Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category

UK Travel Guide for Overseas Visitors

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
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Are you planning on visiting the UK this summer but have no idea where to start when it comes to finalising the details of your trip? Well don’t worry as Sykes Cottages have put together a short travel guide to Britain aimed at visitors from abroad. Read on for our hints, tips and suggestions on how to make the most of your time in the UK.

When to visit

British countryside

Via Flickr

Unlike other countries, the UK is a great tourist destination all year round. However, July and August, at the height of the British summer, are undoubtedly the most popular times to visit and as this coincides with the UK school holidays, this is when places are at their busiest. If you want to visit during the summer, it’s a good idea to plan your visit during June or September when the weather is still good but attractions are quieter. Other busy periods include Christmas, New Year, Easter and bank holidays. You can find a comprehensive list of bank holidays across the UK here.

The weather and what to pack


Via Flickr

The UK is well known for its unpredictable weather and you should try to pack for every eventuality. The weather is generally quite mild and so there’s no need to go to extremes, but travellers should definitely consider packing everything from an umbrella and waterproof jacket, to sunglasses and sunscreen.

Public transport and ways to get around

British Train

Via Flickr

Public transport in the UK is relatively good and trains in particular are a great way to travel around; you can get a train to almost anywhere in the UK. For more information about trains in Britain, head to the National Rail website. Another thing that you may want to consider looking into is a BritRail pass. These passes are available to anyone who is not a UK resident and once bought, provide you with unlimited travel on trains across Britain. You can find more information on the BritRail website. If you’re just travelling around London, you should look at buying at Visitor’s Oyster Card, which is a plastic smartcard that works on a pay as you go system and is by far one of the cheapest and quickest ways to travel around London.  If you’re not keen on public transport and are planning on renting a car in the UK, it’s worth noting that you will usually be given a manual car unless you request an automatic, which are generally more expensive.

Things we do differently:

Road signs

Via Flickr

  • Plugs. We Brits have our very own plugs that differ from the rest of Europe. Our plugs have three pins that are shaped like a triangle and so visitors from abroad will need to remember to buy a plug adaptor for their electrical items.
  • We drive on the left hand side of the road. This is obviously extremely important to remember if you’re planning on driving whilst you’re in the UK but it’s also of the upmost importance to pedestrians, who may be used to checking the opposite direction before they cross the road.
  • We calculate speed in miles per hour and our speed limits may be different to that of other countries. You can check out the speed limits here and you will able to see the speed limit for each road when you’re driving by looking at signposts.

Where to stay

Holiday cottage in Yorkshire

Croft View, Yorkshire, Ref. 6735

We may be biased but we think that there’s no better way to experience the UK than by staying in a self-catering cottage amongst locals. If you’re planning a trip to the UK and you’d like to see how we can help, you can visit our website or give our dedicated reservations specialists a call on +441244 356 695. If you’re worried about your phone bill, avoid charges and let us call you by entering your details here.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Sykes’ Guide to London: What to do, what to eat & how to get around

Monday, June 23rd, 2014
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If you’re heading to Wimbledon over the next fortnight, you’ll probably want to explore the rest of our capital city. But with so much to do in London, where do you begin? Well, no need to worry as we’ve written up a short guide on where to eat, how to get around and a few things that you can get up to during your time in The Big Smoke.

Travelling around London

London Barclays Hire Scheme Bikes

Image via Flickr

Whether you plan on riding the underground, grabbing a cab, hiring a bike or just using your feet and walking, one of the fantastic things about London is how easy it is to travel via public transport. The tube is probably the fastest way to get around, although this means missing out on seeing all that London has to offer! Alternatively, if you want the full tourist experience of London, why not hop on one of those famous red buses or hail down a black taxi cab? This way you can travel through the city whilst also taking in some of the views.

Tourist tip: Buy a visitors Oyster card before you arrive to save time and money. Also, remember to stand to the right of escalators to allow people to get past on the left!

For an eco-friendly way to travel, why not make use of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme and rent a bike? With bike docking stations located throughout the city and charges from just £2 per day, it’s an affordable way to travel around London! If you don’t have a destination in mind, you could even follow one of Transport for London’s leisurely cycle routes. Even more inexpensive and eco-friendly is just giving your legs a stretch and walking. London is one of the best cities for those travelling by foot due to its wide footpaths and frequent pedestrian crossings.

Did you know: The blue bicycles of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme are referred to as ‘Boris Bikes’ after London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Things to Do in London

With over 240 museums, over 100 theatres (around 40 on the West End) and a host of iconic attractions, you’ll never be short of things to do in London! If you only have a short amount of time to explore but want to take in a few museums then head to South Kensington where you’ll find the Science Museum, the V&A and the Natural History Museum just a short distance from each other. If you’re a fan of checking out all of the typical tourist attractions that a city has to offer then you will be in your element in London. Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, The Shard, The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben are just some of the many iconic buildings that call London home.

Tower Bridge in London

Image via Flickr

Tourist tip: Whilst most museums are free, it’s worth taking a look at any temporary exhibitions. They will most likely have a charge but if you’re interested in the subject it will definitely be worth it.  

It goes without saying that London doesn’t stop when it gets dark and there is no need to retire to bed once the museums are closed as there is as much to do in the evening as there is in the day! London’s West End is the place to go if you want to experience a fantastic musical or performance. From classic shows such as Wicked and The Lion King to new favourites like Shrek The Musical and the fantastic The Book of Mormon, there’s bound to be a show that everyone can enjoy!

Did you know: Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is the longest running of any play in history. The show premièred on the 6th October 1952.

Where to Eat in London

In a city as culturally diverse as London, it’s no surprise that you can find any cuisine that your rumbling stomach desires. Whether you want a sit down meal somewhere luxurious, a family friendly meal in a chain restaurant or you just want to grab something quick, you will be spoilt for choice in London. The city is also home to a range of innovative restaurants that offer diners something a little different alongside their meal. If you’d like to be in full control of ordering your food, Inamo in Soho has an interactive system where diners can peruse the menu and order from a projection on their table. For a fun family meal, Rainforest Cafe in Piccadilly Circus will delight the children with its rainforest décor and sounds. Boasting amazing views of London and a luxuriously indulgent menu, why not treat yourself to a meal at Duck & Waffle, which is located on the 40th floor of Heron Tower.

A box of Laduree Macroons

Image via Flickr

Tourist Tip: Dining out in London can be expensive, particularly in the evening. Look out for set menus or other dining offers that can reduce the cost.

It’s not only in its array of savoury dining experiences that London excels at; it also has an impressive number of places to grab a quick dessert or a box of something sweet to take away. If you’re a fan of macaroons then popping into Ladurée in Covent Garden is a must for a box to take home. On a hot day, nothing is better than heading into one of London’s many frozen yoghurt shops and leaving with a cold, sweet treat!  Popular shops include Snog and Pinkberry.

Did you know: London’s oldest fish and chip shop, Rock and Sole Plaice, has been open since 1871.

Although this guide barely touches the surface of all that London has to offer, we hope that you have found it useful. We’d love to know your favourite things to get up to in London so tell us on twitter or facebook!


Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

How to Watch The World Cup When on Holiday

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
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If you’re heading to Bournemouth rather than Brazil for your holiday this year and are worried how you’ll manage to squeeze in all of the upcoming World Cup matches, don’t fret; we have a few ideas to ensure that you can enjoy the best of both worlds when holidaying here in the UK.

Book a Holiday Cottage with a TV

Holiday Property with Television in North Wales

Y Stabal in Trawsfynydd in North Wales
Property reference: 4120

Nothing is more exciting than being in a football stadium. From the moment the teams first appear to the wail of the final whistle, football matches are full of excitement. But never fear, as this feeling is certainly one that you can replicate on holiday. Get some snacks, your favourite drink and put your team’s shirt on then settle down in front of the television for ninety minutes of football fun! Most of our holiday cottages have televisions, so you can play manager and shout at the players from the comfort of the cottage’s couch.

Watch the World Cup Outside

Secret Cinema in London Fields

Image via Flickr

As much as we would like it to, it’s doubtful that our weather will rival that of Sao Paulo, but that shouldn’t put you off heading outside and watching a game on one of the large outdoor screens dotted about the UK! You can soak up the atmosphere of the game whilst feeling the refreshing breeze of the Great British weather and if you’re really lucky the sun may even make an appearance. Outdoor screens such as Millennium Square in Leeds and Brighton’s Big Screen are screening various World Cup Matches where you can head along and show your support for the England team!

Book a Holiday Cottage Near a Pub

Inside of a pub screening sports scores

Image via Flickr

Football and beer go together like bread and butter, so what better place to watch a football match than at the pub! Not only will the atmosphere be electric, the banter will be terrific and it’s a fantastic excuse to sample some local ale. To fit this in with your holiday plan, why not book a holiday cottage located near a pub? We have over 2,000 properties within walking distance of the nearest watering hole so you won’t need to travel far to support your team along with fellow fans. And it’s much closer than Brazil!

Book a Last Minute Holiday Cottage

The World Cup may begin tonight but it’s still not late to book a last minute cottage so that you can watch the World Cup whilst also enjoying a family holiday. Take a look at our last minute property page or call our team on 01244 356695 who will be more than happy to find a suitable property for you that will combine your love of football with your love of holidays!

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Photographs you need to take when holidaying in the UK

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
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There are those photos that just belong in your holiday photo album depending on the destination; holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, kissing the Sphinx in Egypt or a picture of your reflection in The Bean in Chicago. These images are synonymous with the destination and can be a real fun reminder of your holiday however they are certainly not limited to holidays abroad! There are a huge number of fun and iconic photo opportunities here in the UK and Ireland and today we’re looking at ten that belong in your staycation photo album.

Spread your wings with the Angel of The North

Angel of The North in Gateshead

Image via Flickr

Say cheese whilst Big Ben chimes

Big Ben in London

Image via Flickr

Snap yourself gazing in awe at York Minster’s Gothic architecture

York Minster

Image via Flickr

Take a breather and get photographic evidence of you walking Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrians Wall

Image via Flickr

Pose with Another Place in Crosby

 Another Place by Antony Gormley, Crosby Beach

Image via Flickr

Take a photo from the top of Snowdon, Ben Nevis or any other Mountain you happen to find yourself conquering!

Photo from the top of Snowdon

Image via Flickr

Pretend that you’ve holidayed back in time by taking a photo in the stunning Portmeirion.

Image of Portmeirion in Wales

Image via Flickr

Photograph your companion having the gift of eloquence bestowed upon them whilst they kiss The Blarney Stone

Balrney Castle, home to The Blarney Stone

Image via Flickr

Strike a pose under the lights of Brighton Pier

Entry sign to Brighton Pier

Image via Flickr

 Capture yourself in front of the Royal Crescent in Bath

The Royal Crescent in Bath

Image via Flickr

Have you taken any snaps at these places?  Feel free to send us a tweet or leave us a comment on facebook, we’d love to see! Or if you’re feeling inspired to make additions to your travelling photo collection, why not book a UK cottage holiday with Sykes Cottages? We have almost 5000 holiday properties across the UK and Ireland in fantastic locations for you to get those creative juices flowing and take some fun holiday snaps!

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

Best Waterfalls in Britain

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
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When I was asked to write a post on Britain’s best waterfalls, I jumped at the opportunity, though it wasn’t until after I accepted the challenge that I realised the sheer abundance of beautiful waterfalls the UK has to offer and just how difficult my task was going to be. On its own, the flowing water is dazzling but there is much more to consider when you are looking for the best in Britain; the height and width of each fall, the surrounding environment and the history of the site all need to be taken into consideration. The five waterfalls listed below really stood out in these categories making them perfect candidates for Britain’s best, but impossible to choose between for the title. So take a look at our top five and see if you can help us narrow down the search for Britain’s best waterfall.

Ingleton Falls, North Yorkshire

Picture via Flickr

Picture via Flickr.

Surrounded by ancient woodland, the glorious Ingleton Falls is a famous trail that takes you through an enchanted forest and past a selection of breath-taking waterfalls. The area surrounding the falls is filled with a rich array of plants and wildlife making it a photographers dream location. Open to the public seven days a week the whole year round (closed only at Christmas), this pet friendly trail is a must for anyone in the area.

High Force, Durham

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The water flowing through High Force in County Durham faces a terrifying drop of 70 feet before reaching the plunge pool at the bottom, making it the highest uninterrupted drop of water in England! This extravagant waterfall captures your attention with both its beauty and power, making it impossible not to add it to the list of Britain’s best waterfalls. On the site, you will find a gift shop, parking and picnic area so it’s ideal for a family day out.

Falls of Bruar, Scotland

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

The falls of Bruar are a series of waterfalls in Scotland made famous by Robert Burns in his poem titled “The Humble Petition of Bruar Water to the noble Duke of Athole”.  This inspiring selection of waterfalls has been a key tourist attraction in Scotland since the 18th century and shows no sign of losing its popularity any time soon. With both a low energy and high energy walk available through the falls, this attraction is perfect for people of all ages.

Aber Falls, Gwynedd

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

Surrounded by history, Aber Falls is one of the most beautiful natural attractions Gwynedd has to offer. The tallest of our list, Aber Falls plunges a staggering 120 feet over igneous rock and can be heard from far and wide as the water crashes to the ground. The Aber Valley is a National Trust reserve and an import historic area with several small bronze age settlements lining the path up to the falls; because of this, you will often find small groups of school children investigating the area.

Aysgarth Falls, Yorkshire

Picture via Flickr.

Picture via Flickr.

If you’re a fan of Robin Hood then the picture above may look familiar to you; featured in the film “Robin Hood – Price of thieves”, Aysgarth Falls has become synonymous with the film for hosting the fight scene between Robin and Little John. The Aysgarth Falls made our list not only because of their movie appearance, but for the beautiful stepping stone appearance which is created when the River Ure tumbles over several sandstone drops.

And there you have it, our selection of Britain’s best waterfalls! If you think you can narrow down the selection and pick one of these stunning waterfalls to be crowned Britain’s best then let us know, we would love to hear your opinion so please feel free to connect with us via Facebook or Twitter.


By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.