United Kingdom - Tourism, travel, and recreation

The United Kingdom is a popular tourist destination, rich in natural as well as cultural attractions. Landscapes range from farmlands and gardens to sandy beaches, moors, and rocky coasts. Architectural sights include stone and thatched cottages, stately country houses, mansions, and castles. Among the many historic dwellings open to the public are the Welsh castles Cilgerran (11th century), Dolbadarn (12th century), and Conway and Caernarvon (both 13th century); 10-century-old Traquair House near Peebles, the oldest continuously inhabited house in Scotland, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh; and Warwick Castle, near Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Distinguished cathedrals include St. Paul's in London and those in Canterbury, Exeter, Norwich, Winchester, and York. At Bushmills, in Northern Ireland, the oldest distillery in the world may be visited, and some of Scotland's 100 malt whiskey distilleries also offer tours.

Among London's extraordinary attractions are Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey. Of the wide range of entertainment available, London is particularly noted for its theater, including the Royal Shakespeare Company. Folk music may be heard throughout the United Kingdom; traditional community gatherings for music and dancing, called ceilidhs, are held in Scotland, often in pubs, and Edinburgh is the site of one of the world's largest folk festivals, as well as an annual festival of classical music and other performing arts.

Scotland, where golf developed in the 15th century, has many superb golf courses, as does the rest of the United Kingdom; some 70 Highland Games and Gatherings take place in Scotland from May to September. Other popular sports include fishing, riding, sailing, rugby, cricket, and soccer football. Wimbledon is the site of perhaps the world's most prestigious tennis competition. London hosted the summer Olympics in 1908 and 1948. England hosted and won the World Cup soccer championship in 1966.

In principle, foreigners entering the United Kingdom must have a valid passport and a visa issued by British consular authorities abroad. However, citizens of Ireland do not need a passport, and citizens of OECD, Commonwealth, and Latin American countries, among others, need no visa. Tourism yields a substantial income from overseas; in 2000, 25,211,000 foreign visitors spent $19.5 billion in the United Kingdom. There are more than one million beds available in hotel and other accommodations.

According to 2002 US government estimates, the cost of staying in London was $336 per day.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: