Tipping guidelines in Britain!

DerDani / Pixabay

Tipping has become increasingly widespread in all areas of the service industry, particularly in restaurants, cafes, bars and taxis worldwide.

The UK is no different, but knowing when to tip and how much can be confusing.

See below for some tipping guidelines when visiting Britain:

 

Restaurants

In British restaurants where you place your order with a waiter or waitress at your table, it is common to tip around 10%.

This can be done by either leaving a cash tip after paying the bill or adding an amount to your total bill if paying by credit card.

In some restaurants, a service charge of 10% – 12.5% is added to the bill, and this should be noted clearly on the menu.

Do not leave a tip if you are not happy with the service.

Birte / Pixabay

 

Cafes and Coffee Shops

Similar to a restaurant, if you receive waitress service in a British cafe or coffee shop at your table, a tip of 10% would be appropriate.

In coffee shops, such as Starbucks or Costa, there may be a tip jar on the counter, but very few customers offer tips as you usually collect your own order.

In cafes, where you collect your food, place it on a tray and pay at the end counter, there is no need for a tip.

 

Unsplash / Pixabay

Bars and Pubs

You do not usually tip barmaids or bartenders in British pubs and bars.

However,  you can offer to buy them a drink if you have had great service or are on friendly terms.

Generally though, tips are not expected.

 

 

tookapic / Pixabay

 

Taxis

It is not a requirement to tip in taxis, but most people round up the fare to the nearest £1 as a polite gesture.

If a minicab driver helps with your luggage on a longer journey or from an airport, you may want to tip a little more.

If taking a black cab or licensed minicab in London, a 10% tip is the average amount, although not a requirement.

 

Takeaway Food

When picking up food from a British takeaway restaurant, tipping is not required.

If your food is delivered to your hotel or apartment, although not required, tipping the delivery driver with the change or £1 would be a polite gesture.

 

Hans / Pixabay

 

Hotels

In Britain, if a porter takes your bags to your room, a £2 cash tip is reasonable.

Tipping for food and drinks being brought to your room is at your discretion.

Again, leaving a tip for your chambermaid is at your discretion, but not a requirement.

Coach Tours and Guides

Tips are not included in the price of most tours.

However, it is customary to show gratitude to your tour director and driver for a satisfactory service.

CIE Tours recommend below the minimum amount Per person per day:

Driver/Guide (1 person crew) £5
Tour Director (part of 2 person crew) £3
Driver (part of 2 person crew) £3
Guide for walking or city tour £1
Driver for chauffeur vehicle £12

 

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5 Famous Landmarks In Britain!

dinky123uk / Pixabay

 

Britain has a treasure trove of historical sites that the whole world wants to see.

People come from all over to witness the facts behind the stories they have been told about our wonderful land, stories that are embedded in the very fabric of our historical sites.

They come by plane, train or automobile, but the most popular is by coach, joining fellow travellers on their journey of discovery.

 

1. Tower of London

Samueles / Pixabay

People flock to see the Tower of London, officially the Queens Palace, which can be found in central London.

This magnificent Tower has played a significant role in English history and has become over time one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country.

It has served various roles in its time, including being a treasury, an armoury, a public records office, the home of the Royal Mint, and of course, a prison and the home of the Crown Jewels of England. It was even at one time a menagerie whereby wild animals were kept in captivity for exhibition purposes!

You can visit the Tower of London with ease either by bus or coach.

 

2. York Minster

York Minster is the Cathedral of York, England, and can boast being one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe.

As with most cathedrals, this majestic Minster has a varied and complicated history regarding its build. It is safe to say that a wooden church construction was first built in 627, and numerous replacements and additions have been created over time, with the present Minster building having been completed in 1472.

The York famous Mystery Plays were allowed to be performed for the first time inside the Minster in 2000, and plan to return for a second time in 2016.

York Minster was also illuminated on 5 November 2005 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the York-born Guy Fawkes’ gunpowder plot.

You can visit York various ways, but a  guided tour by coach does make it so much easier and value for money.

 

3. Edinburgh Castle

aircaloch / Pixabay

 Edinburgh Castle is a world famous icon of Scotland,  a majestic fortress situated on the Castle Rock, looking out onto the City of Edinburgh.

This historic fortress can be dated back to the Iron Age with many additions built over the years, as well as being involved in many historical conflicts through the ages.

Go there to see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in all its glory and pay a visit during the annual Edinburgh International Festival.

 

4. Roman bathsBath

 The Roman Baths is a world famous historical site in the English city of Bath.

This well-preserved Roman site was created for public bathing and gives a fascinating insight into how the Romans lived.

  Join the thousands of tourists that visit each year by coach and experience a  guided walking tour of the town, learn about the historical significance of the region and soak up the decadent atmosphere it has to offer.

 

5. Stonehenge

diego_torres / Pixabay

 Cross Salisbury Plain to visit Stonehenge, the world’s most talked about prehistoric monument, and stand in awe at the mystical stone monoliths which seem to have stood since the beginning of time.

Stonehenge is one of Britain’s most famous destinations to visit and is part of an UNESCO World Heritage Site, but has baffled scientists, tourists and historians for centuries on why it is exactly there.

 New theories abound all the time, but just admire and enjoy this magnificent monument for what it is now and acknowledge that its true meaning may never be revealed!

 

Touring Weather! Check the climate and the season to prepare for your tour of Europe.

Europe  probably has a wider range of weather conditions than anywhere else on earth.

Europe is home to huge mountains and vast lakes and rivers, and is surrounded by the Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, resulting in a diverse array of weather conditions which are changeable all year round.

Touring Europe is also something you can do all year round, so knowing the weather conditions of some of the places you may visit would be a bonus.

Look below for weather information on some of the most popular places to visit in Europe:

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England – London

The UK is well known for its unsettled weather conditions where many types of weather can be experienced in one day. However, England does tend to have warmer temperatures throughout the year than the rest of the UK, with the sunniest month being in July. It rains on less days throughout the year than other areas in the UK, with the driest month being May. Strong gales are also not as common in England, while the  prevailing wind direction for the UK is normally the south-west.

Weather in London

Germany – Berlin

Germany can have cold, cloudy, wet winters and moderate warm to cool summers.  In the north and northwest of Germany, the climate is extremely oceanic and rain can fall all through the year.  In the east, the climate reflects the continental and has very cold winters for long periods, and warm summers. In the centre and the south, Winters are mild and summers quite cool. Berlin has a Maritime temperate climate and a mild continental climate due to its inland position, with winter frosts being quite common.
 
Weather in Berlin

Greece – Athens

 Greece’s climate is Mediterranean with hot and dry summers and quite cold and wet winters. The north of Greece can be very cold during the winter with even snow being common in the higher mountains. In the south of Greece and the islands, the winters will be much milder. Summers in Greece are usually very hot, especially in July and August where temperatures can reach 30 to 35°C, and even 40°C and more.

Weather in Athens

Italy – Rome

Italy has various climate systems depending on whether you are in the north or south. The northern areas of Italy have a humid subtropical climate compared to the south which has a more Mediterranean climate. The north and south can also have considerable differences in temperature, especially during the winter. Rome has a more Mediterranean climate with cool winters and hot summers, with January the coldest month and July and August the warmest. The best time to travel to Rome is in the springtime, between March and May, and Autumn, in September and October.

Weather in Rome

Mother’s Day Getaway!

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Mother’s Day is on Sunday 6th March in 2016, the one day when we can truly show appreciation to our wonderful mothers.

Mother’s Day is a day that has been chosen especially  to celebrate mothers and all mother figures in every shape and form.

From grandmothers, great grandmothers, stepmothers and mothers-in-law, everything they do for us through their love can be shown to be appreciated by setting this one day aside.

Flowers and chocolates are usually the main gifts bought on Mother’s Day and are, of course, hugely appreciated.

 

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But as a special treat, why not choose a coach holiday around this date to whisk your loved one away for a truly memorable Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day is the perfect excuse for a special weekend getaway, go shopping, visit a museum or take in a show.

Say a massive thank you to your mum and treat her to an unforgettable Mother’s Day weekend in London.

Better still, try one of the fabulous coach tours that take you around Britain and beyond………

Book now for Mother’s day or as a Mother’s day gift for future dates!

 

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Britain and Ireland Experience 2016

Experience the Britain and Ireland of a simpler time, through medieval castles and churches that have stood for centuries. Admire Ireland’s breathtaking Dingle Peninsula and roam the charming streets …

  • Lasting for 12 Days
  • Prices Starting From £88 per day

 

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irish highlights

Irish Highlights 2016

The fast-track to Ireland – this seven-day encounter with the southern side takes you from Dublin and back again, stopping at Waterford, Limerick and the scenic Ring of Kerry along the way.It’s Inside…

  • Lasting for 7 Days
  • Prices Starting From £121 per day

 

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European Highlights 2016

Discovering six countries in seven days, this intimate introduction to Europe compares its big players, France and Germany, and their smaller neighbours, Switzerland and The Netherlands.It’s Insider m…

  • Lasting for 7 Days
  • Prices Starting From £141 per day

Global Coach Tours Useful information!

Global Coach Tours specialize is multi-stop tours of several countries which include coach travel, hotels and sightseeing with experienced guides and tour directors. A fully escorted coach tour vacation is an amazing experience and truly unbeatable value! See below some useful information when booking your tour:

 

1.What’s the difference between a cheaper tour and a more expensive tour that appears to cover the same route?

There are more included excursions and meals on first class tours and the hotels are generally better quality and in the best locations for sightseeing. Budget and CostSaver tours often use hotels away from the centre of towns.
Typical CostSaver hotel used by Expat Expore

Typical CostSaver hotel used by Expat Expore

 

2. Are there any discounts available?

We will calculate the best discount available for you where you are eligible for one. e.g. child, triple share, group or early payment.
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Find the best price for you

 

3. Is there any overnight travel and how long do we spend on the bus?

Most tours travel during the daytime only. Departures can be early and are often very early on the first day when leaving from London. Comfort stops will be made every 2-3 hours or by request. There is rarely any travel longer than 3 hours without a stop for sightseeing or a break. Tours are all planned and well paced to maximize sightseeing.
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Cosmos comfy coaches.

 

4. What are the coaches like?

All tour buses are late model executive coaches with reclining seats, air conditioning (some lower prices tours in the UK and Ireland may just have forced air). The windows are large and panoramic. Seat belts are fitted. All first class and premium touring coaches have on board washrooms. Many UK and European buses have both an entrance at the front and another one in the middle, so everyone can board quicker.
Typical Expat explore coach interior.

Typical Expat explore coach interior.

 

5. How do we book optional excursions?

Optional tours are reserved through the tour director whilst on board and cannot be pre-booked before you leave unless this is specifically stated. However, sightseeing in London before and after your tour can be pre-booked via our partners.
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London at twilight.

 

6.What time do the tours depart?

London Departutures: For Trafalgar and Insight tours leaving London they all depart between 5.30am and 7.30am. You must phone the London reception centre a couple of days before to confirm the time and central London meeting point. Expat Explore Tours leave from Greenwich. Cosmos tours leaving from London and heading for a Dover to Calais ferry crossing, depart from the Novotel London West in Hammersmith at 8.45am and return around 5pm. For all other operators and tours leaving from locations other than London, please ask. We offer some tours with and without flights.

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Ferry crossing

 

7.Where do we use the Euro? €

The 19 countries of the eurozone are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuiania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. They have switched to using euro notes and coins, ending the use of their national currencies in shops and banks. The currency consists of seven notes from five to five hundred euros (careful if you get that one!) and eight coins from 1 cent to 2 euros. A euro is divided into 100 cents. The euro is also being used in Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, the Vatican, and French overseas territories including Martinique and Guadalupe in the Caribbean and Reunion in the Indian Ocean.
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Euro money

 

8.Where you might not be able to use the Euro.

Denmark, Sweden and the UK and some recent members of the EU in the east of Europe have not yet adopted the euro – however, they have not ruled out joining in future. The euro may be accepted by major retailers in the UK and Switzerland. So on your tour of Europe it’s now much easier to shop and you won’t have to keep changing money as your travel.
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Denmark do not accept Euros at the moment.

Magical Medieval Britain!

The history of Britain is one of the most fascinating and exciting topics to behold. We’ve had the Roman conquest of Britain, Viking invasions and the Norman conquest of England led by Williams the Conqueror. This eventually led to the Plantagenet dynasty which held the English throne from 1154 with Henry II until 1485 with the death of Richard III. It is this medieval period that captivates me the most.

 

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One of the Plantagenet coat of arms

 

 

Take the medieval city of York for example.

The city is rich with Roman artifacts but York only started to prosper in the 12th century. For example, the magnificent Minster that you can see today was  first constructed in the Norman style in 1080. It was remodelled and additions were added until 1472 when it was declared complete and consecrated.

Interestingly, although the original walls that encircle the city were built by the Romans, the remaining walls that can be seen today and which surround the entire city, were constructed between the 12 and 14 century. 

 

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Part of the York city walls.

 

 Cambridge is another fine example of medieval heritage.

Cambridge is most famous for its University which ranks as the top university in the UK and fifth top university in the world.

Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university with Peterhouse College, built in 1284, being the first and oldest still in existence.

One of the most beautiful and famous buildings in Cambridge, King’s College Chapel, first began construction in 1446 by King Henry VI and was completed  during Henry VIII’s reign.

Interestingly, the University of Cambridge grew from scholars leaving the University of Oxford due to disagreements. The two ancient universities therefore share many common characteristics and are often referred to as “Oxbridge”.

 

 

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Ancient architecture at Cambridge.

 

The University of Oxford can boast being the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and as stated before, the University of Cambridge grew out of its existence.

The Oxford University is first mentioned in 12th-century records and its first colleges were University College (1249), Balliol (1263) and Merton (1264).

Interestingly, the Oxford Martyrs, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, and Nicholas Ridley, were all Cambridge University men. They were tried for treason and heresy in 1555 after the accession of the the Roman Catholic Mary I, and subsequently burnt at the stake!

 

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Oxford’s famous courtyard.

 

Stratford-upon-Avon is another ancient town which developed during the medieval period and was granted a town in 1196, making it over 800 years old!

Stratford was made famous as being the the birthplace of William Shakespeare, the playwright and poet often regarded as the world’s greatest playwright of all.

The first works of Shakespeare that were recorded are Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI. These were written in the early 1590’s and reflect  a fashion for historical drama at the time.

 

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The above fine examples of British history are only the tip of the iceberg, but are a fascinating taster to what could be explored. 

Top 10 London Visitor Attractions!

When it comes to popular places to visit, London stands out as one of the best.

                                                                             UK SITE TOTAL VISITS
SOURCE: ASSOCIATION OF LEADING VISITOR ATTRACTIONS
1.  The British Museum 6,695,213
2.  The National Gallery 6,416,724
3.  Southbank Centre 6,255,799
4.  Tate Modern 5,785,427
5.  Natural History Museum 5,388,295
6.  Science Museum 3,356,072
7.  V&A, South Kensington 3,180,450
8.  Tower of London 3,075,950
9.  Somerset House 2,463,201
10.  The Library of Birmingham 2,414,860

1. In fact, London’s British Museum continues to be the most popular visitor attraction in the UK, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), and attracts in the region of 6,695,213 visitors to its doors.

 

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London’s British Museum

2. The National Gallery remains the second most visited attracting 6,416,724 people to see its fine works of art.

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The National Gallery

 

3. The Southbank Centre, with its iconic Undercroft skateboarding  cultural space, comes third with 6,255,799 visitors!

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The iconic Undercroft skateboarding space under the Southbank Centre.

4. Fourth is Tate Modern attracting a record 5,785,427 visitors to its doors and up by more than 6%. This may be due to its extremely popular Matisse exhibition it has at present.

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The outstandingTate Modern

5. The Natural History Museum will always be a big draw for people and comes in at fifth most popular.

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The Natural History Museum.

6. The Science Museum is another major tourist attraction welcoming 3,356,072 visitors and is also famous for organising many unique and fascinating events.

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The marvellous Science Museum.

7. The Victoria and Albert Museum comes in a respectable seventh place with 3,180,450 visits, a museum of art and design which has something for everyone.

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The Victoria & Albert Museum.

8. The Tower of London is the eighth most visited and saw a surge in visitors this year with the events marking the centenary of the first world war and the sea of red ceramic poppies that were installed there.

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9. Somerset House stands at number nine in the top attractions list whilst the newly-built Library of Birmingham sits at number 10,  the only one attraction outside London!

Awesome Amsterdam Weekend!

Amsterdam is the sort of place you just have to experience in a lifetime. It’s also a destination you can enjoy for a long weekend to celebrate any kind of life event or just for a long, lazy break from work.

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However, if you only visit Amsterdam once in your life, try and make sure your visit coincides with April 27 which is where the Dutch people celebrate King’s day – the worlds largest street party!

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Expat Explore offer a 4 day tour of Amsterdam and the Dutch country side where you can explore the Dutch capital and enjoy the world’s largest spring flower garden, the Keukenhof, in full bloom. Even better, the dates coincide with the King’s day celebrations!

You start the weekend extravaganzas by travelling from London to Amsterdam. Arriving in the evening, you then get to enjoy a complimentary Amsterdam canal cruise before having the chance to explore the canals and Dam Square, browse the many boutiques and enjoy your time in this fascinating city.

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 The following day, head for the Dutch countryside and stop at Keukenhof, the world’s largest spring flower garden, where around 7 million flower bulbs explode in a riot of colour.

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The next stop is Zaanse Schans, a beautiful Dutch windmill village as picturesque as a postcard and ideal for those fabulous photos. 

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Further along the day, you will visit a cheese farm, where cheese is still made using traditional methods,  see a clog-making demonstration, detailing the processes behind the manufacture of traditional Dutch clogs or ‘klompe’ and then off to the famous Dutch fishing village of Volendam, where you’ll see old fishing boats and locals wearing colourful traditional dress.

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  Back in Amsterdam, why not visit some museums such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House which is a historic house and biographical museum dedicated to Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank. Why not also visit the Heineken Museum which has an interactive tour through the beer giant’s history in its former brewery, with a tasting room finale.

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On day 3, soak up the atmosphere as Amsterdam gears up for a massive party as it’s officially King’s Day and the celebrations will continue well into the night! Head into the centre of town to catch the party in full swing where locals and visitors alike will be enjoying themselves in the city, celebrating this Dutch holiday. Hire a bicycle or board a barge to explore the city further, every corner of this vibrant city has a story and can be a truly rewarding city for those who seek out its best bits. Explore the bars and the street-party atmosphere of Amsterdam – this is the biggest party of the year!

 

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What’s more, the ‘Amsterdam King’s Day Weekend’ tour travels back to London via the Belgian city of Bruges! This popular medieval city has delightful historic old churches and lofty towers to admire and explore. It is also famous for its beer, waffles, chocolate and moules et frites, so take to the cobblestone streets and find exactly what you are looking for!

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5 Outstanding Places to Visit in Britain!

1.London

London at twilight

London at twilight

 

 London can certainly be described as one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the whole world!  The capital city of England and the United Kingdom is the most populous city in the United Kingdom and Europe‘s most visited city, attracting over 14 million international visitors per year!! Some of the top attractions people come to see include the British Museum, the Tate Modern and the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. They come to marvel at the National History and National Maritime Museums, the Imperial War Museum, the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, WOW – so many museums. They come to be intrigued at Madame Tussauds and delighted by the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London! Also, not forgetting Big Ben and other famous landmarks including Piccadilly Circus, Nelson’s Column and the lions of Trafalgar Square. Finish a visit by  exploring Knightsbridge, home to Harrods and many other stylish shops and boutiques, and a wander around  the famous Hyde Park!

2.York

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York Minster

 

If it’s history you are into, a visit to Medieval York is an absolute  must. This ancient city offers an abundance of historic attractions which  has made it a popular tourist destination for millions of people over the years. York’s tourist attractions include the National Railway Museum, the Jorvik Viking Centre, York Castle Museum, York Maze, Holy Trinity Church, and of course, the majestic York Minster, England’s largest medieval cathedral. Walk inside the city walls and view the magnificent Gothic York Minster before making your way round the famous crooked ‘Shambles’. Walking tours also offer fascinating insights, stories and history of the city, whilst their famous ‘Ghost Walks’ will also tell you about its chilling, ghostly past!

3. Bath

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Roman Baths

 

Visit the  Georgian City of Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring some of the finest architecture in Europe and admire the wonderful Georgian architecture it has to offer.  Visit the Roman baths from which the city derives its name and hot mineral-rich springs that have been popular since Roman times. Join the 1 million international tourists which visit every year and experience a  guided walking tour of the town, learning about the historical significance of the region and soaking up the decadent atmosphere.

 4. Lake District

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Lake District

 

Admire the stunning views when you visit the beautiful English Lake District. Take a scenic drive through the Lake District National Park, inspiration to a host of poets including William Wordsworth. Wordsworth lived in a beautiful cottage in the village of Grasmere and the wonderful surrounding scenery provided William Wordsworth with the inspiration to write the poem ‘Daffodils’. Admire the glorious lakes including Windermere and Coniston Waters,  the scene of many attempts to break the world water speed record. If you’re feeling energetic, climb the many fells, hills, and groups of mountains  found in the  Lake District and experience the stunning views that will stay with you forever!

5.Stonehenge

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Mystical Stonehenge

 

 Cross Salisbury Plain to visit Stonehenge, the world’s most famous prehistoric monument, and stand in awe at the mystical stone monoliths. This ancient stone circle has baffled scientists, tourists and historians for centuries and new theories are surfacing all the time about its mythical past. Admire and enjoy this magnificent monument for what it is now and acknowledge that its true meaning may never be known!

Experience a Winter Wonder Tour!

A coach tour in Britain or Europe can be an utterly amazing experience, but have you ever thought of doing these types of trips in Winter?

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London is seeing and believing at Christmas time as the festive season comes to life with fantastic light displays scattered far across the city. The city is waiting to be explored as it captivates you by the wonderful sights to behold. See the amazing light displays along the Thames, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Somerset House ice-rink and Buckingham Palace. For more decadence, enjoy a spot of London’s finest shopping when visiting Harrods and the boutiques of Knightsbridge.

Amazing panorama of London.

Amazing panorama of London.

It’s not just the English Capital that can get you in the mood for Christmas, the French capital is also enchanting, inspiring and dazzling. Paris at Christmas is something to behold as you experience the glittering city including the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower and the festive illuminations on the Champs Élysées. Enjoy the beauty, romance and sparkling glory of this magical French capital.

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If you want to witness iconic sights and seasonal delights in central Europe, you can’t beat a tour to the Christmas markets of Austria, Germany and Switzerland! See markets and illuminated landmarks in Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, Innsbruck and Lucerne. Travel to the beautiful city of Salzburg and visit the enchanting Christmas market. Soak up the aroma of mulled wine and Christmas songs in the magic of Dresden‘s Striezelmarkt which is Germany‘s oldest Christmas market. Chat to the stallholders of Vienna‘s Christkindlmarkt about their traditional toys, made of wood just as they have been for centuries, or their spicy gingerbread and mulled wine. Enjoy the bustling grand market in Munich‘s famous Marienplatz, and also experience the magical little stalls in lakeside Lucerne.

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