travel in the UK?
This cluster of tiny countries comprising the United Kingdom - which is England,
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - has 5,000 years of history and
a brilliant variety of things to see and do, culture to nature,
old to new, silly to serious, whatever suits the tourist, apart from serious
sunbathing or skiing.
London and Edinburgh both offer top class arts and culture scenes
with superb museums (mostly free), galleries and theatres in settings of great
age and historical reference, while the rest of the island
spills over with historic buildings, traditional villages, lovely
gardens, parks and even mountains. If you want to take it easy and enjoy the best of the country without problems take a look at good quality UK tours.
The British countryside is easily accessible by car and ranges from dramatic moors to rolling green hills, bleak mountains and big soft beaches.
It's a walker's delight and not bad for drivers too, if they stick to the smaller roads.
Accpmmodation: There are numerous economical places to stay and prices can be kept low if you book well in advance and stick with modest hotels, enjoy Bed and Breakfast or self catering cottages; these are especially popular with families. In the British spirit of innovation there are even agencies that organise group accommodation in the UK, renting entire large houses for parties.
See photos of England, Scotland, Edinburgh and London
London, The Guildhall, England.
• It's expensive, especially London hotels and even after the crunch year.
• The weather is often lousy and unpredictable, particularly in
Wales and Scotland.
• Public transport, especially rail, is over-priced, while some sections
of the tube (London's underground rail system) are shabby and overheated
- the tube was built long, long ago when users were few.
Best: May-September, though no guarantees, prepare for rain and shine! The south of England sees the warmest, sunniest weather, especially in July/August when temperatures average from 15C-30C (59F-86F) but can go above 30C (86F) on occasion. Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland are famously wet much of the year.
Worst: December-February (wet, cold, grey, and short daylight hours). Average temperatures mostly range from a few degrees below zero to 15C (59F), with London and the south being the warmest regions. Scotland is the coldest.
London and Edinburgh have accommodation problems around New Year
(Dec 29-Jan 2), summer time and the Edinburgh Festival (mid July-August)
Current London time and temperature.
Scotland, the Highlands, famously bleak and beautiful.
Minimum worthwhile stay, not incl. flights: London or Edinburgh
only - a long weekend could be excellent.
Recommended: 2 weeks, London, Edinburgh, plus 2 to 3 historical
towns and/or the country side (Scottish Highlands, Lake District,
Wales and Northern Ireland are not often included in package tours,
and offer less important 'must sees' unless you have unlimited
time or a special interest.
London, Hungerford Bridge and the Thames River.
London and the South
close to being Europe's coolest city, with something for everyone, any season.
an elegant but touristy city, with a real Roman spa and fine examples
of early Georgian Palladian architecture. In Somerset, along with
wacky Glastonbury. Any season.
***Cornwall and **Devon,ranging from bleak moorlands to thatched cottages
on rolling grasslands, magnificent beaches, pleasant little fishing villages and good surfing. Summer season only.
Eden Project, Cornwall. Extraordinary, educational and artistic
biospheres housing a zillion exotic plants.
***Dorset. Castles (Corfe and Maiden),
beautiful harbour (Poole), great beaches (Poole, Bournemouth and scattered along the south-west coast), Cerne
Giant, grand old houses (e.g. Longleat) and superb walks such
Coast Path, a lovely 630 mile (1014 kms) clifftop stroll through
rural, coastal England and the fossil stuffed Jurassic
an enormous, enigmatic, prehistoric stone circle in Wiltshire, along
with Avebury, the Cerne Giant and more.
Durdle Door, Dorset, England
UK Beaches are plentiful and often have goodly amounts of gleaming sand and sunshine May-September.
Excellent walks abound, though the water is always chilly and the weather can change in a moment.
the world's best-known university city, lovely centre, pity about
typical English countryside with rolling hills and charming thatched
Shakespeare's home town.
a pleasant riverside city with its notable university and gorgeous
the finest Roman and medieval town in the UK (pic top right).
an historic, walled city with the largest cathedral in Europe.
District National Park, Cumbria, one of the most scenic
landscapes in Britain.
*Durham, the most striking cathedral
city in Britain.
And all topped off by the decrepit but still impressive**Hadrian's
Edinburgh viewpoint, Scotland.
a dramatic and lively city. Edinburgh
***The Highlands, spectacular
landscapes, wilder and more dramatic than the
Lake District, with mountains, glens and lochs make for magnificent walks if you can handle the erratic weather and summer midges (little, swarming mosquitoes).
**The Borders, tranquil pastoral
country with delightful towns as well as Hadrian's Wall on the English
**Stirling and the Trossachs,
a compact and historic town with imposing castle.
*Glasgow, an industrial city with a
bad reputation, but reinvented as a wacky cultural destination.
*St Andrews, a coastal town with
the famous old golf course.
Cardiff Castle, South Wales
The capital Cardiff is not a must-see place, except for the
National Museum of Wales.
*Conwy, dominated by the marvellous
Conwy Castle is one of the finest medieval fortified towns in Europe.
*Hay-on-Wye, has become
the world's biggest second-hand book towns.
**Llandudno, an attractive Victorian
seaside resort, with fine sandy beach.
***Snowdonia National Park and mountain.
A spectacular and popular area for superb climbing or hiking.
The Giant's Causeway, Antrim, North Ireland.
**the Giant's Causeway, a spectacular
volcanic rock formation of basalt columns along the Antrim Coast. A World Heritage
Moorland around Mt. Snowdon, Snowdonia, Wales.
Walking and Hiking: Numerous short
walks and long distance footpaths surround most towns and often
cross picturesque scenery in this walks-loving cluster of countries.
Climbing: There are many good climbing
spots from the sea cliffs of the Dorset coast to Scotland's Mt.
Ben Nevis (1344m), Britain's highest peak. See above link.
Biking: Hundreds of miles of dedicated
bike/ walking tracks have been opened recently, as well as road
routes. The Whitby to Scarborough Trailway, 20 miles along the edge
of the North York Moors National Park, is one of the most spectacular
routes.See Sustrans on Links.
Bird-watching: the Orkney
Isles, Shetland Isles in Scotland, the Norfolk Broads and more.
Fishing: The Borders, Deeside in Scotland
and shoals more.
Pony trekking: The Pembrokeshire Coast,
Wales or the Pennines, England.
Skiing: Aviemore, Scotland, Britain's
biggest skiing centre.
Golf in Harlech, North Wales.
Golfing: From the ancient, lunatic
Edinburgh city centre Brunswick Links to St Andrews, there are more
than 400 golf courses in Scotland, and not a few in the rest of
the UK too.
Surfing: Yes, really, but you'll need
a wetsuit! Especially Cornwall - Newquay and Fistral beach are the
best known - and North Devon (Atlantic/north-west coasts) plus also
Wales and Scotland.
& Entertainment: Regional
cities such as London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham,
Manchester and Newcastle have wild and varied clubbing scenes, though
provincial places tend to be extremely youth oriented.
Waiters will hopefully deserve 10-15% of the bill unless service
charge is included. Taxi drivers will be looking for 10%.
Trains are sometimes on time, sometimes not; they are expensive
unless you can book online well ahead.
Intercity buses are much better value and usually make good time.
Some destinations from London by train: Scotland about 6 hours;
Wales about 2 hours; Brighton 1 hour; Oxford 1 hour; Cambridge 45
mins; Bristol 2 hours; York 2 hours+; Stratford-upon-Avon 2 hours+;
Exeter 3 hours; Bath 1.5 hours;Manchester 2.5 hours; Penzance 5
Getting around London
Apart from London's ancient underground (metro/ subway) or pricey taxis, buses are
the best option and reasonably efficient.
EU ctizens are free to move to and work in the UK for any amount
of time. Nationals of USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South
Africa do not need UK visas for up to 6 months holiday, but do need
one for a work. More information for visiting the UK or European Union
Electric sockets are 240v and take 3 rectangular pin plugs.
Tourist places are no problem save for the occasional pickpocket.
Take care where you walk after late night booze sessions, particularly
in the big cities.
Naturally English is used everywhere though a few Celtic diehards
in Wales and Scotland may insist on using their ancient tongues.
UK Maps | England Guide | Scotland Guide | Best British beaches | England Pictures