Most people outside of Europe see visiting the UK as a huge expense, but this doesn't have to be the case at all. Although flights can often eat away a large chunk of any traveller's budget this can easily be made up by saving money when you're actually there. In this post Iím hoping to share some local wisdom on how best to enjoy the UK without breaking the bank.
Destination – When people think UK they usually immediately jump to the conclusion that the best place to visit is London. This is definitely not the case as there are loads of absolutely fantastic cities in the UK my top 3 are (in order) Edinburgh, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Leeds, each for wildly different reasons. In addition to being a break for the norm of London, these alternative destinations will also damage your wallet far less severely. Here are some of my highlights of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Leeds if you were thinking about visiting:
Perhaps one of the most fascinating museums in the whole of the UK (in my humble opinion), Leeds Royal Armouries is host to over 8,500 historically significant objects across five galleries, ranging from implements of war, to hunting tools the huge museum also boasts an interactive crossbow range. And best of all, entry is completely free and the place is so big you could quite easily spend the entire day there without realizing it.
Newcastle has some really great galleries and museums, the dead certs to check out are The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts on the Quayside and the Great North Museum which are both absolutely great for kids too with huge interactive areas and exhibits. Most recently, the Great North Museum hosted an event where they built an entire town out of LEGOs with tens of thousands of bricks. Again, both venues are absolutely free of charge!
Although not the cheapest of attractions in Edinburgh, itís most definitely one of the best as far as ëvalue for moneyí goes. If youíre a fan of koalas youíre in luck as Edinburgh is host to the only koalas in the UK. The park is big enough to spend an entire day at and has almost every type of animal you would be able to name off the top of your head. A definite if youíre planning on hitting Scotland.
Best time to visit – Luckily there are some really great times to visit the UK coming up (and perhaps more specifically London) as Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee is on the horizon which usually involves street parties and jubilation (sorry, bad pun) in most major cities around the UK from the 2nd of June until the 5th, which coincides perfectly with the British summertime.
Public transport – If youíre planning on seeing more than one part of the UK during your visit, donít be tempted to get a hire car (unless you have money to burn). Contrary to what the locals will tell you, public transport in the UK is actually pretty good. For long journeys be sure to book well in advance (especially with trains) as this often saves up to two thirds off the price on the day. Most larger cities also have excellent internal public transport (Think London underground, Tyne and Wear Metro, Manchester tram lines) for which you can get day, or week long passes which again, can save an absolute fortune on getting around!
Things to do – the majority of the best attractions in the UK are free, especially Museums and historical landmarks (both in London and in all major cities), so there ís always something to do for next to nothing. Itís also worth exploring the countryside as thereís some fantastic landscapes in the UK ñ be sure to have a look at Hadrianís wall or the Lake District in the North of England. Both completely free, and could quite easily take up a week to see all of the best bits!
Accommodations – Dependant on your style of travel (mine being budget) you can opt for a range of accommodation choices. For the ultra-budget conscious, there's YHA, a hostel type option which can be found in most major cities in the UK, and some really great countryside locations too. A night in a YHA will usually set you back between £10-£30, depending on the room type you pick, and where the hostel is. A more desirable option (and my personal preference when traveling around the UK) is the budget hotel's such as Travel lodge and Premier Inn ñ far cheaper than most hotels you'll find in the UK, and frankly just as comfortable as any Hilton or equivalent. A night in one of these places will usually set you back around £60-£80. You can usually catch a deal or special offer at these places too if you check their websites once in a while.
Written by Alex Graham of www.cheaplivingblog.co.uk