England is a fairly compact country with good roads and a wide rail network so getting around isn't difficult no matter what the season.

When visiting England, the first decision you have to make is whether to use public or private transportation. If you own a car, you can make the best use of time and reach remote places, but rental and fuel costs can be expensive, and there are always traffic delays. If you want to get around in the UK, public transport is often the better option. England's city centers are very easy to walk around in.

From the cheapest travel passes to the best forms of transportation, we have a guide to getting around England.

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Choose the train for fast long-distance travel

For long-distance travel around England, trains are quicker and more comfortable than buses, but are more expensive. The English don't like to moan about their trains, but around 85% run on time and major stations are well-equipped, with helpful staff and decent amenities.

The cost is a big problem for train lovers. It's always a good idea to book as far in advance as possible because fares can be very high if you leave booking to the last minute. It is possible to buy two single tickets for less than buying a return.

Network Rail is the operator of tracks and stations in England. The range of train operators can be confusing for some passengers, but information and ticket-buying services are centralized.

A railway station sign at Garsdale Head in Cumbria, England
Although much reduced from Victorian times, England's rail network serves most parts of the country © 2c image / Getty Images

You can still buy a ticket if you have to change trains or use more than one train operator. All train operators accept the main railcards and passes.

National Rail Enquiries is a good place to start for planning journeys. Real-time links to departure boards and maps of the rail network can be found on the website.

You can purchase tickets from the rail companies directly, or through other ticket retailers, who often have easy-to-navigate websites. On one-way journeys, the ticket-splitting service Tickety Split can save you money.

A National Express bus pulls into a stop in London
National Express buses run to the heart of major cities all over England © Lukasz Pajor / Shutterstock

Take the bus to ease the strain on your budget 

Most major towns and cities in the UK have long-distance bus services. If you're on a tight budget, coaches are almost always the cheapest way to travel around England.

If you book early or travel at off-peak periods, coach tickets can be very cheap, although if you're going to the airport, then take a faster train or taxi. National Express and Megabus are the largest coach companies.

It's a good idea to check out the different stations for local buses and long-distance coaches in your town.

A family driving in open top car down country lane in England
A hire car opens up all sorts of road trip opportunities in England © Peter Cade / Getty Images

Hire a car if you’re heading to remote locations

Traveling by car or motorcycle around England gives you more freedom and allows you to reach more remote areas. The high price of fuel, the cost of insurance, and parking fees in cities and tourist towns are some of the drawbacks of being a driver.

In England, car-hire is expensive and fuel costs can be very high. The smallest cars start at about $139 per week, while entry level motorcycles start at about $286 per week. You can get almost anywhere in England without having to drive if you use a mixture of train, bus, taxi, walking and sometimes hiring a bike.

There are several major car-hire providers, but you may be able to get a cheaper deal using a smaller company or using a comparison site. Even if you're not flying into a city, rental companies at airports can be good for deals and you can use public transport to get there.

Cyclist on a hilly road in Buttermere, Lake District, England
If you don't mind uphill climbs, the mountains of northern England are spectacular places to explore by bike © Michael Kiedyszko / Getty Images

Save cycling for exploring the great outdoors

If you want to explore a small region or see England's great outdoors, you can hire a bike. Some cities have bike-share schemes while others don't. There is a growing network of signposted long-distance cycling routes in England.

In national parks and forest sites, bikes can be rented for use in leisure activities, for example at Grizedale Forest in the Lake District. There are bike routes in the Peak District and the Bristol and Bath railway path.

Most cities in England are not very cyclist friendly. Only a few cities have dedicated bike lanes, so it is best to ride your bike in more rural areas.

Rays of sunlight illuminating meadows, woods and villages in the Lyth Valley, Lake District, England
Some domestic flights routes in England offer great views © 221A / Getty Images

Flights are only worth it for long distances

There are some long cross-country routes in England that are expensive and time consuming if you travel by train.

Once transit times and the journey to and from the airport are taken into account, the time saved becomes less useful. Many prefer not to fly due to the high carbon cost and the short distances.

Hop on a boat to visit the Isle of Wight or Scilly Isles

The only major ferry crossing in England is from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight. If time is not an issue, you can see some of England by canal boat; narrowboat hire companies are located around the Oxford Canal and the Grand Union Canal.

A sign in London marking the entrance to the London Underground
The London Underground is England's most famous urban transport system © sematadesign / Shutterstock

Local buses and trains get you around and between towns and cities

English cities usually have good public-transport systems that include a combination of buses, trains and sometimes trams. Staff in tourist offices are always happy to help, and there's usually good information at each stop or station.

Boxing Day and Christmas Day are the only days in the year when local bus services stop or run on limited schedules. There are less services on Sundays. If you combine transport options, CityMapper is a great app to use.

There aren't as many buses in the middle of the day and at weekends in rural areas because they are not designed to serve schools and businesses. During summer school holidays, services may stop running or buses may only run one day a week. It's a good idea to research before you travel around rural England.

There are more frequent services in tourist areas during the summer months. It's a good idea to double-check at a tourist office before planning your day's activities around a bus that isn't running.

How to catch a taxi in England

Taxis in England are either licensed cabs with meters that can be hailed in the street, or "minicabs," which are cheaper but can only be booked by phone. The famous black cabs are the official taxi service in London and other large cities. In most towns and cities, ridesharing apps are available.

In rural areas, licensed taxis usually need to be booked by phone, or you can ask at a local pub or your hotel. Taxis are often waiting for fares at country train stations.

You can bridge the gap between the station and your final destination with the help of the Traintaxi website.

A train crossing the impressive Knaresborough Viaduct in the town of Knaresborough in Yorkshire
Traveling by train is the best way to enjoy the English countryside © chrisdorney / Getty Images

Why I love traveling by train in England

The world's first commercial railway line opened in 1830, but England after the war became car-centered, with ugly motorway and grey ring roads. The romance of train travel is still alive and well, and England has some gorgeous scenery and unique history.

Trundling through the rolling green Chiltern Hills is the prettiest way to enter London, while the stark cinematic landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales will make you stop and stare.

Yes, English trains are prone to delays and don't have the same punctuality as Japan, but these rustic lines were pioneers and you'll see a lot more of this pleasant, green land from a train window than from a motorway or from 35,000ft.

Tell me you don't like train travel and I'll give you the coastal line.

The article was first published about a year ago.