With Great Britain seeming to near an end to its strict lockdown 3, many are eager to plan a long-awaited spring getaway. And with over 20,000 kilometres of unspoilt coastline, 15 national parks full of unkempt beauty and countless historical and cultural cities to explore, there’s no need to bring the passport. The United Kingdom is filled to the brim with prime holiday destinations whether you’re more of a history buff, nature lover or foodie. That’s why we asked our readers what they think the best UK staycation destinations are so that we could compile a list of swoon-worthy getaway spots perfect for families, couples or solo travellers.
25 Best Staycation Destinations in the UK
If rugged, cliff-studded beaches and character-loaded villages are your thing, then Cornwall is the perfect staycation. Charming fishing harbours, sweeping coastal views and a stellar food scene are just a few of the things you’ll find here. It’s famous for its history of smugglers and pirates, the birthplace of the Arthurian mythos and infamous pasties loaded with beef skirt, turnips and onions, making it a great destination for foodies, history buffs or leisure travellers. Thought it couldn’t get any better? Cornwall is also home to some of the most stunning beaches in the UK, such as the glistening Kynance Cove off the east of Mount’s Bay and Crantock.
2. The Lake District
The Lake District is famous for being one of the most picturesque areas in England. Home to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, plus 16 crystal clear lakes and countless hiking trails, it’s the ideal destination whether you’re looking for adventure or just want to relax in the great outdoors. The Lake District is more than a pretty face, too. In addition to jaw dropping scenery, there are other things to do, like procure the sculptures in Grizedale Forest or catch a show at the Theatre by the Lake off the shores of Derwentwater.
3. Yorkshire Dales
Breathtaking scenery complete with untouched countryside and vibrant cultural heritage are what you can expect to find in Yorkshire Dales. Spend the day wandering the Yorkshire Dales National Park where you’ll find an endless expanse of moors, valleys, hills and quiet villages. Or how about checking out the artisan shops and quirky boutiques of Ingleton or getting to know the region’s history at Middleham Castle? Either way, you’re in luck.
Edinburgh is bursting at the seams with charm, history and romance perfect for a memorable staycation. From the mighty Edinburgh Castle standing proud over the Royal Mile to the countless pubs and eateries that make for a foodies dream, you can’t go wrong. The dreamy Scottish capital is a delight for history buffs not just with Edinburgh Castle, but also the 16th century Palace of Holyroodhouse. Spend the afternoon procuring the halls of the Scottish National Gallery or the National Museum of Scotland, then pop into any of the famous whisky bars like Usquabae or Fiddlers Arms.
5. Loch Lomond
Damous for its breathtaking national park, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, Loch Lomond is the ultimate getaway for some R&R. In the park alone, you’ll find 1,865 square km of glistening lochs, verdant mountains and dense forests that come together to make Scotland’s top destination for nature and wildlife. Loch Lomond is also home to more than 20 islands that dot the water and serves as a gateway from the Lowlands to the Highlands. Whether you’re up for a pleasant afternoon walk or a strenuous trek, there are countless trails that weave through the area’s most stunning scenery.
6. Isle of Wight
This island off England’s southeast coast is famous for many things, from its stunning sandy beaches to its vibrant local culture and rich prehistoric history. One of the island’s biggest claims to fames is its plethora of fossils that have led to the discovery of more than 25 different dinosaurs that called Isle of Wight home in their day. For more recent history, there’s Queen Victoria’s royal former residence and Italian Renaissance dream in East Cowes, the Osborne House. And for a break from the tranquil sandy beaches, head to The Needles rock formation off the west end of the island.
7. Norfolk Broads
This sprawling network of rivers spread across Norfolk and Suffolk make for the perfect getaway. Long forgotten abbeys, charming riverside pubs, Roman ruins and sleepy towns will leave you with loads of activities to fill up the day. Be sure to stroll the cosy village of Ranworth and climb the steps to reach its main church, St. Helen’s; and wander the grounds of the 1000-year-old monastery of St. Benet’s Abbey.
Bath is one of those cities you just can’t help but fall in love with. It’s affectionately coined as one of the most beautiful cities in England, and it isn’t hard to see why. Loads of Georgian architecture, top notch museums, world class thermal spas and a rich Roman history that proves the city has been wowing for more than 2,000 years. Its large variety of cultural attractions like museums and shops combined with the relaxation of the spas and historical charm make it a great destination for every type of traveller.
Where the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea meet to create the Sea of Moyle, you’ll find the cosy and colourful city of Ballycastle. This harbour town is known for its thriving foodie atmosphere, vibrant art scene and outdoor activities. Spend your afternoon kayaking along the granite shores or walk the surrounding fairytale woods of Ballycastle Forest. Looking for some history? Explore the grounds of the epic Kinbane Castle. Afterwards hit up a local pub for some brews and bites to get a taste of the city’s gastronomic atmosphere.
Manchester is bursting with character from its buzzing nightlife, quirky local neighbourhoods and thriving, diverse food scene there’s lots to love. Not only that, but Manchester’s art scene rivals that of London with its countless independent expos, delightful street art and award-winning Whitworth Gallery. The city is also framed by stunning landscapes perfect for a quick pop out of the city during your stay. Yorkshire Dales, Lake District and North Wales are all just a few skips away.
Is there anything more dreamy than the Cotswolds? This picturesque string of villages in the heart of the English countryside is the epitome of all things romance and charm with its honey-coloured cottages and rolling green hills. Not only will the countryside take your breath away, but the medieval castles and long gone abbeys are just as delightful. Whether you opt for Bourton-on-the-Water, Castle Combe or Chipping Campden, each village is sure to leave you reeling long after your staycation ends.
Few things wow to the degree of Wales’ spectacular Snowdonia. This mountainous region famous for the Snowdonia National Park is a perfect recipe for an epic Welsh getaway. Spend your days exploring the rugged mountain scenery full of dense forests, peaceful valleys and breathtaking waterfalls and lakes. Or stroll the grounds of the magnificent Conwy Castle. Either way, you’re always in for adventure in Snowdonia.
13. The Isles of Scilly
Just 45 km off the coast of Cornwall lies a string of more than 100 islands complete with tranquil turquoise waters, abundant wildlife and charming local culture. This paradise is the Isles of Scilly and it’s one of the most gorgeous coastal spots in the country. These isles also hold the title for the most southern and westerly points of England meaning their isolation truly provides a world of its own. Take a sunset walk along the powdery shores of Great Bay on St Martin’s that’ll make you forget all about the Caribbean and then chow down on some Scilly seafood fit for a king. Did we mention that the Isles of Scilly have the densest concentration of historical sites in all of Britain? Be sure to carve out some time to explore the enormous variety of shipwrecks, castles and deserted ruins.
Speaking of places rich in natural beauty and ancient history, Anglesey is a prime destination for a staycation. This gorgeous island off Wales’ northwest coast is famous for its pristine beaches and plethora of ancient sites. One of the most popular attractions is the medieval town of Beaumaris complete with a 13th-century castle, fortifications and moat included. You’ll also find Victorian torture cells and even an original treadwheel. For more intrepid history buffs, there’s loads of ancient druid and Neolithic history to explore like the prehistoric remains of Barclodiad y Gawres and standing stones of Bryn Gwyn.
A city that needs no introduction. Year after year, London is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the world for its vibrant culture and arts scene, infinite historical attractions and abundance of world-class museums. Thanks to this, it has something for everyone and makes for a perfect staycation for any type of traveller. Spend your day dining on some of Great Britain’s best food; stroll the endless halls of the National Gallery of the National History Museum; or catch a play and get to know London’s vibrant theatre scene.
16. North Yorkshire Moors
Unbelievably pretty villages, storied abbeys, wonderful museums and fabulous food are just a few things you’ll find in the North Yorkshire Moors. Famous for its North York Moors National Park chock full of footpaths that lead through fairytale landscape and North Sea cliff edges, the scenery doesn’t hurt either. Whether you go for the charming market towns like Hutton le Hole or Goathland; or to get lost in the magic of North York Moors National Park’s walking trails, you’re covered. Whatever you do, don’t leave without a few good pints at the countless local inns and pubs.
17. Pembrokeshire Coast
Along Wales’ west coast lies one of Britain’s most idyllic and breathtaking coastal areas – the Pembrokeshire Coast. It’s sweeping expanse of cliffs, islands, rugged shores and abundant wildlife provide endless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and getaway from it all. Its beauty is so unmatched that the Pembrokeshire Coast also holds the title for Britain’s only coastal national park. And with more than 50 beaches over 300 km of coastline dotted with Norman ruins and castle clad cliffs, it’s a status well deserved.
18. Orkney Islands
Home to over 5,000 years of history, countless wind-lashed beaches and incredible natural scenery spread over some 70 islands off the northeast tip of Scotland, the Orkney Islands are something out of a dream. Considered the heart of Scottish Neolithic history, you’ll have not 2, not 3, but 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to get a glimpse into the vast history that encompasses the islands. Skara Brae, often called the ‘Scottish Pompeii’ is one of the most pristine Neolithic settlements in the world and long predates both Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.
If you’re looking for an escape full of sunny seaside charm, excellent food and classic fun, Brighton is for you. As England’s first major seaside town, it’s retained much of its Victorian atmosphere and is famous for its family-fun pier. Not only that, but Brighton also boasts one of the best food scenes in the UK and is home to incredible museums such as the Royal Pavilion and the Brighton Art Gallery. Its wide variety of kid-friendly activities like its famous aquarium and pier make it a prime choice for family getaways.
20. Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is the crown jewel of the Scottish Highlands. It’s loaded with sleepy fishing villages, intensely rugged scenery with enchanting fairy pools, craggy sea cliffs and verdant glens that can only be described as poetry in land form. In addition to breathtaking scenery, the island is peppered with quaint Scottish pubs perfect for recovering after a long day of exploring. You’ll also find a whole host of local mythos and historical sites like the dramatic Armadale Castle.
Norwich has a lot to brag about. For starters, it’s the most complete medieval city in the UK; and is the only city in the country inside a National Park, the Norfolk Broads; and was also England’s first UNESCO City of Literature. If all that weren’t enough, in addition to the obvious amount of historical sites, Norfolk is overflowing with a vibrant arts and cuisine scene and some of England’s best pubs. All this combined with the unique local culture and patchwork of gardens makes Norwich’s charm simply irresistible.
Central to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Inverness is the ideal staycation location to explore the region. Not only is it overflowing with gorgeous scenery, it also has countless ancient sites perfect for nature and history lovers. Of course, no visit is complete without a search for the infamous Nessie in the depths of Loch Ness; a lake that, by the way, is much more than its legends with its rolling hills and iconic Urquhart Castle. Inverness is also a main hub of Highlander culture, with countless Jacobite relics and Highland weapons found in the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. In true Highlander fashion, its also famous for its variety of fresh, local foods that fill its several cosy pubs and trendy bistros.
The small but mighty capital is a perfect staycation option. Perfect for those who want to indulge in some delicious food, lively culture and rich Welsh heritage, Cardiff is the total package. Whether you spend the day walking the city and popping into the countless cosy Welsh pups complete with roaring fires; or prefer to explore the National Museum, which houses one of the finest collections of impressionist works outside Paris, Cardiff has you in mind. The iconic Cardiff Castle is easily the city’s biggest highlight and right in the heart of the city with easy access from all corners of Cardiff.
With most opting to head for Belfast’s Titanic shipyard or the UNESCO-listed Giant’s Causeway, Derry is truly a hidden gem. This walled city is one of the best preserved in Europe and is famous for its Gothic and Tudor architecture. As one of the most affected places during The Troubles, Derry is also known for its long and complicated past. Be sure to carve some time to visit the Free Derry Museum to learn more about the area’s history; both long gone and recent. In addition to loads to do within the city, Derry is surrounded by loads of peaceful villages and natural areas such as Park village and Roe Valley Country Park.
The cradle of academia famous for its nearly 1,000-year-old university makes for a perfect escape. And trust us, there’s much more beyond the golden campus. Oxford is steeped in rich history with a kaleidoscope of culture and elegant architecture that makes it hard to resist. Given the city’s admiration for knowledge, it should come as no surprise that there’s a museum for nearly everything here. Stroll the Museum of Modern Art, or wander at the finds of Oxford Museum of Natural History. There’s even the Pitt River Museum home to half a million weird and wonderful knick-knacks. Not a museum-goer? Check out the city’s centuries-old pubs and then step off the High Street into Britain’s oldest botanic garden.