England Travel Guide
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares it land borders with Wales and Scotland. English culture has been at the global forefront for centuries. It’s one of the most popular modern countries and has become a culture synonymous with western civilization, mostly because the British Empire used to span the entire world.
English language is arguably the most popular language in the world and is considered the de facto trade tongue on the planet.
Everything from English culture like the royal family, to its entertainment, and even its history has a large part to play in the world’s large palette of cultures.
England is known for its peaceful rolling hills to the south and its craggier north, as well as its iconic rainy weather that regularly envelops the terrain. England covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain. There is no place in the country that is farther than 75 miles from the sea.
The capital is London, which has the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom. England has a population of over 56 million people, and it compromises of 84% of the population of the United Kingdom.
London is one of the most visited cities in the world. Yet, despite this giant of a metropolis, many other cities in England are just as popular and important, especially when their dynamic, intrinsic liveliness and spirit come into play. Very few countries in the world can boast to have as lovely cities as Bristol, Bath, Manchester, Liverpool, or Brighton.
England is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. The English law legal system, developed over the centuries.
The legal system of the Courts of England and Wales are a separate legal system from the one used in Scotland.
Things to know about England
Currency - The official currency in England is the Pound Sterling (GBP).
Language - The official language is English.
ATMs - ATM's are available in cities and towns and almost all places accept card transactions. However, not all places will accept AMEX. Even in most places you'll be able to tip using your card.
Plugs & Sockets - The power plug and socket used in England would be the Type G plug. The standard voltage is 230 V.
Safety - England, as well as the rest of the UK, is generally safe. The number of violent crimes is low. It is ranked 33 in the world’s list of the safest countries. But there are cases of petty crimes, such as pickpocketing, which is commonly targeted towards tourists. When visiting major cities in England, it is recommended that you stay vigilant at all times.
Climate - England has a temperate maritime climate: it is mild in winter and temperatures don't tend to go over 32 °C (90 °F) in summer. Rainfall is spread fairly evenly throughout the year.
Driving - In England you will drive on the left-hand side of the road. Visitors must be aged 18 or over and hold a full, valid driving licence to legally drive in England. Road signs in the UK use imperial units, so speed limits are posted in miles per hour. Driving licences issued in EU and EEA countries are accepted.
In an emergency - 999 is for emergencies and 111 is for non-emergencies. 111 is a free number to call when you have an urgent healthcare need that isn't a life-threatening situation. Following a short assessment NHS 111 will direct you to the right service.
Depending on your nationality, you’ll either:
- have to apply for a Standard Visitor visa before you travel to the UK
- be able to visit the UK for up to 6 months without needing a visa
A Standard Visitor visa costs £100 for up to 6 months. The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.
Check if you need a visa to enter the UK.
Best time to visit
England has a temperate maritime climate meaning it's mild and temperate. Months with mild to warm weather are May, June, September, and October. However, remember that the weather is not very predictable, as it can rain any day. But it can also get really hot and have a heat wave in England.
Rainfall is spread evenly throughout the year. Some areas, like the Peak District, get more rainfall, on average, than the rest of the country.
Winters in England are mild, with temperatures rarely falling below 0 °C (32 °F). January and February are the coldest months. Winters in the UK are dark and during the winter solstice, the sun rises at 8 am and sets at 4 pm. Winters are generally not a great time to visit the UK, unless you wish to head to the north of Scotland searching for Aurora Borealis. The cities feel grey, damp and dull.
Summers in England are warm, with temperatures averaging 18 °C (64.4 °F). Even with heat waves, temperatures don't go much higher than 32 °C (90 °F). Even though some days may feel cold and rainy, summers are very bright and green. Cities come to live and the countryside looks stunning with all different shades of green everywhere. The beauty of summers in England is the sheer amount of daylight you'll get. The sun rises at 4:30am and sets at 9:30pm.
Autumn is beautiful in England, with a surreal warm glow that makes everything look so beautiful. September and October are usually warm and sunny but from mid-October, the rainy season is in full swing. You'll see the foliage at the beginning of autumn with superb golden hours. However, November gets cold and dark.
Spring is a great time to visit England, although May is the best time for travel. In May, you'll get flowers and trees in bloom, warmer weather and the whole country is green and gorgeous. The beginning of Spring is still fairly cold, with frequent rainy spells. The days are getting longer and warmer.
Safety in England
England is considered a safe country and it ranks 33rd on the peace safety index. England is safe for all travellers including solo tourists or women only. People are friendly and happy to help so don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Locals are usually polite and some may even spark conversation, curious to know more about you.
There are some instances when you will want to be more vigilant, especially in popular tourist destinations. Those are the areas where you might see pickpocketing, purse or phone snatching or some scamming. There are some areas in England which are not safe for locals or tourists. These are mainly residential estates in some parts of the country and as a tourist, you won't need to go there.
England is safe at night as well, but of course, as with any destination, always pay attention to your surroundings and exercise common sense. As a solo female traveller, don't walk alone at night outside the touristy areas. Get a cab if needed. If using public transport at night, make sure there's enough people around you.
Don’t venture away from the hiking trails in the mountains, as those were created for your safety. If you intend to sleep in a tent, check the weather forecast and avoid flood areas. Generally, wild camping without the landowner’s permission is illegal in England. To wild camp you first need to ask the landowner’s permission first.
Do not leave your valuables in plain sight or at a visible place in a locked car. Remember to lock the car when exiting the vehicle.
How to get around
England has a good infrastructure, but the best way to get around is by car. You can rely on the public transport, but some train journeys will be fairly expensive.
By car - Renting a car is your best option if you intend to visit places outside the main cities. You will be able to access more off the grid hidden gems and tourist attractions that are not as well connected by public transport. This will save you time so you can spend more enjoying the attractions. Roads are well maintained in England but remember that you'll need to drive on the left hand side on the road here. This may be more difficult for newer drivers or those with less experience. Something else to consider is that many rural roads are very narrow, which may seem difficult for inexperienced drivers.
Generally, drivers are polite and you'll notice that when people give way or wait for you to pass, they greet one another with one hand as a way of saying thank you.
In addition to required documents, motorists are also required by law to carry the following items when driving to avoid fines:
- Reflective jackets (mandatory to carry in your vehicle and wear if walking on the road or hard shoulder in the event of emergency or breakdown)
- Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle with more than two wheels)
- Fire extinguisher (compulsory in all vehicles)
- First aid kit (compulsory in all vehicles)
Note that parking is not cheap in England. In cities, you'll have to use dedicated car parks that can cost quite a bit of money. So make sure to take this into account when travelling by car.
Train - Trains in England are a reliable way of getting around. Trains are usually quite expensive in England and prices vary depending on the time of your travel. It's best to plan well in advance and purchase your tickets as soon as you know your itinerary.
Buses - Buses are everywhere in England, and a prominent form of public transport in major cities as well as small villages. Buses are cheaper than trains and connect even the most remote parts of the country. Purchase a ticket from the bus driver directly. You can pay cash or card on board. Simply tell the driver the destination and they will calculate the fare for you.
Flights - There are national flying routes linking major cities. However, flights can be fairly expensive as you'll mostly fly with national carriers.
Taxi - Taxis are very popular in major cities. There's Uber and other similar apps available in most major cities. In London you'll have the iconic black cabs. Taxis are an expensive form of transportation in England.
Things to do in England
There are so many things to do in England. Visit London and enjoy all the major tourist attraction, hike in the Peak District, visit the gorgeous towns in Yorkshire and go surfing in Cornwall. England offers such variety of landscapes and activities, you can never tire of exploring the country. It's a perfect year-around destination. Here are the top things to do in England.
See the Royals in London
London is a fantastic destination that everyone has on the bucket list. It's full of attractions with some of the best museums and galleries in the world. Then there's Buckingham Palace, many places perfect for a traditional afternoon tea and plenty of parks to relax with your loved ones.
See the beautiful Kew Gardens, take cocktail classes and enter the world of Harry Potter. There's virtually no way to get bored in London, even if you try. There's always something going on, including shows, theatre and comedy clubs. There are daily and weekly markets with fresh produce and street food.
Visit the cute towns of Yorkshire
Yorkshire is affectionately referred to as God's own country, because of its sheer beauty and varied landscape. There are so many gorgeous little villages that look truly English, surrounded by the countryside. Think endless green, lakes and rivers, woodlands and cottages.
Visit Harrogate and the town of Knaresborough, two of the best places in North Yorkshire. See Hawes in the centre of the Yorkshire Dales, a superb national park full of trails and walking paths. Then stop in Hebden Bridge to see English stone houses and to hike on the Pennine Way.
Book your 5-Day Heart of England, Wales & Yorkshire Small-Group Tour from London.
Surf in Cornwall
Cornwall is one of England's best destinations for a holiday in the summer. There's so much to see and do in Cornwall including walking by the coast, eating lots of seafood and enjoying water sports.
Cornwall is the ideal destination for those who want to surf in England or want to tackle new water sports. There are plenty of surfing schools down in Cornwall too to cater for all ages and levels. Cornwall feels a lot more rural than other parts of England, which gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing time in stunning cottages by the sea.
The weather is warmer and the food is fresher than ever with the whole of Cornwall being surrounded by the sea. Visit the Eden Project in Cornwall and see subtropical gardens that welcome visitors from all around the world.
Book a Beginner's Surf Experience in Newquay.
Have a gothic weekend in Whitby
Did you know that Dracula was written when Bram Stocker was in Whitby? The grand Whitby Abbey inspired the writer to create the most famed gothic novel of all time. There's even a gothic weekend held in Whitby where everyone dresses up and celebrates gothic in all shapes and forms.
But there's more to Whitby, as the town looks stunning with superb red rooftops and plenty of photo opportunities. The town centre is lined with independent boutiques for perfect souvenirs.
Near Whitby, there's a Robin Hood's Bay, gorgeous cliffs with puffins, miles of sandy beaches and epic trails. Make sure to visit the Sandsend beach and stay at the Raithwaite Sandsend known for its luxury spa.
Book Essential Whitby: Discover the town’s legends on a self-guided audio tour.
Be on the beach in Filey
Filey is one of the top 5 beaches in the whole world, so a must see when visiting England. It's miles long and sandy and perfect for everyone who wants to enjoy a weekend by the beach. There's plenty to do in the area as well, including day trips to the stunning Flamborough cliffs, that looks postcard perfect.
Imagine walking by the coast, seeing white chalky cliffs with puffins and the most pristine white sandy beaches all around. Besides, Filey has some of the best fish and chips and plenty of adorable beach huts to rent during summer. A proper English beach holiday done right.
Hike in the Peak District
The Peak District is a national park near Manchester. See steep limestone valleyd and stepping stones, admire the Lathkill Dale and dramatic gritstone ridges.
Peak District is ideal for all hiking enthusiasts who just want to experience rural and quite England. Not only does the park look dramatic and stunning, but there are quaint villages all around where you’ll be welcomed by friendly locals for a pint of ale and some good pub food.
Book The Hunt: Team Adventure in the Peak District.
Be cool in Manchester
Manchester is a really cool university city that's full of awesome bars and cafes. It has its own gay village, party district and hipster quarter. There are three universities in the city so during term, the whole of Manchester is teeming with live.
Manchester is an up-and-coming city with tons of investors building tall residential buildings and bringing new international restaurants. Once an industrious city, Manchester is now a brilliant place to live in and visit during your time in England.
Book a Manchester Afternoon Walking Tour.
See the city of Bristol
Once a colourful fishing village, Bristol is now an epic city located in the South West. There's plenty to so and see in Bristol and it's an ideal destination if you like underground music and festivals.
See the impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge, explore the industrial heritage at the M Shed museum and walk by the harbourside with its 19th century warehouses.
Go shopping in Cabot Circus, then grab a cup of coffee and relax in the Castle Park right in the centre of the city. There's always something going on in Bristol so you won't be short on fun things to do.
Book the Blackbeard to Banksy - The Ultimate Walking Tour of Bristol.
Take a break in the Lake District
One of the most beloved destinations in England, many come to the Lake District to enjoy a relaxing weekend in nature. Not only does it look stunning, but it's perfect for water sports, hiking enthusiasts and heritage lovers.
The Lake District is a national park and one of the most popular holiday spots for tourists and locals alike. See the glacial ribbon lakes surrounded by rugged mountains and rolling hills. There's plenty of small market towns to grab a bite and do a bit of souvenir shopping. Stay in the middle of the countryside or get a room in a traditional inn.
Book the Mountain Goat Full Day Tour: Ten Lakes Tour of the Lake District.
Have a long weekend in Essex
Just an hour away from London is the county of Essex, a perfect destination that has so much to offer. You'll see a stunning rural market town, national nature reserves and outstanding natural beauty. There will be lots of great food, outdoor adventures and colourful beach huts.
Head to Mersea Island and walk on the beach, photograph the cutest beach huts and relax in the sunshine. Eat oysters by the sea and try a little kayaking in the marshes. If you love fossils, head to Walton on the Naze as early as possible and go straight to the beach to find natural treasures.
Don't forget to book your Stonehenge and Bath Day Trip from London.
Best places to visit in England
England is full of stunning places to visit. It has many national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty. But it's also known for its castles, palaces and quaint little villages. The English countryside is lush and green with rolling hills and peaceful valleys. England is also known for its prehistoric monuments and world class universities.
Here are some of the best places to visit in England you won't want to miss.
You've seen in movies and on all the postcards sent from London: the Buckingham Palace is the London royal residence and the admin headquarters of the monarch. Basically, this is where the monarch spends most of their time.
It's not just a residence, as the Palace is also the focus for national and royal celebrations. You can visit parts of the Palace open to tourists, and on some special days you can even have a picnic in the gardens. Every day, however, visitors get a chance to see the changing of the guard, a traditional ceremony featuring bands & marching.
Book the Buckingham Palace Tour Including Changing of the Guard Ceremony.
Windsor Castle is a royal residence at Windsor, in the English county of Berkshire. The original castle was built in the 11th century, and it has been used by the reining monarch ever since. It's the longest occupied palace in Europe.
It is a popular tourist attraction, a venue for hosting state visits, and is the main residence of Queen Elizabeth II since 2011. The castle remains an important ceremonial location.
Book a tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath Tour from London.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument consisting of vertical sarsen standing stones. Archaeologists believe that Stonehenge was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC.
The Stonehenge has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1986. It is currently owned by the Crown and managed by English Heritage.
The Stonehenge attracts over 300 thousand visitors every year.
Book a tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath Tour from London.
The Roman Baths
Visit the superb Roman Baths which are a well preserved thermae in the city of Bath. The temple dates back to 60-70 AD.
The water comes from rainfall from the nearby Mendip Hills and geothermal energy raises the water temperature. The Roman Baths are no longer used for bathing. However, there is a superb spa with an open air rooftop pool right in the heart of the city.
Book a tour to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath Tour from London.
If you think of the English countryside, then pictures of the Cotswolds will probably come to mind. This is a superb area covering parts of 6 counties. You'll see grassland harbour thatched medieval villages, majestic stately homes and imposing churches.
The area is known thanks to its Jurassic limestone and the gold-coloured Cotswold stone. This limestone is rich in fossils, particularly of fossilised sea urchins. The Cotswolds is a designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The rural landscape is varies with hills and valleys, pastoral vales, farmed slopes and woodlands.
Book a Private Cotswold Village Tour.
One of the most prestigious universities in the world, Oxford University is located in the city of Oxford. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation after the University of Bologna.
Oxford operates the world's oldest university museum and the largest university press. Its gothic towers, iconic courtyard and perfect architectural details, make The Oxford University one of the most visited attractions in the city.
Book an Afternoon Tea Sightseeing River Cruise in Oxford.
Cornwall is a peninsula in England with wild moorland, sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs. This is the ideal destination if you love the sand the sea and want to enjoy it all with a backdrop of picturesque harbour villages.
This is a warmer county in England and it's sometimes referred to as The Cornish Riviera. It's a fantastic place to visit in summer, especially if you want to learn how to surf. there's lots of subtropical and lush gardens for you to visit as well as the superb Eden Project. Make sure to add the Land's End to your list and the Minack Theatre carved into a Cornish clifftop.
Book a Newquay Coasteering Adventure.
If you love quiet and nature, then look not further as you'll want to add the Yorkshire Dales to your wishlist. The Yorkshire Dales is a national park created in 1954. You'll walk along rivers and hilltops and superb valleys.
There are many villages dotted all around the national park where you can take a break and spend the night. Visit the dales if you're after hiking in nature. There are areas where you'll hear absolutely nothing but the sound of your beating heart. It's hard to find that sort of silence anywhere in this world. The extensive limestone cave systems are a major area for caving in England.
Book a Malham Cove Walking Tour.
Tales of Vikings and Romans, with some of the best preserved medieval streets in England, is what the beautiful city of York promises. York is a walled city founded by the ancient Romans. The city has long standing buildings and structures, and it's particularly well known for its 13th century minster.
Visit the Shambles an old street with overhanging timber-framed buildings. Once upon a time, the Shambles were known as The Great Flesh Shambles, a place where butchers used to display their meat.
There are plenty of ghost stories to be heard so make sure to book a ghost walk when visiting York.
What to pack for England
England is mild and rainy even during summer. You'll want to bring layers and make sure to have waterproofs with you at all times, There are a few things you should always remember to pack no matter what.
Bring your walking shoes with you, because you will want to be comfortable. If you intend to hike, make sure your hiking shoes are also waterproof. Pack your preferred cosmetics but don’t worry if you forget something, as England has major supermarkets and department stores with all necessary goods and all known international brands. For cosmetics, visit Boots or Superdrugs.
Summer packing - Summers mild but there are still high chances of rain. Pack light and breathable materials. Shorts, skirts, dresses, sandals. Loose textiles in light colours if possible. You should have a swimming costume with you in case you decide to visit the seaside or a pool in the city.
Autumn packing - Autumns are mild and beautiful, but they can be pouring too. A waterproof jacket, as well as a light jacket for the cooler evenings, should be added to your suitcase. Get your walking shoes and long trousers. During the day wear chinos with a shirt.
Winter packing - Winters are cold and wet. Get the warmest winter jacket you can find and layer up. Get warm merino wool thermals, wool or synthetic layers and a fluffy, warm jumper. Bring thermal underwear and trousers. Make sure your boots are waterproof.
Spring packing - If you visit at the beginning of the Spring bring warm clothes and your winter jacket. Some waterproofs are a must. If you visit towards the end of Spring, pack lighter clothes, some shorts, T-shirts and dresses and walking shoes. For evenings, you should have a trench coat or a jacket to keep you warm.
Irrespective of the season, pack enough socks and underwear, toiletries and a small medical kit. For example, bring your own band-aids, earplugs, hand sanitiser and medical face masks. Don’t forget your universal charger/adaptor and some laundry bags to make your life easier.
Where to stay in England
England has every range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. In cities, you can book luxury hotels, mid-range options, studios and hostels. In rural areas, it’s common to find traditional pubs, inns and quaint cottages with real fire burners.
Prices in England are fairly high and they fill up quickly. Make sure to book your accommodation well in advance to get the best rates.
If you decide to stay in a city, you should book your accommodation as close to the old centre as possible to have access to all points of interest and attraction.
For Cornwall, stay closer to the town centre so you can enjoy amenities, but remember that you'll very likely need to rent a car to access the coast and other attractions.
National Parks all have their pubs and inns as well as quaint cottage accommodation. There is limited accommodation in national parks, which is paramount that you book your accommodation well ahead.
To book your accommodation in England, we recommend using Booking.com as this is the most popular site with locals.
England has plenty of traditional and international dishes to offer. During your visit you'll definitely want to try some classics like fish and chips from the seaside. But there's a lot more to English cuisine than you'd think.
Start with a traditional English breakfast which comes with eggs, sausages, bacon, toast, veggies and baked beans. After all, you'll need all the energy to explore the country. If you want a lighter meal enjoy toast with butter and jam or crumpets served with butter.
A marmite and cheese sandwich is a must try. Marmite is a spread based on yeast extract. If you're having a traditional afternoon tea, try the scones with jam and cream, served with a proper cup of black English tea. Have it with or without milk, your choice.
If it's Sunday, then head to the local pub to try some traditional English food. Enjoy a Sunday roast which is essentially a dish consisting of meat, potatoes, vegetables and yorkshire pudding, served with gravy on top.
Are you big on pies? Try a Cornish pasty, a steak and kidney pie or go for the layered options: Cottage and Shepherd's Pie.
For something unconventional, try some black pudding or a toad in the hole.
Whichever dish you decide to try, you are going to love it.
Shopping and souvenirs
If you love shopping experiences, England has lots of department stores, malls and independent shops.
London is well known for its large department stores and market areas. There are many long-standing indie boutiques, some of which date back since the 17th century.
Buy an original umbrella from James Smith & Sons, some authentic tea from Fortnum & Mason or delightful vinyls from London's Berwick Street. Of course there's so much more you can get including books, original albums, posters, special English gin and even toys from Hamleys on Regent Street. Harry Potter lovers will find specialised gifts everywhere in England and elegant travellers will want to purchase a perfume from Floris or a special hat from Lock & Co Hatters, a shop established in 1676.