Discover the very best English experiences to add to your bucket list, as selected by a panel of experts. From ordering a pint in a 12th century pub to climbing the country’s highest peak, these recommendations will remind you of the eclectic range of experiences only available right here on your doorstep.
Here are five of our favourites to get you started…
1. Have a pint in England’s oldest pub, Nottingham
Backing into the network of caves built beneath Nottingham Castle, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem takes the prize for England’s most eccentric pub. ‘The Trip’ (as it is affectionately known) is regarded by many to be England’s oldest watering hole, established in 1189 AD and frequented by Richard the Lionheart’s crusading knights. Weaving further intrigue into The Trip’s past are tales of ghost sightings and poltergeist-driven antics, which the proprietors tell with aplomb.
Once you’ve quaffed a pint of the house dark ale, you might be brave enough to take a tour of the pub’s rear drinking rooms and cellars, which are stuffed with unusual relics. Watch out for the cobweb-ridden ‘Cursed Galleon’, said to bring a gruesome death on all who dare dust it!
With their clear, warm waters and towering palm trees, the Isles of Scilly are England’s answer to a tropical paradise. This amazing archipelago of over 100 islands and islets, located 30 miles from Cornwall, provides a wealth of wildlife-watching experiences.
Jump on a sea safari from St Mary's, the largest of the five inhabited islands, to see grey seals and flocks of seabirds, including puffins from April to July. If you’re lucky, you might even spot basking sharks and dolphins.
Back on dry land, hedgerows and fields blaze with pink proteas in May and scented white and gold narcissi in October. But Scilly’s flower power is most obvious at Abbey Gardens on Tresco, blooming with exotic cacti, plants and floral delights.
The golden buildings of Cambridge’s world-famous historic colleges are beguiling enough from the city’s winding cobbled streets, but hop on board a punt to view The Backs in time-honoured tradition from the River Cam. You’ll drift past King’s College Chapel, the Wren Library at Trinity College, the wooden Mathematical Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs at St John’s. Just remember to duck for the bridges!
If you’re worried about falling in – and it does happen – hire a guide to do the punting while you watch the world go by. Pack a picnic to eat in the punt or spread out for a snooze beneath the trees that line the river bank, with your straw boater hat dipped lazily over your eyes.
Tread in the famous footsteps of a certain four lads from Liverpool on a magical mystery tour of their home town. You can take a peek inside the National Trust-owned childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney – two humble Liverpool abodes that now act as shrines to the iconic musicians – and be transported back to the 1950s as you discover fascinating anecdotes and artefacts from the pair’s lives.
The Beatles Story is another must for Beatles lovers keen to top up on their Fab Four facts, and a fittingly musical end to your Beatles-mania break is to demonstrate your best Sixties moves at a gig at The Cavern Club, before heading back to your Beatles-inspired room at the Hard Days Night Hotel.
If you took a trip back in time 2,000 years you’d probably still want to visit Bath. The Celts and Romans came here to take a dip in Britain’s only naturally heated thermal spa. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, this elegant city houses state-of-the-art spa facilities in Thermae Bath Spa. As well as soaking in the mineral-rich thermal springs, you can luxuriate in the spa’s rooftop pool looking out over the spires, rooftops and chimney stacks of this honey-hued, Roman-meets-Regency city and indulge in the health and beauty treatments. As health and fitness go, feeling refreshed and invigorated is just as important as feeling the burn so just lie back and relax. It’s all good for you.