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If you’re keen to travel on your own, England is a great choice of destination for many reasons. It’s safe, friendly and easy to get around, and as many of you have English as your first or second language, there’s no confusing language barrier. If you’re planning to visit England for the first time on your own, we’ve compiled an easy to read guide to help you plan your trip.
England is a relatively safe country, despite the threat of terrorism. The current terror threat level in the country is severe, although it has recently spiked at critical following a series of attacks in Manchester and London. Despite this, England has a much lower crime rate than many other Western countries, mainly due to its strict laws surrounding firearms. Some cities have their ‘dodgy’ areas where we wouldn’t recommend walking around on your own at night, but if you have your wits about you, you should be safe.
There’s an extensive train network covering the entire country, and although rail fares aren’t cheap, this is by far the most convenient way to travel around. Within London, the underground train network is easy to follow and easy to use by tapping a contactless bank card as you enter and leave stations. Visitors on a budget can take coaches such as the Megabus and National Express between cities, a journey that will take longer than by train but is significantly cheaper. For getting around at night in the major cities, download Uber onto your phone for easy access to taxis.
All cities boast a variety of hotels, ranging from luxury boutique accommodation, to affordable chains such as Ibis or Premier Inn. Airbnb rentals are rife around the country, but can be much pricier than in other European countries. If you’re on a strict budget, perhaps opt for a private room in a hostel or perhaps consider camping in the countryside for an authentically British experience.
All across England, you will have access to a vast variety of international cuisines such as Vietnamese, Italian and Chinese. Eating out is easy and affordable with cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels and takeaways all offering a diverse range of food. Visitors should enjoy at least one Sunday roast in a traditional British pub, either in the countryside or in the middle of a city. If visiting the coast, fish and chips on the beach is another essential experience. Also try to sample the regional dishes from the areas you are visiting, such as Yorkshire pudding, Lancashire hotpot or jellied eels.
Don’t restrict yourself to the centre of London. If you’re visiting the capital, make an effort to explore other areas of the city such as Shoreditch, Notting Hill or Greenwich to find an array of interesting public art, independent shops, beautiful architecture, inspiring art galleries and sprawling urban parks. Leave London behind and take the train to some of the other cities that England has to offer. Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds or Liverpool in the north, Bristol to the west and Brighton to the south are all interesting alternatives to the capital, with plenty of culture to offer.
You can’t visit England without getting out into the countryside and breathing in a little fresh air. Even if you just take a short trip to the South Downs or the Cotswolds, make the time to get out of the city. If you have enough time on your hands and you’re longing for rolling hills, towering peaks and beautiful natural landscapes, head north. The Lake District, Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors are all filled with mystical moorlands, cascading waterfalls, interesting rock formations and excellent walking opportunities.
Most of the locals that you encounter will be friendly and welcoming, happy to help with any queries or directions. You’ll generally find people more willing to engage in conversation in the north of England, particularly in rural areas. If you’d like to have a long chat with local people, your best bet is to pop into a local pub and settle yourself down at the bar, or to strike up a conversation with the person sat beside you on a bus or a train. For an ice-breaker, talk about the weather!
If you’re visiting London, Citymapper is an essential download to efficiently find your way around. Simply type in your destination and the app will show you a variety of ways to get there in the quickest time across a variety of public transportation. Maps.me is another great travel app for plotting in the places you’d like to visit in a city, then viewing as an offline map to find your way around.