From the multicultural melting pot of London to the lonely spiritual outpost of Lindisfarne, England’s regions offer a kaleidoscope of experiences. Southern England is where you’ll find the archetypal English countryside of lush meadows, thatched cottages and games of cricket on the village green. The southwestern counties of Devon and Cornwall are wilder in nature, known for their surf beaches and seafood restaurants. Lovers of moor and mountain will be spoilt for choice in the Lake District and Peak District, while those who prefer gritty industrial heritage and lively nightlife will enjoy the northern cities of Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle. And bang in the middle is Yorkshire, with everything from the gorgeous city of York to the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales.
London's ancient streets contain many of Britain's most famous and history-steeped landmarks. The echoes of the footfalls of monarchs, poets, whores and saints can still be detected in places such as the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral, as well as the pubs and coaching inns that once served Dickens, Shelley, Keats and Byron.
Music, Theatre & Sport
From West End theatres to East End clubs, from Camden's rock venues to Covent Garden's opera house, from tennis at Wimbledon to cricket at Lord's or football at Wembley, London's world-famous venues and arenas offer a perpetual clamour of entertainment.
While the British Museum is the big crowd-puller, the capital has museums and galleries of every shape and size – including the V&A, Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery. Many are free.
Canterbury & Southeast England
Food & Drink
A major reason to visit southeast England, Canterbury Cathedral is one of the finest in Europe, and one of the most holy places in Christendom. Write your own Canterbury tale as you explore its atmospheric chapels, cloisters and crypts.
The southeast has always been a gateway for arrivals from the Continent, some more welcome than others. Castles and fortresses, the 1066 battlefield and Dover's secret wartime tunnels all tell the region's story of invasion and defence.
The South Coast
Long a favourite spot for English seaside holidays, England's south-coast towns have a faded, genteel grandeur that's all their own. Explore Brighton's eccentric shops, wander Rye's cobbled lanes, visit Margate's new art gallery or feast on Whitstable oysters.
Oxford & the Cotswolds
Oxford’s architecture will never leave you indifferent, whether you gaze across the 'dreaming spires' from the top of Carfax Tower, or explore the medieval streets on foot, or simply admire the fantastic gargoyles on college facades.
Favoured by the rich and powerful for centuries, this region is scattered with some of the finest country houses in England. Top of the pile is the baroque masterpiece of Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.
Littered with picturesque 'chocolate box' scenes of honey-coloured stone cottages, thatched roofs, neat greens and cobbled lanes, the villages of the Cotswolds provide a charming snapshot of rural England.
England's southwest peninsula juts determinedly into the Atlantic, fringed by an almost endless chain of sandy beaches, from the picturesque scenery of Kynance Cove to the rolling surf of Newquay.
From Bath's Georgian terraces to grand stately homes, such as Longleat, Tyntesfield and Stourhead, and the medieval castles of St Mawes, Dartmouth and Powderham, the southwest has a fascinating architectural history.
Hiking & Surfing
If you like to take it nice and easy, come to walk the moors or tootle along cycle trails. If you prefer life fast and furious, come to surf the best waves in England or learn to dive or kitesurf.
From the magnificent cathedrals of Ely, Norwich and Peterborough to Cambridge's King's College Chapel, Trinity's Great Court and the New Court at St John's, East Anglia's architectural splendour is second to none.
With wide sandy beaches, great seafood, delightful old pubs, globally important bird reserves, historic villages still proud of their nautical heritage, and classic seaside resorts including Southwold and Cromer, the coastline of East Anglia is rich and varied.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads are a tranquil haven of lakes and meandering rivers, and an ideal spot for boating, birdwatching, canoeing, cycling or walking, or just getting back to nature at a leisurely pace.
The Midlands & the Marches
Food & Drink
Hiking & Biking
The Peak District National Park, Cannock Chase, the Shropshire Hills, the Roaches, the Malvern Hills, Offa's Dyke Path, the Tissington Trail and the Pennine Cycleway all make this region great for hiking and biking.
Grand houses including Haddon Hall, Burghley House and especially Chatsworth – the magnificent home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire – promise sprawling landscaped gardens adorned with classical sculptures, grand interiors full of priceless heirlooms and walls dripping with oil paintings.
Foodies take note: Birmingham is the curry capital of the country (and, increasingly, a magnet for Michelin-starred chefs), while the tiny town of Ludlow is an epicentre of gastronomic exploration.
Food & Drink
Hiking & Biking
With rolling hills, scenic valleys, high moors and a cliff-lined coast, all protected by two of England's best-loved national parks, Yorkshire is a natural adventure playground for hiking, biking, surfing and rock climbing.
Roast Beef & Real Ale
Rich farmland and lush pasture means Yorkshire beef and lamb are much sought-after, while the famous Theakston's and Black Sheep breweries of Masham turn out excellent real ales, best sampled in one of Yorkshire's equally excellent traditional pubs.
From York's Roman and Viking heritage and the medieval abbeys of Rievaulx, Fountains and Whitby to the industrial archaeology of Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield, Yorkshire allows you to explore several of Britain's most important historical narratives.
The northwest's collection of heritage sites, from the wonderful People's History Museum in Manchester to the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, is testament to the region's rich history and its ability to keep it alive.
Two cities, Liverpool and Manchester, give the world four famous clubs, including the two most successful in English history. The National Football Museum in Manchester is just another reason for football fans to visit this region.
The epitome of the classic English seaside resort just keeps on going, thanks to the rides of the Blackpool Pleasure Beach amusement park, where adrenalin junkies can always find a fix.
Cumbria & the Lakes
Lakes & Mountains
The Lake District National Park is the most mountainous part of England, home to humpbacked hills (known locally as fells) and countless scenic lakes. Some are big and famous – Windermere, Coniston, Ullswater – while others are small, hidden and little known.
If anywhere is the heart and soul of walking in England, it's the Lake District. Casual strollers find gentle routes through foothills and valleys, while serious hikers hit the high fells – including Helvellyn, Skiddaw, Blencathra and England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike.
The beauty of the Lake District famously moved William Wordsworth to write his ode to 'a host of golden daffodils', and visiting Wordsworth landmarks such as Dove Cottage, Rydal Mount and his childhood home in Cockermouth is one of the region's big draws.
One of the greatest feats of Roman engineering, this potent symbol of imperial power strides for over 70 miles across the neck of England, from Tyneside to the Solway Firth. You can travel its length, stopping off at forts along the way.
Northumberland National Park
If it's widescreen vistas you're after, the broad moors, stone villages and expansive views of England's most northerly national park never fail to please. As well as landscapes there are starscapes to be enjoyed, in the heart of England’s biggest dark-sky park.
Northumberland is dotted with some of Britain's finest castles, including the coastal fortresses of Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh, but Alnwick – setting for the Harry Potter movies – is the most famous.