Welcome to my blog! I’m Amy, from Templeseeker. I’ve been travelling for over 30 years and travelling solo for over 10 years. England is my home country – I was born and bred here! It was only when I got into my 30s that I started truly exploring my own turf. This was exacerbated by the Covid pandemic – when I wasn’t able to go abroad I really made the most of domestic tourism – spending time in some of the best historical cities in England including Oxford and York. There are so many beautiful and accessible destinations that make solo female travel in England really easy. Today I decided to put pen to paper and bring to you the ultimate solo female travel guide to England.
Solo Female Travel in England – When to go
Personally, I would avoid going to England in the winter months. The weather can include snow and ice in December and January which makes travel really difficult. The tubes can stop in London and trains and buses can frequently be cancelled. However, if you are particularly bothered about seeing England at Christmas time then I would recommend London in December. Just don’t expect to travel around the country so easily! If you do decide to visit in the winter then warm jumpers, a big coat, hat, scarf and gloves are essential.
I would recommend visiting England in the spring or summer months from May to August and possible the start of September. The weather will be milder. There will be less chance of rain and sometimes in the peak of summer you will get some nice warm and sunny days.
One more thing to consider though, is school holidays. Tourist cities like Bath, York and Chester (as well as some of the main sites in London) get very busy during school holidays. This includes Easter, Whitsun (last week of May) and the 6 weeks summer holidays which is from the last week in July to the first week in September. The dates of the school holiday can vary slightly from region to region, so check up on this before you go.
A Brief History of England
England was conquered by the Romans (55 BC–AD 410), Anglo-Saxons and Danish Kings (449–1066) and The Normans (1066–1154). The 14th and 15th Centuries were dominated by the Hundred Years’ War. This was soon followed by the War of the Roses as a result of aristocratic rivalries for the throne. There was a civil war in the 17th century. By the end of the 19th century, the industrial revolution and the establishment of a parliamentary system and the growth of an Empire had totally transformed England.
This rich history means that England boasts numerous Cathedrals, castles and fortresses. This attracts visitors from all over the world.
How to get to England
Most people flying into England fly into Manchester or Heathrow. Depending on your original destination, some people choose to fly to Liverpool, Birmingham, Luton or Gatwick airports.
If you are travelling in the North of England to Manchester, Liverpool or York then Manchester Airport is a good airport to fly into. I would also recommend that you fly into Manchester for the Peak District or the Lake District – it is easier than travelling up from London. It should be noted that Manchester and most London airports are extremely crowded and they don’t make for the most pleasant of travel experiences! Manchester airport is NOT on the Manchester Metrolink line (tram). However, there is a mainline train linking Manchester airport to Manchester Piccadilly (the main train station in Manchester) and Manchester Victoria (the second most popular Manchester station). You can take the Metrolink or onward train travel from there.
My favourite airport to fly into in England is Liverpool – it is so small and friendly which less queues at security and immigration. However, because it is a smaller airport, there are less destinations that fly direct to Liverpool. Liverpool airport is well connected to several destinations in Poland, Romania, Spain and Portugal. There is also rumour of a direct flight from Liverpool to New York with the new airline ‘Play‘. To get to Liverpool airport head to ‘Liverpool South Parkway’ train station and there are buses linking the airport from there.
Another very manageable airport is Birmingham international. You can fly into Birmingham from Paris, Faro, Dubai, Prague and Barcelona amongst other destinations. To get to Birmingham airport take the train from Birmingham New Street to Birmingham International. From Birmingham International you need to take a short monorail ride to the airport itself.
One of the biggest mistakes that travellers make is to think that Heathrow, Luton and Gatwick airports are actually IN London! You will need to travel a fair distance from the airport before you even arrive in the capital city. Heathrow can be reached on the tube (London Underground), but it takes about an hour as Heathrow is in Zone 6. For Gatwick to London you can take the Gatwick Express which is the quickest but still takes around an hour. Luton airport is over an hour away from London. Of course you also need to consider time taken to collect your baggage and go through security. So although people expect to be out and about in London within half an hour of landing, it’s more likely to be about 3!
Solo female travel in England – Is it safe?
Of course, there is always a small risk with any kind of travel. As with anywhere, keep your belongings close and have your wits about you. It is advisable not to attract unwanted attention to yourself by wearing low cut tops and short skirts if you are a young solo female traveller. Of course, it’s not ideal telling women how to dress to avoid difficult situations, but if dressing slightly more conservatively limits unwanted encounters then it is worth amending your wardrobe for your trip. Besides, with the weather in the UK being cold at the best of times it’s also important to note that short skirts and low tops are not practical.
If you are on a night out, you might want to pack a nice skirt or dress. Just take an Uber to and from your destination and watch out for anyone spiking your drinks – this has been known to happen in England. the best thing to do is by bottled beer and drinks and not place them down and leave your drinks unattended.
As with anywhere, avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables on you. Keep your purse and phone secure at all times and avoid getting your phone out on the tube or metro which is a prime place for petty thieves who swipe people’s phones out of the their hands.
A good safety tip is to plan your journey carefully and when arriving in a new city in England try not to arrive after dark. Use Google Maps to pre-plan the journey from the train or bus station to your hotel so that you know exactly where you are going.
Getting around England
It’s quite easy to get around the main UK towns and cities. Trains and coaches are easy to use and work out cheaper if you book them in advance.
The London Underground is more commonly referred to as ‘The Tube’. If you arrive in England via a London airport or if you are spending a couple of days in the capital then you will probably use the tube at some point. Get yourself an Oyster card and top it up – this is a cheap and easy way to get around. It can be used on London buses as well. Simply tap your Oyster card on the touch point to board or go through the barrier.
Trains in England
I always travel by train in England – it’s easy to use and comfortable. Trains link the main cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, Liverpool, York, Oxford and Cambridge. Book your ticket ahead of time using the Trainline App (or website) and it will work out cheaper than if you pay walk on prices.
Coaches are cheap and easy to use – although they work out cheaper than trains consider the fact that you might waste time being stuck in traffic. So for some long journeys the saving might not be worth it as it is often quicker and easier to go by train. The two main coach companies that travellers use in England are National Express and Megabus. You can book both of these online in advance.
The local buses are a good option for short journeys. Make sure that you have some coins available as the buses that take cash often don’t have change. However, some local buses in the big cities (London, Liverpool, Manchester) now take Credit or Debit cards as a method of payment. Expect to pay around £3-4 for a local bus journey depending on how far you go. Some popular English bus companies are Stagecoach, Arriva and First.
Travel Challenges in England
England is a country with very few travel challenges, but of course no where is perfect, and so there are a few to mention:
- Cost! Let’s be frank – England is not cheap, especially London. Make sure that you are budgeting at least £100-200 per day including accommodation.
- The Cold and the rain! England can be cold and wet, and this is still a possibility even in the spring and summer seasons. The weather is also very changeable, so if it is sunny when you leave the house it could be chucking it down when you get to your destination!
- Snow and Ice – In the winter months, snow and ice can cause everything to stop! Even the tube in London can’t cope with a couple of centimetres of snow!
- Travel Delays – England is currently suffering from numerous train strikes (over pay) and also training train drivers on new trains. Both of these mean that train delays are likely.
- Traffic – especially in historical cities – In small historical cities such as York, Oxford and Cambridge the traffic can be horrendous. Cities like that were simply not built for this amount of vehicles not he road and as these cities contain many Grade II listed buildings it is difficult to widen roads and so they just stay as they were originally built, but with at least 3 times more traffic than they were intended for!
Backpack or Suitcase for England?
It depends how you intend to travel around as to whether you take a suitcase or backpack. If you are having a single destination as a base or a dual centred trip and you are not against spending money on transfers, then a suitcase will work well. However, if you are travelling on a budget to more than two cities then backpack it. This will be much easier if you plan on taking trains between cities as well.
What to pack for your Solo Trip to England
- Walking boots – especially if you are heading to the Peak District, Lake District or any other national parks.
- Raincoat – A wind and rainproof jacket is essential for travelling in England no matter what the season! Weather in England is very changeable so carry your raincoat with you even if you least expect to need it!
- Umbrella – Another item to guard you from the rain.
- Jeans and jumpers – Most of the clothing you pack for England should be jeans and jumpers, with some T-Shirts.
- Hat, scarf and gloves – especially if you are in England in the winter months you will need these.
- Sandwich box and water bottle – As England is an expensive place to travel, using these items can help you to keep the cost down.
- England Lonely Planet – Although you can get plenty of information online, I always like to have a hard copy of a decent guide book available. The Lonely Planet England will help you out with up to date with the best hotels and traditional locals pubs.
- Travel Adapter – Check if you need a travel adapter for England, three pin plug sockets are used.
Reasons to travel alone to England
- English speaking country – great for people with English as a first language or experience of English as a second language.
- No bartering – everything that you buy in shops will be a fixed price – sometimes discounts are negotiable on market stalls.
- East to travel between destinations by train or coach – book your tickets in advance for the best prices.
- Numerous historical cities to explore on foot such as Bath, York, Oxford and Cambridge.
- England is well set up for solo female travellers – there are plenty of Tourist Information offices and travel offices to help you with directions.
- Cosy Local Pubs – Local traditional pubs are popular in England and often friendly and welcoming.
- Youth Hostel Culture – There is a good youth hostel and drinking culture in England and so it is easy to meet other solo travellers.
Solo Female Travel England – Where to go
Of course most people flock to London when they visit England. However, London is crowded and expensive. The best advice I could give you especially if you are travelling on a budget is to get out of London ASAP and consider travelling North. Also, if you are looking for hiking and scenery then visit the Lake District or the Peak District.
London – the Big Smoke! It’s a city not to be missed, but get in and get out! As I’ve mentioned, London is very expensive and very crowded. Rush hour on the tube is not fun! My top tip for travelling in London would be to get an Oyster card. This can be used on trains and buses to make travel easier and cheaper – believe it or not it is possible to visit London on a Budget. The main sites not to be missed including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Hyde Park, St Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square and London Bridge.
Birmingham is England’s second city after London, but is not necessarily the best city to visit as a tourist. It’s very industrial and very spread out. Saying that, shopping, bars and restaurants are excellent in Birmingham and they do also have a few good museums including the science museum and the natural history museum. It may work out as a good place to link London to the North. As most trains stop at or go via Birmingham New Street, if your schedule allows it might be worth considering a day or two in Birmingham to get a vibe for the city. It’s a very friendly destination with a large student population.
Manchester is one of the top cities in the North of England and is a contender for Birmingham to deal with as it is closely catching up in terms of development. Manchester has excellent nightlife, restaurants and shopping. If you are a fan of Manchester United then see a game at Old Trafford or consider booking a stadium tour.
Liverpool is one of my favourite Northern cities – I feel that it has everything that Manchester has to offer and a lot more, with the added bonus of it being more accessible and walkable. Head to the Royal Albert Docks in Liverpool to see the Liver Building and other prominent landmarks including the Beatles statue. If you are a Beatles fan you will also want to visit the Beatles Story (Museum about the Beatles) and the Cavern Club on Matthew Street. Also if you are a fan of LFC (Liverpool Football Club) then you can go to a game or visit for a stadium tour. If you are interested, check out this blog on how to spend a day in Liverpool.
The City of York is a walled Northern city positioned on the river Ouse. In 866 it was invaded by the Danish Vikings who ransacked the city and renamed it Jorvick. York is famous for its Viking Museum, York Minster and The Shambles – one of the oldest streets in Britain. Also head to Museum Gardens and be sure to visit St. Mary’s Abbey. The beautiful architecture, cobbled historical streets and cosy British pubs make the city of York well worth a visit.
Possibly one of the most famous University cities in the world, the architecture of Oxford is not to be missed. Highlights of Oxford include University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Christ Church College and Oxford castle. Many of the University buildings are free to visit – check out this article on the best things to do in Oxford.
If you are looking for hiking opportunities and outstanding scenery then head to the Lake District in Cumbria. Kendal and Keswick are good places to start from as a traveller. The area is full of fell mountains and ribbon lakes. Lake Windermere also offers opportunities for water sports including sailing, paddle boarding and kayaking.
The Peak District National park is in central England and spans across several counties including Derbyshire and Staffordshire. It is famous for its caves and popular with people who go hiking and caving. Don’t miss Chatsworth House and Peveril Castle. Also head to the beautiful town of Bakewell for the relaxing atmosphere and, of course, a famous Cherry Bakewell tart!
Further reading on Solo Female Travel England
If you plan on spending time as a solo female traveller in England then you might also like to read:
- The most beautiful cities in England
- Blenheim Palace – The finest view in England
- 7 amazing Churches in Oxford
- How to spend one day in Oxford
- Visiting the Churches in Bath