About the United Kingdom
Welcome to the Kingdom of the Scottish, English, Irish and Welsh… The United Kingdom. From the busy London streets to the Scottish highlands, the United Kingdom has something for everyone, if you don’t mind a bit of rain that is. If you have a penchant for Shakespeare stop by his birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Love The Beatles? Jump on a train to Liverpool to pay homage. Then there’s the famous Stonehenge, Bath’s Roman spas and Buckingham Palace where you can have a cup of tea with the Queen of England (no, not really but you can stand outside, in the rain, and take a selfie).
United Kingdom Travel Info
Language: English is the primary language spoken in the United Kingdom however there are some strong regional accents which makes things a little tricky, even if you’re visiting from the USA. The Scottish, Irish and Welsh have strong accents, as do London locals who are referred to as Cockneys and have a Cockney accent. If you can watch the movie Trainspotting without subtitles you might be ok.
Currency: Pound Sterling.
Visa: Visas are usually not necessary if you’re planning to stay for less than six months. This rule applies to both EU citizens as well as Non-EU. Travelers from Asian countries will need to apply for a visa before arriving and but can stay for up to six months. If you plan to stay in the UK for longer than six months then you will need to apply for a work or student visa.
Electricity: TheUnited Kingdom operates on 230V AC electricity. The power sockets are usually two-pronged and round. I recommend bringing a Universal Travel Adapter so you don’t need to keep buying new adapters for each country you visit.
United Kingdom Festivals & Celebrations
Glastonbury festival: Travelers from around the world flock to Glastonbury town in Somerset to experience the world’s most celebrated music festival. The festival covers 900 acres of land, has 100 different stages for various artists and goes on for 5 days. Prepare to get covered from head to toe in mud because it will rain, probably a lot, but it’s all part of the Glastonbury experience.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival: The fringe festival is a huge art event that takes place in the Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. The festival is full of scintillating performances by renowned artists from around the world and also gives a platform to up-and-coming talent. Experience this non-stop and highly entertaining festival which takes place annually during the last three weeks of August.
New Year’s Eve / Hogmanay: New Year’s Eve is celebrated all over the UK with alcohol flowing freely and huge firework displays at house parties and over the Thames river. Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and is synonymous with the celebration of the New Year in the Scottish manner. It will be a very cold evening on the 31st of December so wrap up and consider knocking back some whisky shots to keep yourself warm and in the festive spirit (pun intended).
Safety In The United Kingdom
Just like all European countries, the United Kingdom is a very safe place to visit. Thefts, robberies, bag snatching and scams are prevalent in big cities so always be mindful. Major cities like London and Manchester are under the constant threat of a terror attack, as with all major cities in Europe, but security measures are in place. I wouldn’t leave home without travel insurance no matter how safe the destination is considered to be. You can still miss flights, lose your luggage or break a leg, especially if you’re as accident prone as I am. For this reason I recommend checking out the travel insurance plan that World Nomads can offer you a few weeks or months before you plan to visit the UK.
Top Things To Do In The United Kingdom
When in the UK, the lively capital city has to be on the top of your bucket list. The city with its rich culture and history has so much to offer that you can spend weeks roaming the streets and still not see it all. Enjoy the parks, (Hyde Park, Regents Park and Holland Park are especially pretty) and local markets such as Borough and Camden Market, pop over to Covent Garden for the street performers, visit the museums and lose yourself in the city’s street life. Don’t forget the changing of the guards ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the Clock Tower and to take a ride on the London Eye.
Windsor castle is the oldest and the largest occupied castle in the world. The original castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror. From time to time, guided tours take visitors around the grounds of the castle which are divided into upper, middle and lower wards although some parts are off limits to visitors. During the WWII bombings Londoners took cover in the Underground railway tunnels but the royal household used Windsor Castle as a refuge.
Visit Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey is an architectural beauty and is believed to be the best example of the ancient English Gothic architecture. The Abbey is not only a place of worship but also narrates the history of the country. Most of the Monarchs have been crowned here and in the center of the Abbey lies the sacrarium, a beautiful tiled area where royal weddings and funerals take place.
The Snowdonia National Park is in Wales, and the place is quite diverse as it is home to Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and glacial landforms. Along with its breathtaking views, the site is great for hiking enthusiasts. This park is among the top tourist spots in the UK with its excellent trails, beautiful landscapes, and Europe’s longest zip line. Do check out all the outdoor activities available as they are the best in the UK.
Visit the British Museum
The British Museum was set up in 1753 in London and is home to a large number of artifacts, about 8 million pieces altogether. The collection contains numerous articles of prestige from countries across the globe. The museum is open on all days of the week, and the doors remain open from 10am to 5.30pm and 8.30pm on Fridays. The entry into the museum is free of charge.
Visit William Shakespeare’s Home
Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town in the Stratford-on-Avon District, in the county of Warwickshire, England. Here you can see the house where William Shakespeare was born and where he spent a significant portion of his life. For all the people with a passion for literature, this will be a thrilling experience. William Shakespeare was born in 1564, and to date, you will find several bits and pieces depicting the life of the World’s most eminent writer.
Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
Come out of Baker Street tube station and look to your left, there is always a long line of people waiting to enter Madame Tussaud’s. Marie Tussaud, a famous wax sculptress, opened a museum in 1884, which is now known across the world as Madame Tussaud’s which can be found in various cities around the world. The museum is famous for its life-like figures of well-known people such as the Royal family, sports stars, film stars and even some notorious criminals too. The chamber of horror is another section in the basement where historical characters from the French revolution are featured.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
This palace is the primary residence of the Duke of Marlborough and is built in the Baroque style of architecture. This palace is the only non-royal building in England with the title of a palace. It is among the largest places in England and its construction began in 1722. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Blenheim Palace was the home and birthplace of one of the most famous Prime Ministers of Britain, Sir Winston Churchill.
The South of England has an old-fashioned charm and is home to rolling hills, quirky fishing towns in Cornwall where you can sip a cream tea and try a Cornish pasty, the busy port cities of Portsmouth and Southampton. Plus the Isle of Wight offers stunning natural landscapes.
The Lake District
For all the outdoors lovers, the Lake District is the perfect hangout. Located in Northern England and with excellent hiking trails. You can also go cycling through the woods and sail in the lake. The place is quite crowded during the summer months owing to it’s breathtaking beauty but it’s worth it.
Other than these top things to do in the United Kingdom, there is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Be prepared to be flexible because sometimes other travelers that you meet on your travels will have the best suggestions for things to do in the UK that are off the beaten path.
What To Eat In The United Kingdom
Warm and hearty meals are the staple in the United Kingdom, mainly due to the cold and rainy weather endured for about 10 months of each year. Here’s some of the most well known UK dishes you must try at least once during your visit.
Fish and Chips: Visit a ‘chippy’ on any street corner in the UK to try the deep-fried thick cut potato chips and battered cod, drizzled in vinegar, a sprinkle of salt, wrapped in paper and handed over the counter. The English saying ‘cheap as chips’ will give you an idea of the price. Not the healthiest meal but quick, warm, filling and very tasty!
Bangers and Mash: Sausages or ‘bangers’ served with mashed potatoes. That’s it! But don’t be fooled, all sorts of fancy things can be done with this dish, a world of sausages you never knew existed awaits and the mashed patatos, when creamy, are to die for. Posh restaurants and greasy spoons alike serve this dish.
Full English Breakfast: This king-sized breakfast if the signature breakfast in the UK with a little variation depending on where you are. There’s the Irish, Scottish and Welsh versions too. Expect to get served eggs, sausages, baked beans, toast, hash browns, black or blood sausage, mushrooms and more. Health-conscious Brits obviously wouldn’t eat this everyday however a Full English is a traditional (and very satisfying) hangover cure.
Beef Wellington: The best fillet steak gets smothered in pate and covered in light and rich puff pastry. Beef Wellington is one dish that never goes wrong and is a genuinely delicious British delicacy.
Sunday Roast: An age-old tradition in the UK is to have a roast dinner or lunch on Sundays, either cooked at home or at the local pub. A Sunday Roast includes meat such as lamb, chicken, beef or pork usually served with roast potatoes, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding (tip: not pudding!) and drizzled in gravy. Wash it down with your favorite pint of beer or lager and then sleep it off straight after.
Where To Stay In United Kingdom
The UK can be a very expensive place to visit. Finding excellent accommodation in the United Kingdom is easy but finding affordable accommodation, if you’re on a tight budget, is the hard part. Luckily United Kingdom hostels and dormitories make travel here really affordable for backpackers and anyone visiting the UK on a tight budget.
Whether you’re a backpacker, flash-packer or a luxury vacationer, the United Kingdom will not disappoint. Still, a basic 3 star hotel room in the UK can cost about 50 euros a night and if in London… forget it at that price. If you’re traveling to the United Kingdom during peak season (Europe’s summer time or during the Easter or Christmas holidays) or you prefer to stay in a luxury hotel then it’s wise to book your accommodation well in advance and expect to pay a high price.
Don’t wait until you arrive to see what’s available or you may be disappointed to find that all the best accommodation options have already been snapped up. The United Kingdom is a very popular year-round destination with business travelers and sight-seeing tourists alike.
Jetset Bunny recommends using Booking.com for the best accommodation deals in the United Kingdom.
If you’re backpacking in the UK or traveling on a tight budget then Hostel World is another great option. Staying in hostels makes travel in the United Kingdom much more affordable and is also a great way to meet new travel buddies.
United Kingdom Trip Planner
Best Time To Visit The United Kingdom
The best time to visit the United Kingdom is between April and October, this is if you want mild and reasonably warm weather. If you want to see the UK with hot weather and blue skies then aim to visit between June and September, still even during these months, good weather can not be guaranteed.
United Kingdom Travel Budget
The UK can be an expensive city but it’s still generally an affordable destination for travelers on a tight budget. The cost of your trip to the United Kingdom really depends on the level of comfort you will want while here. If you’re backpacking and planning on staying in dormitories, hostels and eating fast food then budget between 40 to 60 pounds a day. If you prefer to stay in 3-4 star hotel rooms and eat in mid-range restaurants you could spend anywhere between 60 to 120 pounds per day. If you want to enjoy luxury 4-5 star accommodation and gourmet restaurants in places like London or Manchester then budget about 250 pounds plus a day.
- Budget: £35 – £50
- Mid-range: £50 – £100
- Splurge: £150 +
Meal For One
- Budget: £8 – £25
- Mid-range: £25 – £60
- Splurge: £60 +
United Kingdom Packing Guide
Packing for a trip to the United Kingdom, like most other places in Europe is easy, just remember to pack lightweight and breathable clothing for Summer trips and warm, waterproof clothing for trips during Spring, Autumn and Winter. Be prepared for the weather to get extremely cold during the winter. You will need high quality thermal wear and scarves, woolly hats, gloves and a thick winter coat. If you forget to pack something you can buy anything you need while you’re in the United Kingdom. Prices are generally higher in smaller boutiques than they would be online so expect to pay a premium if you don’t have the option of shopping around due to time restraints on your trip.
Other essential items to pack for a trip to the United Kingdom include a good quality travel backpack. Choose the brand carefully and make sure you find the right size backpack for your torso. Believe me, doing this will make all the difference and prevent major backache. Smaller items to pack include a padlock, sleep sheet and a money belt to keep important documents close to you.
For the full list of everything you need to pack for a trip to the United Kingdom check out the Jetset Bunny Ultimate Europe Packing List For Female Travelers.