Combine London with a stop on the Continent
When Americans and Canadians visit England, it takes a bit of getting used to when you hear locals asking if you are also going to “Europe” on this trip. This might stem back from the Colonial days, when the sun never set on the British Empire, and England being part of Europe seemed like a quaint notion, but it’s still true that most Brits refer to the Continent as Europe, and only in the technical sense does that term apply to the UK.
With that in mind, it’s not a bad idea to visit somewhere else in Europe on your England trip. It’ll almost certainly be cheaper than you’d think to add in at least one other major city, and it also adds some really nice contrast to the England part of your trip.
With the possible exception of Dublin and Stockholm, most of England is just about as expensive as things get in Europe. Compared to London, Paris will feel cheap, and compared to Edinburgh, Barcelona is a real bargain.
How to easily add a Continental city to your trip
You could always build what they call an open-jaw ticket, where you fly into London and then later fly out of, say, Rome. In the days before internet booking became so easy this was something you had to do with a travel agent or at least an airline employee, but now you can often buy a one-way ticket for exactly half the price of the round-trip, so it’s just a matter of buying two one-way tickets to match your desires.
If you are doing this into London and out of Rome thing mentioned above, then you’ll also need to get from London to Rome at some point. Fortunately there are cheap flights to Europe from North America and from the British Isles. You may not be familiar with the famous discount airlines like EasyJet or RyanAir, but if you are going somewhere they go you can often get a flight at a shockingly low price as long as you book well in advance.
The first thing I’d recommend is checking all your ideals flights on the ideal dates as one-way tickets to see what the total is. It used to be impossible to get bargains this way, but things have changed and now the cheap fares are there for the taking. If your ideal itinerary doesn’t work out you should consider using some alternate airports. Most of these “discount” airlines have much lower fares by flying out of obscure airports on the outskirts of towns. It’s usually worth the extra travel time, and often the same airlines will be sponsoring a shuttle bus from the city center as well.
Possible destinations to add to an England trip
I know it doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs to everyone, but once you get to Berlin you’ll probably be hooked. It’s cheap and friendly and everyone speaks English, and the nightlife and culture rival London’s as well. This one is highly recommended if you can pull it off.
This is the most obvious one and also the easiest Continental city to reach, thanks to the Eurostar between London and Paris. You can also find cheap flights to Paris, often that cost less than the train. The city is also cheaper than London for most things (except for beer and cocktails), so you can probably pop over for 3 or 4 days and it’ll end up costing you less than if you’d stayed in England the whole time.
This is a crazy city that is one that you just have to see yourself in person at least once in your life. Things in Rome are quite expensive for Italy, but generally cheaper than in London. There are loads of free things to do in Rome, and simple food and drink tends to be quite affordable too. The hotels tend to cost more than you’d think, but that’s also true of London, so it’s a wash on that front.
If the weather is gray and chilly in London (and it usually is) then this could be a really nice one to add to your trip. Barcelona is on the sea and it has sunny and mild weather most of the year, though you might want to avoid July and August. Things in Spain are generally a bargain compared to England, so this is one of the cheaper options, and the late-night party scene in Barcelona is one of the best and most famous in the world.