Are you planning a trip to the UK? Here you’ll find an extensive list of UK travel tips to learn everything you need to know before you visit. Having lived in the UK all our lives and using London as a base for our travels, we’ve gathered tips for visiting the UK that covers everything from getting around, to eating out, nightlife and saving money. Check them out below and let us know if you have any questions. 😊
Choosing places to visit
- Visit main cities such as London and Edinburgh, but also smaller towns, villages and nature parks. The smaller towns are a better representation of British life and will give you a different experience to the vast cities. Check out our guide here for the best places to visit outside of London.
- The UK is small compared to many other countries and is easy to get around by train. Plan out an itinerary that covers destinations in order of location so you aren’t travelling back and forth.
- Consider staying in more expensive areas (big cities such as London, Manchester, etc) on a weekday. Friday and Saturday nights are the most expensive days of the week for hotels so a carefully planned itinerary can save you money.
- Venture into the countryside for some of the most beautiful scenery. The Lake District, Scottish Highlands, Norfolk Broads and Cotswolds regions are idyllic destinations for any trip.
- The weather is very unreliable! Try to have a flexible itinerary if you’re visiting places that are much more enjoyable with nice weather. If rain is on the horizon for your beach day, reschedule it later in the week for example.
- Visit during a festival such as New Year, the Edinburgh Festival in August or Notting Hill Carnival for lots of events and attractions. The summer months have the most events.
- July and August are the most expensive and crowded months to visit the UK. Plan a trip outside of these months to save money and queue less time for attractions. Similarly, try to avoid bank holidays and school half term holidays.
- Don’t pack too much into one itinerary. The UK may look small, but there’s a lot to see and do and journeys can take longer than you’d think. Exploring a few amazing places to the fullest is better than touching the surface of many destinations.
Getting around the UK
As the UK is a fairly small island in comparison to other countries, the best way to get around is by car or train. If you’re travelling long distances such as London to Edinburgh or Glasgow, a flight is recommended, however a train, bus or car is best for short to medium journeys. See our top UK travel tips on getting around the country below.
- Research the best way to get from the airport to the city centre before arrival. Use public transport such as a bus or train, rent a car or book a private taxi transfer. We recommend using Skyscanner’s transfer comparison tool.
- Buses are the cheapest way to travel between cities, although they’re also the slowest. We recommend using the super cheap Megabus for getting between major cities and then catching a local bus or another transport method to your final destination.
- Driving in the UK is safe and fairly easy once you get the hang of it. Cars drive on the left-hand side of the road, which can be a challenge if you’re used to driving on the right. Check out this excellent guide here from FindingTheUniverse for tips on driving in the UK.
- Avoid travelling in rush hour (7am – 9:30am and 5pm – 7pm) during weekdays. Traffic in cities can be pretty bad.
- Driving outside of cities is a lot more enjoyable and less stressful. When staying in a city centre, use public transport. If venturing outside, hire a car.
- If you’re using the London Underground you’ll need to use a contactless payment card or buy an ‘Oyster’ card at a station for £5. You can then top it up and ‘pay as you go’. This goes for public transport in some other cities too.
- Uber is available in all major cities and is usually the most affordable taxi option. In smaller towns where Uber isn’t available, search for local taxi companies on Google, check reviews and then call the company telephone number to book.
- Trains in the UK are expensive compared to surrounding European countries. Try to book tickets 3 months in advance for the best prices. We recommend using The Train Line app on your mobile phone. A cheaper alternative to trains is a coach (as mentioned above) or car hire.
- It’s often cheaper to hire a car at the airport rather than city centres or train stations. Use the Skyscanner car hire comparison tool to find the best prices. An excellent UK travel tip for those that want to explore the countryside and beach areas.
Booking your accommodation
- Accommodation in the UK ranges from hotels of all sizes, smaller guesthouses known as ‘Bed and Breakfasts’ and house and apartment rentals.
- The cheapest place to book your hotel stay is on comparison sites such as Trivago or Tripadvisor. These sites are also a great place to find hotel inspiration. View our hotel booking guide here for UK travel tips on securing the best accommodation prices.
- Hostels are common in cities, but not so much in smaller towns, villages and countryside areas.
- The UK has a number of cool and quirky accommodation options. Picture yourself staying in a windmill on the edge of a cliff, a treetop house or converted lighthouse? Check out our list of the quirkiest places to stay here.
- Location is key for your accommodation. You want to be within close proximity of the main attractions, particularly if you don’t have a car. Carefully research the area around the hotel and the attractions you want to see. This is one of our UK travel tips that you can apply to almost any place to visit!
- Accommodation prices vary based on the area/city you visit. Central London can be quite expensive, whereas smaller towns and cities in the north such as Newcastle have much more affordable options. If you’re visiting London on a budget, consider staying outside of the Central London area. We recommend leafy green West London. 😊
- It goes without saying, but always check reviews on Tripadvisor before booking. You want to aim for a hotel with a 4/5 rating or above.
- Airbnb rentals are available almost everywhere. It can be a more affordable option than a hotel and you often get more living space. They’re perfect for groups!
- Traditional British dishes to try include the full English/Scottish breakfast, fish and chips, bangers and mash, Beef Wellington, sticky toffee pudding and the Sunday Roast.
- British food gets a bad reputation for quality and tastiness, however that’s really not the case anymore and it has evolved massively over the past couple of decades. Do your research for some of the best British restaurants and avoid fast food chains for a taste of what UK cuisine is all about.
- Contrary to the above, if you want affordable fast food on the good, the usual takeaways, sandwich shops and bakeries are plentiful in every town centre.
- As a multi-cultural melting pot, the UK has a mix of cuisines that covers the entire globe. You’ll find high quality Thai, Peruvian, Indian, Mexican, North African and pretty much any cuisine you can think of. London is particularly excellent for its range of global restaurants.
- Chain restaurants such as Bella Italia, Pizza Express and Nandos can be found in most towns and cities, however we recommend eating at unique restaurants (not chains) for a better dining experience. Check Tripadvisor to find the best restaurants in your destination. Simply search ‘best restaurants in **insert town**’.
- Tap water is completely safe to drink. It doesn’t taste too bad either!
- The best place to find a good old portion of British fish and chips is the seaside. Visit any coastal town and you’ll discover the no-frills but delicious taste of this sacred national dish.
- In our opinion, the best UK cities for nightlife are Newcastle, Liverpool, London, Bristol and Leeds. You’ll find a good nightlife scene in most UK cities, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings.
- Pubs are commonplace everywhere! There’s over 60,000 in fact. Locals enjoy a casual pint in a pub and many of them serve traditional meals such as Sunday Roasts, Fish and Chips and favourites such as burgers and curries.
- Wetherspoons is the holy grail of cheap UK pubs. It’s a little rough around the edges but extremely affordable for food and drinks. Try one at least once during your stay – you’ll find them in most towns and cities!
- Late night clubbing is reserved for the big cities and destinations such as Manchester, London, Newcastle and Liverpool have plenty of late-night options, serving all genres of popular music. Check out Ministry of Sound in London for a world class club scene.
- Unusual to many countries, you’re allowed to drink alcohol on the street and in parks. Grab a cold drink from the supermarket and enjoy it alongside a picnic in the park. Street drinking is popular during festivals and music events.
- The UK’s big cities have an action-packed line-up of musicians, including global popstars, DJ’s and bands. See what’s on during your visit and attend a concert or club night for your night out.
Culture and customs
- Good manners are a must in the UK. The British queue for shops, restaurants, toilets, and almost everything! Wait in line and don’t push in so you’re not seen as being rude.
- British people love tea breaks. If you’re asked if you ‘fancy a cuppa’, happily oblige and you’ll be given a warm cup of tea. And biscuits too of course!
- Although the UK is a small country, the different accents are extremely diverse. Everywhere you visit you’ll find people speaking in a distinct accent. Take time to listen and enjoy the different dialects and local words.
- Football (or soccer) is huge in the UK. Every town has its own, if not multiple football teams and die-hard fans. Try to catch a football match during your stay for a great sporting atmosphere.
- Most British people are fairly laid back, don’t get easily offended and will be polite where they can (excluding London – London is like a different country!).
- British people love to complain about the weather. It’s true that the weather can be pretty tragic year-round, however temperatures can soar during the summer months. With a stroke of luck, you’ll have sunny skies. 😊
- British people have a unique, dry sense humour that’s apparent everywhere. They take a lot of pride in it too! Watch TV series such as the Inbetweeners, UK Office and Only Fools and Horses to get a sample of British comedy.
Money and spending
- The local currency is the British pound, which you can use anywhere in the country. As a common currency you can exchange your own currency at the airport, an exchange booth/shop or use an ATM.
- Cashless, or contactless payment is becoming very common throughout the UK. Use a contactless credit/debit card to pay with ease. Most places accept credit card, however some smaller shops, particularly in the countryside, only accept cash or have a minimum card payment. We recommend having a small amount of cash on you at all times.
- Tipping for good service isn’t required, however it’s common to tip around 10% or a few pounds for good service. Most restaurants in London add a 12.5% discretionary service charge to the bill, however this isn’t as apparent elsewhere in the UK.
- Tipping isn’t necessary at bars or anywhere else outside of restaurants.
- One of our top UK travel tips for saving money is to book train, coach and flight transport in advance if possible. The cheapest time to book is around 3 months before you travel. Last-minute bookings can be very expensive.
- Book tickets for the theatre, Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge tour and any other popular attractions in advance. It’s usually cheaper and you’ll skip the queue.
- Take advantage of free attractions such as museums, parks, nature reserves and beach areas. Other than transport and eating out, you won’t spend a penny!
- All taxes are included in the price you see on products in stores, restaurant menu’s and anything else. No further tax should be added at the checkout/till. We recommend keeping receipts for any shopping purchases so you can claim a tax refund in the airport on your departure.
- Save money by staying in a private apartment rental with a kitchen and cooking some of your own meals. Supermarket food is very affordable.
- The UK is a very safe country to visit. The violent crime rate is low and petty theft is less common than other European destinations.
- Take the usual precautions you’d take when visiting any new place. These include:
- Keeping your valuables out of sight
- Don’t keep your phone or wallet in your back pocket
- Don’t leave possessions or luggage unattended
- Stay away from dark areas in dangerous parts of a city
- Maintain a low profile and try not to get too drunk
- Carry small amounts of cash
- Inner suburbs areas of big cities such as London, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham are more dangerous than other areas, however are still relatively safe.
- The emergency services telephone number is 999.
Thanks for reading our UK travel tips! We hope we’ve helped prepare you for an action-packed visit to the UK. We highly recommend travelling around and choosing contrasting destinations, from cities to countryside and onward to the beaches.
For more tips on visiting the UK and the best places to explore, check out our travel guides here.