Top 10 Staycations in the UK
With ongoing uncertainty around holidays abroad, 2021 is a great year for a staycation and now is the perfect time to plan a visit to the best UK holiday destinations. The best UK holiday destinations are found all around Britain, from north to south. The opportunities to see the charms of the UK are endless!
1. Isles of Scilly
Sitting 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall, these idyllic islands are the UK’s answer to the Caribbean. The heavenly white sands, turquoise waters and slightly milder climate make the Isles of Scilly a UK holiday destination everyone should have on their bucket list. Five of the 140 isles are inhabited and boast some of Britain’s most outstanding attractions, including Tresco Abbey Garden.
There are dark skies for stargazing, wildlife that thrives, plus the laidback lifestyle that’s high on most island holiday wish lists. Visit the Isles of Scilly with the archipelago’s top guide Will Wagstaff, who will show you parts of the islands that many tourists miss, take you on a boat ride to spot seabirds and show you round Tresco Abbey Garden.
2. Scottish Highlands
Scenic, remote and one of the real treasures of Britain, the Scottish Highlands offer a truly wild escape, where you can get lost among mountains, lochs and beaches. Aside from Britain’s largest national park, the Cairngorms, the legendary Loch Ness, mighty Ben Nevis and Eilean Donan Castle, the Highlands are home to the amazing Jacobite steam train, aka the Hogwarts Express. Taking you over the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct, just like Harry Potter and his friends, and close to Ben Nevis, Loch Morar and Loch Nevis, the Jacobite is an absolute must-do. Try it on a four-day Scottish adventure, where you’ll also take in Loch Katrine and the Falkirk Wheel.
3. Isle of Wight
It was a favourite UK holiday destination of Queen Victoria and is the location of her Italian-style summer home Osborne House – and the Isle of Wight is a must-see. It’s not all beaches and dinosaur history here, either. There’s a warm climate for those after an island escape with a little more sunshine and Osborne House has an impressive garden filled with beautiful fountains, historic creeping plants and gorgeous blooms to see.
The unique isle’s landscapes go beyond the chalk cliffs and golden sands. You’ll want to venture to Shanklin Chine, the breathtaking gorge with more than 150 varieties of wild plants and waterfalls.
One of the most picturesque pockets you’ll find in all of Britain, the Cotswolds are where you’ll fall in love with chocolate box villages, miles of rolling countryside and grand stately homes. Covering 800 square miles of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, you can only imagine how much there is to explore – from ‘England’s prettiest village’ Castle Combe to the gardens of Prince Charles’ private residence Highgrove House.
With its sprawling estates, historic houses and manor gardens, Northamptonshire is the underrated UK holiday destination to add to your 2021 bucket list. It’s home to Althorp House, the home of Earl Spencer, which is one of the highlights of the county. The magnificent 13,500-acre estate features a 90-room Grade I-listed stately home filled with art, furniture and ceramics.
Northamptonshire makes for a perfect day trip from London too, where you can ride the glamorous Belmond British Pullman from London Victoria to Northampton. The stylish train journey takes you through superb countryside while you drink and dine in an elegant Art Deco carriage.
6. Peak District
We can’t think of a better place to experience the great outdoors than the Peak District, where you can make the most of the great open spaces and soak up the views of England’s wild beauty. It’s also a fabulous spot to marvel at sprawling stately homes and do some antiques shopping, with Chatsworth House and Chesterfield Flea Market being two of the top places you’ll want to visit. From quaint farm houses to country inns and blissful holiday cottages, the Peak District has an array of places to call home during your break.
With its royal attractions, wonderful wildlife and stunning natural scenery, Norfolk is a marvellous destination for your UK bucket list. Marvel at its windmills, watch the seals and their pups, and be amazed by the unspoilt countryside. There’s no better way to explore Norfolk’s charms than by train, with the Bittern Line, Poppy Line, Bure Valley Railway and the Mid-Norfolk Railway providing relaxing rides. For something truly special, you can experience a variety of rail journeys in Norfolk during a five-day escape, as well as cruise the Norfolk Broads and visit Sandringham.
Downton Abbey fans, this one’s for you. Let Sussex be the next TV location you visit as you ride the delightful Bluebell Railway, running for 11 miles from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and stopping at the 1930s-themed Horsted Keynes Station, which featured in Downton. TV credentials aside, Sussex is filled with splendid sites to visit, such as mighty Arundel Castle, pretty Chichester Harbour and grand Petworth House.
9. North Wales
This impressive part of Wales is where you’ll find some of the most attractive UK holiday destinations. The Snowdonia National Park is the biggest draw and this walkers’ paradise offers amazing views from Mount Snowdon. You can take a ride up on the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which climbs to 1,085 metres above sea level and provides you with a panoramic view, which was voted the best in Britain.
Other curiosities in North Wales include Portmeirion, the Italian-style village with colourful buildings. If you love nature, you must check out the cute village of Betws-y-coed, too. It’s a joy to walk around and the nearby Swallow Falls are remarkable.
Arguably Britain’s most underrated capital city, Belfast is compact but packed with delights, from its Botanical Gardens, which are free for everyone to visit, to its maritime history, which you can get to know at the architecturally-stunning Titanic Belfast. For more history, you’ll want to stroll in front of City Hall and stop for a pint at one of the most beautiful British pubs around, the National Trust-owned Crown Liquor Saloon.
The best thing about Belfast? It’s a city that nature-loving active travellers will appreciate. Due to its size and location, you’re just a few minutes from beaches and scenic Strangford Lough. This is the place to get up close to wildlife by kayaking the calm waters, where you’ll spot seals and make your way to the lough’s deserted isles.