Which Way UK: Four corners to explore

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The Independent Online

If you are fortunate enough to be studying in the United Kingdom, find time to take advantage of some of the wonderful scenery, bustling modern cities and gorgeous historical towns, dotted around the country. If you're the outdoor type, discover the UK's extraordinary range of scenery, from rolling plains and woodlands to wonderful coastlines. But if cities are more your thing then London, the capital of England, is one of the world's greatest, as is Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Whether you visit these gems, or try Cardiff or Belfast, you will discover some of the best architecture you can find. Not only history, but the arts can be found all over the country thriving in hundreds of theatres, concerts halls, museums and galleries. It would be a tragedy not to lift your head out of those books and hit the road.

England

London is a huge city and is home to some of the world's greatest tourist attractions including the Tower of London (scene of royal executions), the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, St Paul's (a magnificent domed church where Prince Charles married Princess Diana) and the London Eye, a vast ferris wheel beside the wide River Thames, which gives you one of the best views of the city. There are also popular venues such as Madame Tussauds, a waxwork museum, and the London Dungeon, which gives you a horrifying view of history.

You can shop till you drop in areas like Oxford Street, or just drool over some of the beautiful things in the designer boutiques of Covent Garden, or go to Knightsbridge to see how the rich spend their money in stores like Harrods and Harvey Nichols.

There are magnificent concert venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall for classical music, as well as more intimate venues for rock music. The West End theatre district needs no introduction and the city teems with superb places to eat; some cheap, some not! There are vast museums for science and natural history and the wonderful V&A Museum which is for the decorative arts.

Take the Docklands Light Railway, a driverless train, out to Docklands and see Canary Wharf, a rapidly growing financial and shopping district which looks increasingly like New York's Manhattan (but on a much smaller scale). Stay on the train a little further and go to Greenwich, from where world time is measured.

There are other great modern cities with long histories such as Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Liverpool, which in 2008 will be European City of Culture. Outside the cities there are cathedral towns, market towns and picturesque villages with thatched cottages and greens where cricket is played in the summer.

Popular tourist destinations include the university towns of Oxford and Cambridge because of their ancient colleges, cobbled streets and snaking rivers on which you can go out for a punt. Stratford-Upon-Avon is the much visited birthplace of William Shakespeare and of course, the 5,000-year-old Stonehenge is a must-see on every traveller's itinerary.

You can visit stately homes, historic houses or witness the English passion for cultivated gardens. Other national passions you might discover are football, cricket and rugby - enjoyed on grounds throughout the country!

Scotland

Here you will find grand cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh (the latter home to a famous festival of culture in the summer) and imposing castles dotted about the country. The scenery is stunning with mountains, heather-clad hill sides and beautiful lakes. The most famous lake is Loch Ness, home to a fabled sea monster.

Scotland is a great place for getting away from it all or for having an adventure sports holiday. You can ski in the winter too. Parts of the countryside and coastline are majestically rugged, salmon swim in crystal clear rivers, and small ferries take you to remote islands. This is also the place to visit a whiskey distillery to find out how the smooth Scottish drink is made and, of course, to sample some yourself.

Wales

You'll find lots of glorious mountain and valley scenery here and some of the most beautiful coastline in the UK. In fact, Wales boasts the first area in the nation to be designated an area of outstanding natural beauty - a 15-mile stretch of the Gower Peninsula in South Wales.

Head further west or north and you'll likely encounter people who speak Welsh, a completely different language to English (but they'll speak that too). There are lots of castles and lots of history here, too, but also modern cities like the capital Cardiff, known as one of the coolest cities in UK.

N.Ireland

This is a UK province and takes up the top right hand corner of the island of Ireland - the rest of the island is the Republic of Ireland, a separate European country. Belfast is the increasingly smart and modern capital but most of the province is rural with lovely hills and lakes and fine sea coasts. The Antrim Coast has one of the world's most scenic roads and is also home to one of the country's biggest attractions, the Giant's Causeway - 38,000 basalt columns which go out to sea - another world heritage site.

Welcome to the UK! And don't forget your camera!

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