Don't become a library prisoner. Get out and explore the fascinating diversity of the UK, a country rich in culture, history and beauty. By Wendy Berliner

If you are coming here to study, don't tuck yourself away on your campus doing nothing but work and a little local socialising. Make the most of your time here by getting out and about and visiting other parts of the UK. You won't regret it.

If you are coming here to study, don't tuck yourself away on your campus doing nothing but work and a little local socialising. Make the most of your time here by getting out and about and visiting other parts of the UK. You won't regret it.

For such a small country, the UK offers some incredibly diverse tourist destinations: from towns and buildings which are historic jewels, to the most ultra-modern cities with world-class shopping.

The countryside is similarly diverse, ranging from the gently pastoral via rugged moorlands through to wild mountain scenery. The country is studded by lakes and intersected by rivers and has miles of glorious unspoilt coastlines.

Better still, it is easy to get around. Motorways access all the major regions of Britain and good quality roads transport you out to the most remote spots. And if you aren't in the driving seat yourself, your student status will buy you discount tickets on the extensive rail and coach network. If you prefer to go on guided tours, the international society of your university or college will almost certainly lay these on.

One of the things that makes the UK so special is that it is four countries in one: England, Wales, Scotland and the province of Northern Ireland, each with their own unique personality, history and landscape - and in the case of Wales, its own fairly widely spoken language.


England is the largest by land mass, the most populous and, of course, home to the national parliament. London is one of the world's greatest capitals. People have been living there for more than 1,000 years and tourists have been coming for hundreds.

But London is not just about the grand sights like the Tower of London or shops like Harrods. It grew by subsuming villages as the population expanded, so the individual parts of it have unique and often contrasting characters.

England's provincial cities have so much to offer too and are all close to wonderful scenery and historic towns and villages. There are beautiful Regency Spa towns like Bath, ancient university towns like Oxford and Cambridge and there are famous stately homes to visit like Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Then there are World Heritage Sites such as Stonehenge in the south of Britain, a 5,000-year-old monument of standing stones.


Scotland is the second largest country and stunning in its own right. Its capital, Edinburgh, is dominated by a castle rising high above Princes Street, the main shopping area. Castles are everywhere, some lived in, some rentable for a holiday, some luxury hotels. Golf courses abound. The highest mountains in the UK are to be found here and possibly Nessie, the prehistoric occupant of Loch Ness, a fabled monster that is supposed to resemble a gigantic eel.

Off the North-east coast are the Orkney islands and, even further north, Shetland, home of ponies so small you could almost keep them in the house.


Wales is much smaller but has glorious coastal and mountain scenery. The Gower Peninsula, a 15 mile stretch of coast in South-west Wales, was the first part of the UK to be designated as an outstanding area of natural beauty. The Snowdonia National Park and the Brecon Beacons offer climbing and walking, or you can go up Mount Snowdon on a little mountain railway if you are feeling unenergetic! Cardiff is the capital, and fast getting the reputation for being one of Europe's cool capitals. The Millennium Stadium offers world-class sporting facilities and the Millennium Centre opens this summer with a spectacular new concert hall.

N. Ireland

Northern Ireland's capital is Belfast, which is a lively and cosmopolitan city, but most of the country is rural. If you are looking for a lovely drive, take the magnificent Antrim Coast road or, if you want a brilliant view, climb the Mountains of Mourne. If you want another World Heritage site, try the Giant's Causeway, where lava has solidified to form a weird pathway into the sea.

Whichever country you are in, there is a fantastic range of top quality cultural events to watch and all manner of sport to enjoy both as an observer and a participant.

And, if you weren't satisfied with all of that, you have mainland Europe on the doorstep, although check to make sure your visa allows you to take trips outside the UK. So don't just stay put. Even if you are on a very limited budget, you can take a coach trip or two and just go for a walk - the views are free!