United Kingdom

United in name but not necessarily in nature, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (its official name) is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who are also considered countries in their own right (and are self-governed). Four bewitching cultures with tens of thousands of years of history between them, the UK is a dynamic nation awash with distinct landscapes, a fascinating history and a diverse and multi-cultural society.

United Kingdom Tours & Travel

All our United Kingdom trips

Scotland's Western Wanderer

8 days from
USD $3,425
CAD $3,645
AUD $3,785
EUR €2,635
GBP £2,265
NZD $4,485
ZAR R34,430
CHF FR3,245

Nature, nightlife, rugged moors and mythical creatures – Scotland has it all. Travel through Edinburgh, Oban and Loch...

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Ireland's Wonders

8 days from
USD $2,500
CAD $2,665
AUD $2,765
EUR €1,925
GBP £1,655
NZD $3,275
ZAR R25,145
CHF FR2,370

Travel from Belfast down to Dublin and experience the best that Ireland has to offer. Stalk along Giant's Causeway,...

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Celtic Villages & Islands

15 days from
USD $7,555
CAD $7,795
AUD $7,645
EUR €4,750
GBP £4,430
NZD $8,525
ZAR R76,515
CHF FR5,765

Experience the cultural charm of Edinburgh, look for the Loch Ness Monster, visit Galway Cathedral, explore Blarney...

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Scotland to Spitsbergen (Ocean Nova) 2016

15 days from
USD $8,295
CAD $11,420
AUD $11,200
EUR €7,400
GBP £5,600
NZD $12,475
ZAR R112,110
CHF FR9,330

Travel the ancient Norse route from Scotland to Spitsbergen via the west coast of Norway. Embrace culture, wildlife...

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Scotland to Norway (Ocean Nova) 2015

14 days from
USD $7,995
CAD $9,855
AUD $9,665
EUR €6,955
GBP £4,845
NZD $10,765
ZAR R96,745
CHF FR8,050

This cruise into the compelling realms of northern Scotland and Norway has a nice balance of time spent on land with...

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Articles on United Kingdom

How to use your power for Earth Hour

Posted on Wed, 12 Mar 2014

Everyone has power to make real change and impact in the world. Including you. Join in this years Earth Hour on 29 March, and you will be part of the [...]

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London by bike

Posted on Thu, 26 Apr 2012

Fortunately for cycling enthusiasts who don't have time to muster up the courage to tear through the streets on two wheels, London has some superb cycling opportunities...

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a top trip: walking england’s lake district

Posted on Wed, 11 Apr 2012

Walk in the footsteps of Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and modern day farmers...

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About United Kingdom

At a glance

Capital city: London
Population: 60.9 million
Language: English, Welsh, Gaelic
Currency: GBP
Time zone: (GMT) Greenwich Mean Time : Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London
Electricity: Type D (Old British 3-pin) Type G (Irish/British 3-pin) Type M (see D)
Dialing code: +44

Best time to visit United Kingdom

The UK shines from June to August, though there’s never any guarantee that their summer is full of sunshine and warmth. The days are long, tourist crowds are abundant and the country wakes up from its dark slumber and celebrates – a lot. Spring and autumn can be cool and wet but with some sunny days, and the days are still long enough to enjoy this country’s diverse and beautiful scenery. But winter – December to February - brings short days, grey skies and sometimes snow, though this is more often in Scotland and England’s northern counties.

Weather chart for England

History and government

Stonehenge in UK

Early History

The United Kingdom came into being in 1707 with the political union of England and Scotland (Wales was classed under the Kingdom of England). In 1800, the Act of Union with the Kingdom of Ireland formed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The last major change was in 1922, when the Anglo-Irish Treaty saw the Irish Free State form and secede from the UK, and Northern Ireland becoming part of the UK (though it wasn’t until 1927 that the UK formerly changed its name to United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). Though united, each country had their own laws, churches and education systems.

Recent History

The 18th and 19th centuries were notable for the UK’s countless wars with France, colonisation in the Caribbean, the loss of colonies in North America, the gain of Canada, the discovery of Australia, the second wave of the British Empire in India, Asia and Africa, the beginnings of the industrial revolution, the abolishment of slavery and the long and successful reign of Queen Victoria. Needless to say, this is but a snapshot.

The first half of the 20th century was marred by two devastating world wars, which not only devastated the population but the wealth of the country. It also saw the crumbling of the British Empire, with independence being sought and won in Ireland in 1922 and India in 1947, and by the 1980s Britain had withdrawn from all of its colonies. In 1997 devolution was established in Scotland and Wales.

Top Picks

Top 5 British Subcultures

1. Mods

Stylish in tailored suits and classy shoes, mods’ hey-day was the early to mid sixties. They rode around on vespas, listened to modern jazz, were attracted to late night cafés and got into rumbles with rockers.

2. Skinheads

Originally nothing to do with hooligans, racists and fascism, skinheads were born in the 1960s in working class areas of the UK. Skinheads fashioned themselves on Jamaican rude boy style, listened to ska and wore tight jeans, white t-shirts, braces, checked shirts and cherry red docs.

3. Glam rockers

Glam rockers wore high shoes, outrageous clothes, dramatic makeup, lavish hairstyles and plenty of things that glittered. This subculture rose to prominence in the early 1970s and faded out about 5 years later, but went on to influence punk, goths and new romantics. Think David Bowie’s androgynous phase and Garry Glitter.

4. Punks

Though not originating in the UK, when punk hit the UK’s shores in the mid 70s, it was hard to miss. UK punks were on the whole more theatrical than those in the US. Armed with anti-establishment views, mohawks, ripped clothes held together by safety pins (anti-fashion), piercings and thrashing around to punk rock, punk caused a big stir, which died down not long after it exploded.

5. Goths

An offshoot of the post-punk scene, goth became popular in the early 1980s. Although there are many styles of goth, they are characterised by wearing dark clothes, heavy make-up and dark hair.

FAQs on United Kingdom

Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Tipping isn’t expected but a tip for good service is always appreciated. Rounding up a taxi fare is commonplace.
Internet access is good in the UK, with internet cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots easily found in most cities and major towns.
Mobile phone coverage is generally very good in most parts of the UK, except perhaps in remote areas. Ensure global roaming is activated before you arrive.
Modern, flushable toilets are the standard in the UK.
Pint of beer = £3
Simple cafe lunch = £10
Nice meal in a restaurant = £30
Tap water is considered safe to drink unless otherwise marked.
Major credit cards are widely accepted by stores and hotels in the UK. Smaller cafes and shops may not accept credit cards, so ensure you carry enough cash to cover small purchases.
ATMs are very common in the UK, so finding one won't be a problem in most towns and cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Apr 18 Good Friday
Apr 21 Easter Monday (except Scotland)
May 5 May Bank Holiday
May 26 Spring Bank Holiday
Aug 25 Summer Bank Holiday (except Scotland)
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 26 Boxing Day

Please note these dates are for 2014. For a current list of public holidays go to: www.worldtravelguide.net/united-kingdom/public-holidays

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

United Kingdom Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for United Kingdom

1. Be considerate of the UK’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.

3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.

4. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive and supports the local community.

5. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

6. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel
Down and Out in Paris and London George Orwell
Bridget Jones’s Diary Helen Fielding
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Notes from a Small IslandBill Bryson
Trainspotting Irvine Welsh