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Transport in UK

Getting There

Air - London alone has five international airports – Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stanstead and London City – so you can see how accessible the country is by air. International flights also connect with Manchester, Newcastle and Bristol. Flights coming into Scotland from North America will land in Glasgow or Edinburgh but from London and all the other major European cities there are also direct connections with Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness and Kirkwall. The international airport at Cardiff in Wales is used mainly for charter flights but there are some scheduled flights to Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast, Brussels, the Channel Islands, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Isle of Man, Manchester and Paris. And in Northern Ireland, flights connect Belfast with London’s international airports as well as the British provincial cities. Several major European cities also offer direct flights but the majority of these are to Dublin. The two cities are only about two hours apart by train, however, so it is not too inconvenient.

Ferry - Services between Britain and Northern Ireland operate between Belfast and Liverpool and Stranraer in Scotland. In the Republic there are services between Dublin and Holyhead in Wales and between Rosslare and Fishguard and Pembroke, also in Wales. Services connecting Britain with mainland Europe leave from a number of ports and travel to France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Scandinavia and Spain.

The Tunnel - The UK also has a land link with mainland Europe – the Channel Tunnel. Two services operate using the tunnel: Eurostar which offers a high-speed connection between London, Paris and Brussels and Le Shuttel which allows motor vehicles to travel between Folkestone and Calais in France.

Getting Around

While public transport in the UK is of a high standard, it is pretty expensive. The cheapest way to get around is by using the multitude of bus services that operate all over. They offer special passes for travel on all services so you should check this out before purchasing your ticket and they are usually a great deal more frequent than the train services.

Having said this, the rail system in the UK is excellent with some services running through sparsely populated parts of the country offering breathtaking scenery. This comes at a price, however, and train tickets are expensive, even for those who aren’t on a backpacker budget. The National Railways Enquiry Scheme does offer some cheaper tickets but you need to book well in advance and you will probably still pay more than you would if you traveled by bus.

Also, in Scotland if you want to visit the islands, you can get a boat to most of them from Oban, Mallaig and Ullappol or you can get a ferry from Aberdeen to Orkney or Shetland.

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