The UK is full of cultural cities, breathtaking natural landscapes and stunning coastline. There’s so much choice when it comes to staycation destinations, so I’ve put together a list to help inspire you.
Whether you’re on a budget or want to minimise your carbon footprint, a staycation within the UK can be a perfect excuse to get out and explore the delights that the nation has to offer. With historical sites, iconic attractions and the great outdoors, there is plenty to keep you occupied.
Here are some great places to visit on your next UK staycation.
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Over half of Dorset is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The coastal landscape is definitely the highlight of the county, but there are also fascinating historical sites to explore.
Things to do Dorset
Durdle Door is one of Dorset’s most photographed landmarks. This natural limestone arch on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is accessible via a footpath over the hill from Lulworth Cove.
Another iconic natural feature are the Old Harry Rocks, three chalk formations on the Isle of Purbeck. Take the Old Harry Rocks circular walk to admire the views.
For a traditional English beach holiday, head to Weymouth Beach. It’s a great place to swim, as the bay is sheltered. With a grand Georgian seafront, the beach has tons of attractions like Punch and Judy, donkey rides, water sports and pedalos. Check out Weymouth Harbour which has a variety of cafes, restaurants and independent shops.
If you’re a fan of grand country houses, then head to Kingston Lacy House. Once home to one of the most powerful families in Dorset, the lavish interior includes marble floors, vaulted ceilings and a large collection of artwork. It also has the largest private collection of Egyptian relics in the country.
Outside, meander through the peaceful Japanese garden, the Fernery, Nursery Wood and the Kitchen Garden.
Perched on a clifftop location, Highcliffe Castle has picturesque views out to sea. Built in 1835, the castle is full of lavishly decorated rooms, like the Great Hall, the Octagon Room and the Libraries.
Set on 14 acres of land, the beautiful gardens were laid out by the famed Capability Brown. The castle frequently has a range of exciting events, such as art and photography exhibitions, music events and health and wellbeing workshops.
Where to Stay in Dorset
Dorset is chock full of picturesque villages. For a taste of country life, stay in Abbotsbury, Burton Bradstock, Corfe Castle and Tyneham.
For larger towns, you can easily find accommodation in Lyme Regis, Sherborne, Weymouth and Shaftesbury.
One of the larger counties in Britain, Somerset is brimming with things to see and do. It’s home to a big section of Exmoor National Park, as well as three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Things to do in Somerset
Cheddar Gorge is a series of limestone cliffs which form England’s deepest canyon. Enter the many caves and caverns within the gorge, including Gough’s Cave, which prehistoric man once called home. Go on a cliff top walk or check out Jacob’s Ladder and the Lookout Tower for some panoramic views of the countryside.
Dunster Castle is a former motte and bailey castle and has over 1,000 years of history, from a medieval stronghold to a lavish family home. Explore the interior, or make your way around the beautiful terraced gardens.
Another historical house is Montacute House, an exquisite Elizabethan mansion. Admire the different rooms and see the collection of over 60 Tudor and Elizabethan portraits. The house has two elegant garden pavilions, walled gardens and a tearoom.
Exmoor National Park has everything – coastal views, moorland and woodlands. Activities here include stargazing, walking, cycling, riding, watersports and visiting the towns and villages around the area. Check out the Valley of the Rocks for stunning views from a cliff top, and Tarr Steps which is an ancient clapper bridge across the River Barle.
Where to Stay in Somerset
Somerset is full of charming little villages, perfect if you’re looking for some peace and quiet on your staycation. Porlock, Mells, Winsford and Selworthy are all lovely places to stay.
If you’re looking for somewhere with more going on, there are plenty of lively market towns to stay in, such as Frome, Watchet, Glastonbury and Taunton.
Bath is the largest city in Somerset and has plenty to offer. While it has a contemporary culture, it also has a rich history and heritage, proving itself as a fantastic destination for a city break.
Things to do in Bath
A must-do when in Bath is a visit to the Roman Baths. Built in circa 70AD, it’s the best preserved Roman Spa in the world, and is still filled with 1,170,000 litres of steaming water each day. Pop into the museum to learn more about life in Roman times.
Literary fan? Check out the Jane Austen Centre to discover more about Bath’s most famous resident. Explore what it would’ve been like to live in Regency times.
A city break is the perfect excuse for some retail therapy, and Pulteney Bridge doesn’t disappoint. Constructed in 1769, the bridge has shops across its full span on both sides. Find antique shops, fashion and jewellery boutiques, home stores and coffee shops.
If the hustle and bustle of the city gets too much, escape to one of Bath’s green spaces. The Prior Park Landscape Garden is a beautiful oasis which boasts incredible views, hidden waterways and Georgian history.
Where to Stay in Bath
If you want to be as close as possible to the attractions, stay in the city centre. In terms of accommodation, you’ll be spoilt for choice here, with places to suit all tastes and budgets.
Walcot is a trendy neighbourhood just north of the city. It has many speciality shops, independent boutiques, clubs and bars, and stunning architecture.
For somewhere a little more slow-paced, I’d recommend staying in the area of Oldfield Park. There are still plenty of shops and independent eateries, but without the frenzy of the city centre.
4. The Cotswolds
Covering parts of six counties, the Cotswolds are an AONB that boasts rolling hills, woodland, thatched villages, stately homes and world-class attractions.
Things to do in the Cotswolds
A visit to Blenheim Palace is a must. Admire Baroque architecture of the primary residence of the Dukes of Marlborough. Marvel at the collections of art, tapestries and antiques, and wander round the gardens created by the famed Capability Brown.
If you want to live out your childhood fantasies this staycation, hop on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway. The 29 mile round trip goes past the scenic views of the Vale of Evesham, the Malverns and Wales.
The Cotswolds have their fair share of interesting museums. Some of the top museums include the Gordon Russell Design Museum, Museums in the Park and The Wilson.
The Cotswolds are made for walking. Whether you want a gentle stroll or a more adventurous hike, there are a wealth of walks to choose from. If you’re looking for a walk that can be completed in a day, the Windrush Way is a 14 mile circular route that goes over the Cotswold hills, through medieval villages and along the tranquil River Windrush.
The Leckhampton Route is another great choice, taking you through grasslands, ancient woodlands and finishing at an Iron Age fort and Victorian quarry.
For a short walk, try the Cleeve Hill Ring. This walk takes you for six and a half miles up Cotswolds highest common. Known for its limestone grassland, the area boasts rare plants, wildflowers and many bird species.
The Cotswolds can be difficult without a car but here are some ideas on how to visit the idyllic Cotswolds villages without a car.
Where to Stay in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds are an ideal location for a peaceful staycation, as the area is full of quintessentially English villages. Head to Bourton-on-the-Water, The Slaughters, Fairford and Blockley.
There are also many market towns if you’re looking for a more bustling atmosphere. Chipping Campden, Cirencester, Burford and Stow-on-the-Wold are all lovely choices.
I’ve broken down different areas you can stay in the Cotswolds, here.
Norfolk is a great place for a staycation and it offers a variety of landscapes to enjoy. Whether you want to relax by the seaside or get active in nature, there are plenty of things to get up to.
Things to do in Norfolk
With over 90 miles of coastline, it can be difficult to choose where to head to. Cromer is a great choice, and this small town has all the charms of a traditional seaside holiday. There are a wealth of attractions, including Cromer Pier and the Pavilion Theatre.
For a quieter seaside break, the village of Sea Palling is an attractive choice. The Blue Flag beach has safe waters and soft sands, and there are a lovely variety of cafes, shops and amusements. The village is near to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Hickling, where you can take waterside trails, boat tours and go wildlife spotting.
Another natural spot worth visiting is the Norfolk Broads. This network of navigable lakes and rivers are perfect for kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddling and sailing. You can also explore by bike or on foot, and the flat landscape is suitable for everyone.
Head to the delightful city of Norwich to visit the medieval Norwich Cathedral. This imposing building can be seen from miles away, and you can take a guided tour to see the interior.
Afterwards, visit the Cathedral Quarter which surrounds the cathedral. This part of the city is picture-postcard with its multicoloured buildings and cobbled streets.
Where to Stay in Norfork
If you want to stay along the coast, places like Hunstanton, Great Yarmouth, Sheringham, Blakeney, Happisburgh and Cley-Next-The-Sea offer a good choice of accommodation.
For inland locations, check out Wymondham, Thetford, Swaffham and Fakenham. Stay in King’s Lynn or Norwich if you prefer somewhere more urban.
6. North Yorkshire
As England’s largest county, North Yorkshire doesn’t disappoint. There are countless things to do here, whether it’s visiting stately homes and castles, wandering through breathtaking landscapes or relaxing by the sea.
Things to do in North Yorkshire
Wensleydale is a valley in the Yorkshire Dales which is famous for its cheese. Visit Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes to see how it’s made and take some home with you. Visit the market town of Leyburn for unique shops and cafes, or head out onto the Dales and see places like Aysgarth Falls and Hardraw Force.
Plant-lovers shouldn’t miss a visit to RHS Garden Harlow Carr. The 58 acre garden has many different landscapes which are full of exotic plants, multicoloured flowers, charming features and wildlife.
North Yorkshire has some superb seaside towns. Scarborough is a fun destination, with two sandy bays, museums, art galleries, a scenic railway and the iconic Scarborough Castle.
Whitby is a unique seaside resort which is full of medieval streets and beautiful clifftop views. Climb up to the ruins of Whitby Abbey which was the inspiration behind Dracula, or visit the James Cook Memorial Museum.
Make sure you visit York, a walled city founded by the Romans. There’s a lot of history to take in, from walking on top of the city walls, to visiting the 7th century York Minster with its stained glass and handcrafted stone.
For a bit of shopping, head to the Shambles, a historic street full of shops housed in medieval buildings. The National Railway Museum has an unrivalled collection of vintage trains.
Where to Stay in North Yorkshire
There are so many pretty villages in North Yorkshire which are ideal for a quiet staycation, such as West Burton, Osmotherley, Kettlewell and Cropton.
To stay in coastal areas, check out Robin Hood’s Bay, Sandsend, Staithes, Filey and Bridlington.
7. Lake District
It wouldn’t be a list of staycations without the Lake District in Cumbria. With its magnificent lakes and mountains, it’s hardly surprising that the entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to do in the Lake District
Hiking is the number one activity in the Lakes. No matter whether you’re a beginner or a pro, there are hikes and walks for every level.
A popular walk for beginners is the Tarn Hows Circular Walk. As you circle the lake, you’ll find lovely views of Lakeland Fells. If you fancy a little challenge, the Helvellyn climb from Glenridding via Striding Edge is quite steep and takes between four and five hours.
The Lakes are also home to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. While the views are incredible, the climb isn’t for the faint-hearted!
If you’re feeling a little sore from hiking, why not admire the scenery from the comfort of a vintage railway? The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway departs from the coastal village of Ravenglass, and travels for seven miles along the estuary, through lush green hills and ends at Dalegarth Station.
The Lake District has been home to some of the most esteemed writers and poets, including Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth.
Beatrix Potter spent many years in the area, and some notable attractions include Hill Top, the World of Beatrix Potter and the Beatrix Potter Gallery. Wordsworth was born and grew up in the Lakes, and you can see his former homes and where he’s buried. Check out Allan Bank, Rydal Mount and the Old Grammar School.
Windermere is the largest natural lake in the area. One of the most popular spots on the banks is Bowness-on-Windermere.
It’s the best place for watersports like sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing and water skiing. If you prefer to stay dry, pop into the Brockhole Visitor Centre and the Grizedale Visitor Centre for a range of outdoor activities.
Where to Stay in Lake District
The Lakes are massive and there is a large choice of towns and villages to stay in. Some of the best bases for exploring the area are Keswick, Bowness, Grasmere, Coniston, Hawkshead, Ambleside and Kendal.
Windmere has good connections with public transport so if you lack a car I recommend basing yourself here.
8. North Wales
North Wales is filled with epic landscapes and historical sites. It’s a playground for lovers of the outdoors, with tons of exciting activities to get stuck into.
Things to do in North Wales
It wouldn’t be a trip to North Wales without a visit to Snowdonia National Park. There are an abundance of hiking trails, the best-known one of course being Snowdon, Wales’s highest mountain.
If you’re not keen on climbing, you can take the Snowdon Mountain Railway up. There are tons of other activities within the National Park, including cycling, white water rafting, surfing, canyoning, kayaking and canoeing. For something more relaxing, there are tons of pretty villages like Beddgelert which are ideal to roam around and take photos.
If you love ancient castles, then you’ll be spoilt for choice in North Wales. Boasting rich history and set in gorgeous surroundings, some of the best castles are Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle, Beaumaris Castle, Harlech Castle, Penrhyn Castle and Rhuddlan Castle.
Llechwedd is a fascinating attraction which tells the story of slate quarrying in Blaenau Ffestiniog. On a guided tour, descend 500 feet into the mines and explore the different chambers, complete with immersive displays and light installations which bring the miners’ stories to life.
For a bit of sun and sand, visit Porthmadog. This coastal town has a rich maritime history and there are plenty of things to do. Take a ride on one of the vintage steam railways, browse through the independent shops and boutiques, and head out onto The Cob, an embankment across the estuary.
Where to Stay in North Wales
North Wales has many towns which are good bases for exploring the surrounding areas, both inland and on the coast. You’ll find a wide choice of accommodation in Betws-y-Coed, Abersoch, Conwy, Beaumaris, Llandudno, Llangollen, Ruthin, Portmeirion and Porthmadog.
9. Isle of Skye, Scotland
Connected to the mainland by bridge, the Isle of Skye is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Its magical atmosphere and breathtaking landscapes will reel you in the moment you get there.
Things to do in Isle of Skye
The Storr is located in the Trotternish area, and is one of the most magnificent scenes on the island. The sharp pinnacles of rock against rolling green hills make for a dramatic landscape, and is popular with walkers, hikers and photographers. The Old Man of Storr is the name given to one of the giant columns of rock towering towards the sky.
Another magnificent natural landscape is Quairing. You’ll probably recognise Quiraing as it’s been the location for so many films, including King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017). The area was created by an ancient landslip, which formed steep cliffs, hidden plateaus and pinnacles of rock.
One of the most iconic castles in Scotland, Eilean Donan sits on its own little island. Although it’s on the Scottish mainland, it’s only an hour’s drive from the Isle of Skye and makes for a great day trip. Admire the views from the 13th century castle, and stand where three sea lochs meet.
The Fairy Pools are a must-see when on the Isle of Skye. These crystal clear rocks pools are bright blue, and are fed by a series of waterfalls. Brave the cold and take a dip!
Where to Stay in Isle of Skye
It doesn’t take long to get from one place to another on the Isle of Skye, so it’s not too big of an issue where you stay. That being said, some areas do have more facilities, such as Sleat, Portree, Broadford, Edinbane, Trotternish, Carbost, Kyleakin and Lochalsh.
10. Ballycastle, Northern Ireland
Ballycastle is a small seaside town in Northern Ireland. It’s a pretty little harbour town, great for a slow-paced staycation. There are tons of incredible attractions within a short driving distance of the town.
Things to do in Ballycastle
Ballycastle is only a 20 minute drive away from the famous Giant’s Causeway. This is an area of basalt columns left by volcanic eruptions 60 million years ago, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the trails in the area and enjoy amazing coastal scenery.
First constructed by fishermen over 250 years ago, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge links the mainland to the small island of Carrick A Rede. If you’re not scared of heights, cross the rope bridge suspended almost 100 feet above the sea.
Six miles across the sea from Ballycastle is Rathlin Island. There are some great walks on the island to make the most of the coastal views. Visit the Boathouse Visitor Centre to see artefacts from shipwrecks around the island. If you visit between April and July you’ll see puffins and many other sea birds.
Fans of Game of Thrones will recognise The Dark Hedges, known as the Kingsroad in the series. Only a 15 minute drive from Ballycastle, The Dark Hedges are a stunning avenue of beech trees planted in the 18th century. It’s one of the most photographed attractions in Northern Ireland.
Where to Stay in Ballycastle
As Ballycastle is a small town, you’ll find most accommodation along the seafront or a few kilometres back from the coast.