An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. England has a centralised and impressively extensive rail network which links towns to the major cities. The Eurostar is among travel options that connect England with Europe via rail. London itself is home to one of the most extensive metro systems in the world, and a number of the stations are tourist attractions in their own right.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, environment, & weather
England forms part of the United Kingdom, along with Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It borders Scotland to the north and Wales to the west and is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea and English Channel. Low hills and plains make up the majority of England’s landscape, but it is punctuated by uplands in the north, including the Lakes District, and to the west, with Dartmoor and the Shropshire Hills.
England’s climate is temperate maritime. This translates to relatively mild temperatures, barely exceeding 0 to 32 degrees celsius in scope. The English coast is particulary chilly, especially in the winter months of January and February. England is prone to damp, changeable conditions. This is influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, northern latitude and warmer Gulf stream. It is best to pack wet-weather clothing and be prepared for the rain.
World Heritage Sites
The United Kingdom boasts 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, many of which are located in England. You can view the official list of the sites here https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/gb. It is well worth visiting every site, if you are able. But here’s a few highlights from the bunch:
The Tower of London, marvel of Norman military architecture
Stonehenge and Avebury, pre-historic monuments that capture the imagination of the world
The Lakes District, where the imposing peaks and depths are balanced by the warmth of the villages throughout.
Festivals & events
England is home to some eccentric festivals and events. In fact, it seems the more eccentric, the greater the fervour of participants. Glastonbury hosts one of the world’s largest contemporary music festivals; the Latitude Festival in Suffolk is a little more sedate. There’s a major cycling race around Leicester in August called the Leicester Castle Classic, and commemorative celebrations for Guy Fawkes in November. Among the most unusual calendar events is the annual Shrovetide football match held in Ashbourne and surrounds. Honouring one of the UK’s oldest sporting traditions, two competing sides must move a ball to posts at opposing ends of town. It is passionate, unruly, and can involve being plunged into waterways by your competitors. There’s truly something for every taste in England.
- The Making of the British Landscape: From the Ice Age to the Present by Nicholas Crane.
- Iron, Steam and Money: The Making of the Industrial Revolution by Roger Osbourne
- Britain Begins by Barry Cunliffe
Eating & Drinking
Cuisine is not one of England’s primary attractions for travellers. But despite its unfortunate reputation, quality restaurants serving international dishes are on the rise. England is now experiencing a transition stage, while the eating culture catches up on the progress. In the meantime, some budget options can be hit and miss. Fish and chips is ubiquitous, usually deep fried haddock or cod. As is “curry” – a catch all term for what is arguably England’s national dish! Indian restaurants can be found in just about every village. England boasts some regional dishes too. Melton Mowbray pork pies originated in Leicestershire, and are served cold. Pancake-like oatcakes are a speciality of Stoke-on-Trent, Stafforshire and Derbyshire. Lancashire was the birthplace of the hearty Lancashire hotpot, as well as Eccles cake, a flaky pastry with raisins. If possible, indulge in a Sunday roast, which is likely to feature famous Yorkshire puddings. As for drink, a real British ale is regarded among the world’s best, but it must be sourced from a “real ale pub”. It doesn’t have the shelf life of foreign beers, and some pubs serve it past its prime – a vinegary taste is not a good sign.
While much of England is usually safe to travel around, it’s important to stay alert to anything unusual. Also, you will often see signs warning of pickpockets in areas popular with tourists, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times.
England’s primary travel advice is ‘see it’ say it, sorted for potential threats on public transport.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply runs at 230V, 50Hz. British plugs have three flat, rectangular pins which form a triangle. These are shared by Ireland, Malta and some former British colonies, but Australia is not one of them.
England has a single time zone (excluding its overseas territories), Greenwich mean time . The nation observes daylight saving time from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you make sure you tip an appropriate amount for services, as is the case throughout much of Europe. It’s customary to tip 10-15% of the bill at restaurants, or 1 to 3 GBP at a more casual establishment. It’s polite to round a bill up to the nearest whole figure or leave the change when buying drinks.
Internet access is easily accessible, and most hotels and many cafes will be able to offer it.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in England. Many providers will offer a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for England
- If sightseeing in rural areas, remember to be respectful of residents and locals. As well as being tourist attractions, these are peoples’ homes!
- Carry a card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums & galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of pounds in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.