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Packed to the gills with antique silver, porcelain and furniture, the red sandstone Brodick Castle is one of the highlights of the Isle of Arran. The castle overlooks Goatfell, a majestic hill that’s a popular day hike. The Machrie Moor stone circles make for a mystical field trip, as does a tour of The Arran Malt whisky distillery.
Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city, renowned for its heritage, culture and festivals.
Take a long walk around the centre to explore the World Heritage Sites of the Old Town and New Town, as well as all the area’s museums and galleries. Then stop for a delicious meal made from fresh Scottish produce before heading out to take in one of Edinburgh’s many events — including the famous summer festivals of culture, or the Winter Festivals of music, light and ceilidhs.
Highland Perthshire places some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery within easy reach of both Glasgow and Edinburgh, and Pitlochry is the most geared-up base from which to enjoy it. It’s been a bustling mountain resort since the railways arrived in 1863, and these days manages to be both a cozy favourite for tourists who enjoy browsing in its woolen mills and taking in the repertory of plays at its famous Festival Theatre, and a magnet for adrenalin junkies in search of bungee jumping, canyoning, tubing and white water rafting adventures. Visitors of any age will be intrigued by the Pictish carvings on the huge Dunfallandy stone at nearby Ballinluig and, after a bracing mountain walk or visit to the famous salmon ladder, adults can enjoy a warming dram of malt whiskey after a tour at one of the two local distilleries, Edradour and Blair Athol.
Glencoe, a designated National Scenic Area sometimes referred to as the Glen of Weeping, was the scene of the infamous 'Massacre of Glencoe' in 1692. The Glen has a number of viewing stops on the road through the valley, and the National Trust for Scotland has a visitor centre along the main route.
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.
This popular resort town is located just a mile from Windermere Lake, the largest lake in England and alleged home to more than one peculiar sea creature. If we've scared you out of skiing, boating and fishing in Windermere Lake, there's always horseback riding and golf. Or you can explore the lake from the safety of a ferryboat, which regularly takes passengers from Hawkshead to Bowness.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Strongly influenced by the tribal culture of the Guanches (the original inhabitants), Tenerife was conquered by the Spanish 500 years ago. It's home to Mount Teide, Spain's tallest peak, and to the popular beach resort of Los Gigantes. Today visitors flock to Loro Park to see tropical birds, to Tenerife Zoo Monkey Park and to Parque Nacional Las Canadas del Teide's volcanic rock formations. Explore by car or with a "bono bus" ticket, which offers reductions on regular prices.