Must-know tips to ensure a hassle-free visit to the UK – A first-timer’s guide

The Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family, James Bond, inviting country pubs, rolling green mountains and real ales are the few things that instantly come to our mind when we think of the UK. Travelers flock to the United Kingdom in millions making it the world’s eighth biggest destination. Hence, if you’re planning a trip to the ‘Old Blighty’ for leisure or for business, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you on your way.

Check your passport and visa demands

Although nationals from various English-speaking nations don’t have any such visa requirements for traveling to the UK but you should still check your specific conditions before traveling. Depending on the country you originate from, you may use the tool of the UK government website to check your requirements for a UK tourist visa without which you’ll be denied entry to the country.

Things to See and Do in England

  • Visit the Buckingham Palace

Home to England’s Queen, Buckingham Palace is one of the most fascinating sights. The altering of guard’s duty occurs at 11:30 a.m. and if you wish to enter the palace, the admission fee is 37 GBP. However, there are discounts for students, seniors, groups and families.

  • Check out the town Brighton

Brighton is a small little town that is ideal for a short weekend trip. Brighton has abundance of boutiques, shops and well-lit cafes. The streets being narrow, it creates an intimate and cozy atmosphere for the pedestrians who walk around the lanes. The city is a famous destination for locals who reach there to relax on the beach, enjoy the sun tan and wander around the amusement rides.

  • Go to the Chatsworth House

This spectacular home, located in Derbyshire, was built in 1549 for the Duchess and Duke of Devonshire. Among the several splendid castles and houses all over the United Kingdom, the Chatsworth House is definitely the most astonishing one.

  • Be a guest at the Oxford University

There are multiple colleges within Oxford and each of them are equally worth praising. Though you may have to pay a few dollars to tour through the college campus but visiting the one that filmed Harry Potter will be a special experience, especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan. Oxford is one of the world’s oldest universities.

UK is expensive – Suggested budget ideas

There’s no doubt about the fact that England is expensive. Even when you’re on a shoestring budget, you’d still need around 50 GBP per day. With this amount, you could stay at hostel dorms, cook your meals on your own, use public transport, prefer buses over trains and reap benefit of the free sites of the nation.

However, on a luxury budget of around 318 GBP per day, you could stay at luxury hotels, shop around, have fancy meals, take private tours and not have to worry about train prices and do anything that you wish to do. So, if you’re someone who wants a luxurious holiday, you can have that in the UK.

The most important piece of suggestion to offer to someone traveling to the UK is to get proper travel insurance. Travel insurance safeguards you against injury, illness, cancellations and theft and takes care in case things go wrong.

Author Bio:

Susan Noel is an experienced content writer. She is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where she shares her valuable travel tips with the audience.

8 of the Best Beaches in the UK for a Weekend Break

It’s easy to dismiss the UK shores in favour of the turquoise waters of Europe or Asia, but if you look closer to home, you’ll find countless gorgeous bays to while away your time. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best beaches in the UK, perfect for a sunny weekend away. And with transport links across the UK making them so easy to reach, there’s no excuse not to get booking.

Blackpool Sands, Devon

A far cry from the bright lights and ballroom dancing of the Lancashire town, Blackpool Sands is actually a beautiful stretch of beach in South Devon. Country meets coast as you drive through an expanse of pine trees to reach the shingle bay, which boasts the clearest blue waters for dipping your toes. There are sand pits, a bathing raft and water sports equipment to hire, so it’s easy to spend hours here.

Good to Know: You’ll have to leave the dog at home if you’re visiting.

Durdle Door, Dorset

On the Jurassic Coast sits Durdle Door – a limestone arch between St Oswald’s Bay and Man O’War Cove. Both are beautiful beaches that never get crowded thanks to the several hundred cliff steps you’ll need to descend to reach them. But worry not – every step is worth it for these sheltered, peaceful bays with crystal-clear waters.

Good to Know: Families might want to head to Lulworth Cove instead as it’s more accessible and has facilities nearby.

Sennen Cove, Cornwall

Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins at Cornwall’s stunning Sennen Cove, which is just around the corner from Land’s End. Head down the hill from the old fishing village of Sennen and you’ll find golden sands lapped by rolling blue waves. Make sure you bring your board if surfing’s your thing – conditions are often perfect.

Good to Know: There’s a small harbour with a lifeboat station and art galleries – great if it’s a bit cloudy.

Walberswick, Suffolk

You’ve probably heard of Southwold, but Walberswick is its wilder, quieter neighbour on the Suffolk coast. To the south of the River Blyth’s mouth, it’s a short stroll from the village and its amenities, making it a very easy choice for a weekend away. The long sand and shingle beach is surrounded by dramatic heathland and backed by grassy dunes. It’s a popular crabbing spot and even held The British Open Crabbing Championship – until the village couldn’t cope with the influx of visitors.

Good to Know: If you fancy popping to Southwold, take the five-minute row-boat ferry across the river.

Whitstable, Kent

Whitstable’s trendy pebble bay is backed by quirky beach huts and countless oyster bars (heading to Whitstable and not eating Oysters is akin to arriving in Italy and saying no to pizza). Weatherboard cottages and fishing boats add to the British seaside charm and you’ll never be short of pubs, cafes and shops should the sun be hiding.

Good to Know: Looking for lunch? Head to Elliott’s at No.1 Harbour Street, or book into Michelin-starred pub The Sportsman.

South Bay, Scarborough

The large, sandy beach at South Bay is popular with families thanks to its great facilities and child-friendly amenities. This picturesque spot is home to plenty of attractions to keep you busy, including amusements, cafes, restaurants and seaside stalls. At the south end of the beach is the historic Spa, which hosts live entertainment.

Good to Know: Don’t miss out on a trip to Scarborough Castle, which separates South Bay from North Bay.

Seilebost Beach, Isle of Harris, Scotland

It’s easy to see why Seilebost beach, to the south of Luskentyre Bay, was once voted one of the top 10 beaches in the world. Be sure to bring your camera as the stretch of sand and pristine, turquoise waters with sweeping views make for spectacular photos. Access isn’t the easiest, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning serenity.

Good to Know: There is the possibility of quicksand in the area, so avoid walking in the wet sand at low tide.

Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea, Wales

Three Cliffs Bay may sit on one of Britain’s most striking shorelines, but it still manages to be quiet all year round. This is mainly down to the challenging walk across the dunes to reach it. Past the rugged limestone cliffs sits the dramatic stretch of sandy coast popular with horse riders. The crumbling remains of Pennard Castle that overlook the bay give the area a wonderfully remote, forgotten atmosphere.

Good to Know: Don’t be fooled by the bay’s beauty – it can be dangerous, with strong tides and currents at all times.

Should I Buy A Retirement or Holiday Home In Costa Blanca?

Did you know that Spain is home to the highest number of British citizens living abroad in mainland Europe – with approximately 300,000 registered in the country. Retiring overseas, for British citizens, can seem like a dream come true – and Spain is perhaps the perfect retiree or even holiday home getaway destination.

Spain, as a retirement or holiday home location, is popular for a range of reasons. First and foremost, this popularity surrounds British retirees enjoying Spain’s major coastal resorts – like Costa Blanca or the Costa Del Sol. The climate, the ecology and wider cultural experience provides retirees with a cost-effective, accessible, and value-led retirement experience.

Why Costa Blanca?

The Costa Blanca – which in Spanish means “White Coast” – is a 120 mile stretch of Mediterranean coastline in the heart of the Alicante provide in Spain. There are numerous towns and villages from Pilar de la Horadada to Javea. There are over four million people who call the Costa Blanca home – a melting pot of cultures and different nationalities. The region is serviced by great transport links with major hubs – like international airports and major train stations. The area also boasts the moniker of “the market garden of Europe,” thanks to its gastronomic creativity which is a credit to the bountiful fish stocks, lush farmland and a superb variety of fruits and vegetables all of which make experiencing the wider array of hospitality services that much more tasty.

Buying Property in The Costa Blanca – What You Need to Know?

You will need to find a real estate agent, like Valuvillas, who can help you find properties in places like Javea or other beautiful Costa Blanca towns and villages. Once you have found your dream property, you will need to work with a Spanish real estate agent and a legal professional to undertake discussions on the terms and conditions relating to the seller agreement for the property. This process is about taking the verbal terms agreed by both parties and cementing them into a contract – which is known as a Contrato de Reserva, a reservation contract, which will be signed by the buyer and the seller at which time you will need to pay a Senal de Reserva, a reservation deposit, which is usually around €4-5,000.

This is followed by the exchange of what is known as Private Purchase Contracts or Contrato Privado de Compraventa. These are private purchasing contracts that provide the biding agreement terms between the buyer and seller – this sets out the date by which the completion occurs and the wider terms and conditions of the sale experience going forward. This is followed by legal searches which are required before ‘completion’. They should have obtained what is called a Nota Simple, a certificate, from the Property Registry in Spain. Once verified, this is when a customary percentage of the purchase price is paid – whether it is a cash purchase or off-plan acquisition. This leads to the formal ‘completion’ of the purchase – a contract is signed, called a Escritura de Compraventa, or sales contract, by both parties, which must be done in the presence of a Notario (a public notary). The notary will forward the registration of the property’s title deeds to warrant the change of ownership.

How Javea-Property Can Help

At Javea-Property, we can help navigate you through this process – we can help you understand nationality eligibility, taxes, and other issues. Furthermore, with friendly staff who have expertise of the Javea and wider area who can help you find your dream home in Spain – whether for retirement or holiday memories. Call us or visit our website today to find out more?

Brexit Effects on Buying a Spanish Property

Before, purchasing a property in Spain was a straightforward seamless process for UK citizens. However, since the Brexit referendum, things have changed. It’s therefore essential that buyers assess the impact of this referendum before buying as the process can be more complicated.

Brexit and International Property

The Association of International Property Association (AIPP) predicts a huge impact on the international property sector following Brexit. It is why they want certainty that British owner’s rights of a foreign property will be considered and included during Brexit negotiations. Without this, purchasing a house in Spain will be a painful investment. That said let’s look at how Brexit will affect buying of properties for UK nationals.

Will Brexit Hinder One from Buying a Second House in Spain?

Although in the short term, changes in currency due to Brexit have made it hard for buyers to afford to buy a house in popular locations. As a result, purchasing second-holiday homes seems difficult compared to buying retirement homes. Studies found that currency volatility impact sales negatively.

Before the global financial crisis in 2008, the exchange rate of pound-euro was profitable. A UK pound at times could be as high as 1.56 euros. However, as of May 1st, 2020, it trades at 1.15 euros. There have been significant fluctuations for exchange rates of GBP-EUR after Brexit, but now, the Covid-19 pandemic is worsening things.

Many individuals thinking of buying a property in Spain might be put off with the low currency exchange rates. But, non-EU nationals like Americans and Scandinavians can continue buying property as they have always done without any problems even during low exchange rates.

Brexit Influence on the Overall International Real Estate Cost

Since there are some limitations of movement, it can cause some restrictions or visa requirements. But, because British citizens with property on Spain contribute to this country’s economy, they will not be denied entry visas to visit their houses.

Will More UK Citizens Emigrate Due to Brexit?

Well, recent research says that there has been an increase in online searches on the number of UK nationals who want to migrate to countries like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand following Brexit. While often the reasons for migrating are personal, the fact that Britain is out of the EU will encourage some people to move to different countries. However, this will be mostly an incentive for those who had been thinking about moving anyway.

Brexit Impact on Passports, Visas, Currency, and Migration

Brexit will likely cause many and significant political changes considering that the UK opted for a system of immigration points like that in Australia. There will be limited movements between UK and EU from January 2021. Additionally, while it is still not clear on how Britain’s immigration point system will work, it’ll likely result in an exit from the single market.

Note that, the UK and EU had a scheme that gave British nationals the freedom to live, start businesses or study in any European country they have migrated to. However, Brexit does not include freedom of movement which means things could also change for British citizens in terms of social security benefits, accessing health care, and working rights. As a result, it also reduces the number of Brits who want to work or buy a property abroad.

How Will Brexit Impact International Property Owners

Well, it’s not exactly clear how this referendum will affect those who own international properties. However, it would be impractical to limit cash flow from British expats. Think about it. Over 1.2 million British expats are living in France, Spain, and Ireland. And more than 1 million UK residents own a property in the EU and visit regularly for holidays. Therefore, it wouldn’t be wise to limit these over 2.2 million people from spending their cash in EU countries.

Brexit Influence on Exchange Rates

We’ve already said that the low exchange rates have already negatively affected some perceptions about buying a property abroad or migrating to these countries. But, according to a recent survey, there has been an increased demand for currency exchange services since Brexit. This demand is mostly from British businesses who want to balance market shifts and protect their investments by controlling their currency risk.

Final Thoughts

Well, as we have earlier said Brexit will have a huge impact on buying or living abroad for UK nationals. It is therefore wise that you weigh out the effects before making any decision. Also, experts urge buyers to work with a real estate agent, an attorney, and financial experts when buying a Spanish property.

Top Tips for Building Your Luxury Dream Home in Spain

While buying an already built home is a more straightforward option, building your own home has many advantages, mainly that you can design every aspect of the home from scratch leading to a finished project that has every room exactly as you want it.

It is also a popular choice for those who prefer to be away from the hustle and bustle of summer resort life. The basics of building your own home are you buy a parcela, which is Spanish for a plot of land, and hire an architect who will create plans to your specifications. Another option is to go with a standard design supplied by a builder.

However, it must be said the taking the route of building a home on the Costa Blanca is not a path for the timid. Spanish red tape and the often-bizarre business dealings can make building a home from scratch a nightmare. But having said that, there are many outstanding builders on the Costa Blanca who will build a uniquely designed house on your plot or will provide a plot and build a property selected from a choice of standard designs. Here, real estate and construction company Valuvillas, based in Javea on the North Costa Blanca offers an insight as to what to look into if you are considering designing your own perfect villa in Spain.

Infrastructure

When you are looking at a specific area, it is important to look into plans for infrastructure for the area, with both national and regional government departments. In certain parts of the Costa Blanca, roads and railways need upgrading, and there may be projects to do so underway. This could lead to a quiet rural plot ending up next to a main road or even an autopista.

When buying a plot, it is important to take the same precautions as if you were buying a property. Make sure it is approved for a building permit (if it is classed as a finca urbana it will most likely be approved for construction, but always check with the town hall first).

Make sure the plot is large enough for the type of property you want to build, as some areas require that there be a certain number of metres between the property wall and the perimeter of the plot. The minimum size plot for building varies from area to area, so again check with the townhall to make sure the plot size is correct relating to the property size you have in mind.

Spanish building regulations

It is normal to assume you can build a similar type of property as that on a neighbouring plot. However, this is not always the case as your plot may be subject to different regulations, or the regulations could have changed since your neighbour’s home was built. Also, consider that some plots are just not suitable for building on; it could be that they are too steep, or they would need ridiculously expensive foundations or retaining walls.

It is wise to talk with an architect before buying anything. A professional can inform you if the plot you are considering is fit for construction, and estimate the costs related to foundations and retaining walls.

Furthermore, it is also prudent to pay for a land survey which although is fairly expensive (expect to pay anywhere from €1800-€4200) but a survey will verify the boundaries and rights to water usage. It will also confirm that there are not any limitations with regards to electricity lines, water pipes, or public right of way that could affect your building plans.

Access

If they only access to a property is a non-tarred dirt track, be very aware that on the Costa Blanca rainfall can be torrential – particularly in winter. In just a few hours, tracks can change from accessible pathways into treacherous mud banks, with huge cracks or could even be washed away entirely, meaning the only way to get to your house is by foot or on two wheels.

Legalities

Before you sign anything concerning buying a plot, particularly if you are looking at rural areas, it really is advisable to hire a professional such as a lawyer who will carefully look into the regulations and conditions that may affect the land.

Do not believe everything the landowner or even an estate agent tells you, because they will be keen to sell the plot and declare that getting planning permission is straightforward when in fact the opposite is true.

Being the new owner of a plot of land that you cannot build on is no fun, and a very expensive mistake, so ask your lawyer to get written confirmation from the town hall that corresponds to your land stating the land can be built on and is approved for road access.

Guaranteeing a building licence in Spain

Before you buy a plot of land you intend to build on, you need to make sure that the purchase contract depends on being granted the necessary licencia de obras (building license). You can check with the local property registry and confirm for yourself that planning permission has been granted. Do not leave this task with the builder, because if the planning information is incorrect in any way, it could lead to you being responsible for improving the nearby infrastructure, or the property could even be demolished. Also, be aware that planning permission can take some time to be granted.

You will find building firms on the Costa Blanca offering packages that include a plot and the cost of constructing a property. This may not turn out to be such a good deal as it originally looks, so shop around and find out how much it would cost to buy a plot separately and then hire a builder. If you do opt for a package construction deal, make sure you get separate contracts for the building and for the purchase of the land, and before signing the building contract obtain the title deeds. If building on an existing urbanisation, make sure the urbanization is approved as there are still some on the cost of Blanca that are illegal.

Costs

The cost of a plot depends largely on the area and also if it is level. You can expect to pay between €50 and €400 m². As a rule of the thumb, the cost of the land usually equates around 50% of the cost of building the home, but having said this is still possible to buy a plot and build a better and larger property at a lower cost than that of a second-hand resale property. And remember when you design your own home you can make sure the materials and the labour you are top-quality.

As a ballpark figure, expect to pay around €700-€1500 per square meter depending on the quality of the materials and the area you choose. It is always a good idea to add around 10 to 15% to your original estimated costs, as frequently building your own home turns out to be more expensive than initially expected.

Extras

If you would ideally like a swimming pool or garage, it is a good idea to build it at the same time as the house if possible, because if built separately the applicable IVA is 16% compared to 7% when built together.

Finding a Costa Blanca architect & builder

When looking for professionals to help you obtain your dream home it is advisable to get suggestions from local people whose opinion you can trust. Note, that estate agents or other professionals are not always to be relied upon, as they may earn a commission. You can obtain useful information from expats who have lived long-term in an area that you particularly like.

Many Spanish architects on the Costa Blanca speak English and you will find architects from other EU countries such as Holland and Germany working in resort areas. Architects’ payments are typically assessed as a percentage of the total cost of the build, normally between 5 and 10 per cent, which unfortunately does not inspire them to reduce costs. In Spain, however, there are no longer compulsory minimum fees for architects, so it is worth trying to reach a deal.

A good architect will know of dependable builders, but also do your own enquiries, considering the reputation and financial status of the builder. Be careful of an architect who comes with his ‘own’ builder (or vice versa, a constructor with his own architect), as it is up to the architect to make sure the constructor carries out the job according to plan, so you don’t want them to be too friendly.

Before hiring anyone, always check out other houses the builder has worked on, if possible, ask the owners if they had any issues. Building standards in Spain differ significantly and you should not presume the lowest offer you get is the best value. Your best protection when constructing a property is the character of the builder and his financial resources.

It is important a builder provides a ‘termination’ guarantee which is supported by a bank or insurance company to protect you if he goes bust before completing the work, This must be stipulated in the contract.

If you want a home built precisely to your requirements, you must expect to supervise every step or employ a professional to do it for you, otherwise it has highly likely your directions won’t be exactly followed.

Around 70 per cent of an architect’s fees are due when building commences, and the balance payable upon completion when all applicable certificates have been issued by the town hall.

Contracts

Before signing any contracts, you need to get several written quotes from a number of building companies. Make sure the contract includes insulation against heat and cold and also protection against dampness. The contract should include a comprehensive description of the quality of materials to be used referring to your architect’s plans, the precise location of where the building will be developed within the plot, and the building and payment schedules which should be done in stages. It ideally should also include a penalty in the event of late completion, a retention of 5 to 10% of building costs to guarantee against faults, and details of how any disagreements will be resolved. However, it could be difficult for the builder to accept a late completion penalty clause as construction work is very rarely finished on time.

As the owner, you will be liable for a tax on the construction installation and work, which is imposed on any work which requires a municipal license. This ranges from 2 to 4% of the total cost and you will probably be asked to pay it when the local authorities deliver the building permit.

Before you accept an estimate have it checked by a building consultant to make sure it is a fair quote. The quote should include 7% IVA. Make sure if the estimate is simply an estimate or a fixed price because costs can rise considerably during building work. It is especially important you get a lawyer to check the contract, as typically building contracts are prejudiced to favour the builder with very few rights for the client.

Guarantees

Under Spanish law, a builder is required to guarantee the property against structural problems for 10 years, known is Spanish as the Seguro Decenal. This increases to 15 years if the constructor failed to conform to any specific clauses in the contract. The architect will also be responsible for up to 10 years for flaws due to inadequate supervision, incorrect instructions, or issues due to weak foundations such as subsidence.

Be aware that if you do encounter any problems, you will require a lot of patience and persistence before they will be resolved. When the building is completed, make sure it is checked by a structural surveyor for any faults and that a report is made which determines who is responsible.

GETTING TO KNOW ATHENS

More or less most of us feel very confident when it comes to suggesting a place to a tourist or if it is just us or our family who are about to have lunch out or go for a drink with friends. I am sure that this is the case with most of you when we have to do with your place or hometown. But how about a whole different city or even country? Are you that familiar? So, in the lines to follow we will meet Athens, the Greek capital. We are going to talk about its restaurants and its cafes-bars.

THE BEST DINERS AROUND

To begin with, here are some of the top Athenian eateries. The first one which is recommended for its marvelous breakfast is Tudor Hall. It is famous all-around Greece for its location on the rooftop of King George hotel. The coffee, tea and the sweets offered there are of the highest possible quality so you have to give it a shot. Of course, most of the wine list is pretty pricey but you can just have your breakfast, enjoy the view to the Acropolis and leave the place more than satisfied.

Moving on with lunch, it is for sure that there are plenty of options and you will definitely find yourselves spoilt for choice. A rather stimulating choice could be Jaipur Palace. It is adjacent to the center of the city of Athens in a region called Neos Cosmos. It is open from 1pm through midnight so you will get a table at an hour of your selection. That diner serves Asian, Indian and vegetarian dishes so you had better be ready for a “trip” to new flavors and traditions. Its unique decoration and the vintage pans and plates which are used help you to immerse into it. The freshness and the uniqueness of the ingredients is amazing. A must-try!

Last but not least, one of the best restaurants in Athens, Greece. It is called Dinner in the Sky and if you have never had the fantastic chance to be there, I feel sorry for you. It offers an evening and a night choice of dinner depending on your preference. The first one takes place at 7.30pm and the other one at 9.30pm. The meal per person costs 135€ but the fantastic view, the friendliness of the staff and the stunning dishes will leave you speechless wondering where this had been all these years. Well, it is set quite high and you get even higher. That is, once everybody is tightened on their seats a mechanism moves all of you high above the ground so as to feel like flying while dining. There is nothing like this in Greece and only Athens offers you that option!

HOW ABOUT A COCKTAIL?

If you love beverages or alcoholic drinks, there are no worries. Let’s start immediately with an ideal place for your needs and taste. It is called Aethrion and it is located in Hilton Hotel. It is well known for its magnificent wine list as well as its cocktails. Make no mistake though-it is one of the most expensive in the city, but you get what you pay for, right?

Couleur locale is another exciting choice whose menu includes all kinds of wine and cocktails. The Acropolis is so close and in front of your eyes that you feel, you will touch it if you stretch a bit. You see it is located in Monastiraki so it cannot get closer than that.

If you are more old-school though, you will appreciate The Lazy Bulldog Pub. It is more like an English pub rather than a Greek café which is not bad at all. In fact, most of the meals served are pretty fatty but delicious, well prepared and carefully presented. Its dishes start from 5€ each so you will not have getting something suiting…your wallet and flavors.

London on a budget: 4 tips to help you along

It’s a wildly popular destination but unfortunately, London also happens to be one of the more expensive getaways out there. This doesn’t just apply to tourists either (in actual fact, it’s no longer one of the most expensive cities for travel).

As well as tourists, residents are also feeling the pinch. We constantly hear about the high rents and house prices but rather than stating the obvious, today’s post is all about unearthing some tips which can help you save money in your day-to-day life in the capital.

Granted, there might only be four suggestions, but take these on-board and see if you can apply any further methods on top to help you along your way.

Entertainment CAN be free

There is a common misconception in London that everything must cost money. As it turns out, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Sure, you can venture to the West End and visit the many theatres. Unfortunately, unless you happen to grab a late ticket, this will cost you.

However, there are alternatives. Some people will just head to see street performers, but an even better option is to tap into the museums. The vast majority in the UK are free yet contain some of the world’s most prized and important assets. In fact, if you can get there one evening, you’ll find that there are regularly exhibitions held which are also open to the public free of charge.

Be shrewd with your public transport choices

One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of people living in London make is taking too much advantage of the fantastic transport links. We all know how impressive these travel systems are and they are undisputedly some of the best in the world.

However, it’s not always necessary. Sometimes, it’s almost as quick to walk between stations, while before jumping in a taxi you should really ask yourself if you fancy being charged through the nose for sitting in traffic.

Chances are, you don’t, and this is a monumental way to save money.

Take advantage of the markets

It might be very tourist-focused from one respect, but from another London still retains its local roots. There are countless local markets and this presents your chance to shine. Granted, you won’t be able to venture into an Oxford Street store and barter with the shop assistant, but on a market store (almost) anything goes. This is where you don’t always have to pay full price and you can come away with some bargains.

Make the most from being in the travel hub

Let’s end with something of a bonus suggestion. London has a ridiculous number of airports, and this presents some fantastic opportunities. You have the pick of the tickets when it comes to European travel and as long as you’re not too picky, you can jump on a plane for the same price as jumping on a National Express for a couple of hours. Make sure you make the most of this as if you are to ever move away from the capital, this bonus tends to evaporate.

What to expect when you venture outside London

For some tourists, it’s non-negotiable. Their trip must be devoted to London and there are absolutely no arguments.

For others, it’s about getting outside the Big Smoke. It’s about traveling like a local (yes, that cliché we have become so used to hearing over the years) and finding out what makes the UK tick. While you might see glimpses of this in the capital, when you are trying to juggle Madame Tussauds one day and Big Ben the next, the whole trip tends to be a Trip Advisor bucket list activity.

As such, escaping London can be quite exciting. There are also some things that you should prepare yourself for, which we will now mull over through the course of this post.

Transport isn’t as reliable (or cheap)

One of the great advantages of London is its immense transport system. Few would disagree that it is one of the best of its kind in the world.

Unfortunately, there is no other location in the country which competes with this. This starts to become blatantly obvious as you attempt to leave the capital, with trains not as frequent – and sometimes costly. To combat these issues, check the timetables frequently, but also book in advance. This latter point is crucial and if you can book your trains weeks ahead of your trip, you can save huge sums of money in a heartbeat.

Everything else is considerably cheaper

On the plus side, you’ll find that your costs dwindle significantly as soon as you venture beyond the famous M25.

Whether you find attractions in Basingstoke, or at the opposite end of the country, hotel prices compared to London are an absolute snip.

Then, there are the general day-to-day costs. While you may still find some attractions which are premium priced, on the whole your days will be far less expensive. Taxis will be cheaper, and restaurants will be as well – you’ll notice that your pocket is much fuller than it ever has been after a UK getaway.

Not everywhere is “tourist friendly”

A degree of caution must be exercised with the term “tourist friendly”. After all, we’re by no means suggesting that some areas are unfriendly, but they just might not be able to provide the support that alternatives are able to.

For example, for foreign tourists at least, they might not be able to speak the language. Or, they might not have people who understand the culture that some visitors bring. It’s at this point visitors must accept these changes and appreciate that whilst rewarding, turning outside of London can sometimes bring its difficulties.

Other areas operate on different schedules

It’s not quite the city that never sleeps, but it certainly has later opening hours than most destinations in the UK. In some areas, it’s not uncommon for the stores to close at 5pm, and some restaurants to follow on shortly after. Naturally, this is completely different to London and other parts of Europe, where dining and shopping times typically venture deep into the night.

UK tourism: How to plan your escape out of London

It grabs the plaudits for all sorts of reasons and few would dispute that London is one of the best destinations in the world when it comes to tourism.

However, if you are planning a UK trip, it’s perhaps time to broaden your horizons somewhat. Sure, London has some amazing attractions, but the UK as a whole has a truly wonderful tourism industry that is largely untapped by visitors from abroad.

Bearing this in mind, today’s post will take a look at some of the best ways you can plan your escape out of London – and really take advantage of all of the other tourism benefits that the UK offers.

Choose your alternative city wisely

In some ways, a trip to a small, local city in the UK is what dreams are made of. After all, this presents an opportunity that some people just could never find; you can experience what true, local life in the country means, rather than always relying on the hustle and bustle of tourism in London.

However, there are some caveats. If you go too small, you could be met with some local difficulties. Some of these destinations won’t be used to tourists, so you may have issues with language and even finding enough things to do.

For this reason we would urge you to consider something in-between. It might be Newcastle, Brighton, Edinburgh or another major city – but making sure it is “big enough” will do wonders for the quality of your trip.

Get your transport in order in plenty of time

When you have decided on your destination of choice, it’s time to think about how to get there.

Now, in truth, you could rock up on the day and comfortably navigate there. Unfortunately, turning up on the day tends to be one of the more expensive ways to do things in the UK. The country almost prides itself on its “booking in advance” philosophy – meaning that those who plan early are rewarded with significantly cheaper rates.

The train well and truly falls into this category, and for the best rates you should be looking to book weeks and weeks in advance. After all, this is a method of transport which is constantly hitting the headlines for its increasing costs, so booking in advance really can make the difference when it comes to getting out of London.

Be aware of the cultural differences

We’ve briefly spoken about culture previously in this article, but now we are referring to the cultural differences in relation to schedules.

Again, if a city isn’t really used to tourists, they won’t change to accommodate them. Their stores will close at 6pm (or earlier) and you can forget about dining out after 10pm! This is something that a lot of tourists getting out of London fall foul of. They don’t acclimatize to “normal UK hours” and this ultimately means that they don’t get the best impression from the rest of the country.

Top 4 Underrated Tourist Destinations in Europe

When most people think about going on a vacation in Europe, the first thing that springs to mind is a trip to England or France. However, Europe has far more to offer than its most popular traveling destinations.

The countries of the “Old Continent” are all rich with history and art and provide a diverse mixture of different cultures. While some of the biggest metropolises have long established themselves as prime tourist destinations, such as Paris or Rome, many other cities are offering a different, but equally enticing experience.

If you are planning to take a trip through Europe and are willing to walk the path less trodden, below are some of the most beautiful underrated European cities waiting to be discovered.

Bucharest

Although the capital city of Romania has acquired the reputation of somewhat of a bachelor’s party mecca in the past several years, thanks to the nightlife and stag activities it offers, it still remains under the radar of most conventional tourists.

Bucharest is teeming with history and an interesting mix of Moorish, French and Soviet architecture. There are organized tours of the Old Town, as well as the largest Parliament building in Europe, but you can also explore the city on your own, either by public transportation or Uber.

Thanks to its location, the city is also a great starting point if you want to explore the rest of the country. There are several tourist attractions in its immediate vicinity, most notably the castle of Vlad the Impaler, the historical figure who was the inspiration for Brem Stoker’s Count Dracula.

Belgrade

The capital of Serbia was built on the confluence of two rivers: Danube and Sava, and the cities’ riverboat clubs offer some of the best nightlife in the region. Although many people visit Belgrade with only this aspect of the city in mind, there are also many other reasons to mark it as one of your destinations.

The most famous tourist attraction in the city is the Belgrade Fortress overlooking the two rivers. Most of it is open to the public and is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon walking among the fortress walls and through the connected park. There are also organized tours of the fortress if you are looking to find out more about its turbulent history spanning over sixteen centuries.

To truly experience Belgrade, however, you would need to take a walk through the streets of its old town, and enjoy the architecture from some of the many cafés or restaurants.

Bruges

This small city in Belgium with a population of less than 200,000 is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Nicknamed the Venice of Belgium, because of its many canals, and scattered with churches and museums, Bruge truly has the feel of a place right out of a fairy tale.

 If you are a medieval history enthusiast, it is definitely the next European town you should visit. Instead of busy nightlife, this Belgian gem offers a more peaceful experience with less crowded streets and comfortable inns and pubs.

Apart from medieval architecture and museums, Bruge also boasts a considerable number of chocolate shops. If you have a sweet tooth, you will be happy to indulge in some of the finest chocolate you have ever tasted.

Naples

In contrast to busy Italian cities, such as Rome or Milan, this often overlooked town has a much more authentic Italian feel to it. With winding cobblestone streets, traditional Italian food and scattered piazzas, Naples is a perfect representative of the traditional Italian spirit.

However, this doesn’t mean you should visit Naples solely for an authentic experience, as it has its own share of attractions. Numerous churches and cathedrals, as well as three castles and a royal palace, make spending a few afternoons sight-seeing well worth.

In addition, it is a great lodging place if you want to visit the ancient ruins of Pompeii, which are only a short drive away, or the island of Capri, which can be reached by boat. Like with many other Italian cities, you should, by all means, give their pizzerias a try.

Conclusion

The list of underrated European cities could go on virtually forever. With so many different countries and cultures, there is limitless potential for exploring the continent. Whether you are looking for a weekend out in a foreign country, or a lesson in history, there are many cities and places across Europe you probably haven’t even heard of, that can provide you with an unforgettable experience.

Hopefully, next time you find yourself wondering where to spend your vacation, you will do some research and opt for a less famous destination. Not only will such a decision to save you some money, but it would also lead to a unique adventure you can talk about when you return home.