United Kingdom Travel Tips & Useful Info

Kings College - Cambridge - UK
Your guide to exploring the UK!

What vaccinations do I need for the UK?

Consult your local health practitioner for advice on vaccinations before travelling to the United Kingdom. Ensure you're up to date with recommended vaccinations for your home country, including measles, mumps, and polio. Consider additional vaccines such as the seasonal flu vaccine and Tetanus. For detailed information, visit the CDC Traveler’s Health page.

Is it safe to drink the tap water in the UK?

The tap water in both the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland is safe to drink. Embrace sustainability by using a reusable water bottle during your travels to reduce environmental impact and save money on your trip!

English roast dinner
A typical English roast dinner - maybe needs more gravy!

What's the food & drink like in the UK?

As a modern, multi-cultural country, the UK has embraced the best cuisine from around the world, and you're never far from an Italian restaurant or an Indian takeaway! But some of the staples you have to try in England include a traditional Sunday roast dinner, a fried breakfast, and fish and chips - especially if you're by the coast! In Scotland why not sample haggis, or neeps and tatties! In Wales, much on a Welsh cake or traditional rarebit, and in Northern Ireland, make sure you don't leave without trying a hearty stew, perfect for escaping an Irish winter!

English drinking culture is alive and well, and the UK has more pubs per capita than any other country on Earth. Settle beside a cosy fireplace with a pint, or perhaps indulge in a proper English brew. No microwaves are allowed, we're looking at you, Americans!

Safe eating practices while in the UK

High food hygiene standards in the UK minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses. Exercise caution with undercooked meats or poorly prepared dishes. Stick to reputable establishments and enjoy the vibrant culinary scene with confidence.

Is it standard to tip in the UK?

While tipping is appreciated for good service, it is not mandatory in the UK. Express gratitude for excellent service with a tip, typically around 10% of the total bill in restaurants, cafes, and pubs. In some bars and restaurants, especially in the cities, you will find an optional service charge is added to your bill, so be aware in order to avoid double-tipping. Tipping is also common for taxi rides and hotel services.

What is good to shop for in the UK?

When visiting the UK, there are several enticing items to shop for that will serve as wonderful mementos of your trip. Scotland and Northern Ireland are renowned for their exceptional spirits, particularly whisky. Bring back a bottle or two that you can savour or share with friends back home.

Royal memorabilia and traditional teaware are great gift ideas when visiting England, just make sure you pack them carefully! Delicate bone china teacups, saucers, and teapots adorned with intricate designs make for elegant gifts. Consider renowned brands like Wedgwood or Royal Albert for a touch of refinement.

The UK is also the literary capital of the world, the land of Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Christie. Delve into second hand bookshops to see what treasures you can find!

Is bargaining acceptable in the UK?

Bargaining is not a common practice in Ireland, especially in retail stores and established businesses. The culture in Ireland generally follows fixed prices, and attempting to haggle or negotiate the price of goods in standard retail settings is not considered customary. Prices are typically marked, and customers are expected to pay the listed price. However, there might be some exceptions in specific situations, such as in open-air markets, small craft fairs, or with independent artisans and vendors.
Ben London photo
The UK is a safe destination, but always keep your wits about you when exploring large cities like London

Is the UK safe for solo female travellers?

The UK is a safe destination for solo female travellers. The country has a low crime rate, and violent crimes are rare, making it one of the safest places to visit in Europe. As always, it is important for all travellers but particularly solo females, to keep their wits about them, especially if wandering larger cities such as London and Edinburgh at night. Travellers are advised to stick to main streets and well lit areas, stay in groups where possible and take taxis over walking late at night. In London, thieves are known to regularly swipe mobile phones from people walking down the street, so keep your phone in your pocket and your wits about you.

What is the duty free allowance for the UK?

The United Kingdom left the European Union in January 2020, and is subject to different duty free rules to EU nations. You are allowed to bring the following into Great Britain:

  • 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco
  • 4L of spirits over 22% volume OR 9L of fortified wine
  • 42 litres of beer
  • 18 litres of still wine
Please note: There are different rules for travellers entering Northern Ireland. Find out more here.

What is the currency in the UK?

The currency in the United Kingdom is Pound Sterling. Check OANDA for latest exchange rates.

Please note that if crossing from Northern Ireland into the Republic, the currency will change! The currency in the Republic of Ireland is the Euro.

What sort of plugs do I need for the UK and what is the voltage?

In the UK, the standard plug type used is the Type G plug, also known as the "BS 1363" or "UK plug." It has three rectangular prongs in a triangular pattern. The plug has a built-in fuse for additional safety.

If your electronic devices use a different plug type, you will need a plug adapter to convert the plug to Type G when traveling to the UK. These adapters are widely available at airports, travel stores, or online, and they allow you to plug your devices into UK electrical outlets easily. Make sure to check the voltage of your devices as well, as the UK uses a voltage of 230V, and you might need a voltage converter if your device is not compatible with this voltage.

Is Wi-Fi widely available in the UK?

Wi-Fi is widely available in the UK, especially in urban areas. Most restaurants, bars, and hotels offer connectivity. If traveling across the different nations of the UK, your data package should work seamlessly.

What time zone is the UK on?

The UK is in the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) zone during the winter months, which is UTC+0 (Coordinated Universal Time) and does not observe Daylight Saving Time.

However, during the summer months (usually from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October), the UK switches to British Summer Time (BST), which is UTC+1, to make use of longer daylight hours. So, during the summer, the UK is one hour ahead of GMT.

See also

For further information to help plan your trip to the UK, see the following:

Best Time to Visit- climate and seasons in the UK
Best Places to Visit- the top sites to visit in the UK
Dublin Vs Belfast - compare the Irish capitals!

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