Undiscovered Britain.
The Best Places to Visit

Journeys | 22.04.2020
The UK is one of the most visited countries in the world. Every year, as many as 39 million people come to see England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It's easy to see why, as there is such a broad diversity of landscapes, places, and experiences on offer across a country that is relatively small. You might have an ambition to go to the UK, but the current circumstances don't allow for international travel. With the spare time you have, now is a good time to plan your travels for when restrictions are lifted, and the UK might be one of the places you'd love to visit.
People come from around the world to see the likes of Big Ben, the White Cliffs of Dover, Windsor Castle, the Isle of Skye and the Giant's Causeway. While it's great to see some of these bucket list locations, more discerning travellers might feel that going to places that are busy with other tourists can take away from the overall experience. If you want an insight into undiscovered Britain, here are some of the best places to beat the crowds.
Isle of Islay
Scotland was voted by the readers of Rough Guides as being the most beautiful country in the world a few years ago and continues to make the top 5 in many polls online. It's easy to see why as the sweeping glens and mist-topped Munros are as breath-taking as they are accessible. Scotland has risen in popularity over the last decade as people flock to the see visit Edinburgh's Old Town, Glencoe and the aforementioned Isle of Skye.
To the West of Scotland lies a number of beautiful islands that are often missed by international travellers in favour of more popular places. One such island is Islay (pronounced "eye-lah"). Fans of Scotch whisky will know Islay as the island is home to no less than 9 distilleries, producing the famous peaty single malts that are shipped globally. It is the place to go if you fancy a dram of the so-called Water of Life, and tours are available in all the distilleries, each with it's own distinct character and personality.

Beyond whisky, the island is a great way to experience Scottish island life. There are just over 3,000 permanent inhabitants of the island, but it boasts stunning Atlantic coastal scenery. On the rare occasion of a warm Scottish summer's day, the pristine beaches like Kilnaughton Bay and the Strand could easily pass for somewhere more tropical, until you jump in the sea!
The Midlands
If you were to talk to an international tourist arriving in the UK about where their top UK destinations are, and the majority of people will definitely have London somewhere in their list. In terms of UK cities, it's the biggest and has the most to offer. However, with 8.9 million residents and some 20 million annual visitors, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the while city is a bit of a tourist trap.

One such place that escapes the swarms of tourists throughout the year is Birmingham and the Midlands. Being a traditionally industrial city, the UK's second most populous city has often been unfairly overlooked, even as it has become more cosmopolitan through regeneration over the last decade. Look no further than the likes of the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery or the city's stunning botanical gardens to see that there is as much to see and do here as there is in London.
The surrounding area of the Midlands is also disregarded by many Brits, themselves. If you want to experience the culture and history of this part of the country, be sure to pay a visit to the Black Country Living Museum to see how the area was defined in the British Victorian era. Further afield, near the pretty town of Sutton Coldfield, is the home of the world-famous Brabazon golf course that has hosted the Ryder Cup no less that four times.
You could make the argument that Northern Ireland is a forgotten part of the UK. Visitors to Britain rarely cross the Irish sea to see a part of the country that now, thanks to the Good Friday Agreement, is a cultural crossroads between Britain and neighbouring Ireland. The ferry journey from somewhere like Liverpool, Lancaster, or Stranraer can take anywhere between 2 and 8 hours, depending on where you leave from, but there are also plenty of flights to the international airport outside Belfast too.
Belfast has become increasingly popular in recent years, as people look beyond Dublin as the only city to visit on the island of Ireland. Being a port city, Belfast has a rich and diverse past which is celebrated in some fantastic museums and galleries. The city holds a good amount of pride for the ill-fated Titanic ocean liner that was built here in the early 20thcentury. The architecturally stunning Titanic Belfast Museum opened in 2012 and is the best place to get the full history of the famous maritime disaster.

Belfast isn't particularly big city, but it has plenty of character and great nightlife. If you want to have a night on the town, make sure you head to the Cathedral Quarter in the cobbled historic city centre. There are pubs, bars and clubs on every corner and the whole district has a real buzz on a Saturday night. It's a great place to cut loose and enjoy the famous Northern Irish hospitality. If you have the free time now to plan, looking into spending a night in a place like Belfast and Northern Ireland will pay dividends when you are eventually able to make the trip.
The UK is distinct from a lot of other places as there are so many sub-identities that people hold along with being British. It's easy to see why, as the UK itself is made up from four separate countries, each with an individual history. Cultural identities can be split even further with the North of England being distinct from the South of England, Glaswegians being different from Edinburghers, etc. One part of England that has a proud identity is the county of Cornwall.

This county makes up the South Western tip of England that stretches out into the Atlantic and is home to a range of pretty coastal towns and villages like Newquay, St Ives, and Penzance. There are glorious beaches down here, and visitors might be surprised to learn that there is a popular surfing scene, especially in the town of Newquay.
The Cornish identity is a strong one and can be traced back hundreds of years thanks to the sea-faring history of the region. Internationally, this part of the UK has had a spotlight shone on it thanks to the popular BBC TV series Poldark, which was filmed in the small town of Charlestown. Port Isaac might also be familiar to viewers of Doc Martin as the town doubles for the fictional village of Portwenn in the ITV drama.
Norfolk is a county in the East of England that's made up from a stretch of coastline and countryside between Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, and Suffolk. When tourists go in search of quintessential English countryside, they typically flock to places like Windsor and the Cotswolds. The beauty of Norfolk, however, is undeniable and fewer people come here on holiday making it a quieter place to visit.

The area is rich in history and boasts four towns of a reasonable size including Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Thetford, and King's Lynn. Norwich, for example, has ties back to Roman Britain and it's history is connected to various periods including the Norman Conquests, the Middle Ages, and the English Civil War. Being an area that has been home to Brits for many centuries, there is always something new to discover here.
Another area that sets this county apart from a lot of the rest of England is the Norfolk Broads. The Broads is a National Park area that is made up of 125 miles of navigable waterways, canals and rivers. If you want an altogether different holiday experience, you can try renting a canal barge and navigate these old waterways yourself. It's definitely something that has to be seen to be believed, and it gives you a great way to properly appreciate this rural part of England.
If you're thinking about coming to visit the UK, have a think about some of the overlooked places to ensure you have a wonderfully unique experience in this exciting and diverse country! As we mentioned at the top of this piece, now is the time where we can dedicate ourselves to planning an unforgettable trip. Undertake some research into the lesser-known UK to have see Britain in your own way!
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