Things to do

8 British pastimes to try before you leave

The joy of travelling isn’t just about exploring a new place, it’s also about experiencing a different way of life. When we engage with a new culture not just as visitors but as participants, if only for a short time, we start to see our differences melt away.

That’s why we always encourage new visitors to the UK to try their hand and some of our little nation’s idiosyncratic pastimes.

We highly recommend trying out at least one of these eight British pastimes if you get the opportunity. We’re sure you’ll have a blast!


This strange-looking game is extremely popular throughout ex-commonwealth countries like India and South Africa and has some of the oddest nomenclatures of any sport. Once you understand the rules, though, it’s fascinating to play.

Cheese rolling

If you ever needed proof that English people are a little bit mad, it’s right here. Cheese rolling is a sport in which a large piece of English cheese is sent rolling down a hill chased by many racers. Whoever gets to the bottom of the hill first wins the cheese. Yup, it’s nuts. But it’s a lot of fun to watch!

Morris Dancing

This quirky traditional folk dance was derived from Moorish traditions in the 15th Century. Bells, drums, and clanging sticks keep the rhythm whilst dancers bop up and down in time with their dancing team. You can’t leave the UK without witnessing at least one Morris dance.

Lawn bowls

This relaxing sport is a favourite of retirees in the summer months. Roll the large black balls slowly and precisely to get as close to the ‘jack’ – a small white ball as you can. Be careful, as your opponent can knock your balls out of the way when their turn comes around. It’s a game of careful planning and patience.

Afternoon tea

The tradition of afternoon tea came about with the invention of gas lighting. As people began to stay awake longer into the night, dinner time was being eaten later and later. This meant a big gap between lunch and dinner time, and people were hungry.

Afternoon tea was the perfect remedy – a quick cuppa and something sweet to nibble on was perfect for staving off hunger for a few more hours. If you’ve never had afternoon tea, check out our tea and cakes experiences.


This classic lawn sport of the aristocracy is extremely easy to learn but hard to master, especially against a talented competitor. Use the heavy wooden mallet in the right sequence to knock your balls through the hoops. It’s super addictive!


If you’re the more athletic sort, try your hand at rugby. This fast-paced game of rough and tumble might not be too well-known in some parts of the world, but over here, it’s huge. If it looks a little rough, you can take a shot at touch rugby – the game’s gentler cousin.

We hope there’s something in here you’d love to try out for yourself (even if it’s only the cake!). If you’d like to learn more about how to best immerse yourself in the culture of the UK, check our day tours from London.