Visiting one of the best destination in the world present a challenge. England with its high price is a place where budgeting your travel is a must. London, in particular, is the place where people draws into with its history, enchantment, and pubs. The city is famous as one of the most expensive cities in the world. Once you get outside of London prices, drop dramatically. Hence, traveling slow in UK is one way to reduce your overall travel cost.
My 26 days exploring the UK are mixed with spontaneous trips, being frugal, countless photos, and tried free activities in the UK. Most events and museums are cheap or free!
Day 1 – 8: London
London has one of the most advanced transportation systems in the world. If you know where to get around – and it’s very easy too! – My advice is to invest in an Oyster card. You would not need a taxi or rent a car in the city.
I wanted to experience the different London sights, which is focusing on sports tourism. Hence, the first couple of days my itinerary filled with visiting sports places.
- Day 1: Piccadilly Circus, Picnic in Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, 10 Downing Street, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and end the day with London Eye
- Day 2: Chelsea FC Tour and Museum and Wimbledon Tour
- Day 3: Tour of Olympic Park, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Covent Garden
- Day 4: Tower of London, Walking tour to Golden Hinde, South Bank, Shakespeare’s Globe, Tate Modern, Jubilee Bridge, and finished with very late lunch at Borough Market
- Day 5: Camden Town
Look into buying a London Pass to save money on London’s top attractions. Available in 1, 3 and 6-day versions, as well as a version with an included Oyster card. The savings can be quite effective if you plan on visiting a few locations.
Day 9: Bristol
Bristol required a full day to explore. It’s very easy to get around the town. Buy one-time bus ticket for 2GBP or save up by spend 4GBP for an unlimited one-day bus ride. Start your day by seeing the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge. The Clifton Suspension Bridge’s spectacular setting on the cliffs of the Avon Gorge has made it the defining symbol of Bristol.
It’s a very hipster city. Sit down at the harbourside and have a picnic with friends. There is regular ferry boat every day. One way to ride is about 1.5GBP. Then, you can walk back and enjoy the scenery of Bristol colorful houses. Discover three decades of Banksy art hidden amongst historic Bristol city center, over 30 years the artist use Bristol as the place to channel his artistic side.
Day 10: Bath
From Bristol, it’s on to the Roman spa city of Bath, a world heritage site. It’s a city for sightseeing. Walking in Bath everywhere is possible.
Funny thing while I visited Bath was my bank suddenly blocked my debit and credit card for no reason. With only GBP 20 and a return ticket to London in my hand, I can’t splurge. I ended up only seeing the Roman Bath and walked everywhere. But, I think this is enough. To waste time I took a nap at the Royal Victoria Park, just a short stroll from the city center. Always fascinated by England history the Royal Victoria Park is named after Queen Victoria, who officially opened it in 1830 at the age of 11.
Bath city was the place where famous writer, Jane Austen, get her inspiration for her books. Avid fans of her book should check out the Jane Austen museum. However, I think 11GBP is quite expensive for such a small museum. I ended up only visited the gift shop there.
Day 11 – 13: London
I have to be back in London because I need to catch the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Such an avid fan! If you want to book the tour it has to be done through online reservation. There’s travel agent who gives Harry Potter tour, but I don’t recommend this because it’s more expensive and you can go to the studio by public transportation. Spare 2 hours to travel via public bus and another 3 – 4 hours to enjoy the studio tour.
Day 14 – 18: Edinburgh
Must See: The Royal Mile, Old Town, Loch Ness, The Highlands, Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Princes Street Gardens, Scott Monument, National Galleries of Scotland, National Museum of Scotland, Greyfriars Bobby, The Grassmarket, The Elephant House (Cafe)
Spend the first day exploring The Old Town. The oldest part of Scotland’s capital city Edinburgh. Together with the 18th century New Town, it’s part of a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Next, stop by Greyfriars Bobby monument, a Skye Terrier, who became known for supposedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died himself on 14 January 1872.
Need a break? Stop for a coffee at the birthplace of Harry Potter, The Elephant House, where JK Rowling used to sit for hours and wrote the magic school.
While I’m there, I went for a History of Crime and Punishment Edinburgh’s walking tour with Invisible Edinburgh. An organization that focuses on combatting homelessness in the city by giving homeless people a chance to become a local tour guide for their walking tours. It’s very different to uncover the history of crime and punishment in the city.
Day 19: Glasgow
Must See: George Square, Glasgow University, Kelvingrove Art Gallery, and Museum
When you arrive in Glasgow Buchanan bus station walk up to the principal civic square, George Square. The square has often been the scene of public meetings, political gatherings, riots, protests, celebrations, ceremonies, parades, and concerts. Sitting on the square made me realize 19 days of constant traveling finally take its toll on me. I give up. Too tired to walk everywhere to see the city anymore. So, I paid 14GBP to used the Hop on Hop off bus tour. The bus tour is very convenient when you want to see all areas of Glasgow. Finish the whole tour first – it takes about 1.5 hours. Glasgow is a small city. Then hop off the bus to see which place interest you the most.
Glasgow is famous for its free museum! Gallery of Modern Art, Riverside Museum, and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum are some of the free museums you must check out.
Next, head up to Glasgow University. It ‘s not a ‘hidden’ gem – it’s one of the best universities in Scotland, after all! Its atmospheric cloisters make it a great spot for fans of architecture or photography.
Day 20 – 22: Newcastle upon Tyne
To See Outside The City Center: Alnwick Castle, Tynemouth Longsands Beach
Newcastle upon Tyne (also known as Newcastle) is one of the largest cities in England located in Tyne and Wear. Every June in the Newcastle Town Moor a festival called ‘The Hoppings’ embarks with the largest traveling fair in Europe.
If you have extra time, head up to the beach. Tynemouth Longsands is just stunning. Too bad I arrived there when the sun about to set. However, in the summer when the sun is out there is no better place to be as people flock from miles around to soak up the sun, play beach games and bathe in the sea. Longsands has developed a national reputation as surf destination!
Once again, UK is famous for a place to shoot movies. Harry Potter and Downtown Abbey scene were shot at Alnwick Castle. A castle 1.5 hours bus ride from the city center. They regularly have an outdoor screening in the summer. Check their webpage to reserve your spot at ticket sold out fast.
Day 23 – 26: London
Must See: Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and a quick stop at Oxford
Nothing tastes better than indulging in a spot of afternoon tea in London. One of British culture I always fascinate is their love for afternoon tea. Indulging the afternoon high tea can cost between 45GBP per person. Try to find deals online. I got it for 12GBP booking through afternoontea.co.uk. And yes, I get to try that finger-licking scones, delectable sandwiches and warming teas. Yummy!
Last day of traveling I always do my due diligence for my family. Buying gifts. Walk your way around the upmarket Harrods department store on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge. The name itself is a legend.
When picking your teabags other than Harrods try Fortnum and Mason. It is known that the Queen shop for her tea’s here too. Well, I completely trust the Queen’s choice!
As I do not have more time in UK I decided to go on a tour to see Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford in one day. A very ambitious trip but it can be done. However, you would not see much. Exploring Windsor castle for 2 hours its not convenient and I think Stonehenge for 1 hour is enough. But, seeing Oxford for 2 hours is way too short. I suggest explore Oxford at least for a whole day. Well, lesson learned.
To sum up here’s how many nights I spent travel in UK.
- London: 15 nights
- Edinburgh: 5 nights
- Bristol: 1 nights
- Bath: 0 / a day trip
- Newcastle: 3 nights
- Glasgow: 0 / a day trip
- Oxford: 0 / a day trip