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Lonely Planet Great Britain

Lonely Planet Great Britain

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Lonely Planet Great Britain

3/5 (35 оценки)
2,905 pages
30 hours
May 1, 2019


Lonely Planet: The world's number one travel guide publisher*

Lonely Planet's Great Britain is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Gaze at the graceful architecture of Canterbury Cathedral, stride around the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle or through the mountains of Wales, and soak up Roman, medieval and Victorian history - all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Great Britain and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Great Britain:

  • Full-colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sightseeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights provide a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, art, food, drink, sport, politics
  • Covers London, Canterbury, Southeast England, Oxford, Cotswolds, Southwest England, Cambridge, East Anglia, Birmingham, the Midlands, the Marches, Yorkshire, Manchester, Liverpool, Northwest England, The Lake District, Cumbria, Newcastle, Northeast England, Cardiff (Caerdydd), Pembrokeshire, South Wales, Hay-on-Wye, Mid-Wales, Snowdonia, North Wales, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Southern Scotland, Stirling, Central Scotland, Inverness, Northern Highlands & Islands, and more.

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet's Great Britain is our most comprehensive guide to Britain, and is perfect for discovering both popular and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

Need a city guide? Check out Lonely Planet's London for an in-depth look at all the city has to offer.

About Lonely Planet: Lonely Planet is a leading travel media company and the world's number one travel guidebook brand, providing both inspiring and trustworthy information for every kind of traveller since 1973. Over the past four decades, we've printed over 145 million guidebooks and grown a dedicated, passionate global community of travellers. You'll also find our content online, and in mobile apps, video, 14 languages, nine international magazines, armchair and lifestyle books, ebooks, and more.

'Lonely Planet guides are, quite simply, like no other.' - New York Times

'Lonely Planet. It's on everyone's bookshelves, it's in every traveller's hands. It's on mobile phones. It's on the Internet. It's everywhere, and it's telling entire generations of people how to travel the world.' - Fairfax Media (Australia)

*Source: Nielsen BookScan: Australia, UK, USA, 5/2016-4/2017

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet devices and smartphones)

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  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
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Important Notice: The digital edition of this book may not contain all of the images found in the physical edition.

May 1, 2019

Об авторе

Lonely Planet has gone on to become the world’s most successful travel publisher, printing over 100 million books. The guides are printed in nine different languages; English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Korean. Lonely Planet enables curious travellers to experience the world and get to the heart of a place via guidebooks and eBooks to almost every destination on the planet, an award-winning website and magazine, a range of mobile and digital travel products and a dedicated traveller community.

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  • Castlerigg Stone CircleMONUMENT F Set on a hilltop a mile east of town, this jaw-dropping stone circle consists of 48 stones that are between 3000 and 4000 years old, surrounded by a dramatic ring of mountain peaks.

  • Bibury %01285 / Pop 627Memorably described as ‘England’s most beautiful village’ by no less an authority than William Morris, Bibury, 8 miles northeast of Cirencester, epitomises the Cotswolds at its most picturesque.

  • A loop road allows a circular driving tour of the peninsula from Portree, passing through the village of Uig, where the ferry to the Outer Hebrides departs.

  • Buttermere village.Catbells (451m) The fell for everyone, accessible to six-year-olds and septuagenarians. It’s on the west side of Derwentwater and takes a couple of hours to climb.

  • Founded in the early 11th century, the original part of Kirkwall is one of the best examples of an ancient Norse town.

Предварительный просмотр книги

Lonely Planet Great Britain - Lonely Planet

Great Britain 13


Plan Your Trip

Welcome to Great Britain

Great Britain’s Top 26

Need to Know

First Time Great Britain

What’s New

If You Like

Month by Month


The Great Outdoors

Eat & Drink Like a Local

Travel with Children

Regions at a Glance

On The Road





Festivals & Events



Drinking & Nightlife



Canterbury & Southeast England






East Sussex



South Downs National Park


Brighton & Hove

West Sussex


Oxford & The Cotswolds


The Cotswolds





The Slaughters


Chipping Norton

Chipping Campden




Western Gloucestershire


Forest of Dean

Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire

St Albans


The Thames Valley

Windsor & Eton


Literary Britain

Bath & Southwest England




Wells & Around




New Forest

Isle of Wight




Lulworth Cove & Around

Dorchester & Around


Isle of Portland

Chesil Beach

Lyme Regis







Avebury & Around

Exmoor National Park



Torquay & Around

Dartmouth & Around

Totnes & Around

Plymouth & Around

Dartmoor National Park

Ilfracombe & Around





Padstow & Rock


St Ives

Zennor & St Just


The Lizard

Falmouth & Around




Bodmin Moor

Isles of Scilly

Cambridge & East Anglia








Long Melford


Bury St Edmunds






King’s Lynn

Birmingham & The Midlands











Great Malvern






Ironbridge Gorge

Much Wenlock


Church Stretton













Matlock Bath


Peak District





North Yorkshire




North York Moors National Park




Yorkshire Dales National Park





West Yorkshire



Hebden Bridge


South Yorkshire


East Riding of Yorkshire



Manchester, Liverpool & Northwest England







Ribble Valley

Isle of Man

The Lake District & Cumbria

The Lake District

Windermere & Around





Elterwater & Great Langdale





Ullswater & Around


Cumbrian Coast

Northern & Eastern Cumbria



England’s Great Outdoors

Newcastle & Northeast England




Barnard Castle

Hadrian’s Wall

Northumberland National Park

Northumberland Coast


Cardiff, Pembrokeshire & South Wales


Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy)

Chepstow (Cas-gwent)

Lower Wye Valley

Abergavenny (Y Fenni)

South Wales Valleys

Blaenavon (Blaenafon)

Swansea Bay & the Gower

Swansea (Abertawe)

The Mumbles (Y Mwmbwls)

Gower Peninsula (Y Gŵyr)

Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyddin)





Tenby (Dinbych Y Pysgod)

Narberth (Arberth)

St Davids (Tyddewi)

Porthgain & Around

Fishguard (Abergwaun)

Newport (Trefdraeth)

Brecon Beacons & Mid-Wales

Brecon Beacons National Park

Hay-on-Wye (Y Gelli Gandryll)

Black Mountains (Y Mynyddoedd Duon)

Crickhowell (Crughywel)

Brecon (Aberhonddu)

Fforest Fawr & Black Mountain


Llanwrtyd Wells (Llanwrtyd)

Builth Wells (Llanfair-Ym-Muallt)

Rhayader (Rhaeadr Gwy)


Welshpool (Y Trallwng)





Cardigan (Aberteifi)

Snowdonia & North Wales

North Wales Borderlands



Snowdonia National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri)


Barmouth (Abermaw)


Blaenau Ffestiniog



Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa)


Llŷn Peninsula



The North Coast





Isle of Anglesey (Ynys Môn)

Beaumaris (Biwmares)

Holyhead (Caergybi)

Breathtaking Britain






Festivals & Events



Drinking & Nightlife



Glasgow & Southern Scotland


Borders Region





Dumfries & Galloway


South of Dumfries


Galloway Forest Park

Rhinns of Galloway

Flavours of Britain

Stirling & Central Scotland



St Andrews

East Neuk



Dundee & Angus







Dufftown & Aberlour

Loch Lomond & the Trossachs






Kilmartin Glen





Brodick & Around


South Coast


Inverness & The Highlands & Islands

Inverness & the Great Glen


Loch Ness

The Cairngorms


Kingussie & Newtonmore

Royal Deeside

Highland Perthshire

Dunkeld & Birnam


Blair Castle

Lochs Tummel & Rannoch

Loch Tay

West Highlands

Glen Coe

Fort William

Road to the Isles



John O’Groats


Dunnet Head

Thurso & Scrabster

North & West Coast





Broadford (An T-Ath Leathann)

Cuillin Hills

Portree (Port Righ)

Dunvegan (Dun Bheagain)


Outer Hebrides

Lewis (Leodhais)

Harris (Na Hearadh)

Barra (Barraigh)



West & North Mainland



Northern Islands




The North Isles


Great Britain Today


The British Table

Architecture in Britain

The Arts

The British Landscape

Sporting Britain

Survival Guide

Directory A–Z

Accessible Travel


Customs Regulations




Internet Access

Legal Matters

LGBT+ Travellers


Opening Hours


Public Holidays

Safe Travel




Tourist Information



Getting There & Away




Getting Around




Bus & Coach

Car & Motorcycle


Local Transport



Behind the Scenes

Our Writers

Map Legend

Welcome to Great Britain

The clue’s in the name. Great Britain packs so much greatness into its pint-sized shores: crumbling castles, soaring cathedrals, quaint villages, timeless landscapes and history galore.

Centuries of History

Visiting Britain is like travelling in your own personal time machine. More than 5000 years of history are sown into the British soil: here you can walk around a neolithic stone circle, stand atop an Iron Age hill fort, visit a Roman bath, conquer a Norman castle, marvel at a medieval cathedral, wander around a Victorian museum and admire the view from a 21st-century skyscraper. History is everywhere – and if you want to understand what makes Britain tick, you have to gaze into its past.

Museums & Galleries

When it comes to culture, Britain is a world-beater. London is home to the nation’s leading institutions, including big hitters such as the British Museum, the V&A, the Tate Modern and the Natural History Museum. But world-class museums and galleries are scattered across the island: there’s Glasgow’s wonderful Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Newcastle’s BALTIC arts centre, Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland and outposts of the Tate in Liverpool and St Ives. But often it’s the weirdest ones that are the most fun: look around and you’ll discover museums devoted to Bakelite, lawnmowers, waxworks, witchcraft and even the humble pencil. Only in Britain.

British Eccentricity

It won’t take long travelling round Britain to realise that it’s just a little bit, well, eccentric. Since time immemorial, this has been a country determined to do things its own way: in art, architecture, literature, engineering, music, politics and comedy, the British just never seem happy to follow the herd. Perhaps it’s because Britain is an island nation; no doubt it has something to do with the infamously unpredictable weather. Whatever the case, any country that can dream up welly wanging, cheese rolling, maypole dancing, tar-barrel racing and caber tossing simply has to be worth a visit.

The Great Outdoors

It’s just 874 miles from top to bottom, but Britain boasts an astonishing diversity of landscapes: moors, mountains, glens, lakes, woodlands, fields, dales and endless miles of craggy coastline. Throw in 15 national parks, numerous nature reserves and countless beauty spots, and it all adds up to a nonstop inspirational panorama – as generations of poets, painters, musicians and photographers have discovered to their, and our, advantage. Tramp the hills, cycle the lanes, bask on the beaches and wander the cliffs – the great British countryside awaits.

Llanthony Priory, Black Mountains | DAJAHOF/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Why I Love Great Britain

By Oliver Berry, Writer

As a born-and-bred Brit, I’ve travelled more miles along Britain’s footpaths, back lanes, byways and bridleways than anywhere on earth – and yet, somehow, every time I set out, I always seem to find something unexpected. Sometimes it’s a beach I’ve never strolled on before, a view I’ve never photographed, or a hill I’ve never climbed; occasionally it’s a museum I’ve not visited, a castle I’ve not explored, or a legend I’ve not heard. More often than not, it’s a pub where I’ve never drunk a pint. I’ve been exploring this island for half a lifetime, and I’ve still only discovered a fraction of the experiences it has to offer.

For more, see our writers

Great Britain’s Top 26


Mysterious and compelling, Stonehenge is Britain’s most iconic ancient site. People have been drawn to this myth-laden ring of bluestones for the last 5000 years, and we still don’t know quite why it was built. Most visitors get to gaze at the 50-tonne megaliths from behind the perimeter fence, but with enough planning you can book an early-morning or evening tour and walk around the inner ring. In the slanting sunlight, away from the crowds, it’s an ethereal place – an experience that stays with you.


Top Experiences


Edinburgh is a city of many moods – famous for its festivals and especially lively in the summer. It’s also worth visiting out of season for sights such as the castle silhouetted against a blue spring sky with a yellow haze of daffodils misting the slopes below the esplanade; or on a chill December morning with the fog snagging the spires of the Old Town, the ancient streets and alleyways more mysterious than ever, rain on the cobblestones and a warm glow beckoning from the window of a pub.


Top Experiences


Britain has many great cities, but Bath stands out as the belle of the ball. Thanks to the natural hot springs that bubble to the surface, the Romans built a health resort here. The waters were rediscovered in the 18th century, and Bath became the place to see and be seen in by British high society. Today, the stunning Georgian architecture of grand town houses and sweeping crescents (not to mention Roman remains, a beautiful cathedral and a cutting-edge 21st-century spa) mean that Bath will demand your undivided attention.


Top Experiences

Isle of Skye

Of all Scotland’s many islands, Skye is the most famous and best loved by visitors, thanks to a mix of history (the island’s link to Bonnie Prince Charlie is forever remembered by ‘The Skye Boat Song’), accessibility (the ferry from the mainland has been replaced by a bridge) and sheer beauty. With jagged mountains, velvet moors and towering sea cliffs, Skye’s scenery never fails to impress. And for those days when the mist comes in, there are plenty of castles and local museums to explore, and cosy pubs to enjoy.


Top Experiences

England Coast Path

Britain’s epic, seemingly endless coastline is without doubt one of its major draws. With its white beaches, wind-blown cliffs, lonely lighthouses and craggy headlands, it’s a feast for the eyes – and it’s completely free for everyone to explore, thanks to a network of public coast paths. Trails already exist around the coastlines of Wales, Scotland and the South West, and in 2020 they’ll be joined by the new England Coast Path – which, at 2795 miles long, will be the longest anywhere in Europe.


Top Experiences

The Cotswolds

The most wonderful thing about the Cotswolds is that, no matter where you go or how lost you get, you’ll always end up in an impossibly picturesque village complete with rose-clad cottages, an ancient church of honey-coloured stone, a pub with sloping floors and fine ales, and a view of the lush green hills. It’s easy to leave the crowds behind and find your very own slice of medieval England – and some of the best boutique hotels in the country.

Lords of the Manor hotel, Upper Slaughter | SUXXESPHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Tower of London

With its imposing towers and battlements overlooking the Thames, the Tower of London is an icon of the capital. The walls are nearly 1000 years old, established by William the Conqueror in the 1070s. Since then, the Tower has been a fortress, a royal residence, a treasury, a mint, an arsenal and a prison. Today it’s home to the Crown Jewels, which are protected by the famous red-coated Yeoman Warders (known as Beefeaters) and a flock of fabled ravens.


Top Experiences


Wales is awash with wonderful scenery, but it’s hard to beat Snowdonia: a landscape of rocky mountain peaks, glacier-hewn valleys, sinuous ridges, sparkling lakes and rivers, and charm-infused villages. The busiest part is around Snowdon itself, where many people hike to the summit, and many more take the jolly rack-and-pinion railway, while to the south and west are rarely trod areas perfect for off-the-beaten-track exploration. And just nearby sit the lovely Llŷn Peninsula and Isle of Anglesey, where the sun often shines, even if it’s raining on the mountains.


Top Experiences

The Lake District

William Wordsworth and his Romantic friends were the first to champion the charms of the Lake District and it’s not hard to see what stirred them. Already the UK’s most popular national park, the Lake District also became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2017, in recognition of its long history of hill farming – but for most people it’s the chance to hike the hump-backed fells and drink in the gorgeous scenery that keeps them returning year after year.


Top Experiences


For centuries, the brilliant minds and august institutions of Oxford University have made Oxford famous across the globe. You’ll get a glimpse of this revered world as you stroll hushed college quads and cobbled lanes roamed by cycling students and dusty academics. The beautiful college buildings, archaic traditions and stunning architecture have changed little over the centuries, coexisting with a lively, modern, working city.


Top Experiences

Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall is one of the country’s most revealing and dramatic Roman ruins, its 2000-year-old procession of abandoned forts, garrisons, towers and milecastles marching across the wild and lonely landscape of northern England. This wall was about defence and control, but this edge-of-empire barrier also symbolised the boundary of civilised order – to the north lay the unruly land of the marauding Celts, while to the south was the Roman world of orderly taxpaying, underfloor heating and bathrooms.


Top Experiences

Castle Howard

For many people, Britain’s astonishing surfeit of stately homes is one of its main attractions – and they really don’t get much more stately than Castle Howard. Located 15 miles northeast of York, this incredible 18th-century edifice is the ancestral seat of the Earls of Carlisle, and it’s a work of truly breathtaking grandeur – complete with a baroque great hall, moody mausoleum, whimsical temple and vast, peacock-filled grounds, not to mention a crowning cupola that’s modelled on the one in St Paul’s Cathedral.


Top Experiences


At Britain’s far southwestern extremity, the former kingdom of Cornwall boasts endless miles of coastline with rugged cliffs, sparkling bays, scenic fishing ports and white sandy beaches favoured by everyone from bucket-and-spade families to sun-bronzed surfers. Above the cliffs, the towers of former tin mines now stand like dramatic castles, while inland from the coast is a tranquil landscape of lush farmland and picturesque villages, crowned by the gigantic domes of the Eden Project – a stunning symbol of Cornwall’s renaissance.


Top Experiences


Abounding with exquisite architecture and steeped in tradition, Cambridge is a university town extraordinaire. The tightly packed core of ancient colleges, the picturesque riverside ‘Backs’ (college gardens) and the surrounding green meadows give Cambridge a more tranquil appeal than its historic rival, Oxford. Highlights include the intricate vaulting of King’s College Chapel, while no visit is complete without an attempt to steer a punt (flat-bottomed boat) along the river and under the quirky Mathematical Bridge. You’ll soon wonder how you could have studied anywhere else.


Top Experiences


The pretty English Midlands town of Stratford-upon-Avon is famed around the world as the birthplace of the nation’s best-known dramatist, William Shakespeare. Today, the town’s tight knot of Tudor streets forms a living map of Shakespeare’s life and times, while crowds of fans and would-be thespians come to enjoy a play at the theatre or visit the historic houses owned by Shakespeare and his relatives, with a respectful detour to the old stone church where the Bard was laid to rest.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace | EDWARD HAYLAN/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Canterbury Cathedral

Few other English cathedrals come close to Canterbury, the top temple of the Anglican Church and a place of worship for over 15 centuries. Its intricate tower dominates the local skyline, its grandeur unsurpassed by later structures. At its heart lies a 12th-century crime scene, the very spot where Archbishop Thomas Becket was put to the sword – an epoch-making event that launched a million pilgrimages and still pulls in the crowds today. A lone candle mourns the gruesome deed, the pink sandstone before it smoothed by 800 years of devout kneeling.


Top Experiences


With its Roman remains and Viking heritage, ancient city walls and maze of medieval streets, York is a living showcase for the highlights of English history. Join one of the city’s many walking tours and plunge into the network of snickleways (narrow alleys), each the focus of a ghost story or historical character. Explore the intricacies of York Minster, the biggest medieval cathedral in all of northern Europe, or admire the exhibits from more recent times at the National Railway Museum, the world’s largest collection of historic locomotives.


Top Experiences

Britain’s Pubs

Despite the growth of stylish clubs and designer bars, the traditional pub is still the centre of British social life. From the ornate Victorian boozers of London, Edinburgh and Leeds, to the food-focused gastropubs of Yorkshire, Mid-Wales and Devon, and countless rustic country pubs hunkering under thatched roofs and timber beams – Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem claims to be the country’s oldest – a lunchtime or evening visit to the pub can be one of the best ways to get under the skin of the nation.


Top Experiences


The exuberant capital of Wales, compact Cardiff has emerged as one of Britain’s leading urban centres. After a mid-20th-century decline, the city entered the new millennium with vigour and confidence, flexing architectural muscles and revelling in a new-found sense of style. From the historic castle to the ultramodern waterfront, from lively street cafes to infectious nightlife, from Victorian shopping arcades to the gigantic rugby stadium that is the pulsating heart of the city on match days, Cardiff undoubtedly has buzz.

St David’s shopping centre | CERI BREEZE/SHUTTERSTOCK ©

Top Experiences

Scotland’s Northwest Highlands

The Highlands abound in breathtaking views, but the far northwest is truly awe-inspiring. The coastal road between Durness and Kyle of Lochalsh offers jaw-dropping scenes at every turn: the rugged mountains of Assynt, the desolate beauty of Torridon and the remote cliffs of Cape Wrath. Add to this Britain’s finest whale-watching, and the nooks of warm Highland hospitality found in classic rural pubs and romantic hotels, and you have the makings of an unforgettable corner of the country.


Top Experiences


Perched at the tip of wild and wonderful West Wales, the county of Pembrokeshire has one of Britain’s most beautiful and dramatic stretches of coast, with sheer cliffs, natural arches, blowholes, sea stacks, and a wonderful hinterland of tranquil villages and secret waterways. It’s a landscape of Norman castles, Iron Age hill forts, holy wells and Celtic saints – including the nation’s patron, St David – and intriguing stone monuments left behind by prehistoric inhabitants.


Top Experiences


For many visitors, Liverpool will forever be associated with The Beatles, but a visit here proves the city has much more to offer. After a decade of redevelopment, the waterfront is once again the heart of Liverpool, with Albert Dock declared a World Heritage Site of iconic and protected buildings, a batch of top museums ensuring all sides of the city’s history are not forgotten, and the Tate Liverpool gallery and The Beatles Story museum celebrating popular culture and the city’s most famous musical sons.


Top Experiences

Glen Coe

Scotland’s most famous glen combines those two essential qualities of the Highland landscape: dramatic scenery and deep history. The peacefulness and beauty of this valley today belie the fact that it was the scene of a ruthless 17th-century massacre, when the local MacDonalds were murdered by soldiers of the Campbell clan. Some of the glen’s finest walks – to the Lost Valley, for example – follow the routes used by the clanspeople trying to flee their attackers, and where many perished in the snow.


Top Experiences

British Museum

From the marvellous Tate Modern to the fascinating Natural History Museum, London is overflowing with world-leading museums and galleries – but none can quite match the British Museum in sheer scale and scope. Since 1753, this iconic institution has been amassing a vast haul of treasures from around the world, encompassing pretty much every era and culture you could care to name. You’ll need a whole day (or preferably multiple visits) to do it justice – but it’s the nearest most of us will ever get to feeling like Indiana Jones.


Top Experiences


After tea, Britain’s best-known drink is whisky. And while this amber spirit is also made in England and Wales, it is always most associated with Scotland. There are more than 2000 whisky brands available, and distilleries are dotted all over Scotland, many open to visitors, with Speyside one of the main concentrations and a favourite spot for connoisseurs. Before enjoying your tipple, heed these warnings: never spell whisky with an ‘e’ (that’s the Irish variety); and when ordering at the bar, never ask for ‘Scotch’. What else would you drink in Scotland?


Top Experiences

Stirling Castle

Scotland is littered with castles, a testament to its tempestuous and conflict-strewn past. They range from romantic ruins like Dunnottar to fairy-tale fortresses like Glamis, Braemar and Eilean Donan – but it’s Stirling Castle that held the key to the Scottish throne. Until the union with England in 1706, Stirling was the seat of power for the Stuart monarchs, and, thanks to a comprehensive restoration program, now looks much as it would have done in their day. Don’t miss the Royal Palace, along with the Great Hall, Royal Chapel and castle kitchens.


Need to Know

For more information, see Survival Guide


Pound sterling (£)


English; also Scottish Gaelic and Welsh


Generally not needed for stays of up to six months. Britain is not a member of the Schengen Zone, so you will need to show your passport when arriving and leaving from a UK border point.


ATMs and change bureaux are widely available, especially in cities and major towns.

Mobile Phones

The UK uses the GSM 900/1800 network, which covers the rest of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, but isn’t compatible with the North American GSM 1900. Most modern mobiles can function on both networks, but check before you leave home just in case.


Greenwich Mean Time (UTC/GMT +00:00)

When to Go

High Season (Jun–Aug)

A Weather at its best. Accommodation rates peak especially for August school holidays.

A Roads are busy, especially in seaside areas, national parks, and popular cities such as Oxford, Bath, Edinburgh and York.

Shoulder (Mar–May, Sep & Oct)

A Crowds reduce. Prices drop.

A Weather often good. March to May has both sunny spells and sudden showers; September to October can feature balmy summers.

A For outdoor activities May and September are the best months.

Low Season (Nov–Feb)

A Wet and cold. Snow falls in mountain areas, especially up north.

A Opening hours reduced October to Easter; some places shut for winter. Big-city sights (particularly London’s) operate all year.

Useful Websites

BBC (www.bbc.co.uk) News and entertainment from the national broadcaster.

Visit Britain (www.visitbritain.com) Comprehensive official tourism website.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/great-britain) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Traveline (www.traveline.info) Great portal site for public transport in all parts of Britain.

British Arts Festivals (www.artsfestivals.co.uk) Lists hundreds of festivals – art, literature, dance, folk and more.

Important Numbers

Area codes vary in length (eg 020 for London, 01225 for Bath). Omit the code if you’re inside that area. Drop the initial 0 if you’re calling from abroad.

Exchange Rates

For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.

Daily Costs

Budget: Less than £55

A Dorm beds: £15–30

A Cheap meals in cafes and pubs: £7–11

A Long-distance coach: £15–40 (200 miles)

Midrange: £55–120

A Double room in midrange hotel or B&B: £65–130 (London £100–200)

A Main course in midrange restaurant: £10–20

A Long-distance train: £20–80 (200 miles)

Top end: More than £120

A Four-star hotel room: from £130 (London from £200)

A Three-course meal in a good restaurant: around £40

A Car rental per day: from £35

Opening Hours

Opening hours may vary throughout the year, especially in rural areas where many places have shorter hours or close completely from October or November to March or April.

Banks 9.30am–4pm/5pm Monday to Friday; some open 9.30am–1pm Saturday

Pubs & Bars Noon–11pm Monday to Saturday (many till midnight or 1am Friday and Saturday, especially in Scotland), 12.30–11pm Sunday

Restaurants Lunch noon–3pm, dinner 6–9pm/10pm (or later in cities)

Shops 9am–5.30pm (or to 6pm in cities) Monday to Saturday, and often 11am–5pm Sunday; big-city convenience stores open 24/7

Arriving in Great Britain

Heathrow Airport (London) Trains, the London Underground (tube) and buses to central London run from just after 5am to before midnight (night buses run later); fares from £6 to £22. Taxis to central London from Heathrow cost from £48 to £90 (more at peak hours).

Gatwick Airport (London) Trains to central London run from 4.30am to 1.35am (£10 to £20); hourly buses to central London around the clock from £8. Taxis to central London from Gatwick cost £100 (more during peak times).

St Pancras International Station (Central London) Eurostar trains from Paris or Brussels arrive at this station in central London, connected by many Underground lines to other parts of the city.

Victoria Coach Station (Central London) Buses from Europe arrive at this central station; frequent Underground links to other parts of the city.

Edinburgh Airport Frequent trams (£6) and buses (£4.50) to Edinburgh city centre. Night buses every 30 minutes from 12.30am to 4am (£4). Taxis costs around £20.

For much more, see Getting Around

First Time Great Britain

For more information, see Survival Guide


A Check the validity of your passport

A Check visa or entry requirements

A Make advance bookings (sights, accommodation, theatre tickets, travel)

A Inform your credit-/debit-card company of your trip

A Organise travel insurance

A Check mobile (cell) phone compatibility

A Check rental car requirements

A Check airline baggage restrictions

A If carrying restricted items (eg liquids) in hold luggage, put them in a clear plastic bag

What to Pack

A Electrical plug adaptor (UK-specific)

A Umbrella – because the rumours about the weather are true

A Lightweight waterproof jacket – because sometimes the umbrella is not enough

A Comfortable walking shoes – Britain’s towns and countryside are best explored on foot

Top Tips for Your Trip

A At London airports, tickets for express trains into central London are available in the baggage arrivals hall, which saves queuing at ticket machines. Alternatively you can buy in advance online.

A The easiest way to get currency is from an ATM (cash machine), but be aware that your bank may charge for the transaction, and the exchange rate is not always favourable.

A If staying more than a few days in London, get an Oyster Card, the travel card the locals use.

A Pickpockets and hustlers lurk in crowded tourist areas, especially in London. No need to be paranoid, but do be on your guard.

A Britain’s electrical plugs are unlike those in the rest of Europe, so bring a UK-specific plug adaptor, or buy one when you arrive.

What to Wear

A rain jacket is essential, as is a small backpack to carry it in when the sun comes out. In summer you’ll need sunscreen and an umbrella; you’re bound to use both.

For sightseeing, comfortable shoes can make or break a trip. If you plan to enjoy Britain’s great outdoors, suitable hiking gear is required in higher or wilder areas, but not for casual strolls in the countryside.

Casual clothes are fine for most pubs, bars and restaurants, although smarter dress is encouraged for more upmarket establishments.


Booking your accommodation in advance is recommended, especially in popular holiday areas and on islands. Summer and school holidays (including half-terms) are particularly busy. Book at least two months ahead for July and August.

B&Bs These small, family-run houses generally provide good value. More luxurious versions are more like boutique hotels.

Hotels British hotels range from half a dozen rooms above a pub to restored country houses and castles, with a commensurate range in rates.

Hostels There’s a good choice of both institutional and independent hostels, many housed in rustic and/or historic buildings.


ATMs and change bureaux are widely available, especially in cities and major towns.


A bit of mild haggling is acceptable at flea markets and antique shops, but everywhere else you’re expected to pay the advertised price.


Restaurants Around 10% in restaurants and teashops with table service. Nearer 15% at smarter restaurants. Tips may be added to your bill as a ‘service charge’. Paying a tip or a service charge is not obligatory.

Pubs & Bars Not expected unless table service for your meal and drinks is provided, then 10% is usual.

Taxis Around 10%, or rounded up to the nearest pound, especially in London.



Manners The British have a reputation for being polite, and good manners are considered important in most situations. When asking directions, ‘Excuse me, can you tell me the way to…’ is a better tactic than ‘Hey, where’s…’

Queues In Britain, queueing (‘standing in line’ to Americans), whether to board a bus, buy tickets or enter the gates of an attraction, is sacrosanct. Any attempt to ‘jump the queue’ will result in an outburst of tutting and hard stares.

Escalators If you take an escalator or a moving walkway (especially at tube stations in London), be sure to stand on the right, so folks in a hurry can pass on the left.


When dining out in Great Britain, it’s wise to book ahead for midrange restaurants, especially at weekends, while top-end restaurants should be booked at least a couple of weeks in advance.

Restaurants Britain’s restaurants range from cheap-and-cheerful to Michelin-starred options, and cover every cuisine you can imagine.

Cafes Open during daytime (rarely after 6pm), cafes are good for a casual breakfast or lunch, or simply a cup of coffee.

Pubs Most of Britain’s pubs serve reasonably priced meals, and many can compete with restaurants on quality.

What’s New


It’s Britain’s largest, most complex and costliest engineering project, but after years of work, London’s long-awaited new rail line sent its first trains shuttling across the city in 2019.

The Lake District World Heritage Site

After intensive local lobbying (both for and against), the UK’s best-known national park secured World Heritage status in 2017, in recognition of its unique landscapes and hill-farming culture.

The England Coast Path

In 2020 a long-held dream to provide walkers with a nonstop walking trail around the coastline of England will be realised – all 2795 miles of it.

Tate Modern Extension

At long last the Tate Modern can spread its expansive collection into Switch House. The views from the 10th floor are second to none, and free.

Ashmolean Museum

To mark its 400th birthday, this Oxford museum has a new exhibit celebrating its founder, Elias Ashmole, along with treasures including the hat worn by the judge at Charles I’s trial and a cape belonging to the father of Pocahontas.

The Endeavour at Whitby

To coincide with the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s voyage to Australia, a full-size replica of his ship Endeavour has docked in Whitby, the Yorkshire town where the original vessel was built.

Tate St Ives

In 2018 a multimillion-pound extension to the Cornish Tate has added new space for contemporary work, as well as a platform for the many famous artists of the St Ives School.

Roman Baths

The city of Bath’s 1st-century bathing house now has some 21st-century tech: visual projections that illustrate what it was like to take a dip here 2000 years ago.

Great Trossachs Path

This newly designated 30-mile walking trail links Callander to Loch Lomond, with the chance to overnight in new camping pods at Loch Katrine.

New Waverley

This modern development linking Edinburgh’s Old Town with Waverley train station opened in 2018 with a new public square, a gaggle of hotels, and restored railway arches housing quirky shops and bars (www.newwaverley.com).

Dundee Waterfront

The redevelopment of Dundee’s waterfront continues apace, and is now graced with a stunning new building that is home to an outpost of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

For more recommendations and reviews, see lonelyplanet.com/great-britain

If You Like...

Castles & Stately Homes

Castle Howard A stunning baroque edifice, best known as the setting for the TV series Brideshead Revisited.

Tower of London Landmark of the capital, patrolled by famous Beefeaters and protected by legendary ravens.

Blenheim Palace A monumental baroque fantasy and one of Britain’s greatest stately homes.

Chatsworth House The quintessential stately home, a treasure trove of heirlooms and works of art.

Burghley House Lavish mansion built by Queen Elizabeth I’s chief strategist, William Cecil, with grounds by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

Warwick Castle Restored enough to be impressive, ruined enough to be romantic.

Beaumaris Castle The classic Welsh castle, which, along with nearby Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech, forms a jointly listed World Heritage Site.

Carreg Cennen The most dramatically positioned fortress in Wales, standing guard over a lonely stretch of Brecon Beacons National Park.

Eilean Donan Castle Scotland’s most photogenic castle, on a lonely island nestled next to a loch.

Stirling Castle Classic fortress atop a volcanic crag, with stunning views from the battlements.

Coastal Attractions

Pembrokeshire Towering cliffs, rock arches, clean waters and perfect sandy beaches at the tip of West Wales.

North Cornwall’s Coast Classic coastal landscape of craggy cliffs, golden beaches and white-crest surf.

Gower Peninsula Family-friendly beaches and surfer hang-outs, backed by sand dunes and tranquil farmland.

Beachy Head & Seven Sisters Where the South Downs plunge into the sea, these mammoth chalk cliffs provide a dramatic finale.

Southwold Genteel old-style seaside town with lovely beach, charming pier and famous rows of colourful beach huts.

Brighton A favourite seaside retreat for capital-dwellers, known for its pebble beach, landmark pier and alternative vibe.

Durness to Kyle of Lochalsh This stunning Scottish coast road reveals jaw-dropping scenes at every turn.

Holkham National Nature Reserve Has a pristine expanse of sand with giant skies stretching overhead.

Royal Britain

Buckingham Palace The Queen’s official London residence, best known for its royal-waving balcony and the Changing of the Guard.

Windsor Castle The largest and oldest occupied fortress in the world, a majestic vision of battlements and towers, and the Queen’s weekend retreat.

Westminster Abbey Where English royalty is crowned and married – most recently William and Kate.

Royal Yacht Britannia The Royal Family’s one-time floating home during foreign travels, now retired and moored near Edinburgh.

Balmoral Castle Built for Queen Victoria in 1855 and still a royal Highland hideaway.

Royal Pavilion Opulent palace built for playboy prince, later King George IV.

Althorp House Ancestral home and burial place of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Great Outdoors

Lake District The landscape that inspired William Wordsworth is a feast of mountains, valleys, views and – of course – lakes.

Northumberland National Park The dramatically empty landscape of England’s far north is remote and off the beaten track.

Snowdonia The best-known slice of nature in Wales, with the grand but surprisingly accessible peak of Snowdon at its heart.

Yorkshire Dales A compact collection of moors, hills, valleys, rivers, cliffs and waterfalls, perfect for easy strolls or hardy treks.

Ben Nevis Reach for the summit of Scotland’s most famous (and Britain’s highest) mountain.

Cairngorms Walk through the mountains and valleys of the UK’s largest national park – and Scotland’s wild side.


Cathedrals & Ruined Abbeys

St Paul’s Cathedral A symbol of London for centuries, and still an essential part of the city skyline.

York Minster One of the largest medieval cathedrals in all of Europe, especially renowned for its windows.

Fountains Abbey Extensive ruins set in more recently landscaped water gardens – one of the most beautiful sites in Britain.

Canterbury Cathedral The mother ship of the Anglican Church, still attracting pilgrims and visitors in their thousands.

Melrose Abbey The finest of all the great Border abbeys; Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried here.

Whitby Abbey Stunning cliff-top ruin with an eerie atmosphere that inspired the author of Dracula.

St David’s Cathedral An ancient place of worship in Britain’s smallest city.

Glastonbury Abbey The legendary burial place of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere.

Tintern Abbey Riverside ruins that inspired generations of poets and artists.


Art Galleries

Tate Britain One of the best-known galleries in London, full to the brim with the finest local works.

Tate Modern London’s other Tate focuses on modern art in all its wonderful permutations.

BALTIC Newcastle’s very own ‘Tate of the North’, with work by some of contemporary art’s biggest show-stoppers.

National Museum Cardiff An excellent collection of Welsh artists, plus works by Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Van Gogh, Francis Bacon and David Hockney.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum A national landmark in Glasgow – great collection, and a cracking spot to learn about Scottish art.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park England’s biggest outdoor sculpture collection, dominated by the works of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.

Barber Institute of Fine Arts With works by Rubens, Turner and Picasso, this Birmingham gallery is no lightweight.

V&A Dundee Brand new gallery dedicated to the best of Scottish and international art and design.

Industrial Heritage

Ironbridge The crucible of the Industrial Revolution, where 10 museums for the price of one give fascinating insights.

Blaenavon A World Heritage Site of well-preserved ironworks and the fascinating Big Pit coal mine.

Kelham Island Museum A testament to Sheffield’s steel-town heritage, anchored by the massive River Don steam engine.

New Lanark Once the largest cotton-spinning complex in Britain and a testament to enlightened capitalism.

National Railway Museum A cathedral to Britain’s great days of steam; for railway fans of all ages it’s the perfect place to go loco.

Brunel’s SS Great Britain Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s flagship ocean-going steamer, restored and now proudly installed along Bristol’s harbourside.

Roman Remains

Roman Baths The city of Bath takes its name from these famous Roman remains – a complex of bathhouses around natural thermal waters.

Hadrian’s Wall Snaking coast-to-coast across lonely hills, this 2000-year-old fortified line once marked the northern limit of imperial Roman jurisdiction.

Yorkshire Museum York’s past as the Roman city of Eboracum is chronicled in fascinating detail.

Caerleon One of three legionary forts in Britain, with impressive remains of barracks, baths and an amphitheatre.

Corinium Museum Recounts the days when the sleepy Cotswold town of Cirencester was once Corinium, the second-largest Roman city in Britain.

Village Idylls

Lavenham A wonderful collection of exquisitely preserved medieval buildings virtually untouched since the 15th century.

Lacock Well-preserved medieval village, essentially free of modern development and – unsurprisingly – a frequent set for movies and TV period dramas.

Painswick Pretty as a painting, and one of many quintessentially English villages to be found in the Cotswolds.

Culross Scotland’s best-preserved 17th-century village, familiar to fans of TV’s Outlander as Cranesmuir.

Goathland One of Yorkshire’s most attractive villages, complete with village green and traditional steam railway station.

Mousehole Southwest England overflows with picturesque pint-sized ports, but this is one of the best.

Beddgelert A conservation village of rough grey stone buildings in the heart of Snowdonia National Park.

Arts & Music Festivals

Edinburgh International Festival The world’s biggest festival of art and culture. ’Nuff said.

Glastonbury Britain’s biggest and best-loved music festival.

Hay Festival A world-class celebration of all things literary at Britain’s bookshop capital.

Notting Hill Carnival London’s Caribbean community shows the city how to party.

Pride Gay and lesbian street parade through London culminating in a concert in Trafalgar Sq.

Latitude Festival An eclectic mix of music, literature, dance, drama and comedy, in a stunning Suffolk location.

Festival No 6 A three-day party amongst the fantastical follies of Portmeirion.

Hebridean Celtic Festival A feast of folk, rock and Celtic music held in the grounds of Stornoway’s Lews Castle.

Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts | DFP PHOTOGRAPHIC / SHUTTERSTOCK ©


Portobello Rd, London One of London’s best-known street markets, surrounded by quirky boutiques and gift stores.

Victoria Quarter, Leeds Lovely arcades of wrought ironwork and stained glass, home to several top fashion boutiques.

North Laine, Brighton Narrow streets lined with shops selling books, antiques, collectables, vintage clothing and more.

Cardiff Arcades Half a dozen ornate arcades branch off the city centre main streets, all with speciality shops and cafes.

Isle of Skye Home to a plethora of workshops and artists’ studios, the isle is a great place to find quality handmade arts and crafts.

Hay-on-Wye The self-proclaimed secondhand-book capital of the world boasts over 30 bookshops and millions of volumes, attracting browsers, collectors and academics from afar.

Month by Month


Glastonbury Festival, June

Trooping the Colour, June

Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, August

Braemar Gathering, September

Guy Fawkes Night, November


January is midwinter in Britain. Festivals and events to brighten the mood are thin on the ground, but luckily some include fire – lots of it.

z London Parade

A ray of light in the gloom, the New Year’s Day Parade in London (to use its official title; www.londonparade.co.uk) is one of the biggest events of its kind in the world, featuring marching bands, street performers, classic cars, floats and displays winding their way through the streets.

z Up Helly Aa

Half of Shetland dresses up with horned helmets and battleaxes in this spectacular re-enactment of a Viking fire festival, with a torchlit procession leading the burning of a full-size Viking longship.

z Celtic Connections

Glasgow plays host to a celebration of Celtic music, dance and culture (www.celticconnections.com), with participants from all over the globe.


Britain can be scenic under snow and sunshine, or more likely grey and gloomy under dark skies. Hang in there…

z Jorvik Viking Festival

The ancient Viking capital of York becomes home once again to invaders and horned helmets galore, with the intriguing addition of longship races.

2 Fort William Mountain Festival

Britain’s capital of the outdoors celebrates the peak of the winter season with ski workshops, mountaineering films and talks by famous climbers (www.mountainfestival.co.uk).


Spring finally arrives. There’s a hint of better weather, and some classic sporting fixtures grace the calendar. Many locals stay hunkered down at home, though, so hotels offer special rates.

3 Six Nations Rugby Championship

The highlight of the rugby calendar (www.rbs6nations.com) runs from late January to March, with the home nations playing at London’s Twickenham, Edinburgh’s Murrayfield and Cardiff’s Principality stadiums.

3 University Boat Race

Annual race down the River Thames in London between the rowing teams from Cambridge and Oxford universities; an institution since 1829 that still enthrals the country.


The weather slowly improves, with warmer and drier days bringing out spring blossoms. Attractions that close for the low season open around the middle of the month or at Easter.

3 Grand National

On the first Saturday of the month half the country has a flutter on the highlight of the three-day horse race meeting at Aintree (http://aintree.thejockeyclub.co.uk) – a steeplechase with a testing course and notoriously high jumps.

2 London Marathon

More than 35,000 runners take to the streets; superfit athletes cover the 26.22 miles in just over two hours, while others dress up in daft costumes and take considerably longer.

z Beltane

Thousands of revellers climb Edinburgh’s Calton Hill for this modern revival of a pagan fire festival (www.beltane.org) marking the end of winter.

6 Spirit of Speyside

Based in Dufftown, a Scottish festival of whisky, food and music, with five days of art, cooking, distillery tours and outdoor activities.


The weather is usually good, with more events to enjoy. There are two public holidays this month (the first and last Mondays) so traffic is very busy over the those long weekends.

3 FA Cup Final

Grand finale of the football (soccer) season for over a century. Teams from across England battle it out over the winter months, culminating in this heady spectacle at Wembley Stadium.

1 Chelsea Flower Show

The Royal Horticultural Society flower show at Chelsea is the highlight of the gardener’s year.

z Hay Festival

The ever-expanding ‘Woodstock of the mind’ brings an intellectual influx to book-town Hay-on-Wye.

3 Glyndebourne

Famous festival (www.glyndebourne.com) of world-class opera in the pastoral surroundings of East Sussex, running until the end of summer.



Now it’s almost summer. You can tell because this month sees the music-festival season kick off properly, while sporting events fill the calendar.

3 Derby Week

Horse racing, people-watching and clothes-spotting are on the agenda at this week-long meeting in Epsom, Surrey (www.epsomderby.co.uk).

z Cotswolds Olimpicks

Welly-wanging, pole-climbing and shin-kicking are the key disciplines at this traditional Gloucestershire sports day, held every year since 1612.

3 Trooping the Colour

Military bands and bear-skinned grenadiers march down London’s Whitehall in this martial pageant to mark the monarch’s birthday.

3 Royal Ascot

It’s hard to tell which matters more, the fashion or the fillies, at this highlight of the horse-racing year in Berkshire.

3 Wimbledon Tennis

The world’s best-known tennis tournament, attracting all the big names, while crowds cheer and eat strawberries and cream.

3 Glastonbury

One of Britain’s favourite pop and rock gatherings is invariably muddy, and still a rite of passage for every self-respecting British music fan.

z Pride

Highlight of the gay and lesbian calendar, this technicolour street parade heads through London’s West End.

z Glasgow’s West End Festival

Scotland’s second city hosts a major celebration of music and arts.

Wimbledon Championships | MEANING MARCH/SHUTTERSTOCK ©


Proper summer. Festivals every week. School summer breaks begin, so there’s a holiday tingle in the air, dulled only by busy roads on Fridays.

1 Henley Royal Regatta

Boats of every description take to the water for Henley’s upper-crust river jamboree.


This new Glasgow music festival, the spiritual successor to the long-running T in the Park, has booked major names including Radiohead, London Grammar and The Killers.

z Great Yorkshire Show

Harrogate plays host to one of Britain’s largest county shows. This is the place for Yorkshire grit, Yorkshire tykes, Yorkshire puddings, Yorkshire beef…

3 Latitude

Relaxed festival in the seaside town of Southwold, with theatre, cabaret, art and literature, plus top names from the alternative music scene.

3 International Musical Eisteddfod

Festival of international folk music at Llangollen, with eclectic fringe and big-name evening concerts.

z Royal Welsh Show

Prize bullocks and local produce at this national farm and livestock event in Builth Wells.

3 Cowes Week

Britain’s biggest yachting spectacular on the choppy seas around the Isle of Wight.

3 Womad

Roots and world music take centre stage at this festival (www.womad.org) in a country park in the south Cotswolds.

3 Port Eliot Festival

Beginning life as a literary festival, now branched out into live music, theatre and outdoor art (www.porteliotfestival.com).

Crowds at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe | JOHANN KNOX/SHUTTERSTOCK ©


Schools and colleges are closed, parliament is in recess, the sun is shining (hopefully), most people go away for a week or two, and the nation is in holiday mood.

3 Edinburgh Festivals

Edinburgh’s most famous August happenings are the International Festival and Fringe, but this month the city also has an event for anything you care to name – books, art, theatre, comedy, marching bands… (www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk).

3 Bestival

Quirky music festival on Dorset’s Lulworth estate, with a different fancy-dress theme every year.

z National Eisteddfod of Wales

The largest celebration of native Welsh culture, steeped in history, pageantry and pomp; held at various venues around the country (www.eisteddfod.cymru).

2 World Bog Snorkelling Championships

Only in Britain – competitors, many in fancy dress, don snorkels and flippers for a swimming race along a muddy ditch in the middle of a peat bog (www.green-events.co.uk).

3 Brecon Fringe Festival

All musical tastes are catered for at this arts festival in the charming Mid-Wales town of Brecon.

3 Green Man Festival

A firm favourite on the UK’s summer music festival circuit, Green Man offers four days of alternative folk and rock music in a verdant Brecon Beacons setting.

z Notting Hill Carnival

London’s famous multicultural Caribbean-style street carnival in the district of Notting Hill. Steel drums, dancers, outrageous costumes.



The first week of September is still holiday time, but then schools reopen, traffic returns to normal, and the summer party’s over for another year. Ironically, the weather’s often better than in August, now everyone’s back at work.

z Braemar Gathering

The biggest and most famous Highland Games in the Scottish calendar, traditionally attended by members of the Royal Family. Highland dancing, caber tossing and bagpipe playing.

5 Ludlow Food Festival

A great foodie festival in a great foodie town.

2 Great North Run

Tyneside plays host to the one of the biggest half marathons in the world (www.greatrun.org/great-north-run), with the greatest number of runners in any race at this distance.

5 Abergavenny Food Festival

The mother of all epicurean festivals and the champion of Wales’ burgeoning food scene.


October means autumn. The leaves on the trees are changing colour, attractions start to shut down for the low season, and accommodation rates drop as hoteliers try to entice a final few guests before winter.

5 Falmouth Oyster Festival

The West Country port of Falmouth marks the start of the traditional oyster-catching season (www.falmouthoysterfestival.co.uk) with a celebration of local food from the sea and fields of Cornwall.

z Dylan Thomas Festival

A celebration of the Welsh laureate’s work with readings, events and talks in Swansea.


Winter’s here, and November is a dull month. The weather is often cold and damp, summer is a distant memory and Christmas is still too far away.

z Guy Fawkes Night

Also called Bonfire Night (www.bonfirenight.net); on 5 November fireworks fill Britain’s skies in commemoration of a failed attempt to blow up parliament, way back in 1605.

7 Remembrance Day

Red poppies are worn and wreaths are laid in towns and cities around the country on 11 November in commemoration of fallen military personnel (www.poppy.org.uk).


Schools break up earlier, but shops and businesses keep going until Christmas Eve; the last weekend before Christmas Day is busy on the roads as people visit friends and family, or head for the airport.

z Stonehaven Fireball Festival

The Scottish fishing town of Stonehaven celebrates Hogmanay with a spectacular procession of fireball-swinging locals (www.stonehavenfireballs.co.uk).

z New Year Celebrations

The last night of December sees fireworks and street parties in town squares across the country. London’s Trafalgar Sq is where the city’s largest crowds gather to welcome the New Year.


Best of Britain


This circular whistle-stop tour ticks off Britain’s greatest hits in an action-packed fortnight.

Start with at least three days exploring Britain’s greatest city, London, seeing the world-famous sights: Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Trafalgar Sq, the British Museum and more. From the capital, head west for the dreaming spires of England’s oldest university city, Oxford, before touring the lovely villages of the Cotswolds.

Detour south to see Stonehenge, the nation’s most celebrated stone circle, and its lesser-known counterpart Avebury, then head onwards to the Georgian city of Bath. From here, skip across the border through two Welsh national parks: the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, where you can climb Wales’ highest mountain. Head back into England and travel north to walk the fells of the Lake District, beloved by William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

From here, it’s easy to explore Roman Britain’s most ambitious engineering project, the 73-mile Hadrian’s Wall, before the drive north to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. On the long journey back south, drive through the rolling hills and valleys of the Yorkshire Dales, visit the handsome city of York and its medieval minster, marvel at the majesty of Chatsworth House, or wander around the colleges and punt along the Backs of Cambridge.


The Full Monty

1 Month

This is the big one: covering all points of the compass and all three mainland nations, it’s the full-blown round-Britain adventure.

After a day or two in London, head southeast to Canterbury, then along the coast to hip and happening Brighton. For a change of pace, divert to the New Forest, then up to historic Winchester and Salisbury, with their awe-inspiring cathedrals. Next, religion of a different kind: the ancient stone circles at Stonehenge and Avebury.

Go west to Bath, with its grand Georgian architecture, Roman remains and famous spas, and then over the border to Wales, via the energetic little cities of Bristol and Cardiff. Head west to fall in love with the scenery of the Pembrokeshire Coast, and backtrack through to the whaleback hills of the Brecon Beacons to reach the quirky book-mad town of Hay-on-Wye.

Then it’s back into England to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, and impressive castles at Warwick, Ludlow and Shrewsbury. Cross back into Wales via the stunning mountains of Snowdonia, then round the coast via the dramatic castles of Caernarfon and Conwy.

Back in England once again, have a wander round the medieval walls of Chester en route to Liverpool, with its famous musical heritage and revitalised waterfront, or Manchester, for a taste of northern nightlife. Cross over the moors and hills of the Peak District, admire the marvellous York Minster in York, and finish your English adventure in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with its galleries, museums and Antony Gormley’s monumental Angel of the North sculpture.

Hop over Hadrian’s Wall en route to the historic abbey towns of Jedburgh and Melrose in Scotland. Stop off for a few days in Edinburgh, then head west via Stirling Castle to good-time Glasgow. Then trek to Fort William (and maybe up Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain), from where it’s easy to reach journey’s end on the beautiful Isle of Skye.


Island Hopscotch


This route is usually done by car, but it also makes a brilliant cycling tour (270 miles, including the 60 miles from Ullapool to Inverness train station, making both start and finish accessible by rail).

From Oban it’s a five-hour ferry crossing to Barra; plan to spend the night here (book ahead). On day two, after a visit to Kisimul Castle and a tour around the island, take the ferry to South Uist. Walk the wild beaches of the west coast, sample the local seafood and perhaps go fishing on the island’s trout lochs. Continue through Benbecula and North Uist, prime birdwatching country.

Overnight at Lochmaddy on North Uist (if you’re camping or hostelling, a night at Berneray is a must) before taking the ferry to Harris, whose west coast has some of the most spectacular beaches in Scotland. The road

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