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The best way to travel around Britain

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From London to Land’s End, Edinburgh to Essex, Cambridge to Cardiff, there’s so much to see on the island we call Great Britain. While it’s true that towns in the UK are not that far apart compared to other much larger countries, seeing all the UK has to offer means travelling – and plenty of it.

By car, you can cover the entirety of the United Kingdom within a matter of days, with the length of the country a mere 874 miles – roughly the distance between New York and Chicago. However, given our complex setup of A roads, motorways and dual carriageways, this may not be your favoured mode of transport. Likewise, our train network is often the source of much frustration due to delays and regular, lengthy maintenance work.

From luxury travel to budget adventures, our guide to the best ways to travel around Britain may just inspire you to spend your next holiday on a staycation.   

The best ways to travel around Britain on a budget

If you are on a budget, one of the best ways to travel around Britain is by car.

Travel by car

If you don’t own your own car, you should be able to rent a vehicle for between £200 – £600 per week, depending which model you choose.

You’ll then have complete freedom to travel wherever and whenever you wish, without having to rely on trains, buses or taxis.

As a point of reference, Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge, Brighton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth are all less than three hours’ drive from London – traffic allowing of course! – whereas the north of England lies around five hours away. Driving up to Scotland from London can also be done in a day, with the UK’s most northerly point, John O’ Groats, reachable in around twelve hours.

What’s more, some of Britain’s motorways can be serenely picturesque places on which to drive, with the M6 snaking up through the bucolic Midlands, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.

Travel by train

If you cannot drive or you prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery as you travel, consider travelling around Britain by train. With no additional costs such as parking and additional fuel, the train is a budget-friendly choice, in as much as you can pre-determine the cost.

However, there is a downside to train travel in Britain, as we are renowned for having some of the most expensive rail fares in all of Europe. A ticket from London to Bristol might set you back around £100 during peak travel hours, for example. However, if you book well in advance and are flexible in when you travel, you should be able to find a ticket that doesn’t cost a small fortune.

If you plan on seeing a lot of the UK by train, it’s worth investing in a rail pass, which will soon pay for itself.

Travel by bike

If you like to travel under your own steam, why not explore the UK by bike? While we’re not suggesting you cycle onto the M25, a scenic tour around some of Britain’s most famous landmarks and landscapes is a unique way to explore our island.

The best ways to travel around Britain in luxury

If money is no object or you want to blow the budget for a special occasion, why not travel around Britain in luxury?

Travel by canal boat

If you are looking for a truly unique experience, choose to travel across the country on a canal boat. This mode of transport has seen an increase in popularity over the last few years and considering Britain’s abundance of picturesque canals, are a surprisingly efficient way to get around, if not a little slow.

A quintessentially English pastime, canal boating is a charming way to discover a quieter side of the country, albeit a fairly costly one.

Travel by helicopter

If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, consider a private helicopter tour. What better way to see the UK than from the sky? The unique perspective afforded by a flight in a helicopter means that you get an experience like none other, as well as knowing that you can squeeze in maximum visits into shorter timeframes. 

London from the air, for example, is unparalleled, as you take in Big Ben, The London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and more from above.

Why is it best to take a private helicopter tour in the summer?

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Seeing the sights from the sky is an unforgettable experience, as you will have a unique perspective that you just don’t get on the ground. London landmarks such as the London Eye, Big Ben and the Shard are all even more breathtaking when you see them from above.

A bird’s eye view is the best way to see the city skyline, but when is the best time to take a private helicopter tour?

helicopter - sun

Do the seasons impact on a helicopter flight?

While it is possible to experience a helicopter flight throughout most of the year, weather conditions should always be taken into consideration when you are choosing when to take your tour.

Winter brings the risk of ice and snow, as well as strong winds and rain, all of which pose a safety risk and may result in a flight being postponed.

Spring and summer are generally a safer bet when planning a private helicopter tour, as the weather is more likely to be clear. However, as we are all aware, there is no guarantee it won’t rain, even in the middle of summer! There is also the possibility of a summer storm, which would prevent your flight from taking off.

Autumn is a popular choice for private helicopter tours, as whilst the weather may not be particularly warm, the views should be good thanks to the clear skies. Beautiful Autumn scenery and turning leaves also make for striking photographs, with less likelihood of glare spoiling your shot.

Why should I choose to fly in the summer?

Whilst the weather conditions are the primary reason why summer is the best time to take a private helicopter flight, with a better chance of good flying weather and less risk of your flight being postponed or cancelled, there are also other benefits of flying in the summer months:

  • Good views – a clear summer’s day provides the perfect backdrop for you to see the sights through your tour, reducing the risk of clouds obscuring your view  
  • Ambient temperature – it can get cold in the cabin of a helicopter, even more so during the cooler autumn and winter months. Leave your coat and gloves at home and choose to fly during the summer, when a long sleeved jacket should be the only outer layer you need to keep you comfortable during your flight
  • Reduced turbulence – if you are nervous of taking a flight in a private helicopter, flying during the summer months should reduce the risk of any bumpiness, for a smoother, more enjoyable flight

Bear in mind that spring and summer are typically the busiest times of year for private helicopter tours, so ensure you book ahead as early as possible so you can fly on your chosen day.

If you are planning to take a helicopter flight during your holiday, it’s a good idea to book for the beginning of your stay, in the event that you may have to reschedule due to inclement weather.

What time of day should I fly?

Whilst the season is important, the time of day is also key when you are planning a private helicopter tour.

Flying early in the morning may result in a smoother flight but if you wish to take photographs, an afternoon tour may be better as you will not be shooting directly into the sun and any early morning fog or mist should have cleared, giving you the best possible view.

If you’re unsure of when to book your flight, get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to answer any questions or help with any queries you may have.

What should you expect on a private helicopter tour?

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You’re sure to be filled with excitement ahead of your first private helicopter tour. Our handy hints and tips will help you prepare before the day of your flight arrives, so you can make the most of your tour.  

private-helicopter

How long will my flight last?

The length of your flight depends on the helicopter tour you choose:

  • Our London Buzz helicopter tour lasts 12 minutes. 1 seat costs £150, whilst the whole aircraft costs £750
  • Our London Sights tour lasts 18 minutes and is our most popular choice. Booking a single seat costs £220, whilst booking the whole helicopter for your exclusive use costs £2,200  
  • Our London Max. tour lasts 30 minutes, at a fixed cost of £1,700 for your sole use of the helicopter  

How many passengers will be on my flight?

Typically you will fly with three or five other passengers, depending on the size of the helicopter. The helicopter will be chosen based on the combined weight of the passengers, for optimum safety and security.

Can I choose who is on my helicopter tour?

Yes you can. If you booked your flight with other people they will fly with you, but bear in mind they may not sit beside you due to the need to balance the helicopter. We will always do our best to ensure your group is seated together. If you do wish to only have yourself and your friends or family on the flight, book a private flight, rather than a public one. If you have any questions or queries regarding your choice of flight, just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

How is seating in the helicopter arranged?

Seating in the helicopter is arranged by weight and balance. This is essential for the safety and security of the flight.

Can I choose my seat on the helicopter?

There are multiple seats in each helicopter, each with their own spectacular view. Due to weight and balance restrictions we seat our passengers accordingly to balance the helicopter’s centre of gravity, so your seat will be allocated to you.

Do I have to pass a security check?

We request that you arrive at the heliport no less than 20 minutes before your scheduled flight time in order to complete the secure check in and safety briefing.  If you arrive later than 20 minutes prior to your flight, you will not be able to fly.

What can I take onto the helicopter with me?

You are permitted to bring a camera or smartphone and glasses or sunglasses aboard the helicopter. Handbags, camera bags, keys, scarves, hats and any other loose items of clothing will need to be stored in a secure locker at the heliport.

Will I be able to take pictures or video?

You may take photos or video once aboard the aircraft. Taking pictures on the heliport ramp while walking to the helicopter is strictly prohibited.

What happens if the weather is bad on the day of my flight?  

Weather conditions such as fog, heavy rain, snow, high winds and thunderstorms can prevent a helicopter flight from taking off. We will notify you as soon as possible on the day of your scheduled flight to let you know if it has to be cancelled due to inclement weather.

Are there any other circumstances where my helicopter tour flight would be delayed?

A flight may be delayed due to intermittent weather conditions, a maintenance issue that was unplanned or as a result of some other operational issue beyond our control. We will keep you informed and provide you with updates or the opportunity to reschedule should this be necessary.

Do I need to take out insurance for my flight?

We hold compulsory Public Liability insurance which covers our pilots and passengers for any loss or injury incurred from their flight. There is no insurance provision for you missing your scheduled flight due to late arrival, or any loss associated with a delayed or cancelled flight.

From the time you book your reservation to the time you fly in one of our helicopters, you will have the time of your life. Why not share the sights and memories of your flight with others in our gallery?

Support London’s Air Ambulance

We are delighted to support London’s Air Ambulance, helping to extend the reach of their lifesaving missions across London. The London Helicopter will match your donation to double its impact.

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