The South East is known as the Garden of England, and it is also recognisable for its gentle rolling countryside.
You’ll find two national parks; the New Forest and the South Downs and rich cultural attractions, from Windsor Castle in Berkshire to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. And, of course, London and its multitude of attractions is close at hand.
Marvel at the city’s many iconic buildings and palaces, immerse yourself in culture at one of the 170 museums and relax amid the natural beauty of the Royal Parks. Among the attractions are, of course, iconic London landmarks like Big Ben, London Bridge, Westminster Abbey and the Hungerford Bridge.
Many famous films have used the city as a backdrop, so you could follow in the footsteps of James Bond or Harry Potter and then tuck into some innovative fare from across the globe.
Just over an hour away on the north Kent coast is Whitstable, which is famous for its sensational oysters. In fact, it’s a great place for seafood in general and you can also explore its network of alleys, stroll down to the harbour and enjoy its pebble beaches.
The incredible Canterbury Cathedral, which houses the famous shrine of medieval archbishop Thomas Becket, is just a few miles away.
St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church are also spectacular historical sites, and together with the cathedral form a UNESCO heritage site. Along the coast in Sussex is Brighton, which is bursting with attractions including an outlandish Royal Palace, interesting museums, a beautiful beach, Brighton University, superb shopping and late-night pubs and clubs.
Stretching out into the sea is the iconic, neon-lit Brighton Pier. Expect amusements, rides and invigorating ocean views.
In the heart of the city, you’ll find an extravagant pleasure palace fit for a king. Brighton Pavilion was built for King George IV, who had architect John Nash reimagine it into the domed Indian style palace you can see today. Brighton’s colourful network of shopping streets known as The Lanes are awash with vintage gear, antiques and quaint cafes.
Brighton is also a great base for exploring the South Downs National Park, which is home to the dramatic Seven Sisters cliffs and some of southern England’s most charming villages. Once England’s capital, Winchester is a stunning medieval city, well known for its connections to King Arthur.
One of the smallest cities in the country, Winchester is a delight to explore on foot.
Look out for the fascinating Gurkha Museum, which tells the moving stories of the Gurkha soldiers who have served on behalf of the British monarch for 200 years. As it is situated at the western end of the South Downs National Park – familiar
for its iconic chalk cliffs – it also acts as a gateway for adventure holidays. And don’t forget a trip to Windsor with all its history and superb park.
Naval heritage to the fore
Portsmouth’s naval heritage and maritime links make it a fabulous destination for days out.
At the heart of the city is Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which is home to Lord Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory and Queen Victoria’s battleship, HMS Warrior 1860.
Other attractions in the city include the Mary Rose Museum, home to King Henry VIII’s illfated flagship, and the NationalMuseum of the Royal Navy.
For spectacular views of the city, you can ascend the 560ft high Emirates Spinnaker Tower. Four miles away, in the English Channel, is the Isle of Wight.
Queen Victoria was so taken with the island that she built a holiday home here, Osborne House. Easily accessible by ferry from Southampton and Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight rewards the adventurous with a unique slice of England – more than half of its landscape is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There’s a slower pace of life here and exploring the country lanes, sandy beaches and tearooms at leisure is a real treat.
Life is equally leisurely in Southwold, where colourful beach huts sit ever prettily on its glorious sandy beaches.
It’s also got great pubs and restaurants and even a brewery. This tranquil town in Suffolk is perfect if you like a calmer pace of life.
Take time to ensure that you are in the know before you go
Summer is here and our colourful countryside, breathtaking beaches and glorious gardens beckon.
Many attractions are reopening, but have restricted visitor numbers and prebooked time slots, so the UK Government recommends looking at the official websites for attractions and organisations you plan to visit before you travel, so that you’re in the know before you go.
To make your days out as enjoyable as possible, we encourage you to plan your trip in advance and to check all of the important facilities and attractions, while looking after our great outdoors.
To ensure we’re all doing our bit to travel responsibly, here are a few simple steps to help make planning easy.
When planning your trip, check that important facilities – like toilets and car parks – are open before you travel so you’re not caught short. If you have an attraction in mind, please check online to see if you need to pre-book a time slot.
Some places may be extremely popular, so get off the beaten track and discover a hidden gem that you can brag to friends about. Keep two metres apart from anyone outside your household where you can. This applies to walking, running, cycling, sitting and sunbathing too. Wear a face covering at all times when on public transport like buses, trains, taxis and minicabs.
Make sure you have a bank card because many outlets are currently only accepting cashless payments and you don’t want to miss out on that ice cream.
And take hand sanitiser with you – you don’t know where will be open for you to wash your hands.
Leave the car behind where possible and visit attractions by walking or cycling. Please remember that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different guidelines, advice and timescales for re-opening tourism.
To help you enjoy summer safely, please check the respective official sources for information prior to travelling by using the website visitbritain.com/know-beforeyou-go
The mark that shows visitors we are good to go in England
With many attractions now beginning to reopen their doors, VisitEngland has come up with a way for people to check whether they are “good to go”.
VisitEngland has launched the We’re Good To Go initiative in partnership with the national tourist organisations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The UK-wide industry standard and consumer mark will provide a “ring of confidence” for visitors as the tourism sector works towards reopening.
The We’re Good To Go mark means businesses can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment and checked that they have the required processes in place, ensuring they can welcome visitors back with confidence.
The scheme is free to join and open to all businesses across the industry. Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said: “I want to encourage the public to experience a great holiday this summer and be confident that they can do so safely.
“This new industry standard will show people that tourism businesses, destinations and attractions are adhering to the guidance. It puts safety first and is an important move in getting this industry back up and running.”
VisitEngland director Patricia Yates said: “With millions of jobs and local economies across the country reliant on tourism it is essential that businesses can get up and running as soon as the respective Government advice allows to capture the peak British summer season.
“We want visitors to be able to enjoy their holidays and to support businesses to be confident they have the correct procedures in place. Our priority is to make sure tourism rebounds to once again become one of the most successful sectors
of the UK economy and this ring of confidence is a crucial step on the industry’s road to rebuilding.”
To obtain the mark businesses must complete a self-assessment through the online platform goodtogo. visitbritain.com including a check-list confirming they have put the necessary processes in place, before receiving certification and the We’re Good To Go mark for display in their premises and online.
Businesses across the UK are assessed according to their respective national guidance including the social distancing and cleanliness protocols that must be in place.
The industry standard complements the Know Before You Go initiative.
For more information on staying safe, please go to visitbritain.com/gb/en/knowbefore-you-go