Best known for its Monarchy, England is a country filled with never-ending stories, plenty of experiences, and an inspiring landscape. Famous for its historic landmarks and proud culture, exploring this influential nation is a must while visiting Europe.
Home to ancient sites like Stonehenge as well as remains of the medieval past scattered throughout the country, exploring England often feels like you’re stepping into a fairytale. With long-abandoned castles and currently occupied palaces, English royalty has held significant power for over 1,000 years.
But that’s part of the charm of the country as many visitors will flock to admire the past and present British Royal Family and their estates.
Welcome to England!
Home to a picturesque landscape that has inspired many great tales from world-famous authors, including Shakespeare, England has acted as the backdrop of stories like Robin Hood and Harry Potter. With magnificent coastal areas like the White Cliffs of Dover to the dense forests of Sherwood, England is undeniably like a dream.
Filled with some of the country’s most iconic symbols, London sits like a crown on England’s head as it fulfills the duties of the capital and most visited city in the country. In these bustling streets, the past is always present, even as modern-age architecture begins to rise in the West End.
But scattered throughout London are the ancient beauties like Big Ben, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be royalty to access these areas. With a diverse population, visitors can delve into the art, culture, and gastronomy of this enchanting capital city.
- Culture and Language
- Spending Budget
- How to Get Around
- Top Cities to Visit
- Points of Interest
Culture and Language
England’s history is too great and long to even begin to scratch the surface. With countless events and significant periods in history, England has developed from the early humans who inhabited the isles over 800,000 years ago into the powerful nation that it is today.
Stonehenge is without a doubt England’s most famous pre-historic site, but most of England’s more recognizable history comes from its monarchy.
King Arthur is an early historic English figure, which has gone on to inspire countless novels and movies. But as a person in real life, he was a leader who helped defend England against Saxon invaders towards the end of the 5th and beginning of the 6th centuries.
But King Arthur’s reign was just at the beginning as England went through numerous periods, like the Tudor and Victorian.
While rulers like Henry VIII have been dramatized in pop culture with the novel and film, The Other Boleyn Girl, one of the most famous in history is Queen Elizabeth. Taking over her father’s crown and leading the country until the end of the Tudor Period, Victorian England was graced with another famous monarch, Queen Victoria.
Holding the longest reign over the country until her great-great-granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II surpassed her, the current ruling Monarch is King Charles III. With hundreds of British royals throughout the years, it’s important to understand their significance as the monarchy is ingrained in English culture and is a prominent portion of the country’s identity and symbology.
For many visitors, they will find that the culture of England always ties back to the life of royalty because of how much has been built throughout the years.
For English-speaking travelers, the good news is that you won’t struggle to understand and experience the living history of England because 98% of the country’s 55.98 million citizens (as of 2018) speak the English language.
While British English is different from American English, visitors shouldn’t have a hard time understanding the locals. You may have to catch up on some of the local slang though. With a high level of diversity, England also has plenty of foreign languages that are spoken within its borders.
Some of the popular languages are influenced by their geographical neighbors and you might hear some people speaking Welsh. But other languages from Asia and other parts of Europe are also prominently spoken by immigrant communities.
England is a very popular country to visit and London is one of the world’s most visited cities, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t expensive. Like many places in Europe, the cost of a trip to England is higher with London being the most expensive destination on the list.
But just because things cost more in England, it doesn’t mean that travelers can’t find affordable options.
A great way to plan for the expense of a trip, find deals, and keep an emergency fund, is to outline a spending budget and research the costs of things you’ll need on your journey. For most travelers, the most important categories in which they’ll spend their money are airfare, accommodation, food, drink, and transportation.
One of your first expenses and perhaps one that won’t cost as much as you think it would – are your tickets for the airplane. Due to London’s popularity and massive Heathrow Airport, plane tickets to London are more affordable than some of the other hotspot destinations in Europe.
Costing a few hundred dollars from the US to London, depending on where you leave from, the average price of a plane ticket to England can change depending on the season. Summer is the peak tourist season with the months of July and August being the most popular. It’s also during this time that you are more likely to see higher-priced airline tickets.
Traveling in the shoulder season or off-season can help you save some money. But many airlines do have special deals that may lower the price of a ticket drastically, so you should always be on the lookout for any airline sales.
Once you’ve made it across the pond, you’ll need to decide where you’ll stay while you’re exploring throughout England. Accommodations can be tricky to find particularly because there are quite a few ranges in nightly rates, depending on the location. Hostels will be a cheaper option, especially if you head out of major cities, particularly London.
While a dorm room will provide the best price, a private room in a hostel may be more to your standard, although it will be more expensive. If you want more privacy and are willing to increase your budget, hotels are the next best option. Great for couples on an adventure, there are many options to choose from when it comes to hotels.
Midrange and luxury establishments will be increasingly pricey, easily costing over one hundred dollars a night. Boutique hotels will be the most expensive choice by far, but can provide you will unforgettable memories. If you’re traveling in a larger group and don’t want to take up all the space in a hotel, Airbnb is another option.
Many Airbnb listings have similar prices to hotels but provide you with an entire apartment or home, great for those traveling for longer periods of time. While they can cost a decent amount, if you’re traveling in a group, splitting the cost can be just as affordable as staying in some hostels or hotels.
While England is not known for having the most flavorful food, its cuisine is still popular thanks to iconic staple dishes like fish and chips or the full English breakfast. Meat pies are another favorite, which may be filled with meat, chicken, or pork.
Black pudding, a blood-based pudding, is one of their more unique dishes that people either love or hate. Roasts are another popular dish, which is often served as a large meal with festivities.
One of the integral parts of England’s cultural cuisine is tea. Tea became a popularly traded commodity beginning in the 18th century and since then it has become an iconic symbol of England and all of Britain.
Tea is traditionally severed with snacks that have savory and sweet flavors. There are both afternoon and high teas, with afternoon tea being the more famous delicious delight.
Whether you’re looking for a full meal or want to experience an authentic afternoon tea, food and drinks are expensive in England. While something like fish and chips will cost a few dollars, you should be prepared to pay much more at a restaurant. High-end establishments, especially those with Michelin stars, will be very pricey and require you to increase your budget drastically.
Drinks will not help you save any money and the cost of enjoying a few beverages will add up. While house and wine beers won’t blow your budget, depending on where you are will change the cost.
If we circle back to the English tradition of tea, you will need to pay even more. One experience that many visitors will pay for is an authentic afternoon tea at some of the country’s best establishments.
While tea doesn’t sound like a costly ordeal, most establishments will charge around one hundred dollars or more, although this price sometimes includes champagne.
How to Get Around
For many travelers, transportation is another major portion of their spending budget that can quickly add up. With so many places to visit in England, people often want to explore everything and everywhere they can on their trip. But this means that you’ll have to travel around the country to see all the hotspots.
England’s transportation, although expensive, is quite reliable and has an extensive service area. The most popular ways to get around England are by trains, bus, local transportation, or car rentals.
For budget travelers, the most affordable way to get around England is by using buses. Megabus is the most popular company, which services routes all throughout the country. With fares ranging, though well-priced, you can save quite a bit of money if you can’t find a good deal on off-peak hour train tickets.
Trains are provided by the National Rail Service but finding a decent ticket can be very difficult. While the service runs on schedule, the prices of a single ticket can range drastically between factors like peak hours and off-peak hours.
In off-peak hours, most ticket prices are moderate, however, during peak hours, the price can quadruple and become extremely expensive.
The best way to find affordable train ticket prices is to book your ticket in advance and search for travel times during off-peak hours. There is a website for the National Rail Service, which should provide you with up-to-date prices and schedules.
Taxis are another convenient form of local transportation. Just be aware that they will add significant costs to your spending budget as they are rather expensive. Moreover, during peak travel hours, taxi fares can increase. While a great option for a quick drive, it’s better to avoid taking them constantly.
Finally, car rentals are an affordable option for some travelers and most rental options will cost a moderate price for a week of service. Just be aware that gas is expensive, so you should be wary of longer journeys.
Additionally, tourists need to be prepared to drive on the left side of the road if they are from a country that drives on the right.
Top Cities to Visit
London is by far the most visited city in England, however, there are a few other gems tucked throughout the land too. Offering tourists different atmospheres and landscapes, each location is worthy of visiting.
With plenty of places to hop to and explore, here are the top city destinations in England.
The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, the Tower of London, Piccadilly Circus, and Big Ben are just some of the icons in London that make this capital city such a popular destination.
But beyond the icons, London is also known for its diversity, lively personality, and numerous attractions. It’s here that you can also easily hop in and out of history as you explore the art, architecture, and cuisine of London.
With ancient architecture rising from the streets, York has secured its spot on the map due to its history that dates back to Roman, Viking, and medieval times. The York Minster is dated back to the 8th century and is one of the most impressive buildings in the city.
But with plenty of history, York is the place to go to experience parts of England’s long past.
Liverpool is most famous for two things – The Beatles and football. Or soccer, as we call it in America. Liverpool is where The Beatles are from and an important port for England. But with two professional clubs of soccer, the city is also the best place to go to a game if you’re an avid sports fan.
With deep roots in Roman times, Bath is named because of the Roman baths that have been found within the city’s borders. What was once a bustling spa town has been restructured and is now a popular destination to take a tour of ancient history. The most famous landmark is the Royal Crescent, which dates back to the 18th century.
Made most famous for its beaches, Brighton is located close to London, which makes it a hotspot for day trippers looking to enjoy some time in the sun and sand. This city can be easily reached by train and is home to the famous Palace Pier and boardwalk. With endless attractions, Brighton will delight you with its tricks and treats.
Oxford is a university town, which is famous for Oxford University. The University was established back in the 12th century and it is the oldest campus in the world that used the English language. But while the university is its star, the city of Oxford is also filled with history, which you’ll encounter as you walk the streets.
Another city boasting a university with its name is Cambridge. In this city, Cambridge University is famous for its three colleges and vast history. With the campus as the star in Cambridge, the entire area is beautiful as it sits on the banks of the River Cam.
Points of Interest
England is also a country that is filled with iconic landmarks, giving visitors plenty of options when it comes to exploring. Home to castles, historic sites, and forests, there is plenty to do and see while visiting. Here are some of England’s top tourist locations.
Stonehenge is a famous ancient site in England, which sits in the English countryside. With massive stones built into a unique structure, the origin of Stonehenge has long been debated. But with its ancient ties, the site has become a hotspot for tourists to visit and photograph.
Perfectly preserved and turned into a major destination, Warwick Castle was originally built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. Now, the royal grounds have been opened to the public and there are daily tours given. Other attractions include a maze, holiday events, and unique displays.
The Cotswolds are what most people imagine when you say the words, “English countryside” and cover about 800 square miles in southern England. It’s here that visitors can visit quaint English villages and stroll through the quiet countryside. With peace and beauty, this is a great spot to photograph and explore.
Another ancient relic left standing from the days of the Roman Empire is Hadrian’s Wall. This structure was built in 122 AD and divided the land to keep the Romans safe from the Northern people, which they deemed to be barbaric.
While the wall no longer divides those people, it still stands as a reminder of England’s history. With a beautiful landscape, travelers can visit parts of the wall and touch a piece of the past.
While Robin Hood is one of England’s most famous legends, the area that this famous character called home is very real. Often known to be the stomping ground of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, Sherwood Forest is located in Nottinghamshire.
The forest is rather dense, and you can step into the woods to explore the local history and folklore that made this area so famous.
“Land of the Angles”
Whether it’s your first trip or your hundredth trip to England, the country is a highlight for many travelers. With so many iconic scenes, buildings, landscapes, and attractions packed into such a small country, England will draw you in for a closer look.
From the big cities to the small villages, you’ll likely find yourself looking to book a return trip. But it doesn’t matter if you’re looking to only hit the hotspots or find off-the-beaten-path locations, England has a little something for everyone to enjoy.