My downstairs neighbour! Even though as a Scot I am obliged to support whoever is playing against England in football, and always insult their tap water (seriously why does it taste like that?), I have come to love England and the people within it. The country is full of great places to visit. To date, I‘ve been to Blackpool, London, and Windsor.
I visited Blackpool on a family holiday, which sort of encompasses what Blackpool is. It is like Britains Las Vegas. Strange, and not the nicest place to visit, but there sure is a lot of fun to be had there!
London, on the other hand, is fantastic. I’ve been a few times now, and have found the city to have everything I could ask for. A rich history, culture, world-class attractions, great dining, and expansive public transport.
In 2022, I had the honour of being invited to attend the funeral of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, at Westminster Abbey. While a sad occasion, the experience was a fascinating insight into the culture surrounding the Royal Family.
In 2023, I was again invited down to attend an Investiture ceremony with the Princess Royal at Windsor Castle. I found Windsor to be a lovely town, and the castle itself was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
In the future I’d love to visit Liverpool. I’ve been a lifelong fan of Liverpool FC, and going to Anfield for a game is a dream of mine! The southern coast also looks beautiful, and I’d love to visit Cornwall some day.
The capital, and one of the largest cities in Europe. London is the iconic city of not just England, but the entire United Kingdom!
Most of the cities attractions are quite close to each other, and you can walk between them. Some of the top spots are the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and Tower Bridge. There’s great food, markets, theatre, shopping, sports, extensive public transport, and just about anything else you would want in a city. For a day trip, consider visiting Windsor Castle.
Up north, Liverpool is a city famous for its music, sports, and culture. You can explore where the Beatles were formed, see the champions of Europe play a game at Anfield (if you can get a ticket), and visit some of the massively beautiful buildings in the city!
When the weather’s nice, you could mistake Cornwall for Spain. The region is beautiful, and full of great beaches. The Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan are some fascinating gardens you can visit, and if you prefer history to nature, you can also spend some time exploring all the local legends of King Arthur.
Located near the northern tip of England, the Lake District is like someone just took a scoop out of the Scottish Highlands and threw it down South. The area is breathtaking, and full of things to do. You can hike for miles, go kayaking, take a cruise of the lakes, or even go wild and visit the local pencil museum.
London is by far the biggest city, so you’ll probably be arriving at one of the city’s airports (probably Heathrow or Gatwick). From London, catching a domestic flight or train to anywhere else in England should be easy. All of the airports are connected to the public transport system by train, so don’t worry about taxis or shuttles.
Trains / Subway
The whole country is linked really well by train. They aren’t cheap, but booking in advance will get you the lowest fares. Also, be on the lookout for rail passes which could save you a lot of money.
Frustratingly, there are a ton of different rail companies throughout England, each with its own systems and tickets. It’s best to Google certain routes and then see who you should be booking with. Trainline is one of the best resources for finding train tickets, and is what I normally use!
In London, the London Underground is one of the best and most expansive public transport systems in the world. It makes getting around the city super easy, especially as you can pay by tapping your contactless card or Oyster card. Just be aware, it is also the most expensive public transport system in the world.
Due to the steep prices of trains, getting a bus might turn out to be a cheap alternative to get between cities. In more rural areas and parks, the bus might be your only option to get around. Be on the lookout for the different passes being offered, as you might be able to save yourself a lot of money.
National Express is the main provider of long-distance buses, but local providers will vary everywhere you go.
I don’t drive so I can’t offer any advice on that, but renting a car isn’t all that necessary. Trains and buses cover the vast majority of England. A car might make your journey more comfortable, especially if you plan on going up to the Scottish Highlands, but you don’t need one.
Uber and Lyft are also options here, and you’ll be able to find taxis everywhere. Most transport hubs will have a taxi rank outside, and if not, then Google should be able to provide a list of local companies to call.
Hostels are everywhere in England, and are great choices when you’re looking to save money and meet others. Expect beds to be about £15-25 a night. Check out YHA to find a hostel wherever you go!
Apparently, you can also rent student rooms during school holidays, especially in the summertime. These will be comfier than hostels, but cheaper than hotels. I’ve never done it, but it’s worth looking into!
Hotels and B&Bs are found all across the country, but will set you back more, ranging from £50-100+ a night. Hotels in London are notoriously expensive.
If possible, look for pub hotels. These are normally cheaper, and you’ll be right above the pub, so you can pop down for a snack at any time! Finding somewhere with a free English Breakfast is also a huge win.
You can self cater in a lot of places by renting a small apartment or cottage for a short period of time. This could be a great money-saving idea if you’re travelling with a group or staying for long periods of time. AirBnB is also widely used in England, so you might have some luck on there finding a nice place on there.
If you want to want to enjoy the outdoors, then there are a lot of campsites around the country. Some of them will even have furnished caravans you can stay in, for that civilized-nature experience!
London and some of the resort towns will be full of very nice restaurants. But if you’re like me and that’s not your style, then you’re still in luck! Pubs are on every corner, and most offer food of some sort. Don’t expect a gourmet meal, but do expect traditional meals, at an affordable price. I love bangers and mash!
You can’t go wrong with fish and chips either, and for breakfast, a full English is a must-do on any visit to England. It’s a huge meal, and should get you through the entire day! Other great options are a Sunday roast, Yorkshire puddings, and a nice scone for dessert.
For fast food, England is very diverse. You can get just about any form of international food in any city, especially London. But English Chinese food is very different from Chinese Chinese food. It’s a lot more… unhealthy, so be aware of that! One of the more popular takeaway dishes is a Kebab.
If you’re a bit of an anxious traveller, look out for Wetherspoon pubs. They’re cheap, have good food, and you can order meals from your phone and have them brought to your table! I love them, as it mostly avoids the awkward feeling of dining alone.
A pub meal should be about £10-15, and a takeaway £5-10. For cheap lunches, every supermarket does a meal deal, which is a sandwich, drink, and snack for about £4.
The English love their tea! If you’re offered a drink, it’ll be tea or coffee, not alcohol. But if you are offered alcohol, it’s probably going to be beer. There are a lot of breweries around the country you might like to visit. England is also well known for its Gin produce!
Mastercard and Visa will be accepted just about everywhere. American Express is also accepted in most high street shops, but in local businesses and smaller shops it is a 50/50, so I wouldn’t rely on it. Most card readers allow for contactless payments which makes things nice and easy!
ATMs are easy to find and offer free withdrawals, so there’s no need to be walking around with large amounts of cash. Personally, I never use any physical cash, but you might want some to use at markets. Speaking of markets, haggling isn’t really a thing in England. You are expected to pay the written price.
The variations of cash are: 1p/2p/5p/10p/20p/50p coins, £1/£2 coins, and £5/£10/£20/£50/£100 notes.
At the time of writing in June 2022, the exchange rates are: $1 = £0.82 / €1= £0.86
You can tip, but it isn’t expected in most places. Normally tipping is just in the form of ‘keep the change’. If you want to tip, round up the bill to the nearest £5 or leave 10%. But don’t feel bad if you don’t, tipping is not very common!
In general, England is a pretty expensive country. For cheap hotels, cheap food, and public transport, I would advise a budget of £100 a day. Go down to £50 if you opt for a hostel, or up to £150 for a nicer hotel and a rental car. In London, you should probably add an extra £50 to all of these.
England is a pretty mild country. In winter the average is around 7c (45f), and in summer that ups to 20c (68f). The further south you go, the hotter the country gets. Winters are normally quite comfortable, but recent summers have brought some horrible heatwaves, and this is likely to get worse in future years.
It rains a lot, but it’s not as bad as in Scotland. You could expect maybe 150 days of rain a year. London is actually one of the driest places in England to visit! Expect rain for half the month, and nice days for the other half. To maximize the sun, try to visit during summer or spring.
Snow isn’t very common, but it typically falls between December and February. The more north you are, the more likely you are to see it. In general, the further South you go, the better the weather is.
In winter, England can have as little as 8 hours of daylight, with the sun rising at 8am and setting at 4pm. In summer, it can be as much as 16.5 hours, with the sun rising at 4:45am and setting at 9:15pm.
Visiting in summer definitely gives you more time in the day to see the country, however, cities like London can have a certain charm to them on dark cold nights, so don’t rule out a winter visit!
England is a very safe and boring country. No need to worry about earthquakes, tornados, volcanos, or anything like that. Some flooding occurs, but nothing a visitor should be worried about.
The only issue would come from the heatwaves of recent years. Temperatures have got as high as 38.7c (101f), which maybe isn’t a lot in some countries, but it is insane in England. The country is not built for it, all the buildings retain heat and become very hot. If you get stuck in one, try to keep yourself cool!
No need to worry, England has very tame wildlife. At worst you might bump into a Skunk and be kicked out of your hostel! There are Adders, but they’re quite uncommon, and a bite won’t be deadly.
The national animal is the Lion, but you won’t be seeing any of those outside of a Zoo. England has pretty dull wildlife, to be honest. There’s nothing particularly worth visiting for in that regard.
If you head down to Cornwall you might be able to spot some Bottlenose Dolphins! If you like Seals, then the East Coast of England is for you. The Farne Islands are one of the best spots to see super cute Grey Seals. But realistically if you’re interested in marine life you’ll probably want to head up to Scotland.
Politics in England are pretty split down the middle between the Labour and Conservative parties. England doesn’t have its own parliament, so the UK government controls things. In the UK parliament, the Conservative party are currently in charge, and the Prime Minister is Rishi Sunak.
The big issue in the country over recent years is Brexit, the UK’s exit from the European Union. It’s been a mess, but things are starting to move on, and who knows what the future holds!
Despite how it might seem, the King and Royal Family have little actual political power. They primarily have a ceremonial role in the running of the country.
Unsurprisingly, England is an English-speaking country with virtually everyone in the country being fluent in the language. If you can speak half-decent English, then you can get by anywhere in the country without any difficulties. Most accents throughout the country are easy to understand, although, in Liverpool, the local Scouse accent may present some difficulties.
The biggest sport in England is football. The Premier League has a huge part in English culture, and it’s one of the top leagues in the world. The ‘big six’ are Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Liverpool / Manchester United is the biggest rivalry, and Arsenal / Tottenham is the big London rivalry. Showing support for a team won’t cause any issues, but just be aware some fans are very passionate about their team, and have a real hatred of rival fans. There’s can be a nasty culture of football hooligans.
Due to the popularity of the Premier League, getting match day tickets are a massive pain. If you want to go to a game, plan well in advance! Even then, seeing a top 6 team might prove near impossible.
In general, England is a very safe country. The only place I would be concerned about is London, and even that isn’t very bad. Just keep your wits about you, especially when you’re out late at night. Like all big cities, London has a pickpocket problem. But this can mostly be avoided by not making yourself an easy target.
The tap water in England is safe to drink!
England is very gay-friendly, so nothing to worry about there. It’s a pretty diverse country, especially in London, where only 60% of the population is white! London is an international city where everyone fits in. The country is known for being welcoming.
About half of England is Christian, but not strictly. Most don’t attend church on a weekly basis, and the country is becoming less religious over time.
Due to the diversity of the country, every religion has a home in England! You’ll find churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and whatever else you might need. Every large city will cater to all religions.
Healthcare in England is run by the National Health Service (NHS). Emergency care is free, regardless of where you’re from, although you may need to pay for follow-up treatments and other types of care, unless you’re from a select group of countries. Even if you are eligible for free NHS care, you should still have travel insurance!
If you need to see a doctor, phone up a local GP office and ask for an appointment. This is hard to do though, and you might need to resort to a walk-in clinic or go to A&E. Every town will have a chemist or two where you can buy a large range of medicines, but for stronger stuff, you’ll need a GP prescription.
Citizens of many countries, such as the EU, USA, Canada, Australia, and more, can visit Scotland for up to 6 months without a VISA. You can check here to see if your country is on the list! Citizens from other countries will likely require a VISA to visit. However you enter, just make sure you have proof of funds and onward travel.
England has type G three-pin power sockets. Adapters will be pretty easy to find, and you could get one before leaving the airport.
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