Let’s explore the UK

UK travel guide

As someone who has grown up and lived in the UK my whole life, I may be biased – but I think our little country has an incredible amount to offer those who explore it. 

Despite having spent years of my life exploring everything on my doorstep, I know there is still so much more to discover. Whether you’re after the vibrancy of a city break or the slower place of life in rural England, I know you’re going to love the UK – just as much as I do.

About the author

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

The UK is a truly magical travel destination. In my opinion, it’s one of the best travel destinations in the world for a varied and captivating adventure. It’s a place that I think can often be underestimated in terms of what it can offer travellers. The UK is not just about London and it’s definitely not just synonymous with rain.

For city dwellers, there are so many incredible hubs to explore in the UK. From iconic London to theatrical Edinburgh, from beautiful Bath to romantic York, UK cities offer so much in terms of culture, scenery, and things to do.

Outside of the cities, the UK is home to endless rolling green countryside and havens of natural beauty. Whether it’s the enchanting New Forest or the charming Cotswolds, the stunning Scottish Highlands or rural Devon and Cornwall, the UK is bursting with travel opportunities.

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How to get to the UK

The easiest way to get to the UK is by air into one of the many international airports across the nation. For those in nearby European cities like Paris or Brussels, the Eurostar is likely to be a better option. London alone has six major airports, although I’d recommend flying into either London Gatwick or London Heathrow. Both of these airports offer easy transfers into central London.

London is always a good place to start when visiting the UK. But if you have your eyes set on a different part of the UK, then it’s worth considering flying into a different city. It may well be cheaper too. Some of the other major airports in the UK include Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol, Newcastle, Belfast, Liverpool, Cardiff, Exeter, and more.

How to get around the UK

Again, this will depend on which parts of the UK you intend to explore. If you’re exploring any of the major cities, then a car is definitely not necessary. In fact, I’d advise against it as traffic can be unbearable. In London, the underground (or ‘tube’) offers a quick and easy service, as well as a reliable bus network. Taxi companies like Uber and Bolt operate in pretty much all of the major UK cities.

Outside of the cities, most places can be reached easily by train. However, some more remote parts of the country are definitely more easily accessed by car. This is especially the case if you’re the kind of adventurer who likes to visit those hidden gems and more untouched places.

Good to know

Try to book trains as far in advance as you can. The closer you get to the date of travel, the more expensive it can be. Take care to travel outside of peak times too – you’ll save a lot of money and it will be a more comfortable journey.

Bath Sunset
Cirencester UK

Best time to visit the UK

The UK is a year round destination. Although the summer months offer sunnier days, the weather is famously unpredictable all year. It follows that the best time to visit the UK will depend on the type of travel experience you’d like.

Spring

The UK starts to bloom around March time, when the spring season starts and flowers adorn every nook and cranny of the nation. Pretty pink cherry blossoms frame the countryside and endless fields of flowers sprawl across the land. This is the time to make the most of the UK’s English gardens and National Parks. The weather warms up from March through to June but rain showers are still common, especially in April.

Summer

For the best chance of good weather, the best time to visit the UK is between June and early September. Remember that this is the UK though, so summer definitely does not guarantee sun! These months are when you should plan to explore the UK’s coastline and discover the various gorgeous beaches. It’s also the time for alfresco dining in the countryside or rooftop drinks in the cities to make the most of balmy summer evenings.

Autumn

The autumn months of late September through to November bring those gorgeous golden colours of the foliage. Abundant red and orange leaves adorn the trees and the UK starts to feel wonderfully cosy. Autumn is also a great time to visit the UK because there are less tourists than the summer months. Be sure to explore the UK’s woodlands at this time of the year, and see the cities in all their enchanting Autumnal glory.

Winter

Winters may be cold – and often wet – in the UK, but the months of December through February bring a new and utterly beautiful dimension. The days may be shorter, but there are plenty of winter activities to do, from snowy winter walks and ice skating rinks to fireworks and Christmas markets. It’s also a time when the great British pub really comes into its own; a place where you can snuggle up by a roaring fire.

UK travel destination highlights

London

You can’t write a UK travel guide and not include London. Where modern skyscrapers meet historic architecture and where thriving metropolitan hubs meet open green spaces. London is home to a melting pot of cultures and it’s a place for every type of traveller. Whether you’re a solo traveller looking for cultural fix, a couple looking for a romantic UK city break, or a group of friends looking for a lively break away.

London is a city you’ll never get bored of. Explore iconic museums, discover cute cafes, and dine in world-class restaurants. For those after a touch of opulence, London offers luxury in spades. Enjoy an unforgettable stay in a luxury London hotel, indulge in traditional high tea, or dine in one of an astonishing 66 Michelin-star restaurants in London.

The Cotswolds

For a welcome contrast to the hustle and bustle of city life, head to the Cotswolds. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Cotswolds is a truly special pocket of the UK. Wile away the days exploring the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds and soaking up the green rolling countryside that surrounds them.

From grand castles and palaces to quaint cafes and pubs, there are plenty of things to do in the Cotswolds. Walk parts of the Cotswolds Way and marvel at the charming honey-toned cottages and cobbled streets. It’s a truly magical place to visit in the UK and one that looks as though it has been lifted from the pages of a fairytale. Read more in my Cotswolds travel guide.

Cornwall

For some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK, look no further than Cornwall. With long stretches of golden sand and pretty seaside villages, it’s the perfect UK retreat. For those looking for a bit of adventure, Cornwall is a surfer’s paradise and is the best place in the UK for various different watersports.

Visitors to Cornwall discover a more laid-back way of life that is in stark contrast to the chaotic modern life that many of us live. Spend time exploring the many beautiful towns in Cornwalland wander the idyllic countryside. You’ll be spoilt for choice with places to stay, with a seriously impressive collection of gorgeous Airbnbs and stunning luxury hotels in Cornwall to choose from.

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Frequently asked questions

Does it always rain in the UK?

No, it doesn’t always rain in the UK – but it does rain quite a lot! We may be famed for our grey cloudy skies and regular drizzle, but we do have glorious sunny days too. Whatever season you travel to the UK in, make sure you pack an umbrella.

What are some traditional English dishes?

Starting with breakfast, there’s the traditional Full English breakfast. This usually features bacon, sausage, eggs, hash brown, mushrooms, tomato, baked beans, and sometimes black pudding. For lunch or dinner, other popular dishes are fish and chips, Sunday roast dinner, steak and ale pie, and bangers (sausages) and mash.

What is the currency in the UK?

Pound Sterling (£) is the currency in the UK. Cash is useful to have, just in case, but cards are generally accepted everywhere. ATMs are readily available across the UK, unless you’re going to somewhere particularly remote in the British countryside.

Should you tip in restaurants in the UK?

Yes, it’s generally expected that you tip between 10-15% of the bill in restaurants, as long the service was good. It is discretionary though, so if the service was below par then you shouldn’t feel like you have to leave the full amount. Often it’s added to the bill automatically, especially in London, so look out for this. Outside of London, 10% is standard, but in the capital city, the standard is usually 12.5-15%.

What should I know about travelling on the tube in London?

Unless you are walking down or up an escalator, stand on the right. Heed this advice if you value your life! Londoners are not the cheeriest people and they will not appreciate you standing in their way during their morning commute. It’s also best to avoid talking to anyone while on the tube. Again, we’re not the friendliest bunch in London – not until we’ve had a couple of drinks at least!

Outside of London, people are much cheerier and striking up a conversation with the locals is welcomed. For more tips for visiting England’s capital city, have a read of my London travel guide.

Are trains expensive in the UK?

Train prices are painfully expensive in the UK. There’s no getting around this, as it’s a great way to travel around the UK. Try to book as far in advance as possible to get the lowest prices and always try to travel off-peak as it will be cheaper. If you’re spending a long time travelling the UK then it may be worth getting a railcard (e.g. 16-25 or 26-30), if you qualify, for discounted travel.

How many UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in the UK?

There are an impressive 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK, from palaces and bridges to coastlines and islands.

UK travel inspiration

To fuel your UK wanderlust and gather ideas for your UK bucket list, browse my UK travel guides and articles. From city breaks to quirky accommodation inspiration, you’ll find it here.

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Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.