United Kingdom

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.

United Kingdom

Capital City: London

Tourism website: 

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
  • March | April - Good Friday set according to the Western Christian calendar
  • March | April - 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, Northern Ireland has stunning scenery and hiking trails, 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.

Northern Ireland

When most people think of Northern Ireland the first thing they may think of is its turbulent and troubled past and the IRA. While politics remain a touchy subject, Northern Ireland is considered very safe to visit since the political situation has stabilized over the last 15 years or so, and more and more tourists each year are discovering the charm of this wonderful place. With stunning scenery, the bustling city of Belfast, and massive amounts of Irish charm, Northern Ireland will win you over as well. Get your passport and visas sorted, make sure you have an appropriate and up-to-date travel insurance for Northern Ireland, and go explore this stunning place.

Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland and by far the biggest and busiest. However, the city is still small enough to explore on foot, which will allow you to truly experience the feeling of Belfast. Donegall Square and City Hall form the heart of the city, and are a great starting point for a little walk. City Hall itself was opened in 1906 and is a nice example of British turn of the century architecture. With free tours of the building available, it could make an interesting experience. Not far from Donegall Square is the Grand Opera House, which is a great example of Georgian theatre architecture and a must see for every visitor to Belfast.

The stretch between Donegall Square and Queen's University is known as the Golden Mile. This is quite a nice walk to do during the day, with a quite few things to see along the way. There are also a lot of bars along this road as well as a few nice places to eat. The university itself is a picturesque Victorian building that is open to visitors, and the Botanical Gardens are a nice place to just sit and relax, or to check out the Tropical Ravine.

Heading the opposite direction from Donegall Square, you will get to Belfast Castle and eventually St Anne's Cathedral. Both are monuments of tremendous importance and very beautiful to visit. To explore the conflict in Northern Ireland a bit more, be on the lookout for murals around Belfast. Both political groups have a tradition of painting large murals, which can give you some insight into the conflict and how it has affected the communities. Some of the areas containing the murals could be a bit unsafe due to crime, so make sure you consider having appropriate travel insurance for travel to Northern Ireland.

The northern coast of Northern Ireland is famous for being home to the Giant's Causeway, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Causeway is a truly spectacular site dating back some 60 million years. While you are visiting the Causeway, make sure to walk around the area a little bit, as you can see some stunning coastal scenery. The north is also home to the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world, Old Bushmills Distillery, which offers tours for the interested as well as the opportunity to sample their products.

South of Belfast holds another spectacular nature destination: the Mourne Mountains. The highest peak in the range is only 852m high, but gives you great views of the surrounding area, and on clear days you can see towards England and Scotland. This represents one of Ireland's most popular trekking, hiking, and climbing destinations and it is truly beautiful! If you plan on doing longer hikes be sure to be prepared with suitable travel insurance for Northern Ireland for peace of mind.

The city of Derry, located in Northern Ireland's northeast, is the second biggest city in the country and also a very popular tourist destination. There are some excellent museums located in the city, such as the Tower Museum, which tells the story of Derry from pre-historic times until today, or the Free Derry Museum, which is dedicated to the conflict in Northern Ireland and really a must for any visitor to this country. However, the main attraction in Derry is the old walls.

Derry is one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe, and there are many 'wall tours' to show you the hidden sights.

Northern Ireland is generally very safe for visitors, having one of the lowest crime rates in Europe. Try not to get into any political or religious discussions though, and leave any clothing that may be associated with football, religion or politics at home. Otherwise, make sure you visit a pub or two, and enjoy the famous Northern Irish hospitality!

For more information on Northern Ireland, visit the Northern Ireland tourism website.

 

Wales

Next to England and facing Ireland is Wales. Certainly not the first place you would think of when you’re planning an adventure holiday of hiking, surfing, diving, and perhaps visiting some cultural heritage. However, Wales has long been a favourite holiday destination for many British people as it offers superb seaside resort towns, many imposing and stunningly preserved castles, and probably more activities than any other part of the United Kingdom. Get your travel insurance for Wales sorted and go discover the 'land of song’.

Cardiff is the capital of Wales and is quickly becoming a hot spot for tourism. It’s not difficult to see why when you get there, as Cardiff is a great city with a hugely diverse offering of attractions. Known as the city of castles, you can explore some wonderfully preserved castles pretty much everywhere. In the city center is Cardiff Castle, which also houses the Welsh regimental museum as well as excavated Roman ruins. The 'Red Castle', or Castell Coch, is another beautiful place you can visit which also offers some spectacular views of the area. It is a reconstruction, but nonetheless a gorgeous fairytale castle.

Cardiff also has some wonderful museums to visit. The National Museum of Cardiff has some excellent exhibits focusing on the history of Wales as well as a very good art collection. However hands down the best museum is probably St Fagans National History Museum. Located in the village of St Fagan, it was built on the ground of St Fagans Castle and is a wonderful open air museum that has absolutely spectacular gardens. This is one of Wales's most popular attractions and really should not be missed.

But it's not all culture and history in Cardiff. You can take a cruise along the Bristol Channel, which is absolutely breathtaking in summer, or enjoy a boat ride in Cardiff Bay followed by watching the sunset in one of the many restaurants there. While you’re in Cardiff, keep an eye out for any musical events as Wales is known for its love of music. There are also many smaller venues where you can still discover new artists.

Swansea is further west along the coast and is another great town to visit. It was the first in the UK to be designated an 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty', and the Gower Peninsular that Swansea is located on is truly spectacular. The city itself has lots to offer, from the famous Swansea Castle to Oystermouth Castle and the infamous murals at The Guildhall. You’ll also find a lot of references to the famous poet Dylan Thomas, as this was his birthplace and you can visit the Dylan Thomas Centre.

The Gower Peninsula is home to the UK’s most beautiful beach (Oxwich Bay), as well as some great hidden coves that are fun to explore. Another nice trip is to Mumbles, which is a charming fishing village with its own 12th century castle and a great promenade that offers exceptional views of the area. There are many nice driving routes in the area, so if you are motorised do explore them! Before going on any drive, sort out your travel insurance for Wales.

The north of Wales is less developed than the area around Cardiff and Swansea, but nonetheless offers some great sites for visitors. The amount of well-preserved 12th and 13th century castles in this area is staggering. Most famous are probably the castles around the town of Gwynedd. Many historical railways also operate in this area offering beautiful rides through the countryside on old locomotives. This area is also known for its microbreweries focusing on traditional ales, especially Purple Moose, which is fun to visit.

Just off the coast from Gwynedd is the island of Anglesey. While not a huge tourism destination, it does have some very nice towns as well as the famous Beaumaris Castle, which is one of the largest castles in Wales but remains unfinished. However, the real claim to fame of this region is that it is home to the town with the longest name in Europe, and the second longest one-word place name in the world: Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch

Wales is truly a great destination for families with kids, or for adventure travellers who wish to explore the rugged countryside. All you need to explore this beautiful country is some good rain gear and travel insurance for Wales.

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

 

 
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