“Heaven take thy soul, and England keep my bones!”William Shakespeare
Top Five Destinations In England (we are defining England as all regions below Scotland)
- London The capital and the largest city of England has distinct two personalities; one of nostalgia with a rich history while being one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities on earth. It is a true melting pot of people and cultures. Stroll the magnificent parks where so many of the residents gather, visit Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the House of Parliament, and Trafalgar Square. Shop for some of the best shopping in the world. Though a great metropolis, there remain distinct communities and strong vibes.
- Wales This small and wonderous Celtic country packs a lot in. There is such diversity within its borders, from the incredible coastline to lush mountains, beautiful small colorful villages, to large, vibrant cities. To add to the experience, road signs are in both Welsh and English. Wales is a Castlehunters dream with over 600 castles. Known for its national park and scenery, this incredible country meets every traveler’s dream.
- Hadrians Wall A Unesco World Heritage site wall was built in 122 AD to guard the wild frontier, now Scotland, from the Roman Empire. With a length of 73 miles stretches from the North Sea to the Irish sea. Much still intact, there are over twenty sites to visit along the wall. Follow the path of Hadrians Wall, and you will discover castles, forts, ramparts, lovely villages, and gorgeous countryside with rolling hills that will take your breath away.
- Stonehedge Is a prehistoric monument (built from 3000-2000 BC) in Wiltshire that fascinates archaeologists and keeps on giving new finds. These magnificent and intriguing rings of standing stones are set within earthworks in a dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze age monuments. Nearby are the lovely cities of Bath and Salisbury to visit along your travels in Stonehenge.
- Cotswold Often referred to as England’s heart is a range of rolling hills that creates a grassland habitat for picture-perfect stone villages rich with history and gardens beyond your imagination. It is as if you are stepping into a novel that you may not wish to leave when the book is done.
Did you know?
- Population: 59,439,840 million
- Capital City: London within the UK
- Currency: British Pound, Pound sterling
- Government type: Devolved Parliamentary Legislature within a Constitutional Monarchy
- Monarch Queen Elizabeth II
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson
- Ethnic groups: 79.8% White British4.6%, White Other 2.6%, Indian 2.3%, Mixed, 2.1% Pakistani, 1.8% African
- Languages: English (official), Welsh, Cornish
- Religions: Church of England
- The capital of Wales is Cardiff.
- US State Department Risk Level: 3 due to Covid and terrorism
- Terrorist groups: Al Qaeda, ISIS, IRA, SLA
- England is a country, but it is not a sovereign state.
- Winchester was the first capital of England, from 827 to 1066
- National day is April 23, St. George Day.
- National Song: God Save the Queen
- The tallest mountain in England is Scafell Pike, at 3200 feet above sea level.
- The Thames River is the longest river that flows through England. It flows a distance of around 211 miles.
- Inventions from England include sparkling wine, world wide web, (no not France), reflecting telescope, first mass-produced toothbrush, tin can, the thermos flask, the chocolate bar, modern fire extinguisher, hydraulic press, lawnmower, guillotine, the light bulb, first automatic tea kettle, telephone, and a match.
- Major industries in England are construction, forestry, manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, oil and gas, finance and banking, and information technology.
- English people consume more tea per capita than anybody else in the world.
- Life expectancy is 81 years old.
- The literacy rate is 99%.
- Wales officially has more castles, 600, per square mile than any other country in the world.
- London’s Big Ben is not a clock but a bell in the clock tower.
- The most popular sport in England is soccer, while Rugby is the favorite in Wales.
- One of the best subway systems in the world, the Tube is over 150 years old. The term “Mind the Gap” refers to the space between the subway car and platform.
- The Queen owns all the swans on the River Thames.
- The real name of Big Ben is the ‘Clock tower.’ The big bell was nicknamed Ben, and the name stuck.
- Swallow Falls at Betws-y-coed in Wales is the most visited waterfall in the United Kingdom.
- The English fought the shortest war in 1896 with Zanzibar, which lasted 38 minutes.
- As Edward I of England returned from the ninth crusade in 1272, he learned that his father had died and that he had been made king of England. Instead of taking the throne, Edward went on a two-year vacation in Italy and France and returning in 1274.
- It is a criminal offense to place a postage stamp upside down on an envelope.
- In Anglesey Wales, the Menai Bridge was the first suspension bridge constructed to take heavy traffic.
- The infamous London Bridge is now located in Arizona.
- Queen Elizabeth II is distantly related to Dracula.
- 70% of the land in England is still owned by 1% of the population, largely descended from William the Conqueror’s army.
- Some of the world’s top scientists are English; Steven Hawking, Sir Issac Newton, and Charles Darwin.
- It took seven years to build the London eye.
Good to know before you go
- Tipping is not mandatory in England or the UK in general. It is customary to tip 10% in restaurants. As always, check to verify there is not a service charge on the bill. Hotels don’t usually expect tips, but if you get exceptional service, it is appreciated. Taxis and car services tips are not expected, but you can round up.
- Credit cards are in use almost everywhere. That said, you will find many pubs will not take them or discourage them. Have some cash on you.
- Overall, the clothing is stylish and polished. They are casual dressers in the nonbusiness setting, often wearing jeans and khaki pants, with upper layers for tops, and comfortable shoes. Business attire tends to be more formal. In the bigger cities, you will see more of a fashion sense. England is a rainy place, so plan accordingly. Casual and well-kept work well for travelers. If planning to go to the theatre or higher in restaurants, you are expected to dress more formally or classy casual.
- Driving in England is essential if you want to see what all this gorgeous country has to offer. The best way is to accomplish this on a road trip. Some of its most epic sites and scenery are found down remote roads, far away from any bus or train stations. That could mean dodging free-range sheep, driving two-way roads only meant for one way, and negotiating roundabouts on the “wrong” side of the road.
- Queuing in England is taken very seriously. When there is no distinct line marker, you can be assured an invisible and organized line occurs. Keep orderly and respectful.
- British people will shake hands when greeting old friends or acquaintances; female friends may greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. If greeting someone, you don’t know shaking hands isn’t common unless they offer first.
- British people take politeness extremely seriously. They say “thank you” at every stage of a financial transaction. In England, you can never say please, thank you, or sorry enough.
- The British people are a sarcastic lot and use it daily. They tend to find humor in almost everything, using sarcastic remarks to make fun of the situation.
- In England, they rarely eat with their hands. Forks and knives are always used except for sandwiches, even when eating pizza, fruit, and hard-to-cut items like chicken. Keep both hands visible at all times, even when you are no longer eating.
- In restaurants, to get your server’s attention saying “Excuse me…” or by trying to catch their eye politely.
- England is not known for its food, but that does not mean you can’t find some excellent fare. It will be pricey as most everything is there. Fish and chips were always a go-to and widespread takeaway food in the UK.
- Afternoon high tea is quintessentially English and a must-do experience at least once. It is a lovely way to break up a long day of sightseeing and walking. Afternoon tea includes select teas, traditional scones, simple sandwiches, and petite cakes elegantly served. Complementing the pastries is clotted/Devonshire cream and fruit jams. Many hotel high teas offer champagne as well. If high tea is offered, Joelle always partakes.
- Pubs and bars are distinctly different. A common misconception is that pubs, which stands for public houses, are bars. Pubs are gathering places, conversation zones, even restaurants. In many pubs, alcohol is almost an afterthought. Pubs are usually where people go to meet their friends and catch up on the local news.
- If someone buys you or your table a round, it is customary for the next round to be on you.
- It is a safe country. Take usual precautions in the cities, especially in touristy areas.
When to go to England
As a whole, there is never a time a year that England isn’t a great place to visit. English summers rarely are hot, and the winters don’t get very cold. There is not a great deal of regional variation, but it is wetter in the west than in the east, and the south gets more hours of sunshine than the north. Differences between the regions are slightly more obvious in the winter.
England is a huge tourist destination, and long queues and crowds are often an issue. To see the Churchhill bunkers in London was a couple of hours wait. The best time to visit would be between April and early June or in September or October. In the Spring, you will be greeted by beautiful flowers; in the fall, changing hues of fall leaves. England is an expensive place to visit (just the London eye is about $50 a person), so if you need to extend your travel dollars, the winter months may be your best bet.
- Summer 53-75 °F (12-24 °C)
- Spring 38-64 °F (3-18 °C)
- Fall 42-68 °F (6-20 °C)
- Winter 37-48 °F (3-9 °C)
Our Favorite England Resources
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England has been a frequent stop for us. London is a major travel hub; it is easy to stop for a few days before moving to your next destination. The country of England, including Wales, though, deserves much more time. Once you leave London, there are so many incredible diverse sites and scenery. Without a car, you will miss a lot. Wales alone has 600 castles. There are so many wonderful travel guides to choose from that we have used for many years; below our favorite options.
A passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice that all England has to offer and what hidden discoveries await you. Ponder the mysteries of Stonehenge, visit Shakespeare’s hometown, escape it all in the Cotswolds or take in a London show. Let this beautifully illustrated guide be your travel partner. Great photography and lots of details to aid in planning. Discover this travel guide here
Full disclosure, we are huge Rick Steve’s fans; it will be rare not to recommend one of his wonderful guides. We love his travel style and perspective. His off-the-beaten-path approach, together with his independent travel philosophy, matches well with how we travel. The guides never disappoint. This book was a fantastic resource. Find this must-have guide here
Our favorite websites
1. England tourism site visitbritain.com
2. US Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs England Country Info
We cannot encourage you enough to visit this website as you plan and prepare for your trip. This is the US Federal Government addressing the safety, security, travel risk, entry, exit, visa documents mandates, emergency US and Embassy contacts, health, local laws, special circumstances, threats, traveler vulnerabilities, government warnings, and transportation in England. This is your best and most reliable resource for all this important info. Check back often before you go, as things can change quickly. Being prepared is essential in all travel, but especially internationally.
3. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travelers Health Resource
This CDC travel resource provides essential health info for your specific destination. Using their tool, you can determine which vaccines, medications, and health advice recommendations are needed for England.
Our favorite maps
Easy to read the map with practical road and travel information. These maps are meant for the adventure traveler. Major sites and landmarks are well marked. Mapped road network with distances and designations for major highways to the off-the-beaten-path roads. Waterproof and tear resisted it holds up well. Great for planning your route before your trip. Though we default to Google maps, this came in handy when service was poor or during construction detours. Find this essential map here
Our favorite apps
Rome2rio: Trip Planner Trip and Holiday Organizer Enter any address, landmark, or city; the app will instantly display all your travel options, booking info, along with accommodation providers and things to do. Find on your local app store.
Rick Steves Audio Europe This app includes a vast library of Rick Steve’s audio content. Get cultural and travel info. Includes self-guided tours of top attractions and historic walks. Amsterdam options. A must-have. Find on your local app store.
Do you have a favorite England travel resource? Share your favorites in the comments section at the bottom of this page or