The UK's rich history and culture make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Britain gave the world William Shakespeare, the Beatles, football, cricket, television and the radio, so it's no wonder that tourists want to visit the UK to see it for themselves.
The UK population is 65 million and it consists of four countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Nine million people live in London, the capital city, which is one of the most visited cities in the world. What to do in London? It is a global financial and cultural center and there is an abundance of things to do in London. Famous for its red buses and phone boxes, the iconic capital has some of the world's most famous landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Big Ben, the Globe Theatre and the London Eye.
Tourism in the UK: Aside from London, there are many popular tourist destinations in the UK and sights to see. Scotland and Wales are beautiful countries which are culturally rich as are other parts of England such as Cornwall, Devon, Yorkshire and the Lake District.
Britain's peak as a global power came from its strength as a naval power during the era of the British empire which, in 1923, included 23% of the world's population. Bankrupted by the second world war and faced with global anti-colonial movements and the rise of the US and the Soviet Union as world powers, the empire collapsed.
Britain was a former colony itself under the rule of the Roman Empire. Julius Caesar conquered the island in 43AD and it remained under Roman control until 410AD. Throughout the middle ages, Britain's history was dominated by the various lines of monarchs, of which Elizabeth I and Henry VIII (with his six wives) are probably the two best-known.
Though the monarchy still exists today it is not the powerful institution it once was, political power lies with the democratically-elected parliament.
UK culture: Pubs, clubs, cafes festivals, and live music are popular in towns and cities across the UK, which has produced some of the world's most popular music. Famous bands and artists to come from Britain include the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Queen, Pink Floyd, The Who, Radiohead, Oasis, Blur and the Arctic Monkeys.
Sport in the UK is very popular. Football, cricket, rugby, and tennis all oroginate from Britain and have since gone on to become global sports. Football stadiums in the UK are popular tourist attractions, the most visited include Wembley Stadium, Old Trafford, Anfield and The Emirates Stadium.
The UK Basic Information
- Time Zone:
When to Go
The weather in the UK is complicated, changeable and difficult to predict. Situated just off the north-west coast of mainland Europe and being completely surrounded by the various parts of the Atlantic Ocean, the weather can be influenced from any direction at any time. London is the most popular location and tourists don’t go there for the weather, the capital’s culture can be enjoyed all year. When is the best time to visit the UK? In general, the summer is the warmest, driest time. Here is a rough seasonal guide though the climate varies from year-to-year (and from day-to-day!).
Summer (June to September) High season for tourism. These are the best months to visit the UK, especially for an outdoor holiday. The weather is generally warm and quite dry, temperatures stay above 15C by day and don’t usually go below 10C at night If there’s a heatwave the temperatures can go above 30C. However, recent summers have been unusually wet, tropical rain has become a more common occurrence.
Fall (September to November) One of the most changeable seasons but also one of the most picturesque. The colors of the leaves changes to red and brown as they start falling off the trees. The weather is fairly wet and mild though sometimes there is an ‘Indian summer’ which brings sunny, warm weather.
Winter (November to March) Generally cold and wet, temperatures vary depending on the region. In the south, the winters are fairly mild but in the north of England and Scotland, temperatures are often sub-zero. Wrapping up warm with winter clothing means going outside is generally not a problem. Heavy snow is irregular and takes the country by surprise, often disrupting transport. The Christmas season dominates the shops and high-streets over this merry period.
Spring (March to May) Warm, sunny periods intersperse wet and mild days during this changeable season. Typical temperatures range from 5C to 20C and in general, there are no real extremes of weather during this time. May is a good month to visit too, with nature in full swing, it’s fairly warm, and the tourist season still a couple of months off.
The UK is a good destination for:
The UK Entry Requirements
You need to have a passport valid for the duration of your trip unless you are an EU national with an identity card. A passport is also not required for travel between the UK are Ireland, only an ID such as a driving license is necessary.
You may also need a visa depending on your nationality:
EU citizens can travel freely to the UK and live there (this may change after Brexit).
Citizens of the US, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, New Zealand and other countries can stay in the UK for up to six months without a visa.
Most other nationalities need to obtain a visa before traveling to the UK.
The UK Country Atractions
- London. One of the most cosmopolitan, culturally rich, and iconic cities on earth, London continues is to entice people to visit, live and work. From London art galleries such as the National Gallery and the Tate Modern, museums such as the British Museum and the Madame Tussauds, there is something for everyone. It is possible to see some of the capitals most famous landmarks in Central London, such as Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey and Trafalgar Square in a few hours as they are all so close. It is also worth seeing some of London’s other gems which are are outside of the center. There are many things to do in Greenwich, the home of time and the place where the original meridian line was drawn which separates East and West, you can also visit the Royal Observatory, the Cutty Sark, and enjoy some of the best views of London’s cityscape from the beautiful Greenwich Park.
- Edinburgh. Famous for its festivals, cultural attractions, and family fun, the capital city of Scotland capital is a fascinating, unique city to visit. Festivals take place throughout the year and cover a wealth of art forms including music, comedy, story-telling, and literature. The famous Fringe festival takes place in August, and with hundreds of stages dotted over the city, every taste is catered for. There is also an abundance of tourist attractions in Edinburgh: exhibitions, museums and attractions which are open all-year such as Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland, the Edinburgh Dungeon and the Scotch Whisky Experience.
- Lake District. The ideal location for a walking holiday in the UK. A picturesque patchwork of lakes, valleys, woods and quaint villages, the Lake District offers Britain’s most stunning scenery and views. If you’re seeking an outdoor holiday, or are looking for a place for a hiking or cycling holiday, this is the ideal location. Though the weather is famously unpredictable, sunshine is not necessary to enjoy the magnificent scenery.
- Cornwall. Cornwall’s magnificent 300-mile coastline of sandy beaches, dunes, cliffs is totally unique and makes it the best place for a beach holiday in the UK. Surfing and bodyboarding are popular activities as is visiting the tourist attractions in Cornwall which include the Eden project, a stunning collection of plants from a diverse range of climates, Tintagel Castle and Tate St Ives. Don’t forget to have a Cornish pasty and a traditional cream tea while you’re there!
- York. Founded by the Romans in 71AD, the historic walled city became the capital of the Roman province of Britania Inferior. Steeped in history, ancient architecture, vibrant cafes and fun activities it is a popular UK destination for couples and families. The magical cobbled streets are full of street entertainers and iconic buildings such as York Minster so there’s never a dull moment in York.
- Hastings. Famous for the historic Battle of Hastings in 1066. An event that would change the course of English history, William the Conqueror crossed the channel with his Norman army and defeated King Harold’s Saxon army. There is a now a picturesque old town full of cafes, boutiques and fish and chip shops, a newly reopened Victorian pier and beautiful surrounding countryside where you can enjoy an afternoon stroll. 90 minutes from London, it is one of the best towns to visit in the UK and it is also the place where John Logie Baird invented the television in 1926.
- Don’t expect to hear the Queen’s English! There are hundreds of different accents across the UK and some of them may be difficult to understand, the Geordie (Newcastle), Glaswegian (Glasgow) and Brummie (Birmingham) accents are notoriously strong and difficult for visitors to understand. Don’t be afraid to ask people to repeat themselves!
- Don’t fear the food! British food has a terrible reputation but over the last couple of decades, it has improved unrecognizably. Eating out in the UK, with its truly global variety of food, is far more interesting than most countries in Europe. Get ready to enjoy a fantastic range of cheeses, traditional hearty British dishes, and the more modern cosmopolitan fusion cuisine.
- Book train tickets in advance and get an Oyster Card. Train travel across the UK can be extortionate. However, if you book weeks in advance it is possible to buy tickets at a fraction of the price. Buy an Oyster Card from any tube station if you go to London as single and return tickets are pricey around the capital, the card allows you to top-up and save money.
- The UK is bigger than London. London is naturally the first tourist destination that people think of when visiting the UK. However, there are numerous towns and cities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which are steeped in history and culture. they are also much more affordable than London, where prices are disproportionately high.
- There are plenty of ATMs in the UK, though be prepared to be charged, you are normally charged a percentage and a transaction fee so budget for this. Changing money in the UK is easy, there are lots of places where you can including banks, post offices, and bureau de changes.
- Watch your things in London! Like any major metropolitan area, there is crime. Although you’ll feel safe in London, pickpockets target tourists and it is one of the places in the world where you’re most likely to be robbed.