Before the pandemic, Brits spent more time holidaying abroad rather than hitting their own backyard. Now, with holiday trends heading for a change in a post-lockdown world, the question on everyone’s lips is: where are the best staycations?
Following the latest government announcements to ease lockdown measures, the UK has seen a huge surge in bookings for local trips. This reflects the fact that Brits are a) hungrier than ever to travel and b) taking advantage of what’s right on their doorstep. The good is that there are SO many incredible places to go within this pocket-sized isle. Here’s our lowdown of the best UK and Ireland staycations so you can start planning your local adventure now…
1. Croyde, Devon
If you like beaches, this one’s for you; some of the county’s most stunning coastline is in Devon (we dive into that here). If you take your time to walk a mile or so away from the car parks along coastal pathways, you will be rewarded with large secluded beaches, secret coves and hidden sandy stretches such as Gara Rock Beach and Mattiscombe Sands on the South coast.
If you’re feeling more active there are some fantastic surf spots in Devon to take advantage of, most notably the glorious sandy stretch of Croyde Bay in North Devon, considered to be Devon’s capital for surf addicts. And if that’s not enough, you can stretch your legs with a hike along the stunning wild coastal cliffs of the UNESCO world heritage Jurassic coast.
Feeling inspired? Check out our 3-day Devon Surf Weekend in Croyde, North Devon, which includes guided hikes, surf lessons, yoga classes and even a vegan cooking class.
2. Lake Windemere, The Lake District
The clue’s in the name with this one, miles of stunning scenery dotted with irresistible lakes, The Lake District in Cumbria is the perfect place to enjoy the great outdoors. Lake Windermere is the largest body of water in the Lake District and the perfect place to water ski, wakeboard, canoe and kayak – or take a scenic boat trip.
If water isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy, from climbing to abseiling to taking in the rolling countryside views while you hike the many trails. Our latest Detour trip offers you a taste of all of this. Throw in some quaint village pubs and you have yourself one the most perfect UK staycations.
It’s all about the history with this one; full of charm and character, York is packed full of incredible architecture and countless museums. This compact city is perfect for shopping, whilst cute cafes and cosy pubs line the riverside. Explore York Minister, one of the world’s most impressive cathedrals. Walk down the cobbled streets of the Shambles; renowned as the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter, or go back in time in the fortified walls of York Castle. For fans of folklore, you can sign up to a night of ghostly horrors, with dark alleyways plenty of spooky stories.
With an amazing musical heritage, Liverpool is of course home of The Beatles among other legendary artists. You can walk in the footsteps of the fab four on a Magical Mystery Beatles Tour (check it out on our England and Scotland trip) – you’ll see where the legends grew up and end at the legendary Cavern Club to listen to live music from resident musicians. But it’s not all about times gone by, Liverpool has been transformed in recent years into a cultural mecca. Along the Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool’s historic waterfront, you’ll find interesting museums, cool pop up shops and some of the best nightlife in the UK.
A true all-rounder and another great UK staycation, Edinburgh is a city for everyone with vibrant nightlife, great shopping and a strong arts scene. Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline, perched up high above the city on Castle Rock, an extinct volcano. It’s a city for all seasons, in the summer the city is taken over by the famed Fringe Festival with live performers and acts to keep you entertained for the week, and in winter it’s all about the Hogmanay New Year celebrations.
A trip to Edinburgh wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Scotch Whiskey Experience where you’ll get to see the largest collection of Scotch whiskey in the world. Or you could even take a tour of the nearby Harry Potter film destinations.
6. Glencoe, The Scottish Highlands
Rugged mountain scenery and the legend of Loch Ness awaits in the Scottish Highlands. Think endless skies, picture postcard landscapes and fairy-tale castles. One of the best spots in the UK to walk and hike, and the perfect place to blow the cobwebs away after enjoying a “wee dram” of whiskey at a cosy Scottish pub. Check out the jaw-dropping trails that wind up Ben Nevis – the UK’s highest peak, then spot red deer roaming Glencoe valley. You can even try and spot Nessie on a cruise along the spectacular Loch Ness on our Contiki Scottish adventures.
The energetic capital of Ireland has it all – harbours, good walks, cobbled streets cultural attractions galore, plus of course the finest pubs and Irish whiskey distilleries in the world. Travel back in time with 800 years of memories in Dublin Castle, cross the famous Ha’penny bridge over the river Liffey, or simply wander the streets and taking in the Instaworthy houses vibrantly colourful front doors.
Travel to Dublin year round and get a different experience every time from blooming spring to cosy winter. It’s not just the destination either that makes Dublin such an attraction as a UK staycation – the friendly locals are what bring it to life.
Buzzing Belfast is a world away from its troubled past. Renowned for its music scene and vibrant nightlife you’ll always be able to find a live band playing and a place to dance the night away in Northern Ireland’s capital. The Titanic also plays a big role in shaping modern Belfast with an architecturally striking museum dedicated to this maritime heritage and on our trips you can visit the museum and learn all about the doomed ship at its original home of Belfast.
9. Causeway Coast & Giants Causeway
A UNESCO heritage site, the Giants Causeway comprises over 40,000 basalt columns looming from the ocean, making it one of the most stunning sites in the UK. Drive along the Causeway Coast passing craggy castle ruins, epic coastline and ancient forests, it’s easy to see why Game of Thrones used it as a filming location to provide the backdrop for Westeros. A UK staycation needn’t be any less exciting, either. Ireland will satisfy the curious traveller in you for many reasons -read some of them here.
10. St Ives, Cornwall
St Ives has a seriously cool art and surf scene. Check out the best surf beach, Porthmeor or stroll the seafront where you’ll find the Tate St Ives gallery, focusing on British artists. Art lovers will also love the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture garden – set in the modernist artist’s former studio.
Want to venture further? Book a boat trip to Seal Island to see the gorgeous seal colony. Then all that’s left to do is breathe in that fresh salty air and feel the stress melt away.
11. Southwold, Suffolk
Seaside towns don’t get any more quaint than Southwold. An ideal UK staycation, Southwold is home to the Adnams brewery (and now gin distillery), some of the best fish and chips in the UK and quirky independent shops. It may be small but there’s so much to do here. Make sure to walk to the lighthouse and check out all the candy-coloured beach huts.