England



England's beautiful countryside

England is the largest and, with 55 million inhabitants, by far the most populous of the United Kingdom's constituent countries. A 'green and pleasant land', England is known for its dramatic scenery of countryside, rolling hills, green fields, and rugged coastline. Historic stately manor houses and elegant landscape gardens are dotted around the country.

From urban bustle to rural idylls via spectacular coastline and dramatic natural scenery, England has an incredible variety of landscapes and attractions to experience. The country's rich landscape has witnessed periods of great change and evolution. Its countryside and landscapes inspired some of the very best writers and poets. Its heritage is reflected in its architecture, museums, galleries and monuments. England's rich music and art scene is universally renowned.

Historical sites and cultural attractions abound here, whilst modern architecture and exciting technological innovations litter England's largest cities, many of which have seen successive programmes of regeneration, from world-leading industrial centres that drove the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, into creative and cultural hubs in the 20th and 21st century. A diverse and culturally-rich country, with immigrants from the world over, visitors to England can seldom help being entranced by its charm, character, and unique culture.

Visit England is its tourist bureau.

Regions

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England can be divided most generally into three sections, with deep historical and linguistic roots for each of them. These can be further divided into regions, which in turn consist of counties, most of which also have long histories.

Southern England

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Southern England is roughly the area south of The Wash and the Bristol Channel.

Regions of England — switch to interactive map
Regions of England
  London
A vast and diverse metropolitan region in itself, the capital city of both England and the United Kingdom, a global capital of finance, fashion, and culture.
  South East England
Broadly speaking, the area around and south of London, including the territory along the English Channel.
  West Country
The often-rugged peninsula extending southwest into the Atlantic and adjoining counties. Cornwall is sometimes considered a distinctive entity.
  East of England
A low-lying territory northeast of London, mostly rural.

Midlands

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The English Midlands are roughly the area east of Wales and across to the North Sea.

  West Midlands
The birthplace of William Shakespeare, Rugby and the Industrial Revolution, the historic West Midlands span from the eastern border of Wales to the centre of England. Alongside its large industrial urban conurbations, the region is the home to five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  East Midlands
From the geographic centre of England and the rugged peak district to the traditional coastal resorts on the North Sea. The East Midlands boast both rich historical legend, in the form of Robin Hood, and industrial and scientific heritage. The region is primarily covered by agricultural land and is famed for its culinary produce.

Northern England

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Northern England is anywhere north of Staffordshire in the west and roughly north of the River Trent in the east, up to the Scottish border.

  Yorkshire
Regarded as one of the most scenic, varied and interesting of all the traditional counties.
  North West England
Major industrial cities and breathtaking scenery.
  North East England
The urbanised areas of Teesside and Tyne and Wear plus the largely rural large county of Northumberland with its sparsely populated borders with Scotland and beautiful countryside and coastline.

Cities

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England has many large cities. Listed below are nine of the most popular:

The Clifton Suspension Bridge spans the Avon Gorge in Bristol.
  • 1 London — the largest metropolitan area in Western Europe, and a global capital of finance, shopping, fashion, art and culture.
  • 2 Birmingham — England's second largest city in the country's heartland; former "Workshop of the World" with rich industrial heritage, cultural heritage, lovely canals, shopping, fine food and green spaces.
  • 3 Brighton — Regency seaside resort and university town with quirky shopping, fine food, rich culture and eclectic gay nightlife
  • 4 Bristol — vibrant music scene, lovely historic buildings and an attractive waterfront, with many festivals to enjoy in the summer
  • 5 Liverpool — "The home of the Beatles", a booming cosmopolitan city famous for its vibrant nightlife, rich cultural heritage, magnificent waterfront, superb architecture, and excellence in music and sport.
  • 6 Manchester — the north's cultural, sporting, entertainment, shopping and media hub with a rich cultural heritage and vibrant art scene
  • 7 Newcastle upon Tyne — a thriving northern city with world-famous nightlife and rich cultural heritage and vibrant art scene
  • 8 Nottingham — the "Queen of the Midlands" is home to Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest and Nottingham Castle
  • 9 York — ancient historic capital of Yorkshire, with Roman, Viking and Medieval architecture

Other destinations

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England has many outstanding landmarks and sites of interest. Listed below are nine of the most notable:

The Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • 1 Hadrian's Wall — the Romans built this 87-mile wall to protect their province of Britannia from northern raiders.
  • 2 Isles of Scilly — scenic archipelago of tiny islands off the south western coast of Cornwall.
  • 3 Lake District National Park — glorious mountains, lakes and woodlands; the land of Wordsworth.
  • 4 New Forest National Park — one of the few remnants of the great oak and hornbeam woodland that once covered southern England.
  • 5 North York Moors National Park — with heather-clad hills, woodlands, impressive sea cliffs and secluded beaches, this area is one of the true English gems.
  • 6 Peak District National Park — rugged moors and hills in the north, secluded dales and limestone escarpments in the south.
  • 7 South Downs National Park — the gentle rolling chalk downs of southern England, which culminate at the coast in massive white cliffs.
  • 8 Stonehenge — the iconic Neolithic and Bronze Age monument; as mysterious as it is famous.
  • 9 Yorkshire Dales National Park — charming, picture postcard villages set in some of the finest landscapes anywhere in Britain.

Understand

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See also: Medieval Britain and Ireland

Orientation

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Don't confuse "England" with the larger "Britain" or "United Kingdom"; see the United Kingdom article for details. Within the island of Great Britain, Scotland sits to the north of England and Wales is to the west. Northern Ireland (also part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland lie across the Irish Sea to the west of England (and Wales). France and the Channel Islands are across the English Channel to the south, and to the east is the North Sea.

Climate

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London skyline from Greenwich Park

England has been stereotyped as being cold, grey and rainy since the ancient Romans wrote home, but this is not an entirely accurate picture. Temperatures rarely get very cold or very hot, and while the country certainly gets rain, it's really not as wet as rumour has it. London alone has lower annual rainfall than Paris, New York and Sydney, and it's not uncommon for parts of the country to go without rain for weeks. Parts of southern England often have summer water restrictions due to a lack of adequate rainfall during the previous winter. All the same, make sure you've got a raincoat.

Northern and western parts are usually wetter than the rest of England due to the prevailing wind from the north west bringing down cold moist air from the North Atlantic, and the sunniest and warmest areas are in the far south and south east.

Winter and autumn are usually the wettest seasons where the weather is often very changeable and at times quite windy, especially in the north and west, where cold Arctic winds arrive. Spring conditions are very changeable: a day of hot sunshine is likely as not to be followed by a week of cold wind and rain; and vice-versa. Occasional snow even as late as May is not unheard of in northern England, but it will melt quickly. Snow is particularly rare in the south east. Summer is generally warm in the south with average highs usually ranging from 18-23°C, but be prepared for unsettled weather at any time of the year and make sure to check a weather forecast if you plan to be outdoors.

Tower Bridge and the City of London, London
The beautiful town of Dartmouth in Devon on a sunny day.

Hot spells of weather can occur from May to September where temperatures may reach (and occasionally exceed) 30°C in the warmest areas of England, typically London and parts of the South East. Central Europe has very hot summers and very cold winters, but England is both less extreme (surrounded by water) and milder in the winter (influenced by the warmth of the North Atlantic Drift). If it were not for the North Atlantic Drift, England would be much much colder.

Heavy, prolonged, snow is rare and temperatures are rarely below freezing for more than a few days. Some years there will be a few days of road and rail disruption from snow - even the slightest amount of snow often causes delays on public transport, especially rail. Very severe weather conditions are rare and remedial action is usually taken promptly. Flooding and droughts are unlikely to affect the traveller. High winds occasionally disrupt travel, most often outside summer.

English people are said to have a passion for debating the weather: actually this is usually just an opening gambit to start a conversation with a stranger. Often, these conversation openers are heard among the elderly members of society. Most discussions that do involve weather usually include criticisms of it - including (though perhaps not at the same time) both that it's "too cold" and it's "too hot". Well-known conversational gambits (with due acknowledgement to Peter Kay) : "It's too cold for snow"; "It's that fine rain that soaks you through".

People

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Fossgate Merchant's Quarter in the city of York

England is a modern country, but very attached to tradition and pageantry. The English are sports enthusiasts, many of the world's most played sports originated here. The people of England, like their language, are also a mixed bunch who have regularly been infused with new blood - from the Romans nearly 2000 years ago taking control of the ancient British in the region, to the later influences of Angles, Saxons and others from Europe after which created the original idea of the English, to the Vikings and then the Normans about a thousand years ago.

Since then, there have been Huguenots, Chinese, Jews fleeing pogroms, people from former British colonies in the Caribbean in the 1950s and 1960s, Indians expelled from newly independent former African colonies, workers from new EU member states such as Poland, not to mention people from other UK nations and the Republic of Ireland. The full list is very long, but England has long been used to outsiders making it their home. The English are well used to foreign visitors and you can expect them to be friendly and polite; almost everyone will treat you well if you are polite and make an effort to fit in. Smile, be polite, don't be pushy if you can help it: that's how to get on with the English.

One thing to bear in mind is that many (mostly elderly) English people are terrified of causing offence and dislike lying, and so will try to avoid potential pitfalls by sticking to safe (often boring) topics of conversation. They will occasionally attempt to avoid offence by evading a question which worries them, while also trying not to offend you by point blank refusing you an answer. This sort of thing generally wears off as people get to know you. The younger generation are often more open with their opinions and emotions, but you can still expect them to be polite.

Historic Sun Street in the city of Canterbury

Big cities and even some rural areas, as in any country, have their social problems. Rough areas see their fair share of petty and semi-serious crime: muggings, car theft, and other street crime are unhappily common in some districts of many towns and cities, but England is by and large a very safe country as long as you use common sense. Unless you are in a very touristy area (such as Covent Garden in London), you the traveller are no more likely to be targeted by criminals than is anyone else. However, in places that are very popular with visitors, less careful tourists can sometimes be victims of scams and crimes such as pickpocketing.

In tourist destinations you will meet mostly friendly people who will take the time to answer a stranger's question, and who may speak English in a colourful or accented way but will usually be willing to standardise and simplify their speech if you make it clear that you're struggling to understand. Some say that there is a north-south divide with regard to friendliness of people, with people in the North seen as more friendly and approachable, while those in the South (particularly in urban areas such as London) tending to be less willing to stop and speak to strangers. Remember not to take offence, however; most people you see on the streets will usually be rushing to get to somewhere (e.g. work) and simply don't have the time to talk. However in rural areas, particularly East Anglia and the West Country, people can be more inclined to spare their time to have a chat with strangers. You should bear in mind that these are generalisations and do not apply to all people in the areas mentioned. In any case, you will usually find that if you are polite and friendly, you'll get the same in return from anybody you speak to.

London is a very international city where you may meet a variety of nationalities, depending on what part of the city you are in. England's other cities are also home to significant immigrant communities from the former British Empire.

Talk

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English is the main language in England, though it is spoken with many different accents throughout the country. Generally, English accents can be broadly divided into Northern and Southern accents. However, within these two main 'regions', accents can vary widely between different counties, towns and cities. For example, natives of Liverpool (called 'Liverpudlians' or more informally 'Scousers') have a distinctive accent that is easily distinguishable from that of someone from nearby Manchester (called 'Mancunians') and even from the surrounding countryside. Some cities even have multiple accents depending on the area of the city and the social class of the speaker. For example, working class 'Cockneys' of the East End of London sound very different to more well-heeled denizens of Westminster. England is generally considered to have the greatest variety of accents in the English-speaking world, even when compared to a much larger country like the United States.

In Cornwall, a very small number of people speak Cornish, a Celtic language similar to Welsh and completely separate from English. However, with fewer than a couple of hundred speakers of the language, any experience of Cornish you get is likely to be confined to road signs or information boards.

Tea and scones in Ely

No other languages are widely spoken, but with widespread immigration to England from other Commonwealth and European countries in the past few decades, you might also hear other languages spoken in the big cities. You may hear (and even see signs in) Urdu, Punjabi, Hindi, Gujarati, Polish, Italian, Greek, Turkish and varieties of Arabic. Largely because of links with Hong Kong and the overseas Chinese community in Malaysia, many Chinese Cantonese speaking people live here; London, Manchester and Sheffield in particular have thriving communities.

The English are not known for being particularly fond of learning foreign languages, and often rely solely on English when they travel abroad. Due to English being the current lingua franca, few English people are fluent in a foreign language but they may remember enough to be willing to help a stranger in difficulties (if they can get over the embarrassment of being seen to "show off"). For this reason, you should be prepared to have to use English to make yourself understood.

There are some peculiar words and phrases that even a native speaker of another variant of English may not understand. For example, when an English person says "Meet me at half five", they mean "Meet me at 5:30". If the directions say "go to the top of the road", that means the end of the road. Some words mean one thing to Americans and something else entirely to English people. When an English man says he shared a "fag" with his "mate" that means only that he smoked a cigarette with a friend. If he adds that they also had a "gorgeous" meal, it means it was followed by a nice dinner. Then there are the words unique to British English; a sneaker or tennis shoe, for instance, is called a "trainer." The expression "cheers!" is used both when drinking with somebody and as a substitute for "thank you."

Another English peculiarity is the use of terms of endearment for strangers such as "darling", "pet", "love", "hun", "duck", "bab", "mate", "sweetheart", "flower", "queen" and a few others. Don't worry, it is not meant in a sexual or romantic manner. Instead it's an act of kindness. It can be confusing, or perhaps even embarrassing, for somebody who is not accustomed to this to be called "darling" by a total stranger and it can also contrast quite sharply with the popular image of English people as being very reserved. However, this is something which is nowadays mainly used by the older generation and found less in the younger generation except for between friends, although some younger males may call a woman "Darlin'". This is usually either as a form of cat calling (and can often be followed by derogatory demands or language but is often harmless) or directed towards a female friend.

You will hear English people say "sorry". This is not down to guilt or self-consciousness but simply because it is synonymous with "excuse me", and is used to get somebody's attention. Alternatively it can be synonymous with "pardon". Any comments along the lines of "What are you sorry about?" are pointless and likely to be received with blank looks. As London is one of the world's most multicultural cities, you will be hard-pressed to find a major world language that is not spoken by someone there.

Accents and dialects

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The diverse history of England, and the constant influx of various cultures and peoples over the centuries (e.g. Vikings, Normans, Romans, Celtic peoples, all the way up to recent immigration from Commonwealth and EU countries), have produced a wide range of accents, and there are still traces of regional dialects (vocabulary and grammar). It is best not to imitate the accents, as you will most likely be seen as mocking.

An accent will usually reveal where someone was brought up — sometimes to within quite a small area (there exists an urban legend of criminals being caught because their accents on recorded phone calls were traceable to a single neighbourhood). Today, even well-educated professionals are happy to keep their regional accent: the unhappy days when people from outside the South East felt that they had to hide their accent to "get on" have gone. It is now only people who go to public (i.e. private, fee-paying) schools who learn to speak in a "geography-free" way (the "upper-class accent" of the royal family and nobility, well-known from old British films, or modern parodies). Differences in accent are very real: a visitor who is expecting a particular accent they are familiar with from the cinema or television (perhaps "Dick van Dyke Cockney" or "Hugh Grant Silly Ass Upper Crust") will usually have to wait a day or two to get really accustomed to the real accents they hear around them. Even English people, familiar with other accents from TV or by knowing neighbours or colleagues who have moved from other areas, can still struggle when far from home. "Geordie", the accent/dialect of Tyneside, is a famously strong accent when spoken quickly among a group of people who do not know that a stranger is trying to tune in. Most people are happy to tone down (or slow down) their accent when a stranger is in difficulty. When encountering a broad Geordie accent it can be quite difficult for someone who is not accustomed to it to understand it, and there are still various dialectic words in common use such as hyem = home, gan/gannin = going, wor = our, divvint = don't and howay = come on. Many of these regional terms are similar to words in modern Scandinavian languages due to the Viking influence on the area.

Dialects exist, but to the traveller this should be a matter of interest, not confusion. People across England would expect to understand anyone from anywhere else in England, because the few everyday dialect words are usually well known from TV. Some examples from the north of England: "ey up" ("Hello"), "aye" ("yes", as in Scotland and the North of England); "tha" ("you", as in thee and thou, still common in Yorkshire). Real differences are subtle and of little consequence these days: for instance, people growing up in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield use "jennel", "jinnel", and "ginnel" respectively as the word for a particular type of narrow alley between houses. Other common words are "wee", "bonnie", "lass" (small, beautiful and girl, respectively in the north east, as well as over the border in Scotland).

A few useful words which may help you understand the English (particularly in the Midlands and North): "ta" = thank you, "ta ra/ta ta" = goodbye, "summat/summit/summink" = something, "nowt" = nothing, "owt" = "anything", "dunna/dunno" = don't know, "canna/cannit = cannot.

Get in

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See the United Kingdom article for information on immigration and visa requirements.

By road

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From outside Great Britain

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The white cliffs of Dover

Since England is on an island, it is not possible to drive directly into England from outside Great Britain. Motorists have two choices to enter England from outside Great Britain, by various car ferry routes, or the Channel Tunnel.

Car ferries
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See "by boat" for further details.

Channel Tunnel
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From elsewhere in Great Britain

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A number of roads cross England's borders with its British neighbours. These roads range from the simple country lanes to motorways. There are no border controls with Scotland or Wales; indeed, on smaller roads the border may not be noticed at all.

The most important road connections into and out of England are.

  • A1 from Edinburgh and Eastern Scotland
  • M4 from South Wales
  • M74/A74/M6 from Western Scotland
  • A55 from North Wales.

By plane

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Most people flying to England from outside Europe are likely to land in London Heathrow, London Gatwick or Manchester. Those flying from inside Europe have a great many options with low cost carriers connecting large European cities with many regional airports within England. Flying to England from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland is popular, although there are no flight connections from Wales.

London and the South East

The South: Southampton and Bournemouth are on the south coast.

The South West: Bristol, Exeter and Newquay mostly serve domestic and European destinations.

The East: Norwich

The Midlands: Birmingham International, and East Midlands

The North: Manchester Airport (MAN IATA), Liverpool John Lennon, Newcastle, Leeds-Bradford, Humberside and Teesside.

By train

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See also Rail travel in Great Britain

Eurostar operates regular high-speed trains to London (St Pancras International), Ebbsfleet and Ashford through the Channel Tunnel from Amsterdam (Centraal), Avignon (TGV), Brussels (Zuid-Midi), Calais (Fréthun), Lille (Europe), Lyon (Part-Dieu), Marseille (Saint Charles), Paris (Gare du Nord) and Rotterdam (Centraal). Book as early as possible as fares can be considerably more expensive if trying to book at the last minute.

The rail system with Wales and Scotland is fully integrated, with regular services crossing the borders into England. In addition to regular daytime trains, sleeper trains link Scotland and England. As the franchising contract runs to 2030, they are unlikely to be withdrawn.

BritRail Passes are available to non-UK citizens which allow the traveller unlimited rail travel in England on one ticket.

By boat

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See also: Ferry routes to Great Britain

With so much coastline and so many ports, England has extensive shipping links with many countries worldwide. Major ports are Dover, Folkestone, Harwich, Hull, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Liverpool, Ipswich and Newcastle.

By bus

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Several companies offer London-Paris (via the Chunnel) international service, including British Megabus or German Flixbus. While travel times are usually a lot longer than by plane or train, the prices tend to be rather low and fares below €20 are not unheard of.

Get around

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England has a dense and modern transportation infrastructure and is well serviced by domestic air, rail, land and sea routes.

By train

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See also: Rail travel in Great Britain
High speed train on the East Coast Line in Bournemouth

England is universally covered by an extensive railway network. The system consists of five high-speed main lines, which radiate from London and other major cities to the rest of the country, augmented by dense regional rail lines and commuter networks and other high-speed lines within major cities and towns.

Travelling by train is one of the fastest, most comfortable, convenient and enjoyable ways to explore England and the rest of Great Britain. From High Speed 1, which connects London to Kent and under the English Channel to mainland Europe, to preserved railways operating historic steam trains through idyllic countryside, to bustling modern commercial centres and small unspoiled villages, to the breathtakingly scenic lines of Scotland, the train can be an enthralling and affordable way to see all that the UK has to offer. In the financial year ending in 2014, 1.59 billion passenger journeys were made across Great Britain.

England has one of the highest densities of railway lines per square mile in the world. There has been much improvement and investment to the railway network and rolling stock. It is very easy to find train stations in England, as National Rail uses the historic British Rail double-arrow logo which is displayed prominently at all stations, and on road signs.

By bus and tram

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Busses are the most popular mode of transport.

England is covered by a wide bus network. Buses are numerous, frequent and reliable in cities and towns and an ideal way of getting around. Rural areas are less well served and hiring a car is often the best option to explore the countryside and villages. From 2022, all bus fares in England have been capped at £2.

The vast majority of bus stops are request stops, meaning that you must put your arm out as the bus approaches to signal that you want it to stop. Likewise once on the bus, you must ring the bell in advance of the stop you want to get off at. The majority of bus services, especially in urban areas, are fully accessible for disabled travellers, with either low floors or the use of a ramp facilitating access for wheelchair users. On-board, there is space for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

England's major urban areas have a growing network of trams and light rail. Since the 1990s, a second generation of tram networks have been built and have started operating in Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Sheffield, East London, South London, Nottingham, and Blackpool.

By car

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England is covered by a wide road network. Road quality is generally high quality, although can deteriorate in rural areas. Signs and markings are often clear, and England ranks highly for road safety in Europe. A problem with driving in England is the sheer volume of traffic due to a growing population. This is not only limited to rush-hours and large cities, and even cross-country motorways can slow to a stop as they pass urban areas. Prepare for travel times being longer than you'd normally anticipate in relation to the mileage.

The Humber bridge, Hull. Once the longest suspension bridge in the world.

The speed limit, unless otherwise stated, is 30 or 40 mph in built-up areas, 50 or 60 mph (approx 95 km/h) elsewhere and 70 mph (approx. 110 km/h) on motorways and other controlled-access roads. Many small communities and burbs are adopting 20 mph limits. Speed cameras and traffic police are numerous so caution is advised. The traditional English 'reserve' and politeness may occasionally dissolve under the stress of congestion on the major routes, especially with the traffic problems in some of England's larger cities, but generally driving around England is an enjoyable experience and it is polite to acknowledge the courtesy of another driver with a nod or the raising of the hand as a form of thank you. Drivers will often flash their headlights to indicate that you are clear to pull out, or otherwise to give way to you, and it is considered polite to say thank you by giving a wave or a quick flash of your headlights.

Flashing your hazards (i.e., both indicators at the same time) is only used as an indication of danger. Usually, it's used to indicate that the car has broken down or to warn other drivers that there's a hazard up ahead. Flashing your hazards a couple of times is another way of saying thank you. Brown road signs with white text indicate nearby tourist attractions, and the blue i sign denotes Tourist Information. Road closed! - it's not uncommon on major highways at night, as traffic density is so great that roadworks are only feasible overnight. Trust the signs, and don't panic - they're pretty systematic about signposting the diversion, which by-and-by will bring you back on course with only 10 minutes lost.

By taxi

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There are taxi firms everywhere (many are by booking only—find the phone number of the local company and phone ahead). 'Black cabs' are also common in cities and can be hailed from the side of the road. Sometimes in city centres, usually just after the nightclubs have closed, there will be queue for taxis which will sometimes be monitored by police. To be safe, make sure you take a registered and licensed taxi or black cab.

By bicycle

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See also: Cycling in England and Wales
Cambridge is a popular location for cycling.

Cycling has enjoyed a renaissance, with improvements in cycling infrastructure and wide cycle lanes installed in major English cities and towns. Despite these improvements, it can be quite risky in certain areas. Nonetheless, cycling is a great way to get around and explore England. You'll see a lot more from a bicycle, have the freedom to stop wherever you want, no parking headaches and once you've got the bicycle there is nothing to pay. It is unquestionably the fastest way to get around major cities. There are many lovely cycle paths where you can avoid the traffic and soak in the cityscape or countryside.

The National Cycle Network is the national network of signed routes for cycling. It uses dedicated bike paths as well as roads with minimal traffic, and covers 14,000 miles, passing within a mile of half of all homes. Other cycling networks include:

Segregated cycle paths are being installed in cities throughout England. You can hire a bicycle from some local bicycle shops, or purchase a decent one privately for less than £100 secondhand as England has a surplus of old bicycles. Make sure you get a helmet, particularly for city cycling, and lights, especially in winter as the days are very short. Helmets aren't compulsory but the police will fine you for not using lights when it's dark. A decent lock is also essential, particularly in the cities; bicycle theft is a common problem, so do not leave your bicycle unattended.

On foot

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English cities and towns are pedestrian friendly. In many, a car is not needed. England has several long-distance hiking trails. Best known is the Pennine Way, which roams for 268 miles / 431 km along the spine of northern England from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland.

See

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London is the start and finish point for most international tourists. It offers countless museums and historical attractions. London remains an international capital of culture, music, education, fashion, politics, shopping, finance and trade. One of the world’s most visited cities, London has something for everyone: from history and culture to fine food and exceedingly good times. To truly experience England, however, you must venture out of the hustle and bustle of the capital and see what the rest of England has to offer. You will find the rest of England very different to its capital city; indeed, if you only visit London, you haven't seen 'England'—you've seen one city that differs in many ways to the rest of the country.

Liverpool is known for its vibrant arts scene, and hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2023.

Manchester is a vibrant, post-industrial gem. Once nicknamed 'Cottonopolis' (a reference to its most famous export) has hung up its clogs and, thanks to successive regeneration projects, is now a major centre for culture and commerce; seen by many as the capital of the north of England, and sometimes regarded as England's second city. The site of the world's oldest surviving passenger railway station and one of the birthplaces of socialism and the Industrial Revolution, Manchester remains at the vanguard of culture, sport, music and technology. This vivacious spirit is augmented by the city's two world-famous football clubs and large student population; whilst the mills have been swapped for Michelin stars and the warehouses for world-class shopping and museums, this is still a city that is very proud of its industrial past and of its influences on music and sport. Museums and galleries are scattered throughout the city showcasing its rich industrial history and arts scene.

Liverpool is famous port city famed for its football teams, maritime and industrial history, the Grand National horse race, music (including The Beatles), vibrant nightlife and its links with the arts and culture. The city served as one of the leading ports linking Europe to the Americas. A comprehensive regeneration of the city centre has caused an influx of new shops, boutiques, and large performing art performance arenas near the waterfront. The regenerated city now plays regular host to national and international sport, media, food and music events. Museums and galleries are scattered throughout the city showcasing its rich industrial history and arts scene.

The Roman Baths and Abbey in the elegant city of Bath, a popular tourist destination in the county of Somerset.

If short on time, you may find it more convenient to base yourself in a regional city and take day trips to the National Parks, coast and smaller towns. If you have plenty of time, then you could base yourself in a B&B (Bed and Breakfast). You will find that public transport to and within cities and large towns is acceptable, but that in smaller places off the beaten track then you should research your journey carefully, or consider hiring a car. Many of the most visited tourist spots of England are accessed via taking a train journey from London. Popular places to visit include the counties of Yorkshire in the East, and Cornwall in the South West of England, the several National Parks listed above, and the historic cities such as York, Bath, Durham and Lincoln.

Plymouth makes a good base for exploring Dartmoor, whilst allowing day trips to Cornwall and offering its own range of attractions and museums. Bristol, the West Country's largest city makes for a very enjoyable weekend break. Although previously overlooked by other Southern English cities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Brighton, Bristol has come into its own thanks to its leftfield attitude, laid back easy going groove, the West Country's largest shopping complex, and above all its stunningly creative and brilliant music scene.

The ancient Durham Cathedral overlooking River Wear in Durham

The prestigious university towns of Oxford and Cambridge are popular tourist spots, and a short train ride from London. In the city of dreaming spires you can admire Oxford's ancient and medieval colleges, explore museums such as the Ashmolean Museum or Pitt Rivers Museum and go punting along the college and town riveraways. Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and an 18th century stately home and landscape garden, is also a popular spot from the city. Oxford is surrounded around pretty countryside, hills and gardens. Cambridge is a popular tourist spot for countryside air and bucolic riverside walks as well as ancient colleges, punting, gardens, shops and museums. It is also known as a cycle friendly city.

York in Yorkshire is another growing tourist spot. Famous for its Viking and Roman roots, the medieval city hosts several tours throughout its well preserved medieval centre. The city also houses the beautiful York Minster; the biggest cathedral in all Northern Europe, the extensive city walls, occupying 21.5 hectares, its ghost walks and spooky stories, the historic Shambles, gardens and museums. Castle Howard, near York, is a magnificent historic house in the north of England with ornate interiors, landscaped gardens. In Kent, Canterbury is a popular tourist spot. Canterbury has been a European pilgrimage site of major importance for over 800 years since the assassination of Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170. Today it is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in England. Westgate Towers, for example, is the one of the main gates to the ancient walled city and, at nearly 640 years old, is England's largest medieval gateway. Top rated attractions include Canterbury Cathedral, The Old City, The Canterbury Tales, Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, Westgate Towers Museum & Viewpoint, and other gardens and museums.

England is home to stunning coastline, like the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Devon.

If you have a little longer, you may be able to spend a week more locally based, for example staying in Ambleside in the Lake District. If you want white sand beaches, turquoise sea, Arthurian atmosphere and a raw, misty eyed Celtic landscape head to the West Country coastline of Devon and Cornwall - particularly, the magnificent surf blasted beaches of North Devon's Bideford Bay and King Arthur's birthplace in North Cornwall's Atlantic coastline (Bude, Tintagel, Padstow, Polzeath etc).Leeds, the largest city in Yorkshire, makes a great base for day trips to the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire Moors, York and Whitby, whilst offering its own selection of attractions such as the Royal Armouries, famed nightlife, theatre and designer shopping in stunning Victorian-era arcades.If you have a little longer, you may be able to spend a week more locally based, for example staying in the stunning Lake District National Park.

England, together with the other parts of Britain, was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th to 20th centuries. Though many industries were shut down in the late 20th century, there is still much to see of Industrial Britain; mines, factories, and heritage railways throughout the country.

Preservation trusts

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A typical English manor house and garden

A number of 'umbrella' organisations are devoted to the preservation and public access of both natural and cultural heritage. Membership with them, even on a temporary basis, means priority free access to their properties thereafter—travellers to England seeking to see a large number of sights would do well to join one or more of them:

  • English Heritage. English Heritage has an especially wide-ranging remit and manages more than 400 significant buildings and monuments in England. They also maintain a register of thousands of "listed" buildings, those considered of most importance to the historic and cultural heritage of the country. English Heritage (Q936287) on Wikidata English Heritage on Wikipedia
  • The National Trust (National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty). The National Trust manages over 350 properties and over 950sq miles of land. Many of the country's manor houses are under the trust's ownership and management. National Trust (Q333515) on Wikidata National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty on Wikipedia

Museums and heritage sites

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17 of the 25 United Kingdom's UNESCO World Heritage Sites are in England. Some of the best known of these include Stonehenge, Tower of London, Jurassic Coast, Westminster, City of Bath, Saltaire, Ironbridge Gorge, Durham Castle and Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral, Blenheim Palace, Royal Botanic Gardens, and Studley Royal Park.

The northernmost point of the Roman Empire, Hadrian's Wall, is the largest Roman artefact anywhere: it runs a total of 73 miles in northern England. Most museums and cultural interest are free of charge to visit for visitors. Although, some non-state funded museums do charge. The objectives of the policy were simple and clear – to provide universal free admission to the permanent collections of national museums and to broaden the range of visitors. England is covered by a wide network of renowned museums covering almost every aspect and period in history. It is estimated that there are over 1,600 museums. Some of the most visited museums include:

British Museum — a public museum dedicated to human history, art and culture located in the Bloomsbury area of London. Its collection of eight million works is the largest in the world. It documents the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. The British Museum was the first public national museum to cover all fields of knowledge.

The Natural History Museum in London, dubbed the cathedral of nature.

Tate Modernan enormous art gallery converted from the former Bankside Power Station in London. The gallery collects together contemporary and modern art from around the world, arranged thematically. The most stunning aspect of the building, is the enormous Turbine Hall, which plays host to a single piece of work commissioned for the space each year. An extension of the gallery has opened in a ten-storey building behind the existing power station. Tate Modern is one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the world.

Natural History Museum — home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 80 million items within five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, palaeontology and zoology in London. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Charles Darwin. The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons and ornate architecture, sometimes dubbed the cathedral of nature.

National Gallery — houses the British national collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900 in London. A truly awe-inspiring collection, notable works include Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors, Van Gogh's Sunflowers and Constable's The Haywain. The audioguides are very comprehensive and have comments on most of the paintings in the museum. In addition to courses, workshops, lectures and other events, the National Gallery has free talks and tours every day.

The National Railway Museum in York is the largest railway museum in the world.

Victoria and Albert Museum — the museum is the world's largest museum of applied arts, decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient history to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. The holdings of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture, medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world. The museum owns the world's largest collection of post-classical sculpture, with the holdings of Italian Renaissance items being the largest outside Italy.

National Railway Museum — the largest railway museum in the world based in York, one of the most important railway cities. It tells the story of rail transport in Britain and its impact on society and is home of the national collection of historically significant railway vehicles, such as Mallard, Stirling Single, Duchess of Hamilton and a Japanese bullet train.

The National Maritime Museum — a maritime museum in London part of Royal Museums Greenwich, a network of museums in the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. The museum has the most important holdings in the world on the history of Britain at sea, comprising more than two million items, including maritime art (both British and 17th-century Dutch), cartography, manuscripts including official public records, ship models and plans, scientific and navigational instruments, and instruments for time-keeping and astronomy (based at the Royal Observatory, founded in 1675 for "finding the longitude of places"). It is the largest maritime museum in the world.

Science and Industry Museum — traces the development of science, technology and industry with emphasis on Manchester's vast achievements in these fields. There are extensive displays on the theme of transport (cars, railway locomotives and rolling stock), power (water, electricity, steam and gas engines), Manchester's sewerage and sanitation, textiles, communications and computing. The first ever passenger railway station is part of the museum, whilst a reconstruction of the first ever stored-program computer, created by Manchester University, is also on display.

Ashmolean Museum — Britain's oldest public museum in Oxford, having been founded in 1683. It is recognised as being the first modern museum. The museum displays ancient art from Egypt, the Near East, Greece and Rome, a fine collection of Western art and artifacts. Highlights include the Amarna Princess Fresco and the Alfred Jewel. The main museum contains huge collections of archaeological specimens and fine art. It has one of the best collections of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, majolica pottery, and English silver.

Castles

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England is home to many great castles, reflecting its rich history. Full of secrets and scandals, England's castles are full of stories. After the Norman Conquest in 1066 various castles in England were created so law lords could uphold their authority and protect from invasion. Castles continued to grow in military sophistication and comfort during the 12th century, leading to a sharp increase in the complexity and length of sieges. Some of the best-known castles are:

Tower of London — founded by William the Conqueror in 1066, enlarged and modified by successive sovereigns. The Tower is today one of the world's most famous and spectacular fortresses and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its 900-year history includes use as: a royal palace and fortress, prison and place of execution, mint, arsenal, menagerie and jewel house. The Tower contains enough buildings and exhibits to keep a family busy for a full day, with plenty of both warlike and domestic contents. Beefeaters, who are all retired sergeant majors from the British Army, provide guided tours for free as well as ceremonial security. See history come alive – go to the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower of London. This ceremony, the locking up of the Tower, has been performed every night at 10PM for 800 years.

Peckforton Castle in Cheshire

Warwick Castle — a medieval castle developed from a fort, originally built by William the Conqueror during 1068 in Warwick. Te original wooden motte-and-bailey castle was rebuilt in stone the 12th century. During the Hundred Years War, the facade opposite the town was refortified, resulting in one of the most recognisable examples of 14th-century military architecture. It takes 500 steps around a very narrow claustrophobic spiral staircase to get up to the top. The view is astounding and you can see St. Mary's church where the Earls of Warwick were buried and the River Avon.

Durham Castle — a Norman castle in Durham which has been occupied since 1837 by University College, Durham after its previous role as the residence of the Bishops of Durham. Designated since 1986 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Durham Cathedral, the facility is open to the general public to visit, but only through guided tours, since it is in use as a working building and is home to over 100 students. The order for the construction of Durham Castle was given in 1072. The new castle would protect the Norman rulers from the rebellious local population and potential invasions from Scotland.

Windsor Castle — built by William the Conqueror following the Norman invasion in the 11th century, and has been used by the British royal family since the reign of King Henry I. It is the largest inhabited castle in the world and was used by Queen Elizabeth II as her primary weekend residence.You can visit much of the castle, including the magnificent State Apartments and St George's Chapel. The apartments are furnished with some of the finest works of art from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto and Gainsborough. A huge ancient parkland lays behind the castle, which includes The Long Walk, that runs from Windsor Castle past Old Windsor's western perimeter to the Copper Horse statue, Virginia Water lake, landscaped Valley Gardens and Savill Garden.

Ludlow Castle in Shropshire

Alnwick Castle — located in Northumberland, this castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England, second only to Windsor Castle once home of the most powerful medieval northern baronial family, the Earls of Northumberland. Alnwick Castle was built in the 11th century to protect the border, symbolising status and power for the new Norman barons. Seeing the castle might be a thrill for people who are fans of the Harry Potter films. The castle's gardens feature the largest collection of European plants in the UK and the largest Japanese cherry orchard in the world.

Dover Castle — known as the "Key to England" due to its defensive significance throughout history, the castle in Kent has 2,000 years of history contained within its walls, including a Roman lighthouse, a Saxon church and a Norman keep. Below ground, a series of casements and tunnels have been dug into the chalk. From these tunnels, Operation Dynamo (the Dunkirk evacuation) was planned. The design was intended as a symbol of authority to quell rebellion throughout the Angevin empire. The keep still has many rooms intact that have been recreated as they were in the 1200s including the throne room, royal bedrooms, armoury and kitchen.

Bodiam Castle — one of England's most romantic and picturesque castles located in East Sussex built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III, with the permission of Richard II, ostensibly to defend the area against French invasion during the Hundred Years' War. There are circular towers at each of the four corners, with square central towers in the south, east, and west walls. The main entrance is a twin-towered gatehouse in the north face of the castle. There is a second entrance from the south; the postern gate is through a square tower in the middle of the south wall. Bodiam Castle is considered a medieval masterpiece with stunning views surrounded by a moat. It houses a great hall.

Leeds Castle — a large castle estate that has existed on the site since 857 in Kent. From 857, the site was owned by a Saxon chief called Led or Leed who built a wooden structure on two islands in the middle of the River Len. In 1119, Robert de Crevecoeur rebuilt it in stone as a Norman stronghold and Leeds Castle descended through the de Crevecoeur family until the 1260s. In the 13th century, it came into the hands of King Edward I, for whom it became a favourite residence; in the 16th century, Henry VIII used it as a dwelling for his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The castle is built on two islands in a lake. It houses dungeons and drawbridges and is surrounded by stunning views.

Bamburgh Castle — set on the stunning coastline of Northumberland, the castle's history goes back to 547, but the earliest remaining parts were built by the Normans in 1095. It was bought and restored by the Victorian industrialist William Armstrong in 1894 and is still owned by his family. With its close proximity to Scotland, Bamburgh served as a stronghold and became the Crown's strategic English outpost and a mighty keep is erected. This remains the heart of the castle today.

Parks and gardens

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Stowe Park in Buckinghamshire

Despite English cities having a reputation as being industrial, English cities and towns are surprisingly green. London is 47% green space, spread out amongst some of Europe's most beautiful urban parks. The 'green lungs' of London are the many parks, great and small, scattered throughout the city including Hyde Park, St James's Park and Regent's Park. Many of the Royal Parks can be found near major tourist attractions. A large large and well maintained urban parks exist throughout England's cities, including some of the largest in Europe.

The English have had a long fondness for the art of gardening. Gardening and visiting gardens are regarded as typically English pursuits. The English garden presents an idealised view of nature. At large country houses, the English garden usually included lakes, sweeps of gently rolling lawns set against groves of trees, and recreations of classical temples, Gothic ruins, bridges, and other picturesque architecture, designed to recreate an idyllic pastoral landscape. There are lavish gardens throughout the country and acres of English landscape parks, often built next to lavish country manor houses and stately homes, which are architectural wonders with magnificent history.

Do

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  • Football — meaning soccer, is the most popular sport in England. The English Premier League is the most prestigious in Europe, played Sept-April. The FA Cup is a simple knock-out contest and chance for unknown teams to shine; it's the oldest football tournament in the world. The women's game is also rapidly developing and in July 2022 England hosted and won the UEFA Women's Euro Finals. Their top club competition is the Women's Super League.
  • Rugby — in England has two distinct codes. Rugby union (15 a side) is more popular in the south and played Sept-April, while rugby league (13 a side) is predominant in the north, and is played Feb-Aug. The RL World Cup Finals were played in England in 2022.
Sailing in Yorkshire
  • Cricket — played May-Sept, with the professional game played between counties and cities. Over 5000 amateur teams play on timeless village pitches: ("Oh, good shot Sir!" as the ball disappears into the brambles). In summer England hosts international or "Test" matches, the premier event being "The Ashes" series of five matches against Australia. In winter the England team tour abroad. Lord's Cricket Ground situated in London is referred to as the "Mecca of Cricket''.
  • Sailing — the English are keen sailors and enjoy competitive sailing; founding and winning some of the world's most famous international competitive tournaments across the various race format. The sport is governed by the Royal Yachting Association, and there are many locations where sailing is popular. There are also many yacht navigation clubs.
  • Rowing — rowing as a sport began in 17th century England, and there are many professional tournaments held throughout the country. Since 1829, an annual rowing race known as the University Boat Race between the Cambridge University Boat Club and the Oxford University Boat Club on the River Thames has taken place.
  • Tennis — played during the summer, with professional tournaments and tennis courts throughout the country. The main event on the cricket calendar is Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely regarded as the most prestigious.
  • Golf — there are over 1900 golf courses, every town is near one, and the cities may have a dozen around their fringes. Big-name big-money tournaments are often on "links" courses, sandy terrain near the coast, such as Lytham, Southport and Hoylake.
    Glastonbury Festival is a summer festival of performing arts. In addition to music, the festival hosts dance, comedy, theatre, circus, and other arts.
  • Performing arts — theatre, dance, music festivals, and concerts are well accommodated throughout England. Local authorities and councils have a clear policy on supporting the arts and venues. There is always something going on, because England is home to the best theatre and music scene in Europe. London's West End is home to many world-leading productions of musical theatre. Large outdoor music festivals in the summer and autumn are popular, such as Glastonbury, the largest greenfield festival in the world.
  • Walking/hiking — England is a paradise for walkers and there are many places for walking in the country, which may be called hillwalking or fellwalking in some areas. The Lake District and Peak District are some of the places for more serious walks—see also the itinerary Hikes in the Lake District. The Pennine Way (463 km), the Coast To Coast Walk (309 km), and the South West Coast Path (1010 km) are the best-known long-distance walks. There are public footpaths and public bridleways all over the country. People have the right to walk along these and local councils are obliged to maintain records of the routes and keep access open. Paths are usually signposted where they meet a road, but may not be marked across fields. The paths are shown on the Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25,000) and Landranger (1:50,000) maps. Enquire locally for details of the best walks, and what kit (boots, waterproofs, etc.) you will need. Unlike Scotland and certain Scandinavian countries, England does not have a general right to roam. However most areas of heathland, upland and forest do have this designation.
  • Beaches — With England being an island nation, every direction you travel will get you to the coast in a couple of hours. The English coast is varied and dramatic. The English Riviera has rich seafaring history. Cornwall and Devon have some spectacular natural beaches that would rival those of Australia and California, although they are often much colder.

Eat

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Sunday roast, perhaps the national dish of England, served with Yorkshire pudding, gravy and vegetables

England has traditional dishes famous the world over from Beef Wellington and steak and kidney pie to the humble sandwich. However, a modern English meal is just as likely to be lasagne or chicken tikka masala, with these international meals taking on a decidedly English flavour. The English are great adopters of other countries' food, and you will find a wide selection of restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world wherever you go.

England has for many decades held a reputation for bad food; this was due to the privations in and immediately after World War II. However, England's food scene has been revitalised and the bad food reputation has faded away. The quality of London's restaurants has made the city a leading centre of international cuisine. England also has a range of high-quality grown produce. The English traditionally have had a sweet tooth, with a rich selection of English desserts. Nowadays, you can generally expect pubs and restaurants to provide good quality meals. It is nonetheless advisable to 'do your research' before going out, visit establishments in person, and check out online reviews. If in doubt, ask the locals where's best to eat.

England is a historic sausage eating country. Most butchers and larger supermarkets in England will stock at least a dozen types of English sausage: not only Cumberland and Lincolnshire but often varieties such as pork and apple, pork and herb; beef and stilton; pork and mozzarella, and others. There are estimated to be around 400 sausage varieties. Elsewhere, meat pies are popular. The English tradition of meat pies dates back to the Middle Ages. Traditional fillings for hot pies include chicken and mushroom, steak and ale, minced beef and onion, lamb, mixed game or meat and potato. More exotic fillings, such as balti curry, are now available.

A meal out is the usual way to celebrate a special family or social event, and people expect the meal to live up to the occasion. Cooking programmes are now among the most popular on the television, supermarkets have turned many previously unknown foods into everyday items, and farm shops and farmers' markets have surprised all the commentators by becoming extremely popular weekend "leisure" destinations where people can buy excellent local meat, fruit, vegetables, cheeses, breads, wines, and other delicacies.

What to try

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Here are some traditional meals which are usually referred to as "national dishes" and which you can reasonably expect to find anywhere in England.

  • Fish and chips — deep-fried, battered cod, haddock or another white fish with chips. This is best bought from specialist fish and chip shops, known colloquially as "chippies", "fisheries" or "frieries" in different parts of England, where it is usually better than the fish and chips on a general restaurant or pub menu. Available throughout the country, but best eaten out of paper while overlooking the waves on a beach or at the seaside. The default fish is typically cod in the South, haddock in much of the North, and sometimes rock in Essex, but better quality chippies will usually offer a choice. In the north of England, gravy is extremely popular. Chips and gravy is sometimes referred to as their region wide choice often loaded with cheese and served with mushy peas and scraps on the side. In the south gravy on chips is not as popular but still sold. Sometimes in some southern chip shops mostly in London, gravy isn't even served.
  • Full English breakfast — At its fullest, it might consist of fried bacon, fried eggs (the two basic elements essential to any "fry up"), fried sausages, fried bread, fried black pudding, fried bubble and squeak, hash browns, mushrooms, scrambled eggs, baked beans in tomato sauce, and toast and butter - washed down by a large amount of hot strong tea or coffee with milk. Hotels often include a full buffet of these items from which you can help yourself. The English now perceive the breakfast to be a weekend or holiday treat, or as a suitable meal to consume when hungover after a night of drinking. Any inexpensive "greasy spoon" café will have "all-day breakfast" on the menu, as do many more upmarket establishments. Vegetarian ones are now common.
  • Lancashire hotpot — a hearty vegetable and lamb stew from Lancashire.
  • Roast dinner or "Sunday roast" — traditionally consumed is considered by many the archetypal English meal. The dish consists of a roasted meat (usually chicken, turkey, beef, pork or lamb), served with roast potatoes, and between two and six other roasted, boiled, steamed or braised vegetables. This meal is inevitably more popular in the colder half of the year, and the exact components often depend on the season (turkey and less frequently the more historical goose are the traditional meats consumed around Christmas, while lamb is most popular in the spring, and each vegetable has its particular season). The roast is available on Sundays between lunchtime and early evening in virtually any English pub serving food.
  • Sausages and mash, often called bangers and mash — hot sausages and creamy mashed potato, often served with vegetables and a slightly sweet onion gravy. There are many kinds of sausage available in England, from the peppery, spiral-shaped Cumberland, and fat, sagy Gloucester to the short, herby Lincolnshire, via beef and lamb varieties and pork mixed with almost anything you can think of (apples, leek, chives, chillies, paprika, nutmeg, ginger, Stilton cheese, breadcrumbs, ale, cider, chocolate, stinging nettles...), not forgetting the humble plain pork "banger" which is most common. The English take their sausages very seriously, maybe even more so than the Germans, and there are numerous national and regional contests where butchers and enthusiasts alike can enter to battle for the prestigious title of 'champion sausage' in various categories.
  • Savoury pies — are meat and/or vegetables usually in a sauce or gravy served in a pastry case. Among the most popular varieties are steak and ale, steak and kidney, chicken and mushroom and meat and potato. Slightly different, but similar, is the Cornish pasty — beef and vegetables in a pastry case.
  • Toad in the hole — a traditional dish consisting of sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter, usually served with onion gravy and vegetables.
  • Yorkshire pudding — a batter pudding served with a roast (usually beef); originally used instead of a plate and eaten with the meal. In Yorkshire and neighbouring parts of northern England, giant versions often appear on pub menus as a main meal item, with a filling, e.g. Giant Yorkshire Pudding filled with beef stew.
  • Ploughman's lunch — a cold meal based around bread, cheese, and onions, usually accompanied by butter and pickles. Additional items such as ham, green salad, hard boiled eggs, and apple can be added. As its name suggests, it is most commonly eaten at lunchtime, is particularly associated with pubs, and often accompanied with beer or cider.

There are many other regional dishes and foods which are covered in the relevant region articles.

Cheese

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Quicke wrapped Cheddar

England has a long history of cheesemaking and is a great cheese producer. There are over 700 varieties of cheese produced in England. For a complete list of English cheeses and where they're made, consult the British Cheese Board website. Most traditional English cheeses are made with cow's milk, but the foodie revolution that has developed in England since the 1990s has increased the popularity of buffalo and goat's cheeses.

Everyone is aware of the cheddar you can buy from the supermarket almost anywhere in the world, but this is nothing like the real thing named after the village of Cheddar in Somerset. There are many excellent small cheese shops in South West England where you can purchase the biting taste of a real mature cheddar, and one of the dozens of other varieties made in the region. Somerset is also famous for its brie, which at least in some circles is counted on a par with the French original. Further west, Cornish yarg is wrapped in nettles to mature; the result is soft and creamy on the outside, and crumbly in the middle.

Do not miss the chance to try stilton, the so-called "king of English cheeses", which has a slightly sharp taste. Although named after a town in Cambridgeshire, it actually originates from Leicestershire; the town of Melton Mowbray is a good place to shop. Staying in the East Midlands, for a cheese of a different colour look out for sage Derby. The titular herb results in veins of green marbling and a very attractive, if unusual-looking, cheese. Head to the Yorkshire Dales for Wallace and Gromit's favourite snack, Wensleydale, which comes in several varieties. The original version is very pale, and can be made to contain cranberries or apricots. There are also mature, extra mature, oak-smoked and blue varieties.

Stichelton cheese

Every English county has at least one local cheese, but some are much easier to locate than others. Whereas those mentioned above, plus double Gloucester, red Leicester, Cheshire and some others are readily available nationwide, many cheeses are sold only by specialist merchants in the areas they are made. Good places to look are delicatessens, farm shops and street markets. Cheese-lovers visiting London should check out Neal's Yard Dairy, who sell a huge variety of English farm cheeses from their shop in Covent Garden.

For dishes, a ploughman's lunch at a country pub with cheese, pickles and crusty bread is part of tasting rural English culture, and has been enjoyed since at least the 13th century. This is of course best consumed with a pint of the local tipple, usually cider and beer. A cheese board of different varieties of cheese served with crackers (biscuits made to accompany cheese) and grapes is also great as a snack, or as a course of a meal. You can expect at least two English cheeses, one of which will invariably be cheddar or stilton, and at least one foreign cheese, most likely French. Mac and cheese may have taken on decidedly American connotations, but the dish started life in England, and is still enjoyed today as macaroni cheese. Another common dish is cauliflower cheese, which is exactly what it sounds like. Visitors to the North East ought to look out for pan haggerty, a warming meal with a base of melted cheese, potatoes and onions which can contain almost any other ingredient from the soil or the sea.

Where to eat

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A rustic open cheese, potato and leek pie

Pubs are a good place to get reasonably priced food, though most stop serving food at around 9PM. Others may stop serving food between lunch and dinner. Pub food has become sophisticated, and as well as serving the more traditional hearty English fare, more exotic dishes are now prepared in the majority of the larger pubs and specialist "gastropubs". English food has undergone a revolution with many larger cities having award-winning restaurants run by the many famous TV chefs who have now become part of the English obsession with food. Great Britain overall has 334 Michelin-starred restaurants (the 7th in the world) with London alone home to 71. Eating out at a high-quality restaurant can be an expensive experience: at the very top end (Michelin-star level) expect to pay £100 (at least) per head including wine. A decent three-course meal out at a respectable restaurant will normally cost around £30–£40 per head including wine. It is possible to dine for cheaper than this, but the quality usually drops when the bill is below £20–25 per head.

Steak Diane, a pan-fried steak covered in a sauce made from the pans juices and Worcester Sauce

If good-quality and cheaply priced food is more your choice, try one of the many ethnic restaurants such as Chinese, Asian or Mexican. Eating a curry or balti in an Indian restaurant is tantamount to an English obsession. These restaurants are found everywhere—even the larger villages have them—and usually the food is of good quality and they will cater for most tastes. A good curry with side dishes can be had for around £10–15 per head, and some without liquor licences allow you to bring your own alcoholic beverages in. Eating a curry out is a social occasion and often you will find the men try to challenge their own taste buds to a duel, opting for spicier curries than they find comfortable! In the towns and cities these restaurants are usually open late (especially on a Friday and Saturday night) to cater for people eating after the pubs have closed. It is at this time that they can get very busy and lively, so if you want to avoid the crowds then visit the restaurants before the local pubs shut.

Unlike many other European countries, vegetarian (and to a lesser extent, vegan) food is widely available and appreciated in pubs and restaurants, with several dishes usually appearing on the menu alongside the more normal meat and fish options. However, vegetarians may still find the variety of dishes rather limited—particularly in pubs, where certain dishes such as "veggie" lasagne or mushroom stroganoff feature all too regularly. All restaurants and establishments serving food receive regular hygiene inspections from the Food Standards Agency (a government body) and are required by law to display their hygiene rating from 0 to 5. Tipping is generally expected in expensive restaurants mostly in London unless a service charge has been added to the bill, with a tip of around 10% considered to be the norm. Tipping elewhere is non-existent.

Drink

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Places

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The traditional drinking establishment is the "pub" (short for "public house"). These are normally named after local landmarks or events, and most will have a heraldic (or pseudo-heraldic) symbol on the sign outside; more recent establishments may poke fun of this tradition (e.g. "The Queen's Head" featuring a portrait of Freddie Mercury, lead singer for the rock band Queen). England seems to have an incredible number of pubs. While in a city you are usually not more than a 5 min walk from any pub.

A traditional English pub on a quiet afternoon.

The pub is an English institution going back to Anglo-Saxon times. However, it's a declining one. Tastes are changing, smoking has been banned inside pubs, beer is ever cheaper in supermarkets, drink-driving is taboo, and pub landlords are often squeezed by sharp practice by the big firms which supply beers, and which also own many pub buildings. There are many different kinds of pub. Some are traditional 'locals', and a real part of the community. In most neighbourhood pubs you will find all generations mingling together, which often gives patrons a feeling of community. It would not be uncommon to see three generations of one family congregating in a neighbourhood pub. Nevertheless, pubs can vary widely in character. Depending on the area, you can find a warm and friendly welcome.

However, pubs are becoming more and more specialised. In city centres, many have been taken over by big chains. Some independent pubs have become wine bars or cocktail bars and pubs are evolving in a more healthy direction. There are now many pubs which pride themselves on serving 'real ales' - beer brewed on a smaller scale to traditional English methods and recipes. Any visiting beer lover should track these down. Many pubs, both in the countryside and in cities, have moved towards serving good food. And while most pubs will serve food, it's in these 'gastropubs' that you'll find well-prepared food, generally a mixture of traditional English dishes and international influences. The prices will tend to match.

The Cittie of Yorke in High Holborn, listed in CAMRA's National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors.

Pubs have a little of their own etiquette. At any proper pub, service is always at the bar. It's polite to strike up a conversation with anyone else who is standing or sitting at the bar. And if someone buys you a drink, you will be expected to 'stand your round' later on, buying for whoever you're drinking with. If you're planning to leave promptly, or don't have enough money, then you should politely decline the offer. Although traditional pub licensing laws severely restricted their hours of operation, laws enacted in 2005 allow pubs to request more flexible opening hours. Few pubs have requested anywhere near the "24 hour drinking" that is theoretically possible: as a general rule more traditional pubs will close at 11PM still. Some of the more trendy bars will close nearer to 1AM, filling a niche in the market between traditional pub and nightclub. However in most cities and many towns, centrally located pubs and bars will stay open anytime from 2AM till 6AM, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Also, at public holiday times, many pubs extend their closing times — especially New Year's Eve.

English people usually follow a kind of unwritten code of conduct when in pubs, though types of venue can vary dramatically, ranging from a 'local' pub, usually a quiet place consisting of one or two rooms, to a chain pub such as J.D. Wetherspoons which are very large rooms capable of holding hundreds of people. If you abstain from alcohol, you need not worry; all pubs also serve non-alcoholic drinks. Often pets are welcome.

Alcoholic drinks

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English sparkling wines produced from wineyards in English countryside have soared in production.

England is home to a huge variety of alcoholic drinks; the drinking age in England is 18, and those that appear under 25 will theoretically (rarely implemented) be asked to provide ID such as a passport or driving licence. As well as wines and spirits (mainly imported, but some local and home produced, including a range of growing English sparkling wines and English whisky), all pubs sell several English beers and cider. England has a diverse beer culture; the main types of beer you will come across are lager, bitter and stout. Real ale is not a separate classification, it refers to beer made and served by traditional methods.

Lager — Predominantly the pilsner type: pale, fizzy and cold. Because of the popularity of this type of beer among the young, there are many mass-market national brands brewed in the UK (and widely advertised with "having fun" type ads) which may disappoint anyone wanting more than simply cold, fizzy, alcohol. Some national brands are much better, and often stronger, and may be sold in bottles as well as on draught. Purists often prefer imported European-brewed lagers. Some beer snobs condescendingly look down on lagers in preferences to darker, heavier beers which they perceive to be somehow 'superior'.

Bitter — The most common example of the English type of beer that is classified as "ale". They are typically darker than lagers—they are called bitter because they have more hops than "mild" (another less-common kind of ale). Again, there are well-advertised national brands for the mass market, usually less strong than lagers. Most are now not "real ales": they are not matured in the barrel; they are often called "smooth" or "cream" (which means that they are infused with nitrogen to give a small-bubbled head) and are often served very cold from a small tap on a tall, illuminated stand.

Gordon's London Dry Gin

Stout — A dark, heavy, usually very bitter beer. Originally called Porter, Arthur Guinness decided he could do better and made Guinness which he branded a Stout Porter. Although the style is of English origin, Guinness is one world-famous Irish brand that is available almost everywhere in England, often in "normal" and "extra cold" versions. All of the mass-market types above can be bought in cans—often with a "widget" that when the can is opened, forces nitrogen bubbles through the beer to simulate "draught" beer.

Ale — This is not simply another word for "bitter" or "beer". It is used to describe any beer other than lager (i.e. it is a beer brewed at cellar temperatures using floating yeast, i.e. bitters, milds and stouts). However, these days "ale" is often used a little self-consciously, usually either as a "matey" word for any type of beer ("Anyone fancy a few ales?") or in a consciously "traditional" way ("Try a pint of good old English ale"). To ask for "A pint of ale, please." would sound like a line from a period film. However "real ale" is an accepted term, so to ask "What real ales do you have on?" would be quite normal.

English ale beers produced from Fuller's Brewery.

Real Ale — The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has been a very successful consumer campaign; its aims have been to ensure that mass-market beers do not completely force out beers made in the traditional way. However, one downside has been to foster the aforementioned snobbery towards lager. CAMRA created the term "Real Ale" to summarise the type of beer they wanted to keep alive: it must be allowed to continue maturing after it leaves the brewery (i.e. not be pasteurised or filtered to remove living yeast; be stored and served without additional gas (i.e. does not have carbon dioxide or nitrogen forced into the beer); and be served at the appropriate temperature for the style: traditional ales are not generally served warm, as many people believe, but at the temperature of the 'cool' cellar they have been maturing in for several days (ideally, 8–12°C). Most real ales are served from the distinctive "handpumps" which allow a pint to be "pulled" from the cellar by several full-length strokes requiring visible effort on the part of the server. Most "real ales" served in ordinary pubs are bitters, but these come in a wide range of strengths, colours, and bitterness. A majority of pubs now serve at least one or two national brands of real ale, and perhaps one or even two local ones.

"Real ale pubs" — At a pub which especially caters to lovers of real ale, or at a beer festival, there will be more local brands (and "guests" from some distance away) and a wider range of bitters, and even a good choice of other types. Expect to see summer ales, winter ales, exotic beers (containing ingredients such as heather, honey or ginger), light milds, dark milds, lagers, stouts and, increasingly, porters (like a stronger dark mild, or a lighter, sweeter stout). These will be served from a long row of handpumps or (even more traditionally) straight from barrels sitting on the bar or (especially at beer festivals) in racks. There will also be a wide range of "bottle-conditioned" beers ("real ale in a bottle") usually either versions of English bitters, often called "pale ales", or very strong beers from France or Belgium. There will also be several ciders and perries.

Cider — In England this means an alcoholic drink made from apples (often much stronger than beer). These are generally brewed in the West Country, Herefordshire and Suffolk. The West Country is more known for the traditional cloudy, still 'scrumpy' cider, whereas the other regions produce more clear, fizzy cider. The more commercial brands of cider, served from pressurised kegs and so available at any pub, are clear, fizzy and cold, and quite strong (they are usually moderately or very sweet, so the high alcohol content may go unnoticed by a novice). A real ale pub will usually sell at least one "real", unpressurised, cider, perhaps from a barrel sitting on the bar. This may may be clear or slightly cloudy, but will almost certainly be still, not too sweet, and very strong (7% alcohol is only average for this type of cider). The most traditional cider is called scrumpy and is usually very strong, very cloudy and possibly rather sour. Some commercial ciders have "scrumpy" in their name, but these are not quite the same as a gallon jug bought at the farmhouse door.

Perry — Similar to cider but made from pears (is sometimes called pear cider, especially if imported). Farmhouse perry was always difficult to get hold of outside the West Country, but this is improving, and there will nearly always be some available at a beer festival. Keen perry-spotters might notice the sweetish "undercover" commercial versions: advertised nationwide with a "girls night out" theme and sold in wine-shaped bottles with "inexpensive white wine"-type labels bearing the legend "Perry" in small letters.

Non-alcoholic drinks

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The English drink a lot of tea; usually black tea rather than green tea, normally with milk and sometimes with sugar. In cafés and restaurants, tea is usually served with milk and sugar on the side for you to add to your taste; in private houses, particularly in more domestic and less posh settings, you may be asked to specify whether you want milk and/or sugar before the tea is made. In Britain 'black tea' is likely to be understood as by analogy with black coffee as 'tea without milk' rather than 'black tea as opposed to green tea'. In the south and south-west of the country — Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire — and sometimes beyond, there is a traditional light afternoon meal called a 'cream tea': this is not tea whitened with cream, but tea served with milk and sugar, together with scones, jam and clotted cream.

English tea served at Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms in York

Tea is widely drunk throughout the country, almost always hot, usually strong, usually with milk, and quite often with sugar. There are many popular brands (the most recognisable brands are PG Tips and Tetley). Tea is usually drunk at home or at work or to accompany breakfast in inexpensive restaurants (where it will usually arrive with milk in a separate jug), or with afternoon tea (scones, cream, jam, and cakes) at a "tea-room" (less-frequently seen these days, except in expensive hotels or in holiday areas). It is often the cheapest drink in coffee shops. Tea is often served in pubs and bars too.

As noted below it is common to be offered a choice of tea or coffee when visiting someone's home. If you don't want either, appreciatively declining should not cause offence. Although some British companies trade on the country's international reputation for tea-drinking to sell premium tea, many British tea drinkers' relationships with tea are remarkable more for their scale of consumption than for their connoisseurship.

In the UK, 'lemonade' is usually a carbonated, sweetened, lemon-flavoured non-alcoholic drink. 'Ginger beer' can mean either a carbonated, ginger-flavoured soft drink and therefore not really a beer at all, or a brewed alcoholic ginger-flavoured drink. Fruit juices are popular, particularly apple. Smoothies are becoming big too, and you will find many varieties at places like Starbucks.

Coffee is as popular as tea. Instant coffee (made with hot water, hot milk, or "half and half") is much used at home and work, and in inexpensive restaurants. If it is made with just hot water, then it is "black coffee"; with added cold milk it becomes "white coffee". Percolators are little used, and machines with paper filters are less common than they once were: they often fill a restaurant with a coffee aroma, but a mediocre restaurant will often leave the made coffee heating for too long. Therefore, at dinner parties or good restaurants, the "french press" (cafetiere) has become the standard way to serve "real" ("ground") coffee: the customer can leave the coffee infusing until it is as strong as they like, then press the filter down to stop the brew and restrain the grounds from getting into the cup. The drinker then adds their own milk (hot milk is often provided; cream less often) and sugar. Seattle-style coffee bars serve the usual types of espresso-based coffees (but with a less-bewildering choice of combinations of coffee, milk, sugar, and flavourings). Decaffeinated coffee is available, but not standard. Pubs may serve coffee, and indeed chains (especially Wetherspoons) invariably do, but "bar" type of pub (at a non-busy time of day) is a better option. International coffeshops such as Starbucks, Costa's and Cafe Nero are very common in large towns and cities. These often serve a wide range of coffees, teas and hot chocolate.

Sleep

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England offers the usual Western assortment of sleeping options, including:

  • St Ermin's Hotel in London
    Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) — these can range from a single room in a private home to large historical buildings with dozens of rooms.
  • Hotels — these are located throughout cities and towns, and near motorway junctions, as well as some grand country house hotels. Budget hotel chains include 'Travelodge' and 'Premier Inn'; these are simple, yet clean and comfortable.
  • Motels — mostly in the form of large chains such as Travel Inn and Travelodge, with hundreds across the country.
  • Hostels — private institutions and those part of a hosteling network, which may require membership) usually offer dorm-style accommodation, sometimes with a simple breakfast included. Many hostels in popular destination cities fill up during the busy summer season, so try to book ahead or at least call before you arrive.
  • Camping — there is a widespread network in country locations of campsites that welcome tents, caravans, or motorhomes. Sites may welcome some or all of these. Don't expect to find many close to cities and major tourist attractions.
  • Universities — it has been possible to get accommodation in some universities and colleges out of term time for a while. However, University Rooms is a bit better than most previous sites, in that it provides good information and tips about the places it covers, which include Oxford and Cambridge. It does not cover all the places where accommodation is available.

While the rooms are generally comfortable and clean, rooms at the lower end of the price scale may be small and usually come without air conditioning, cable TV, coffee machines, and other amenities. In very inexpensive accommodation, for example in dormitory-style hostels, towels and soap may not be provided. Most hotels that provide breakfast will offer a choice between a full English or continental style breakfast. The continental normally consists of bread rolls, croissant, cereal, fruits, pain au chocolat and cold meats such as ham and salami. Beverages such as fresh fruit juice, tea, coffee and hot chocolate are served too.

Buy

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Credit cards are accepted in shops and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted, though debit cards with the Maestro logo are also taken. American Express cards are accepted in fewer establishments, but most restaurants will accept it. Credit cards with a Chip and PIN have become compulsory and the norm. Credit card agreements mostly require merchants to accept cards with a swipe and signature, however, it is wise to carry enough cash in case the retailer does not comply. One thing to keep in mind is that due to credit card surcharges, some establishments and shops will only allow cards to be used (including debit cards) over £5 or £10.

Regent Street in London is one of the world's most prestigious lifestyle destinations, famous for its flagship stores and international brands.

Although shopping in England can be expensive, it is generally regarded as a world-class destination for shoppers both in terms of variety and quality of products, depending on where and what you buy. Fierce competition has brought prices down considerably in the food, clothing and electronic sectors. England also has a rich history of independent shops and small business. Prices do vary and it is always worth visiting the various retail stores as bargains can often be found. Avoid buying from the tourist areas and stick to the high street shops or the many 'out-of-town' retail parks where prices will be considerably cheaper. The retail market in England is a very competitive one and many bargains are to be had all year round. In the electronics sector, for example, it is becoming more and more common to ask for a price reduction at time of purchase.

The currency of England is Pounds Sterling (GBP), which is the oldest currency in use. Although Bank of England notes are accepted all over the United Kingdom, you may have trouble using Northern Irish and Scottish notes in England due to shop staff being unfamiliar with them. VAT (Value Added Tax - a mandatory tax on almost all goods and services in the UK) is 20% with reduced rates of 5% and 0% applying to specific categories of goods (food and books, for example, are taxed at 0%). For all consumer shopping, VAT is included in the sale price - so unlike the United States for example, the price you see is the price you pay. The exception to this rule are most industrial goods - where VAT is quoted separately (by law the term "ex VAT" must be displayed next to the sales price), but tourists are unlikely to ever be exposed to this.

A high street in Winchester

In many of the larger towns and cities, many shops have the blue "Tax-Free Shopping" sticker in the window, meaning that when you leave the UK, you can claim back at least some of the VAT before you leave the country. However, in order to do this, you must keep any receipts you receive from your purchase and request a voucher from the store. Minimum purchase amounts at a store before claiming back VAT would normally start at £30.

Electronic items such as computers and digital cameras can be cheaper here than many European countries (especially Scandinavian countries). The internet is always a good way to judge the price of a particular item, also you can use this as a bargaining tool when agreeing on a price with some of the larger electronic retail stores. If visiting from the US, there may be duties and taxes charged that make some of these purchases much less of a bargain so shop wisely. Plastic bags cost a minimum of 5p each from all large chains across the nation.

Beware of shopping on Sundays as some retailers only operate limited hours. Limited Sunday hours are in fact actually mandated by law (maximum of 6 hours in England) although in cities like London, if you entered the shop before closing you might still be able to complete the transaction after closing. Keep this in mind when planning shopping trips. Smaller corner convenience stores (eg Tesco Express or Sainsbury's Local) are not covered by this and will normally operate late into Sunday. In England supermarkets are required by law to remain closed two days a year; Easter Sunday and Christmas Day.

The range of products in English supermarket stores is diverse. The main supermarkets include Tesco, Waitrose, Asda, Morrisons, Lidi, Marks & Spencers, and Sainsbury's. You will find aisles of English and international foods in all supermarkets. In England, many retail stores are open every day. Some large supermarkets are open for twenty-four hours (except on Sundays). Most stores do not open on Easter Sunday, New Year's Day or Christmas Day and have reduced hours on other public and bank holidays.

Learn

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The University of Oxford was founded in 1096, making it the world's second-oldest university.

England has been a centre of learning for the past thousand years and possesses many ancient and prestigious universities. Prominent people that have reached the apex in their respective fields have been products of English higher education. The two most famous and oldest universities are Oxford and Cambridge (often referred to as Oxbridge).

England also has several other world-class institutions, including several in London (notably Imperial College, the London School of Economics, University College London and King's College London, all except Imperial are part of the University of London). Other top universities are located in Durham, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Exeter, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, York, Nottingham, Kent, Bath, Loughborough, Newcastle, Southampton and Warwick.

England has many options for foreign students to study; from language, history, geography and cultural short courses to advanced degrees at internationally renowned universities. Most cities have at least one institute of higher learning.

University fees have two tiers: a home fee for UK students, which is capped at £9250 per year, contingent on attaining a certain level of income, with the state paying all fees for students from low-income families. Only those who reach a certain salary threshold (£21,000) pay this fee through general taxation. The higher tier for students from outside of the UK, from £10,000 to £18,000 per year, with no financial assistance.

Work

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See also: the 'Work' section in the United Kingdom article

Options for short-term employment include bar tending and waiting tables as well as more specialised work such as in the high tech/computer industry. Visitors from Commonwealth countries will have a much easier time getting a work permit, especially those under 30 as there are several programs.

Citizens of countries belonging to the European Union (except Ireland) now require a permit to start working in England. See Brexit for details.

Visitors on a student visa can work up to 20 hours per week while in full-time education and 40 hours per week while on break.

Stay safe

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In any emergency call 999 or 112 (free of charge from any phone, including mobiles). All such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you which services you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain and cave rescue) and for your location. Unlike many other countries, there aren't different numbers for different emergency services. In a non-emergency situation you can call 101 to report crime and concerns to the local police that do not require an emergency response. A similar service is available at 111 for health issues that do not require urgent A&E admission.

England by large is a safe place to visit and English people take safety very seriously with violent crime against tourists and those who are different being rare, however you should always use general common sense to ensure you keep out of trouble. England's crime rate is moderate for European standards, but like most countries, in major cities you will find outlying suburban and inner city areas where poverty, crime and gang violence are common. These areas can be particularly risky and should be avoided. Common sense is the best way to stay safe, and it is unlikely a visitor would end up in such areas.

Crime rates are generally very low in rural areas. Take care when driving on country lanes as they can become very narrow and the lesser travelled ones are often in poorer condition. It is worth taking extra care on public transport at night, as drunks can be a problem. In some cities, there have been incidents of street gangs carrying out robberies on buses and trains at night. Visitors should not be too concerned, however, as these are very rare occurrences.

Some town and city centres should be approached with caution during the later evening on Fridays and Saturdays in particular, as high levels of drunkenness can be rife. Late at night it is not uncommon to find groups of drunk people on the street, but unless you go out of your way to provoke trouble you are unlikely to experience any problems. The police have fairly wide ranging powers to fine or arrest people who are causing a disturbance, and although they can be more heavy-handed in major cities they are generally tolerant. Drinking alcohol in public (except outside a bar or pub) is not permitted in some towns and areas of cities. If you are stopped by the police, avoid arguing and be sure to appear respectful. Do not try to reason with them, and above all, do not swear, because although it has been ruled that swearing is not a crime, police will often arrest people who swear at them. At night it is also recommended that you use licensed taxis or licensed mini cabs.

Jay walking is not illegal except on motorways, but always try and cross at designated pedestrian crossings. Most operate a "push the button and wait for the green man" system, but zebra crossings are also widespread, particularly outside of city centres – identified by white stripes on the road and yellow flashing spherical lights – pedestrians have right of way but it is advisable to make eye contact with the driver before stepping into the road. Unlike in many other countries English drivers tend to be very respectful of the laws around zebra crossings, with England having among the best road safety in Europe.

England's transport network does not generally have any major safety issues. Vigilance about security and safety issues (such as suspect packages) is appreciated, and the employees of transport organisations are generally appreciative of appropriately voiced concerns.

The United Kingdom has strict laws with regards to firearm ownership. Handguns such as pistols and revolvers, as well as semi-automatic rifles are prohibited, even for sporting purposes, while a licence is required to own, carry or use any other type of firearm. Bringing a firearm into the United Kingdom is extremely difficult, and all visitors who wish to do so are required to obtain a permit well before their arrival.

Racism may happen. However, the United Kingdom is generally regarded by its own immigrant population as being among the most liberal and tolerant of European countries in this respect. Most English people will go out of their way to make tourists and immigrants feel welcome and it's not uncommon for police to impose harsh punishments on any form racial abuse – physical or verbal. Current legislation prohibits hate speech as well as racial discrimination in a wide range of public spheres such as education and employment.

The age of both heterosexual and homosexual consent is 16 throughout the United Kingdom. British laws support LGBT rights. There are some areas where you may want to not be overtly showing your sexuality, such as small rural villages, where more conservative views are held. 86% of the UK agreed that homosexuality should be accepted by society, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center poll. Brighton is sometimes called "the gay capital of Europe", while other cities and towns with prominent gay communities include London, Manchester, Liverpool, Bournemouth, and Birmingham. Many cities have a pride festival each year, but the aforementioned cities have the largest and most extravagant.

Take care on matchdays in football and rugby, particularly for teams known for their strong rivalry, or teams from the same town or city facing one another. These can get violent if you wear the wrong team's kit in the wrong place, or if you mock the opposing team. Hooliganism has died down and if you use common sense, you will be safe.

Police

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A police officer passes Buckingham Palace, London
City of Westminster police officers and horses

Police officers in England are professional and polite, and are generally less aggressive than law enforcement agencies in other developed nations. However, this does not mean they are lenient.

Police officers are trained to be always helpful, professional and trustworthy. Most police officers do not carry guns while on patrol. There is a special group of police officers that carry guns if needed. Most officers will only speak English and you will be made to speak to an interpreter over police radio or will do so at a police station if you cannot communicate in English. You have the legal right to remain silent during and after arrest – but police in England and Wales will warn you that "you do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do or say may be given in evidence".

A typical English police vehicle will have battenburg markings typically yellow and blue. All police law enforcement vehicles are blue emergency lighting. A marked police vehicle with an approximately 20 cm wide yellow dot or red asterik in the front and rear is an armed response vehicle used by armed police.

Stay healthy

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Throughout the United Kingdom, there is no cost to a patient at point of service, due to the welfare state system. In a medical emergency, dial 999. These numbers are free of charge from any telephone. For advice on non-emergency medical problems, you can ring the 24 hour NHS 111 service or check the NHS website [1] for advice.

Hospitals are wary of health tourists and if obviously not from England, may ask where you are from and if within the EU, for your EHIC card (previously known as E111). Emergencies are dealt with under the NHS (National Health Service) at any hospital with an A&E (Accident & Emergency) department. At A&E departments, be prepared to wait for up to 4-5 hours during busy periods before being given treatment if your medical complaint is not too serious. Obviously, more serious ailments are usually treated immediately. Evenings are normally busiest, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays and in city centres. NHS walk-in centres also provide treatment for less urgent conditions on a first come first served basis.

Dental care is mixed between NHS and private, with price caps set on dental work to ensure affordability. Dental care is free for patients under 18 years old (19 if still in full-time education), with certain medical conditions, on low incomes or in receipt of welfare benefits. Many dental practices reserve a few appointments each day for urgent and emergency treatments. Appointments are allocated on a first come first served basis, and often they will all be filled soon after the clinic opens. Most practices are only open Monday to Friday. For emergency out-of-hours dental care, call the NHS 111 number and they will check if your condition warrants emergency care and if it does give you the number of an emergency dentist.

An NHS community health centre with pharmacy.

Pharmacists are highly-trained medical professionals and can advise on minor ailments and medicines. For advice on minor ailments and non-prescription drugs, you can ask a pharmacist - there are many high street chemists, and to practise legally all pharmacists must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) which involves a university degree and other training. They often use green signs similar to ones seen elsewhere in Europe to identify them. To find nearby medical, walk-in, dental, pharmacy services use the NHS online service finder.

Small pharmacies are also found inside many larger supermarkets. Major pharmacies are Boots and Lloyds, at least one of these can be found in any city or large town and quite often smaller towns. These two firms can issue drugs prescribed by a doctor as well as any over the counter drugs. Superdrug, Semi-Chem, Bodycare and Savers do sell some over the counter medication, but are not to be considered as places to go for advice about minor ailments. A smaller range of medication can also be found in most supermarkets. ID is usually required when buying medication if you look under 25.

The medicine trade is strictly controlled and many medicines available to purchase from a pharmacy in other countries (e.g. antibiotics or opiate based painkillers) can only be provided if you have a doctor's prescription. If you require specific medication, be sure to include a written prescription from a qualified medical professional. This is especially important if you have a medical condition that requires you to inject anything, lest you find yourself in trouble with the police.

Condoms are available in many public toilets (including in pubs and nightclubs), pharmacies and supermarkets. They are also available free from some NHS sexual health clinics, which also provide free testing and treatment for sexually-transmitted infections, even if you are not eligible for other NHS services. An estimated 100,000 people (0.16% of the UK population) are living with HIV. Chlamydia is common enough that people are recommended to be regularly tested. You can purchase tampons at pharmacies and supermarkets, though some sexual health clinics provide them free of charge.

Smoking is prohibited in all public buildings. It is also illegal to smoke at railway stations. Penalties can include a £50 'on-the-spot' fine. All enclosed workplaces are lawfully required to be smoke free. Some restaurants provide separate rooms for smokers, and many pubs and cafés now have outdoor areas where smoking is permitted, while many places will have a group of people standing outside the front door or off to one side to smoke.

Tap water from restaurants, bars and homes is very safe to drink throughout England. Tap water is of a high drinkable quality, with non-drinkable water supplies clearly marked in practically all cases. Mains water supply is practically universal, except in isolated rural settlements.

Respect

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See also: the 'Respect' section in the United Kingdom article
  • The English are in general very polite, well-mannered people who value basic politeness and manners. It is considered bad manners not to say "please", "thank you", "cheers" or "sorry". A nod or a smile are also often the response. The English are notorious for their overuse of apologising. Although some visitors regard this particular quality as annoying, it is something of a cornerstone of English culture. You should do the same even for the little things, and even when the other person is in the wrong. This is a very English quality, and despite the lack of sincerity in the apology, not saying 'sorry' is seen as rude, and can even lead to a minor confrontation.  
  • Sometimes, strangers and friends address each other by "mate" informally, but this should not be used to people with higher status than you. As in any country, you may occasionally bump into rude people, but this is rare and generally frowned upon in English society, unless you have done something wrong.
  • If you travel to different regions in England, you will find a variety of English accents, such as Liverpool accent, a "Geordie" accent and even "Cockney" accent in London. People from these regions might consider a very formal "Queen's English" accent to be somewhat posh, but will generally not mind if it's obvious you are a tourist. While it may be tempting to do, do not try to copy their regional accents when communicating with those people — you will probably do a bad job, and they might think that you are "taking the mick" or laughing at them. Don't be afraid to ask about someone's accent. England is a diverse country where an accent can change in each town, and asking about someone's accent is often a good way to start a conversation.
  • When driving on rural roads, particularly where a driver has to pull in to allow you to pass, it is customary to wave a thanks to the other driver, by raising your hand from the steering wheel. This is particularly prevalent in rural areas where many drivers will automatically wave at everyone who drives past them. A polite hand wave (or even with just the index finger raised from the steering wheel) is customary and will be appreciated.
  • When accepting gifts, a polite refusal (such as, "no really you shouldn't") is common after the first offer of the item. Usually, this is followed with an insistence that the gift or offer is accepted, at which point your answer is likely to become more recognised. However, some people can be very persuasive — this isn't meant to be over-bearing, just courteous.
  • One thing which some visitors may find disconcerting is the response an English person may give to a "thank you". Most English people will respond with something along the lines of "It was nothing" or "not at all". This does not mean that they didn't try hard to please, but rather it is meant to suggest "I was happy to do it for you, so it was not any great difficulty" even though it may have been.
Newcastle upon Tyne is often regarded as one of the friendliest English cities.
  • The English are said to be reserved and reluctant to communicate with strangers, but this is not entirely true. You will find that most people are happy to help tourists with directions and practical advice but a general rule is that Northerners are more friendly and open to conversation with strangers than people from London and the South East of England. Entire carriages of people will sit in silence on the London Underground, so do not be surprised to be greeted with strange looks and annoyance if you strike up small talk with someone in the capital. Particularly if you are from Northern England, do not tell Southerners they are from London unless they are from the city. Not all Southerners are from London. Some people will be very offended and you might get dirty looks or comments. However, as in many other countries, it is best to avoid sensitive topics.
  • The English in general are neutral communicators. The English try to take careful measures to remain polite throughout discussion, but in close personal relationships, communication becomes more direct. As a country priding itself on etiquette and professionalism, the English will often make no hesitation in confronting someone for behaving or doing something inappropriately.
  • It's considered very rude manners to disobey figures of authority, and you may be met with some harsh words if you object to a request. If you're unsure about something, don't hesitate to ask. The police are polite and professional, and it is expected you show politeness and a level of respect back.
  • The English value privacy a lot, probably more than other comparable countries. When meeting with them for the first few times, avoid asking personal questions. Age is an obvious one, but also marital status or if they have a girlfriend or boyfriend. Some questions considered ordinary in other countries are considered "too personal" in England, such as where do you live and what is your job. It is not uncommon for an English person not to know what their neighbours' jobs are for many years. A good tip for foreigners is to use the mirroring rule — if they ask you a personal question, it is safe to ask the same question back, but answer their question first.
  • It is said that the English invented queueing, and they become very annoyed if anyone jumps the line. However, you don't always see an obvious queue in bus stops and train platforms. This does not mean you can run in front of other people.
  • On buses seats are set aside for the disabled and women travelling with small children. These seats are usually at the front of buses. You can find pictures indicating which seats these are. It is permitted for anyone to sit in these seats, but the young, men, and the able-bodied are expected to give up their seats to the less able, pregnant women and the elderly, especially those seats clearly marked for such people.
  • Punctuality is highly valued. As in many places around Europe, it's considered rude to be late to a meeting or an appointment, and as such it's advisable to arrive 5-10 minutes early to something so as to not stand out like a sore thumb.
  • When you find yourself in a restaurant or being invited to someone's home for a meal, just general table manners apply. Normally when visiting a house, the host will say "shall I put the kettle on?" or "would you like a brew?" which means you are being offered a cup of tea, or another type of drink. Depending on the house you are visiting, manners can be either extremely important (you can be seen as a disrespectful person) or it can cause you to be looked well upon. Bring a small gift such as a bottle of wine or chocolates to show your appreciation, though this isn't mandatory when visiting an English household. In some cases, bad table manners can be seen as uncivilised and as indicative of a bad upbringing. Regardless, it is generally important to have good table manners in any situation. Remember also to let your host know if you are vegetarian or vegan, as most English people will invariably cook a meat dish unless told otherwise.
  • Once your plate has been served, it is customary to wait for your host to sit down and eat before you begin eating, unless otherwise indicated by the host themselves. It is considered rude to put your elbows on the table whilst eating, it is rude to speak whilst eating or eating with your mouth open (eat with your mouth closed). Always ask for an object on a table, do not reach over someone to grab it. Use both the knife and fork whilst eating, with the head of the fork facing down. The host may offer you a second plate of food (if in their home), and it is not necessarily considered rude to decline the offer as long as you express it in a polite manner (say something along the lines of "thank you that was delicious but I'm full", then the host will not take offence as a satisfied guest is what they are aiming for). When leaving the table, always ask permission if you can leave; a simple phrase such as "may I be excused for a moment?" will suffice.
  • When you find yourself in a pub or bar with your English friends, be aware that there is an unspoken convention of "buying rounds" from each person, rather than buying individually.
  • Sports of all kinds are taken very seriously in England and you will find that many, including the younger generation, are ardently and fiercely supportive of all kinds of sports, including football, cricket, and rugby. It is wise to refrain from wearing rival shirts in certain towns and cities, as it could lead to violent confrontations, particularly when fuelled by alcohol. Hooliganism has died down a lot but you should still use caution. If you do choose to wear a sports shirt, it's best to wear one of the national team of any sport.

Connect

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See also: the 'Connect' section in the United Kingdom article

In the United Kingdom, area codes are three, four, or, rarely, five digits long (after the initial zero). Regions with shorter area codes, typically large cities, permit the allocation of more telephone numbers as the local number portion has more digits. Local customer numbers are four to eight figures long. The total number of digits is ten, but in a very few areas the total may be nine digits (after the initial zero). The "area code" is also referred to as an 'STD (code)' (subscriber trunk dialling) or a 'dialling code' in the UK.

The initial digits of the area code provide information about the type of number and cost of the call. Area codes starting 01 and 02 are standard geographic numbers; those starting 03 are non-geographic numbers charged at the same rate as 01 and 02 numbers; those starting 07 are normally mobile numbers; those starting 08 are special services where the price can vary e.g. 0800 freephone numbers e.g. 0870 which are charged at higher rates; those starting 09 are premium rate services.

The code allocated to the largest population is (020) for London. See the connect sections under individual cities for local information.

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This region travel guide to England is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.