With its world-class museums, diverse cultural identity and exciting culinary scene, London attracts visitors year-round. But, it may come as a surprise that as many as 70 per cent of visitors stay within the capital, instead of venturing beyond its boundaries to discover more of Britain. Trafalgar Travel Director Rachel Thomas tells us why any visitor should take the time to travel outside of London to explore Britain, and what they can expect to experience on their journey.
What do people gain by venturing out of London on their trip to Britain?
“For me, Britain is all about the countryside. When you leave the big city, you see the beautiful landscape it’s surrounded by with the patchwork of fields and pasture bordered by hedgerows or dry stone walls, depending on where you are. The countryside, with its villages and small towns, is full of stories, and as people hear these stories, it opens them up to how many different accents there are here. For many visitors from overseas, Britain is tiny compared to where they come from, so they’re surprised to see how diverse it is.
In the countryside, people can find the quaintness that they’d imagined back at home, especially in areas such as the Cotswolds with its idyllic, thatched cottages. They get to see all of the things they have read about Britain in their storybooks.”
How do you think London compares to other towns and cities across Britain?
“London is an amazing city with so much going on and so many incredible museums, but I think it can overwhelm people with its sheer size on first impressions. In this way, it’s good to experience British towns and cities on a smaller scale.”
Do you have any favourite places in Britain?
“I have lots; I love scenery, so the Lake District – which is stunning – is a personal favourite. Wales is also very beautiful, and often overlooked. Everyone knows Oxford and Cambridge for their universities, but these cities also have a lovely local charm about them. Stratford upon Avon is well worth a visit, too, especially this year with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.”
Do you take people to Britain’s lesser-known destinations?
“At Trafalgar we include Hidden Treasures in itineraries, to take people to places they probably wouldn’t think of visiting themselves. York is an amazing city that’s full of surprises and fascinating stories. When people are being guided around a destination, they can discover a lot that they wouldn’t if they went alone; they’re with someone who can give them the lowdown.”
What quintessentially British experiences can people have?
“Everyone should treat themselves to afternoon tea, have a pint of beer (not warm) in a pub, and of course, they should try fish and chips. People have a different experience of British food when they travel outside of London, too. A lot of country pubs focus on farm-to-fork cuisine, serving up the regional produce. People should try the food in each place they visit, because travel is all about experiencing what’s there.”
What do you like about Britain throughout the seasons?
“I like the colours of each season. The countryside changes throughout the year, from bright yellow flowers in early spring, to poppies in May and fields of blue flowers in June, and then the spectacular colours of autumn.”
Travel across Britain with Trafalgar by joining Real Britain, Britain and Ireland Delight, Taste of Britain, England and Scotland Heritage, Britain and Ireland Experience, Britain and Ireland Explorer, Best of Britain, Britain and Ireland Grandeur, Britain and Ireland Panorama, Britain and Ireland Highlights and Amazing Britain.
Image credits: Cover photo of The Lake District © iStock / Matthew Dixon. In the English countryside © iStock / Sol Stock. A English cottage © iStock / Zambezi Shark. Punting in Cambridge © iStock / frankix. Dinner in a country pub © iStock / scholes1.