United Kingdom Guide
Five Things First Time Travellers To The UK Should Know
- Remember to stand on the right. If you're using an escalator, don't stand on the left unless you are in a rush. People use the left-hand side to go past quickly, and the right to politely stay out of their way.
- Don't jump the queue. In the United Kingdom, the locals take queuing seriously. Trying to disrupt the order and jump ahead is one of the most offensive things you could do.
- It's customary to leave a 10-15% tip when at a restaurant. However, some places add a 12% service charge automatically, so check your bill to avoid tipping twice.
- If you're a foodie, get the Taste of UK card. The card entitles you to 50% off and 2 for 1 deals at selected restaurants across the UK. It's a great way to save money and also taste some of the country's best food.
- WiFi is available everywhere. If you need to get online, you won't have a problem finding internet while in the UK. Most public spaces, transportation, hotels and restaurants offer free WiFi access.
Best Time To Visit The UK
The UK isn't known for its picture-perfect weather. But if you want to escape the freezing temperatures, plan your visit for either its spring or summer months.
From March to May the parks are green and blooming, and temperatures are starting to increase. But keep your visit to the beginning of spring if you want to avoid the crowds. From late spring onwards, prices begin to rise and peak tourist season is in full swing.
While temperatures are at their highest from June to September, it's also the wettest time of year. Don't forget to pack your raincoat and plan a few backup activities in case the weather takes a turn for the worst.
While the UK will never be a cheap destination, prices are lower during its colder months. From December to February, there will be fewer crowds, and most hotels drop their rates for this mini low season. Just be sure to pack enough warm clothes as temperatures often dip to below freezing.
The exception is around Christmas and New Year. The UK is one of the most popular destinations for the holidays so expect thick crowds, expensive room rates and loads of festive activities.
London is the capital city of England and one of the most popular destinations in the world. It welcomes more than 25 million visitors each year and boasts some of the biggest tourist attractions.
The city itself is also quite diverse. It's home to 1.5 million expats who speak over 300 different languages.
London's highlights include Big Ben, The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and its slew of fascinating museums.
The city of Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. It's home to a 1,000-year-old castle and has an extinct volcano in the middle of town.
During August, the city hosts a number of festivals, and its population swells to more than one million. It's also known for its annual New Year's Eve party, Hogmanay. It's a four-day street party and is full of live music, fun fairs and parades.
Manchester is one of the UK's most historic cities. In the 18th century, it was world's cotton making capital and helped spark the industrial revolution.
Today, the city is known for its indie and pop music scenes. Artists like Simply Red, Oasis and The Smiths all got their start in Manchester, and its live music venues are some of the best in the country.
The city of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is full of England's finest 18th-century architecture. From its 2,000-year-old Roman Baths to the houses that formed backdrops in countless period films.
But the city has more to offer than just its historical relevance. Bath is home to quirky museums, a thermal spa and a great selection of restaurants.
Top Attractions in The UK
Stonehenge is one of the most famous ancient monuments in the United Kingdom. Each year, over 1.3 million people visit the prehistoric site making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.
While no one is sure how or why the stones were placed here, it's believed that The Bronze Age stone circles were in use until the Roman era.
Located an hour outside of London, it's one of the best day trips for history buffs. There's also an on-site museum with interesting exhibitions and a small cafe. Entrance costs GBP 14.50 and it's free for kids under the age of five.
Tower of London
Built in 1078 by William the Conqueror, the Tower of London is the most important building in the city. It once served as a prison for some of Britain's most infamous figures such as Anne Boleyn and Guy Fawkes.
Covering an area of 18 acres, it boasts the world's oldest visitor attraction and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.
Some of its most popular exhibitions include the Line of Kings, the Crown Jewels exhibition and the Yeoman Warder Tours.
You need at least a full day here, so arrive early to beat the crowds and get a head start.
The British Museum
The British Museum is the most popular attraction in the UK. It attracts over 6 million visitors each year and is considered one of the world's best museums.
Founded in 1753, it became the first national public museum in the world. Since then, it's housed iconic exhibits like the Rosetta Stone, Egyptian mummies and the Parthenon Sculptures.
Today, it houses 8 million objects, but only displays 1% of its collection. Get here at 10:00 a.m. when the doors open to give yourself enough time to explore all its treasures. Entrance is free.
The Edinburgh Castle is one of Scotland's most important historical landmarks. Located on top of Castle Rock, it gives visitors magnificent views of the city's landmarks below.
Built in the 13th century, it's considered one of the most haunted places in Scotland due to its violent past. But it's also home to a lot of historical artefacts. Inside Edinburgh castle, you'll find the Scottish Crown Jewels and the famous Stone of Destiny used in coronation ceremonies for centuries.
Guided tours start from the Portcullis Gate, and if you arrive in time, you can watch the firing of the One o’clock Gun, a tradition that dates back to 1861.
Built by William the Conqueror in 1078, the Windsor Castle holds the title as the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world.
It's one of the most iconic attractions in the UK and is a must-visit for those interested in the history of the British monarchy.
Entrance includes admission to the Royal Apartments (if the Queen is not home) and you can visit the graves of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and King Henry VIII to name a few.
If you can, time your visit with the Changing of the Guard and make sure to visit the 6-mile-long Great Park.
Major International Airports in the UK
- London Heathrow Airport
- London Gatwick Airport
- Manchester Airport
- London Stansted Airport
- London Luton Airport