We may not have the best weather, or the best food in Europe, but there are so many other reasons to visit the UK. Firstly it’s full to the brim with history. I don’t think I ever really appreciated just how much history I was constantly surrounded by in the UK. From Historic Bath to The Jurassic Coast. Stone Henge to The Beatles. Oh and let’s not forget about Harry Potter and Outlander!
And yes, maybe British food isn’t so great on the whole, but we do have Gin and Cream Teas.
But what I really miss about the UK is the Great British outdoors. Seriously, if you are planning on visiting the UK and just going to London, you need to change that plan right now because there are an abundance of must have experiences in England. Yes, of course, visit London, then get on a train, bus, or go on a UK road trip. Go to Brighton, have some days out in The Cotswolds, Cornwall and Devon, Wales, and get off the beaten track in Scotland. The UK is truly beautiful in a magical kind of way. Don’t believe me? Then take a look at these amazing photos of Cornwall!
In this guide to the United Kingdom, I’m going to share everything you will need to plan the perfect trip to the UK, including where to go, what to eat, and of course, what to pack!
You can’t visit the UK and not explore London. It’s where most people start their UK adventure after all! Spend at least a few days exploring the historic capital and don’t forget to get some great Instagram pictures!
The other big city you should explore in the UK is Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles and home to the best Football team in the UK… yes, it’s also my home town so I’m totally biased. But here in Liverpool, you will find some of the friendliest people, a buzzing music scene, and a lot of cultural activities (like museums and galleries) with free entrance.
York is oftern skipped over by people visiting the UK. There are so many things to do in York so please don’t skip it! It’s such a beautiful city full of history, plus it’s surrounded by beautiful landscapes so getting there is very pleasant.
Bath is the UK’s only UNESCO city. The whole city is a UNESCO site thanks to the buildings all being built in the same style. Plus they have the Roman baths there. Although you can’t take a dip in the actual Roman baths, there is a delightful spa!
I know there is much more to Scotland than just Edinburgh. But don’t miss visiting here when in the UK. And if you have some extra time then I strongly recommend a trip to Dumfries and Galloway.
Cardiff is cool, and Swansea is meh (I lived there for 4 years so I can say that), but if you want to see Wales in all its beauty, go to the Gower. You can stay in the Mumbles and drive out for the day, or take your tent and go camping in the summer.
I love Cornwall. I find myself binge-watching Poldark once a year, just so I can travel there in my mind. It is breathtakingly beautiful. No really, the wind up on those rugged Cornish cliffs will quite literally take your breath away!
Brighton is a famous seaside town in the Uk, but it’s also a cultural melting pot filled with some of the UK’s hottest artists from all disciplines. It’s a short train ride from London and there are so many things to do in Brighton. Take a walk on the pier with some fish and chips and don’t forget to get an icecream!
When I was a child this is where we would go on family vacations. Normally camping or staying ina caravan somewhere. Kendle mint cake, visiting Beatrice Potters house, Lake Windomear and Ambleside. Ah, so many memories. please go and visit this beautiful place, and don’t forget your hiking boots!
The United Kingdom, island country located off the northwestern coast of mainland Europe. The United Kingdom comprises the whole of the island of Great Britain—which contains England, Wales, and Scotland—as well as the northern portion of the island of Ireland. The name Britain is sometimes used to refer to the United Kingdom as a whole.
The capital of the UK is London, which is among the world’s leading commercial, financial, and cultural centers.
The currency in the United Kingdom is the Pound sterling (GBP).
The dialing code of the United Kingdom is +44
The water is safe to drink from the tap in the UK and Ireland. This will come as a relief to those traveling on a budget, since bottled water is charged at a premium, especially in London. So ditch the plastic and get a reusable water bottle.
Accommodation in the UK isn’t particularly cheap, it’s similar to most of Europe. But if you are on a budget you can find decent hostels in most cities with kitchens. If you go to more rural places then it will be B&B’s (bed and breakfasts), or campsites! You can save yourself a lot of money outside of the cities if you bring a tent with you!
If you are going for the campsite option you will need to bring your own tent or buy one as it’s not common to have tents for rent in most campsites. That said you can also look at caravans or chalets (like little cabins). I once stayed in a delightful Airbnb caravan in someone’s garden in rural Cornwall once, and it was wonderful!
For a bed in a dorm expect to pay £ 15 -20 ($18-25 USD) if you want a private room in a dorm then you are looking at around £40 ($50 USD). Or if you prefer to stay in a hotel expect to pay around £60 ($75 USD).
Food in the UK is good, mostly because so many people from other cultures have settled here and brought their food with them haha. No, but really, you won’t go hungry in the UK, you probably just want to avoid eating too much traditional British Food as it’s often cooked in a lot of fat (lard) and not particularly healthy. I wrote a whole post on food to eat when in the UK but other than the more traditional British food, make sure you eat at least one British Indian curry while in the UK!
There are so many great things to the UK but I’d say to make the most of the UK you are going to need some hiking boots. The UK may be cold and damp, but it’s also bloody beautiful, plus it has so many quaint little rural pubs (boozers as we like to call them) where you can always be guaranteed of a roaring fire in the winter and an ice cold cider in the summer. Plus just before Christmas the Uk is full of Christmas markets which are always nice to wander around the London Christmas markets are always full of great food and interesting Christmas gifts. If you decide to escape London then take a look at this list of the best UK Christmas Markets and see if you can visit a few of them.
To enjoy the best hiking in the UK you want to look to Cornwall, Devon, The Lake District, The Welsh coast, Scotland, and the Yorkshire dales. There are other places too, but these are my personal favorite places in the UK.
So other than hiking or bike riding, it’s all about history and art. London is full of museums, but many of them you do have to pay for. However outside of London, in many places museums and art galleries are free of charge. Like in Liverpool or Manchester for example. There are also whole cities and towns steeped in history. Bath, York, and who could forget Stone Henge?
Backpackers Budget – $55 USD
Accommodation: $20 USD
Food: $15 USD
Activities & Transport: $20 USD
Mid Budget – $170 USD
Activities & Transport: $60
Luxury Budget – $350 USD +
Accommodation: $200 USD
Food: $50 USD
Activities & Transport: $100 USD
The UK is like most European countries. It’s relatively safe. Cities have more safety issues with pickpocketing and petty crime, plus around tourist hotspots you will need to look out for scammers.
But out in the rural areas and small towns the crime risk decreases.
Whatever you do though make sure you have some sold travel insurance before traveling abroad. I wrote a whole post on the best backpacking insurance and you can read it here.
Things in the UK can get expensive quickly! But there are some ways you can cut costs. The main things that are going to eat into your budget are transport and accommodation, which can get particularly expensive in the UK. A train from London to Liverpool can be 4 times as expensive as a flight to Spain sometimes!
If you are planning to get out in rural England camping will save you a lot of money! Make sure you have a waterproof tent and a decent sleeping bag. If you can splurge for a camping stove and a pot to cook with that will also save you a lot of money on food. Or look out for campsites with kitchens.
Using couchsurfer is pretty common in the UK. When I had my own place I was on there and had several cool people come and stay with me. Not only will it save you money, but most hosts are happy to offer advice about things to do in their town or city too.
If you want to save money by cooking for yourself then I would strongly suggest checking before booking.
It’s not expensive to join and if you join through my link and use the discount code in this blog post you get some money off… you’re welcome!
If you do want to eat out while in the UK then in general eating in pubs rather than restaurants is generally cheaper, plus you can often get deals if there are two of you, and before 6pm you ill often find ‘early bird’ menus where meals are discounted. The pub food isn’t always the best quality in the cities, but in the rural areas, often this food is great quality and locally sourced.
Here’s the thing. No one really wants to book their whole backpacking journey months in advance. But in the UK it really is the only way to save money, and I’m talking a lot of money here! Last time I was home I tried to book a train from London to Liverpool. Normal cost £300. Book it a month in advance on an off-peak train and I paid £40 for a 1st class ticket, a standard would have been £30 but I was feeling Boujee AF. Trains are by far the best way to travel in the UK, but if you don’t want to book too far in advance then you can also get some great deals on the National Express and MegaBus.
Water is safe to drink directly from the tap, so be sure to bring a good water bottle with you.
Wondering what to pack for The UK? I got you. I’ve done a full blog post outlining everything you need to pack for the United Kingdom depending on the season.
Or you can just skip ahead and download my free packing list using the form below.
All of the places I recommend below are in the best areas and I have either personally stayed there, or I know someone that has and it comes highly recommended.
The best way to travel around the UK is a mix of trains and cars. If you can book your trains in advance. Otherwise, bus and car.
Trains are by far the best way to travel cross country in the UK. I can get from London to Liverpool in under 3 hours on a train. It would be double that to drive or take a bus. But the prices can also get insane! The trick is to book in advance and travel off-peak.
Don’t just expect to turn up at the train station and book a ticket on the next cross country train, unless you want your bank balance to take a bit hit. Even booking a few days in advance can make a big difference. Use one of the comparison sites to check the times and prices and then book the best price, these are normally at off-peak times when people don’t want to travel, like right in the middle of the day!
Buses are much cheaper in the UK than the trains, unless you get a good deal. So if you can’t find a good train or a good price then look for a bus. You can travel on the MegaBus for £1 on some journeys if you book in advance. So if time isn’t an issue for you and you need to make your £ stretch then take the bus!
The very best way to really see the UK is in a car. Traveling from city to city is easy (but expensive) by train. But if you want to visit the rural areas of the UK without a car it’s going to be very difficult as the local transport in places like Cornwall or The Lake District can by unreliable and infrequent at the best of times. With a car, you can explore till your heart’s content without having to worry about missing a bus or getting caught in the rain while waiting for said bus.
You could either rent a car for the whole time you are in the UK, or you could do a mix of taking a train, then renting a car to explore the new place.
Remember though, us brits drive on the wrong side of the road!
There are lots of budget airlines in the UK, so flying is an option. But generally flying domestically is more expensive than flying internationally. Plus the baggage charges will make your eyes water! But I’d always check Skyscanner, just in case!
The United Kingdom can be visited at any time of year, as its climate is relatively temperate and, in general, doesn’t experience extremes during either summer or winter.
Overall, spring (late March to early June) and autumn (September to November) are the best times to visit, when it’s usually warm and dry. At these times you’ll see beautiful spring flowers or the leaves changing hue in autumn, and avoid the much busier summer period.
Winter (December to February) can also be an enjoyable time to visit. Although some attractions close in mountainous areas and in the north, where there’s likely to be snow, the main cities remain fully open and will be quieter for sightseeing. The highest temperatures are experienced in the summer, but these rarely rise above 30°C (86°F).
Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist is a great companion on your trip to the UK. You can get it before your trip to help you plan out all of the best places to go. It’s a go to bucket list of the not to miss places to visit in the UK.
It’s full of beautiful photography and it goes much further than just the typical tourist traps and includes everything from coastal walks, music festivals, and hidden away pubs you must visit.
If you are interested in learning more about the upper echelons of the British aristocracy then this book abut the life of Anne Glenconner is a great read.
She has long been at the center of the royal circle as a life long friend of the Queen and her sister. Her father was the Earl of Leicester and controlled one of the largest estates in England.
Sadly Anne turned out to be “the greatest disappointment” to her father and she was unable to inherit his great estate and instead make her own way in the world while surviving the vipers of court life! And interesting read to see how the ‘other half’ live.
The UK that you will see today is a product of the post WWII industrial revolution.
Nineteenth-century Britain experienced an unprecedented series of changes in the wake of the war. Cities grew fast and revolutions in transports, communication, science, and the way people lived happened in quick succession.
Added to these changes was a growing skepticism of religion, a questioning of power resulting in political and social unrest.
In spite if these turbulent times Britain remained strong on a global level which saw it quickly rise as a global leader… this was of course before Brexit!
Us brits are legit obsessed with manners to a fault. Seriously we love nothing more that throwing as many please and thank you’s in to a sentence as we can make fit. And don’t even get me started with our obsession with apologizing for EVERYTHING!
But our obsession doesn’t just stop there, there is so much more to British etiquette most of which will confuse the hell out of visitors from foreign lands.
In this book you will get an illuminating insight in to all of the social rules we are governed by, from never putting your elbows on the table to holding open doors. But this book goes deeper and shines a light on where this crazy obsession with good manners comes from. Its a interesting and quirky must read.
Looking for a novel to sink your teeth into on those long cross country train journeys in the UK. White Teeth is it.
Set against London’ s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, White Teeth revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.