a VirtualTourist member
I'm graduating from college this year and I'm looking to take a gap year before continuing with school. I have always wanted to travel abroad and the United Kingdom seems like a great option. I would like to visit all the big areas in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. I'm under a relatively tight budget of $5,000 - $6,000 (USD). I have two months time to see as much as possible so hopefully that's enough time. I would like to leave from Raleigh, NC but traveling up to New York is not a major problem.
Any advice on sights to see, monuments to visit, foods to eat, easiest forms of transportation, and things to do is greatly appreciated.
Please let me know if you need any extra information. I apologize if I forgot anything important!
It really depends on what you like, and what time of year you travel.
A bonus for UK visitors is the free entry to most museums and art galleries, but for the budget be aware that public transport here has been privatised. Biiking in advance can achive great savings and some really cheap travel - buy a ticket on the day and you'll need to a bank loan! Coach travel is usually reasonably priced.
The easiest form of transportation remains the train - fast frequent and not too expensive if booked in advance. Be aware that some advance tickets are valid only on the specific train (time) you specify when booking.
A good plan is to visit some of the great Cathedrals, which will give you a selection of cities with much to offer as well.
From London you could travel to Wales via Bristol, or Liverpool which would give you easy acess to Chester and Manchester as well. And the ferry or cheap flight to Dublin. All of those have plenty of things to do and see and plenty of art and architecture. Then perhaps York and up to Glasgow or Edinburgh.
How about the Ffestiniogg Railway if you're going to visit Wales. Beautiful countryside.
So what do you especially want to see?
This is a rather broad question. You might find it helpful to have a look at the travel guides (type name of a destination, such as London, Cardiff, Bath, York, Edinburgh or Cambridge into the Destination search box at the top right of the screen) and come back with some more detailed questions.
Does your budget include your airfare from the US?
Do you want to concentrate mainly on cities, or do you want to explore the countryside as well?
This is indeed a huge question.
Do have a look at the United Kingdom travel guide:
[original VT link]
which will give you a start on the various countries within, and the various cities etc.
Public transport is not especially cheap but it is pretty extensive. Using it is normal and safe. You can explore train times, details and fare son the official UK railway website:
Unlike e.g. Amtrak, fares do not rise as departure nears or demand increases. Cheaper advance tickets (if available for that route/departure time) can be purchased up to 6pm the night before travel. Trains cannot get so full that no-one else is allowed to board: if there are no seats you simply stand until one becomes available (or not).
There is a good network of long-distance buses. They are cheaper than trains, but slower. Equally safe. The main operator with the most extensive network is www.nationalexpress.com but www.megabus.com also runs some routes.
The UK is infinitely variable: you will find that not only landscape changes as you move around but so do accents, beers and local foods. It's also a massively multi-cultural place, so get rid of any prconceptions you may have about cups of tea and fish & chips! For example, the UK's favourite national dish is chicken tikka masala...... :-)
The whole country is stuffed with historical sights and sites, from prehistory through Roman to Norman castles, wonderful Medieval cathedrals, stately homes and Victorian industrial heritage sites. All state museums (the majority) have free entrance and there are some truly magnificent ones.
And there is wonderful walking in the National parks e.g. the mountains of Snowdonia in Wales the Scottish Highlands, the wild moorland of Exmoor, Dartmoor and the Peak Distirct, the mountains and lakes of the Lake District....and the long-distance coastal paths....and the coast-to-coast routes...
And the islands: Anglesey, Isle of Wight, the wonderful, wild and silent Orkneys and Shetlands, the Western Isles, the Isle of Man (not actually part of the UK: it has it own parliament)....
I'll shut up now but you see the difficulty. It may seem a tiny country but it has a vast, vast selection to offer.Tell us what you *really* want to see and do and we'll be able to give you more detailed advice. :-)
If you are staying for 2 months your budget that you mention will be £400-500 a week so a large chunk of this will be taken up by your accommodation costs and transport costs. I suggest that you consider staying in hostels to save on accommodation charges. Hostels are easily available for less than £20 a night and some have cooking facilities and programs for visitors such as walking tours. Hostels will be ideal for you as most of the guests will be young people, easy to make friends and visit places together.
Oh, let's throw a few more interesting suggestions into the pot:
Llangollen: Quaint old Ladies house, scenic, steam railway, canal boat ride - Pontysilte aqueduct etc. http://www.pontcysyllte-aqueduct.co.uk/
Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway from dark dramatic post industrial landscape (mountain of grey slate) to beautiful valleys and a castle:
The regular railway route from Chester (and Liverpool) into Wales (Arriva Trains Wales) is very scenic in places and not expensive.
I've suggested Liverpool and Chester as they willl give you access to a wide area and have interesting English architecture, plenty of cultural things to do. You can also visit Port Sunlight and Speke Hall with ease.
Another very English location is the city of Bath with its Georgian houses and baths. York for the Minster and Railway Musuem.
The run up to Scotland on the tain will give you some splendid changes in scenery.