Sure, planning a trip with your friends/partner/family is fun. But sometimes, the best tonic for the soul is a solo adventure. Maybe that’s why over 70% of Contiki travellers join trips solo…
And sometimes you needn’t look further than your own backyard. For a small country, the UK seriously packs a punch. Sweeping valleys. Sparkling lakes. Charming seaside towns. Quaint villages dotted with thatched cottages and ancient pubs. For all our complaints about the weather, we’ve gotta say – we kinda love it here!
And the best bit? The UK is easy-breezy to travel around, and a great starting point if you’re looking to get stuck into somewhere solo for the first time. That’s why we asked the Contiki Marketing team for their insider tips on the best places to take a solo UK holiday. They didn’t disappoint…
1. Brighton – Dom, Head of Creative Communications
Once budget airlines started to pop-up British seaside towns became a bit wistful and nostalgic. You know: dilapidated buildings, empty arcades, amusement piers that once teemed with Victorian day-trippers populated by a lone seagull scowling and eating cold chips. But not Brighton.
With its riotous nightlife, thrumming live music scene and winding lanes with quirky shops selling all sorts of curiosities, it’s a bit of a rarity: a truly future-facing coastal town. Plus, the locals are so friendly, the culture so vibrant, that you’re bound to make some new pals when you’re exploring solo.
Getting there: 2-hour drive / 1-hour train ride from London. Why not pop into Brighton for the day before your Contiki departure?
Image source:Ben Guerin / unsplash
2. The Cotswolds – Lottie, Chief Marketing Officer
Picturesque pubs, amazing delis and epic dog walks (a trip with your pooch counts as a solo holiday, okay) – this cluster of villages is the English countryside at its best. From Burford to Bourton on Water, you can basically eat your way around the villages, drinking in the traditional honey-coloured stone houses along the way. There are so many local foods to try – from cheeses to pastries – and with plenty of cafes instead of posh restaurants, you might feel less intimidated when it comes to eating out. Don’t miss Daylesford’s organic farm shop.
Getting there: 2-hour drive / 2.5 hour train ride from London.
12 best places to visit in England if you love all things quintessentially British
3. The Lake District – Charlie, Editorial & Content Executive
If you’re a lover of thick forests, long walks or hikes, and, of course, lakes that span for miles and miles and miles, then you’ll be a big fan of the Lake District. On the North West side of England, tucked just under Scotland, is the Lake District and it’s one of the most picturesque places I’ve been with vibrant green hills and open skies.
My favourite place within the Lakes is Windermere – this little town is dotted with so many cosy shops and cafés to duck into on a particularly windy day. It’s on a hill, and as you walk down the slope you start to see the lakes in all their glittery glory. The weather isn’t always the best, but a little rain never hurt nobody, and it makes it all the more dramatic in my opinion!
Getting there: 6-hour drive / 3.5-hour train ride from London, OR you can visit on Contiki’s England and Scotland trip.
4. Bristol – Liv, Email & CRM Manager
You just can’t get bored in Bristol. I’d recommend doing a fun street art walking tour where you can join and meet new people (and spot a few original Banksy works!). I love walking around Clifton as it’s such a cute area with beautiful houses, book shops and cafes. A great way to finish the day is by watching the sunset from the Clifton Suspension Bridge (if you’re lucky with the weather). If you’re there for a while, you could book a day trip to Bath, which is just 15 minutes away by train.
Getting there: 2.5-hour drive / 1.5-hour train ride from London. Bristol will make the perfect day trip before your Contiki if you’ve got time to kill.
5. Bath – Jimmy, Creative Content Lead
And conveniently, Bath is the next favourite on the list! Bath is a really popular solo getaway in the UK because of the beautiful architecture and the iconic, you guessed it, baths. This town has been featured in many film and TV filming locations including Bridgerton and the soon-to-be-released Wonka, so you’re sure to recognise a few spots in this pretty and idyllic area. The Christmas Markets here aren’t too shabby either, a stop by is well-worth it!
Getting there: 2.5-hour drive / 1.5-hour train ride from London. Nothing to get a Contiki started off right with a quick day trip to Bath!
Image source:James Shaw / unsplash
6. Brownsea Island – Nick, Senior Content Marketing Manager
For an underrated but cute day trip to the South of England, head to Brownsea Island! This island is only a 1 and a half miles long and three quarters of a mile wide so you can walk the whole thing on a bright and sunny day for a wholesome activity.
To get here you have to head to Poole and then catch a boat to the island. What’s great about this island is that it’s nearly entirely owned by the National Trust so all the beautiful nature and most of the buildings are owned and protected by them. What I especially love about Brownsea Island is that it’s home to lots of red squirrels, which are very rare in the UK, as well as peacocks, so that makes it extra special.
7. Rye – Rachel, Brand Director
Rye in Sussex is perfect for a solo getaway in the UK. This quaint English town is all cobbled streets and antique shops. I also love browsing the local charity shops. There’s a great independent local cinema plus heaps of good places to eat – from modern health food cafes to seafood and pub grub. And the bonus is you’re only 10 minutes from the stunning Camber Sands beaches which stretch for miles and miles.
Getting there: 2-hour drive / 1-hour train ride from London. If you’ve got some spare time before your Contiki departure, pop into Rye!
Image source:Zoltan Tasi / unsplash
8. York – Nico, Data Analyst
York has retained so much of its ancient and storied architecture: from medieval cathedrals, pubs dating back to the 1600s, and the Roman structures. The city is well preserved and holds so much history – the walk along the Roman walls is peaceful and a great way to see the city.
Getting there: 4.5-hour drive / 2-hour train ride from London, OR you can visit on Contiki’s England and Scotland trip.
9. Edinburgh – Tammy, Social Media Executive
I love Edinburgh for lots of reasons, but a big one is because I’m a big Harry Potter nerd and Edinburgh is full of Harry Potter references. The cute and colourful Victoria street inspired Diagon Alley! The other reasons are that it’s really easy to navigate, and the old architecture is really nice and gives Edinburgh a great classic atmosphere.
There’s Edinburgh Castle, which is beautiful, right in the middle of the town, and you can also hike up to Arthur’s Seat which is a really chilled hike to do, especially on a sunny day (yes, they do happen)!
Getting there: 7.5-hour drive / 5.5-hour train ride from London, OR you can visit on Contiki’s England and Scotland trip.
10. Cornwall – Manasi, Product Copywriter
Sunny and serene, Cornwall is a gem amongst British regions. Boasting bright coasts and dramatic cliffs, it’s the perfect solo getaway in the UK for those that love long walks by the sea and getting cosy in that cottage-life. Fresh fish and chips, Cornish pasties filled with stewy goodness, sweet cream teas, and local ice cream – it’s a bit of a foodie haven to be honest!
It’s beautiful in Spring and what’s more is that you can spot dolphins leaping out of the ocean on a lucky day! St. Ives is the most popular town and for good reason as it’s filled with adorable shops and lots and lots and lots of art galleries where you can buy your very own painting of the regional cliffs, beaches, and coves.
Getting there: 5-hour drive / 4.5-hour train ride from London.
Ready to go on your very own solo holiday in the UK? Check out our England trips here!