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United Kingdom

United Kingdom

To discover the real London you have to get away from the tourist traps; forget Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and shops selling bobby's helmets and union jack underpants.

The much feted East End still manages to retain its post-war character, especially at the uproarious Brick Lane market where salt beef bagels, leather jackets and furniture are noisily bartered for.

Lunch at one of the world food stalls in Spitalfields craft fair can be digested in the nearby Whitechapel gallery, and if you make it through to the evening, the market debris is packed up just as the Brick Lane curry houses and trendy bars spark to life.

Getting into the wild in the UK can involve a lengthy journey if you're looking for remoteness and solitude. Short of heading for Dartmoor in Devon or the fabulously beautiful and undersold Scottish West Highlands, Northumberland can offer broad rolling horizons, acres of purple heather and a jagged coastline studded with formidable medieval castles.

Coastal walks are spectacular, particularly in the southwest and northeast, and you'll find information centres and cosy wave-lashed pubs serving seafood fresh off the boats in fishing villages along the way.

If straying off the path fills you with fear, Leeds is probably as near as you'll want to get to the Yorkshire Moors. With Harvey Nichols catering to the style-conscious and the Henry Moore Institute catering to the culture-conscious, Leeds is building on its reputation as a classy destination for a weekend break.

Unmissables

  • Go to Glastonbury - everyone has to at least once
  • Try your hand at punting down the Avon
  • Watch the salmon leap up river in the Highlands