16 March 2020
With so many amazing must-see destinations dotted around the world, people tend to look overseas for their next getaway. That’s easy to understand – who doesn’t want to see the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal or Rome’s Colosseum? However, staying closer to home can be just as rewarding. So put your passport away, as it’s time to look at some of our favourite places to holiday in the UK.
Cornwall’s location in South West England means the extended journey time can be off-putting if you’re travelling from the north. But any journey will be swiftly rewarded, with charming spots like the working fishing port of Padstow with its foodie appeal and glorious sandy beaches to the peaceful twin villages of Cawsand and Kingsand in what some call ‘the forgotten corner of Cornwall’ right on the region’s south coast.
Cornwall is blessed with world-class beaches, incredible wildlife and amazing food with several Michelin starred restaurants and its traditional Cornish pasty, which is a local favourite.
There’s little question that the region has a wealth of great attractions and things to do with castles to explore (Pendennis, Caerhays, Restormel), scenic walks (St Ives Bay, Tintagel King Arthur Walk) as well as attractions to tire out the little ones (Eden Project, Pirate’s Quest in Newquay, Flambards theme park near Helston). There’s also the chance to get a quick snap by the famous Land’s End signpost – a timeless photo opportunity.
Where to stay: The Cornwall Hotel Spa & Estate, Scarlet Hotel, Polurrian Bay Hotel
“The Eden Project is a must if you have never been but pre-book your tickets online to save some pennies. My highlight here was the tropical rainforest dome, which has a platform suspended over the middle. Allow a full day for this attraction which is suitable for all age ranges. My children enjoyed tubing on the ice slope and taking a rocket to Mars.”
Clare, Travel Counsellor
Over on the southwest coast of Wales is Pembrokeshire. More than a third of the Welsh county is taken up by Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, making it a natural attraction for walkers and nature lovers alike.
The 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path is one of only 15 National Trails in Britain and even if you only explore a tiny section of it, you’re sure to stumble upon an abundance of wildlife and rare flora and fauna, as well as numerous monuments and sites of historic interest. Walkers can also tread the Preseli Hills, which on a clear day offers views as far as the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland, 175 miles away.
Pembrokeshire's beaches are notable for the fact that in 2018, the county received 56 Blue Flag, Green Coast or Seaside Awards – more than any stretch of coastline in the country.
It’s not all nature and walks though; there’s theme park fun to be had here too with Oakwood Theme Park - home to the Megafobia rollercoaster, which is often considered to be the best wooden coaster in Britain. Other big pulls in Pembrokeshire include St David’s Cathedral, the Secret Owl Garden and Tenby’s Castle Beach.
Where to stay: The Grove – Narberth, St Brides Spa Hotel, Twr y Felin Hotel
There are many reasons you should look to Northern Ireland for your next staycation. Belfast makes for a great alternative city break with its infectiously atmospheric St George’s Market, eclectic street art and famous Titanic Museum (the infamously doomed ship was built in the Northern Irish capital).
Away from its main urban area, the symmetrical stones of the Giant’s Causeway and the nine Glens of Antrim mean astonishing natural beauty is easy to find. Around 20 miles west of Belfast is Lough Neagh - the largest lake in the British Isles. Organised tours of the area allow visitors the chance to immerse themselves in its food and drink and its history and heritage.
You can explore the ancient ruins of Shane's Castle on the shores of Lough Neagh, the ancestral home of the Clanaboy O’Neill dynasty and, more recently, one of the filming locations for television’s Game of Thrones.
Where to stay: The Merchant Hotel, Fitzwilliam Hotel Belfast
Just off the North West coast of the country is Anglesey, with beautiful landscapes, majestic castles and several Blue Flag beaches. It may only measure just over 275 square miles, but the island welcomes around 1.6 million visitors every year, keen to see unique attractions like Parys Mountain.
A must-see for anyone heading to Anglesey for a staycation, Parys Mountain - once the largest copper mine in the world – is a unique, colourful, lunar landscape with a network of walks that take in sights not to be missed, such as the spectacular Great Opencast, which was shaped by miners using nothing more than picks, shovels and gunpowder. Some of the vibrant colours you’ll see here look out of this world.
The rest of your time on Anglesey could be spent spotting red squirrels at Newborough Forest, exploring the perfectly incomplete Beaumaris Castle, uncovering the secrets of the 19th-century prison Beaumaris Gaol, walking up Holyhead Mountain or sampling the island’s outstanding street food. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – the place with the longest name in Europe – is also on Anglesey. Head to its train station to get a picture with its infamously long sign.
Where to stay: Château Rhianfa, Craig Eithin B & B Holyhead
Staycations don’t always have to occur on dry land – a point proved by the idea of a Hebridean cruise. Hundreds of islands and islets can be found scattered across Scotland’s beautiful coast and a cruise of these sublimely secluded Scottish Islands can be hugely relaxing, stress-free and therapeutic.
Isle of Skye - the largest of the Inner Hebrides – is home to some of Scotland's most striking and iconic landscapes with its mountain ranges, dramatic coastline and captivating history that takes in everything from prehistoric sites to brooding castles.
Only 15 of the 100-plus islands that make up the Shetland Isles are inhabited but the landscapes here are anything else on the planet - these pristine beaches, sensational sea lochs and daunting clifftops are unforgettable.
“Our ship – formerly a Caledonian McBrayne ferry - had been transformed into a luxury small cruise ship and felt like a small five-star country house hotel. It had a restaurant, a lovely lounge bar area complete with stone fireplace and several open deck areas – used for summer barbecues.
“The immaculate cabins were all beautifully appointed with many Scottish accents like tartan fabrics. My bathroom was the largest I have ever had on a cruise ship and yet this was the smallest and quietest cruise ship I had ever set foot on.”
Ginny, Travel Counsellor
Discover Britain’s beauty on a UK staycation by contacting your Travel Counsellor today and taking advantage of exclusive benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and after your trip.