England's southwest – or the West Country, as it's often known – offers something for everyone: buzzy big cities, iconic monuments, green countryside and golden beaches galore. Stone circles and hilltop castles litter the landscape, while stately homes and serene cathedrals give way to a patchwork of green fields, wild moors, quiet villages and fishing ports.
Devon & Cornwall
Welcome to the wild, wild west – a land of gorse-clad cliffs, booming surf, white sand and epic, widescreen skies. Foodie Feasts Fantastic fish and farm-made cheeses, small-batch beers and world-class wines, Michelin-starred bistros and quirky beach cafes: Devon and Cornwall can now proudly claim to be one of Britain's most exciting places to eat and drink.
The Midlands & the Marches
If you're searching for quintessentially English countryside – green valleys, chocolate-box villages of wonky black-and-white timbered houses, woodlands steeped in legend such as Nottinghamshire's Sherwood Forest, and stately homes that look like the last lord of the manor just clip-clopped out of the stables – you'll find it here in the country's heart.
You can't get further west than the ancient Celtic kingdom of Cornwall (or Kernow, as it's known to Cornish speakers). Blessed with the southwest's wildest coastline and most breathtakingly beautiful beaches, this proudly independent peninsula has always marched to its own tune.
Devon offers freedom. Its rippling, beach-fringed landscape is studded with historic homes, vibrant cities and wild, wild moors. Here you can ditch schedules and to-do lists and hike a rugged coast path, take a scenic boat trip, or get lost in hedge-lined lanes that aren't even on your map.
Two cities brimming with history, a Tudor delight, an island that marches to the beat of its own drum and some of the most pleasant countryside in Britain…welcome to the northwest of England. Dominating the region is mighty Manchester, a city built on innovation and bursting with creativity.
Oxford & the Cotswolds
Sprinkled with gorgeous villages and medieval towns, the part of England that stretches westwards from London to Wales comes as close to an old-world idyll as you’ll ever find. It’s a haven of green-cloaked hills, rose-clad cottages, graceful churches and thatched roofs.
Rolling chalk hills, venerable Victorian resorts, fields of hops and grapes sweetening in the sun: welcome to England’s southeast, four soothing counties’ worth of country houses, fairy-tale castles and the finest food and drink. That fruit-ripening sun shines brightest and longest on the coast, warming a string of seaside towns wedged between formidable chalk cliffs.
Unfurling gently eastwards to the sea, the vast flatlands of East Anglia are a rich web of lush farmland, melancholy Fens and sparkling rivers. The area is justly famous for its sweeping sandy beaches, big skies and the bucolic landscape that once inspired Constable and Gainsborough.
This, the largest of Yorkshire's four counties – and the largest county in England – is also the most beautiful. Unlike the rest of northern England, it has survived almost unscathed by the Industrial Revolution. Since the Middle Ages, North Yorkshire has been almost exclusively about sheep and the woolly wealth they produce.
The irrepressible city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne anchors England's northeast. Set on the mighty River Tyne, this former industrial powerhouse's steep hills are lined with handsome Victorian buildings, and many of its one-time factories and warehouses have been transformed into galleries, museums, bars and entertainment venues.