Crescent, with its palatial townhomes. One of them, No.1 Royal Crescent, is now a museum that offers a fascinating peek into life during Georgian times.
One of the planet's oldest World Heritage Sites, Stonehenge has been a place of pilgrimage for more than 4,500 years. It was believed to have been erected as a place of worship, but these days, the crowds consist of tourists drawn by the sheer scale of this magnificent monument to mankind's ingenuity. It's a sprawling site, covering an area of more than 20 square kilometers and boasting a state-of-the-art visitor center, which offers a fascinating glimpse not only into the construction of Stonehenge, but also its history since then. Plan ahead and purchase a timed ticket for the day of your visit. Be sure to also spend time exploring the nearby medieval city of Salisbury, located just 16 kilometers south of Stonehenge. Here, you'll be rewarded with a chance to visit one of the country's most famous cathedrals, dating back to 1220 and home to an original Magna Carta. Afterwards, be sure to wander the old city center with its many fine churches and historic medieval architecture.
The historic town of Windsor, conveniently located a short train ride west of London, offers plenty of fun things to do for tourists. In addition to its lovely Thames-side setting and the many medieval half-timbered buildings along its quaint old cobblestone laneways, it's also home to spectacular Windsor Castle, the most famous of the UK's royal castles. This grand old castle has served as the summer residence of British royalty for more than a millennium (it was started by William the Conqueror in 1078) and is the world's largest inhabited castle. Highlights include the splendid State Apartments containing the Queen's Gallery and dining hall, each with magnificently painted ceilings and woodcarvings, and St. George's Chapel, famous as the home of the Knights and Ladies of the ancient Order of the Garter. When you've had your fill of these historic buildings, be sure to also spend time exploring the castle's large and beautiful grounds, which are almost 10 kilometers long. Here you'll enjoy some truly memorable panoramic views over Windsor and its castle.