London. There is nowhere else quite like it. All at once big and brash and busy, cutting-edge yet traditional, historical yet modern, it is the typical international metropolis - a world city by all accounts. The world comes to London and what happens affects every corner of it. An international centre of commerce, retail, finance, entertainment, fashion, transit and trends, London can very often feel like the capital of Earth.
One of the worlds most identifiable and symbolic cities - the city of Big Ben, double-decker buses, the Queen and the Tube, it quite rightly asserts itself in global consciousness as one of the greatest cities on Earth. It has an overabundance of every conceivable activity, and contains something for everyone.
With so much going on, across such an immense city - the biggest in Europe - nobody can expect to be able to do it all. Even life-long Londoners constantly find new surprises in this city. A week should be long enough to give you a taste of what The Big Smoke has to offer.
One could enjoy his/her love for the fine arts in some of the worlds premium museums, such as the British Museum, the National Gallery or the Tate Modern.
Streets filled with world-class bars, pubs, restaurants and theatres. And contrary to popular belief, not all bars close at 11.00 pm; numerous outside the West End stay open until 2am on weeknights.
Then there is shopping and not just Harrods. From the more stylish alternative of Selfridges to the many street markets, London offers second-hand clothes and crafts as well as tasty foods.
Tourist attractions are amongst others the historic buildings, such as the Houses of Parliament, St Pauls Cathedral, the Tower of London, and the different Palaces of London, the most famous being Buckingham- and Kensington Palace. You might even want to throw in a boat trip.
Many big parks can be found everywhere, where you can linger and sit on the grass; one of the most famous of these is Hyde Park with Speakers Corner.
Explore some areas off the ‘beaten track’; these areas are interesting to wander around in during the day and party at night: Brixton, Brick Lane, Notting Hill, Hoxton and Camden town.
Whilst in London you can also enjoy many diverse culinary pleasures. Although native British food does not have a great international reputation, there is plenty of great food from pretty much every country in the world; it is worth noting that London had more top restaurants than Paris and New York in the recent poll of top 50 restaurants in the world.
Whatever your heart desires youll find it in London, and like so many others, you’ll keep on coming back for more. Northern Irelands two largest cities are Belfast and Derry, treat yourself and visit the smaller towns.
Though these two cities are really appealing, most tourists come for the landscape and for nature. Ireland has some of the largest untouched areas of natural environment in Europe. The best way of getting to know the country is by hiking or on horseback. Eighty miles of rugged Antrim Coastline is quite a walk, but a must see is the Giants Causeway, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Also quite beautiful is Fermanagh Lakeland and St. Patricks country. And for some real outdoors adventure, visit the Mountains of Mourne or the Glenelly and Clogher Valleys.
Visitors to Norhern Ireland should not miss a trip to Armagh, the saintly capital of Ireland, for both Protestants and Catholics. The dual hilltop Cathedrals in Armagh City are quite awe-inspiring. Armagh was once plagued by sectarian violence during the times of "The Troubles", but since the Good Friday Agreement, it is once again tranquil. Travelers are most definitely safe, and Americans are particularly welcomed.
The people of Northern Ireland are quite gracious and laid back, unlike some of their more "uppity" European counterparts. Americans will find that the people in Northern Ireland hold particular fondness for America, even if they dont always agree with the leaders or policies.
Northern Ireland is a preferred destination for active holidays. There’s rugged country and glowing hills, deep forests, big lakes and of course the sea. Here you can do some game fishing, but Ireland’s also a great destination if you want to go golfing, horseback riding or camping.
Scotland, tranquil and untamed, is located in northern Europe and is bordered by the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean and England. It is approximately the size of England; however most of its landmass is composed of moorlands, mountains and about 800 islands.
Scotland was populated by hunter-gatherers around 6,000 years ago but by the 7th century, the region was a warring mix of Norse invaders, Scots, Picts, Beakers, Britons and Anglo-Saxons. Numerous wars were fought as the movement for Scottish independence from British supremacy gained momentum. The Industrial Revolution brought prosperity to the towns and cities, particularly in the south, but the global depression of the 1930s struck a mortal blow to the countrys economy.
Edinburgh, with its romantic fortress, set atop an extinct volcanic plug, is one of the best cities in Europe. Calton Hill, with various important monuments, and the massive rocky cliffs of Arthurs Seat and the Salisbury Crags, provide a picturesque backdrop to the city. Two miles from the city centre is the historic port of Leith where you can visit The Royal Yacht Britannia. Nearby is Glasgow, with much to offer a discerning tourist.
You can visit the Glasgow Cathedral, Burrell Collection, St Mungos Museum of Religious Life and Art and the 15th-century Provands Lordship or take a walk through the regal structures of the 18th-century Merchant City. More recently sports historians have come to realise that Glasgow is the capital of world football. The worlds first international was held here in 1872. Every country then adopted the Scotch Professors passing and running style. The Scottish Football Museum at the National Stadium, Hampden Park has the worlds best collection for all enthusiasts.
Aberdeenshire known by some as The Great North East Corner has a superb coastline with long stretches of beach, cliffs such as the Bullers of Buchan and Troup Head packed with birds such as gannets and puffins. Castles are in abundance, some such as Fyvie and Hatton you can even stay in for your holidays. The fishing towns of Fraserburgh, Banff, Macduff and Peterhead are full of friendly folk eager to have a chat, many of these communities have relatives all over the world; Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand in particular. The legacy of the picts and earlier Druids is there to see with around 100 stone circles scattered around Grampian.
The medieval town of St. Andrews was once the clerical capital of the country. However, golfing is its only religion today, with golfers from all over the world thronging the worlds most famous golf course in the town. Another destination worth exploring is Aberdeen, a veritable symphony in granite. The bewitching Inner Hebrides, located on the countrys western coast, is the ideal locale to round up your trip to Scotland.
The highlands of Scotland are perfect for cycling while Aviemore, Glencoe, Nevis, Glenshee, The Lecht, and the Nevis Range are perfect for skiing. The Scottish Bens are also famous for an activity called Munro Bagging, for mountaineers it is well worth trying. Undertake a trip to the world famous Loch Ness for an encounter with Nessie, the monster.