Nicknamed the "Gateway to England," Dover has always been the first stopping point for generations of immigrants and invaders coming from continental Europe to the U.K. Today, it remains a bustling port city with a great deal of natural beauty and fascinating historical attractions. The city's most visible icons are the chalky "White Cliffs," which line five miles of the coastline. You can explore the cliffs' majesty by boat, or you can view their preserved flora and fauna while hiking one of many established trails. Besides their outward beauty, the cliffs have historical significance as well. Because of Dover's strategic placement on the narrowest part of the English Channel, the city was an integral player in World War II. One can still explore the network of Secret War Time Tunnels deep in the cliffs, which were used as an underground hospital and a military enclave during the war. For even more history and beauty, visit Dover Castle, which served as a fortress against invaders since Roman times and showcases the largest keep, called the Great Tower, in Britain.
In the 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer made Canterbury famous worldwide with his book of short stories, The Canterbury Tales. Canterbury Cathedral, which was the centerpiece of Chaucer's work, has been a center for pilgrimage for a thousand years, and still stands in all its glory today, alongside two other World Heritage Sites in the city, St. Augustine's Abbey and St. Martins Church. In addition, the city of Canterbury has two castles and six museums, including the Museum of Canterbury. The city is also the spiritual base of the Church of England and is home to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Though Canterbury is brimming with history, it also gives off a cosmopolitan feel. The city center, which is closed to traffic during the day, juxtaposes historic buildings with an eclectic mix of contemporary eateries and shops, making it both a historical and cultural mecca for all tastes.
One cannot think of Stratford-upon-Avon without simultaneously thinking of William Shakespeare. Home to the birthplace and burial site of the famous playwright, the compact market town in the heart of England is full of cultural sites and attractions relating to Shakespeare's life. Visit one or all five of Shakespeare's houses, pay tribute to his grave at Holy Trinity Church, and if you have time, watch a Shakespeare original play at one of the Royal Shakespeare Theatres. Even if you are not a fan of William, Stratford-upon-Avon has plenty more to offer. The River Avon, which runs through the town and hosts a variety of events and activities throughout the year, can be easily explored by foot or by boat. Rent a rowboat or motorboat, take a cruise, or just walk along the river's edge to observe its wildlife and stunning scenery. There are also several guided walks around the area, including the daily Stratford Town Walk, which requires no reservations, and the Stratford Town Ghost Walk, which tells tales of ghosts, witches, and murder in the old, Elizabethan settlement.