The United Kingdom is a consolidated Kingdom including England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The history and culture of the U.K. is recognized around the world, and people visit the U.K. just to experience its rich history.
Places to See in UK
London has several historic castles and museums that you can visit. Also, the Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye are popular landmarks that almost everyone wishes to see during their visit to the U.K. Even though London is one of the world’s most expensive cities for tourists, it offers a lot of free things to do, while you are there.
The northern region of the U.K. has charming cities like Edinburgh, New Castle upon Tyne, York, and Belfast. Each city offers a very different northern experience. Southern England is unique from its northern counterpart; it has beautiful coasts and historic cities like Portsmouth, Brighton, and Winchester. Furthermore, these cities are great seaside destinations. What else lies in store for you in the U.K.?
Gardens of La Seigneurie
The Royal Horticultural Society listed these gardens among the Channel Islands’ finest gardens. The gardens are open daily from early April to late October.
Tourists come to Sark and Herm Island all the time for some splendid sailing. Moorings are located at Havre Gosselin in the west and Greve de la Ville bay to the east of Sark.
The Isle of Man
Sharks and dolphins love the warm, clean waters of the Isle of Man and can easily be spotted within one kilometer off the coast. The best time to visit is from May until August.
Cave Hill is a place you can’t miss, when in Belfast, as it gives a stunning view of the city and its surroundings from a height of 368 meters. People say that on a clear day you can even see Scotland!
Devenish Island is called a “holy island,” and consequently you will find the remains of an Augustinian monastery, including a church, an abbey, and numerous old gravestones. The island is accessible by ferry from the landing in Trory.
The best collection of art, archeology and natural history in Northern Ireland resides in the Ulster Museum. The museum is free to enter. Inside, you will find relics from Ancient Egypt, the South Pacific, Africa, and many other destinations around the world. There are also various art collections and artifacts from Ireland’s early days.
Glens of Antrim
The nine interlinking Glens of Antrim possess outstanding natural beauty. On the east coast of Ireland, this series of valleys invites you to explore another world. The area is a mixture of glacial valleys, sandy beaches, waterfalls, and forests all on the 52 km2 territory.
Ireland’s most famous World Heritage Site is a real natural wonder. The Giant’s Causeway is a rock formation including over 40 thousand basalt columns, situated on the Antrim coastline. Go there when the sun is setting to enjoy its beauty to the fullest, without big crowds, and of course for the fabulous photo opportunities.
Poole Harbour is a vibrant quay on the southern coast of England, which offers its visitors various bars, cafes, and restaurants. Also, if you follow the Cockle Trail, you will discover stories and legends about smugglers, ghosts, and pirates of the past centuries. If you are an adventure seeker, try various water sports opportunities in and around the harbor. Or take a ferry to the National Trust’s Brownsea Island.
Nowadays, Liverpool is a bustling, flourishing, and cultural city. The Tate art gallery, the Waterfront, Albert Dock, and the Museum of Liverpool make the city a popular tourist destination. And don’t forget about its musical heritage: the Beatles gave their first performance here at the Cavern Club.
The giant stone circle located on Salisbury Plain was erected between 3,000 and 1,600 BCE. Marvel at the impressive rock face, find out all about its history and explore the 250 prehistoric treasures.
One of the houses of the royal family, Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. It has been inhabited by British monarchs since William I. Although it suffered several fires over the centuries it has been reconstructed each time. Also, the remains of many British kings lie here, including Henry VIII, Charles I, and George V.
Since 1735, Blackpool has been an attractive holiday destination. The city now offers a variety of rides and roller coasters for every age and taste. Also, the 156-meter-tall Blackpool Tower offers a ballroom, an aquarium and a viewing point.
A masterpiece of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the Canterbury Cathedral is almost a thousand years old and definitely worth seeing. Visitors can enjoy the stained glass windows, which date back to the 12th century. In addition, explore the medieval tombs of King Henry IV, Edward the Black Prince, and numerous archbishops – including Thomas Becket, who was murdered in 1170.
The seaside city of Bath offers its visitors numerous high-end shops, lovely restaurants, and famous Roman baths. With perfectly preserved Georgian terraces, the Jane Austen Center and the Royal Crescent, the city becomes one of the most popular British destinations among tourists.
Stratford-upon-Avon is the home city of William Shakespeare. While you are here you can take a trip to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and enjoy a play presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company. Located on the banks of the River Avon, it is delightfully picturesque which makes it a great setting for numerous festivals and events throughout the year.
Oxford and Cambridge
Oxford and Cambridge are the two most important educational sites in the country, as well as among the most famous in the world. Oxford University is the oldest English-speaking university in the world and dates back to the 11th century; Cambridge was founded in 1209. However, in addition to centuries-old colleges, the cities also boast numerous cozy pubs and architectural pearls.
When to Go
There is never a bad time to visit the United Kingdom. The country has warm and damp summers. Luckily, the mild winters have temperatures high enough to engage in outdoor activities all year round. The weather in the U.K. is changeable, often windy and wet. British rain is world-renowned. Some people consider autumn to be the most beautiful season in the U.K. Its rural landscapes become brown, red, yellow and pink, which is just beautiful.
What to Wear
Waterproof clothes and an umbrella are obligatory throughout the year. Warm clothes are also advisable in cities. However, for visiting the upland areas, they are just essential.
The main spoken language is English. However, Welsh is spoken in many parts of Wales, and Gaelic in Scotland/Northern Ireland. Various ethnic minorities also speak their own languages, such as Cantonese, Greek, Hindi, Mandarin, Turkish, and Urdu.
The currency used here is the Pound Sterling, which is one of the world’s major currencies. Money exchange is available at banks, exchange bureaus, some post offices, as well as many hotels. All major credit cards are widely accepted. In addition, ATMs are available across the country. Traveler’s cheques are also acceptable. However, take your traveler’s cheques in Pounds Sterling, if you want to avoid additional exchange charges.
Local SIM Card & Free WiFi
The famous red phone boxes can be found in most cities and towns. Some take coins, other phone cards or even credit cards. Mobile connection is available throughout the country, although service can be patchy in rural areas. Using your roaming service is an option. But you can also get a “pay as you go” SIM card from any phone shop or booth.
Most hotels and other tourist accommodations provide free Wi-Fi access for their guests. London is 95% covered with Wi-Fi connection. Even the famous London Tube now provides the Internet at stations. There are also Internet cafes and centers in urban areas. Rural regions, on the other hand, may not offer as many Internet facilities.
The U.K. is a mixture of native and immigrant cultures, possessing both a fascinating history and dynamic modern attractions. Moreover, one can witness thousands of years of history here. Stone circles, castles, thatched cottages and palaces make the past come alive.
The predominant religion is Christianity. There are Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Hindu populations.
Great Britain is known for its iconic cakes, sandwiches and warm stews. However, breakfast is all about tea, scones, and cakes. Breakfast in the United Kingdom is unique. Although multiple coffee shops serve a traditional American style breakfast, consisting of muffins and bagels, a traditional British breakfast contains eggs, bacon, toast, and tomatoes. Both fine and experimental cuisines can be found in most cities, although they are rather pricy. Also, famous international chefs, such as Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver, come from the U.K.
Local specialties include Ulster fry (consists of eggs, sausages, bacon rashers, mushrooms, beans, fried tomato, and sometimes other ingredients), shellfish, homemade vegetable soup, Irish stew, and dried seaweed. Tipping 10% – 15% is common in restaurants if the gratuity is not included in the bill already.
The drinking age is 18 in the United Kingdom. You can legally buy alcohol in bars or supermarkets at the age of 18. However, you can have a drink with a meal when you are 16 if an adult buys it for you. Popular local drinks are Guinness, Bushmills, and Hilden Brewing Co. Of course, you can’t miss a five-o’clock-tea, while you are in the U.K.
British Airways operate flights to numerous destinations around the world. Other airlines, which fly from, to, and around the UK, are Virgin Atlantic, EasyJet, Flybe, and Ryanair.
The main bus operator in the UK is National Express. Also, Megabus is a great low-cost alternative for traveling around the country.
The country has an excellent network of railways. Intercity lines connect London with major cities in the UK. However, some rural areas are less well covered.
Roads are in good condition. Trunk roads connect all major cities and towns. Motorways radiate from the capital, and there is also a good north-south and east-west road network. On the other hand, in rural areas, roads are often slow and winding.
Renting vs. Bus, Train, Taxi
Car hire is available in all big cities and towns across the country. However, there is no problem with getting a taxi if you don’t drive. You can pick a taxi up at taxi ranks, hail them in the street, or call by phone. Official taxis mostly have meters. However, the prices can be higher during weekends, holidays, and late in the night.
Right or Left Driving
Cars drive on the left side of the road here, which can be rather unusual at first if you are used to right-side driving.
The United Kingdom Trip Cost
The United Kingdom is not a cheap destination. And London is considered to be one of the world’s most expensive cities for tourists. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time in the UK if you are on a low budget. Three of Europe’s low-cost airlines fly here, accommodations very in price and quality highly and you will always find something interesting to do for free, even in London.
Electricity & Plug Type
As for electricity, the country uses type G sockets. You need to bring a travel adapter to fit the proper socket type. Check out the above-linked page to see the photos and other useful information. The standard voltage is 230 V. Many of your devices may need a step-up transformer to match the electrical voltage.
How to Arrive
Airlines, which fly to the UK, are British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and low-costers, such as EasyJet, FlyBe, and Ryanair. Flights to the UK depart from New York, Zurich, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, Dubai, and many other hubs. It takes 7 hours to fly to London from New York.
Trains from continental Europe connect to ferries at Dover, Newhaven, Portsmouth, Harwich, and Weymouth, which sail from Belgium, France, Netherlands, and Spain.
Eurotunnel runs shuttle trains between Folkestone in the UK and Calais in France. This journey takes only 35 minutes.
Also, Eurostar operates express trains from Paris and Brussels to London. It takes 2 hours 15 minutes and 2 hours relatively.
You can get to Guernsey combining a car and a ferry. You can transfer at Poole, Portsmouth, and Weymouth in the UK or at St. Malo, Dielette and Carteret in France.
Main ports in the UK are Dover, Harwich, Holyhead, and Portsmouth. However, there are many other ports, which offer ferry connections between the UK and the continental Europe. Keep in mind, if you come to Sark, you will have to pay a landing tax, which is already included in the cost of the ticket.
Where to Stay
Great Britain has a wide range of hotels, from small budget accommodations to luxurious international chains. Hotels are more expensive in big cities than in small towns. London has the reputation of one of the world’s most expensive cities.
Bed and Breakfasts
There are various guesthouses and bed and breakfasts throughout the country. However, the quality varies greatly, so it is worth reading feedbacks carefully.
Camping and caravan sites are available all over the country, for both short and long stay. Most sites have only basic facilities, others, however, offer clubs, playgrounds, shops, sports areas, and phones.
The United Kingdom offers its budget visitors over 300 hostels all over the country. The quality varies greatly, as well as prices. However, fares are still more reasonable, than hotel rooms.
Cottages and Flats
In any region of the country, you can rent a flat or a cottage, according to your taste and budget. Also, heritage charity The Landmark Trust lists almost 200 unique self-catering accommodations, from cottages to castles.
How Safe is the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is not a dangerous destination. But, of course, as everywhere, you should take the necessary precautions. Weather can be unpredictable in Great Britain. Summer can be very hot, so use sunscreen and wear appropriate clothing, not to get sun or warmth stroke. During the winter, take precautions against frost and cold. Always have waterproof clothes, or, at least, an umbrella, with you. If you are planning on hiking or trekking in the woods, take precautions against ticks, midges, and mosquitoes.
Before coming to the United Kingdom, you need to have vaccinations against tetanus and diphtheria. Immediate emergency treatment is free for all visitors. However, afterward, charges are made for all services, unless your country of residence has a reciprocal agreement with the UK.
Food in the UK is generally safe because numerous government agencies control health and safety standards. Tap water is safe, but bottled water is preferable and widely available. Also, if you stay in a camping site, you should filter, boil or sterilize water some other way.
The afternoon tea, pubs, and city life in England is an experience most people enjoy. Let’s explore the beautiful United Kingdom and experience some English, Scottish, and Irish culture all in one. This Kingdom has so much to offer.
July 5, 2016 12:00 am 4 Comments