United Kingdom Guide
Compare Cheap Flights to the United Kingdom
Home to the royal family, a rich history, beautiful landscapes, and lots of cultural icons, the United Kingdom is a favourite destination among travellers. It’s made up of large, vibrant cities like London and Manchester, as well as peaceful countryside, such as the Cotswolds and Scottish Highlands. The country is full of museums, nature walks, coastal towns, great food and drinks, shopping, and lots of warm and welcoming locals. The UK is such a diverse country, so no matter what your interests are, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained.
Cheap airfares to the United Kingdom are available from all of the major airports across New Zealand. Hundreds of cheap flights to the United Kingdom depart each day, getting you into the UK in an average time of 25 hours. Flying from Auckland or Christchurch, you can book cheap flights to the United Kingdom with just one stopover. While flights from other airports include two stopovers, your flights to the United Kingdom will keep you comfortable for the journey. Many airlines offer cheap airfares to the United Kingdom departing from New Zealand, including Qantas, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand, British Airways, and Virgin Atlantic.
So what are you waiting for? Use Webjet to book cheap flights to the United Kingdom for your next big holiday. Webjet compares airfares to the United Kingdom to help you find the best deal from your NZ airport of choice. Book your flights to the United Kingdom and use our guide to the UK to start planning your big trip. Get ready to experience the hustle and bustle of London, the beauty of the Scottish Highlands, the mystery of Stonehenge, and everything in between.
Things to Know About the United Kingdom
When many people think of the United Kingdom, England is often what first comes to mind. While England is part of it, the UK is actually made up of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Their capital cities are London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast.
The currency in the United Kingdom is the pound sterling, which is abbreviated to GBP. The pound sterling is a strong currency and is worth almost double the New Zealand dollar, so be sure to keep that in mind when making purchases. £1 GBP is equal to $1.98 NZD.
Once you’ve reached the United Kingdom, make sure to see as much of the country as you can. The UK has a great public transport system, making it easy and affordable to travel all over the country. Even smaller towns have train and bus stations. For the best rates on trains and coach buses, visit the website Trainline. Many discount cards are available, so check the National Rail or National Express website to see if you can qualify for one of them.
When should you book cheap airfares to the United Kingdom?
While weather varies a bit throughout the country, May to October are generally the nicest months to book airfares to the United Kingdom. During this time, weather is perfect, and you won’t experience much of the rain that the UK is infamous for. Spring experiences beautiful flowers in bloom, summer is sunny and warm, and autumn has lots of beautiful foliage. The whole country comes alive during these months with festivals, beer gardens, and lots of cheerful Brits.
Winter in the United Kingdom between January and March gets cold, grey, and wet. While there are still plenty of sunny days in winter, weather can be unpredictable during this time of year. London and the south of England experience regular rain and some snow, while the north of England and Scotland can get heavy snow at times. While winter isn’t for everyone, if you enjoy cooler weather, you may really enjoy booking cheap flights to the United Kingdom in the wintertime. Most restaurants and pubs have fires going and serve mulled wine, giving a cosy ambience.
If you are a fan of Christmas, you’ll love experiencing the United Kingdom in late November and December. The whole country is full of Christmas spirit and festivities. You can go ice skating and visit the many Christmas markets around the country. Some of the best Christmas markets across the UK are in Edinburgh, London’s Hyde Park, and Birmingham, which holds the largest German-style Christmas market outside of Germany and Austria.
Top Cities to Visit in the United Kingdom
As the capital, largest city, and cosmopolitan hub of the country, no trip to the United Kingdom would be complete without a visit to London. London is full of exciting history that dates all the way back to the Ancient Roman times. Throughout the city, you’ll be able to witness so much extraordinary architecture and some of the most famous icons in the world. While in London, be sure to see the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Covent Garden, Oxford Street, the Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London. London is also full of culture. There are too many museums to count, and if you are a fan of live theatre, be sure to catch a show on the legendary West End. Once you’ve explored the main tourist spots, be sure to check out some London neighbourhoods that are popular among locals, including Notting Hill, Shoreditch, and Camden.
Located in the north of England, Manchester has long been known as the cultural hub of the north. Manchester is especially known for its exciting food and drink scene, as well as its abundance of live music. Throughout the city, you’ll find lots of trendy restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs that will give you a great Manchester experience. The Northern Quarter is a particularly popular spot to visit for a nice dinner, weekend brunch, or night out on the town. Manchester is also full of great attractions to keep you busy. You can take a free guided tour of Chetham’s Library, which is the oldest public library in the UK and dates back to 1653. If you are a fan of sports, be sure to visit the National Football Museum, and for some nice river views, visit the Salford Quays waterfront.
As the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is full of excitement. It’s considered the cultural heart of Scotland and is a favourite among visitors to the United Kingdom. Edinburgh is full of history and beautiful architecture, and just outside the city, you can experience some beautiful Scottish nature. Top spots to visit in Edinburgh include Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, Calton Hill, and Holyrood Palace, which is the queen’s official residence in Scotland. Head just outside of the city centre, and you’ll find a series of small villages along Edinburgh’s Water Leith river. Dean Village is especially scenic and will give you the feeling that you’re in a historic village in the Scottish countryside rather than in the heart of a major city. For a nice hike and the best view over the city, take a walk up Arthur’s Seat, which is a large hill just outside of central Edinburgh.
If you fancy a quick day trip from London, Brighton is the place to go. Catch the Thameslink train from many of the central London train stations and you’ll be on your way to this scenic city on the country’s south coast. The most famous spot to see in Brighton is its long pier, where you can play arcade games, shop, and grab some food. Brighton’s shoreline is made up of nice pebbled beaches and is lined with lots of beautiful British architecture. For some non-traditional British architecture, visit the Royal Pavilion. It was once a residence to British royals and was heavily influenced by the design styles in China and India during the 1700s. If you are looking for some great shopping and cafes, take a walk through the series of pedestrian laneways called the Lanes. They are a favourite among Brighton locals and are the perfect spot to find something unique to take home with you.
Located in the southwest of England, Bath is full of interesting history. It was a major spa town within the Roman Empire several thousand years ago, and today, you can still see examples of that history. The city is full of beautiful architecture and places to see, including the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, the Royal Crescent, and the Jane Austen Centre. Bath’s close proximity to other areas of southwest England make it the perfect spot to base yourself for a few days. From Bath, you can easily visit Stonehenge, Oxford, and the Cotswolds.
York is another city that’s full of Ancient Roman history. Located up north in Yorkshire, York is a small city surrounded by ancient Roman walls. Within York, you can see lots of medieval architecture, and many restaurants, pubs, and hotels date back hundreds of years. While in York, be sure to take a walk down the narrow laneway called the Shambles, walk along the tops of the city walls, see the impressive York Minster Cathedral, and walk through the historic ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey.
Top Things to Do in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is a diverse and exciting country that offers so much to visitors. Whether you prefer nature, big cities, history, nightlife, or a bit of everything, the UK has somewhere you will love.
Explore the River Thames
While visiting London, one of the best ways to see as much as possible in a short amount of time is to walk along the River Thames. During this walk, you’ll see so many of the country’s top icons, including the London Eye, Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Also located near the river are Borough Market, Westminster Abbey, and Trafalgar Square. You could even take a boat tour along the river to see all the top spots from a different perspective.
This mysterious monument is one of the most visited sites in the UK. Stonehenge is located in the county of Wiltshire in the southwest of England. Stonehenge is made up of a ring of stones, which is each about 4 metres tall. While the origin of Stonehenge can only be predicted, it’s believed to have been built sometime between 3000 BC and 2000 BC. Lots of stories and folklore surround Stonehenge, but archaeologists believe it was originally built as a burial ground. Most of the year, barriers are up to prevent visitors from getting too close to Stonehenge and risk damaging it. However, on the summer and winter solstices of each year, the barriers are removed, and visitors can go right up to the monument.
If you’re looking to experience scenic British countryside, the Cotswolds is the place for you. The Cotswolds is made up of a series of small villages that are full of beauty and charm. Some of the top villages to visit are Castle Combe, Lower Slaughter, Bibury, and Bourton-on-the-Water. Outside of the villages are rolling hills and lots of scenic hikes and country walks. The best way to experience the Cotswolds is at a leisurely pace. Rent a quaint British cottage for a few nights and take your time exploring the region.
The Scottish Highlands
At the very northern tip of Britain, you’ll find this picturesque region of Scotland. The Highlands are full of untouched nature and have a slightly wild feel to them. Throughout the Highlands, you’ll be treated to stunning landscapes, beaches, castles, and Scottish wildlife. Also within the Highlands is one of Scotland’s biggest claims to fame—Loch Ness. According to legend, this lake is home to a large sea monster called the Loch Ness Monster. But even if you don’t catch a glimpse of Nessie, the area is full of some of the most amazing natural beauty you’ll ever experience.
Visit the UK’s Castles
People around the world are fascinated by the United Kingdom’s royal family. Throughout the country, you can see castles and palaces that are residences to the current royal family or that were a residence to royals in the past. Some of the top ones to visit include Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace in London, Warwick Castle, Leeds Castle, Edinburgh Castle, and Balmoral Castle.
Eat and Drink Like a Local
The United Kingdom has many famous dishes that are a must-try while visiting the UK. Some of the favourites are fish and chips, bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes), Yorkshire puddings, shepherd’s pie, and traditional Sunday roast dinners. While visiting Scotland, also be sure to try the local delicacy haggis. The UK has become a great place for people with food allergies and dietary preferences, so even if you are gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan, there are plenty of places where you can try modified versions of many traditional British dishes. The UK also has a great selection of local beers and ciders to accompany your meals. Another tradition in the UK is afternoon tea. While visiting, book into a hotel or restaurant for a traditional British tea where you can enjoy finger sandwiches, pastries, scones with jam and clotted cream, and, of course, tea.
Major International Airports in the United Kingdom
Heathrow Airport (LHR) - London
Heathrow Airport is not only the busiest airport in the United Kingdom, but it is also the busiest airport in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Located about 30 km west of the city centre, Heathrow is the main airport for international visitors with flights to the United Kingdom. It’s made up of four passenger terminals and is the hub airport for both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Heathrow is right on London’s underground system, offering a quick and affordable trip into the city centre.
Gatwick Airport (LGW) - London
Located 45 km south of central London, Gatwick is the city’s second busiest airport. It is about halfway between London and Brighton, making it a great airport to fly into when you’ll be visiting the south coast of England. Many international flights arrive to Gatwick Airport after a stopover in another European city or a city on the east coast of the United States. From the airport, you can catch a train into central London in no time. The Thameslink train travels from Gatwick to both London and Brighton regularly throughout the day.
Manchester Airport (MAN) - Manchester
As the third busiest airport in the United Kingdom, Manchester Airport is your gateway to the north. It’s located just 14 km south of Manchester’s city centre and is made up of two terminals. From the airport, you can catch a train into the city centre in just 20 minutes. From central Manchester, you can connect to trains travelling to cities all over the north, including Leeds, Newcastle, York, and Liverpool. You can even catch a train directly from the airport that will take you all the way to the Lake District, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Airport (EDI) - Edinburgh
Edinburgh Airport is the top destination for visitors to Scotland. The airport is located just 14 km west of Edinburgh, offering easy access into the city centre. Edinburgh Airport has one terminal and receives regular flights from United Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways. Both buses and trams are available to transport you into central Edinburgh in about 45 minutes. After you’ve spent some time in Edinburgh, you can easily catch a train to other cities in Scotland and major cities all over Britain to continue your UK adventure.