Much like the rest of Europe, backpacking in England is easy due to its good public transportation system, plentiful hostels, and low crime rate. Backpackers from the US will find England particularly easy to visit based on the simple fact that it’s an English speaking society. England also shares many cultural similarities with the United States and England’s major cities are multi-ethnic vibrant communities. Each British city has a great deal of variety from its immigrant culture while at the same time retaining the unique British culture.
England is also a close stop for Europeans and most Americans and Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, and several other airlines offer flight and vacation packages throughout the year. In particular, Virgin Atlantic offers good vacation packages for extended weekend trips, including flight and hotel for around $400-600. With breakfast included you should consider taking advantages of these types of deals since the British pound is much stronger than the dollar and doesn’t offer very favorable exchange rates against the Euro either.
Much like Germany or the Czech Republic, England is part of the European Union and American citizens won’t need more than a tourist visa to stay for up to 3 months. The stamp on your passport when you enter the country acts as your visa so you won’t require any preparatory work before you arrive.
- As always, make sure to check the visa requirements by checking the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website to verify you meet all of the requirements before entry.
Hostels and Places To Stay
There are many great hostels you can stay in across London, Liverpool, Manchester, and most other British cities and town. England is also a good place to try out CouchSurfing as it’s one of the countries with the highest number of listings. If you’ll be staying in London, we highly recommend picking out a hostel or hotel in Piccadilly or Oxford Circus. They are major hubs in town, close to lots of pubs, theaters, restaurants, and metro stops. Generally if you end up booking a vacation deal early enough with Virgin Atlantic you can land yourself in a nice hotel in either of these locations.
Getting Around England
Most British cities have a good taxi system and the prices for getting across most cities are reasonable. There is also a fairly developed bus system most everywhere you go. It’s inexpensive and tickets are bought before hand at kiosks next to each station. Just make sure to take a look at the bus route, times, and take note of any connections or transfers you’ll have to make.
In London the ticket system is honor-based so unless someone checks you can hop on and off the bus as you please. Keep in mind there are high fines for attempting to ride for free and if you miss a connection and your ticket doesn’t cover you may be subject to a penalty as well. London is also home of the Tube, London’s Underground.
- For travel in between British towns you can make plans on the National Rail website.
Climate and Weather
The weather can’t ever really be considered ‘good’ in England as it’s usually overcast with small amounts of precipitation. The winter months aren’t as cold as you’d find on mainland Europe but it does rain quite a bit and fog is normal all year round. You can pack a light waterproof breathable jacket that won’t take up too much space in your backpack.
Summers are mild and temperatures don’t generally exceed 30C. The sun is pleasant and you’ll enjoy some more sun, but just some.
Things To Do
England is a great backpacking trip from top to bottom. Set aside quite a bit of time in London if it’s going to be your first trip there. Plan on going to see some shows at the theater or a musical. During the week you don’t usually need to get tickets more than 24 hours in advance and you can just walk up to the ticket counter. The newer shows, those features major celebrities, and ones in smaller theaters on the weekends will book up fast so try to get your tickets online in advance from the theater’s website. Avoid booking through any ticket conglomerate or resale tickets since you’ll end up paying much more. If you buy tickets secondhand online there is also no guarantee you’re getting legitimate tickets. A few Euros isn’t ruining an evening or missing out on a show you’ve been looking forward to completely.
Due to the weather we advise you bring the following items:
Backpacking The Region
If you’re considering a regional backpacking trip try combing England with: