50 Reasons why Britain is Great!
We have been so inspired by Visit Britain’s This is GREAT Britain campaign, that we thought we’d put together our own ideas of what makes Britain great.
There is so much packed into these beautiful little isles, that we created a fun infographic with 20 reasons why Britain is Great then realised it wasn’t quite enough. We needed to make the list bigger! So here are 50 reasons why the proof is definitely in the name and Britain is indeed Great.
A Great Landscape
1) Easy to get around
At a modest 229,848 km², roughly the same size as the US State of Minnesota, Britain’s small land mass means that you can get around to many different places with relative ease. For example you can get from London to Edinburgh in under 5 hours by train.
2) 30 UNESCO world heritage sites
Sunset over Stonehenge30 of the world’s most recognised sites can be found across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, including Giant’s Causeway, Stonehenge, Tower of London and Hadrian’s Wall. You can find the whole list here.
3) 15 National Parks
As part of Great Britain’s varied landscape, there are 15 National Parks including Cairngorms in Scotland, the largest of the 15 parks, the beautiful New Forest in Hampshire, and the famous Lake District in northern England. In addition to these, there are also 46 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) dotted across England and Wales.
4) Stunning Coastlines
The Great British coastline measures 19,491 miles long with a multitude of beauty spots along the way. Another great advantage of Britain’s size is that you are never more than a 2 hour drive away from the nearest beach!
5) Quaint Villages
Great Britain is full of hidden gems, many of which come in the form of quaint villages, some within easy reach of major towns and cities like, Tewkesbury in The beautiful Cotswolds, Polperro in Cornwall and Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire.
6) Picturesque countryside
Drive a little way out of any city in Britain and it won’t take long to find yourself amongst rolling hills, open farmlands, and picture postcard spaces. Rural Britain provides a slower pace to contrast its bustling and lively cities.
7) Seaside Towns
8) Beautiful gardens
As well as the natural countryside, Britain is home to some of the world’s most beautifully manicured gardens, particularly those adjoined to British palaces and stately homes. There are also a wide range of botanic gardens to be explored across the UK, as well as the Eden Project in Cornwall – home to the largest indoor rainforest in the world.
9) Diverse Cities
There’s something for everyone in Britain’s buzzing cities. From London to Glasgow, Manchester to Cardiff, every UK city has a personality of its own. There are 66 official cities throughout the UK, with many additional towns big enough to be considered cities too.
Great History and Heritage
10) A rich and fascinating history
11) The British Royal Family
The British Monarchy dates back to 1603, although before then England and Scotland each had their own monarchs as far back as 757AD. As such a fascinating history remains with Royal Collections, Royal Residences and Royal Attractions around the country today. British Royals have long been an obsession for the world’s media, but even if you don’t get to catch a glimpse of them yourself, you can still enjoy some of the pomp and ceremony that surrounds Royal celebrations.
12) Iconic Landmarks
There are plenty of iconic sights to see first-hand in Britain, including Big Ben – the name most commonly used to refer to the clock tower attached to the Houses of Parliament, although the name actually refers to the bell inside! Other notable sights include Blackpool Tower, the London Eye and Brighton Pier.
13) Eclectic architecture
Ancient and modern architecture stand side by side, thousands of years of history intermingled in every corner of the country. From the ancient Roman baths in Bath, dating back 2000 years, to the Uber modern Shard in London, this varied mix gives the landscape a wonderfully diverse appearance.
14) The world’s oldest department store (maybe!)
There has been much debate around who is the rightful owner of the title of The world’s Oldest Department Store, and many believe it to be Austins in Derry, Northern Ireland which was established in 1830.
15) Beautiful Cathedrals and Churches
Contributing to the UK’s varied architecture, many of Britain’s churches and cathedrals have become must-see sights for any visitor. York Minster, Liverpool Cathedral and Westminster Abbey are among some of the most well-known, the latter the famous location of Royal coronations, weddings and funerals.
16) The London Underground
Responsible for the ease of getting around one of the worlds’ busiest cities, the London Underground was the first underground railway station, opened in 1863. It sees 1.265 billion passengers every year and it’s network is 402km long! The tube stops themselves have become iconic for London. Visitors can learn about its fascinating history at the London Transport Museum.
17) Myths and Legends
With an ancient history comes a torrent of myths and legends, merging reality with fable. Decide for yourself if there really is a monster lurking beneath the waters of Loch Ness; unlock the mystery of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table; and visit Nottingham for tales of Robin Hood.
18) Castles and Palaces
19) Educational Institutes
Producing some of history’s top scientists, literary greats, and inventors, Britain’s educational institutions are both makings of history, and beautiful buildings in themselves. Many have their own libraries, museums and galleries attached, which are open to the public.
Great for Arts, Culture & Sport
20) London’s West End
London’s west end theatres are recognised internationally as harbouring some of the world’s best performers. Spectacular shows, glittering costumes, emotional dramas and uplifting dance can be found in this popular London district.
21) Manchester’s Music Scene
Not a night goes by in Manchester when you can’t find a live music set to suit your tastes. Whatever tunes are harmonious to your ear, whether it be Classical, Indie, Rock, Pop or Bossa Nova, Manchester’s music scene is ready to delight the senses.
22) A good night out
Cities across the UK jostle for the title of ‘Best Night Out’, and a couple of standouts are Newcastle and Liverpool. With thriving nightlife scenes, cosmopolitan vibes and student-friendly venues, these two cities are sure to see you have a good time.
23) Unique Street Art
A global phenomenon, Britain too has its own examples of great, expressive street art. From famous Banksy pieces in Bristol and London to unknown artists in towns and cities across the UK.
24) Famous Filming locations
Great Britain has many times made an appearance on the silver screen, with a range of unique filming locations all over the country. Britain’s grand regency homes are ideal for classics like Pride and Prejudice, which saw Chatsworth House become the home of the dashing Mr Darcy. Its dramatic landscapes have also been recognised with Game of Thrones choosing to shoot much of season 3 in Northern Ireland.
25) Variety of events and festivals
It’s no secret that the Brits love any excuse to celebrate and no matter what time of year you find yourself in the UK, they’ll always be something notable going on. A few of our top picks are Glastonbury, the famous musical festival which sees international acts and muddy campers; The Chelsea Flower Show which brings horticultural excellence to light; Edinburgh Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world, and the Grand National, the world’s most famous steeple chase.
26) Music Legends
Producing some of the world’s finest musicians, Great Britain has born great legends like The Beatles from Liverpool – biggest selling artists of all time with over 260 million record sales. Elton John, Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd also feature as some of the best-selling artists of all time. Today the country continues to produce world class musicians, with live music available to enjoy in every town and city across the UK.
27) Coronation Street
The longest running soap in TV history, Coronation Street began in 1960. Visitors can walk the Cobbled street of Weatherfield and find out more about life on set.
So this could well have been considered along with ‘events and festivals’ but given that over 1 billion people tune in and watch the tennis championships in over 200 territories across the globe, plus the strawberries and cream culture it has produced, we felt Wimbledon is a great reason all on its own!
29) British Football
The British Premier League is one of the most watched in the world and is broadcast in 212 territories. Premier League games have a TV audience of 4.7 billion viewers! British football brought us George Best, Bobby Charlton and David Beckham.
30) Sense of humour
Although vastly diverse, the general British sense of humour is thought to be made up of dry wit, sarcasm and satirical comedy. There are comedy festivals held at various points throughout the year, with open mic and comedy clubs in most British towns and cities.
31) A friendly welcome
There are a number of British cities in particular that are known for their friendly, welcoming locals, with Newcastle and Glasgow being amongst them. Visitors are made to feel right at home with this British hospitality. Even the resident wildlife are friendly!
32) Accents and dialects
It’s not just the Queen’s English that comes from the mouths of Brits, and even if you can understand the accents, some of the words and phrases may take a little more getting used to. Any idea what “Answer the dog and bone at the bottom of the apple and pears” means?!
33) Proper Queuing
If there’s one thing the British are good at, it’s forming an orderly queue. Whether it’s waiting for a bus, in the line for a cheeky kebab in the early hours, or even waiting to speak to friends at a busy get together, the single file format keeps chaos to a minimum.
Great Food & Drink
34) Traditional Pubs
There are 48,000 pubs and bars across Great Britain. Serving everything from real ales to specialist whiskies, award winning pub grub to an assortment of nibbles, Britain’s pubs are famously welcoming and comfortable to while away an afternoon. Don’t forget the many ‘beer gardens’ that are rarely empty during the hotter weather.
The Scottish are known lovers of Whiskey, and as such a number of famous distilleries and brands can be found all over Scotland, and indeed there are many in England, Northern Ireland and Wales too. Distillery tours can often be booked in many venues, with that all important tasting a happy bonus!
36) Real Ales
So called to distinguish against the usual ‘mass’ beer that is brewed by the bigger brewers, Real Ales hold a traditional charm, produced with traditional ingredients and methods. There are currently 1,285 breweries active in the UK, that’s more breweries per head of the population than any other country in the world!
37) Afternoon Tea
Quintessentially English, Afternoon Tea involving delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and cakes, and of course a pot of your favourite tea, all served with pretty china, is on the rise again in Britain. Nowadays considered a British luxury, Afternoon Tea can be enjoyed in many beautiful venues across the UK.
38) Fish and Chips
There’s nothing better than tucking into a bag of fish and chips, fresh from the fryer. Fish and Chips remains a firm family favourite for Friday night meals, with over 250 million fish and chip meals sold each year in the UK!
39) Roast Dinners
Bringing families together all over the UK is the traditional Sunday Roast. Usually comprising of beef, lamb, pork or ham, roast potatoes, veg, Yorkshire Puddings and lashings of gravy, the Sunday Roast or Sunday Carvery is a staple on most weekend menus in pubs and venues throughout the UK.
40) The Great British Fry Up
Depending what country in Britain you are in, this hearty start the day will differ in small ways. But essentially a feast of bacon, sausages, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and black pudding are often thought the best way to start the weekend in Britain!
41) Chicken Tikka Masala
That’s right – it’s one of the UK’s favourite Indian dishes, and yet it allegedly originated in Glasgow! Despite ongoing debates as to its origin, this delicious dish can be found almost everywhere in Britain. So dig in!
The world’s greatest playwright is celebrated throughout Britain, particularly in Stratford Upon Avon, his birthplace, and London, the city in which he lived and worked. Top attractions for Shakespeare fans include the Globe Theatre in London, and his house in Stratford. The Royal Shakespeare Company today hold critically acclaimed performances throughout the year at many venues including the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon.
43) William Wordsworth
Another of Britain’s great poets, Wordsworth was famously inspired by the beauty and drama of the Lake District. A number of Wordsworth’s homes are today open for visitors including Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage in Grasmere.
44) Bram Stoker’s Dracula
The popular Gothic novel was famously inspired by the drama and moodiness of Whitby, in North Yorkshire, and the seaside town even makes an appearance in a large section of the story. A number of related attractions are available to experience in Whitby, including the Dracula Experience Tours.
45) JK Rowling & Harry Potter
Fans of the young wizard that took the world by storm can relive the magic with many Harry Potter attractions to explore, particularly in London. The Warner Bros Studio Tour will take you behind the scenes of the Harry Potter films, while many other filming locations across the UK can be explored like the Bodleian Library in Oxford and Alnwick Castle in Northumberland.
46) Ian Flemming & James Bond
The ultimate English cool guy, thought up by British Author Ian Flemming, is perhaps one of Britain’s famous literary icons. Bond fans can be wowed at Bond in Motion – a collection of the fictional spy’s classic cars at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden. James Bond bus tours are also available across London.
Great Little Details
47) Red Phone Boxes
A traditional British icon, there are still approximately 14,000 red telephone boxes remaining on the streets of Britain. Although many are out of use, some have even been repurposed into honesty libraries or ATMs. 2, 500 examples have even been granted ‘grade II listings’!
48) Funny Place Names
Ok so maybe not intentionally, and perhaps not it’s favourite claim to fame but Britain boasts some of the most amusing place names. For example, Fannyfield, Ramsbottom and Cockermouth have all been known to raise a smirk or two. Or how about Britain’s longest place name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in North Wales.
49) The Weather
It might not be considered the best or even the most reliable climate in the world, but something about the weather has the Brits obsessed. Surveys have shown that 6 in 10 Britons talk about the weather as a social prop. The best thing about British weather? A hot sunny day definitely doesn’t go unnoticed, so if you’re lucky enough to experience one, enjoy it!
50) Black Cabs (and their drivers)
Another of the UK’s most iconic sights is the Black Cab, most commonly found in London. There are approximately 21,000 Black Cabs in London alone. Perhaps more impressive is the taxi drivers’ advance knowledge. Drivers study for 2-4 years to learn 320 London routes, including 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks!