The United Kingdom

For travellers who want to explore more
Meet The United KingdomItinerariesStoriesFurther Reading

Meet the United Kingdom

The unique guide

Indulge in some of the best food in the world, from fish and chips to curry, while sipping an ale in a cosy pub, or tour historic cathedrals, castles, and more in the UK. It's a location where you can take in the buzz of London's thriving nightlife, stroll lazily down the seaside promenades, or get lost in the countryside's rolling green hills. The UK is a destination where you can immerse yourself in a rich tapestry of history and culture, from the highlands of Scotland to the rocky beaches of Cornwall. Whether you enjoy classical art or rock music, Shakespeare or Harry Potter, there is something for everyone in this endearing little corner of the world. Come for the views, stay for the culture, and depart with a newfound love for everything UK. But don't forget to bring your umbrella or your cutest raincoat!

The UK Adventure

England is the largest and most populous region of the UK. With rolling hills and lush plains in the south and east, it is mostly flat or low-lying. But head northwest to the Peak District and Lake District and things get a little more rocky. The cities of London, Manchester, and Liverpool as well as sites like Stonehenge, Hadrian's Wall, and the Roman baths in Bath are a few of England's top attractions. The UK's northernmost country, Scotland, is renowned for its untamed scenery, which includes the Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness, and the Island of Skye. But Scotland also has a sophisticated side with thriving cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as ancient sites like Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle. Wales, which is part of the UK's west coast, is renowned for its magnificent coastlines, national parks, and mediaeval castles. Wales may be small, but it packs a big punch! It seems like the entire nation is a work of art with its stunning coasts, national parks, and medieval castles. Just two of the numerous breathtaking natural treasures are the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia National Park. Not to be overlooked is the historic town of Conwy, which is like strolling through a real-life fairy tale. Last but certainly not least is the region of Northern Ireland, which is renowned for its breathtaking coastline, lush farmland, and historic cities like Belfast and Derry/Londonderry. It’s a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered. Northern Ireland's most notable attractions include the Giant's Causeway, the Mourne Mountains, and the Titanic Belfast museum.

From Football to Rugby and Everything in Between

The most popular sport in the UK is unquestionably football, with teams like Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal, having a massive fan following across the world. Rugby is another sport that holds the heart of the UK, and is played at both the amateur and professional levels. The England national team won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, continuing the nation's long history of rugby union success. Many of the sports that are popular in the UK today have been played there for centuries, with football (soccer) having been played in the UK since the 1800s, and rugby being played since the 19th century. These sports have become firmly entrenched in the UK's cultural heritage due to their long history. Let’s not forget about cricket, another classic sport that has been practised there for generations. Many renowned cricket fields may be found in the UK, including Lord's in London and Old Trafford in Manchester. The Wimbledon Championships, the oldest and most famous tennis competition in the world, is held in the UK, the country where tennis originated. These sports are more than just games: they foster community, encourage physical activity and good living, and serve as a source of pride and identity for the country. Major sporting events, like the Olympic Games and World Cup, have economic and cultural significance as well by increasing tourism and bringing in a lot of revenue.

Journey Through Time

The Palaeolithic era represents the beginning of the UK's extensive prehistory. Many prehistoric structures and sites can be found around the nation, such as Stonehenge and Avebury. In the first century AD, the Romans rolled up and created a network of highways, cities, and forts - we’re talking infrastructure for days - after conquering much of what is now England and Wales. Then Germanic tribes known as the Anglo-Saxons started to colonise what is now England in the fifth and sixth centuries. Viking raiders and settlers from Scandinavia also popped in to lend a hand to shape the nation in the ninth and tenth centuries. The Normans invaded the country in 1066 led by the one and only William the Conqueror. Throughout this time, the nation's social and political systems underwent a tremendous transformation, and numerous renowned castles were built. The country's religious and political landscape underwent a major transformation during the Tudor and Stuart eras, including the founding of the Church of England and the English Civil War. Fast forward to the Industrial Revolution, where the UK became a global leader in manufacturing and technology during the 18th and 19th centuries. The UK participated actively in both World Wars I and II, suffering heavy losses but ultimately winning both conflicts. The UK continued to change and evolve as they created the National Health Service and said bye, bye, bye, to the British Empire. The UK is a contemporary, multicultural nation with a significant cultural and historical past. Its history has significantly shaped the nation's identity, culture, and values and continues to have an impact on how people live in the UK today.

READ MORE  

Wander and wonder

Ready-made itineraries for your UK adventure

Get inspired with these travel stories

Read up on the best of what the UK has to offer

Explore the Map

Meet the United Kingdom

People from various ethnic backgrounds live in the UK. In the UK Census of 2011, about 14% of the population declared themselves to be a person of colour. The largest ethnic minorities in the UK include those who are of Indian, Pakistani, Black African, and Caribbean descent.

Due to its profound impact on the history and culture of the UK, religion has played a key role in the country. Christianity in particular, has played a significant role in forming British identity over many centuries and has influenced literature, art, and other cultural traditions.

The London Underground was the first underground train system in the world when it opened in 1863. The weather in the UK is notoriously unpredictable, with rain being a frequent occurrence, but don’t let that dampen your spirits. The nation does, however, also have a lot of lovely parks and gardens, which are frequently at their best in the spring and summer.

The UK is made up of four countries:

1

England

2

Wales

3

Scotland

4

Northern Ireland

The UK is also home to 14 overseas regions:

1

Ascension, St Helena, and Tristan da Cuhna

2

Akrotiri and Dhekelia

3

Anguilla

4

Bermuda

5

British Antarctic Territory

6

British Indian Ocean Territory

7

British Virgin Islands

8

Cayman Islands

9

Falkland Islands

10

Gibraltar

11

Montserrat

12

Pitcairn

13

Turks and Caicos Islands

14

South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands

Royal Rendezvous

The monarchy in the UK is a constitutional monarchy, which means that the monarch only has ceremonial authority and that the majority of political power is held by an elected government. The current monarch of the United Kingdom is King Charles III, who just assumed office in 2022. King Charles has a lot on his plate because he has to open and close Parliament, represent the Kingdom at events abroad, and bestowed honours and titles. The monarch also takes part in a number of ceremonial activities, including the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace and the Trooping the Colour parade. The monarch and the Royal Family, in addition to their ceremonial roles, are well-known figures in popular culture and the media, and their lives and activities are frequently the focus of intense media scrutiny. The Royal Family is seen as a symbol of the Kingdom's customs and cultural heritage, with a strong connection to the history and identity of the country. Despite significant debate and disagreement surrounding its position in modern society, the monarchy is still a widely supported institution in the UK that is enjoyed and revered by many Britons.

Cultural Catch-up

Take a trip back in time to ancient sites like Stonehenge, medieval castles, and renowned museums and galleries, to explore the UK’s rich past. History enthusiasts can visit the Roman ruins in Bath, York's historic walls, and the palaces and churches in London. If you crave culture from the UK, you’ll certainly get it as it’s dynamic and diversified, with a strong arts scene, top-notch theatre and music, and festivals and events held all year long. Travellers can enjoy live performances in Liverpool, West End theatre in London, and Edinburgh art exhibits. The UK is home to a wide variety of natural scenery, from Scotland's and Wales' rocky shores to the Cotswolds' rolling hills. Hiking in the Lake District, discovering Cornwall's beaches, and taking in the splendour of the Scottish Highlands are all options for travellers. Fish and chips, Cornish pasties, and haggis are just a few of the many regional delicacies that are popular in the UK. Traditional afternoon tea, regional beers and ciders, and traditional Scotch whisky are all available for visitors to delight in. Visitors can enjoy chatting with locals in a pub, learning about local customs and traditions, and meeting new people.

When to go

Are you ready to travel to the UK? Let’s talk seasons! If you’re into warm weather, long days, and swarms of other travellers, Summer (June to August) will be your jam. However, it can also be pricey and congested at this time, and lodging may be more difficult to come by. If you prefer milder weather, fewer tourists, and cheaper pricing, Spring (March to May) is a fantastic time to visit the UK. Also, you can observe lovely blossoms and blooming gardens. If you appreciate cooler weather, vibrant foliage, and fewer tourists, (not to mention pumpkin-spice everything!) consider visiting the UK in Autumn (September to November). Also, you can take part in seasonal events like Halloween and Bonfire Night. Although the UK's winter (December to February) might be chilly and gloomy, it's also a great time to take part in customary holiday festivities like Christmas markets, winter festivals, and New Year's Eve parties. Additionally, certain locations provide winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.

icon
Tourist Season: Jun - Aug
icon
Best Weather: Late March - Early June, September - November

Essentials

icon
Time-Zone: Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
icon
Currency: Pound Sterling (£GBP)
icon
Cost/Expense: $$$$
icon
Languages: English, Scots, Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Cornish
Dates for your calendar
Jan - New Year’s Day
Feb - Pancake Day
Mar - St David’s Day, Mother’s Day, St Patrick’s Day
Apr - Easter, Easter Monday, St George’s Day
Jun - Wimbledon, Father’s Day
Nov - Bonfire (Guy Fawkes) Night, Remembrance Day, St Andrew’s Day
Dec - Christmas Day, Boxing Day

Lost in Translation: The UK’s Diverse Linguistics

English is the most widely spoken language in the UK and is the official language of the country. There are numerous regional dialects of English that are used throughout the UK, each with its own pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. You've got the Cockneys in London, the Geordies in Newcastle, and the Scousers in Liverpool, just to name a few. And that's not even counting the official languages of Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, which include Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, and Irish. Heck, even Cornwall has its own Celtic language called Cornish, which has been making a comeback lately. These languages are not the only ones spoken in the UK; there are several regional varieties of English as well, such as Cockney in London, Geordie in Newcastle, and Scouse in Liverpool. The diverse cultural and linguistic legacy of the nation is reflected in these dialects, which play a significant role in the country's identity and history.

Transport

Getting There

icon
By Plane

There are numerous international airports in the UK, with London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Cardiff being the most well-known. From Continental Europe to the UK, travel is quick and simple.

icon
By Train

The UK has a vast rail system that connects cities and towns all over the country. There are numerous train companies, and fast trains like the Eurostar and Virgin Trains' Pendolino connect London with other important cities.

icon
By Bus

In towns and cities, local buses are a popular means of transportation, with services running frequently throughout the day. There are also long-distance coach services available for travelling across different parts of the UK.

Getting Around

icon
By Car

You may drive in the UK as long as your driver's licence is full and valid. You must be at least 21 years old to rent a car, while some companies have a 25-year-old minimum age requirement. Remember that driving may be challenging if you are unfamiliar with local roads and traffic patterns because every country in the UK drives on the left side of the road. In cities and towns, taxis are readily available and can be booked in advance or hailed on the street. In some areas, you can also get private hire cars like Uber.

icon
By Public Transport

In addition to the Docklands Light Railway network of light rail services, London has a vast underground network known as the Tube. There are light rail systems in other cities as well, including Manchester and Birmingham. Cycling is convenient and safe in many UK cities and towns thanks to dedicated cycle lanes. Some areas also provide bike-sharing programmes.

icon
On Foot:

The ease of travelling by foot depends on the specific location and distance you need to travel. Many areas have dedicated pedestrian paths and sidewalks, and overall walking is a great way to explore all of the cities and towns in the UK.

Share this find!

arrow up