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Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle © raindog

It may seem hard to believe that this cold and wet island once held dominion over three quarters of the globe. While the pomp and circumstance of previous centuries may have dwindled and the monarchy takes an almost daily battering in the local press, the beauty and cultural wealth of the United Kingdom impresses any visitor. But the UK is still a hugely influential world leader and tops many a travel bucket list.

The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as some smaller islands. The geography sweeps from mountainous highlands and lush rolling countryside to vibrant cities and pebbled beaches. It's jam-packed with two millennia of heritage, so despite its seemingly small size, holidays in the UK of any length of time feel too short.

London is the UK's biggest city, a fantastic and frenetic metropolis teeming with people from all walks of life. Here the old contrasts with the new, offering some of the world's most famous sights and an unrivalled nightlife. Medieval cathedral cities like York and Durham reveal the rich history of a bygone age, while the historically-industrial cities of Liverpool and Newcastle aren't without their charms and allure. For those with more refined tastes, the Edinburgh International Arts Festival in Scotland draws talent from around the world to its ancient and picturesque streets.