Did you know?
- Before London, Winchester was the capital of England, chosen in 1519
- Every year Gloucester holds a cheese rolling festival, where people from all over the world can roll cheese down Cooper’s Hill
- Queen Elizabeth II does not own a passport nor a driver’s license, and she cannot be prosecuted nor compelled to give evidence in court
- Stonehenge is believed to be older than the pyramids, with construction beginning in 3100 BC, around 500-1,000 years before the first pyramid
- Big Ben is actually the name of the largest bell inside the tower, while the tower itself is simply known as The Clock Tower
- British scientist, Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989
Visas and Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to the United Kingdom, including England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
The Australian High Commission in the United Kingdom, is responsible for England:
London WC 2B 4LA
Ph. +44 20 7379 4334
Fax. +44 20 7887 5558
The official currency of England is the Pound Sterling. Notes come in denominations of £50, 20, 10 and 5.
The recommended currency to take to England is the Pound Sterling. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have Pound Sterling with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in London is approximately £3
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately £15
- The price of dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately £30
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately £5
The British are well known for a number of traditional meals, including fish and chips, bangers (sausages) and mash, and a plenty of baked dishes, from the sweet, apple or banoffee pie, to the steak and kidney or shepherd’s meat pie. A Sunday roast is not the same without a customary Yorkshire pudding made from just eggs, flour and milk. Or who can go past a full English breakfast with a side of their famous black pudding, a sausage made from pork blood, fat, oats/barley?
A visit to England is not complete without a beer or two at the local pub, or tasting their traditional summer cocktail Pimm’s, a gin-based spirit infused with herbs and spices, topped with lemonade and chopped up fruits. Or why not relax with a cup of Devonshire tea with jam and cream scones and take in the picturesque countryside.
The climate of England is often referred to as ‘temperate maritime’ thanks to the Atlantic Gulf Stream. There’s not a great variation in temperature throughout the year, with England’s coldest months (December to February) averaging 3°C to 6°C, while the Summer months (June to August) tend to remain between 16°C and 21°C. You can expect the weather to change quite quickly, with rain seen throughout most of the year, contributing to England’s incredible countryside of lush rolling hills and flowing streams.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
The public transport system throughout England and the United Kingdom is extensive and efficient. For a small country England is packed with taxis, buses, motorways and trains, both regional and the underground ‘Tube’ in London, Newcastle and Glasgow. You can’t cross a street in London without passing one of their famous red double-decker buses or black cabs. These traditional black cabs tend to be the most expensive, but are said to be the safest option due to the rigorous testing the drivers go through, and who doesn't want to try it just once?
Many cities are starting to discourage driving your own cars in the city centres, but with the abundance of public offerings, this isn’t much of an issue. Getting out of foot however, is a perfect way to take in all the many interesting sights of the cities and the stroll the stunning countryside.
When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. Also, ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from England…
You’ll find a vast range of shopping opportunities throughout England. From the high-end fashion of London to charity stores, from trendy pop-up stalls to local farmers markets, there's something for everyone and every budget. Some great gift ideas would include anything with a Union Jack on it, of which you’ll find in abundance, teapots, spoons, some English tea and of course, who wouldn't want an adorable Paddington bear!
- The English value politeness and good manners, so you can never say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’ too often
- ‘Waiting your turn’ is taken seriously, so don’t think about jumping that queue
- It is expected when using escalators to stand on the right side and leave room for people to pass on the left
- Try to always be on time or alert those necessary should you be running late, as punctuality is very highly valued
Celebrations & Public Holidays
The ‘dragon-slaying’ patron saint of England, St. George is celebrated each year in April with street parades and maypole dancing. While you will see much festivity on the Queen’s official birthday in June, this is not actually a public holiday in England, and not to be confused with her actual birthday in April, that she celebrates privately. Nottingham comes alive in October, welcoming one of Europe’s largest travelling fairs, the Goose Fair with traditions dating back over 700 years.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- New Year’s Day
- Good Friday and Monday
- Early May Bank Holiday/ VE Day (May 8th)
- Spring Bank Holiday (last Monday in May)
- August Bank Holiday (last Monday in August)
- Christmas Day
- Boxing Day
One of the world’s most visited cities, London offers an incredible mix of history and the contemporary. Iconic sites of Big Ben, the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge surround the city, amongst the innovative architecture of The Shard and 30 St Mary Axe, informally known as ‘The Gerkin’. Head to the infamous theatre district of the West End for a show, discover some of the world’s best fashion at Harrods, or simply relax in one the many stunning gardens including Hyde Park or Hampstead Heath. You’ll be overwhelmed trying to fit it all in! No visit is complete however, without a quick stop at the Queen’s residence, Buckingham Palace!