Many of us spend the holidays visiting places of interest around the UK and abroad, but have you ever asked yourself what you know about your own town's heritage?
While it's easy to take your surroundings for granted when you're busy with your daily routine, this summer could be the ideal time to explore the delights of your home town just like a tourist.
ABOVE: The British Museum is the UK's popular tourist attraction
JUMP ON A TOUR BUS
A fun way to learn about the place you live is from the top of an open-top tour bus - simply hop on and off to experience your town or city's sights. Most buses have a pre-recorded commentary or a live guide to explain the history and culture of the buildings and places you pass. City Sightseeing (city-sightseeing.com) has 30 bus tours in UK towns and cities, with prices starting from £7 per person.
ABOVE: A great way to see a city is on an open-top bus!
GO ON A GUIDED TOUR
An experienced guide can help bring a place to life, telling stories and providing details that aren't in guidebooks. Blue Badge Guided Tours (britainsbestguides.org) provide trips around a huge range of famous sites, museums and galleries, with walking, cycling, coach and themed tours throughout the UK. The company caters for every taste, from a historic pub crawl in Bristol, from £85 per person, to the Royal Residence tour of Windsor, from £150 per person.
ABOVE: Visit Windsor Castle and get a guided tour
DOWNLOAD A WALKING APP
Don't want to join a group or wrestle with a guidebook ? Then download and MP3 walking tour and let your iPod, mobile phone or MP3 player be your guide. This flexible format enables you to discover the area at your own pace, whether that is cramming in a couple of sights in a few hours to a leisurely stroll that takes up to the whole day. Tourist Tracks (tourist-tracks.com) has a selection of MP3 waling tours in 14 UK towns and cities that offers a simple and versatile alternative to traditional guided walks. It provides you with a starting point, a map marked with a route and a series of MP3 audio files. At each audio point, the commentary tells you about your surroundings and then, with the help of the map, directs you where to go next. From just £3 per download, it's affordable option, too.
ABOVE: With Tourist Tracks you get a physical map as well as audio directions too!
JOIN A WALKING GROUP
Most people think that organisations such as the Ramblers Association (ramblers.org.uk) just support walking in the countryside, but lots of routes take in towns and cities. Led by experienced walk leaders, there are more than 500 volunteer groups across the UK, most of which run several walks each week. They provide a safe, sociable environment to discover your area. Go online to find a walk or a group near you, and become a member for £3.25 a month.
SUPPORT LOCAL HERITAGE
Join your district's history society to discover the people, events and places that have created your community. These organisations are set up to study and preserve the history and heritage of the area, and usually hold regular meetings to exchange information and organise trips to places of local interest. It's a great way to get involved in your community and help preserve the social and historical heritage of where you live for future generations. Visit Local History Online
(local-history.co.uk) to find a group near you.
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Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.
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