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With such a lengthy and diverse history and culture, the United Kingdom can be a richly rewarding place to visit.
Manor houses, castles and palaces abound, but the UK has other charms equally as engaging, from its weird and wonderful traditions to its increasingly acclaimed cuisine. Its landscape shouldn’t be overlooked: for such a small destination it has a remarkable breadth of scenery, ranging from the strikingly dramatic to the charmingly picturesque.
Planning your trip
Although it may be less challenging to arrange a trip to the United Kingdom than with other countries, it can be hard to get off the beaten track. We will use our expert knowledge to design an itinerary based around your individual preferences, and will endeavour to help you avoid the crowds and discover experiences unique to each area.
Having originated in England, English is spoken throughout the United Kingdom. However, different regional accents exist which can be quite strong and difficult to understand. There are a few subtle variations from American English, and certain words or phrasing may be confusing to begin with.
Food & drink
Modern British cuisine puts a focus on fresh, locally sourced ingredients — and the United Kingdom is not spoilt for choice. Organic meat and vegetables can be found across the country, with different regions specialising in different produce.
Areas where dairy farming is prevalent are known for their excellent local cheeses, in particular the south west of England (where cheddar cheese originates) and parts of Scotland. Cream tea and scones are traditional in Devon & Cornwall, also the home of the Cornish pasty.
With such a large coastline, fish and seafood is ubiquitous, with salmon and trout in particular being prized. Traditionally, fish and meats were smoked to preserve them better, a practice which is still common — more so in Scotland that in England.
Tea is the national drink, although coffee is catching up in popularity and is certainly a trendier choice — you'll find coffee shops galore in every city and town you visit.
The United Kingdom has a number of breweries and microbreweries, producing beers and ales which are often only sold in the local area. Wine is even being produced in the south now that a shifting climate has brought warmer, more reliable temperatures. Cider is another national favourite, with several cider orchards across the country.
The most obviously associated drink with both Scotland and Ireland is of course whisky, which is produced widely across the country. Different regions use different distilling techniques and ingredients, which culminates in a wide variety of tastes from mild and fruity to strongly flavoured, smoky liquors.
The UK does not have the same tipping culture as you find in the US and Canada, and in general you'd only give tips to drivers/guides, to waiting staff in restaurants and to certain hotel staff. In restaurants, it is normal to tip around 10% of the total cost of the meal. Do check your bill first though, as some establishments will have added this on automatically.
Money & expenses
The currency used across the United Kingdom is the Pound Sterling (GBP), more commonly known as the pound. You can pre-purchase GBP from currency exchange offices across the world, or at the airport prior to flying. You will find ATMs accepting all major credit and debit cards in all cities and towns, but if you are visiting rural areas you should make sure you have enough cash with you.
Although most shops and restaurants will accept credit card payments, you may incur a fee if you use your card for small amounts. American Express and Diners Club cards are not widely accepted.
Food and drink is not cheap across the UK and is at its most expensive in London. Allow around £10-15pp for lunch each day (including drinks) and £20-30pp for a two-course dinner with drinks. The more exclusive restaurants, and hotel restaurants, may be more expensive but equally it is possible to find simpler, cheaper fare.
The international dialling code for the United Kingdom is +44. Phoning abroad from hotels can be expensive, although most hotels will also have complimentary Wi-Fi, which makes using programmes such as Skype a viable option to speak to family at home.
Our country specialists can advise on any safety concerns you may have. For current information, please refer to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website.
When to go to UK
You'll find temperature and rainfall information, together with a month-by-month guide on visiting, on our guide for when to go to UK.
7 hours 45 upwards dependent on airline (New York to London)