VISITING THE UK
The United Kingdom is a great place to visit. In fact, England, Scotland, Wales and the Offshore Islands offer a host of great vacation and holiday destinations with something for everyone. We have listed our top ten reasons for visiting the UK here:
1. Great Landscapes
The forces of nature - of wind, seas and ice - have combined to give this relatively small, island kingdom an amazing variety of landscapes - all within relatively short distances of each other. No one in the UK is ever more than two hours from the sea. There are mountains and ranges of majestic hills, rolling farmland, wild heaths and moors, exquisite lakes and lochs and gentle, lovely valleys and streams
2. Great Cities & Towns
Everybody knows that London is one of the world's great cities, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. The UK's cities and towns have a lot to offer visitors - from the hip, indie scene of Manchester to the amazing Balti food of Birmingham, from the dreaming spires of Oxford and medieval passageways of York to the lively art scenes of Glasgow. Edinburgh Castle looks down on the vibrant capital of Scotland and Liverpool rides a tide of history beside the Mersey
3. Multi-Layered History
From the prehistoric Britons, Gaels, Celts and Picts through Vikings, Romans and Normans, wave after wave of conquerors and migrants have shaped the United Kingdom - and most have left fascinating traces for visitors to explore.
4. British Pubs
The best British pubs are more than places to eat and drink; they are landmarks of continuity that have existed in the same spot for hundreds of years. Their names tell stories, often linked to local history, outlaws, wars and customs. Their architecture - whether half-timbered, thatch-roofed or built of brick - adds to the character of their villages. But not all pubs are equal and some are, frankly, dreadful if you aren't a local.
5. Festivals & Events
Some of the world's greatest set piece events draw visitors to the UK year after year. In England, just about everything stops for a fortnight for Wimbledon, tennis's biggest grand slam tournament. While up in Scotland, everything seems on the go, 24/7, for the whole month of August, as thousands reel from one event to another during the Edinburgh Festivals, the world's biggest performing arts party
The British are masters of the weird and wacky. From cheese rolling in Gloucestershire and fireball whirling in Scotland, to Morris Men dancing and banging sticks, or hobby horses terrorizing villages on May Day, there are wonderfully eccentric traditions all over the British Isles. Most have origins lost in antiquity. No one cares how they got going - the point is to have a good time.
7. Storybook Architecture
Thatched cottages, fairytale castles, soaring cathedrals, stately mansions - the UK has them all. The half-timbered streets of Chester look like something out of Disney - but they are real and they are really old. So much of what gives the UK its unique appeal for visitors is the look of its heritage buildings - the stuff of dreams and stories
8. Greatest Names in Literature
Visitors to the UK regularly make literary pilgrimages in search of the landscapes, villages and towns that inspired the classic authors of the English language. But this is no dusty paperchase. From Chaucer and Shakespeare to Jane Austen, William Wordsworth,Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns, the legacy of Britain's world class authors is alive and flourishing
9. World's Greatest Gardens
From as early as the 17th century, the gentlemen - and lady - horticulturalists of the British Empire explored exotic locales to bring back unusual plant specimens. A traditional interest in plants, the UK's relatively mild climate, an early taste for landscapes as works of art and the fortuitous genius of 18th century landscape gardener Lancelot "Capability" Brown have produced an abundant bouquet of beautiful and fascinating gardens all over Britain
10. The Great British Royals
The power of the Royal Family is mostly symbolic these days but it is certainly impossible to forget that the United Kingdom is a monarchy - it's even part of the name. Love them or loathe them - and in Britain you get both opinions, sometimes uttered in the same sentence - they are woven into the fabric of life. Their comings and goings, their homes and the events they traditionally attend are a fine spectacle for visitors and natives alike
09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday; some branches open Saturday morning
09:00 to 17:30, Monday to Friday; 09:00 to 12:30, Saturday
09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday
09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday
09:00 to 17:30, Monday to Saturday; late night shopping Wednesday or Thursday in most cities
230 volts, 50Hz
Smoking in all indoor public places (this includes platforms at train stations) in the UK is now illegal.
Tipping is not expected in the UK, but is much appreciated. It is not necessary to tip in taxis - but running costs are high, and they work hard, unsociable hours.
A tip is normally not added onto a restaurant bill. It is entirely discretionary how much of a tip, if any, you wish to leave. Some restaurants may add a service charge onto the bill automatically, usually when you are dining in a party of 6 or more. Your hotel may also add on a service charge. If you are in a pub or bar/nightclub, it is not necessary to tip the bar person.