UK Destination Guide | Fast Cover

United Kingdom Destination Guide

From the bustling streets of London to the ancient and mysterious Stonehenge, the UK has a myriad of enchanting cultural and historical sites to explore.

Country: United Kingdom

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Capital City: London

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Tourism website www.visitbritain.com

When is the best time to visit?

Throughout the United Kingdom, the best time to travel are the months from April until September.

This time has the highest amount of sunlight hours, is lowest in rain, and offers the best temperatures. Winter is the time to visit should you want to go skiing in Scotland or Wales.

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Transport Information

  • 184 Domestic Airports
  • 16 International Airports
  • Highways
  • Public transport: trains, buses, trams
  • Ports, ferries and harbours
  • Metro subway stations

Climate Information

The United Kingdom enjoys a temperate climate. It tends to rain throughout the year in varying amounts depending on the region.

The islands in the UK tend to see the highest amount of rainfall, and in Scotland and Wales there are areas where snow will fall.

Generally, temperatures are moderate, certain regions do experience sub zero spell though.

Summer is pleasant with temperatures usually between 12-20 degrees, though highs of 35 degrees do happen.

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  • Average Annual Temperature

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    9 degrees

  • Average Annual Rainfall

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    865 mm

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World Heritage Sites

  1. Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscapes, both representing important centres for the spread of technology during the Industrial Revolution.
  2. Dorset and East Devon Coast, which represent stunning rock formations that span the Mesozoic Era.
  3. Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites, probably one of the most mysterious rock structures in the world.
  4. City of Bath, which was founded by the Romans as a thermal spa.
  5. Frontiers of the Roman Empire, famously known as 'Hadrian's Wall'.
  6. Blenheim Palace, constructed between 1705 and 1722 it represents a wonderful example of a princely 18th century dwelling.
  7. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, established in 1759 they illustrate the importance of the English garden during the 18th and 20th centuries.
  8. Tower of London, an imposing fortress and important symbol of the British Empire.
  9. Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey including Saint Margaret's Church, stunning examples of neo-Gothic architecture at its finest.
  10. Maritime Greenwich, a delightful symbol of English Enlightenment and scientific endeavour.
  11. Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine's Abbey, and St Martin's Church, represent various important religious sites.
  12. Ironbridge Gorge, a famous symbol of the Industrial Revolution.
  13. Durham Castle and Cathedral, built during the late 11th and early 12th century for the relics of St Cuthbert.
  14. Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd, a beautifully preserved example of military architecture during the reign of King Edward I.
  15. Liverpool - Maritime Mercantile City, which was an important trading centre between the 18th and 20th centuries.
  16. Saltair, an example of a typical industrial village of the 19th century.
  17. Studley Royal Park including the Ruins of Fountains Abbey, a park and landscape created around the ruins of a Cistercian Abbey.
  18. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal, a true masterpiece of engineering and design.
  19. Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, a testament to the importance of South Wales in the iron and coal markets of the 19th century.
  20. Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd, which are four well-preserved example of the colonization and defence works from the time of King Edward I (1271-1307).
  21. Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, the Scottish capital since the 15th century consisting of a medieval fortress and a neoclassical New Town.
  22. Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a major prehistoric landscape dating back some 5000 years.
  23. St Kilda, a stunning landscape and home to the highest cliffs in Europe as well as many endangered bird species such as puffins.
  24. New Lanark, an impressive testament to the imagination of Utopian idealist Robert Owen.
  25. Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast, an impressive landscape consisting of 40,000 massive black basalt columns sticking out the ocean that was created by volcanic activity some 50-60million years ago.
  26. Gough and Inaccessible Islands, which are two islands in the south Atlantic representing one of the least-disrupted island and marine ecosystems in the cool temperate zone.
  27. Henderson island, which is an atoll practically untouched by a human presence.

Official Holidays

  • January 1 - New Years Day
  • Good Friday set according to the Western Christian calendar
  • Easter Monday set according to the Western Christian calendar
  • May 4 - Early May bank holiday
  • May 25 - Spring bank holiday
  • August 31 - Summer bank holiday
  • December 25 - Christmas Day
  • December 26 - Boxing Day

Various additional public holidays depending on the region.

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Why Visit the UK?

The United Kingdom is attractive to a wide range of travellers, from budget backpackers to luxury travellers.

London alone attracts tourists from all over the world, while Scotland and Wales attract more nature and beach oriented individuals.

The UK truly offers a huge variety of possible activities, making it an attractive destination for everyone.

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Things To Do

  • Explore London and its many monuments
  • See Edinburgh and the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival
  • Experience a British seaside resort in Wales
  • Visit Stonehenge and other UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Enjoy Irish hospitality in Belfast
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Travel Tips

  • It rains a lot in most regions of the UK so make sure to pack a waterproof rain jacket and umbrella!
  • The metro or 'tube' system in London is one of the most efficient forms of public transport in the world
  • If you plan on travelling across the UK it is well worth purchasing a railcard
  • Most cities in the UK offer excellent public transport and there are frequent traveller cards that are worth purchasing
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About the UK

England

Standing in the center of the bustling city of London, it’s not hard to imagine this amazing city being at the heart of an Empire spanning most of the world.

England, with its myriad of cultural and historical sites, from Stonehenge to Buckingham Palace, already has a lot to offer to any potential travellers, and on top of everything else, there’s the metropolis of London.

Throw on a rain jacket, sort out your travel insurance for England, and come visit one of the original home nations of the United Kingdom.

Unsurprisingly, most travellers to England arrive in the south English city of London and never even make it out of this amazing place. You can spend several days just exploring London's history and heritage, visit Buckingham Palace, the Tower or take a walking tour through the city to explore its quirky architecture and many hidden nooks.

If historic sites aren't for you, can also:

  • Explore London's range of museums with artwork from all periods of history
  • Check out the National Gallery for classic masterpieces
  • Head to the world-famous Tate Modern to have a look at modern installations and hyper modern art
  • Do some shopping! London offers some of the best shopping in Europe, with haute-couture boutiques on the one end and the flea markets of Notting Hill on the other
  • After a few days in the busy city of London, exploring the countryside can be a relaxing contrast

In the Southeast of London you’ll find many charming towns that show the quieter side of English life:

  • Oxford, famous for its university, is a great example of an English university town
  • Canterbury is the seat of the Church of England and home to a myriad of religious sites
  • Windsor is also worth a visit, if only to see Windsor castle and briefly pass by Eton College, one of England's top independent schools
  • The Roman baths in Bath are world famous, and a great place to pamper yourself for a few days
  • The site of Stonehenge is also located here!

This quiet looking region also hosts one of the biggest alternative music festivals in England: Glastonbury Festival. Usually taking place in the last week of June, Glastonbury festival attracts people from all over the world and tickets can be sold out as long as 9 months before the actual festival takes place.

North of London is where you’ll find various famous cities that should also form part of any travelling tour:

  • Liverpool, famous as the home of the Beatles and for its rich cultural heritage
  • Cambridge, another great example of a British University town
  • Chester, a charming medieval town that has integrated its old city wall into the modern town
  • Manchester, home to the world famous football club

The north of England is home to many traditional and quaint towns that are a true pleasure to visit, such as York or Carlisle.

While you’re in the area, make sure to visit the Lake District National Park, which is not only the largest National Park in England but also considered to be one of the most beautiful.

If you’re going to go hiking in this area or anywhere for that matter, buy travel insurance for England.

English food tradition is intimately linked to its pub tradition, and no visit to England is complete without having visited at least one pub and enjoyed a traditional pub lunch or dinner.

Pies are popular on the menu, as well as roasts and fish and chips. However, England is also ranked 5th worldwide in terms of 1 and 2 star Michelin restaurants if the pub grub is not to your liking. There is also a wide range of very good ethnic cuisines available.

England is a safe place for travelling, the only real annoyance comes in the form of drunks. However, no matter where you travel, arrange travel insurance for England and go explore!

Getting around is also very easy - most cities have incredibly well developed public transport, and between cities you can simply jump on a train or take a bus.

For more information on England, visit the England Tourism Website.

Scotland

Scotland has perhaps the worst weather of any country in Europe, and yet it is one of the best countries to visit in Europe. The hiking treks through the Highlands are spectacular, Edinburgh is easily one of the most fun cities in Europe and the arts and comedy festivals are world famous.

Scotland manages to attract every major act in the music industry, making it a top destination for music lovers. Get your raincoat ready, arrange your travel insurance for Scotland, and go explore the country of kilts and bagpipes.

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its most iconic destinations. Downtown Edinburgh is perfect for walking, and that is in fact the single best way to explore the tiny narrow walkways and cobbled streets of this town.

Walking through the streets of this old fortress you can see anything from sword fighting lessons in courtyards to magicians at the side of the road, and sooner or later you will come across someone in a kilt playing bagpipes.

It truly is a charming place to explore with magical little coves tucked away everywhere.

Once you cross the bridge you are in the new part of town though, and if you didn’t know any better you'd think you were in London, as it is filled with restaurants and busy shops.

From late July until Mid September Edinburgh turns into one giant festival celebrating arts and culture. There is the:

  • Jazz Festival
  • Blues Festival
  • Literary Festival
  • The iconic Fringe Festival

The Fringe Festival is where many now famous British actors and comedians have started and there are performances all over town. Not only does the festival draw enough visitors, but it is also the peak tourist season, so the streets of Edinburgh are heaving with people - and yet it is probably the most fun time to be in the city.

Glasgow is but a 40-minute train ride from Edinburgh, and while the city gets a bad reputation, it is actually a gem worth visiting. Downtown offers the usual shopping streets and big squares with official buildings, but the place you really want to get to is around the University of Glasgow and the wonderful West End. The University is beautiful during the day, and absolutely spectacular at night, due to the excellent lighting. If you think it looks like Hogwarts, you are not alone.

The West End is very bohemian with vegan restaurants and many quirky shops and coffee shops. Here you will find Ashton Lane, which is where you will a host of bars and restaurants that are well worth sampling. Glasgow is also the single best place in Europe to see live music, as every big European concert tour seems to start off with a small gig somewhere in Glasgow.

While in Glasgow, also make sure to the nation's favorite non-alcoholic drink: Irn-Bru, which is made in Glasgow, and also happens to be an excellent hangover cure.

To properly see and experience Scotland though, you have to head out of the cities and explore the countryside, specifically the Highlands.

The Highlands of Scotland contain some of Europe's most extensive wilderness areas and there are many national parks to explore for intrepid hikers.

If you plan on doing any of the longer hiking routes, make sure you have Scotland travel insurance.

One destination everyone should visit is the world famous Loch Ness, which is perhaps the most famous lake in the world. Who knows, it may be your claim to fame if you manage to spot Nessi, as the 'monster' is affectionately know around Scotland.

The Hebrides off the north-coast of Scotland are often said to be the most beautiful part of the British Isles. Mountainous landscapes meet turbulent oceans in an absolutely spectacular fashion in this part of the world.

Apart from nature tourism at its finest, this area is also well known for watersports, particularly surfing.

There are some excellent waves in the area, you just have to make sure you have a thick wetsuit and travel insurance for Scotland.

While Scotland may not be internationally famous for its food, the one thing no traveller to Scotland should shy away from is Haggis.

While it may not sound terribly appealing to eat minced innards out of a sheep's stomach, it is actually wonderfully tasty. For the most famous Haggis in Scotland you need to head to the tiny town go Dingwall and go to Coburn's & Son.

The other thing Scotland is famous for is whisky and you will find distilleries absolutely everywhere.

Scotland is a very safe country to visit, and generally visitors do not have to worry about anything. Do make sure to have travel insurance for Scotland and remember to avoid discussions about football or independence.

For more information on Scotland, visit the Scotland Tourism Website.

Ireland

Every year millions of visitors come to the shores of this beautiful island and in 2011 it was even voted as the favorite holiday destination and the friendliest country in the world. While it will probably rain during your stay, that does nothing to detract from the beauty of the country, the amazing variety of historical sites to visit, the overall friendliness of the people or the wonderful taste of Guinness. Make sure to bring a rain jacket, get your travel insurance for Ireland sorted out, and head to the emerald isle!

Dublin is the capital and an amazingly beautiful city. Awarded the UNESCO City of Literature title in 2010, there is a lot of culture to be discovered here.

James Joyce's book Ulysses follows a man on a walk through the streets of Dublin, and now you get to set forth and discover it for yourself.

Definitely worth seeing are:

  • Ha'Penny Bridge Dublin Ireland
  • Dublin Castle, the former seat of the British ruler in Ireland
  • Trinity College, one of the most prestigious learning institutes in the UK where you can have a look at the Book of Kells, a manuscript dating back to 800 AD
  • The infamous Kilmainham Gaol, the prison and execution site of the rebels of 1916
  • St James's Gate Brewery, which was founded in 1759 and produces the world famous Guinness
  • The pubs and nightlife - Temple Bar with its quaint cobbled streets is a good place to start
  • The gothic castle of Charleville, which is near Tullamore and is said to be haunted
  • For American visitors, Moneygail is said to be the ancestral home of current President, Barack Obama

Cork is Dublin's second biggest city and here you will find the Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne, which were built during the population explosion of the 1800s. The best views of the city of Cork are had from Elizabeth Fort, which is a bit of a walk up a hill but well worth it for the vista it presents.

Cork is also home to one of the largest Jazz Festivals in Europe, which happens in the last week of October, as well as Film Festival at the beginning of November. For a good selection of Irish made crafts, head to the Elizabeth Fort Market, which happens every Sunday.

Cork county is also the access point to a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has only recently started opening its doors to visitors: Skellig Michael. A well preserved monastery dating back to the 6th century perched on the side of an island, 12km off the coast.

Galway is the most popular tourism destination in West Ireland and also acts as a gateway to many scenic areas in Ireland.

The city dates back to the 15th century and was initially run by the heads of the 14 biggest merchant families, which is why it is known as the City of Tribes.

There is a fantastic nightlife scene and a general buzz around Galway, and the Galway Arts Festival usually happens in July and is a big cultural event in Ireland and well worth going to.

The single best way of exploring Ireland is by car. The distances in the country are not vast, and being in your own vehicle allows you to see many smaller towns and places that you would otherwise just pass by. Check that you have appropriate travel insurance for Ireland before starting your trip.

For more information on Ireland, visit the Ireland Tourism Website.

 

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