Travelling around the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is made up of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and all 4 places are home to beautiful scenery and exciting activities that make them great travel destinations.
Starting off with England, the biggest country out of the four accounting for just over half of the total area of the United Kingdom. This means, that England has a variety of destinations to travel to which all give a different experience. For example, London or Birmingham for a city break or Cornwall for a more coastal destination.
London in the capital of England and the most well-known and popular part of the United Kingdom. London Is best known for being the home to the royal family, it’s famous landmarks such as Big Ben and the Buckingham Palace as well as its museums and galleries. In 2022 the most visited tourist attraction in London was the National History Museum with 4.7 million visitors, and it is free to enter! London is full of attractions and activities and city passes can be bought to plan them all in, which could save you money. However, I suggest putting aside a day to just stroll around the city, there’s so much to see. One of my favourite things to do whilst visiting the Capital is just wondering around, popping into shops, going through the parks and different areas of London such as convent gardens and Soho.
I think the most efficient way to visit London is by staying outside of the city centre such as in Hemel Hempstead. This is because the accommodation prices are a lot more cost effective, it sits outside the congestion zone meaning no charges for driving into the city and there are very convenient trains into king’s cross station. For example, Premier inn prices in Hemel Hempstead are around £35 per night but in City Central of London are around £59.
Top tips for travelling in England:
- When visiting London, stay in accommodation outside of the city centre for a more cost-effective trip.
- Use the trains and Tube lines to travel around London for cheap, easy travel.
- Visit Whitby on the weekend of 27th to 29th October or 26th to 28th April for Whitby’s Goth Weekends to see the Gothic costumes and music festivals.
- Taste some of the country’s best fish and chips for lunch from one of the award-winning chippies in Whitby town.
Scotland is the country covering the northern third of the island and is the second largest country in the UK. The capital city of Scotland is Edinburgh which lies on the east coast and is also the most visited part by tourists with 4 million people visiting every year, but there are many beautiful places in Scotland to visit.
Starting with Edinburgh, the city holds a lot of history so can be a destination for an educational and fun trip. The ‘Old Town area of Edinburgh is famous for its cobbled streets, unusual landscape and medieval architecture and is the oldest part of the city, so it has many historical sites to see such as the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile runs through the Old Town and at the top is Edinburgh Castle, the biggest tourist attraction of the Country. Visited 1.3 million times in 2022, Edinburgh Castle has lots of things to see and do so anyone can have a good time. You can see a display of the oldest crown jewels in Britain in the Crown room, look around the national war museum, watch and listen to the firing of the one o clock gun which is fired every day at 1 pm and get a fantastic view of the rest of city by standing at the Half Moon Battery. The castle is open from 9:30 till 6 pm and offers a variety of ways to see the castle such as, a guided audio tour, itineraries to follow or an afternoon tea experience so you can visit in the best way suited for you.
Carrying on down the Royal Mile, there’s still so much to see and do, including other historical sites such as St Giles Cathedral but also so many museums, the Scottish storytelling centre and many amazing food and drink outlets. Edinburgh has more restaurants per head than any other city in the UK outside of London and has a range of traditional Scottish pubs and bars to sample the country’s cuisine and enjoy a whole range of food and drinks, so an amazing destination for any foodies!
Top tips for travelling around Scotland:
- There are so many Festivals across the year in Edinburgh, plan a visit at a time when one is taking place to experience a unique celebration.
- To see the Northern Lights in Caithness visit between December to February.
- Try traditional Scottish food and drink to get a real taste of the country, these include Cullen skink, haggis, black pudding and whisky.
Wales is in southwest Great Britain and takes around 4hrs and 45 Minutes by car from London. Wales is known for its stunning coastline, famous Snowdonia national park, the distinctive Welsh language and Celtic culture.
A highlight of Wales is a trip to Snowdonia which can be just for a day trip or made into a full holiday as camping can be done in one of the many campsites surrounding the national park. Mount Snowdon is Wales highest peak, it sits in the Snowdonia national park which also has the largest lake in Wales and is visited by nearly 4 million people every year. A visit to Snowdonia isn’t just for the hikers who are eager to reach the top of the mountain, but it can be a nice relaxing destination to visit too. Fantastic scenery, lakes and coastline to relax by or take part in water activities, forests and local villages to explore, it can be a great place for anyone to enjoy the outdoors. For those less active, you can still experience the peak of the mountain without walking the ten or so miles, there is a railway to the top which takes 60 minutes to the summit but has a 30-minute stopover at Haford Eryri, the UK’s highest visitor centre. Whereas hiking to the top takes around 5 to 7 hours!
One of Wales best kept secrets is the coastal and seaside destinations it has to offer, for a beach holiday and that feel like you’re abroad feeling. Destinations include New Quay Beach, the harbour resort of Tenby or Portmeirion. Portmeirion village is on the northwest coast of Wales and its beautiful houses and gardens were designed inspired by Italy and its pastel colours. It offers stunning coastal walks and guided tours to learn about its famous architecture, as well as places to relax like the Japanese Gardens. The village offers amazing accommodation, leisure facilities and many nice food and drink spots which give you the holiday feeling. The most recommended place to stay is in the Hotel Portmeirion which overlooks the sandy beaches, and the best food is at the Castle Cottage Inn restaurant and bar which has excellent quality.
Top tips for travelling around Wales:
- Take a hike or the railway to the summit of Snowdon to experiment the beautiful views from the highest point in Wales.
- Take a guided tour of the Portmeirion Village to learn about the architecture that makes it such a beautiful visit
- Rain in Wales is very common so ensure that you are prepared with an umbrella or waterproof clothing so you can still enjoy everything even if it does rain
Northern Ireland is in the northeast part of Ireland and is the smallest country in the United Kingdom with a population of 1.8 million. The national day of Northern Ireland is St Patricks Day, which is a day on the 17th of March commemorating the death day of Saint Patrick originally but now also celebrates Irish culture. The celebration involves parades, festivals and wearing green attire and is not just celebrated in Ireland but globally including in the United States, Canada and Australia.
Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland and can be a perfect city break. Belfast is famous for knowing how to party and a popular place to have fun is at the Cathedral Quarter. Cathedral Quarter is a maze of cobblestone streets and has a buzzing, creative atmosphere due to being filled with trendy bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants making it one of the best nightlife places in Belfast. The Quarter is also covered in colourful street art and has plenty of places for entertainment from live music and bands to interesting shows. You can also get creative yourself by taking part in some of the art and culture activities such as the MAC cultural hub where you can take part in workshops and art groups. One major attraction of the city is its connection with the Titanic, Belfast being where it was built in 1909. For people who are interested in learning about the Titanic and its history, a good place to visit is the Titanic Museum. The attraction tells the story of the Titanic from its construction to its launch as well as its tragic sinking and is all located at the Titanic slipways, the very place it was built. The museum is open from 9 am and is a self-guided tour so you can spend as long as you like in the museum, but the average time it takes to tour the museum is 1 and half to 2 and half hours.
Top tips for Travelling around Northern Ireland:
- Book a visitor’s experience to Giants Causeway to learn about the history of the columns and how they formed millions of years ago.
- Visit around the 17th of March to experience St Patricks Day to get a true feeling of Irish culture and take part in the celebrations.
- For a luxurious experience book afternoon tea at the Merchant Hotel to have a spot of food in the hotel’s expensive surroundings.
- Take the Titanic Trail in Belfast which is a walk along the water starting at the Titanic memorial gardens and ending in the Titanic Quarter.
Written by Mia Lorriman