Travel guide to United Kingdom

» United Kingdom
Great Britain is a country that has everything to offer. You can visit the big cities like the capital, London, and also discover fantastic scenery where undulating hills rise between dense woods as far as you can see.

Facts

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Local name
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Capital
London (7,074,300 1996)
Size
241,752 km2
Principal Languages
English is the principal language, but there are areas that speak Welsh and Gaelic.
Principal Religion
Protestantism (Church of England), with a minority of Roman Catholicism.
Inhabitants
58,801,500 (1996)
Government
Constitutional monarchy
Geography
The landscape of Great Britain can generally be divided into the highlands and the lowlands. The highland areas consist of mountain ranges, most of which are to be found in Scotland, Northern Ireland, northern England and northern Wales. The lowland areas feature hills of sandstone and limestone and long valleys. Great Britain also has many great lakes, inlets, small islands, tall cliffs and long sandy beaches.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

Great Britain can be visited all year around. The warmest months are from May to September, whilst snow can occur between November and March. The weather in Great Britain is very unpredictable, therefore it is recommended to always bring warm/waterproof clothes. The northern parts of the country in particular can suddenly become very cold.

Literature

Eyewitness Travel Planner: British Isles Fodor's 2001 Great Britain

Local conditions

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Currency

English pounds (£). Some areas have their own currency, but English pounds can be used all over the country.

Net cafes

You will find Internet cafés in all the larger cities (so many cafés have been recently established that it will be no problem finding a place with access to the Internet). It is possible to get access to the Internet at most large hotels.

In case of emergency

To call for help in Great Britain you must dial the following number: Police, ambulance, fire department (999)

Tipping

At hotels and restaurants a service fee of 10-12 per cent will be added to the bill, if this is not the case then it is polite to tip this amount oneself. It is customary to tip taxi drivers with an extra 10 per cent of the fare.

Timezone

When it is 12 O'clock in the British Isles, it is 1 O'clock on the continent.

Weight and Measures

In Great Britain the following measurements are used Distance: feet/miles/kilometres Capacity: litres Weight: kilos In Northern Ireland you use these measurements: Distance: feet/miles/kilometres Weight: pound/stone Capacity: pint/gallon

Photography

In churches and other religious sites you should follow the indicated procedures. Otherwise, there are no special rules for photographing in Great Britain.

Drinking water

It is safe to drink the tap water in Great Britain.

Electricity

240 volts AC, 50 Hz. The plugs have three pins.

Behaviour

In Northern Ireland and in Scotland it is advisable not to discuss religion or politics with the people, as many of the inhabitants feel passionate about these issues. Apart from that, common courtesy will be appreciated.

Business Hours

Shops have different opening hours in the different areas, but the usual opening hours are 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM (Monday-Friday) and Saturday until lunch. Banks and post offices also have different opening hours, but the usual opening hours are 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM (Monday-Friday), most of which are also open on Saturday until lunch.

Food and drink

Great Britain is famous for its English breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausages etc). There are several other specialities around the country. Scotland is well known for its salmon dishes, while Northern Ireland is known for shellfish, potato dishes and dried seaweed. They drink a lot of beer in Great Britain, try quenching your thirst with one of the numerous brands. The "Brits" are also renowned for drinking a lot of tea.

Disabled travellers

Gradually, the facilities for disabled travellers are improving in Great Britain. Many sights and attractions are sign posted if they have facilities for disabled people

Holidays

New Year's Day, January 1st Christmas Day, December 25th Boxing Day, December 26th (if it is a Sunday it will be the 27th) Movable holidays Easter, March or April May Day, first Monday of May Bank holidays, last Monday of May, last Monday of August (except for Scotland)

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

There are numerous campsites all over the country. Most sites have good facilities that include baths and playgrounds, shops and sport grounds can be found in the more expensive ones. Many campsites rent tents if you have not brought your own.

Hotels

Hotels in all price ranges can be found in nearly every town. There is a tendency towards higher prices in the bigger cities, London is definitely the most expensive. One should be aware that England, Scotland and Wales have different systems of classifying hotels, so the standards vary and you will not necessarily receive the same service for the same amount of money.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

B&Bs and Guesthouses are popular in Great Britain. They can be found everywhere, both in cities and in the less populated areas. They vary in price and comfort, but most of them are cosy and have a charming atmosphere.

Hostels

Hostels often offer the cheapest accommodation, and there are plenty of them (especially in England and Wales). Hostels vary in price and comfort, but generally they are good value.

Other Accommodation

In many areas of the country it is possible to rent caravans.

Local transport

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Planes

In Great Britain there are domestic flights between all large cities. There are several companies in competition with each other, which means that you can often get a cheap ticket.

Bus

The bus services in Great Britain cover practically the whole country. Coaches go between most cities and areas. Most coaches are in good condition with a toilet and with the possibility of buying refreshments.

Trains

Great Britain has an incredibly well extended train service that covers most of the country. The trains leave regularly and with good service. It is possible to buy a train pass, which allows you to travel as much as you want within a limited period of time. Such a pass must be bought before entering the country, so buy it before leaving home.

Taxi

There are many taxis in all towns in the country, and they can be good value for money if you are travelling in a group. Most taxis with a taxi-meter can easily be hailed on the streets.

Car rental

It is possible to rent cars in all large cities. You will find both big international companies and small local companies. You must, however, be aware that they drive on the left side of the road.

Boat or Ferry

Boats and ferries regularly connect the islands (not all of the small ones).

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