The UK is full of beautiful holiday destinations. From the luxurious to the last-minute budget break, the biggest problem you'll have is choosing where to explore.
One of the best things about travelling around the United Kingdom is not needing to keep up with international travel advice. A staycation in England, Wales, Scotland or over in Ireland can be as wonderous and relaxing as any other part of the world. So let's look at the top travel destinations across the United Kingdom in 2023.
5 beach holidays
The beach is an excellent choice for family holidays because there's something for everyone. Smaller children love playing in the sand, older kids can get into various water sports, and adults can relax with a great book and ocean views. If you book your UK holiday through a travel agent, remember to check for ATOL protection. This covers your payments and ensures you'll get a full refund if the company goes bust before you take your break.
You don’t need to travel abroad for emerald seas or scuba diving experiences. Our coastline is blessed with miles of beautiful beaches and calm summer waters. While scuba diving might not be on your to-do list, there is plenty to enjoy during your summer holidays. Here are some of our favourite spots for a coastal getaway.
Cornwall is a favourite summer holiday pick for good reason. You have a wide choice of accommodation options, from holiday parks to exclusive holiday homes for hire. This county has the most coastline of all UK counties, so there's plenty of space to choose from for your break.
Newquay is great for surfing, and Falmouth will delight history buffs. Looe and Bodmin are perfect for wildlife spotting or just enjoying the great outdoors.
There is a good network of public transport routes, so you can easily leave the car at home. Branch line railways and bus routes cover most popular holiday spots along the coastline. The Visit Cornwall website is a great place to start for getting ideas of what to do and booking accommodation.
With almost as much coastline as its southern sister, Devon attracts over six million visitors each year - most of them in the summer months. Don't let the crowds put you off, though. There are plenty of wide open spaces to enjoy glamping, a secluded holiday cottage or a short break surrounded by natural beauty away from the hustle and bustle of holidaymakers.
North Devon is best for surfing. Both of the moors, Exmoor and Dartmoor, are great for walkers. Calmer beaches are found on the south coast.
A trek across Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks is a once-in-a-lifetime experience not to be missed. The Two Moors Way takes in both coasts and covers 102 miles. The path is dotted with pubs and self-catering accommodation that walkers can relax in along the way. Expect breathtaking scenery and wide open spaces with just the birds and the clouds for company.
England's Jurassic Coast stretches for 95 miles and comprises most of Dorset’s coastline. It starts near Swanage at Old Harry Roack and ends at Exmouth in Devon. This is one of the most dramatic stretches of coastline you'll find in the UK. There's also a good chance you'll discover a fossil of your own down on the beaches.
You'll be spoilt for choice when visiting Dorset; Bournemouth, Weymouth and Lyme Regis all have beautiful stretches of sand. A bit further inland at Dorchester, you'll find beautiful gardens, a sculpture lake and elegant historic houses. Many holiday parks have swimming pools, and it's not difficult to find a cute cottage with a hot tub, either!
For an expansive landscape, it's hard to beat Norfolk. Unlike the southwest, Norfolk's reclaimed land is flat, with far-reaching views across fields and wetlands to the sea. Much of the wetland is protected, making it the perfect holiday spot for bird watching and easy coastal walks.
Some of our favourite Norfolk holiday destinations include the small village of Hunstanton, where you'll find a cute camping ground called Blanca’s Bell Tents with genuinely comfortable and affordable glamping. It's an easy drive from there to many Norfolk coastal attractions. And as insurance against the weather, the bowling alley in Hunstanton is the perfect wet day activity.
The Broads National Park, Norfolk Castle and the large lake and woodland at Pensthorpe are all worth a visit. Whether you're looking for an extended holiday or a weekend break, Norfolk is an easy-to-reach distance from London and many other UK cities.
5. Scottish seaside breaks
The southwest isn’t the only place to enjoy a seaside getaway. Scotland has its fair share of dramatic coastline and beautiful islands. Aberdeen and Skye have long been regarded as some of the country's most beautiful beach destinations.
Newcomer beaches recently awarded top-rated beach status include Sandwood Bay on the northwest Atlantic coast, St Ninian’s Isle and Seacliff Beach. Seacliff Beach has historic links with a semi-ruined mid-14th-century fortress and the remains of Aldehame Castle an easy ramble away from the sand.
4 city breaks
If the idea of getting sand between your toes makes you itch, a summer city break may be more your cup of tea! The United Kingdom is full of historic and exciting cities that provide opportunities to escape your everyday routine.
Calton Hill is in the centre of Scotland's capital city and is the ideal place to watch the sunset on a summer evening. Edinburgh breaks can be as long or as short as you like, but you'll be able to see most of the major sights over three days in the city. For a more relaxed pace, a week-long holiday will let you explore in a leisurely style.
If you intend to catch the Fringe Festival Edinburgh is famous for, August is the month to go. Plan your break in the three weeks between August 4th and 28th this year. The city comes alive with performances popping up on stages across the city. There's sure to be an act that makes you smile.
Glasgow is in Scotland's western lowlands. The city has become a cultural centre in recent years thanks to the beautiful Victorian and Art Nouveau architecture, many museums, art galleries and beautiful botanic gardens.
Booking ahead will provide peace of mind, and luxury and budget accommodation options are available. You'll find plenty of things to do for an enjoyable half-term break with the grandchildren or a brief getaway without children. Glasgow is best between March and August when the weather is milder. You’ll want at least two days to get to know this city.
Manchester was known for its wool, cotton and fabric production in the industrial era. Today the city boasts cultural attractions such as the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester Art Gallery and People’s History Museum. There is more than enough to keep you and the family entertained on a short (or long) city break.
Bristol is famous for Banksy and being the first British city to be named a European Green Capital. It's easy to cycle around Bristol thanks to the city's cycle-path network. The public transport links are also robust. Bristol is jam-packed with museums and art galleries and has many great live music venues, too.
Take a wander around the city to discover the graffiti artworks that brought Banksy his fame. Streetside cafes and cosy pubs offer plenty of opportunities to sit and watch the world go by. Bristol is also close to Bath, making it the ideal place to enjoy grand Georgian architecture and the ancient Roman Baths just 12 miles to the east.
3 ideas for glamping, camping and getting out in the wild
If holidays for you are about leaving behind home comforts and indulging your wilder side, a trip to any National Park in the United Kingdom is a great choice. We’ve noted our favourite wild spaces with accommodation options for you below.
In northwestern Wales, you'll find Snowdonia National Park. This beautiful mountainous area has pockets of woodland, a rugged coastline and long or short treks to delight holidaymakers. For those looking for something a little different, a visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology near Machynlleth is worth a look. The centre has activities for young and old and you’re sure to leave with a new perspective on the world.
Snowdonia has plenty of accommodation options, from holiday cottages to B&B pubs, camping sites you can pitch a tent on or glamping yurts, tipis and quirky shepherd huts with comfy beds. One of our favourites is the secluded Eco Retreats on the edge of Snowdonia. The completely off-grid glamping perfectly balances ultimate comfort and rustic charm.
2. Peak District
The Peak District is massive, covering more than 500 square miles. The bulk of it sits within Derbyshire, while the northern and eastern edges stretch into Yorkshire and Greater Manchester. The area is famous for ramblers and those keen on longer treks. Self-catering accommodation can be booked in advance for peace of mind if you’re choosing to complete some of the longer hikes through the area.
3. Lake District
Famous for its lakes, forests and mountains, the Lake District is a firm favourite for summer holidays in the United Kingdom. Famous poets and writers such as Wandsworth, Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin spent many happy days here and were inspired by the beautiful vistas.
Windermere is the perfect spot to enjoy water sports, cruise on the lake or try fishing from the banks or a boat. Ambleside, Keswick and Grasmere are some of the most popular spots in the area. If you want to avoid the crowds, book your holiday in late spring or summer to avoid the school holiday crowds. Choosing these times will also help you find bargain prices for luxurious accommodation!
Summer holidays in the United Kingdom
Whether you’re keen to relax on a long sandy beach or trek through breathtaking scenery, there is a holiday spot in the United Kingdom that's sure to suit you! Staycations are often far less hassle than trips abroad, as there's no need to worry about flights and passport controls! Even so, there are many cheap places abroad to tempt you. So maybe two summer holidays this year isn't out of the question if you choose to explore the United Kingdom and a budget location that’s a little further afield.