Unique experiences to look forward to in the UK

9 November 2021

As of October 11th, 2021, South Africa was no longer considered a UK red-listed country. Fully-vaccinated travellers have been given the all-clear to enter without any need for prior COVID testing or quarantine. In celebration of this much-anticipated milestone, here’s a round-up of seven unique and unusual experiences to look forward to on your first return visit to the UK.

Go kayaking on the River Thames

What better way to see London’s most iconic sights from a new perspective than from the waters of the River Thames inside a sturdy kayak? This is a memorable experience to consider whether or not you have existing kayaking experience. Basic training, as well as a health and safety briefing, is included in your package.

If kayaking isn’t your thing, there’s also the option to explore England’s longest river inside a canoe or on a stand-up paddle board.

Take a Harry Potter Studio tour

It’s the best-selling novel series of all times, with a collection of movies that were just as successful. If you’re a fan of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, the family will love exploring some of the sets, including the Great Hall and the Forbidden Forest, at the Warner Bros. Studio in Watford. Along with mind-blowing sets, you’ll also get to inspect iconic props and costumes, as well as delve deeper into those award-winning special and visual effects.

Related content: Top 10 spots for family fun in London

Sip on a pint in a crooked pub

No holiday to the UK is complete without plenty of time spent ‘down the pub.’ You’ll certainly have your pick when it comes to finding the perfect watering hole, but it’s safe to say that some stand out more than others. Take the crooked pub, known as The Crooked House, in Dudley for example. The building leans subtly towards the left and promises plenty of optical illusions once you set foot inside. Along with its unique design, The Crooked House is also celebrated for its delicious menu, featuring a diverse selection of deli boards, all chockfull of flavourful finger foods.

Snap an Insta-worthy shot beside the Vimto statue

All tourist-y shots taken in the UK tend to garner lots of attention on social media, but few will be quite as Insta-worthy as a snazzy snap of you standing beside the legendary Vimto statue in Manchester – preferably with your own Vimto bottle in hand! The vibrant statue is located on the lawns of Manchester University and comprises a massive bottle of Vimto (a popular purple berry and herb soft drink with its origins in Manchester) and over-sized replicas of the drink’s ingredients at its base.

Related content: Where to visit in England

Spend the night in a shepherd’s hut

While you could spend your evenings in the lap of luxury at a high-end hotel, there’s the chance to get a bit more creative with your accommodation. A great example of a slightly more unusual offering is to spend a night inside a shepherd’s hut, many of which can be found in East and West Sussex. These huts are small and cosy, comprising an open-plan kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and lounge, and are becoming a sought-after accommodation for quaint, rustic romantic retreats.

Skulk through The Crypt at St. Leonard’s Church

If you’re someone with a penchant for the spookier sights, you’ll love exploring what’s on display at The Crypt (also known as The Ossuary) at St. Leonard’s Church. It’s home to Britain’s most extensive and best-preserved collection of ancient human skulls and bones. Many experts believe that the bones once belonged to Danish pirates who lost their lives during battle, while others theorise that they’re the bones of soldiers who died in the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

*Note that while The Crypt has just closed for winter, it’s expected to re-open again in May 2022.

Browse the Museum of Brands

Take a nostalgic trip down memory lane when you step into the Museum of Brands in Notting Hill. The museum features a collection of products from many different brands all still in their original packaging. A walk through the Time Tunnel is an incredibly insightful way to explore how long-standing brands have evolved since Victorian times. Keep a look-out for the museum’s temporary exhibitions too, often showcasing the cutting edge of contemporary branding, packaging, and advertising.


Note that as of October 2021, you’ll be allowed easy access to the UK if you can supply proof that you’ve been fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine (which includes both Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer), administered by an approved authority and that you haven’t travelled to any of the remaining red-listed countries in the past 10 days leading up to your arrival.

Fully-vaccinated South Africans:

  • Won’t be required to quarantine.
  • Show proof that you booked a COVID-19 testing package, inclusive of a single test on or before day two after arrival.
  • Complete a public health passenger locator form online before boarding your flight, and no more than 48 hours before arriving in the UK. Be sure to bring either a printed copy of the form or to download an online copy to give to authorities at the UK border.

Non vaccinated South African travellers will need to:

  • Present a negative COVID-19 PCR test not older than 72 hours on arrival.
  • Prebook and pay for COVID tests on day 2 and day 8. Book on the https://www.gov.uk/ website.
  • Self-isolate with family or in a hotel/accommodation of your choosing for 10 full days.
  • Complete a public health passenger locator form online before boarding your flight, and no more than 48 hours before arriving in the UK. Be sure to bring either a printed copy of the form or to download an online copy to give to authorities at the UK border.

Do check all the details well in advance with your travel expert – as requirements are subject to change.

Flight Centre updates the countries that are open to South Africans every Friday. View the list here.

Feeling inspired to venture back to the UK? Be sure to explore affordable flights and holiday packages on our website.

Book today and contact a Flight Centre Travel Expert for up-to-the-minute advice, more travel deals, and total peace of mind when making any booking.

Watch our Flight Centre Customer Experience Director, Kim Taylor as she discusses UK travel restrictions on Mansfield2Day. We hope this will give further travel guidance should you be planning a trip to the United Kingdom anytime soon.