Over the next few weeks the UK is expecting a surge in air traffic such as has never been seen before and there can’t be anyone in the country that doesn’t know why. The London Olympics are expected to bring over a million extra overseas visitors, compounding the numbers who came to see Britain in Jubilee year.
Olympics aside, what brings people to the country, making some of the UK’s busiest airports also among the busiest in Europe?
No.1 - Heathrow Airport
London has one of the greatest conglomerations of airports in the world with Heathrow Airport
, Gatwick Airport
, Luton, Stansted and City Airports all ostensibly bringing people to the capital. Some of these such as Luton, Stansted and Gatwick may be thirty miles or more from central London but with ever improving transport links, the 140m passengers that use these airports are within 45 minutes of business meetings in the world’s biggest financial centre or from world famous sights such as The Palace of Westminster and Big Ben, St Pauls Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, the shopping of Oxford Street and Harrods and of course, London's latest attraction and Europe's tallest building; The Shard.
No.2 - Gatwick Airport
After Gatwick Airport, Britain’s next busiest is Manchester Airport
. Once a world leader in the production of textiles and one of Britain’s richest cities, Manchester has suffered degradation before rising again with redevelopment to become the self-proclaimed ‘capital’ of the north of England. Sights such as the Roman settlement at Castlefield, Manchester’s own version of the London Eye, the Curry Mile and of course Manchester United and Manchester City football clubs draw in the masses year after year.
No.3 - Edinburgh Airport
A Scottish airport comes next on the list; Edinburgh Airport
, which saw over 8.5 million passengers last year. Typifying everything that is Scotland, American tourists make up a large contingent of visitors who come to soak up the history of the castle, Holyroodhouse Palace and the Royal Mile. Come at Tattoo time and you’ll see marching bands of Scots pipers along the Mile, heading up to the castle. In August and September the Edinburgh Festival fills the city with those keen to see the latest innovations in drama, comedy and theatre whilst over the New Year period, Hogmanay and Burn’s Night celebrations bring the city to life.
No.4 - Birmingham Airport
, in the Midlands, is the UK’s fourth busiest airport city and as well as visiting such attractions as Cadbury World in Bourneville, the city is a great shopping destination with the famous Bullring Shopping Centre at its heart. Birmingham is also a popular base for tourists wishing to explore Stratford Upon Avon, the home of arguably the world’s greatest playwright, William Shakespeare.
No.5 - Glasgow Airport
Finally in our tour around Britain’s busiest airports, we have Glasgow Airport
; home of two of the world’s most followed football clubs, Celtic, and the now desperate Rangers. Another renaissance city, Glasgow has shaken off its image of poverty, drunkenness and crime to become a beautiful capital of culture with many of its former industrial buildings now fine museums and galleries. Just outside the city and reached on a stunning railway journey, you’ll find Loch Lomond, immortalised in the song about Bonnie Prince Charlie.
So, in the year of the 2012 Olympics, look beyond the sport to find out what makes these cities some of the most popular in Europe.
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