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England

 

 

 

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A knowledgeable travel professional, with their extensive knowledge and contacts in the industry, can provide support before your trip, monitor your progress en route and provide post travel assistance. Because we coordinate air, land, rail and sea transportation, your trip can proceed seamlessly to your hotel/resort, activities and excursions. Rather than than doing your own time consuming research, let us use our extensive knowledge to help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure the quality of trip you’ve been looking for.

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The British Museum

The British Museum remains England’s greatest cultural attraction. Replete with the accumulated wealth of an Empire its galleries can almost boast more world class art works and attractions within its walls than exist in the whole city without.

The entire complex is now oriented around its splendid Great Court, opened by the Queen in 2001. Around this large covered space and on floors above and below are over 80 galleries packed to the rafters with pieces from the world of art and history. The collections span the entire globe, exploring cultures and societies through artifacts that range from housekeeping to warfare. Naturally Britain is well represented, through displays such as the Mildenhall Treasure (a priceless collection of Roman silver discovered in Suffolk in the 1940s) and the remains of Lindow Man, an early Briton pulled from a peat bog in Cheshire.

However you’ll also find pieces from all corners of the earth, returned to the country by Britannia’s sons. The British Museum can thus boast one of the largest Egyptian collections outside Cairo, as well as extensive Greek, Roman and Japanese galleries. Some of the pieces are only on display in the face of controversy. The presence of the Elgin Marbles in particular has long been a bone of contention between the museum and Greece, but for now it remains one of the museum’s biggest attractions.


 

Stonehenge

Of all the pre-Roman monuments that dot the British Isles, none is as famous as Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain. Erected in the Bronze Age, Stonehenge remains shrouded in mystery and mysticism. Was this a site of ancient and bloody human sacrifice, or of more peaceful Druid ceremonies? Some believe visitors from outer space erected the edifice, for a purpose that will remain permanently alien to us. Many others connect the crop circles that regularly appear in the area’s surrounding fields with the structure – others think these are merely a hoax.

For most visitors Stonehenge is only enhanced by the mysteries that surround its construction, and the stones remain an enigmatic reminder of the early Britons’ ingenuity.


 

Westminster Abbey

With more than a thousand years of history, the awesome Gothic interior of Westminster Abbey has seen the coronations, marriages and funerals of British Royalty. Also buried and commemorated in the abbey grounds and mausoleum are the nation’s most famous poets, including Chaucer, Tennyson and Charles Dickens. The memorial to the Unknown Soldier is a particularly poignant reminder of Britain’s many war dead.


London Eye

The British Airways London Eye is the world’s highest observation wheel and since its inception in 2000 has become one of the most popular attractions in the city. Unsurprisingly the Eye is extending its South Bank tenure beyond the five years originally planned and will now remain a feature on the London skyline until at least 2025.

Revolving slowly like the wheel of time itself, the Eye takes its passengers on a half-hour “flight”, in 32 glass-enclosed capsules, reaching a height of 137m above the River Thames. The view from the highest point is extraordinary, a fully panoramic view of the capital it stretches all the way to the edge of the city on a clear day. Book ahead to avoid disappointment or lengthy queues.


 

The British Royal Family

As it has for centuries, the world remains fascinated by the British Royal Family. In modern times, global travel and communications mean that we know a lot more about the Royals than ever before, and the curious flock to see the places where they live – hoping to catch a glimpse of the Queen (who celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2002), the Prince of Wales or one of his sons, the immensely popular Princes William and Harry.

London’s Buckingham Palace is the main Royal attraction and no visit to the capital is complete without taking the obligatory walk along the tree-lined Mall and taking a picture of the city’s most famous abode. When the family is absent for their summer vacation you can tour parts of the palace, but even when visits aren’t possible crowds throng outside for the changing of the guard at 11h30 daily (summer). Other Royal residences of note include Windsor Castle in the Thames Valley, which can be visited most of the year.


Tower of London

First established by William the Conqueror, over 900 years ago, the Tower of London was designed to be the seat of the king and a fortress to defend the City of London, both from invaders and from internal insurrection. The tower was originally only the square keep, today commonly referred to as the “White Tower”. Over the centuries subsequent monarchs extended the tower’s walls and defenses to their still impressive present size.

As well as being the garrison for the city of London militia, the tower served as the royal armory and even private zoo (whose menagerie was the basis of London Zoo) but it is most famous for being the site of incarcerations and executions during the Middle Ages. The prisoner’s roster here includes Walter Raleigh, Thomas More and Elizabeth I (as Princess Elizabeth). Henry VIII’s wives Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard were both executed on the green here, while the Bloody Tower was the site of several murders, including allegedly that of the “Princes in the Tower”.

The traditional Yeoman Guards (commonly known as “Beefeaters”) provide free tours that tell you the tales of the various people who inhabited the tower, and the many myths and legends instilled in the bricks and mortar. In the Armory you can see the robust original battle armor of Henry VIII and various weaponry, while the Jewel Tower holds the Crown Jewels, the ceremonially trappings of the monarchy dating back centuries, and including the bejeweled crown of current Queen Elizabeth II. It takes at least half a day, and plenty of shoe leather to explore the Tower’s attractions fully.


 

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury, east of London, is one of the nation’s most venerated and oldest towns. The original settlement was much enlarged and maintained by the Romans, and was a city of some import.

What defines Canterbury today is its magnificent cathedral, the head of the Church of England and arguably the finest religious building in the country. There has been some sort of Christian religious site here for over 1400 years, since it was first established by St Augustine and it has been constantly added to over the centuries.

The most famous incident in the cathedral’s history occurred in 1171. The then archbishop Thomas Becket had infuriated Henry II with continued opposition to the crown. Enraged, Henry asked who would rid him of “this turbulent priest” whereupon four knights, interpreting this as an order, rode to Canterbury and brutally murdered the archbishop in the north transept during vespers.

The cathedral today contains some of the finest stained glass windows found anywhere, as well as numerous shrines, memorials and tombs, including those of King Henry IV and Edward the Black Prince. The surviving cloisters and monastic buildings are some of the best-preserved in England, particularly the arcaded Great Cloister, which survived Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.


English Literature Locations

The Brontë sisters, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy – England has been home and inspiration to some of the greatest authors that have ever lived. Many tourists like to see for themselves the scenes that these writers evoked in their most famous works.

Taking a literary tour can lead you around the entire country. Many people visit Stratford to see the scenes of Shakespeare’s life, or wander “lonely as a cloud” along the paths that inspired Wordsworth in the Lake District, where you can also see Hill Top Farm, once home to Beatrix Potter. However, there are many more places with classic literary connections; Yorkshire’s Haworth was home to the Brontës, a humble mill town it still remains much as it must have been in the days of the writer sisters. Meanwhile the “dirty old town” city centers of Manchester and London were the backdrop for the tales of humanity from social commentators such as Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell. More peaceful are the idyllic country lanes and market towns of Wiltshire, around Salisbury, and Dorset, often called Hardy Country in honor of Thomas Hardy and his tragi-comic novels of rural life and human folly.


Cornwall

The Southwest is widely considered to be the best beach destination in England, and being divided from the rest of the country by the vast bleak moors of Exmoor and Dartmoor, Cornwall is a place apart.

The region’s isolation only enhances its beauty and the fact that it enjoys more sunshine than the rest of England makes it the perfect summer destination. Newquay on the north coast of the Cornish peninsula is popular with surfers and beach lovers alike. But Cornwall can also boast one of the oldest histories of any of the counties. Just east of the town is Tintagel and its castle – said to be the home of King Arthur – the legendary Camelot.

Head for the south coast for the distinctively Cornish fishing villages, some of which date back to centuries BC. Communities like Fowey sit in tiny bays that make development impossible, even if anyone desired to try. Consequently these isolated villages have remained unchanged for centuries. The area was once the home of smugglers as well as fishermen and there are many tales to be heard in the the quayside pubs that used to act as houses for the contraband.

Also on the south coast is the city of Penzance and beautiful St Michael’s Mount, a former benedictine priory separated from the mainland by a causeway, submerged at full tide. Further west is Land’s End, the very tip of England from where there is nothing but the vast Atlantic ocean between you and America.


 

Bath

Bath was founded by the Romans on the site of natural hot springs that rise through the rock in this part of the West Country. The town was named Aquae Sulis in honor of the Roman goddess and the waters were popularly thought to have restorative qualities. Elaborate bathing facilities were erected to provide rest and relaxation for well-to-do Romans.

In the 18th century, when the upper middle classes of the British Empire started once again to take the waters here, the baths were easily restored and can still be seen today, with many characteristics of the Roman baths they once were. The images of these times, Bath’s second period of fashionability, have been forever preserved in the novels of Jane Austen, which perfectly capture the follies of the upper class people who flocked here for the season from both town and country.

Bath remains a spectacularly beautiful town; the architecture, predominantly Georgian, is realized in buildings of golden sandstone. The history of the town dates back over two millennia to the time of the Romans and beyond.


 We’re proud to have partnered with the Villa Experience to provide you with access to top-notch villa rentals in England. Make sure to check it out the wide array of options below.

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United Kingdom Travel Information and Tips

 

Passports

To enter the UK you will need to show a valid passport, or national identity card if you are an EEA citizen. If you are not an EU national, you will need to show further documentation, including a landing card, and you may need a visa. For detailed information please refer to https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration

Visas

You may need to acquire a visa before you travel to Britain, if you are not a British citizen or a citizen of one of the European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

Nationals from some countries will need a visa whatever the reason they are traveling to the UK, while nationals from other countries may only need a visa for a particular reason; for example, to marry and live with a British citizen.

If you have a valid passport and UK visa, you will normally be granted entry to the UK. When you arrive in Britain your visa tells UK immigration:

  • The reason you are traveling to Britain
  • How long you are allowed to stay
  • The last day you are allowed entry
  • Entry clearance follows strict rules and procedures.

For full details about visa requirements and application procedures, visit UK Visas .

Medical insurance

You are strongly advised to take out adequate insurance before traveling to Britain. Your travel agent will be able to suggest a suitable policy.

Bringing medicine into the UK

If you want to bring medicine into the UK, first check that it is licensed for use. Always carry medicines in a correctly labelled container as issued by the pharmacist. Otherwise, bring a letter from your doctor or a personal health record card giving details of the drug prescribed, in case it is queried by customs or you require additional supplies. Remember that some medicines available over-the-counter in other countries may be controlled in Britain, and vice versa.

For further information please contact HM Customs and Excise Advice Center, Tel: +44 (0)20 8929 0152.

Pharmacies & chemists

In Britain you can obtain prescription, and over-the-counter (non-prescription), medications as well as expert medical advice at pharmacies – often called chemists. We recommend you carry a letter from your doctor stating your prescription and dosage if you are taking any medication.

Pharmacy opening hours

Pharmacies are usually open from 09:00 to 18:00 Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays and limited availability on Sundays. However, in larger cities you will find a number of pharmacies open late during the week and on the weekend.

Vaccinations & inoculations

You do not require an International Certificate of Vaccination when traveling to the UK, but you should check if one is needed on re-entry into your own country.

Food & water

The level of food hygiene in Britain is very high, so you should simply observe the normal precautions when consuming food products, i.e. ensure it is thoroughly cooked, or that it is within the expiry date. The standard of water cleanliness is also very high, and in general kitchen water supplies, tap water in restaurants and ice cubes are safe drinking water. You can find bottled water in most shops and supermarkets.

Emergency treatment

If you become ill while visiting Britain, you are eligible for free emergency treatment in the Accident and Emergency departments of National Health Service hospitals. However, if you are admitted to hospital as an in-patient, even from the accident and emergency department, or referred to an out-patient clinic, you will be asked to pay unless:

  • You are in receipt of a UK state retirement pension.
  • You are a national or resident of the European Economic Area.
  • You are a refugee or stateless person living in the European Economic Area or the dependent or survivor of such a person, regardless of your own nationality.
  • You are a national or resident of countries which have reciprocal health care agreements with the UK. The following countries have such agreements in place: Bulgaria, Czech and Slovak Republics, Hungary, Malta, New Zealand, Russia, former Soviet Union states – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, former Yugoslavia – Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, and residents of Anguilla, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Channel Islands, Falkland Islands, Isle of Man, Montserrat, Poland, Romania, St Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands.

Exemption from charges applies only to treatment needed during the visit. You are strongly advised to take out adequate insurance before traveling to Britain. Your travel agent will be able to suggest a suitable policy.

Obtaining treatment

If you are unwell during your visit to Britain, first consult a pharmacist – also known as chemists. They will advise on treatments available over-the-counter (for example: available without a doctor’s prescription). Chains of pharmacists include Boots and Superdrug.

Tips and advice to help you stay safe during your trip

By international standards, Britain is a safe country with low rates of street crime and violence. Use this general guide to help you maximize your personal safety during your trip.

Most of these tips are common sense, and you probably practice them in your own country, but they can make a real difference.

Emergency situations

In an emergency that requires ambulance, police or fire services dial 999 from any telephone. In the case of a non-emergency crime you should contact your local police station.

Insurance

We strongly advise that you take out adequate insurance before you leave to cover you for any health and medical issues, and also for theft or damage to your belongings.

Tips to help you stay safe

Using public transport & taxis

  • Avoid waiting alone at bus stops and on train platforms.
  • On a double-decker bus, sit downstairs where the driver can see you.
  • Avoid sitting in an empty carriage on trains and the Underground.
  • Check the time of the last train, bus or tube back to your accommodation.
  • Walking near railway lines can be very dangerous; never touch them.
  • Always use a licensed taxi – check the back of the taxi to ensure it carries an official license plate.
  • Minicabs that stop in the street may be cheaper, but they are not as safe as those you arrange over the phone.
  • If you need immediate assistance when traveling on a bus or train you can call the British Transport Police free on 0800 40 50 40.

Be safe on the streets

  • Stay on the pavement walking towards oncoming traffic.
  • Look both ways when you cross the street – remember cars drive on the left in Britain.
  • Never carry large amounts of money with you, but always make sure you have enough for a phone call and a bus or taxi home.
  • Keep your handbag and belongings close to your body and wear them in front of you.
  • Avoid using cash machines at night or in isolated places, and always be aware of people around you.
  • Try not to display expensive items like laptops, mobile phones and jewellery.
  • Avoid confrontation – if you are harassed, try to remove yourself from the situation.
  • If you think you are being followed, find the nearest public place and ask for assistance.

At your accommodation

  • Avoid leaving valuables in your room.
  • Make sure your room door is locked when you leave.
  • All paid-for accommodation has to have a working smoke detector and alarm.
  • Make sure you turn off all gas and electrical appliances (except the refrigerator) when you go out.
  • When you arrive at your accommodation, familiarize yourself with the fire exits, assembly points and the location of fire extinguishers.
  • Make sure your accommodation provider supplies you with information about the procedures for emergency evacuation.

We’ve highlighted a few of the things that are good to know before you get here.

Electricity

The voltage used in Britain is 240 Volts AC at 50HZ. Most power sockets are designed for standard 3-pin square plugs. Electrical appliances in Britain generally use the British standard plug with 3 square pins. Plug socket adapters and power transformers are widely available, you can buy them at most airports, electrical shops and hardware stores.

Water

The quality of tap water in Britain is very high. You can usually drink from all taps that supply water to kitchen areas. Bottled water is also common and available in all local grocery shops and supermarkets.

Gas

Gas is often used in homes for cooking, central heating and to heat water. Some cookers may use both gas and electricity, for example they may use gas for the hob and electricity for the oven.

Car fuel

Most cars in Britain run off petrol, but there are also a large number of cars and lorries that run off diesel. Petrol is usually sold as either Four Star (usually a red pump), or Unleaded (usually a green pump); both types are available for most petrol stations. You will also see an increasing number of electric, or electric-petrol combined and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cars on the road.

Measurements & conversions

  Kilometers& miles
1 mile = 1.609 kilometers
1 kilometer = 0.621 miles

 Liters & gallons
1 gallon = 4.546 liters
1 liter = 0.220 gallons

Kilos & pounds
1 pound = 0.453 kilos
1 kilo = 2.204 pounds

Accessible toilets in Britain

Where there are public toilets in Britain, you’ll usually find an accessible toilet. Accessible toilets have large floor space, grab bars, low level sinks and hand dryers, and sometimes an alarm (a red string which reaches the ground) for emergencies.

You might find that many accessible public toilets in Britain are locked – this is to prevent vandalism and misuse of the toilets.

The National Key Scheme (NKS), operated by the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR), offers independent access to over 7,000 locked accessible toilets in Britain. RADAR supplies keys that unlock toilets that are a part of the NKS.

One key, which costs £3.50, unlocks any of the 7,000 toilets that are registered with the scheme. RADAR makes no profit in supplying keys but needs to make a small charge to cover the costs of supply. You can keep your key for future visits to Britain.

Other accessible toilets can be found in places such as Tourist Information Centers, supermarkets, fast food restaurants, train and bus stations, ferry piers and many of Britain’s tourist attractions.

Changing Places

Fully accessible public toilets for disabled people are available in the UK and there is an ongoing campaign to increase their number. Changing Places provide safe, clean toilets with hoists, changing areas and room for up to two carers.

To find out where you can find fully accessible public toilets in Britain and for more details of the campaign, check the Changing Places website.

Guide dogs in Britain

If you’re traveling to Britain with a guide dog, you are advised to contact the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) before booking your trip.

Guidelines on bringing pets, including guide/service dogs into the UK change frequently, so consult your veterinary surgeon for information regarding documentation and procedures required for travel into the UK with your dog.

PETS Travel Scheme

Your guide/service dog can enter the UK from certain countries without going into quarantine under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). Countries participating in PETS include parts of Europe, Bahrain, the USA and Canada.

To be eligible for PETS, there are certain procedures you must follow:

  • Have your pet micro chipped
  • Have your pet vaccinated
  • Arrange a blood test for your pet
  • Get PETS documentation
  • Have your pet treated against ticks and tapeworm
  • Arrange for your animal to travel with an approved transport company on an authorized route.

For more detailed information on PETS and its procedures, visit Defra – PETS .

General product price guide

Here is a general price guide for a few common items:

  • A hotel breakfast  £5-£15
  • Dinner (3-course, no wine) £15-£45
  • Lunch snack/sandwich £2-£4
  • Cafe lunch £4-£7
  • A postcard stamp to anywhere abroad 50p
  • Hamburger £2.50
  • Cappuccino £1-£3
  • Kodak Film, 36 exposures £4-£5
  • Can of Coke 40p-£1
  • Pint of beer in a pub £2-£4
  • Glass of wine in a pub £2-£5
  • Single cash bus ticket £2
  • Single Oyster bus ticket £1
  • Single cash underground ticket £4
  • Single Oyster underground ticket (zones 1-2) £2

Tipping & service charges

Tipping is not always appropriate in the UK. If you feel the service was good and you want to show your appreciation, here is a guide to customary practice:

Hotels
Most hotel bills include a service charge, usually 10-12%. Where a service charge is not included in a hotel restaurant, it is customary to give 10-15% of the restaurant bill. For rooms, you can leave an optional amount to room staff.

Restaurants
Many restaurant bills include a service charge; make sure you check the bill to avoid tipping twice. Where a service charge is not included, it is customary to leave a tip of 10-15% of the bill. Some restaurants now include a suggested tip in the bill total.

Taxis
10-15% of the fare

Porterage
discretionary

Hairdressers
discretionary

Currency & exchanging money

Britain’s unit of currency is the Great British Pound (sterling) – GBP. The symbol for the pound sterling is £. For more information on British currency check the Bank of England website .

The British monetary system

British money is based on the decimal system – there are one hundred pence to each pound. Coins have the values of 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. Notes have the values of £5, £10, £20 and £50. Scottish £1 notes are still in circulation in Scotland. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have some different coins and notes from the mainland but the monetary system is the same.

Bringing money to the UK

If you are an EU citizen and traveling from within the EU you can bring in and take out bank notes, travelers’ cheques, letters of credit etc. in any currency and up to any amount.

Please note that from 15 June 2007, if you are traveling to or from a country outside the European Union (EU), you will need to declare any sums of cash of 10,000 Euro or more (or the equivalent in another currency) to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Currency limits

Changing money & exchange rates

Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, post offices, some hotels and Bureau de Change kiosks, which are found at international airports and most city centers. To see today’s exchange rate visit the Financial Times currencies website.

Bank opening hours

Banks are generally open from 09:30 to 16:30 Monday to Friday. However, opening hours are can differ considerably from branch to branch. All banks are closed on public holidays and some banks in Scotland close for an hour at lunchtime. Many banks have 24-hour banking lobbies where you can access a range of services via machines. Visitors from overseas should check with their own bank whether they will be able to gain access to these facilities.

Obtaining money when banks are closed

Some banks are open on Saturdays and a few are open for a few hours on Sundays. If you need British currency when the banks are closed, you can obtain it at larger high-street travel agents, in exchange offices in large department stores, at counter desks in larger hotels or at one of the many independent Bureau de Change. Regulations require all Bureau de Change to clearly display all exchange rates and full details of any fees and rates of commission.

ATMs (cash machines)

You’ll find Automated Teller Machines (ATM), or cash machines, as we often call them, at most banks, high streets and shopping centers. You can use international credit cards, debit cards and bank cards at ATMs providing they have a four-digit PIN encoded. As a general rule, any cash machine that displays the Visa badge can be used by Plus cardholders and those displaying the MasterCard badge can be used by Cirrus cardholders.

Credit cards

All credit cards that bear the Visa, MasterCard or American Express logo are widely accepted in Britain. If your card does not bear one of these logos, you should ask the retailer in advance if you can use it, or check if your card’s logo is displayed at the payment area. You should be aware that retailers can charge more for goods and services bought by credit card, but they must display a clear indication if any price increase applies.

* 29 October – 30 March: Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
* 30 March – 26 October: UTC + 1

British summer time

British summer time starts on the last Sunday in March when clocks go forward 1 hour at 01:00, and ends on the last Sunday in October when they go back 1 hour at 01:00. The time for the rest of the year is Coordinated Universal Time.

Public Holidays

  • New Year’s Day (All UK)
  • Extra New Year’s Bank holiday (Scotland only)
  • St Patrick’s Day (N. Ireland only)
  • Good Friday (All UK)
  • Easter Monday (England, Wales and N. Ireland)
  • Early May Bank Holiday (All UK)
  • Spring Bank Holiday (All UK)
  • Battle of the Boyne (Northern Ireland only)
  • Summer Bank Holiday (Scotland only)
  • Summer Bank Holiday (England, Wales and N. Ireland)
  • Christmas Day (All UK)
  • Boxing Day (All UK)

School holidays

The main summer holiday is about 6 weeks from mid-July to early September. Children also have two weeks holiday at Christmas and at Easter, plus a week in mid-October and in mid-February. Exact dates vary between each education authority.