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Shanklin Beach is a beautiful, carefully tended stretch of sand on the Isle of Wight. Families appreciate the lifeguards, as well as the kids’ play area. And while there’s quite a hill separating the town from the beach, don’t worry—a lift makes it easy to tote all your beach paraphernalia down to the sand.
From Shoreditch’s swaggering style to Camden’s punky vibe and chic Portobello Road, London is many worlds in one. The city’s energy means that no two days are the same. Explore royal or historic sites, tick off landmarks from your bucket list, eat and drink in exclusive Michelin-starred restaurants, enjoy a pint in a traditional pub, or get lost down winding cobbled streets and see what you stumble across – when it comes to London, the possibilities are endless.
The Isle of Wight is the perfect place to enjoy some peace, quiet and natural beauty. Except perhaps in the summer, when the Isle of Wight Festival draws visitors from all over the world. In 1970, the Festival was the largest rock-music event ever held. It was called Britain's Woodstock and featured Jimi Hendrix and The Who. (Not so much peace or quiet that week.) The island is also known for its world-famous sailing and lovely resorts, where people have been holiday-making since Victorian times.
Southwest of London is Southampton (Soton to the locals), a metropolitan area centered around the port. However, tucked away on the side streets are ancient gems such as the Tudor House, Mottisfont Abbey, and "God's House," a museum located in a tower in the medieval wall. The ultra-modern Sea City Museum celebrates Southampton's seafaring past and the RMS Titanic. Looking for nightlife? Travelers can dance the hours away with bars, clubs, and live music, all accessible by public transportation.
The geographical heart of England, Birmingham began life as a sixth- century Anglo-Saxon village. Today, much of this city of over a million dates back to post-WWII redevelopment in the 1950s and 60s. Cutting edge museums and galleries, innovative theatres and excellent shopping have contributed to Birmingham's appeal as a weekend break destination. Don't miss the Balti Triangle, home to the Pakistani food in the UK, the hopping bars and cafes of Gas Street Basin, or the National Sea Life Centre.
Everyone who visits Paris for the first time probably has the same punchlist of major attractions to hit: The Louvre, Notre Dame, The Eiffel Tower, etc. Just make sure you leave some time to wander the city’s grand boulevards and eat in as many cafes, bistros and brasseries as possible. And don’t forget the shopping—whether your tastes run to Louis Vuitton or Les Puces (the flea market), you can find it here.
Famed for its football team and music scene, which has produced the likes of The Smiths and Oasis, this centre for sports and the arts is a down-to-earth and friendly city. The so-called Capital of the North has overcome industrial decline, bombing (in WWII and by the IRA) to become a confident and cosmopolitan city of well over two million. It is well served by a bus and light rail network. Top attractions include the Lowry art complex, arcade Affleck's Palace and Canal Street gay village.
Liverpool's fortunes have historically been tied to shipping. But imports and exports like sugar, spice and tobacco pale in comparison with Liverpool's most famous export of all — The Beatles. Relive the hysteria at The Beatles Story Experience, and check out Paul's childhood home, but also leave time for exploring Liverpool Cathedral and the Walker Art Gallery.
The UK’s favourite holiday resort continues to attract millions of visitors. Families and couples, young and old, Blackpool’s unique appeal is that it appeals to everyone. Whether you’re looking for thrills and excitement, family entertainment and historic gems or beautiful gardens and stunning beaches, Blackpool has it all. Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool Zoo, the Blackpool Tower, the Illuminations and a packed year-round events calendar all add to the charms of this seaside spot.
Amsterdam is truly a biker’s city, although pedaling along the labyrinthine streets can get a little chaotic. Stick to walking and you won’t be disappointed. The gentle canals make a perfect backdrop for exploring the Jordaan and Rembrandtplein square. Pop into the Red Light District if you must—if only so you can say you’ve been there. The Anne Frank House is one of the most moving experiences a traveller can have, and the Van Gogh Museum boasts a sensational collection of works.
Cumbria's valleys and fells (as the low mountains are known) are home to idyllic villages, high moorlands and picturesque lakes. Literary buffs will enjoy Wordsworth's Dove Cottage (go in March to see daffodils), and if you've got kids in tow, visit The World of Beatrix Potter. Or just enjoy a leisurely drive through beautiful scenery.
Stroll Las Ramblas and enjoy Barcelona's unique blend of Catalan culture, distinctive architecture, lively nightlife and trendy, stylish hotels. You'll find Europe's best-preserved Gothic Quarter here, as well as amazing architectural works by Gaudi. La Sagrada Familia, considered Gaudi's masterpiece, is still under construction (your entrance fee helps to fund the project). Feel like a picnic? Look no further than the rambunctious La Boqueria market, where you can stock up on local delicacies.
It’s nicknamed the Eternal City for a reason. In Rome, you can drink from a street fountain fed by an ancient aqueduct. Or see the same profile on a statue in the Capitoline Museum and the guy making your cappuccino. (Which, of course, you know never to order after 11 am.) Rome is also a city of contrasts—what other place on earth could be home to both the Vatican and La Dolce Vita?
The first time you go to New York, go ahead and be a sight-seer—everyone should visit the Statue of Liberty, the Met, Times Square, etc. But on a return trip, pick a neighbourhood and go deep. You’ll find hole-in-the-wall bars, great delis, quirky shops… exploring the non-touristy side of New York is an incredibly rewarding experience for a traveller.