UK Trip Travel Tips

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About the country

The United Kingdom (commonly abbreviated UK) is a nation that a century ago ruled over much of the globe.  Although its far-flung reach may have decreased from its pinnacle, its people are still immensely proud of their country and heritage. It has come a long way from a colonial empire to a member of the European Union. The country is made up principally of the historic countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The country is full of scenic locales and dynamic cities. Also, the country is home to nearly thirty UNESCO World heritage sites, apart from those in its overseas territories.

The capital city of the UK is London. It is without a doubt an incomparable city, an icon of diversity, with people from different races, creeds and all walks of life woven into the fabric of its culture. It is also home to many architectural marvels.

In contrast, far from the bustle of city life are the idyllic English and Welsh countrysides. Moreover, the scenic Lake District, Belfast and the Causeway Coast, and Edinburgh draw travelers from all over the world.

Population & Languages

The population is around 67 million and the official language is English. Other regional languages that are spoken in the United Kingdom include Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Welsh.

Electricity

The voltage is 230-240 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. The type of plug for  electrical appliances is a rectangular blade.

Geographic Location

The main land mass of the UK is located in Western Europe and consists of islands, including the island of Great Britain and the northern one-sixth of the island of Ireland. The physical terrain of the UK varies greatly: England has mostly lowland areas traversed by low hills, while Scotland and Wales feature mountainous areas, and Northern Ireland is mostly hilly with some mountains.  There is a distance of about 21 miles across the Strait of Dover from the border with France.  The UK is linked to France by the undersea Channel tunnel.

Climate

The UK has a moderate temperate climate, but receives lots of rain, with it being overcast around half of the year. Be sure and bring your umbrella. The mildest areas, and those which see the most precipitation, are Northern Ireland, Wales, and the western areas of Scotland and England.

Local Customs

To begin with, a handshake is customary when you are meeting somebody for the first time. Also, when visiting someone’s house a small gift like flowers or chocolates is customary. Waiting until everyone is served before eating is also one of the rules of etiquette. Tipping is usually 10% in restaurants (only if a service charge is not already included) and taxis. Smoking and non-smoking areas are clearly designated, and one should abide by them.

Places to see on a UK Trip

London – The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Kensington Palace, Whitehall Palace, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the British Museum, the National Gallery, Natural History Museum, the Royal Botanical Garden (Kew Gardens), Trafalgar Square, Hampton Court Palace, The Coca-Cola London Eye, Hyde Park.
Scotland – Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, Stirling Castle, The Bannockburn Heritage Centre, Glen Coe, Skara Brae, Isle of Skye, Loch Lomond, Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness.
Wales – St. David’s Cathedral, Caerphilly Castle, Caernarfron Castle, Aberdulais Falls, Snowdonia, Conwy, and King Arthur’s Labyrinth, Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Great Orme Mines, and the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Also the beautiful Portmeirion Village, the Italianate village designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.  Portmeirion has served as a filming site for many films and TV shows, including The Prisoner, and is the namesake of the famed Portmeirion Botanic Garden casual dining dinnerware, serveware, and bakeware line designed by his daughter, Susan Williams-Ellis.

Travel

By Air – The national domestic airlines is British Airways, which also connects to almost all major world destinations. Almost all airlines connect UK through London, which is a hub for all international flights between east to west and west to east. Heathrow and Gatwick are international airports in London.

By Sea – Since the UK is surrounded by water on almost all sides it has many ports. There are many ferry services operating between Europe and the UK.

By Rail – Trains connect with ferries at Dover, Folkestone, Newhaven, Portsmouth and Weymouth, sailing for Belgium, France, Germany, and Spain (boarding at Victoria Station in London); and at Harwich, sailing for Germany, the Netherlands and Scandinavia (boarding at the Liverpool Street Station). Eurostar trains connect London with Brussels and Paris via the Channel tunnel.

By Road – Vehicles can enter UK via the Channel Tunnel. Cars and motorcycles, coaches, minibuses, caravans, campervans and other vehicles over 1.85m (6.07ft) can also use the Channel Tunnel.

Prohibited Items on a UK Trip

Importantly, narcotics, firearms, ammunition, weapons, most meat and dairy products, eggs, plants, endangered species, fireworks and alcoholic beverages that contain more than sixty per cent alcohol should not be transported on your UK trip.