Information & Facts
England weather is very changeable and unpredictable, but
generally summers are warm and winters are cold, and temperatures
are milder than those on the continent. Temperatures do not usually
drop below 32°F (0°C) in winter, and in summer they hardly reach
90°F (32°C). July and August are the warmest months, although they
are also the wettest, while January and February is the coldest
time of year. Rainfall is fairly evenly distributed throughout the
year, but late winter/early spring (February to March) is the
driest period. The Lake District is England's wettest region.
The English tend to be more reserved in terms of displays of
emotion and answering personal questions, however you may find that
younger generations are more open and frank. Stereotypical American
bluntness is often frowned upon. It is polite to exchange greetings
before asking for assistance. Please, thank you, and sorry are used
in abundance. Punctuality is very important, and Britons may take
offense if you are late to an appointment. Men and women shake
hands in greeting, and only friends will hug or kiss on the cheek.
When riding escalators, it is customary to stand on the right side,
leaving the left for people who wish to pass. The English are
polite and respectful, and often quick to assist a person in
England has one of the most comprehensive public transportation
systems in the world. Rail lines radiate outwards from London,
connecting nearly every city in the country, and even extending to
Wales and Scotland. There are over twenty companies operating rail
services, but a fairly comprehensive map can be found at the
National Rail Enquiries website.
Coach buses are a cheaper option than rail, but are generally
much slower. While local city buses are referred to as buses,
long-distance buses are called coaches and are often served by
different stations, so make certain you know which one you need!
The coaches serve all the major cities in England, and you can buy
explorer passes that offer unlimited travel for between 7, 14, or
Local flights serve many destinations and most major cities in
England, but are not much faster than trains when factoring in
airport downtime, although bargains can sometimes be found on
British budget carriers like Ryanair, bmi and easyJet.
There are nearly unlimited options for hiring a car in England,
but it is considerably more expensive than most countries. There
are disadvantages to driving in England, like high parking fees and
heavy traffic in the cities, but driving across the country can be
a very pleasant way to see as much as possible. Just remember to
stay on the left side of the road!
English is the official language, though visitors will be
astonished by the variety of regional accents.
The currency is the pound (GBP), which is divided into 100
pence. ATMs are available in all towns and Visa, MasterCard and
American Express are widely accepted; visitors with other cards
should check with their credit card companies in advance. Foreign
currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and large hotels,
however better exchange rates are likely to be found at banks.
Travellers cheques are accepted in all areas frequented by
tourists; they are best taken in Pounds Sterling to avoid
Overall, travellers can expect relative safety in England,
however there is a very real threat of terrorist attacks,
especially in London. The US State Department issued a travel
warning for the UK in January 2011, following several attacks on
urban public transport systems, particularly subways and railway
Within the major cities like London, Manchester, Birmingham and
Leeds, there is a risk of crimes like pickpocketing and muggings,
and tourists should take care with their valuables at all times.
Incidents of serious violent crime are rare, but common sense
should prevail in avoiding isolated areas and parks at night. Rural
England is generally quite safe, and law enforcement officials are
quick to assist foreign tourists.
GMT (GMT +1 between the last Sunday in March and the last
Sunday in October).
Tipping in England is a more complicated process than countries
like the US or South Africa, where a certain amount is standard.
Most upscale or 'nice' restaurants will expect a tip of about 10%
for good service, but many Britons will feel no remorse for not
tipping bad service. Service gratuities are added occasionally, so
check your bill before tipping.
In more casual venues like pubs and bars it is not customary to
tip waitstaff, but you may round up the bill if you feel the need
to. The same rule applies to bartenders and taxi drivers. Tipping
in hotels is not standard practise, but a porter will expect
something for carrying your luggage.