What’s better than doing the whole tourist thing? Travelling like you know the place. Here’s our pick of the top quirky destinations and travel hacks to have you exploring the United Kingdom like you’ve been there a thousand times — even if it’s your first time.
There are the usual suspects when it comes to travel destinations (castles, formal gardens, more castles, rocky beaches), and then there are these quirky spots that you really should be adding to your itinerary.
The people who run The Forbidden Corner reckon it’s the strangest place in the world. They might be right. Underground chambers, tunnels, giant carved boulders, maze-like gardens, a pyramid of molten glass and weird statues make up this property in the Yorkshire Dales.
Even the locals think it is bizarre. You could walk around slack-jawed in confusion and still no one would know you are a tourist.
The Crooked House is, well, crooked because of mining in the 1800s. One side of the building is a full four feet lower than the other, but the floors are level. It makes for some great optical illusions.
Grab a pint, bring a ping pong ball, and watch the former slide across your table and the latter roll uphill.[clear]
3. Royston Cave
Discovered in the 18th century, no one knows how old it is, who made it, or why. Royston Cave is a man-made cavern with a huge range of medieval style wall carvings featuring the crucifixion, saints and pagan symbols. Theories for who used it range from the Knights Templar to the Freemasons.
Avoid local school holidays, as it gets pretty packed with kids.[clear]
Depending on who you speak to, Mother Shipton was either a legitimate Nostradamus-like figure predicting the future, or just a reclusive old woman who told people stories that they believed. One thing that can be agreed on is that the cave where she lived for much of her 73 years is amazing. The well has natural petrifying properties that turn ordinary object to stone, and is the only one of it’s kind in England.
Do as the locals do and pack a picnic. There’s some lovely spots by the river, parking is cheap, and the pub food is probably best avoided.[clear]
It’s the place with the longest name in the world. Unsurprisingly, it’s in Wales.
Pop into one of the local cafes for a good meal, and if you really want to blend in (or just impress some people), watch the video below so you can pronounce the name![clear]
You know where to go, now here’s how to not stand out as a wide eyed tourist.
1. Learn The Lingo
Ah, the beauty of the English language. Take “do”. It can mean a party (I’m going to a do, I need to get some shoes), to sell something (Do you do shoes? I’m going to a do) or it can describe if you’re being arrested (The cops are gonna do you for those shoes and you’re gonna miss the do). It’s pretty close to Aussie, you should be fine.
2. Layer Your Clothes
It’s not always cold and grey in the UK, but it’s definitely not always sunny. Be prepared for any weather by layering your clothing. Invest in some thermals before you leave.
3. Pick Up An Oyster Card
It’s like the Opal card in Sydney, or they Myki in Melbourne, except it works. An Oyster card is the cheapest way to get around London on public transport, and has a cap for how much each day can cost you. Be sure to stand to the right on the escalators for the tube – walkers go to the left in the UK.
4. Stay At A B&B
We recommend staying at a B&B, they do excellent full English breakfasts and it’s a great chance to get to know the local hosts and hotspots. If you’re travelling with a Visa card, you can use it at a local ATM (there are millions worldwide) to get cash out for your stay, so your money is safe and your accommodation easily paid for — even if they don’t take card.
5. Don’t Go To Stonehenge
I know, I know, it’s on your bucket list. But what used to be a great place to walk among the stones is now a disappointing photo opportunity from behind a fence. And you can’t get more touristy than that.
For more #notatourist travel tips and inspiration, see www.travelwithvisa.com.au