The United Kingdom is a popular destination that many Australians will travel to. In this comprehensive guide, Mybaggage.com cover everything you need to know to ensure you get the most out of your holiday in the British Isles.
Australians can visit the UK without a visa if their trip is no longer than 6 months. If you are planning to stay longer, you will need to get in touch with the British Embassy and apply for a visa. It’s important to remember that if you have a criminal record you might be denied entry to the UK. Entrance criteria are strict, so it’s always best to find out first, before spending all that money getting there to be turned away at the airport terminal.
In the UK they use the Great British Pound (GBP£). When you exchange your money it’s best to look for a bank or authorized bureau de change. Request that your money is in £20 notes, as the larger £50 and £100 are not circulated as widely and may leave a cashier struggling for change. The UK is not a cheap destination, with $1 AUD being the equivalent of £0.50, so it’s important to research just how far your money will go and how much you will need to bring.
It’s important to note that all four countries in the UK use GBP. Wales use the English notes, whereas Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own GBP sterling notes which do not feature the Queen’s head. If you are visiting Scotland or Northern Ireland, it can be tricky to use their GBP sterling notes in England, even though they are legal tender many establishments will not accept them. If you don’t want any hassle or are in doubt, you can exchange your Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes for English banknotes at any bank throughout the UK.
The UK is just as safe as Australia and the majority of trips there are trouble-free. Exercise the same caution as you would at home and if you are going out drinking or clubbing leave any important valuables behind in your hotel or apartment safe.
Scams to watch out for
The UK is a relatively safe country and it is unlikely that you will come up against scams you would experience in other holiday destinations such as Bali or Thailand. The most common scams you will likely encounter will include taxi drivers forgetting to put their meter on or charging extortionate prices, debit card or credit card fraud or ticket touts, which are common in the theatre district of London.
Follow all the same safety advice you would adhere to at home and exercise caution when drinking alcohol. Pickpockets are common in big cities, so always remember to keep your valuables close to you and to shield your pin at the ATM when withdrawing money.
Using the tubes in London
You cannot experience London without taking a journey on the underground, also known as the tubes. Not only are they a cost-effective way to tour the capital, but they are also much faster than the gridlocked traffic of London’s busy streets. But the tubes are a daunting experience!
If this is your first time in London, avoid using them at rush hour as things get very busy. Crowds are normal on the tubes, but in rush hour it is something else. You can buy a ticket to travel on the tubes but the most cost-effective way to pay is through an Oyster Card. These can either be purchased at a local shop or ticket booth in the station or you can download the app on your phone and top it up this way. Whichever method you choose make sure you have your ticket ready when you go up to the station gates.
When travelling in London in train or tube stations always stand on the right of the escalator. This is the slow lane and allows busy Londoners who are in a rush to run down the fast lane on the left. Standing in the fast lane is a sure way of getting told off by a businessman in a hurry, just don’t do it!
Keep your belongings close to you at all times in the tubes as they are commonplace to encounter pickpockets. The throngs of people make it easy for someone to steal your valuables without your knowledge. Always remember to keep them on your person, watch your backpacks and to stay vigilant.
Important things to remember
It’s important to remember that the UK is made up of four different countries including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and to exercise sensitivity around this. The current political debate around the EU and Brexit is also another thing not to get involved in as it is a heated topic in the UK. When in doubt, don’t bring it up.
5 things you need to see in the UK
Pay a visit to Buckingham Palace
It’s one of the most famous Palaces and you can walk right up to the gates! No trip to London would be complete without a trip to see the home of the longest-ruling monarch in the world. Spend an afternoon exploring St James’ Park and walk up to the historic home. You might even be lucky enough to glance the Queen’s entourage!
Marvel at the history of Stonehenge
Visit the most famous prehistoric monument in the world! Stonehenge is located in Wiltshire, in the west of England. Follow in the footsteps of history and learn about the significance of the stones and their meaning. This world heritage site is a must-visit for any history buff.
Visit the English Riviera
The English Riviera is based in Cornwall. This county in England is home to its own language, the Cornish pasty and idyllic fishing villages. Spend a weekend exploring the coastline, take in the sights of the Eden Project and go for a walk to Land’s End at the edge of the UK. The warmer climate gives you a guaranteed spot of warmer weather in an otherwise unpredictable English summer. And if that’s not enough, Cornwall is famous for its award-winning clotted cream ice cream.
Explore the history of Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and has a rich, interesting history. The city’s castle is its most famous site, known as being the home of the Scottish crown jewels and for its macabre history of being haunted. Make sure to visit for the changing of the guard and to check out the exhibition on the life of Queen Mary of Scots, whose execution by her cousin Queen Elizabeth is notorious.
Visit the birthplace of the Titanic
The Titanic was built in Belfast at the famous shipyard of Harland and Wolfe. If you are interested in everything Titanic, then you cannot miss a trip to the capital city of Northern Ireland. The Titanic Belfast Museum offers an interactive learning experience, taking you through the history of the world’s most famous ship. But that’s not all, Belfast also boasts a vibrant culture from Irish trad music to the perfect pint of Guinness. You can also learn about this city’s troubled past and go on a tour that teaches you the history of the infamous Troubles which gripped the city throughout the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s. But you can’t come to the emerald isle without getting out into the countryside. The giant’s causeway is a quick day trip away from Belfast. These hexagon-shaped columns make for the perfect backdrop for any picture.
Attend a famous music festival The UK is known for its famous festivals from Glastonbury, the Isle of Wight Festival, Reading and Leeds Festival, Download Festival, Lovebox Festival and more. If you are an avid music fan, why not combine your trip to the UK with a festival ticket? Tickets to the favourites such as Glastonbury go on sale a year in advance and sell out fast, so this will require some planning. You cannot simply turn up to a festival and expect to get a ticket.