With staycations being the new vacation, we’re lucky that there are so many great options for breaks right on our doorstep, and with extensive road and rail networks, getting there couldn’t be easier. Whether you’re looking for days out with the kids, a week by the sea or a spot of culture, the UK has something to offer everyone.
London, as the capital of England and the UK, is a city of contrasts. Futuristic skyscrapers of glass and steel rub shoulders with medieval half-timber buildings, while the cool boho chic of Covent Garden is near to the Royal Courts of Justice. Visited by over 20 million people every year, London ranks in the top three cities worldwide for tourist numbers and is the most visited in the UK.
The first stop on many itineraries is Buckingham Palace, the London home of the Queen. The palace has been in continuous use since 1837 and is open to the public for part of the year. Take a tour around the staterooms, including the decadently lavish Throne Room, the grand Ballroom, and Picture Gallery, and see the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony. The palace is also home to a large collection of art, furniture, and other fascinating artefacts.
If you’re spending the evening in London, why not visit the West End’s theatres? Among the most prestigious in the world, they boast some of the biggest names in show business as performers and producers. From blockbuster musicals to Shakespearean classics, there’s something to suit everyone’s taste.
For lovers of the outdoors, London has plenty of parks and green spaces to explore. The famous Hyde Park is a peaceful place for a walk or a picnic, and nearby Regent’s Park has an open-air theatre, a boating lake, and several gardens, making it the perfect way to while away a few hours.
If retail therapy’s your bag, London offers some of the best shopping experiences in the world. Whether you’re seeking high-end department stores like Harrods and Selfridges or quirky independent boutiques, you’ll find what you’re looking for. And of course, no visit to the capital would be complete without enjoying the city’s famous cuisine - from traditional fish and chips to modern gastropubs and cordon bleu, what better way to relax?
- History, culture and shopping
- Countless free attractions
- Visit London Website
2. The Lake District
For a scenic holiday destination, look no further than the Lake District. This stunning region is home to wild, rolling hills, tranquil lakes, and picturesque villages.
Lake Windermere is the largest lake in England and definitely worth a visit. There’s plenty to do here - fishing from the banks, sailing across its still waters or taking a walk around the beautiful shores, stopping for a bite to eat at one of the picturesque villages that line the water, such as Bowness-on-Windermere or the charming Ambleside.
If you're a history buff, make sure you visit Hadrian's Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient Roman fortification was built in the second century AD and is now a popular tourist attraction. Stretching for a total of 73 miles, it marked the end of the Roman Britain and the beginning of the unconquered Caledonians in the north.
- Immerse yourself in nature
- Take a boat trip on Windermere
- Lake District Website
For those who love something a little different, Glastonbury offers a peaceful and rejuvenating charm.
This small town in Somerset is famous for its annual Glastonbury Festival - one of the biggest music festivals in the world, but it also has much more besides. A lively arts scene, lovingly preserved medieval architecture, and a wide choice of accommodation. Climb the iconic Glastonbury Tor that overlooks the town, and visit the Chalice Well, a beautiful and sacred well that's said to have healing properties.
- Explore the history
- Climb the mystical Tor
- Glastonbury Website
Bristol is an exciting city known for its arts and culture scene. Home to numerous attractions, multicultural restaurants and a rich historical element, Bristol is easily accessible via rail and road. The impressive and mesmerising Clifton Suspension Bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Spanning the Avon Gorge, the bridge offers stunning views of the steep sides and the river below.
The SS Great Britain is another must-see attraction in Bristol. This historic ship was launched in 1843 and was the first iron steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Today, the SS Great Britain is a museum ship, giving visitors the chance to experience living history.
- Perfect for culture vultures
- Countless free attractions
- Visit Bristol Website
Oxford is a gloriously historic city and is home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world. With so many attractions close together, seeing Oxford on foot allows you to experience the timeless atmosphere up close.
Oxford Castle is a great place to start your exploration of the city. This 12th-century castle has been renovated and now houses a prison, museum, and art gallery.
The University of Oxford is one of the oldest universities in the world and is a wonderful place, infused with centuries of learning. With a sprawling campus full of architectural delights, charming little courtyards, and smooth verdant lawns, head for the Univesity’s museums, which include the Museum of Natural History and the Ashmolean.
For retail therapy, Cowley Road is the place to go. This lively street is home to a variety of restaurants, pubs, and stores, everything from high street names to independent boutiques. Stop for a coffee at one of the quaint cafes and watch the world go by.
- Ideal for history buffs
- Lots of free activities
- Visit Oxford Website
If you're looking for a fun and exciting city to visit, look no further than Brighton. This vibrant seaside town has much to offer - beaches and parks to restaurants and nightlife.
One of the prides of Brighton, the Palace Pier, stretching out 525 m into the English Channel, dates back to 1823 and features amusement rides, games, bars, and restaurants. Relaxing on a deckchair and enjoying an ice cream is bliss on a hot summer's day. Another cultural gem is the Royal Pavilion. This opulent palace was built in the early 1800s and is now a National Heritage Site, easily recognisable for its beautiful Indo-Islamic domes and architecture.
And finally, don't forget to sample the great restaurants and bars that Brighton is famous for.
- Explore the Lanes
- Family friendly attractions
- Visit Brighton Website
Around 60 miles north of London is the historic university city of Cambridge. Founded in 1209, this iconic seat of learning is one of the most prestigious in the world, but with theatres, family-friendly attractions and so much more, Cambridge is a great destination aside from the university.
The Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology contains an impressive collection of archaeological and anthropological artefacts from all over the world. It's also home to the renowned Pitt Rivers Museum, which is dedicated to the study of anthropology. With two million years of human history housed in one place, there’s something to interest everyone here. Another popular museum is the Fitzwilliam. Home to the largest collection of Impressionist paintings in the UK, an impressive exhibition on the role of women in art, and a series on religious artefacts.
After so much history, how about taking a flat-bottomed punt out on the River Cam? Relaxing as you float along its shallow crystal waters is an idyllic way to spend the afternoon.
- Explore the fascinating cathedral
- Numerous free attractions
- Visit Cambridge Website
From ancient Roman ruins to stunning Gothic cathedrals, there is no shortage of things to see and do in glorious Bath.
The Roman Baths are undoubtedly the city’s most popular tourist attraction, receiving more than 1.3 million visitors annually. Built over 2000 years ago, the well-preserved site offers a glimpse of life in Roman Britain. Although bathing is no longer permitted, Bath has a range of luxurious spas that still promise the health benefits once afforded to the Romans.
- See the Royal Crescent
- Visit the famous Roman Baths
- Visit Bath Website
The historic walled city of York was founded by the Romans and sits where the rivers Ouse and Foss merge. York Minster, the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe, took several centuries to complete and was finally finished in 1472. Drawing visitors from around the globe, the stunning stained glass windows and imposing architecture make this a must-see on your trip to York.
Jam-packed with history, Viking fans should head for the Jorvik Centre. The Shambles give modern retail a medieval twist with the overhanging timbered buildings and narrow cobbled streets. What were once butchers shops and crowded homes are now upmarket boutique stores selling locally produced crafts and handmade artisanal delicacies.
- Fun for all the family
- Visit the popular Jorvik Viking Centre
- Visit York Website
Liverpool is a city that offers something for everyone - history, music, art, and lively nightlife. It also has a range of places to stay, from high-end luxury to comfy B&Bs.
For many tourists, their first stop is the Cathedral. Built in the late 19th century, it’s one of the largest cathedrals in the world, and its stained glass windows depict some surprising names, including Elizabeth Fry, Queen Victoria, and English poet Christina Rossetti.
The Beatles Story must be high on any visitor’s list. This living shrine to the fab four tells the story of their rise to international stardom via an interactive experience, memorabilia, and, of course, their iconic music.
To finish your break in Liverpool, the Albert Dock, once a historic dockyard, has now been converted to a centre for culture. Home to museums, galleries and theatres, there are also restaurants and cafes, making this the perfect way to end your day.
- Visit the home of the Mersey Beat
- Perfect for culture vultures
- Visit Liverpool Website
The UK offers so many beautiful places to visit, fun attractions and cultural treasures, that we really are spoiled for choice. Enjoying a staycation is not losing out, it’s experiencing what’s right on our doorstep.