Explore UK

UK Travel Guide

It may seem hard to believe that this small, cold, wet island once held dominion over three quarters of the globe. The pomp and circumstance of previous centuries may have dwindled and the monarchy takes daily batterings in the local press, yet the UK and its people remain a fiercely proud nation. The past 100 years have seen a vast transformation as the country came to terms with its diminished role on the world stage, from colonial empire to a member of the EU.

The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the geography sweeps from mountainous highlands, to green and pleasant rolling countryside and vibrant cities. The country is jam-packed with two millennia of heritage, making visits of any length of time feel too short.

London is the UK's biggest city, a fantastic and frenetic metropolis teeming with people of all races, creeds and walks of life. Here the old contrasts spectacularly with the new, offering some of the world's most famous sights and an unrivalled nightlife. Travelling through the country will reveal its diversity, from quiet country lanes and inland waterways to majestic stately homes and castles. Thatched cottages in the Cotswolds paint a picture-postcard quaintness, where life appears to revolve around the village pub.

The medieval cathedral cities of York and Durham reveal a rich history of a bygone age, while the industrial cities of Liverpool and Newcastle both harbour an exciting nightlife. The beauty of the Lake District remains almost untouched, and Edinburgh's International Arts Festival draws talent from around the world.

If a visa is not required, travellers should hold a return or onward ticket, or proof of funds for the duration of stay. Passports must be valid for the period of intended stay in the UK; nationals of the EU require a passport valid on arrival.
There are no specific health risks associated with travel to the UK and food and water can be considered safe. The British National Health Service is excellent; emergency treatment is free to visitors, but charges are made for routine medical care. A number of countries have reciprocal health agreements with the UK including Australia, New Zealand and EU countries. Visitors from other countries (including Canada, South Africa and the US) are advised to take out good medical insurance.
Handshaking is customary when introduced to someone new. Smoking is banned in all enclosed public spaces, including pubs and restaurants, and on public transport. The ban is also in effect in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. There is a strict etiquette on escalators - stand on the right, walk on the left. Visitors will find Londoners more rushed and less friendly than Brits in other parts of the country, particularly on London transport where tourists are generally the only people who talk.
Tips of 10 to 15% are expected in restaurants and upmarket hotels if a service charge hasn't been included. Hotel service staff receive an optional amount. Taxi drivers are usually given 10 to 15% of the fare. Other services are discretionary.
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