Whenever UK tourism is touched upon, a certain L-word usually comes to the forefront of the conversation. As we all know, London is one of the premier tourist destinations in the world and this means that the rest of the UK barely gets a sniff. As today’s topic might have already suggested, this is somewhat unfair. After all, if you dig deep enough around the UK, there are hordes of places and attractions that are well worthy of a visit and steeped in history. For the purposes of today, it’s the Midlands which we are focusing on and we will now mull over some of the options available to you if you decide to tour around this historical part of the UK.
Stratford Upon Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon is a busy 16th-century medieval market town and the birthplace of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) attracting many tourists from all over the World. With more than 800 years of history this thriving town has many shops, cafes and pubs, restaurants, it’s a must see for anyone visiting the Midlands. Reminders of the Bard’s life still pack its Tudor streets including his childhood home and his final resting place, Holy Trinity Church. You can see his plays brought to life at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s three prestigious theatres.
One of England’s most impressive medieval castles can be found here – Warwick Castle, complete with towers, battlements, gateways and a gigantic portcullis. Today it’s home to a constant supply of attractions, including a maze, birds of prey displays, historical re-enactments, and the chance to try activities such as archery or pulling a sword from an anvil, King Arthur-style. If you’re travelling with kids, plan on spending a full day here, and remember not to leave them in the dungeon ; )
Nearby is also the stunning Kenilworth Castle. Built in the 1120s,Kenilworth Castle survived the longest siege in English history in 1266, when the forces of Lord Edward (later Edward I) threw themselves at the moat and battlements for six solid months. The fortress was dramatically extended in Tudor times, but it fell in the English Civil War and its walls were breached and water defences drained. Don’t miss the magnificent restored Elizabethan gardens.
It’s one of the largest cities in the country, so it stands to reason that Birmingham should be included on our list. Whether you want world-renowned golf courses, or just a huge shopping district. The bull-ring is a must visit with the iconic Selfridges building, Birmingham has its all. This is one city which has transformed its reputation over the years as well. A lot of money has been invested in bringing the city up-to-date, and it is now one of the most modern in the whole of the UK.
While there are of course elements of countryside in Birmingham, if you venture a little further north to the Peak District this is where the UK countryside really comes into its own. The Peak District National Park is surrounded by limestone valleys, moorland, mountains and more. For those of you who love to hike, this will be right up your street. Alternatively, for those of you who just want to sample a bit of the country for a couple of hours, this is completely possible. The area is set up for tourists and the fact it attracts more than ten million people every single year says everything about its reputation. Furthermore, if you are thinking of putting together a tour of the country, the whole of the Peak District is 555 square miles, which can naturally take you some way.
Next on the list is Nottingham. This also has some areas of impressive countryside, with Sherwood Forest being the pick of the places. The fact that Nottingham is the home of Robin Hood is enough to attract a lot of tourists there and like Birmingham, it has undergone plenty of development over the last few years.
It could be argued that Lincoln sits in-between most of the suggestions thus far. This is a city which has a huge emphasis on history; it is surrounded by historic gates, dons cobbled streets and has a famous 12th-century cathedral. For those of you who want to combine shopping, culture and history, this is your choice. Additionally, if you are thinking about venturing into Lincoln in the evening, it has plenty to offer. It has a vibrant student community and is widely regarded as a very good night by those who frequent it.