Whilst airlines have opened up for limited travel across the world since the COVID pandemic took its toll, many people are opting to spend their holidays in the UK. Staying closer to home has it’s advantages though; these staycations promise cheaper travel through great value car rentals near me in London and beyond, as well as many attractions in the comparatively small yet historic country we live in. Whether visiting the Scottish Highlands or the Kentish coast, England has a wealth of opportunities and many cultures that promise a surprising amount of variation.
This blog will be exploring the variety of options you have for getaways firmly nested within the boundaries of England, Wales and Scotland. We’ll be breaking these down into city explorations and country retreats. With easy road routes and train services, you can be on the other side of the UK within just a day and there really is a lot to see!
We’ll be travelling from South to North with this map of the UK’s best tourist cities. Each one comes fully packaged with its own distinct character and a whole host of tourist attractions to keep you absorbed in its culture.
A thriving West Coast University town, Falmouth is home to some of the most exciting music, art and surf spots in the West of England. A haven for young and old alike, Falmouth and it’s surrounding coast provide a taste of Cornwall and the very future of it. Make sure to check out Falmouth Art Gallery and the many theatre companies originating from the area for a taste of it’s rough and surf-ready culture.
With its foundations deeply rooted in the Roman conquest of England, Exeter’s medieval history of cathedral building and wool trading is the subject of just some of the many historic attractions in this scenic West England cathedral city.
Based in the Southwest of England, Bristol is famous for it’s liberal, funloving culture and is one of the most prominent of the UK’s University cities. With it’s historic docklands and bougie independent eateries, Bristol’s winding lanes and thriving clubbing scene make it the perfect city in which to feel young again.
For a last-minute holiday out of London, it’s just 55 minutes on the train to Brighton. With it’s surrounding South Downs and pebbly coastlines, Brighton is well known for it’s thriving LGBTQ scene and gaudy history of frivolous princes and miracle cure doctors. From the Palace Pier to the independent shopping opportunities of the North and South Lanes, Brighton is a true hotspot for travellers the world over.
Of course, the capital of the UK can’t be forgotten from this must-see city list. From the deluxe restaurants near Finsbury Square London to the almost limitless tourist attractions, you might need more than just a few days to truly wrap your head around this 32 borough, 1500 square kilometre city.
Moving up east, Cambridge is a canal carved cathedral city that is most famous for its 13th-century University. With gorgeous medieval architecture and a whole library of famous graduates, Cambridge promises a wealth of knowledge and history than it’s quiet facade lets on.
Moving into East Anglia, you’ll find Norwich nestled in the heart of the Norfolk Broads. With its sleep town atmosphere and beautiful cathedral, Norwich is home to it’s won thriving arts scene and festivals and offers a gateway into the often-overlooked East Anglian wilderness.
Cardiff is the capital city of Wales but was actually a small port town until the 19th century when a shipping boom occurred and increased its wealth. With a distinctly modern feel and having media hubs including branches of the BBC and local television networks, Cardiff is a beautiful coastal city with natural beauty emanating from its place at the mouth of the River Severn.
Jump up to the eastern edge of the midlands and you’ll find the docking hub of Liverpool. This Merseyside city is perfect for a bitesize weekend break, especially if you’re partial to a pub crawl! The vibrant atmosphere and party scene of Liverpool is one of the best in the country and provides a perfect mixture of history and entertainment.
Home to the largest student body in the UK, Manchester is undoubtedly a city for the young. That’s not to say that older visitors won’t have anything to enjoy either. With its wealth of culture and theatre, Manchester’s thumping nightlife is a staple of British culture, harking back to the golden days of the 70s’ born Hacienda and 90s’ clubbing scene, the influence of which has now become internationally recognised.
In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales is Leeds, a striking northern city that offers everything from country walks to pub rock gigs. With it’s beautiful Yorkshire stone architecture and historic town centre, Leeds is certainly a striking city to wander the streets of.
Once home to Mary Queen of Scots and spiritual home of the fringe performance movement, the craggy hills and authentically Scottish atmosphere of Edinburgh makes it a downright tourists haven. From a brisk walk up Arthur’s Seat to the bloody history of Edinburgh Castle, there’s more than enough in this Scottish political hub to keep you entertained for a weekend trip.
Glasgow’s proximity to Edinburgh shouldn’t be mistaken as living under it’s older sibling city’s shadow; Glasgow has a personality all of its own and provides an authentic less touristy glimpse into the day to day life of Scotland. On top of this, you’ll find a thriving underground arts scene, if you know where to look that is!
Starting from Scotland and heading back down South, this join-the-dots tour of the UK’s rugged and varied countryside will have you rambling, climbing and swimming your way back to the luxurious rooms at the Montcalm Royal London House Hotel.
Buffering the Scottish lowlands and highlands, Loch Lomond is an ideal example of Scotland’s natural beauty. With it’s 36 and a half kilometre span and it’s hilly surroundings, this is the perfect spot for some Scottish hiking.
Northumberland National Park
Covering 1050 square kilometres, Northumberland Park is the northernmost nature reserve in England and holds the historic Hadrians Wall, a border built hundreds of years ago to protect both England and the then independent Scotland from attack. With over 10,000 years of human history in the area has led to a great many archaeological sites in Northumberland Park, many of which have been preserved for tourists to explore and learn about.
The Solway Coast provides another Scotland - Cumbria gateway, this time coast-facing, and is amde up of two areas of nature reserve coastline. Based on the mouth of the River Esk, the Solway Discovery Centre located just outside of Bowness-on-Solway is your best bet for an introduction to this beautiful area.
This beautiful Cumbria based nature reserve is made up of a varied terrain of lakes, scrublands and forests, ensuring many idyllic spots for camping across it’s 2300 square kilometre area.
The North Pennines are known as the backbone of England and provide a vast mountain range that spans through the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales. With its varied terrain and beautiful peaks, this remarkable stretch of countryside is the perfect example of northern England’s dramatic landscape and holds a great many different walking spots.
Stretching for 1399 square kilometres, the Brecon Beacons centres around the Black Mountain, and incorporates famous Welsh villages such as the English border town of Hay On Wye and the southeastern Pontypool. As the perfect examples of Wales’s luscious greens and rolling valleys, the Brecon Beacons is one of the most serene national parks in the UK.
This twee pocket of countryside in Oxfordshire is home to a great many celebrities among its many luxurious farmhouses. This is no surprise either, the Cotswolds boast beautiful British countryside and a wealth of history due to its nearby city of Oxford, medieval village churches and idyllic farmland.
Norfolk Broads And Coast
Jump to the other side of the UK and you’ll come to a stretch of countryside and wildlife reserve which is often overlooked. With the Norfolk Broads stark flatness, the beautiful scrub and marshlands stretch to the East Anglian coast where you’ll find long stretches of sand dunes and the best chance you’ll have in the UK to swim with wild seals!
The New Forest is one of the largest stretches of forest in the South of England. With it’s history dating back to William The Conqueror in 1066 proclaiming it a Royal Forest, and since then it has seen a long history of nature preservation and an abundance of wildlife across Hampshire and Wiltshire.
Stretching from Winchester to Eastbourne, the South Downs stretches for 140 kilometres across the South Coast, incorporating white chalk cliff faces and dramatic valleys. With it’s proximity to popular tourist cities like Brighton, the South Downs is perfect for day trips from the Southern cities of the UK.