Amble through the evergreen grounds of an enchanted castle, discover the horror and gore of the kingdom's distinctive past, or experience the world's best in modern architecture, cuisine and nightlife. The countries within the UK - England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales - are charming in their own right, with each offering diverse and unique experiences. Whether it's a comedy festival or two in Edinburgh, a contemporary art exhibition in London or a rugby game in Cardiff, there's always something to do in the UK.
For those wanting a once-in-a-lifetime experience, you might want to co-ordinate your stay in the UK with one of its many festivals, concerts, shows and events. Sports lovers can witness a match at the Wimbledon Championships, Premier League or 6 Nations tournaments, while shopaholics might want to drop in on London Fashion Week and shop for the latest looks on Oxford Street or in Mayfair afterwards.
If you're looking to immerse yourself in the rich literary, musical and theatrical culture and history of the UK, there are a host of attractions, tours and museums to satisfy all tastes. Pick up a record or two at London's Camden, Spitalfields or Brick Lane Markets; release your inner Beatlemaniac at the Abbey Road Crossing and Studios; or fulfil your TARDIS fantasies at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. For budding thespians and theatre enthusiasts, catch a show in London's West End where a variety of performances are held daily or stand in the pit like a true 'groundling' at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on Bankside.
Love the idea of blood and guts? Follow the trail of the infamous Jack the Ripper or literary investigative hero, Sherlock Holmes, at his lodgings at 221B Baker Street in London. Walk through Scottish graveyards and the iconic Edinburgh Castle to learn a thing or two about Scotland's rich (and gory) history with the English. While you're in Scotland, why not stay the night in a castle, converted church or even a lighthouse keeper's cottagei. Ghosts and ghouls will be kept away with the warm tea, cosy fireplaces and snug creature comforts offered at these lodgings. Foodies beware! The UK caters to all tastes and sticks to exceptional standards. Take a seat at one of the world's best restaurantsii like Heston Blumenthal's in London, or at one of Jamie Oliver's establishments dotted throughout the UKiii. For something simple and hearty, watch a football match on the big screen at an English pub, with a pint in hand and a plate full of bangers and mash before you.
Petty crime, as with anywhere else in the world, is not uncommonv. If travelling alone or at night, it's important to keep an eye on your belongings and stay wary of your surroundings. Pickpockets and scam artists may target you in public places, at popular tourist sites and on public transportv. Travel insurance cover can help protect you financially in case of loss or theft while in the UK.
To avoid unsafe situations, it's advised to travel in a group, choose occupied train carriages and sit near the driver on the busvi. It's also important to only use licensed or pre-booked minicabs, as there have been many reports of scamming, sexual assault and robbery taking place in unregistered minicabs. Remember to always book a minicabvii; alternatively, choose only black registered minicabs.
There are many things that Australia and the UK have in common with one another, but a warm and temperate climate is not one of them. Travellers to the UK should be prepared for the cold and rainy weather. Your luggage should include warm clothes and wet weather gear for the unexpected and sporadic rain that occurs at any time of the year.
Before jetting off to the UK, you should ensure that you are well-prepared for your journey, especially the long flight there. A smart traveller will know how to stay healthy, have fun responsibly and keep their belongings safe while overseas. Travel insurance can protect you financially in case theft, injury or cancellations affect your travels in the UK.
For more information on travel insurance cover for visiting the UK, see our page on Travel insurance for the United Kingdom.
United Kingdom travel checklist:
- Choose a travel insurance policy that suits your needs when travelling to the UK. Allianz offers Comprehensive Travel Insurance cover and Multi Trip Travel Insurance cover for international travel destinations.
- Despite the UK's low crime rates, it is advisable to carry valuables and important documents on your person while in public places, especially in major cities.
- Get your travel documents in order, including passport, visa, photo ID, and flight tickets. Keep photocopies of these documents in your luggage, with a family member or friend in Australia, and on your email account in case of loss or theft of the original documents.
- Visit your GP for a general check-up and seek advice regarding medication for travelviii.
- Depending on the season, pack warm clothing in preparation for the English weather.
i Visit Scotland, Unusual places to stay in Scotland, viewed 18 March 2016, https://www.visitscotland.com/accommodation/unusual-places-to-stay/
ii The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2013, The World's 50 Best Restaurants 1-50, viewed 19 December 2013, http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50-winners
iii Jamie's Italian, Restaurants, viewed 19 December 2013, http://www.jamieoliver.com/italian/restaurants
iv Visit Britain, Safety and security, viewed 19 December 2013, http://www.visitbritain.com/en/Travel-tips/Traveller-tips/Safety-and-security.htm
v Smartraveller, United Kingdom, Australian Government, viewed 18 March 2016, https://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/united_kingdom
vi Transport for London, Staying Safe, viewed 18 March 2016, https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/safety/staying-safe?intcmp=5437
vii Transport for London, Safer Travel, viewed 18 March 2016, https://tfl.gov.uk/campaign/safer-travel?intcmp=21377
viii Smartraveller, Taking care of your health, viewed 18 March 2016, http://smartraveller.gov.au/guide/all-travellers/health/