United Kingdom Basic Information
Believe the hype – the weather in the UK can be a little hit-and-miss. Rain is more than likely, but there’s no need to let a wet weather day ruin your itinerary. Instead, there’s plenty of indoor attractions, museums, castles and galleries to keep you occupied. Or, there’s always the pub! For more helpful tips, read on.
Australian passport holders looking to visit the UK for less than 6 months do not require a visa. If you are planning on staying longer than 6 months, or looking to study or work in the UK, then you will need to apply for a visa before you travel. Your type and length of study or work will determine what type of visa you can apply for. You may also be eligible for a working visa if you are a Commonwealth citizen or have UK ancestry. All foreigners are required to register their place of residence within 24 hours of arrival. Please be aware that this information is only a guideline. For up-to-the-minute visa information, please contact your local British embassy.
The UK uses the British Pound. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and British Pound changes constantly, so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase Pounds when the rate is at its best. For safe spending, it is also recommended to bring a credit card or travel card with you. A Multi-currency Cash Passport™ allows you to transfer money onto the card in Pounds and other currencies and access it with a much lower fee than a typical bankcard. Always tell your bank or credit card company your travel dates before you leave so you can easily access your account from overseas.
Traditional pub dinners are a favourite throughout the UK with dishes such as bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie regularly listed in establishments from Scotland to Wales and England to Northern Ireland. If you like your food with a bit of spice, the English Midlands in particular is famous for its Balti-style curries. For something uniquely Scottish, haggis is a regional ‘delight’ and consists of a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs minced with onions, spices, stock and salt and encased in a sausage skin. A must-try, plus there’s also vegetarian versions! When visiting the coastal areas of the UK, be sure to dive into a fish-and-chip shop for the catch of the day served traditionally in a rolled-up newspaper and liberally doused with salt and vinegar. To find the best local, special-edition ale, head to the Lake District where nearly every pub has its own brew house and features drinks that go by such names as ‘Sheep Thrills’ and ‘A Pint of the Ewesual’.
The UK has a deeply ingrained nightlife and dance music culture and has the world watching for emerging clubbing trends. Venues from the top to the bottom of the United Kingdom are stepping up to the plate to offer sublime experiences for weekend clubbing or midweek drinks. London is the UK’s nightlife capital with Hoxton Square and Brick Lane known as hipster central and Soho the place to go for cocktails and a renowned gay scene. Camden Town in London’s north should not be missed as this is where the most cutting-edge live music can be seen, so be sure to catch a gig. Most large English and Welsh cities are routinely packed with students and feature events throughout the week, while Glasgow, Edinburgh and uni towns in Scotland are also renowned as a popular clubbing and pub crawl destination. On the flipside, England’s Lake District is beautifully chilled out and takes patrons back to days of simple living while serving unique wines, ciders and beers along with a cheery atmosphere and the odd live band.