Regime: constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy
Area: 243 610 km2
Population: 64 511 000 (2014)
Currency: Pound sterling (GBP)
Time Zone: GMT (winter) / GMT +1 (summer)
Official language: English
Calling Code: +44
GDP (PPP per capita): $ 41 781
As the capital of England and the United Kingdom, this is one of those cities that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Full to the brim with museums, castles and history, a quick tour around the town shows the many cultures living together in this cosmopolitan city. For those who prefer art over history, London offers an array of galleries which includes the Tate modern has more than enough to offer.
During your stay in London, a short trip to Cambridge or Bath are both well worth the effort. And will allow you to punt along the river of relax in a rooftop Jacuzzi, in the same town as the Romans many years ago.
Between the friendly people and the nightlife, Belfast is the perfect town to experience the Irish hospitality. For the history lovers, the tale of the Titanic can be followed with a guided tour through the offices that designed the not so unsinkable ship.
Market goers will love St Georges Market, one of the best markets in the UK, for its variety of products and entertainment provided by local artists.
With over 30 million tourists a year, Scotland is clearly worthy of a little look. As the capital of Scotland, and one of its most beautiful destinations, with castles, columns and of course craggy hill. One of the added bonuses of visiting Edinburgh is the ease with which you will be able to see not only its wonders, but also those of Fife, Glasgow and many more.
This medieval town is culturally rich with many festivals and celebrations. But if history is not so much your thing, there’s more than enough football, rugby, pubs and whisky to make you enjoy your stay. Plus it will give you the opportunity to try some traditional dishes such as haggis.
Top class entertainment, innovative architecture and more just 2 hours west of London. With the rugby world cup coming to the millennium stadium, Cardiff offers sport, culture and a super friendly welcome. It is after all the UK’s most sociable city.
Nature lovers will enjoy the numerous parks and mountains nearby. While those looking for night time fun will find that the folks in Cardiff give it their all. Finally the traveller who enjoys a tv series every now and then can follow the trail of Doctor Who on a four hour sightseeing bus trip that includes many of the must see sight of the town.
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Weather/ When to leave:
The UK is not the biggest country, but its location influences the weather in ways that make it rather unpredictable. The more north you travel, the colder it gets. Making winter season trips rather unpleasant as mountain climbing or just walking outside can quickly become unpleasant. With the quickly changing weather in mind, the best time of the year to visit is between April and October, for those who prefer less exiting weather anyway.
A rather special country that regroups its regions in ways that confuse almost anyone who hasn’t lived there. With Great Britain including England, Scotland and wales, the United Kingdom then adds Northern Ireland to the mix. After which the British Islands include the above mentioned states plus the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. Finally Ireland takes its place and the whole lot are the British Isles.
One can easily imagine the number of battles fought between these states before they became a unified sovereign state in 1707. But these hostile takeovers ended in powerful partnerships that allowed the UK to become one of the most influential countries in the world for many centuries.
As the creators of rugby, cricket and football many would agree that we should be a little grateful. All three of these sports are known for their religious followers and the spectators in the United Kingdom are no exception. Each major city is able to and will host impressive matches. With the next event being the rugby world cup 2015.
Although the majority of the population follow Christianity, the numbers for church attendance have fallen dramatically in recent times. These Christian make up 71% of the population with Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, Buddhism and those with no religion accounting for the remaining 29%.
Full English breakfast and Sunday roast are two of the better known British dishes. But the British cuisine has absorbed many cultural influences from its settlers. A wonderful mix of chicken tikka masala for lunch followed by high tea in the afternoon, and fish and chips in the evening.
Places not to miss:
With history captured on every corner, this country offers experiences to travel back in the ages to experience what the way of life was life for our ancestors. From castles and dungeons to monuments and strange creations.
- Stonehenge: visit one of the wonders of the world; a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England
- Distillery/brewery in Ireland: Guinness or Jameson’s, and many more. Ireland has you covered with guided tours and tastings.
- Bath: roman baths in a quaint city
- Windsor castle: the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world.
- Snowdonia National park: located in Wales, the park provides unique and stunning views of the natural beauty of the region
Things to do:
There are activities for tourist, and then there are activities that everyone enjoys. With culture and architecture that has to be experienced and not simply looked at.
- London eye
- rent a punt in Cambridge
- Watch the regatta between Oxford and Cambridge
- Play a round of golf in the beautiful Scottish countryside
- London’s New Year’s Day Parade (January)
- North West 200 in Northern Ireland (May)
- Tartan Heart Music Festival in Scotland (August)
- Vale of Glamorgan Festival in Wales (September)
Passport and Visa:
Individuals with a passport form the European union may enter the United kingdom withouta visa, while while many other passports allow stays of up to 6 months. This 6 month limit is reduced to 3 month if you enter the united kingdom via the republic of Ireland. Test whether you require a visa here.
Getting to the United Kingdom offers as many choices getting around inside the country For your arrival you have the option of plane, train (Eurostar) or ferry, which can be done with your car if you wish. Getting around inside of the country is relatively easy, with towns like London having an amazing underground system. Just watch out as it if relatively expensive. Transport between cities can be easily accomplishes through the use of trains or busses, if you do not wish to rent a vehicle.
Health and safety:
While in the United Kingdom, EU citizens can receive free treatment at all National Health Service hospitals. For no EU citizens all medical bills should be recorded for claims with your insurance.
In general no vaccinations are required and the water is safe to drink.
Britain has a reputation as a safe country as far as crime is concerned.
NHS (National Health Services): 111
European emergency number: 112
National emergency number: 999
Police, non-emergency: 101 (18001 101 textphone for the hard of hearing)
The electrical supply in the United Kingdom is 230V via a three prong plug that will require an adapter.