The UK

Home for the first thirty-two years of my life, this tiny island continues to draw us back.

Great Britain comprises of three countries; England, Wales and Scotland, whereas the UK  incorporates our northern Irish cousins across the water.

It’s a relatively small island but with some rather large mountains to break it all up. We have forty-eight counties and fit tidily into one time zone; Greenwich the time where it all began!

England’s capital city is London, Scotland’s in Edinburgh and Wales is Cardiff. At the time of writing this, there are nearly 70m inhabitants across 243,610 square kilometres (94,060 square miles). With some of the most beautiful islands in the world, the UK should be on everybody’s travel bucket list.

Top Ten Cities

  1. London – 9,787,426
  2. Manchester – 2,553,379
  3. Birmingham – 2,440,986
  4. Leeds – 1,777,934
  5. Glasgow – 1,199,629
  6. Liverpool – 864,122
  7. Southampton – 855,569
  8. Newcastle – 774,891
  9. Nottingham – 729,977
  10. Sheffield – 685,368

What to Know

Language

The de-facto language of the UK is English, although four Celtic languages are still widely spoken in Wales and some parts of Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall.

Currency

  • The UK’s currency is the Great British Pound £.
  • ATM’s can be found in every town and city. Nearly all businesses now accept bank card or apple pay.
  • The contactless payment limit is £30.

Visa

  • The UK is not within the Schengen area and all passports are checked at all borders.
  • The UK currently allows travel from Europeans with no visa.
  • You can check if you need to apply for a visa here: https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa

Accommodation

  • A bed in a hostel costs around £10-20 per night whereas private rooms in hostels might cost £50 per night.  Free WiFi is usually included in hostel stays and some include breakfast.
  • Guesthouse rooms usually cost £60-80 per night.
  • Airbnb (get $25 off your booking) is widely available with prices generally starting at £30 per night.
  • Booking.com offers a comprehensive list of hotels, hostels, guest rooms and private villas/houses. Hotel prices can start at as little as £30 per night
  • Official camp sites can cost £10 per night for a tent pitch but start from £25 if you have an RV or trailer and require electricity.
  • Free camping is allowed and there are dedicated websites geared to helping you find legitimate spots.

Food

  • British food is inexpensive outside the major capitals. A basic fast food meal can cost about £4 whereas a simple restaurant meal would be roughly £10.
  • Plant based food restaurants are easy and plentiful to find within main cities. Outside main cities, plant-based choice becomes more limited but has definitely increased over the last few years.
  • If you plan on buying and cooking your own food, supermarkets can be found in all large towns and cities. The bigger chains are Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Lidl and Aldi. The Co-Op offers food that is more environmentally sourced. Expect to pay at least £150-300 for a family week shop if shopping in supermarkets.
  • Search for fresh food markets and farmer markets to purchase fruit and veggies at a slightly discounted rate in comparison to supermarkets.

Transport

  • Internal flights remain relatively expensive. The budget airlines are EasyJet, RyanAir, Wizz.
  • Train fares vary from city to city however unless you book well in advance they remain extortionately expensive. If you’re planning on spending a while in one city, consider getting a travel card (Like Oyster) to discount frequent trips.
  • Bus fares are much cheaper but they can be very limited especially in rural areas. Consider using coaches for longer distance travels but expect it to take longer.
  • Car hire can be made cheaper by shopping around but expect to spend about £150 a week. Petrol is about £1.20-1.50 a litre and rising.
  • Hitch hiking is not as commonly seen as in mainland Europe but it is an option.

Internet & Phone

  • The internet ranges from amazing fibre optics to mifi boxes. Always ask for an internet speed check.
  • Cheap PAYG phone SIM cards can be purchased from Vodafone, 3, EE etc.
  • Free internet is given in some restaurants and mostly chain coffee shops but don’t expect anything too good.
  • Co-working spaces are becoming more common but spaces are limited to the major cities.

Activities

Places of Interest

  • London – A bustling and ultra busy city which we love. There’s something for everyone in this lively city that houses nearly 10 million people. Full of great food, places of history, street art, amazing architecture, roof top bars, the Thames and art galleries galore. If you[‘re bored of London, you’re bored of life.
  • Liverpool – My birth city is never far from my heart.
  • Norwich – A cute little city with rambling streets and amazing food.
  • Edinburgh – Scotland’s capital, home to Hogmanay and the bagpipe.
  •  Durham – 
  •  Oxford – 
  •  Brighton – 

Areas of natural beauty

  • The Lake District
  • The Peak District
  • Pembrokeshire – 
  • Cornwall
  • The Highlands
  • West Coast of Scotland
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