With a known history that goes back over 5,000 years into the past, England is a country that is filled with never-ending stories, experiences, and landscapes. The icons of the country span from Neolithic to Middle Age and modern-day tributes.
With sites like Stonehenge standing as some of the oldest relics, while remains of the medieval past are scattered throughout the country. With long abandoned castles or currently very occupied palaces, English royalty has held significant power for over 1,000 years. But that is 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
But all of England’s history has been built upon and around a picturesque landscape. With many great tales from world famous authors having been inspired by England’s beautiful natural settings. Whether you’re reading the works of Shakespeare, listening to the tale of Robin Hood, or diving in a world of magic with Harry Potter, nature in England will provide you with a visual feast. 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 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 you don’t have to be royalty to access these areas and London’s posh scene paves the streets. With a diverse population, visitors can delve into the art, culture, and gastronomy of this enchanting capital city.
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 figure from England, 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 and England has gone through numerous periods.
Some of their most famous periods include Tudor and Victorian England. Henry VIII has been dramatized in pop culture with the novel and film, The Other Boleyn Girl. But Queen Elizabeth I who is one of England’s most famous rulers took over her father’s crown and led the country until the end of the Tudor Period. In Victorian England, Queen Victoria was another famous monarch who held the longest reign over the country until her great-great-granddaughter and current Queen, Elizabeth II surpassed her.
But with hundreds of British royals throughout the years, it’s still important to understand their significance. The monarchy is very much ingrained in English culture and it 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 population speaks the English language. While British English is different from American English, visitors shouldn’t have a hard time understanding the locals. But you may have to catch up on some of the local slang.
But 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.
Whenever you are planning to leave home, you need to double check that you have all your travel documents ready for your trip. England is one of a few countries in the United Kingdom, which all have the same entry requirements. In order for you to enter any country within the United Kingdom, US citizens are only required to have the proper travel documents. There is not a requirement for a tourist visa for any stays that are less than six months in duration.
But US citizens do need to have a passport that will remain valid for the duration of your stay. You should be cautious about the expiration date because many neighboring countries or airlines may require a minimum of six months validity remaining on your passport. One blank page is also required for your entry stamp. There are currently no travel restrictions on vaccines or currency.
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 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 the 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. On average, you should expect to spend about $600 US dollars on a flight to London from the United States.
However, average prices of plane tickets to England can change depending on the season. Summer is the peak tourist season in England with the months of July and August being the most popular. It is also during this time that you are more likely to see high costs of 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 are exploring throughout England. But accommodation can be tricky to find and choose a location because there are quite a few ranges in nightly rates and prices. Most hostels in England will cost $13-$55 US dollars per night. The lower prices are normally found when you head out of the city and especially out of London. London will be the most expensive city.
A private room in a hostel usually starts at $65 US dollars per night and can increase from there. In London, you should expect to pay closer to $100 US dollars per night for a private room in a hostel. But if you want more privacy and are willing to spend just a little more, many budget hotels will cost about $75-$80 US dollars per night. For couples on an adventure, this can be a great way to have a private space for an affordable price.
Midrange and luxury hotels will be very expensive with prices ranging from $150-$200 US dollars per night or more. Boutique hotels will be the most expensive choice with guests spending hundreds of dollars per night of their vacation. But if you are traveling in a larger group and don’t want to take up all the space in a hotel, Airbnb is another option.
Many Airbnb listing have similar prices to hotels, and you can rent private apartments and homes starting at $75 US dollars per night. For larger accommodations, the price will increase but if you are 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, their 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 is one of their more unique dishes, which is a blood-based pudding that people either love or hate. Roasts are another popular dish, which are often served as large meal with festivities.
But food is a part of culture and one of the integral parts of England’s cultural cuisine is tea. Tea became a popular 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. The most affordable food is fish and chips, which are often sold for about $7 US dollars. But if you wish you eat at a restaurant, you should expect to pay at least $35 US dollars for a good meal. Fancier establishments will cost more and with Michelin stars awarded to numerous restaurants, you could spend over $100 US dollars on a meal.
Drinks will not help you save any money and the cost of enjoying a few beverages will add up. Most house wines and beers will cost about $5 US dollars per glass, but in some places, you should expect to pay $10 US dollars or more for a drink. 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.
But afternoon tea is pricey, and most establishments will start their prices at $75 US dollars per person for the option without champagne. Other establishments will cost well over $100 US dollars and could be even closer to $200 US dollars if you choose to also sip champagne with your tea.
With all of these prices, the cost of a trip to England will quickly add up. But you don’t have to break the bank if you can’t or don’t want to. Budget travelers who wish to visit England should expect to spend about $100 US dollars per day. A midrange budget would cost about $250 US dollars per day, while luxury vacations can easily stretch into costs of hundreds or thousands of dollars.
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. Transportation in England can be very expensive, but the great things about it is that it has an extensive service area and is quite reliable. The most popular ways to get around England are by trains, bus, local transportation, or car rentals.
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 tickets prices are about $35 US dollars. But in peak travel hours, which tend to be around mid-day, the prices can skyrocket to $200 US dollars or more.
The best way to find affordable train ticket prices are 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.
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 starting at $2 US dollars and increasing up to $20 US dollars, you can save quite a bit of money if you can’t find a good deal on off-peak hour train tickets.
When you’re exploring a specific town or city, local transportation is the best choice for getting around. With a variety of trains, buses, or trams servicing many major hubs, you can explore England on a budget. Most tickets will cost about $3.50 US dollars for a single ride, but in London the price for a one-way ticket costs about $7 US dollars. For travelers who plan ahead, an Oyster card will reduce the cost to be less than $4 US dollars during peak and off-peak hours.
Taxis are another local transportation method that are very convenient. But using taxis all the time will add significant costs to your spending budget. Most taxis are very expensive and traveling one mile in distance will cost about $8 US dollars. During peak travel hours, the taxi fares may be even higher.
Finally, car rentals are an affordable option for some travelers and most rental options will cost about $45 US dollars for a week of service. But gas is expensive and costs about $5 US dollars per gallon, so be wary of longer journey where costs begin to add up.
Top Cities to Visit
London is by far the most visited city in England, but there are a few other gems tucked throughout the land too. 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, 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 also here that you can 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 one of the most impressive building 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. Here, this once 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 icons and there are endless options where you can explore the local culture. Here are England’s top points of interest that consistently draw in large crowds of tourists.
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 and unique displays like a birds of prey exhibition.
The Cotswolds are what most people imagine when you say the words, “English countryside”. But this is a large area that covers about 800 square miles in southern England. It is 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. The wall no longer divides those people but 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.
Get Out and Go
Whether it is your first trip or your hundredth trip to England, this 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 never grow tired of English perfection and 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.