The experience of being an international student in the UK is pretty wholesome on its own. If you add the countless spots, places, and attractions that this country has to offer, the experience becomes quite majestic, to say the least. Of course, all international students who enter the UK with the aim of pursuing their qualifications and career goals also become knowledgeable individuals when it comes to different global matters, cultures, and customs. The bright side about the UK is that it is a ‘melting pot’ for different nationalities, among which around 485,645 international students.
Travelling around the UK while being an international student is fairly simple especially due to the comprehensive public transport in the country. Being on a student budget, many international students find public transport to be helpful and efficient, as well as budget-friendly. Simply strolling around London can be an adventure on its own, and the other cities are also wondrous gems. There are just so many advantages to being an international student. In this article, you will find the essential information if you want to travel around the UK while studying at one of its prestigious universities.
Which Places to Visit in UK?
You should create your travel itinerary in the UK depending on how long you will be staying in the country. But there are a few cities and spots you must see, regardless of the length of your stay.
Here are some of the cities you must travel to while studying in UK:
London is one of the first cities you should visit as you are travelling around the UK while studying. There are just so many places to see while in this city, and if this happens to be your university city as well, you will have just plenty of time to explore (in-between classes or any free hour). London is full of tourist attractions, but it has a variety of hidden gems as well. The street art is beautiful, the museums are unique, and the coffee shops and pubs are quite entertaining and comfortable for any recreational hour. In addition, in London, you will find the likes of the clock tower, Big Ben, Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’, Leavesden Studios (where many Harry Potter movies were filmed), and so much more in this vibrant city.
As one of the most picturesque towns in England, Bath has outstanding landscapes and scenery, its Georgian architecture is eye-catching, and culture and tradition simply thrive here. You can hop on a train and be there in a matter of 90 minutes if you are travelling from London, and enjoy a perfectly good day visiting the lovely town and its famous Roman baths (where it got its name). What is special about Bath is that it has what is known as the Jane Austen Centre, which celebrates one of Bath’s most famous residents, the English novelist who wrote the likes of Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. Visitors and the guides surely enjoy this centre and all that it has to offer.
What is especially great about Liverpool, apart from being the birthplace of The Beatles, is the people who live there – also known as Scousers – who are recognized as some of the most welcoming people in all of the UK. Their sense of humour and friendliness will surely complement your visit to Liverpool as you are travelling around the UK. Once you find yourself in the city, you will likely be glad to visit The Beatles Story Museum, or Anfield, the seventh-largest stadium in England, or even its numerous theatres, cathedrals, and art galleries. Liverpool’s nightlife is amazing, its food is truly appetizing, and the architecture is fairly one of a kind.
The capital of Scotland should also be your go-to destination during your UK travels as an international student. However, this is not a one-day trip so you will have to book a few days or some time during the holidays to make a proper visit to all Edinburgh has to offer. This city is known as one of the world’s top festival cities, with around 12 major festivals annually. During your visit, you will notice an amazing contrast between Edinburgh’s Old Town, with its cobbled streets, and neo-classical New Town, which will make you experience two different eras at the same time. There is also a seaside town, North Berwick, which is merely 30-minutes of train ride from Edinburgh and it will likely make your visit complete.
Oxford is just 60 miles northwest of London, and booklovers simply love the city. In Oxford, you will be able to find Blackwell’s bookshop, which is the largest academic bookseller in the whole country. Many famous authors found their inspiration in Oxford, for example, Lewis Carroll wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland here. Authors also include Thomas Hardy and C.S. Lewis. While you are here, you may also pay a visit to the oldest university in England, the University of Oxford. Oh, and did you know that the Great Hall within Christ Church College was what inspired the Great Hall at Hogwarts from Harry Potter?
Cambridge is among the top university cities in the UK, and students typically love strolling around its streets. Famous for its university, this city has a wide range of museums, such as the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Fitzwilliam Museum, and Kettle’s Yard Museum. Cambridge also has a variety of green spaces, with numerous plant species from around the world. Famous figures have a history in Cambridge, for example, Sylvia Plath first met Ted Hughes at Cambridge University. Also, The Theory of Everything was filmed in Cambridge! There’s just so much to see and do!
Here are a few interesting attractions you should visit as you are travelling around the UK while studying:
1. Shakespeare’s Birthplace (Stratford-upon-Avon)
Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of the famous playwright, William Shakespeare and it’s also the place where his grave-stone is, his daughter’s home, as well as his mother’s childhood home. Tourists love visiting this special town full of history. Besides being Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon also houses some of the best pubs in England.
Stonehenge is a mysterious and interesting spot to visit. It was built between the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age and it will basically take you back to 2,600 BC. This place, although a tourist attraction, is definitely worth visiting since it is a great part of UK history. Located in the west of London, in Wiltshire, it attracts more than one million visitors every year.
3. Lake District
Lake District is located in the northwest corner of England, in the county of Cumbria. It is basically the place you should go to if you want to calm your eyes in the picturesque beauty it has to offer. It has an amazing trace of hike-worthy mountains and the landscapes are simply astonishing to the eye.
4. David Bowie’s Memorial Mural
If you are a fan of David Bowie, you will surely find your crowd among the people who visit David Bowie’s memorial mural in Brixton. Australian artist James Cochran finished the graffiti work in 2013, and ever since then the mural, on a wall of Morley’s Department store, has attracted hundreds of tourists and music lovers annually.
5. The Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic Coast is a special go-to destination, popular for fossils of Jurassic aged marine life. Also a World Heritage Site, this destination is located along the coast between Orcombe Point in East Devon and Studland Bay in Dorset. There is basically a wealth of history in this place, and there are just so many fossil hunting opportunities here. A great place to learn about the past of the earth and have fun while at it!
6. Beaches of Yorkshire
Yorkshire’s beaches are filled with impressive views, due to their dramatic cliffs and clean waters. Full of literary connections, this historic county in northern England, is made for those who love beautiful beaches, dramatic coastlines, castles, and medieval abbeys. But the beaches are simply one-of-a-kind and can be enjoyed during all times of the year.
How to Travel Around UK as an International Student
For an international student on a limited budget, travelling around all of the UK is quite the challenge. However, depending on how long you will be staying in the country, you will likely have plenty of time to save, explore, and study! Of course, a student budget as you are travelling around the UK while studying means you will likely have to use any of the means of public transport – which is absolutely okay, considering public transport is highly efficient.
A simple way to travel around the UK, an economical way, and a comprehensive way! To travel locally, public transport is highly recommended. The largest cities in the UK have the most bus services and cities like London, Newcastle, and Glasgow have highly efficient underground transport, while tram local transport can be found in Edinburgh, south London, and Manchester among others. Taxis, buses, trains, all are highly comprehensive and on time.
To travel from one city to another in the UK, you might choose to use means of rail transport. Most people recommend using the train, since almost all cities are reachable by train in the UK and the fares are quite affordable and reasonable. Besides, you will get the chance to watch outside of the window, explore the landscapes, without having to worry about the directions or even getting lost. And maybe make friends along the way, why not?
Domestic flights are also efficient and available in the UK. Sometimes, it might even be cheaper than travelling by train (and it is definitely quicker). So, depending on what your circumstances are, you may also consider domestic air travel.
Tips to Keep in Mind as You Travel Around UK
- Explore the overlooked: The places we have mentioned above might be considered as largely visited by the masses, but they are places full of historical and cultural value and should be visited whenever you get the chance. In case, however, you find yourself unable to visit any of these places or would like to step away from tourist crowds, the UK has just so much to offer. Simply asking the locals will help you spot the nearest unexplored gem. Do not be shy!
- Boots, coats, and an umbrella: It is true that the UK is known for its gloomy-like rainy weather. But it does not mean it is always raining in the UK. Make sure you check with your smartphone weather app, and just in case, bring an umbrella with you. It would be wise if you had a foldable umbrella so it is practical to carry around in your backpack.
- Socialize and practice the language: As you are travelling around the UK while studying as an international student, you would surely like to practice the language and socialize, right? Whatever the case may be, socializing is a good way to create friendships, have fun, learn about new cultures, and practice the language.
- Make sure you have a travel insurance policy: Your travel insurance policy is one of the most important assets you should have with you while travelling around the UK. You will be covered in case you lose your passport or any luggage. And if you have any medical emergency, your health insurance policy will ensure you get proper care without having to worry about enormous bills.