Cheap flights to England—whether for business or pleasure—are always in high demand by residents of other countries. Yet, in the race for a guaranteed-sun holiday, this green and pleasant land often goes unthought-of as a holiday destination.
England has a wealth of attractions: a world city in London, multicultural cities such as Manchester and Birmingham, pleasant seaside towns such as Brighton, world-class university towns such as Cambridge and Oxford, and world-renowned quintessentially English towns such as Stratford-upon-Avon and Windermere.
If you enjoy traditional British seaside resorts then you will find Southend-on-Sea a great place to visit. Situated on the north banks of the River Thames estuary, Southend is also conveniently placed for trips into London via train. It is home to the longest pier in the world, reaching out 1.33 miles into the sea. When you have finished stretching your legs on the pier, take the hydraulic train back to the entrance. The seafront has plenty of other attractions for visitors of all ages to enjoy. At the pier entrance is Adventure Island, with over 50 rides, and the Sea-Life Aquarium. The town itself perches on a cliff above the seafront, but to save visitors’ legs there are two lifts; a modern vertical one and the Victorian funicular railway. Restaurants offering a wide range of food are open all day in the town; there are also several serving the holiday staple of fish and chips. For evening entertainment Southend boasts two theaters, with concerts and ice performances taking place in the Cliffs Pavilion and more traditional productions in the Edwardian Palace Theatre. Nightlife also includes wine bars, cinemas, nightclubs and the casino. Visitors interested in the area’s history can explore the Central Museum, Prittlewell Priory or Southchurch Hall. If you are looking to get out into the fresh air, try a visit to the Belton Hills Gardens and Nature Reserve or enjoy the roses at Chalkwell Park. More energetic activities include horse riding, windsurfing and kitesurfing.
The industrial North has undergone great regeneration since the Industrial Revolution. The trade and industry of several cities made England great in the 18th and 19th centuries. While the heavy industry has gone, there are many sites of historical interest associated with them. These English cities have reinvented themselves for the 21st century with the arts, culture, entertainment, shopping and socializing, great places for a city break.
England’s thriving sports scene, their long and enduring love of Monarchy, their cultural heritage and their natural attractions ensures something for everyone.
England has a temperate maritime climate, in which temperatures are mild and weather is changeable. In winter, temperatures rarely fall below zero, while summer temperatures rarely climb past 90 degrees. Rainfall is plentiful, mostly during autumn and winter although the Great British Summer has a reputation for being a washout due to rain. The driest months are May, June, September and October.
Summer is traditionally the high season, however, it varies by destination. The school holidays have a great bearing on prices too. Prices will rise for hotel accommodations and travel in July and August, October (half-term), Christmas and New Year, February (Valentine’s Day and half-term), Easter, and May (half-term). London doesn’t have an off-season, except for a couple of weeks post-Christmas and New Year’s Day. Elsewhere, in popular destinations such as the Lake District, Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath or York, the summer months are high season.
Peak Season Southend: Southend’s coastal location makes July and August the best times to visit for beach activities, however, visitors will find accommodations more expensive at this peak time of the year. The town likes to welcome its visitors all year round with a busy calendar of events. The annual London to Southend Classic Car Rally takes place in July. For people who prefer motorbikes or planes, the Ace Cafe Shakedown takes place in April and the Festival of the Air every May. Annual cultural events include the Southend-on-Sea Film Festival in April and the Leigh Folk Festival which takes place in June. There is even an annual Puppet Festival in August, with several Mr. Punch shows competing.
The winter is, in general, the low season. Some tourist attractions (stately homes for example) are mothballed for the winter months. The early months of the year, January to early March, are traditionally the least popular with tourists, so you may find better rates for flights and accommodation during this time.
If you’re flying out from New York to get to London, the most common destination in England, you can expect a nonstop flight to take about seven hours. Add an extra hour to that if you’re flying out of Chicago, an extra 2.5 hours to fly out of Houston, and an extra 3.5 hours if your starting point is Los Angeles.
You can fly nonstop from the United States into Manchester and Birmingham, but chances are, if you’re flying to England, you’re going to land in London. London’s two main airports are Heathrow and Gatwick. Heathrow is a hub for the world, so almost every international airline has flights into it. From the United States, check out flights from Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Air New Zealand, Delta and Air India. Most of these airlines also offer flights into Gatwick, which is a smaller airport.
What should you pack for a flight to England?
All the beautiful green scenery in England is a result of the rain that falls year round — so make sure you bring an umbrella and a light jacket. In winter, you may need warmer clothing, as it does snow in England. Don’t forget to bring adapters for all your electrical devices, as English outlets take different-shaped plugs, and make sure your devices can be used with 240-volt electricity, or pack a converter. Comfortable shoes are a must, as you can expect to do a lot of walking. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in London, pick up a copy of the city’s venerable map book, ” London A-Z,” or download the corresponding app to your smartphone.
Flying is a cinch, given the low-cost airlines and dozens of airports around the country. Competition between the budget airlines ensures that fares are low—sometimes cheaper than taking the train.
Trains are frequent and prompt, and booking far in advance nets the cheapest fares.
Buses and coaches are also great ways to get around England. Booked far enough in advance you can travel to many destinations from London for a small fare with companies such as National Express.
The town center and the beaches with their attractions are all close together and easy to explore by foot, especially if use is made of the cliff lifts. There is a good local bus network and both trains and coaches run between the town center and London. The tourist information office has leaflets about local attractions, suggested walks, and cycle routes.
Your trip to England is likely to start and end in London, which is in itself a traveler’s delight. After you take the obligatory photos of Big Ben, head in to Westminster Abbey to soak up centuries of English history, and include a stop at Poet’s Corner, where you’re likely to recognize the names of many literary greats. London is a city of theatrical greats as well, so grab tickets for a show at the National Theater, or, during the summer, experience Shakespeare the way the original 16th century groundlings did at Shakespeare’s Globe. London’s museums are also noteworthy, whether you opt for the British Museum with its sweeping tour through the history of the world or head to the Victoria and Albert Museum to view intricate displays of clothing and furniture from the past. To make your London visit complete, queue up for the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, then head to the food halls at Harrods, one of the greatest department stores in the world, to pick up a takeaway lunch to enjoy in one of London’s famous parks.
As you head away from London, take advantage of the beauty of the English countryside to slow down, and stop to enjoy some spectacular beers in local pubs. If you fancy a journey to the luxurious side of England, take a tour of Windsor Castle, or marvel at the stunning preservation of Warwick Castle, parts of which are almost 1,000 years old. A visit to either of the great college towns, Oxford or Cambridge, can range from viewing spectacular architecture to picnicking by a river as you watch boats rowing by.
You can catch international flights out of Birmingham and Manchester, but if you leave from London, you can connect to virtually any location in the world. Fly to New York in a quick 7.5 hours, or extend your adventure and catch a flight to Paris, Málaga, San Francisco, Sydney, or Rome. Flights to dozens of cities in the United States leave London round the clock. Make sure to get to your airport, whether Heathrow or Gatwick, with plenty of time to get through security.
(prices quotes are from London)