Outside the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London, England, UK travel.
• It’s expensive, especially the south of England and London hotels are particularly outrageous.
• 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.
Length of vacation
Minimum worthwhile stay, not including 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, etc. )
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.
Glen Coe, the Highlands, Scotland. Photo by Chris Schoenbaum.
***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 side.
**Stirling and the Trossachs, a compact and historic town with imposing castle.
*Glasgow, an industrial city recently reinvented as a wacky cultural destination with a fair number of extraordinary new buildings and fine museums.
*St Andrews, a coastal town with the famous old golf course.
Barafundle Beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales. JKMMX.
The 750 mile Welsh coastline embraces at least a dozen excellent sandy beaches, mostly on the south coast around the Gower peninsula and along the Pembrokeshire coast.
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, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Photo by Chmee2.
**The Giant’s Causeway, a spectacular volcanic rock formation of basalt columns along the Antrim Coast. A World Heritage Site.
There are masses of 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. You could also buy your own holiday home and rent it out when not using it with with mortgages for holiday lets.
In the British spirit of innovation there are even agencies that organise group accommodation in the UK, renting entire large properties for extended family house parties or check here for cheap hotels in the UK.
Visas: 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 on visas for the UK
Electricity: Electric sockets are 240v and take 3 rectangular pin plugs.
Safety: 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.
Tipping: Waiters will hopefully deserve 10-15% of the bill unless service charge is included. Taxi drivers will be looking for 10%.
Language: Naturally English is used everywhere though a few Celtic diehards in Wales and Scotland may insist on using their ancient tongues.