International Summer School

Further travel

For many of you your time at the University of Sussex will also be your first time in the UK, or even Europe, so make the most of it and explore! As well as our organised trips and activities we also encourage you to explore the rest of the UK and Europe independently. Brighton is located close to London and has excellent transport links to the rest of the UK, and Europe. London Gatwick Airport is just 27 minutes away by train, perfect for popping to Spain or Italy for the weekend! Just make sure that you are back in good time for classes on Monday morning!

UK travel

The UK is so diverse, there’s just so much to see and do. If you want to travel as part of a group, ISS runs day trips to London, Oxford and Blenheim Palace, Cambridge, d Arundel Jousting Tournament, Canterbury and Leeds Castle and Bath and Stonehenge – see our Trips overview page for more details. If you fancy going somewhere not catered for on our programme then fear not, below is your introductory guide to our picks of the rest of the UK – in alphabetical order.

Belfast
The capital city of Northern Ireland is easily accessible by low cost airlines and takes just 1hr 20 mins. Famous for being the port that the Titanic set sail from, you can take a Titanic tour or visit the Titanic Belfast museum and visitor centre. It’s also a stone’s throw away from the spectacular natural phenomenon that is the Giant's Causeway. You’ll be spoilt for choice if you want to explore castles, churches, and monasterys, and Culturlaan McAdam O Flaich is an excellent Irish language and heritage centre which is a must see for any material cultures or anthropology students.

 

See www.gotobelfast.com for more information
Bristol

The gateway to the South West of England, Bristol, is a historic city with stunning Georgian architecture, and bags of culture. It has a thriving nightlife and is the centre of the UK street art scene being home to several Banksys, and a number of up and coming street artists.

Be sure to visit HMS Great Britain, ground breaking engineer Brunel’s ship that changed the shape of the world. The ship has been turned into an A grade museum and tourist attraction with a dry dock so you can see beneath the ship, and a whole host of interactive activities including the chance to dress up in Victorian English clothes. @Bristol is an interactive science museum with regularly changing exhibitions, and a state of the art planetarium.There’s a whole host of museums and art galleries including M Shed, the Georgian House Museum, Dr Jenner’s House: The Birthplace of Vaccination, and the Clifton Suspension Bridge Visitor Centre.

If you like shopping, Bristol has a new shopping complex, Cabot circus, and also has an independent quarter which is great for finding vintage gems.

It takes just 3hrs 30 mins by train either direct from Brighton or with a change at London Victoria.

See www.visitbristol.co.uk for more information.

Cardiff

The buzzing capital city of Wales has a thriving clubbing scene, a rich history, and is famous as the home of sci-fi institution Doctor Who. It also has lots of museums and galleries to keep you busy; we like the Big Pit: National Coal Museum, The National Roman Legion Museum, and the Winding House Museum for being a bit different. You can also take a Doctor Who Tour. The Cardiff Bay area is easily accessible from central Cardiff and has a host of things to see and do. The national languages of Wales are English and Welsh so look out for dual language signs and difficult to pronounce street names.

You can get to Cardiff  by train in just under 4hrs, changing at Gatwick and Reading. 

See www.visitcardiff.com for more information.

Edinburgh

One of the most culturally rich cities in the UK, Edinburgh is the jewel of Scotland and is a must-see destination, especially if you can schedule in a visit during the world-famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2-26 August). The Edinburgh Festival website  www.edfringe.com has plenty of information about planning you trips and booking any festival shows. Even if you just take in the festival atmosphere and enjoy the free street entertainers that flock to Edinburgh from all over the world, it’s an unforgettable experience.

When in Edinburgh take the time to visit some of these attractions: Edinburgh Castle, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, The Scottish Whisky Heritage Centre, Rosslyn Chapel, The Real Mary Kings Close, The Museum of Edinburgh, and The Museum of Childhood

Edinburgh is also great for shopping and sampling Scottish cuisine. Try the famous dish of haggis, neeps, and tatties, Edinburgh rock candy, and a modern classic, the deep fried mars bar.

For just a short break you should consider flying to Edinburgh as the train can take quite a while. Easyjet fly from Gatwick to Edinburgh in under an hour and prices vary depending on dates. Book ahead to get the best rates. Alternatively, the train takes around 6hrs. Take the train from Brighton to London Victoria, then the London underground to London King’s Cross (on the Victoria line), and from there trains depart to Edinburgh. If you’re traveling on a budget, megabus and national express coaches go to Edinburgh and take approximately 9hrs, tickets prices vary depending on when you book, but it is possible to travel for £5.00.

See www.edinburgh.org for more information
Liverpool
Liverpool, home of The Beatles and ‘Scousers’ (the local people). The city and its docks are steeped in history, but today it is also a key destination for art lovers, fans of the theatre and museumgoers. It’s home to two of the Premiership's biggest football teams, Liverpool and Everton, and the two divide the city causing much heated debate! The region is also home to England’s Golf Coast, the finest stretch of championship golf in the world, with no fewer than three Royal Links courses which have hosted numerous Open Championships and Ryder Cups.

The city is famous for its’ “WAG” culture, and you may spot a few famous footballers whilst out enjoying Liverpool’s buzzing nightlife.

A Beatles tour is a must do for any music fan where you can visit John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s childhood homes, the Cavern Club, and the famous Penny Lane. Trains take around 3 hrs 40 mins going via London.

See www.visitliverpool.com for more information.
Manchester

One of the great Northern cities of the UK and home to two world class football teams, Manchester is a vibrant and exciting city to visit for the weekend. Unrivalled music venues, shopping, theatres, galleries, pubs and clubs make Manchester a popular choice for both its large population of university students and tourists alike. Tours around the Manchester City stadium or Old Trafford are easily available for sports fans.

Trains take around 3 hrs 30 mins going via London.

See www.visitmanchester.com for more information.

Newcastle

In the North-East of England lies Newcastle, which is home to Cheryl Cole and her indecipherable Geordie accent as well as being one of the most exciting cities in the UK. It’s perfect for a weekend of shopping, clubbing or exploring the sights, and no trip would be complete without taking in the riverscape from the bustling quayside. Take a stroll across Gateshead Millennium Bridge (the first and only tilting bridge in the world), over to The Sage Gateshead and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art before heading out in the evening to sample some Newcastle Brown Ale and checking out some of the city’s fantastic bars, restaurants and clubs.

To make the most of your train fare up north, it’s definitely worth spending a few hours in either York (home to the Jorvik Viking Heritage Centre or Durham which most Newcastle-bound trains stop at on their way through. Both are home to some of the most celebrated cathedrals in the country and have infinite amounts of charm and make idyllic destinations for weekend trips in their own right.

Trains take between 4 hrs 30 mins depending on connections. Take the train from Brighton to London Victoria, then the London underground to London King’s Cross (on the Victoria line), and from there trains depart to Newcastle.

See www.visitnewcastle.com for more information.

Plymouth

Plymouth is a historic naval city, famous for being the place where the Mayflower set sail to America. Each year hundreds of American tourists visit the hallowed Mayflower Steps and museum. Every summer Plymouth plays host to the National Firework Championships and the whole city comes out to watch the free show on the seafront, there’s also several sailing and boating festivals and races that take place in the historic Barbican area that attract enthusiasts from all over the world.

Plymouth also backs on to Dartmoor National Park, with its rugged landscape and scenic views, it’s great for hiking and orienteering and has been used as a film location on several films, most recently Steven Spielberg’s Warhorse. It also has a ghostly past, you can take a guided ghost walk and hear tales including the Hound of the Baskerville’s, written by Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who used to live in Plymouth. The country houses and stately homes around Plymouth have also been used as film locations including Saltram House, and Anthony House, where Tim Burton’s Alice and Wonderland was filmed. You can also take a tour of the Plymouth Gin distillery famous for being one of the only true Gin’s left in the world, we recommend the fruity sloe gin and ginger ale cocktail.

Plymouth also borders Cornwall, a county popular with English holiday makers – you can take a train down to the surfer’s paradise of Newquay and hire a surf board, sign up for lessons, or just enjoy the sandy beaches and clifftop walks.

Trains to Plymouth via London will take around 4 hrs, and other routes will take longer, but the journey itself has some spectacular views of Devon’s red cliff coastline.

See www.visitplymouth.co.uk and www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk for more information.

Stratford-upon-Avon

This quaint and pretty town is famous as the birth place of Shakespeare. Here you can visit the houses he lived in and the home of his beloved wife, Ann Hathaway’s cottage. For those of you who missed our trips to see Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe in London, you can take in a play by the world famous Royal Shakespeare Company.

Trains to Stratford-Upon-Avon take around 4hrs going via London Marylebone.

See www.visitstratforduponavon.co.uk for more information.

Getting there

By Train

Trains in the UK are a fast, and comfortable way to travel, however they can be quite expensive so it’s best to book in advance, and online as many companies offer online discounts. Try www.Southernrailway.com, www.nationalrail.co.uk, and the trainline.com and shop around for the best deals.

The megatrain offers some discounted fares on some services to and from London so it’s often worth booking a train ticket to London, and then booking a mega train to other destinations such as Bath, Birmingham, Bristol, and Exeter. For a list of destinations and to book visit www.uk.megabus.com/

It may also be worth buying a 16-25 railcard which will save you 1/3 on all rail travel in the UK for one year. It costs £30 when you apply online at www.16-25railcard.co.uk. It may seem like a lot of money, but you can usually recover the cost in what you save in just one cross country journey. It’ll also save money on journeys from university to the city centre, and in and around Sussex.

A word of caution: Ticket inspectors are very strict, and will fine anyone who has not got a valid ticket, or is unable to produce their 16-25 rail card when requested. Most stations also have automated barriers making it nigh on impossible to avoid paying for a ticket, so don’t even think about it!

The number of train companies and rail networks we have in the UK can seem quite confusing since privatisation in the 1980s, for example you may find yourself booking with southern rail, but traveling on a southwest train for part of your journey, don’t worry this is perfectly normal! 

By Bus

Buses are often a cheaper option than the train as they usually take an hour or so longer, but be weary as peak times and last minute bookings can work out just as expensive. As with trains, the sooner you book, the more you save so start planning those trips now!

Regular buses to London run from Pool Valley Bus Station on the seafront and a ticket can be less expensive than a full price train ticket, but the journey takes around two hours instead of just one. You can also take coaches from there to the rest of the country, book online at www.nationalexpress.com.

A Young Persons coach card will save you 1/3 on all standard journeys and costs just £10 for a whole year, so if you are planning to travel by bus and want to save money you can apply online.

Some national express fares are significantly cheaper from London so it may be worth your while buying two separate tickets, one from London to Brighton, and the other from London to your destination.  Similarly megabus has cheap coach travel from London to the rest of the UK (sadly not Brighton) and it may worth splitting your journey in this way.

Internal Flights

It’s not particularly common to fly to destinations within the UK as it’s a relatively small country, so internal flights are often expensive but it may be worth it if you are planning to travel to Scotland, Northern Ireland, or the Channel Islands. British Airways, and budget airlines Flybe and Easyjet run internal flights but be sure to shop around, price comparison websites like skyscanner and opodo may be able to save you money.

Some airlines will give their price inclusive of any taxes (the most expensive part of flying) whilst most budget airlines will add taxes on at the end. You can save money by just taking carry-on luggage e.g. a cabin bag, as budget airlines charge to take luggage into the hold. Just be sure to check weight and size limitations. Also budget airlines will not give complimentary drinks or meals, and charge pretty extortionate amounts for what they sell on board so it’s best to bring something with you if you are likely to get hungry.

International travel

No classes on Fridays means that the three day weekends offer students the best opportunities for independent travel to Europe and other destinations.  Please note that students on Physics course will have mid-term tests on the second Friday of each session.

Group travel

If you would like to travel as part of an organised tour group then Discovery Tours and UK Study Tours offer tours to European destinations such as Amsterdam, Paris, Monaco, the Scottish highlands, and the Republic of Ireland. These companies are experienced in catering for international students, and have proven popular with ISS students in the past.  

Independent travel

If you're an experienced globetrotter or simply eager to make your own plans then you may prefer to book your travel and accommodation directly to get the cheapest rates and most flexibility. Traditional European destinations such as; Germany, Italy, France and Spain are always very popular with ISS students. Eastern Europe has also become very popular offering boundless charm, culture, and history, as well as being typically less expensive, than traditional European destinations. North Africa is also highly accessible by air and it takes approximately 4hrs to reach Marrakesh or Cairo.

Please follow our travel tips (below), make sure you have visa permissions, and check before you go if it’s safe to travel due to the on-going political situation. 

Flying

Being so close to Gatwick and all of the other London airports has its’ advantages. Try to fly from Gatwick where possible, as it will save you both time and money by avoiding traveling across London.

To get the best deals book ahead, and shop around, price comparison websites such as travelsupermarket and kayak can sometimes offer big discounts.

Budget airlines are great for a short trip, but more than three or four hours might feel less comfortable. Budget airlines do not provide complimentary food or drink, and anything available to buy will be at over inflated prices, so bring your own whenever possible. Budget airlines will charge extra for baggage, and allow just the one carry on, so check weight and size restrictions before traveling. Most of these airlines advertise their fares excluding taxes (the most expensive part of flying) to make their prices appear considerably lower, when in fact there is often not much difference in price between their prices and standard airlines.

The following airlines fly from the UK to a range of European destinations. This list is by no means extensive.

Budget Airlines

Aer Lingus (To and from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland only), Air Baltic, Air Berlin, Easyjet (Offers connections from Gatwick to most European destinations), Flybe.com, Monarch, Ryanair (One of the cheapest airlines but most flights depart from London Stanstead or Luton), and Wizzair

Standard Airlines

British Airways, Iberia, Lufthansa, and SAS

By train

You can travel to Europe by train in under 2hrs, perfect if you’re not a fan of flying. The Eurostar train goes from London St Pancras International to Paris, Brussels, and Lille. If you don’t mind a slightly longer journey and changing trains you can even get to Amsterdam in 4 hrs. Visit eurostar.com for more information.

By coach

Easily the cheapest way to travel, a coach trip is great for budget travellers, and also lets you see the breathtaking scenery you would otherwise miss on an aeroplane.

Megabus runs services from London to Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Gent,  and Boulogne. The earlier you book the cheaper it is, a ticket to Amsterdam can be bought for as little as £12.00.

Travel tips

Here are a few tips to remember when traveling:

Make sure you have permission to travel to the country you wish to visit and have any necessary visas in good time.

If you haven’t already done so, make a photocopy of your passport in case it gets lost or stolen.

Do some research on the country you are visiting, not just the tourist sites and the activities but also on the culture and customs, that way you can avoid inadvertently causing offence. Be respectful of other peoples’ way of life, culture and customs and do your best to adhere to them, although people will make allowances knowing you are from a foreign country.  Look at travel blogs and travel guides for tips, try Lonely Planet or Rough Guides.

Learn to say a few phrases in the language of the country you are visiting, like “thank you”, “please”, “yes”, “no” and “excuse me”. This will get you surprisingly far. Many people will speak at least some English particularly in touristy areas, but it’s good manners to try and speak at least some of the local language. Even if you’re language skills are not too good, people will appreciate the effort and be far more willing to help you.

Stay safe! Be aware of your surroundings, keep your valuables in a safe place and keep a watchful eye on them. Go with your gut instinct and take yourself out of a situation if something feels wrong.  If you’re in a group, stick together, and arrange meeting points should you get separated.

Tourist areas will often be significantly more expensive than places where locals go. Usually just a few streets away from a tourist attraction you will be able to find things for a better price.

If taking a taxi ensure it’s a licenced cab. Ask airport or hotel staff for reputable taxi numbers, and for a rough estimate of how much the fare should be. Often taxi drivers will take advantage of tourists’ ignorance of the local area and intentionally take a longer route. Agree a price, or at least an estimate of the price with the taxi driver before you get in to the vehicle.

Make sure you bring enough cash with you, don’t forget you get charged for using your credit card and drawing out cash abroad.  It’s best to change your cash before you go, banks and the Post Office offer good exchange rates.

Most of all stay safe and have fun!