From Shakespeare’s England to studio tours of Harry Potter, Britain is a destination teeming with cultural attractions. Here are five things not to miss in Britain:
1. The View from The Shard: The tallest building in Western Europe, this new attraction in London is almost twice as tall as any other viewing platform in the city. At 800 ft. tall, guests can take in 360-degree views for up to 40 miles. Head up to Level 72 for the highest view open to the public, where you’ll experience a sight typically seen from an airplane.
2. Shakespeare’s England: In this region, travelers can experience three attractions centered on the great William Shakespeare. In Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company features performances of the writer’s work, as well as a viewing tower, rooftop restaurant and theater tours showcasing public and private areas of the theater. Travelers can also visit the five Houses and Gardens in Stratford-upon-Avon and experience the “Hidden Treasures” library; the family home of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife; and Mary Arden’s House, the childhood home of the writer’s mother. Meanwhile in Warwick, the Warwick Castle showcases 1,000 years of British history, offering private tours, a feast at the castle, and an attraction in the Castle Dungeon.
3. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London—The Making of Harry Potter: Harry Potter fans can experience the magic first-hand at this attraction in London. The walking tour goes behind the scenes of the original Great Hall, built for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, as well as Dumbledore’s office, Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, 4 Pivet Drive, the Weasley kitchen and the Gryffindor common room, showcasing the sets, costumes, animatronics, special effects and props used in all eight of the films. From now through Jan. 6, 2014, the tour will transform for winter with holiday decorations; a set covered in “snow”; and costumes like the sweaters Ron and Harry received for Christmas from Molly Weasley.
4. World of Beatrix Potter: Only three hours from London, the World of Beatrix Potter in the Lake District is park of An English Collection and brings the storybook characters to life. The attraction features 3D scenes from the stories; the Peter Rabbit Garden, designed to look like the one from the books; a virtual walk through the Cumbrian countryside showcasing the places that inspired the books; and the Beatrix Potter Tea Room cafe.
5. Blenheim Palace: A UNESCO World Heritage site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire offers a glimpse into the lives of the people who lived there over the past 300 years. The palace was home to the 11th duke and duchess of Marlborough and is surrounded by 2,000 acres of parkland and gardens. Guests can opt to tour the palace, park and gardens or simply visit the park and gardens. Inside the castle, guests can explore the state rooms; the Churchill exhibition, which focuses on the life of Sir Winston Churchill; and the exhibit Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story, showcasing the events concerning the family and servants living in the palace over the last 300 years. The palace closes Dec. 13 and will reopen Feb. 15, 2014.
For more on Britain, visit visitbritain.com.