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Visiting the United Kingdom, with its rich history, diverse culture, and stunning landscapes, is an experience like no other.
Whether you are exploring the bustling streets of London, hiking in the Scottish Highlands, or enjoying the coastal beauty of Wales, as an avid traveller and some that lives in the UK, I know that having the right travel apps can transform your trip.
Best Travel Apps for Your UK
In this blog post, we will delve into the 20 best travel apps that every traveller visiting the UK needs, explaining why they are indispensable, how they work, and which type of traveller will benefit most from them.
1. Trainline: Your Ticket to Easy Rail and Bus Travel
If you plan to travel between cities by rail, Trainline is the best app for booking National Rail train tickets. It has an easy booking flow where you enter your origin and destination stations and see timetables, fares, and journey details.
You can select the fastest or cheapest routes. Mobile tickets mean you don’t need to queue at the station. The app also alerts you to platform changes, delays, and cancellations so you have the real time information needed to adjust your travel plans accordingly.
Travel disruption refunds can even be requested through the app. Trainline covers trains across the UK and even some European routes.
How It Works: Enter your departure and arrival locations, and Trainline will show you all available options, allowing you to book directly through the app.
Best For: Travelers who plan to explore multiple cities or regions and prefer the convenience of public transportation.
2. Citymapper: The Ultimate Urban Travel Companion
Citymapper is an essential app for getting around London and several other major UK cities like Manchester, Birmingham, and Glasgow. Enter your departure point and destination and it will present you with the best public transit options, showing bus routes, train times, estimated journey duration down to the minute, and even the platform you need.
You can compare modes like the tube vs bus vs rail. Citymapper can factor in real-time service delays and disruptions so you can plan accordingly. Use it to find the nearest stops and stations and get detailed line status updates.
This travel app is an essential if you plan on visit and major city in the you and takes the stress out of urban transportation.
How It Works: Input your destination, and Citymapper will present a variety of travel options, complete with estimated time and cost.
Best For: Urban explorers and anyone looking to navigate cityscapes efficiently.
3. Tube Map – London Underground: Navigate London Like a Pro
Why It’s a Must: London’s Tube is iconic, but it can be daunting. This app provides an easy-to-read map, real-time updates, and route planning.
How It Works: Search for your destination, and the app will guide you, showing the quickest routes and any potential delays.
Best For: Anyone spending time in London, from first timers to seasoned visitors.
4. London Bus Checker
Trying to navigate London’s extensive bus network can be intimidating. London Bus Checker makes understanding bus routes simple. Enter your starting point and destination or just tap on the map.
The app will present multiple bus route options showing exactly where to catch the bus, where to get off, bus numbers, and estimated journey times with live traffic updates.
You can see next departure times at each stop. Filter routes to avoid changes or limit walking. Fare estimates are included too. Taking the bus in London is super easy with this app.
How It Works: Enter start and end points and the app shows optimal bus routes, where to catch and leave buses, schedules and more.
Best For: Great for any visitors using London buses, especially first-timers.
5. National Rail Enquiries: Stay on Track with Your Train Travel
Why It’s a Must: This official app provides up-to-the-minute train times, platform information, and alerts for delays or cancellations.
How It Works: Search for your journey, and the app will provide all necessary details, helping you stay informed on the go.
Best For: Train travellers who want real-time information at their fingertips.
6. Google Maps: Your Comprehensive Navigation Companion
Google Maps is likely already on your phone, and it should be one of the first apps you turn to for navigating the UK. Use it to get step-by-step directions and real-time traffic information when driving or taking public transportation.
You can download offline maps of the areas you’ll be visiting so you don’t need data to find your way around. Search for nearby restaurants, attractions, and accommodation. Google Maps also has an AR mode that overlays directions right onto the street in front of you – very handy when you’re on foot sightseeing.
How It Works: Type in your destination and choose your mode of transport. Google Maps will guide you there, offering alternate routes if traffic is heavy.
Best For: Every traveller! Whether you’re exploring urban areas or venturing into rural regions, Google Maps is an essential tool.
7. TripAdvisor: Insider Knowledge on Hotels, Restaurants, and Attractions
TripAdvisor should already be part of your travel planning routine when researching what to do at upcoming destinations. Their app lets you access all that wealth of crowdsourced advice right on your phone.
Read through reviews and opinions of local hotels, restaurant, things to do and more. Browse visitor photos for an authentic perspective. You can book tours, attractions and other activities directly through the app. See location-specific safety information and FAQs answered by other fellow travellers who have visited before.
How It Works: Search for a specific place or browse categories in your current location. Read reviews, view photos, and even book directly through the app.
Best For: Travelers who appreciate the wisdom of the crowd and want reliable recommendations.
8. Uber: Reliable Rides at Your Fingertips
While public transportation is abundant in cities across the UK, there may be times when a taxi on-demand is easier. Uber allows you to call a private car service with just a few taps. No phone call or pre-booking required.
Input your destination and get fare estimates so you know the cost upfront. The app uses GPS to detect your location, so no address is needed. You’ll see your driver’s name, car make and model, and license plate when they arrive. Uber even has options like Uber Pet for traveling with animals. Payment is seamless through the app.
How It Works: Set your pickup and drop-off locations in the app, and a driver will be matched to you.
Best For: Travelers who value convenience and are looking for a quick, easy way to get around.
9. XE Currency: Effortless Currency Conversion
Don’t get tripped up converting between your home currency and British pounds sterling. XE Currency makes figuring exchange rates a breeze. Their app has a super useful currency converter where you simply enter the amount, and it calculates the converted value.
Save rates offline so you don’t need data roaming to check rates. XE Currency tracks rates from over 180 currencies updating them every 60 seconds. You can set rate alerts, graph historical trends, and calculate trip budgets. No more mental math mistakes!
How It Works: Input the amount in British Pounds (GBP) and the app will convert it to your chosen currency, using real-time exchange rates.
Best For: International travellers keen on keeping track of their spending and ensuring they get the best exchange rates.
10. Yelp: Discover the Best Local Businesses
Yelp is essential for finding highly rated local restaurants, shops, and attractions across the UK. Browse reviews from other travellers to get on-the-ground opinions beyond what a typical guidebook can offer.
Check opening hours, see photos of the ambience and dishes at restaurants. Yelp is great for finding hidden gems off the tourist trail. The app uses your smartphone’s GPS to surface places nearby your location. You can even search by neighbourhood or type of cuisine. Yelp takes the guesswork out of choosing where to eat and what to do.
How It Works: Search for a specific type of business or browse categories in your current location. Read reviews to find the perfect spot.
Best For: Travelers eager to explore local favourites and uncover hidden gems.
11. Skyscanner: Your All-in-One Travel Booking App
When it comes to finding the cheapest flights and best deals, Skyscanner should be your go-to app. It compiles flight options from all the major airlines as well as budget carriers. You can track price trends to identify the optimum time to book your flights.
Skyscanner also lets you search car rentals and hotel deals, often scoring you significant savings over booking directly. It’s one of the top apps for finding travel deals and savings to and from the UK.
How It Works: Enter your travel details to search for flights, accommodations, or car rentals and book directly through the app.
Best For: Bargain hunters and planners looking to secure the best travel deals.
TripIt helps you organize all the moving parts of your UK trip into one master itinerary. Forward confirmation emails from flights, trains, hotels, rental cars and more to TripIt and it will automatically create an organized day-by-day plan of your journey with maps and confirmation numbers all in one view.
You can share your full trip with travel companions and invite them to collaborate on the itinerary. The app is a great way to get an at-a-glance overview of your bookings in one place vs having them scattered across multiple emails and providers.
How It Works: Forward confirmation emails from flights, trains, hotels, car rentals, tours etc to TripIt and it will automatically build a schedule of your trip with all details in one place.
Best For: TripIt is great for all travellers with multiple bookings. Provides peace of mind knowing all your details are in one place and easily accessible offline.
Splitwise is a handy app for tracking shared expenses amongst your travel group like dinners, Airbnbs, rental cars and more. Simply enter the expense amount, who paid, and which group members owe money.
Splitwise tracks what each person owes and to whom. You can easily settle up debts between friends by linking your debit cards for fast transfers.
No more fiddling with different currencies and cash. Splitwise does the math and accounting automatically making it easy to divide costs.
How It Works: Input group purchases like dinners or Airbnbs. Splitwise tracks who owes what and allows repayment via linked cards.
Best For: Perfect for simplifying expenses and repayments amongst friends or family traveling together.
14. Metro Newspaper
Metro is a popular free newspaper for staying on top of what’s happening in London. Pick up a copy of the Metro at one of London’s many tube stations and bus stops. The Metro app puts all the same information right on your phone.
See localised London news, weather forecasts, and event listings. There are useful transit maps showing the tube lines, rail services, ferry routes and airport links. Content is updated daily. If you’ll be in London for any length of time, Metro is a must-have way to get oriented with the city.
How it Works: Read London focused news, weather, and event listings. Access tube, train, bus maps and timetables.
Best For: Ideal for visitors spending significant time in London and needing to navigate the transport network.
15. Time Out
Time Out is like having a local guide in your pocket, profiling the best attractions and events happening in UK cities right now. Get curated recommendations on restaurants, theatre, museums, nightlife and more.
Browse critics’ reviews and user ratings to identify places you’ll love. Time Out can provide inspiration when you’re looking for unique ways to experience each destination.
Event listings are updated daily so you’ll know about special exhibits or pop ups. Ditch the out-of-date guidebook and see what’s hot right now with Time Out.
How It Works: Get curated recommendations for restaurants, cultural events, nightlife and more from local expert editors.
Best For: Great for urban visitors looking for unique, authentic, and timely ways to experience British cities.
16. UK Weather
The weather in the UK can be highly unpredictable and changeable. Stay a step ahead with the UK Weather app from the Met Office. You can save multiple locations like the cities and towns in your itinerary.
The app provides hourly and weekly forecasts, so you know what to expect each day. See detailed rain, wind, temperature, visibility and UV forecast maps.
Get severe weather alerts for your areas in case you need to modify your plans. Historical weather data is also available. Don’t get caught off guard by sudden downpours or cold snaps, and pack accordingly.
How It Works: Get hourly and long-range forecasts for saved locations. View detailed maps showing rainfall, wind, visibility and more.
Best For: Helpful for all UK travellers to know what type of weather to expect during their trip.
17. Wi-Fi Finder
Getting free WiFi on the go is crucial for using maps, translations, and other apps while traveling. Wi-Fi Finder shows you all the places where you can connect to free public WiFi hotspots in the UK.
As you move about a city, your phone will automatically update with hotspots nearby and their network names.
You can directly connect to hotspots through the app when available. Venues are sorted by category like cafes, parks, malls, hotels and more. Never be without a connection when you need to access the internet during your trip.
How It Works: See hotspots nearby automatically. Connect to networks through the app. Works offline.
Best For: Excellent for any visitor who needs data access on the go without expensive roaming fees.
18. Airbnb: Unique Accommodations and Local Experiences
Airbnb has changed the way people travel by allowing locals to rent out their homes or spare rooms to visitors. Browse Airbnb listings across the UK to find unique accommodation options that offer much more character, space, and value compared to sterile hotel rooms.
Read reviews of hosts to make sure they are reliable. Many Airbnb listings include full apartments, cottages, or even castles! You can filter by price, neighbourhood, amenities and more. Booking through the app is quick and secure.
How It Works: Browse rental apartments, homes, rooms and more. Read host reviews. Instant book or send reservation requests.
Best For: Great for travellers who want an experience that feels more immersive than a standard hotel. Also good for groups/families.
19. Bring! Grocery Shopping List
Preparing your own meals can save money when traveling. Bring! is a handy app for creating shared grocery lists with friends and family you may be vacationing with. Add items you need to the list and sync it instantly across devices.
As you shop, simply check off items that go in your basket. You can organise the list by store sections or aisle order. Bring! will even estimate your total bill using average prices of items. Get rid of confusing paper lists and keep your group coordinated on grocery runs during your trip.
How It Works: Easily collaborate on packing lists, grocery lists, and anything else your group needs to coordinate on. Syncing is instant across phones.
Best For: Bring! is great for travel groups who need to plan, share packing lists, and work together managing travel logistics.
20. OpenTable: Dine at the Best Spots in Town
Why It’s a Must: OpenTable makes discovering and booking reservations at restaurants across the UK a breeze. It offers reviews, menus, and photos to help you choose the perfect spot.
How It Works: Search for restaurants based on location, cuisine, or other preferences, view available times, and book your table all within the app.
Best For: Foodies and anyone who wants to ensure they have a spot at some of the best restaurants in town.
Why It’s a Must: WhatsApp is a globally popular messaging app that allows for free text messages, voice calls, and video calls over the internet.
How It Works: After installing, you can instantly connect with contacts who also have the app using your internet connection. You can also join or create group chats, which is handy for coordinating plans with fellow travellers or new acquaintances.
Best For: Anyone who wants to stay connected without racking up international calling or texting charges. It’s particularly useful for international travellers.
Best Travel Apps Wrap-up
Embarking on a journey to the United Kingdom is an exciting adventure, and with these 20 travel apps, you’re set to have a seamless and enriching experience.
From navigating the winding streets of London to finding hidden gems in the Scottish Highlands, these tools will guide you, keep you informed, and ensure that you make the most of your time in this diverse and historic country.