Thoughts of England lead to London, Manchester, Oxford and Bath. While its cities are stunning, there’s nothing wrong with picking up a backpack and hitting the hiking trails to explore the England seldom seen by tourists. Whatever you are looking for, you’re likely to find it while travelling in England… unless you’re looking for somewhere cheap, that is.
England makes up the largest and most wealthy part of the United Kingdom, which also comprises Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Common hops from the island of Great Britain include Ireland, France, Spain and Italy, while flights from the capital, London, can take you almost anywhere in the world.
From rolling grass downs and white cliffs in the south to the Lake District further north, Britain still manages to have a fair amount of green space, albeit influenced by thousands of years of agriculture and urbanisation. The industrial and trade cities of London, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds are all being constantly remade and re-imagined, with smaller towns such as Bath still holding onto certain Georgian sensibilities.
A carefully preserved cultural history means that England is an excellent place to explore the literature and archeology of Britain’s past, with many trusts and national parks being established in the last century to lovingly restore old buildings and gardens. But England is no slouch when it comes to modernity, with amazing modern art, architecture and engineering feats sitting alongside an exciting music and arts scene.
London is such a gargantuan and ever-changing city that it seems impossible to catch in a few paragraphs. The vibrant markets, accessible arts, and amazing live music and sporting events combine to make it a leading city.
The prices reflect this, however, and the budget traveller is likely to suffer here although there are cheap options if you’re willing to research and book things in advance. Independent travel, however, is easy with lots of tourism and transport infrastructure plus hundreds of things to see and do within a minute’s walk from any Tube station.
If you’re in pure sight-seeing mode, the London Pass gives you access to 55 activities plus allows you to skip lines at some places. For those looking to tackle the impressive number of Heritage buildings, find out if your country has a cheaper membership and a partnership agreement or try the Great British Heritage Pass.
Getting to and from England
Flights arrive in London from major airlines and low-cost carriers from all over the world; with five major airports in London (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City) it sometimes seems there’s no gap in the airways over the capital. (See getting to and from London Airports in our London City Guide.)
There are transatlantic flights into Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester, with European flights from most English cities.
Ferries ply the waters from most of coastal Europe, and can prove cost-effective. Catching the lowest of the low-cost airline fares will certainly prove cheaper, however. Plus, The “chunnel” links London St Pancras station with France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany by high-speed Eurostar train.
England travel resources
Check out our How to get around the UK podcast or browse the articles below.