The United Kingdom is a diverse country which includes the nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. With a fascinating history visible in the architecture of many cities and in ancient landmarks like Stonehenge, and a vibrant modern culture, there's something here for everyone.
London: The capital city. Shop until you drop on Oxford Street, watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, or take a stroll in Hyde Park.
Cardiff: The Welsh capital. Take a tour around Cardiff Castle, take in a little culture at The Wales Millennium Centre, or a little sport at The Millennium Stadium.
Edinburgh: Capital of Scotland. Join the throngs at the Fringe Festival, enjoy the views from atop an extinct volcano (Arthur's Seat), or tour historical sights including Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
British weather is notorious for its changeability, but generally has warm summers, cool winters, and plenty of rain! January and February are usually the coldest months, and July normally the warmest.
The UK has a number of bank holidays throughout the year- while England and Wales share the same bank holiday dates, Scotland has some variation.
Christmas Day and Easter Sunday are the most widely observed, with most businesses closing for the day.
Schools close for six weeks in the summer, and many British families will take their holidays during this time. Summer festivals include Glastonbury music festival, the Notting Hill Carnival, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
London Heathrow Airport is the world's busiest international airport, and is 15 miles west of Central London. Other London airports include Gatwick, 30 miles south of the city, Stansted, 30 miles north-east, and Luton, 30 miles north.
Regional airports include Manchester International Airport, Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Cardiff International, Edinburgh and Belfast International.
Eurostar services through the Channel Tunnel run between London, Paris, Lille and Brussles, taking just over two hours between London and Paris. The UK has an extensive privatised rail network, but prices can vary- it's usually best to book tickets in advance. In London, you can take advantage of the London Underground, often called the Tube.
Driving is on the left hand side of the road, with a maximum speed limit of 70 miles per hour on motorways and dual carriageways. Seatbelts are required to be worn by law, and it is an offence to use a mobile phone while driving, although exceptions are made for handsfree kits.
Most cities have an extensive local bus network. These can vary greatly in cost, and may require exact change.
There are also coach companies providing long distance services throughout the UK, which are often cheaper but slower than the train.
English is spoken throughout the United Kingdom, although regional accents can vary widely.
Welsh is widely spoken in Wales, and the road signs there are marked in both English and Welsh. Although Gaelic is not so common, it can be heard in the Scottish Highlands and seen on some road signs.
The currency throughout the United Kingdom is the pound, which divides into 100 pence. You may also hear the slang terms "quid" for pounds and "p" for pence.
The domestic electricity voltage is 230V, using British 3-pin power plugs and sockets. Adaptors are widely available for US and EU plugs.
The telephone country code for the UK is 44, and there are a number of area codes. If calling from overseas, drop the leading 0 on the area code. To call another country from the UK, dial 00 before the rest of the number.
In an emergency, dial 999 or 112 from any landline or mobile phone, and ask for the service/s you need- police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue.
Smoking is illegal in enclosed public spaces throughout the United Kingdom. Some serviced apartments do still allow smoking however you should ask in advance.
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