Great Britain. Travel tips for seniors.
With over 36.115 million visitors in 2015 alone, Great Britain is the world’s 8th biggest tourist destination, offering a range of experiences to entice travellers of all kinds, whatever their interests and budget. With its richly complex history and unique culture, Great Britain still offers the possibility of countless unforgettable adventures for senior travellers. Choosing Odyssey for your British tour is the perfect way to experience this magical and awe-inspiring nation. With over 35-years worth of experience in leading tours to Great Britain, our tours offer a range of unique cultural experiences for mature travellers.
Odyssey offers a wide range of British tours
Odyssey is proud to offer numerous small group tour packages to Great Britain. Departures are frequent and have been designed with the mature traveller in mind. Intended for couples or singles with particular cultural or historical interests, Odyssey tours are centered around memorable experiences and locations rich with history and culture. On Odyssey’s small group tour of Prehistoric Britain, for instance, we learn more about the rich set of prehistoric artefacts that testify to roughly half-a-million years of human occupation. Meanwhile, our escorted tour of Scottish History through the Jacobites explores a more recent aspect of British history, exploring numerous remarkable villages and small towns, as well as local food and wine delicacies. Our Edinburgh Fringe Festival program takes travellers to the world’s largest arts festival, where we experience an unforgettable week’s worth of theatre, cabaret, children’s shows, experimental performance art, circus, comedy, and dance. Our Villages of England Small Group Tour explores the many facets of country life in England through different eras and across a variety of beautiful landscapes.
Our many other British tours include an Anglo-French small group tour, exploring the intersection of French and English culture, as well as a tour centred on the wonders of the Chelsea Flower Show and British Gardens more broadly. Odyssey also offers a Walking through Wales small group tour, which takes in centuries of Wales’s rich history while traversing the country by foot. Our Ireland and Lake District Walking Tour is also centered on numerous pleasant country strolls, as a way of exploring two picturesque parts of Ireland and England.
This blog post details some of the many attractions Great Britain has to offer, while also providing information about its rich history and cultural traditions.
Great Britain is a Nation of Nations
Great Britain is made up of four constituent nations: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It occupies all of the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern portion of the island of Ireland, and the majority of the remaining British Isles. The Republic of Ireland is a completely separate country to the United Kingdom, having seceded from the Union and gained its independence in 1922.
Curiously, the Great in Great Britain (Britannia Major in Roman times; Grande-Bretagne in French) distinguishes it from the other, smaller Britain of Brittany (Britannia Minor; Bretagne) in north-western France. The contemporary United Kingdom is a diverse patchwork of native and immigrant cultures, which remain hugely influential in the wider world. Although Britannia no longer rules the waves as in days of yore, Britain remains an extremely popular destination for many travellers, and still offers many unforgettable experiences for tourists from all walks of life.
What’s in a Name?
Great Britain (GB) refers just to the largest island: Scotland, England, and Wales together. In 1801, Great Britain became part of the United Kingdom, when the Irish and British parliaments merged to form the “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.” This name was changed to “… and Northern Ireland” when all but the six Northern Irish counties seceded from the Union in 1922, after a treaty granting Irish home rule.
“Britain” is simply another name for the United Kingdom, and includes Northern Ireland. The flag of the United Kingdom is popularly known as the Union Jack or Union Flag. It comprises the flags of St. George of England, St. Andrew of Scotland and the St. Patrick’s Cross of Ireland superimposed on each other. Within England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, the flags of each individual nation are commonly used.
Great Britain’s Ancient Past
Human settlement by anatomically modern humans began in Great Britain around 30,000 years ago. By the end of the region’s prehistoric period, the population is thought to have belonged predominately to a culture termed Insular Celtic, which comprised Brythonic Britain and Gaelic Ireland. The Roman conquest, beginning in 43 AD, and the subsequent 400-year rule of southern Britain, was followed by an invasion by Germanic Anglo-Saxon settlers, which reduced the Brythonic area mainly to what would later become Wales. Most of the region settled by the Anglo-Saxons became unified as the Kingdom of England in the 10th century.
Early inhabitants all left their mark on the landscape. Across the entirety of recorded history, their culture has been literally inscribed and etched into — and on top of — the land, which tourists can now explore and engage with in a variety of ways. These inscriptions began with Britain’s prehistoric ancestors, who left their mark in stone circles and mounds at such places such as Stonehenge and Avebury. Seemingly, these sites started as places of religious observance, but today they offer us rich insights into the past.
In the wake of early prehistoric peoples came the Romans, who left roads and other infastructure, formed relationships with many of the original inhabitants, and left countless well-built structures, such as villas at Fishbourne, the Roman Baths at Bath, Hadrian’s wall in the north of England, among numerous other Roman walls and buildings scattered across the country, including in London, Lincoln, York, and Cirencester. These cities were the four capitals of the major British Provinces in the late-Roman period, and contain many traces of this Roman past.
After the Romans left, Britain joined the rest of Western Europe in inhabiting the Dark Ages. Yet even during this period, when much of the learning, civilization, and culture of the Roman period had been forgotten, the people of Great Britain continued to make their mark on the nation’s landscape, with elaborate burial mounds such as the ones at Sutton Hoo. Visitors to the UK can now explore the treasures from these ancient sacred sites in the British Museum. Many Odyssey tours explore the rich historical legacy of life from these ancient periods, and take travellers behind the scenes to explore history at its most vivid.
Discover Local Delicacies in Great Britain
In spite of jokes and stereotypes, British food is actually very good, and has grown significantly in international standing over recent decades. Many British cities now feature restaurants of the highest quality, making use of local ingredients to create modern versions of signature British dishes. Indeed, the British are extremely proud of their native cuisine, much of which have been perfected over centuries.
Inspired by celebrity chefs and a sharp rise in the popularity of reality cooking programs, high-quality food can now be found throughout the country. Today, Britain has some of the finest chefs, running award-winning restaurants and producing innovative new menus. There are now countless places at which to find a delicious meal in Britain, ranging from 3 Michelin star restaurants to good old-fashioned tea shops, cafes, and pubs. Many of our tours let travellers experience regional delicacies, including famous pies and pasties, Scotch Whisky, high-quality tea blends, smoked fish, and unforgettable British desserts.
Discover the Best of British Culture
The culture of Great Britain has been shaped by a wide variety of factors, not least of which is its island status. Because of its separation from the rest of Europe, a local and idiosyncratic culture has flourished across many centuries. England is of course the home of Shakespeare, who reinvented the language and wrote some of the richest literary texts in human history. It is also home to scores of other influential and important poets and writers, from the Elizabethans, to the Romantics, to the Modernists. Contemporary British literature is still thriving, and the major metropolitan centres all have rich literary communities.
In terms of Britain’s musical traditions, various styles and genres have thrived across the nation’s long history. From the traditional folk music of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to more contemporary reimaginings of these older styles. Britain is still producing a diverse array of music. Notable composers of classical music from Great Britain include William Byrd, Henry Purcell, Sir Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst, Sir Arthur Sullivan (most famous for working
with librettist Sir W.S. Gilbert), Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Benjamin Britten, pioneer of modern British opera. Many of these composers are encountered on Odyssey tours, with our Gilbert and Sullivan tour focusing on the music of the nation’s most famous comic opera duo.
Of course, Britain’s most famous musical export in the twentieth century were the Beatles, who are still the biggest-selling and most influential band in the history of popular music. Other prominent British bands and musicians to have influenced popular music over the last 50 years include The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, the Bee Gees, and Elton John. Many of our travellers like to score their own UK adventures by listening to these and other favourite local musicians while on their journeys.
Odyssey guided tours for seniors in Great Britain
Odyssey is pleased to offer numerous small group tours that explore various aspects of British history and culture. On Odyssey’s small group tour of Prehistoric Britain, for instance, we learn more about the rich set of prehistoric artefacts that testify to roughly half-a-million years of human occupation. Meanwhile, our escorted tour of Scottish History through the Jacobites explores a more recent aspect of Britain’s history, as well as exploring numerous remarkable villages and small towns, as well as local food and wine delicacies. Our Edinburgh Fringe Festival program takes travellers to the world’s largest arts festival, where we an unforgettable week’s worth of theatre, cabaret, children’s shows, experimental performance art, circus, comedy, and dance. Our Villages of England Small Group Tour explores the many facets of country life in England through different eras and across a variety of beautiful landscapes.
Our many other British tour packages include an Anglo-French small group tour, exploring the intersection of French and English culture, as well as a tour centred on the wonders of the Chelsea Flower Show and British Gardens more broadly. Odyssey also offers a Walking through Wales small group tour, which takes in centuries of Wales’s rich history while traversing the country by foot. Our Ireland and Lake District Walking Tour is also centered on numerous pleasant country walks, as a way of exploring two most beautiful parts of Ireland and England.
This Mature Travellers guide is part of a collection of published articles designed to introduce the reader to Great Britain. This link takes you a blog that provides information about small group tours. If you would like to see our travel tips in preparing for a small group tours for mature travellers, please visit this link. For further information about Britain, please visit its official tourism website.
Should you wish to continue reading more about other blogs that are similar in style or content to the Mature Travellers guide to Great Britain for Couples or Singles, then please register to receive a complimentary copy Odyssey’s newsletter.