The third largest and most populated region in England, the South East is a diverse and unique area featuring both sprawling countryside and vibrant cities. In fact, there are eight cities in the South East – London, Brighton, Canterbury, Chichester, Oxford, Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester – although the area is also known for its beauty spots, which include the North Downs and the Chiltern Hills, as well as its two stunning National Parks, the South Downs and the New Forest.
The South East is additionally renowned for its sporting events such as the Henley Royal Regatta, Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby. The region also attracted the crowds when it hosted several events for the 2012 Olympics.
If you fancy a spot of sightseeing, the South East is a great place to be – there are so many historic places of interest, including the well-known London sights such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, as well as HMS Victory in Portsmouth, Cliveden in Buckinghamshire, Arudel Castle in Sussex, Windsor Castle in Berkshire, Brighton Pier in East Sussex, and the White Cliffs of Dover to name just a few.
Family fun is never far away in the South East, with attractions such as Legoland in Windsor and Thorpe Park in Surrey offering plenty to keep kids entertained. All ages will enjoy meeting the wildlife at Marwell and Cotswold Wildlife Park.
Those looking to indulge in some retail therapy will of course find plenty to satisfy in the capital, with little boutiques and big-name stores to browse, including the famous Liberty department store. London isn’t the only place in the South East you can shop until you drop though – why not head to the popular Bicester Shopping Village in Oxfordshire or Ashford Designer Outlet in Kent to pick up some designer bargains. Or you might like to combine shopping with sightseeing at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, which is only minutes away from Portsmouth Historic Dockland and the Spinnaker Tower. Alternatively, meander along the maze of streets and browse the many independent boutiques at The Lanes in Brighton.
The South East is a foodie haven, with everything from relaxed pub grub to fine dining available in abundance. If the latter is your thing, you’ll find be pleased to discover the area has Michelin-starred restaurants aplenty – including Drake’s in Ripley, which has held a Michelin star since 2005, Raymond Blanc’s two-Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, and Michelin-starred L’Ortolan in Berkshire.
The region also boasts several commercial vineyards which produce some first-class wines. One of the biggest is the 265-acre Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking. A few even offer the chance to visit and sample a few choice tipples – the perfect day out for the wine connoisseur.