- Places to visit in the UK.
- Short breaks in the UK.
- Walking, hiking and ‘rambling’.
- Cultural, literature and music festivals.
- Museums and galleries.
- European travel/holidays/city breaks.
- Health and fitness.
- Evening classes.
- Websites and resources.
To get information from existing international members of staff, click the play button on the video screen to watch a short clip.
Try to enjoy what this place offers, lots of international food, nice countryside. You can visit the cinema, cook, or join a hiking group – or anything you like!
Eleonora Rivalta – School of Earth & Environment
There is a huge variety of ways to spend your spare time in the UK, and a few of the most popular ones are suggested below. Many people in this country regard socialising – whether meeting up at friends’ houses or going to a pub, café or restaurant – as an essential pastime. But there are other ways to spend your time – including ways to meet people who are interested in the same things as you.
Many UK residents consider socialising to be an activity in and of itself and often get together with friends or acquaintances over a drink or a meal. This might involve going to a venue which has a licence to serve alcohol – such as a pub, restaurant or café. All places serve non-alcoholic drinks too, and there is no expectation that a social gathering must include alcohol, even though a British person might call it ‘going for a pint [of beer]’. Other common activities – often combined with socialising – include going to the cinema or the theatre, watching sport on the television or at live events, seeing musical performances or simply visiting friends’ homes and enjoying ‘having a cuppa’ together (a cup of tea or another hot drink).
2. Places to visit in the UK
Take advantage of the rich historical and cultural heritage of Great Britain by visiting sites of national historical interest. A good place to start planning your search is the Visit Britain website.
The National Trust and English Heritage are two organisations which look after and maintain ancient castles, stately homes (that is, former houses of the British aristocracy), monasteries, churches, parkland, coastlines and gardens, and other sites of interest across the country. See their websites for ideas of where to visit and their opening hours. There is usually a small fee or voluntary donation to enter these sorts of places.
3. Short breaks in the UK
If you want to go away in the UK for a short break, there are options to suit all budgets, from camping and caravanning to more luxurious hotels. A popular choice in the UK is a “B & B” (bed and breakfast), which is usually a small guest house or rooms in the owner’s home. B & Bs tend to be more affordable than a hotel, and they can often be found in small villages which might not have larger hotels. A budget option is to stay in a youth hostel: a hostel provides basic accommodation, usually in shared bedrooms with bunk beds ,and communal kitchen facilities. Despite their name, youth hostels are open to people of all ages. See the Youth Hostel Association website for more details.
4. Walking, hiking and ‘rambling’
The UK has a huge network of public footpaths which give keen walkers (or ‘ramblers’) and hikers the opportunity to gain access to the countryside and coastline, even over privately owned land. Take advantage of the UK’s thousands of miles of footpaths all round the country, from the fantastic Lake District in the North West of England, to mountains in Scotland, the hills of Wales or the fantastic coastal walks all round this island nation. Public footpaths are usually signalled by way markers and sign-posts. The map-making organisation Ordnance Survey provides maps for the whole country, showing the network of footpaths and bridleways (for horse-riders and walkers). Although you have the right to cross fields, climb stiles and go through gates, you must keep to the footpaths and keep pet dogs under control and away from grazing farm animals. See the Ordnance Survey website to find out more, or pop in to your local bookshop to find maps for walks local to you.
5. Cultural, literature and music festivals
The UK boasts a huge number of cultural and seasonal events which cater to all tastes and take place in all sorts of venues.
There is now a wide choice of live musical delights on offer in this country. Choose from huge rock and pop music festivals like Glastonbury and Latitude, the more genteel delights of the Glyndebourne opera festival, and everything in between.
The largest literature festival in the UK is the Hay Festival, in Hay-on-Wye in Wales. This festival attracts a huge guest list of celebrated authors, poets and public figures, who read from their latest works and take part in Q&A sessions. Other notable literature festivals can be found in the towns of Cheltenham Spa, Ilkley and Edinburgh, and at the South Bank Centre in London.
Festivals/ major events/seasonal events
Other cultural festivals and seasonal events include the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, which sees hundreds of comedy acts descend on the city; the famous Notting Hill carnival in London, which takes place at the end of August and celebrates West Indian culture; and the Bradford Mela, a celebration of both Bradford and South Asian culture, which is a summer attraction for thousands of people from all over the North of England.
6. Museums and galleries
There are hundreds of museums and art galleries scattered throughout the country, from the provincial and curious - to London’s internationally -acclaimed and world-famous institutions. Happily, many of these are free to enter, or invite a voluntary donation. A directory of the UK’s museums and art galleries can be found at the Visit Britain website.
7. European travel/holidays/city breaks
The UK is fantastically well -placed for quick and cheap travel to continental Europe or to North Africa. Many places on the continent are accessible for a weekend or longer, if you have time to spare. Many budget airlines operate from small regional airports throughout the country. Leading companies include Ryanair, Jet2, easyjet and flybe. Alternatively, a cheap way to get to France, Holland, Belgium or Spain is by car ferry. Major ferry ports operate at Plymouth, Portsmouth, Folkestone, Felixstowe, Hull and Newcastle -upon -Tyne. If you fancy getting the train, Eurostar runs from London St Pancras, through Ashford International and on to Lille, Paris and beyond. If you want to take your car through the channel tunnel, you can book a place on the Eurotunnel Shuttle –a train which holds cars.
8. Health and fitness
Many people in the UK enjoy playing sport and keeping fit. A popular way to keep fit is to join a private gym, where you pay a monthly membership fee. These tend to be quite expensive, and only really good value if you know you will use the facilities a few times a week. A more affordable way of exercising is by using local facilities, either at your workplace or at council-run leisure centres and public swimming pools. You pay an entrance fee every time you attend, but the price is usually relatively low. In addition to solo exercise, there are many local amateur sports leagues and clubs where you can play your sport competitively. This is a great way of meeting people. If you’re not sure how to play a particular sport but want to join in, use the internet to research how to play football, rugby, cricket, golf, bowls, squash or hockey, then just join in and have a go! Dance, yoga, Pilates and aerobics (exercise classes) are all popular in the UK too, and there will no doubt be classes in your area, or even at your university, that you can attend.
9. Evening classes
If you would like to learn a new skill or develop an existing one,you might want to think about signing up for an evening class in your local area. These are usually short courses held once a week in the evening and can cater to a wide selection of interests, such as novel or poetry writing, photography, gardening, pottery, sewing, IT, bridge, or learning foreign languages. Courses are often held at local further-education colleges: your local council should provide information on its website.