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There are approximately 300 languages spoken in London, and 170 museums waiting for you to visit.
U.S. citizens do not need a visa for tourist or business travel to the UK if they are staying less than 6 months and have a passport.
If you are planning on traveling further after leaving the UK, many other countries require that your passport has at least six months of validity remaining. Most of the UK tourist visa application is online, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to obtain a visa for travelers staying longer than 6 months. But, you should start the process at least two months in advance just in case any hurdles appear in the process. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland would be the possible places where a visa is required (depending on your length of travel of course).
Students studying abroad should click here for more info on possibly applying for a student visa.
Click here for more visa information.
In the UK there are many international airports, so choose an airport depending on which airport is the least busy and most accessible to where you’ll be headed. The UK is a small country, but it takes hours to drive from one side to the other.
Heathrow Airport in London is currently the busiest airport in the UK. Long lines may occur in security, but it’s a favorite of travelers because it’s close to many destinations. The London-Gatwick airport and the Manchester airport are also the busiest and most popular airports out of all of the UK. Overall, the UK has over 40 commercial airports.
Many travelers choose to use an alternative UK airport to save money and time, especially waits in airport lines.
Click here to learn more about airports in the UK.
Skyscanner is a great app to help find the cheapest flights for the easiest travel.
In local public transportation, train, bus, ferry, and taxi are the most popular. There are many railway and train operators in the UK, with Network Rail manning most of the services. Intercity buses are in most places and are cheaper than trains, and local buses run in most municipalities. If you choose to take a taxi ride, know that it will definitely be more expensive than a ride on a bus. Ferries allow connections to the Scottish Highlands, Northern Ireland, and to the smaller British islands.
Uber was introduced in London in 2012 and has significantly grown to be a competitive alternative to taxis in many big British cities.
More information for travel in general across the UK can be found here.
Although terrorism has occured, violent crime is low in the UK and most tourists will never be bothered with issues of safety.
One of the top hazards for Americans traveling abroad is the risk of crossing roads. Sounds pretty common sense, but a lot of travelers don’t realize the many roads and bike paths in the UK and step out before it’s their turn. There is no such thing as jaywalking in the UK.
Currently as of April 2019, the UK is level 2: exercise increased caution when traveling.
- Don’t leave valuables in pockets; pickpocketing is abundant and these people work in groups to distract your attention.
- Be watchful in crowded, busy centers.
- Monitor local media for any change in safety.
- Avoid unlicensed ticket sales online; many are scams!
- You’re more likely to be hurt by the police than gangs or terrorists. Don’t cross these figures of authority and follow their rules.
Safety Tips for the Night-Owls:
- Some bars and nightclubs can get dangerous at night if someone who’s intoxicated lashes out. Always stick with a group of friends if going anywhere at night.
The UK is currently rated LOW RISK for traveling women, and it is generally very safe. Always be cautious and make good decisions, but remember to have fun.
The weather in the UK is mild, and London is certainly known for its rain. Summers are quite cool and winters are milder as well. For summer, you should look into visiting between June-August, but any time of year in the UK would make for great travel.
UK weather map found here.
When daylight savings time is in use, the UK uses GMT+1. For example, if it is 2 pm in United States EST, it would be 7 pm in the UK.
English is the most widely spoken language in the UK, although there are many dialects and several other regional languages. Polish and Punjabi are the second and third most common languages spoken here.
While England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland share many customs, not all share the same history and traditions. Be careful when speaking about the different countries and their people. British people tend to take politeness very seriously.
- British people are very strict when it comes to punctuality, so make sure to be prompt.
- Handshakes are common for greeting people, but avoid prolonged eye contact.
- PDA is mainly reserved for close family and friends.
Wine and Dine:
- It is impolite to reach onto someone else’s plate once a meal has begun.
- Americans often switch hands when using a knife to cut food. But the British keep their fork in the non-dominant hand to avoid switching utensils in their hands.
- Only cut one bite at a time.
- Different than bars, pubs often act as gathering places where alcohol can even be seen as an afterthought. Make sure to be polite when entering them and not disrupt a conversation.
The British Pound is the currency of the UK. Tourists will find it is one of the most expensive countries to visit. You should allow a budget of at least 100£ per day including accommodation (150£ in London).
Tipping! A tip should generally make up between 10-15% of the total bill. Although it’s not necessary, it’s common and widely appreciated.
UK appliances are fitted to a three-pin plug. Adapters are easy to find, and if your country uses lower voltage than the standard UK 230 V with 50 Hz you may need a converter. Your adaptor should look like this:
All main tap water in the UK is safe. This may be a relief to travelers, as bottled water comes with a high price in the UK. Restaurants will gladly serve you tap as well if you’re looking to cut costs.
Many people in the UK are using pocket wifi services to obtain unlimited access wherever they are. Certain restaurants also have free wifi. SIM cards can be found in supermarkets and convenience stores, and there isn’t much difference in the price of SIM cards from major brands. For the UK, EE is recommended just in front of Vodafone and O2 for the best coverage.
Black cabs, Uber.
Same-sex marriage is legal in the UK. 2017 marked the 50th anniversary since it stopped being illegal for gay men to be in a relationship in England and Wales. UK is considered one of the “best countries in the world for gay equality,” although progress is always needed. There are also many gay bars and clubs across the UK for all people identifying with the LGBTQ+ community.
As of 2018 the UK, Germany, and France top the global sustainable tourism index. This index is based on a number of things, including the categories of the political and regulatory environment, environmental sustainability, socio-economic sustainability, economic sustainability, and the travel and tourism industry. France and the UK tie on the rigor of their tourism laws!
Here are some tips to minimize your environmental footprint while traveling to the UK:
- Use public transport or bike to get around.
- Shop local.
- Use a reusable water bottle.
- Say no to plastic.
- Research your tour operators.
- Never buy wildlife products.
Download your eco-guide today!
A must to check out: The Scarlet
This hotel has solar panels, biomass boilers, eco-dining initiatives, and upcycling towel programs. The Scarlet is perched on top of a cliff with incredible views as well.