Getting to Britain: flights, visas and travelling around

The prehistoric monument and UNESCO world heritage site, of Stonehenge. Credit: VisitBritain/Guy Richardson
The prehistoric monument and UNESCO world heritage site, of Stonehenge. Credit: VisitBritain/Guy Richardson

Want to see our castles, palaces, stately homes, famous landmarks and ancient sites for yourself? Then book your trip to Britain and start planning your itinerary.

The prehistoric monument and UNESCO world heritage site, of Stonehenge. Credit: VisitBritain/Guy Richardson
The prehistoric monument and UNESCO world heritage site, of Stonehenge. Credit: VisitBritain/Guy Richardson

With the largest airport in Europe serving 185 direct destinations across the world, getting to Britain is easy. Follow our guide so you can soon turn your dreams of visiting Britain into a reality.

Flights to Britain

Heathrow, located just 15 minutes from London, is Europe’s largest airport with over 80 international airlines flying into it. London also has two other international airports (Gatwick and Stansted) and there are international airports in Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

British Airways plane. Credit: VisitBritain/Britain On View
Credit: VisitBritain/Britain On View

If you’re travelling from the US, then American Airlines and British Airways offer daily non-stop services between London Heathrow and Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Calgary, Charlotte, Chicago, Denver, Dallas Fort Worth, Houston, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Montreal, New York JFK, Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington D.C.

Air Canada flies direct to London Heathrow from Calgary, Halifax, Montreal-Trudeau, Ottawa, St John’s, Toronto-Pearson and Vancouver.

Airlines that fly from Australia to the UK include Etihad Airways, EmiratesBritish AirwaysVirgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific.

Visas

The good news is that if you’re travelling from the US, Canada or Australia then you won’t need a visa to visit Britain.

European Union citizens, non-EU member states of the EEA (Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland), Switzerland, and members of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT) are also exempt from needing a visa to enter the UK.

If you’re in any doubt, check if you need a visa for Britain.

Harrods department store in Knightsbridge is lit up at night with a huge array of lights, silhouetting the building features. Credit: VistBritain/Andrew Pickett
You may be able to claim duty-free shopping at London’s exclusive Harrods. Credit: VistBritain/Andrew Pickett

Tax-free shopping in Britain

If you’re travelling from outside the EU and are staying for less than three months then you may be eligible for tax-free shopping.

Travelling around Britain

Britain is a relatively small country so travelling around is a lot easier than you might think.

Travel by train

All major cities and many towns and villages will have their own train stations so travelling by rail is a good option, plus you get to sit back and watch the beautiful countryside whizz by from the comfort of your chair.

If you plan to travel by train a lot while you’re here then it may be wise to invest in a BritRail GB Pass, which gives unlimited travel throughout Britain from 3 days to one month, including airport transfers (but not the London Underground). Please note, these are not available to buy in the UK so you must buy before you leave home.

Jacobite train goes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland
The Jacobite steam train goes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Scotland. Credit: VisitBritain/Guy Richardson

If you want to cover long distances then a sleeper train may also appeal. The Caledonian Sleeper train travels from London to Scotland, from where you can catch the famous Jacobite steam train, while the Night Riviera Sleeper sets off from London Paddington in the evening before arriving in Cornwall’s Penzance in the morning.

Hire a car

For maximum freedom while you’re here, hiring a car will enable you to set off when and where you want and also reach more off-the-beaten track places. Car rental can be organised at all major airports and in large towns and cities. VisitBritain offers some useful advice on travelling by car.

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