The United Kingdom is a pretty diverse country that’s perfect place to explore at any time of the year. The plus side of our summers being erratic is that our winters aren’t particularly extreme so there’s no ‘wrong’ time to visit the UK.

With literally hundreds of  cities and towns,  shed loads of castles and multitudes of delicious cheeses (not sure why my mind went to cheeses but we do know a thing or two about cheeses here 🙂 ), there’s a whole heap of reasons to why you must visit the UK!

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Wherever you’re planning to call upon, it’s always good to familiarise yourself with some of the local ways, traditions and quirky things that is pretty much ingrained in us Brits. We’re a unique bunch of folk that love our roast dinners, a healthy dose of sarcasm and lashings of vinegar on our chips!

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Before your next visit, I wanted to share some of the most important things you need to know before you arrive and as you can imagine, one of them HAD to involve cheese (at this point, I’ve committed to my cheese-distraction)! 🙂

Things You Need To Know When Visiting The UK

1.) We’re not all English

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One thing that seems to get lost in translation, particularly in other countries is the assumption that all us Brits are English. Admittedly, England is the biggest country in the UK but there’s a good few… 10 million or so between; Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales that are proud of their country and very distinct heritage. The Queen is not just the Queen of England. She’s the Queen of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland!

2.) Trains get delayed 

The train network is pretty vast (you can pretty much get a train to almost everywhere in the UK) but we all love a moan about a delay or two. If you’ve ever experienced Monday morning rush-hour with squeezed into a carriage like a sardine in a can, then you’ll know the pain of delayed and cancelled trains. Expect the worst and you can only ever get surprised by your journey. (Its worth noting that the tube in London is much better than most – in part due to the frequency of trains).

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Some of the easiest ways to avoid crowded trains and cancelled services is by travelling at off-peak times and avoiding certain weekends when most engineering works take place. (Sundays are particular notorious for delays due to train improvements).

3.) We moan about the weather 

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Talking of moaning, let’s open a Pandora’s box that is the weather in the UK! Completely unpredictable and willing to sabotage EVERY Sunday picnic in the park, the UK weather has a mind and will of its own which makes it pretty much a conversation starter wherever you are in the UK. (We’re surprised when its sunny, we’re surprised when its rainy, we’re surprised when its snowing…)

4.) There’s a big difference between The UK, Great Britain and the British Isles 

For the longest time, I had no idea what the actual difference was between the UK and Great Britain… and I’m British! 🙂

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To make it easier, the United Kingdom (of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is the actually country we live in. This is made up of four, smaller countries; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Three of those countries; England, Scotland and Wales are within the Geographic island that is Great Britain, (remember republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are both on another island). The two islands as a whole, along with over 6,000 much smaller islands, make up what is referred to as the British Isles.

5.) We’ve got some epic traditions to try! 

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I did warn you about the cheese right? 😉 Us Brits love a reason to get together, whether it’s fireworks on Bonfire Night, Cheese Rolling, or bog snorkelling. Try one out on your next visit!

See a full list of our quirky British traditions right here!

6.) We speak many languages

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English is a pretty big and somewhat consuming language – but there are so many native languages that us Brits can speak too, including; Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Ulster Scots, Irish Gaelic and Cornish.

7.) We’ve got shed loads of UNESCO World heritage sites 

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We’re lucky enough to have quite a few world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites like; Stonehenge, Kew Gardens and the City of Bath right on our doorstep. All the sites are accessible and pretty much spread across the whole of the UK. Take a look at our map of them here.

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Take a look at the full list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK and Ireland, right here.

8.) Queuing is an olympic sport How To Visit London On A Budget (7)

Forget the Olympics… there’s a masterful art in correctly queuing in the UK… even if there’s no lines. It’s observed by everyone and always seems to work with an orderly charm… until you get one person that tries to push in! Essentially, when you’re in the UK, queuing where there is a line (a line being at least 2 people) is not a suggestion, it mandatory. 🙂

9.) There are many types of cake! 

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My favourite thing about being British and my tummy’s too is probably all about CAKE! Who doesn’t like cake? (Think long and hard before answering ;-), remember if there’s anything at all you like eating, it can be made into a cake in one way or the other 🙂 ).

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From Trifles (which I’ve been informed American’s call ‘Wet-cake’) to Victoria sponge, Welsh Cakes, Custard Slices and Cheshire Buns.. there’s enough cakey-goodness for us to eat for daaaaaays! They may not seem as ‘sophisticated as, say French macarons but I’d much rather a hearty British cake any day. 😉

See our post on 12 classic British foods to try on your visit, right here.

10.) Wales is much more than sheep and Tom Jones 

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Wales might be home to a furry cutey or two… I meant the sheep by the way,  not Tom Jones 😉 but there’s so much to see in our incredible country than the obvious post card images floating around the internet. From coastal national parks, mighty mountain ranges and stunning Italian villages (yes, you read that right) – Wales has a lot to offer visitors. Take a look at some of the very best things to see and do on your next trip to Wales, right here.

Breathtaking Places To Experience When Visiting Wales, Great Britain (13)Oh, don’t forget to throw in a Welsh fairytale castle or two! See some of the best Welsh castles, right here.

11.) There’s quite a few capitals to visit! 

As I mentioned, The UK has more than just one country, meaning that we have more than one capital city! Yay! London is incredible (as are the other amazing cities near it) and although we love it so much, there really is so much more to explore in other cities like; Edinburgh, Cardiff or Belfast.

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Edinburgh is one of my favourite European cities and well worth a visit when in Scotland.  Make sure to check out these incredible bars in the city, while also planning some free experiences and attractions during your stay.

If you’re planning a longer trip, make sure to include these top places whilst you’re visiting the city.

12.) Northern Ireland is part of the UK

Baking Class Madeline's Cake Boutique London Richmond (18)

Northern Ireland is part of the UK, although it is on a different island, which consists of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Around a 1 hour flight from London, Belfast can be reached quite easily, which lots of really cool places and foodie haunts to dive right into! Not forgetting Giant’s Causeway of course!

13.) You’ve gotta try a Sunday roast 

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Look, no matter how much I describe a Sunday roast, it’ll probably sound a little… “Meh!” but trust me, it’s delicious. Head down to a local pub and grab yourself one of the UK’s most famous dishes, a Sunday Roast. Consisting of lamb, beef or pork (yes, you can have chicken as well if you insist), lots of seasonal and roasted vegetables, a gigantic Yorkshire pudding and oodles of gravy – this meal is one of my favourite homely meals to eat. You’ve gotta try one.

Here’s a picture of a Yorkshire Pudding below… Tramshed London, Shoreditch (20)

14.) We have lots of castles 

We’ve got a whole lot of castles in the UK that date back many thousands of years! With so many to see, it can be hard to pick some of the best ones to visit on your trip to the UK but pick you must! 🙂 Take a look at our full list of the best castles to see, below:

The 17 best castles to see in England | The 15 best castles to see in Wales | The 14 best castles to see in Scotland | The best castles (and stately homes) to see in Cornwall

15.) Most of us have never met the QueenThe Complete Guide To Planning Your Great British Road Trip (31)

I know, we wish we had too, but most of us Brits have never met the queen (although, some of us might have had a nosey around her house during summer visiting times). If you’re not lucky enough to meet the queen, at least know that you can still tour her home, Buckingham Palace during the summer months. Tickets can be booked online, right here.

16.) Accents are hugely different 

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Geordie, Cockney, Mancunian, Liverpudlian and Glaswegian, to name a mere few! Our diverse country has a broad, far-reaching range of accents that seem to change with just a few miles apart. Travel 2 hours by train from Bristol to Liverpool and you’ll hear a totally different accent – even Edinburgh to Glasgow (a mere 45 minute train ride) will show off two totally different Scottish accents. The whole of the UK has a range of accents that’s much less “Alright guvner” and much more unique to the local area. I love it!

17.) Take an umbrella 

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Yep, that weather is an unpredictable nightmare like a mentioned! Always pack an umbrella. After all, there’s a reason why Mary Poppins always carried one with her! 🙂 (Fine, she wasn’t real but the sentiments still hold very true! 🙂 )

18.) Our countryside scenery is stunning

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The UK is fortunate to have so many natural sights that are well worth a visit in the UK. From the White Cliffs of Dover to the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, there’s a whole array of beautiful natural landscapes that’ll have you itching to leave the cities.

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Take a look at some of the very best natural sights to see in the UK, right here.

19.) We have great artists

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Don’t be fooled into thinking that all the art in the UK is just within the remits of the National Gallery or the Tate Modern – there’s a whole array of beautiful museums, galleries and exhibitions in almost every town and city across the land.

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If formally organised art exhibitions isn’t your thing, visit a city like Bristol, where you can spot so many of Banksy’s famous work, still scattered around the city walls!

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Take a look at some of Banksy’s work when we discovered Bristol, right here.

20.) Nando’s is everywhere 

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Okay this is my personal favourite here so I apologise if you don’t like delicious peri peri chicken! 🙂

Just like Starbucks seems to be on every street corner in the US, Nando’s has taken the crown in the UK… just with less caffeine but still a pretty hefty kick with its spicy chicken! Anyone that’s anyone will have eaten at Nando’s at some point! No one’s too good for a cheeky Nando’s. 🙂How To Plan The Perfect Weekend In The Picturesque Cotswolds, England (11)

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  • Fantastic list and stunning shots – thanks for sharing 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Elizabeth 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • I don’t think I’ll ever be complaining about a delayed train after living in America for a year – their public transport is practically non-existent. I do love a good Nando’s from time to time too. Fab post you guys!

    Abigail Alice x

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Oh really… actually, come to say that we remember that the train was pretty darn slow when we took it between Seattle and Vancouver.

      Thanks so much Abigail (AKA, Nando’s buddies!) 😉

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • As someone that’s actually from the UK, I read this post primarily to see how many of the 20 that I could relate to and it’s a hell yes to all of them, with my favourite being your mention of welsh cakes – I’m at University in Cardiff and when I come home from the summer, I take a massive stash of them because I can’t go a few days without eating them. Brilliant post, and some really stunning photography!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Yay! You’ve no idea how happy it’s made me, Welsh cakes are the BEST aren’t they! They smell delicious when being baked/griddled too!

      Have you tried Bara Brith with lots of salted Welsh butter? Gotta love that too! 🙂

      Lloyd xx

  • Man, your pictures got me wanting to leave for the UK ASAP. Really lovely post!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks so much Bea! So glad you like it.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Natalia Cooke (The Petite Expl

    This post has made me homesick for an Autumn in the UK…
    Great post!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Awwwww – so glad you like it Natalia 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • what to say about the photos!stunning!interesting choice of facts, eg.nando’s:)

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Haha! I couldn’t resist popping in a cheeky Nando’s 😉

      Lloyd xx

  • Don’t forget free museums! Living in London I take this for granted so much. Sure, temporary exhibits need tickets but for visitors on a budget its such a great way to take in some culture! x

    Daydreaming With…Stanley Kubrick – Posh, Broke, & Bored

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Ah, you’re so right… Gotta LOVE the museums – we’re so lucky to have them! It’s so strange, even when we visit other countries we always get surprised when you have to pay for museums!

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Anuradha Goyal

    I want to come back for all those UNESCO World heritage sites.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      They’re amazing aren’t they! We’re lucky to have so many in the UK and Ireland.

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • NANDOS <3 and umbrellas. Yes.

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Exactly! 🙂 Definitely can’t refuse a cheeky Nando’s! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Holly @ Mellifluous

    The bit about weather made me laugh! We are obsessed xoxo

    • HandLuggageOnly

      We really are aren’t we Holly! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

  • Carla Sáenz

    When I moved to Scotland I learnt that knowing the difference between English and British was imprerative, the accents can be extremely hard to understand, gaelic words are not just “weird pronounced English words” and Sunday dinners are the best thing ever when you work in a live in with only a meal included and lovely neighbours 😍

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Oh, you’re so right, Sunday dinners are the best! A big hearty dinner on a cold Sunday always makes me feel amazing! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

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  • Estéfani González

    Great info! I`m from south America, planning my trip to UK in January 2017 and loving this site! Can you give me some advice? I´m definetly visiting London, Bath, Cambridge, Salisbury, Manchester, Liverpool, Oxford and Edinburgh, is there any place I should visit which is nearby those I`ve mentioned? I really appreciate your help!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Thanks Estéfani! Really pleased to hear that! If you’re in Edinburgh, Glasgow is worth visiting and perhaps even St Andrews. Also, a chance to visit the Lake District is also worth considering seeing as you’re going up north too. 🙂

  • Goodtosee

    all so TRUE!!! but did you know that London is only the 33rd wettest capital city in Europe? Well it depends what data you use! 🙂

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Hahaha! That makes sense you know. Apparently London gets just a few days of rainfall per year. Much less than people think. 🙂

  • My stomach is grumbling reading about the Sunday roasts and cakes! Haven’t had a roast in ages! Did you know Nando’s started off in South Africa? You can try the local version next time you’re there too, I think it tastes a little bit different between countries!

    • HandLuggageOnly

      Sunday roasts are the best aren’t they!

      Haha, we did. We literally ate Nando’s so much whilst we were in South Africa earlier in the year – it’s also soooooo much cheaper than the UK too! 🙂

      Lloyd & Yaya xx

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