Planet Airlines; Travel and More

In this Destination Guide you will find information for : London and Edinburgh

Essential Country Information:

United Kingdom

♦Capital: London

♦Currency: Pound £

♦Zone: 0 GMT

♦Phone Code: +44

♦Best time to visit: March-November

♦Must eat: Fish&Chips, Cornish Pastry

♦Must drink: English Tea, Beer (Larger).

♦Don't miss: An afternoon tea & Scones

Number of times visited: "Base Country"

Getting there and transportation: Most people travel to the UK by plane as the country is in fact an island. This said, you can also travel by train thanks to the EuroStar which connects Paris and Brussels to London by an underground tunnel under the English Chanel. For more info check EuroStar.

Flying to the UK is very accessible and the capital enjoys very frequent connections to so many destinations (in fact its the one of the most popular destination to fly to in the world) and around the capital you will find 5 airports serving the demand for air travel.

The most international and convenient airport to fly to is London Heathrow. Its accessible by most Capitals around the globe, specially offering important links to many European destinations (Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Rome etc) and key routes such as New York, Beijing, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Singapore, Sydney, Auckland or Buenos Aires are all connected directly. Being only located 20 miles west of the city of London, Heathrow offers travellers the quickest route by metro into central London. From Heathrow you can also connect to most cities in the UK by coach, National Express is the company in-charge of this. See how to travel from Heathrow at London Transport information below.

Gatwick is London's second main airport and again its an important gateway to the country as you can travel everywhere from it. Gatwick serves most European capitals and secondary cities. Leisure destinations are very popular from Gatwick (Spain,Greece,Turkey,Caribbean,and selected US destinations).Getting from Gatwick to the city centre is easy by train, a 30min ride to Victoria Station costing £12 for a one way ticket..A Cheaper option is buying in advance a ticket online at Easybus (cost between £2 and £10 one way).this mini-bus service will take you in Earl's Court (West Central London) where you can connect to the London Underground.

Other airports in the capital are LutonStansted and London City.They serve mostly European capitals, secondary and leisure destinations. Flights are cheaper at Luton and Stansted due to the distance away from the city centre (1.50 hours by bus) and for being served by low-cost airlines predominately.The cheapest way to get to Luton and Stansted is by Easybus. London City is located east of the city and connects directly by the DLR (Docklands Light Rail System) costing about £3 for a one way ticket into Central London within a 35 min ride.

Other Airports in the UK, popular by location and importance are Manchester (UK second largest City), Cardiff (Capital for Wales), Edinburgh (capital for Scotland), Birmingham, Leeds, East Midlands, Glasgow, Belfast (Northern Ireland) etc.. 

Travelling through the UK is quite easy thanks to the advance number of public transport options available in the country.To reach practically every town in the country a wide range of coaches are operated. National Express is the company which provides direct links from major cities, operating a fleet of modern air conditioned coaches equipped with WiFi, and toilet facilities on board. Cheap fares are often found if booking get in advance. For more info visit National Express.
Trains are also a very common used transport option in the UK, though fares are often much more expensive. For fares and timetables nationwide check this following link "The train line".

Weather and temperature: The UK islands are generally quite wet year round but depending a lot on the currents, you can also get very hot days and strong winds at times. Summer's are always more pleasant from May to September and the further north you go the milder it gets. Winter's can be around 10C, so nothing too extreme. But be ready for frozen mornings and the chance of the odd snow fall at times as well. 
Food and Drink:  Dishes range very differently depending on the region. However in a whole iconic cakes, sandwiches and stews all are famous from the United Kingdom. Of course tea is a national drink accompanied by scones. Another fine UK institution is breakfast, and although there are plenty of coffee shops selling US-style muffins and bagels, the full-on British breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast, tomatoes) served with a cuppa can be found in cafés or in pubs. Generally eating out in the United Kingdom is expensive, except for ethic restaurants/take aways and the more local fish&chips shops which are located all over the country. 
  • As for England, cooking has become very popular, with excellent restaurants in the capitals and beyond. The proof in the pudding. The use of local, seasonal ingredients has spread throughout the country from gastropubs in Yorkshire to fish restaurants in Cornwall.London and the larger cities offer every type of ethnic food imaginable, with Asian food such as Indian, Chinese and Thai being particularly popular and value for money.Where drink is concerned, both craft beer and gin are popular. English wine is growing in stature. Meanwhile, the English taste for real ale is as unquenchable as ever.
  • Scottish cuisine has a reputation for strong flavours and interesting ingredients. Inspiration comes from oats, whisky, salmon, Aberdeen Angus beef and game. Fish and chip shops are widespread. In Scotland’s cities, you’ll come across a huge assortment of international cuisine; Glasgow in particular is famed for its Italian restaurants and first-rate curry houses. As for drinks, Whiskeys are the king. 
  • Wales' gastronomic image is rising. Lamb is never off the menu for long. The coastline provides a great variety of fresh fish and shellfish: mullet and brown shrimps are common on the Gower peninsula, as well as cockles, whilst several producers have awards for their crab and smoked fish.
Specialities in the United Kingdom include:
Sunday roast, beef, lamb, pork or chicken, served with roast potatoes, veg, gravy and other accompaniments. Cream tea,scones, jam, butter, clotted or double cream and, of course, tea. Spotted dick, suet pudding with currants and raisins. Bakewell pudding, pastry base covered with jam, almond filling and topped with icing. Cheese, popular kinds include Cheddar, Wensleydale, Lancashire and Stilton.
Fish and chips,  battered and deep fried fish with chipped potatoes, widely found. Curry, the English have a passion for Indian and Bangladeshi food. In fact chicken tikka masala is considered the national dish. Full English breakfast, commonly a combination of bacon, sausage, egg, beans, mushrooms, black pudding, tomato and toast. Lancashire hotpot, A lamb and onion stew, slow-cooked and topped with sliced potatoes. Cornish pasty, crusted pastry filled with meat and vegetables. An iconic snack in the West Country.
As for drinks, alcoholic drinks are widely available in any pub, bar, restaurant and even theatres and operas. Having a glass of wine with your dinner or lunch is very popular and British love their drink after work. It's very common to flock to the pubs and bars after a long day at work and drink out with a pint glass whilst talking, smoking or watching sport events. Ales, Beers and Ciders are the most popular to drink. However cocktails are very well made and they are a common choice on the weekend with many bars specialising in their making. Whiskeys and Vodka is widely available and are a favourite amongst the younger crowds and not so young. 

Author's Comment:

The United Kingdom is my birth country.I have many memories attached to it's cities and surroundings. After a 20 year period living in Madrid I came back to London in 2007 for work and setting a new life. The United Kingdom offers a great opportunity to people like myself to expand horizons and gain independence, skills and maturity by living in a "foreign" country.
The UK, has a very distinct identity and its British people are renowned around the world for being polite, educated and refined. However the UK now has one of the highest immigration levels within Europe and many of its main cities are "coloured" in the different races, mixes and backgrounds that choose to live in the country. It's a true Multicultural experience, in which every citizen around the globe can be represented and found in the UK. Specifically in London.

The UK will also strike you for its medieval history, rich architecture, literature, and culture. It has many national parks, beautiful green scenery, low planes, dense forests and even snow peaked mountains where you can ski.
There is so much to see and do, so much to learn and so many cities where important history events took place that it would take a book to write it all.
However below you find all the basic info for the United Kingdom when visiting from abroad and the main cities I have travelled to.

London tourism Information: 

The capital of the Uk is the most visited city in Europe, both for culture/entertainment and business. Its a modern metropolis in which everything goes.
Society is open to pretty much everything, so expect to see all kind of people and scenes. At the same time the city co-exists with it's very classical and historical past. It's very fascinating to find hidden old fashioned buildings, shops and places of interest which can throw you back a few centuries.
Sure the city of London has the wow factor for the first time visitor, and you will want to come back time and time again!
Weather and temperature: The British capital has a very unpredictable weather forecast and as the whole country weather can change in a matter of minutes. London offers warmer temperatures by being a big city metropolis and average temperatures can range in the low 20 C expect during the winter when it's gets colder and go down to an average of 10 C.
The best time to visit London is recommended between March to November. However the summer months June to August can be much more expensive to visit and weather can be hot and muggy due to the higher humidity.
Transportation:  the capital has one of the biggest transportation networks in the world, which helps connect the high density population of London. 
All the transport falls into the hands of the Transportation for London company. From their website you can access all the relative information on fares, timetables, quickest route planner, maps and online options for travelcards and passes. Visit Transport for London website for more info.
Getting into London is simple by the metro which they call "tube" by its tubular shape. If arriving at London Heathrow airport take the Piccadilly Line service from Terminal 123 or Terminal 4, Terminal 5 and within 50 minutes you will reach the heart of London. Price for a single one way ticket is under £5. 
If you are planing to stay in London for a longer time and want to use all the modes of transport then it's recommended you buy an Oyster card which can be found at the travel centres. One day passes will cost £9 and for a week transport in London it will cost approximately £35. Despite the price, sometimes it's still cheaper doing this as single fares can be often quite expensive depending which time of the day you travel.
Trains are also integrated into the Oyster card system, it's a good option if you stay away from central London as trains are convenient, quick and offer more sitting space. Check times before you travel as they are not so frequent and services finish before midnight. 

Towards the east of London, the DLR is the Docklands Light Railway System. These driver-less trains are very modern and comfortable. They connect central London at Bank Station to famous areas such as Stratford, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, London City Airport, the O2 Arena etc.

London busses: are famous for the iconic double decker bus. For a day travel pass it will cost £5 using only busses. However if you are located outside central London it can take a very long time to travel by Bus as journeys are slow, and busses stop practically at every stop.

Tip: If you are touring around London and don't want to spend much money on the expensive official tour busses, you can make your own itinerary by following the most popular bus routes. On this map below you will find the routes and the sites you can see along the way.

Tip:  When walking in central London it's always better to go by tube if you are in a hurry. London gets very congested and paying high fares for taxis are not worth it. Always try to walk around the city to enjoy and explore more than you would by public transport. 

Tip: As with many European capitals you can rent a bike and the first half an hour is always free (plus an access fee). It can be a fun way to explore the city and reaching further out. For more information check London Bikes.
What to see and do? Visiting London will take you many days , as the city is full of history. There is so much to do and see that it's without doubt this city is one of the most popular capitals in Europe. 
It has a rich culture and medieval background going back many centuries. Expect to find beautiful preserved public buildings, old medieval remains, classical buildings from the Victoria area, monuments, museums, galleries, churches, national parks and open green spaces making it a very interesting visit for all ages.
One main advantage of visiting London's famous museums are that all are free. Many might offer extra galleries or expositions, but the main exhibits and permanent exhibitions is open to everybody for free.
The main museums in London are: Science Museum, National Gallery, Notional Portrait Gallery, British Museum, London Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Gallery.
A day out in London will consist of a lot of walking, but in doing so you will ensure you see the famous sites of the city. Most visited buildings and places culture interest are Houses of Parliament (Big Ben), Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall (10 Downing st), The Monument, St Paul's Cathedral, London Bridge and The Tower of London as the must see places to visit.

Other places of general interest include Oxford Street and Regent Street (for shopping), Picadily Circus and Leicester Square (entertainment), Covent Garden and China Town (entertainment and restaurants), Soho (Gay area) Bank and Canary Wharf (financial city), Camden Town (alternative area and markets).
If you are looking for attractions London offers a wide range of days out and many venues spread across the city have special offers if you buy two or more attractions in one day. Popular attractions include The London Eye, Thames river cruise, Madame Taussauds wax museum, London Dungeons, London Bridge Experience, London Aquarium, Tower Bridge Museum, Crown Jewels (inside Tower of London), Emirates Airline Cable Car etc...

Tip: London is famous for its theatres. Around Leicester Square you will see a ticket booth which offer good last minute deals on popular shows. After a long day of walking and visiting many sites what best but to watch a famous theatre show! Prices are from £20 per person at discounted rates.
Accomodation: For a budget traveller visiting London can be a bit of a challenge. The city is hugely in demand and there is a infinate amount of accomodation types and prices. Hostels would be the obvious choice but at shared rooms.
Hotels are very expensive in the city centre and cost between £45 and £120 for normal average hotels. The trick is to stay further away from the city and prices will drop to about £30 per night but make sure you are located close to a tube station.
Alternative accomodation thanks to Airbnb would be a good solution and stay with local residents.
For many students coming to london for exchange programs there are plenty of University Rooms which offer good prices. Must need documentation and agreements before you travel as this can not be booked on a turn up basis.
Recommended duration: London is a huge city and it takes time to visit, enjoy and explore everything that has been mentioned on this guide. A good and adequate time to spend in London is 5 nights for your visit to be worth it and see most of the sites. But even up to a couple of weeks would be enough to keep you going every day and see all the city has to offer.