When is Best to Visit Britain?

With enquiries coming in thick and fast for 2018 vacations in Britain, we are receiving one of our most commonly asked questions here at adeo Travel – when is the best time to visit England, Scotland and Wales!? As with many questions, there is no simple response, as the answer will be different for every guest depending on what is important to them for their trip. Here I do my best at outlining some of the things to think about when planning your vacation to enable you to make the best decision for yourself on when to visit our beautiful country!

Weather     

The weather is famously unpredictable in Britain and we can experience all four seasons in one day, however most people like to travel when there is the best chance of good weather; mild or warm temperatures and a lower chance of rain often make for a more enjoyable sightseeing experience. Therefore, many of our guests choose to visit in England’s Summer months (June, July and August). However, the shoulder season of Springtime and early Autumn can also offer some beautiful weather; April and May can provide crisp mornings and cool evenings but if the sun’s out its strength is good and will offer a pleasant temperature for getting out and about during the daytime. Likewise, September and early October can offer stretches of sunshine if we encounter an “Indian” Summer.

Public/Bank Holidays

Here in Britain we have eight days public holidays (or Bank Holidays) as we call them when the vast majority of British people get a day off work (usually a Monday). On these weekends, the locals often choose to getaway on a short trip to the coast, countryside or for a city-break which means that the roads and public transport can be congested and hotels will be busier or more expensive than at other times – many will impose minimum 2 or 3 night stays to ensure that they maximise their profits across the course of the holiday. Whilst the local atmosphere is good at these times it can be more difficult for overseas visitors who want to get from point to point or stay just one night in a destination so you may choose to avoid these dates. The four main bank holidays in 2018 are the Easter weekend (Mar 30 – Apr 2), May Day Holiday (May 5 – 7), Spring Bank Holiday (May 26 – 28) and the August Bank Holiday (Aug 25 – Aug 27).

Scenery and the Seasons

If you have a particular landscape or vista that you want to experience then ask your adeo Travel Britain expert when is best to see it. If you plan to visit some of England’s beautiful stately homes with formal gardens or RHS gardens then springtime and early Summer (April through June) is a great time to see the flowers in fresh bloom. The heather comes out in Scotland and across the moors and dales of the English Lake District and Yorkshire in late August and early September whilst if crisp frost covered hillsides and snow-capped mountains are your thing then the Winter months or early Spring (November through March) are the best time for your visit.

Local Events and Festivals

Similar to public holidays, local events and festivals can mean a spike in overnight visitors to a particular destination. The most notable is the Edinburgh Festival and Tattoo which takes place throughout the month of August – whilst the city enjoys an incredible party atmosphere, hotel availability is sparse and prices can more than triple throughout the period due to the high demand. To a lesser extent, popular festivals such Glastonbury Music Festival, Wimbledon Tennis Championships, the Chelsea Flower Show and the York Races can have similar effects. Our advice is that unless you plan to attend yourself then avoid the destination during the event, if your dates are flexible then you may be able to move your trip a little or alternatively, simply ask your adeo Travel representative and they may be able to suggest an alternative overnight destination or juggle your itinerary to visit at a quieter time.

Sightseeing and Daylight Hours

Some people like to combine relaxation with their sightseeing but if your major aim of your vacation is to cover a lot of different areas and hit as many visitor attractions and towns as possible then you’ll want to make sure that you have the daylight hours to achieve it. In the Summer months, the sun will rise from 6am and it can stay light until 10pm on bright sunny days, ideal for those who want to enjoy long evening drives. In the Winter months it can be dark by 5pm which better suits people who want to enjoy shorter daily journeys and atmospheric dinners in the hotel restaurants or evenings curled up by open fireplaces with a local tipple in the hotel lounge-bars.

Price and Value

Compared with some nations, Britain’s hotel, rented accommodation and car rental capacity can be quite low for the numbers of visitors we experience. This limited car and bed-stock means that hotel pricing can fluctuate significantly dependent on availability and demand – the Summer months are invariably more popular so hotels command a higher nightly rate whilst in low-season properties naturally drop prices to compete for business. If budget is important to you then the low or shoulder seasons provide more competitive pricing and you’re more likely to bag a real bargain for your trip. At adeo Travel, we’ve negotiated the best rates are happy to scour our systems for great deals year-round.

So, the best time to travel in Britain really depends on your own priorities from the purpose of your trip, to your personality and interests, to your budget and your flexibility in terms of travel dates. Hopefully the information above has helped a little but if you want further advice when planning your trip then please do not hesitate to get in touch and your adeo Travel will be happy to share their own local insight to ensure you get the most out of your trip!

For a full list of our fully customizable self-drive tours, click here.

 

Top Ten Tips for Driving in the UK!

The vast majority of our guests here at adeo Travel choose a driving-tour of Britain; it is the simply the most flexible and convenient way to explore the countryside, villages and historic sites of England, Scotland and Wales at your own leisure. Driving on the “wrong” side of the road can come with its own concerns – but worry not, most of our clients tell us they get used to it remarkably quickly and with our extra tips you’ll be taking to driving on the left like a fish to water!

10. Book an Automatic Car

The vast majority of people here in Britain drive manual transmission (or stick) vehicles; for this reason automatics are more rare with rental agents and carry a supplement. We’d recommend an automatic transmission for overseas visitors – not having to change gear gives you one less thing to think about when adapting to driving on the other side. Simply request one and we’ll include it in your proposal.

9. Bring a GPS

Basic road directions to each of your overnight accommodations are included in your travel pack as standard on any adeo Travel driving tour, however using a GPS (or Sat Nav as we call it here in Britain) can give you that extra reassurance when navigating. GPS systems can be hired from the car rental desk on arrival but can be costly, so we recommend bringing your own device – just don’t forget to download maps for the UK in advance of your trip.

8. Embrace our Roundabouts

Here in Britain we share most of the same rules of the road as in North America and Australia; but one thing often noted by our clients is that we have many more roundabouts (or road-circles / rotary junctions). They may seem confusing at first but they actually work well to ensure a smooth flow of traffic; you simply have to heed or “give-way” to vehicles already on the roundabout (coming from the right). When it’s clear you can proceed on to the roundabout system and continue clockwise until you reach the exit you need. The beauty of a roundabout is that you can continue round as many times as you like until you find the right exit.

7. Stay Left, but not too much!

Here in Britain we drive on the left so don’t forget to stick to the correct side of the road! However, when you’re sat in the opposite side of the vehicle it can sometimes feel a little like you’re erring too much in to the middle of the road; obviously you don’t want to be driving towards oncoming traffic but fight the urge to hug the hedgerow or curb too much – you don’t want to scrape the left-hand wheels or clip anything in the verge.

6. Don’t go for the smallest vehicle

Our roads here in Britain can be smaller and narrower than many in other parts of the world, especially once you get off the beaten track and in to the country’s more rural areas. It can therefore be instinctive to go for an economy (smallest) class of vehicle. But we would recommend something larger like a compact model (Ford Focus or similar). We find this size of vehicle is better for touring offering greater luggage room and more power for the highways, whilst still not feeling too large to handle on our country roads.

5. Take your time

The beauty of England, Scotland and Wales is our wonderful natural landscapes; however roads that traverse rolling hills and through historic villages are inevitably slower than flat straight highways! Give yourself plenty of time to take your daily journeys so that you can travel at a comfortable pace for yourself. And of course, you’ll want to have plenty of time to make sightseeing stops en route!

4. Understand your car

When picking up your vehicle you may be eager to get on the road to start exploring, but taking your time at the rental office can save time and concern later. Make sure you fully understand the vehicle; where are the headlamp and windshield wiper controls? What type of fuel does the vehicle take? And how do you operate the Air Con? Ask lots of questions to the rental agent or if need be, take a drive around the parking lot to get used to the particular model. Either way, ensure you’re comfortable before heading out on to the open road.

3. Buy a Highway Code

The entire rules of the road in the UK can be found in one book – the Highway Code. This little book can be picked up in any bookstore here in Britain for just a couple of pounds or can be purchased in advance by ordering online or in any good bookstore in your home nation. Either skim read ahead of time or use as a handy reference during your travel just to clarify if there are any road-signs or markings that you’re not sure of.

2. Use your Road Map

GPS units are great for detailed directions when you’re in a town and searching for a particular address, but they will always give you a most direct route, the beauty of a driving-tour of Britain is taking the quieter backroads or more scenic routes. When booking a self-drive tour with adeo Travel we always provide an overview driving map in your travel pack perfect for advance planning, plotting potential sites or routes and gaining your bearings on your daily itinerary.

1. Know your speeds and Distances

Unlike pretty much the entire rest of Europe, here in Britain we measure our distances in miles, and therefore our speed limits in miles-per-hour. This will be natural for some of our overseas guests and not so for others. Speed-limits are usually clearly signed but if in doubt it is generally 30mph in

Self Drive Tour Scotland
Self Drive Tour Scotland

built-up areas, 60mph on country single-carriageway roads and 70mph on our motorways (highways).

Hopefully now any doubts you had regarding driving in Britain have now been allayed and you’re raring to go on your driving tour of the UK. However, if you do have any questions about driving, there is plenty more information on our website here or simply rest-assured that your experienced adeo Travel agent is on hand to offer their expert advice. So why not let us know which areas you want to explore and we’ll help you put together your perfect driving tour itinerary for your trip to Britain!

Check out our driving tours here.

Driving in Britain not for you? We offer a range of rail, traditional coach tour or small-group itineraries, simply get in touch and we’ll be happy to advise on what tour would be best for you!

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Top Ten Tips for a Rail Tour of England

Since its Victorian era heyday, rail travel has been a major means of transport for us Brits and a popular way for overseas visitors to explore Britain. With a far-reaching network, quality service providers and frequent connections coupled with the range of flexible passes and superb value offered by the Britrail scheme, Britain, and England in particular, is an excellent destination to explore by rail. So if you don’t fancy joining a large coach group and want to ditch the rental vehicle, why not hop aboard a train to traverse Britain.  Here’s our top-ten tips and practical advice for your independent rail tour:

  1. Pack light

This may seem obvious but pack as light as possible – there is no porterage service or luggage assistance at the train stations so you’ll need to be able to manage your own bags.  For this reason, we recommend you travel with minimal luggage, ideally no more than a mid-size bag or suitcase with wheels and one item of hand luggage such as a small rucksack. Most stations will have elevator access to the platforms but it is easier if you’re able to carry your case up or down a short flight of stairs, at the very least you would need to be capable of lifting your bags up two or three steps to board the train.

  1. Avoid the rush hour

You’re on holiday so have a lie in or enjoy a leisurely breakfast! It may be tempting to get your journey underway early but by waiting until after 9am to board the train you’ll avoid the local commuters which means less crowded platforms and quieter carriages meaning more space and a more enjoyable journey!

  1. Download an app

All adeo Travel rail tours include full printed service and departure information in your travel pack, but if you’re travelling with a smart-phone or tablet, we recommend that you download a rail app too. Most are easy to use and offer up-to-the-minute schedule information so that you can check your journeys and keep on top of any local service changes or potential delays. Ask your adeo Travel advisor for the best rail apps to download.

  1. Give yourself time

Britrail passes off amazing flexibility allowing you to choose any departure time for your journey without pre-booking times and seats, however if you’re aiming for a particular service ensure you give yourself plenty of time to catch it. If you plan to get to the station on foot, check how long the walk will take you before you set off. Or if you plan to take a cab, you can ask your concierge or hotel receptionist to pre-book one for your planned departure the night before.  Bear in mind that it can take time within the station to pass through ticket barriers and reach the correct platform, especially in larger stations.

  1. Stay central

It may be tempting to book low-cost hotels away from the town-centre or guest house accommodation located in the residential suburbs, however we would generally recommend centrally located hotels and all adeo Travel rail tours include central accommodation as standard. Even if you choose to take a taxi to/from the station when you are transferring your luggage, you still want to be in a downtown location to ensure you can easily explore the destination on foot; extra time and money spent in cabs could be better spent on enjoying your trip!

  1. Ask for help

Generally, the staff on the railways are extremely knowledgeable and very friendly; if you need help to figure out a timetable, check a platform or clarify a connection, simply ask someone – there are ample staff and ticket conductors, platform staff and barrier attendants will all be more than willing to help.

  1. Do day tours in rural areas

Many British cities are compact and easily explored on foot; rural areas on the other hand can be difficult to explore by rail as many smaller towns and villages no longer have operational railway stations. Our recommended solution is to combine your rail tour with pre-booked day-tours in selected destinations.  Small-group operators offer excellent insight in to countryside regions such as the Lake District, Yorkshire and South Wales but don’t forget to pre-book as they prove popular in the Summer months! If you want recommendations on such tours, simply ask your adeo Travel expert.

  1. Check seat reservations

Many train carriages will have reserved seating denoted by a ticket or digital panel – it may seem that many seats are reserved but always check the tickets; seat reservations are often only in place between selected destinations on the route – if you check the tickets you’ll find that the traveller may not be boarding the train until later on the journey or indeed may already have alighted at a previous stop. If a seat is left free, just use it.  If the owner of the seat reservation comes along, they’ll just politely ask you to move.

  1. Use your passes to their full potential

One of the real benefits of the Britrail scheme is the value the passes offer.  They are specifically designed and valid only for overseas visitors. They provide completely unlimited travel on each day of use, so don’t just set aside your ticket once you’ve arrived in your overnight destination – drop off your luggage at the hotel and get back on the rails to explore the surrounding towns and villages accessible by train.

  1. Enjoy the views

It can be tempting to bury your head in the newspaper or become glued to your phone as you travel between destinations, but don’t forget to look up occasionally; Britain is home to some of the world’s most beautiful rail journeys, and you can enjoy stunning vistas of coast and countryside on your travels by rail. The beauty of a rail tour is that you can sit back and lose yourself in England’s landscapes. Just ask your adeo Travel advisor if you want to include any particularly picturesque or famous routes.

We hope our tips have been helpful – when booking a rail tours with adeo Travel you’ll benefit from our local expertise every step of the way.  We are official Britrail agents and we regularly ride the rails of Britain in our daily lives.  For a full selection of our rail tours please click here.  Alternatively, for a fully customized rail tours simply enquire here.

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Top Ten Visitor Destinations in Britain – Traveller’s Choice.

We’re often asked what Britain’s best visitor destinations are – but with three countries, dozens of bustling cities and expansive and contrasting areas of natural beauty to choose from, it’s not a question easily answered! So on this occasion we can dodge the question and look to you, the visitor, to answer it…

A major online review site has recently released their 2016 traveller’s choice awards – using a complex algorithm based both quality and quantity of local destination and attraction reviews by visitors over the last twelve months, Trip Advisor have compiled a top-ten list of UK destinations.  The list throws up some obvious choices, but also some real gems; so, as local travel experts, do we agree…?  Here’s the list, and our thoughts:

10. Manchester

Often overlooked by the international visitor, Manchester has so much to offer! Home to England’s leading soccer team (ManchesterUnited), the national soap opera (Coronation Street) and internationally renowned museums, shopping and nightlife, Manchester has something for everyone.

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  1. 9. Glasgow

Scotland’s second city was recently named as a top international destination for 2016, and with good reason.  A hub for modern Scottish culture, Glasgow also boasts grand Georgian architecture, world-class museums and hallmarks of Scotland’s industrial heritage.

8. Bath

One of our favourite spots in Britain and arguably England’s prettiest town, Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage city.  With elegant Regency architecture and a history which dates back to the Roman Empire, Bath is simply a must-visit for travellers exploring England.

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7. York

Another of adeo Travel’s choice destinations, set amidst the scenic Yorkshire Dales and Moors, York is simply packed with history – discover how the Vikings invaded, explore the cobbled Shambles, walk the medieval town walls & gates and visit Europe’s largest gothic cathedral at the masterpiece of York Minster.

6. Torquay

Possibly best known as the home of Basil Fawlty’s less-than hospitable hotel in John Cleese’s seventies sitcom, Torquay has experienced a resurgence in recent years; this pretty Devonshire harbour-town is at the heart of the “English Riviera” coastline and has the wild landscapes of the Dartmoor National Park on its doorstep.

5. Blackpool

Not one often requested by our international guests, Blackpool is a seaside resort on Northern England’s Lancashire coast. Home to an annual coloured lights festival, donkey-rides on the beach, traditional games arcades and the famous tower ballroom there’s no doubt the town holds a certain nostalgia for Briton’s and their childhood seaside holidays.wales_llandudno

4. Llandudno

A picturesque Victorian seaside resort on the North Wales coast, Llandudno boasts a beautiful sweeping bay, historic pier and elegant promenade not to mention Britain’s only cable-hauled tramway (which dates back to 1902) and the Great Orme headland and nature reserve.  And just a stone’s throw from Conwy Castle and the Snowdonia National Park, Llandudno is definitely one we’d recommend.

3. Liverpool

The home-town of the World’s best known pop group, the wealth of Beatles’ related cultural sites is enough to put Liverpool on the map; but the city has much more besides including two magnificent cathedrals, dozens of listed historic buildings, the famous Albert Docks and a rich maritime heritage.

2. Edinburgh

Scotland’s enchanting capital, Edinburgh offers architectural beauty, an ancient history, major Scottish political and heritage sites and a leading international cultural festival. The must-see Scotland destination and gateway to the renowned Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh deservedly holds the second spot of this top-ten.

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  1. 1. London

Britain’s top-rating location, incidentally, London also tops the list of international destinations.  A thriving metropolis, the English capital leads in terms of sport, politics, commerce and culture. Playing host to a wealth of historical and heritage landmarks, recognisable the world-over, London is truly a global destination and unsurprisingly features at the premier position of Britain’s top-ten visitor destinations.

Discover any of the above Britain destinations on one of adeo Travel’s self-drive tours or rail tours which can be entirely customised to suit your travel requirements and preferences.