Oh the magnificent United Kingdom. For a little island we sure have a hell of a lot to offer, and though we be small, we be fierce! The world seems to agree with me. Recently voted the 6th most visited destination in the world, it is hard for any visitor to leave without a sense of regret. The UK is steeped in history like no other, and has so much to offer between its incredible cities and stunning countrywide.
Throughout the Country you will find Castles and English heritage sites, beautiful coastal stretches of white and golden sandy beaches and even more wonderful places of interest than I can put into words: museums galore in London and Mountains you can’t see the top of in Scotland hidden within the clouds. I am very proud to say I am British, and between the old world heritage surrounding us and new world opportunities this country has to offer, it really is something special that I would like to share, and I encourage anyone thinking about visiting to get on over here. And with that I will leave you with the words that Hugh Grant famously spoke in Love Actually, which couldn’t sum the UK up better if I tried.
‘We may be a small country, but we’re a great one, too.
The country of Shakespeare, Churchill, the Beatles, Sean Connery, Harry Potter.
David Beckham’s right foot. David Beckham’s left foot, come to that!’
When to visit/Travel the UK?
Accommodation prices are generally expensive at Easter, over Bank Holidays and during the summer season (July- Beginning of September). When the children’s summer holidays are over and they return to school after their 6 week break, is in my opinion the best time to visit the UK. From mid-September prices are lowering and the weather is normally pretty nice-mild and sunshiny lasting up until the end of October; giving you the perfect six- week gap to get exploring.
The weather in the UK is highly changeable and even erratic, especially the further North you go, so by the time you reach Scotland believe me it is purely unpredictable. During my 5 days in Fort William I had one glorious sunshiny day, 2 very overcast and 2 where it just did not stop raining. So good luck planning around that 😉
In general as a rule of thumb, if visiting in Spring or Autumn bring layers, a jacket and umbrella. Normally t-shirt and Jeans are a staple for us British. For Winter bring layers of warm clothing and waterproof shoes. Summer is the time to don your dressers and skirts ladies, however pack a pair of leggings and tights in case it’s a breezier day. Also a light cardigan and scarf are great for layering and easy to remove if you do get too warm. Without fail, always keep a small umbrella in your handbag and you’ll be just fine J
Spring: March – May
We have experienced heat waves in March and pouring rain in May, so there is not a better month to visit than another if planning to visit in spring. I personally would recommend the end of April/beginning of May, as even if you are unlucky enough to experience our famous April showers, the flowers are blossoming, baby animals are being born and the country starts turning to luscious green and yellow coloured fields again. It is not normally too cold, so packing a few layers and a waterproof is a safe bet.
Summer: June – September
England’s most thriving, busiest tourist season. Normally the weather ranges between sunny and cloudy with a few heat waves and rain storms thrown in. It may be summer but that doesn’t mean it won’t rain I’m afraid!
Autumn: September – November
I personally love autumn, when for a mere few weeks the leaves turn those gorgeous deep orange and red hues, lining the streets with freshly fallen conkers and crunch when you step on them walking through the park. The weather can range from warm to very cold so bring a warm cardigan and light jacket. It is still normally fine though and not something a jacket and umbrella can’t sort.
Winter: December – March
Cold, wet, windy. Just the kind of weather you envision for a traditional English Christmas. We have the odd clear day but generally it’s not a great time to visit. For this reason prices are much cheaper for accommodation around this time (excluding Christmas) so if you plan to spend the majority of time indoors such as visiting museums or aren’t phased by exploring the city in the rain, you could get a great deal. Scotland is of course great for skiing, but not for walking which can be highly dangerous this time of year.
There is something for everyone in the UK, however depending on where you visit will depend on what type of accommodation is available, and more importantly for the price range you are looking to spend. Around the Country Hostels can be found for the backpackers in the main city’s and in popular tourist destinations such as Scotland and Ireland, so it is a very backpacker friendly place in that respect. However In the country towns e.g. Bath, the Lake District, Oxford, Bed&Breakfast’s (B&B’s) are the most popular form of accommodation available. Hotels are normally the most expensive and are found more in the larger city’s such as London, Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester etc. Camping and caravan hire are good options for people looking to visit on a budget, with the majority of UK campsites having excellent facilities on hand!
The country overall has excellent public transport services, with a large number of airports station in the main cities, excellent rail networks and frequent buses in the city centres. In the capital city London and its surrounds, public transport is the best way to travel. Trains run frequently and buses arrive every few minute. However in saying this, the further North you travel through the country, the more I would recommend hiring a car, as this will give you the freedom to visit some of the more remote places such as the Lake District, Scotland, Wales and Ireland without worrying about cancelled trains and delayed buses that fail to arrive.
My Top 10 UK Destinations to visit
In my humble opinion, and in order of my favorite destinations, the best cities or places to look out for are below. There are many more, however I don’t have all day and it’s no fun if you don’t do a little bit of research yourself 😉
- London (of course, this is my home and England’s Capital!)
- Edinburgh (My second home over the past few years)
- The Lake District
- The Scottish Highlands – Fort William/Isle of Skye/Glencoe
- The Cotswolds (including Oxford)
- The Isle of Wight
- Dublin – Ireland
(Ok that’s 11, but I couldn’t leave out the Isle of Wight which I have recently fallen in love with!)
I am personally not too fussed on Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton or Portsmouth although they are worth passing through for a look around if you have some time on route to your destination – or looking for a great night out, which all of these cities provide in abundance!
I hope this has helped convince any doubters that this wonderful little country is surely worth a visit! Please read on to hear about my personal ‘UK Grand Tour’ where I travelled from London to The Lake District, Fort William, Edinburgh, Yorkshire and back again over a 12 day roadtrip 🙂
First Stop – The Lake District!
-The Sloan Ranger