The Best UK Staycation Ideas For An Ideal Summer Break.

London Horse Guard Changing of the guard

The world has been hit hard by the COVID19 pandemic, but as many destinations start to open up again after an extended lockdown, excessive travel restrictions are making many travellers make the decision to stay at home and discover the UK on a staycation instead, and there is a lot to discover on this tiny but jam packed island! So if you are looking for an ideal UK staycation here is a list of just some of the top destinations in the UK that will keep any traveller happy!

The UK is one of the greatest travel destinations on the planet, with a rich tapestry of history, culture, iconic heritage and world class attractions, but with so many travellers jetting off every year to discover more exotic climes it can be easy to forget just how much we have to offer right here in our own back yard! So in no particular order, here are 10 of the best staycation destinations in the UK right now, and with hotels, hostels, restaurants and attractions all opening their doors once again over July and August, there is no better time to visit!

Just remember that while we are all excited to be travelling again after lockdown we still need to be responsible and sensible during this time. Now that beaches and beauty spots are reopening it is more essential than ever that we visit them responsibly and local businesses have worked hard to incorporate new infection control measures to allow visitors back and it is important to remain calm and respectful. For a list of ways that you can help by minimising your own risk, check out these tips for infection control and personal hygiene.

Liverpool.

I can’t start this list without mentioning one of the best city break options in the UK, the UK’s second city, somewhere so unique it feels like the UKs fifth state, the undeniable jewel in the crown of our British heritage and coincidentally my home city, Liverpool!

Liverpool’s history dates back further than the Domesday book, and England’s second city has a rich heritage from it’s early seafaring origins where over 40% of the world’s transatlantic trade passed through its famous docks, the home of the ill fated Titanic and of course the part the city played in WWII. Famous for it’s musical heritage, not least of which the Beatles, and of course it’s two football clubs (because like our cathedrals, the city is far too good to have just one!) Liverpool has enough attractions, world heritage, world class night life, foodie scenes and accommodation to make it an ideal city break or longer staycation destination!

Best things to do:

  • Explore the main museums, the World Museum, the Liverpool Museum and the Merseyside Maritime Museum.
  • Football fans can spend the day on the Anfield Stadium Tour, home of Liverpool Football club. Everton fans can have a similar experience in Goodison Park.
  • Explore Liverpool’s heritage at the Royal Albert Dock.
  • Follow the Beatles trail and learn the history of Liverpool’s most famous band.
  • Have a night out with some live music at the Cavern Club, the place where the Beatles got their break.

Barry Island, Vale of Glamorgan.

Gavin and Stacey Filming Locations Barry Island Whitmore Bay Beach

Famously home to Gavin and Stacey, with the entire town of Barry being a huge open air set for avid fans of the TV series, Barry Island is also a quintessentially Welsh seaside town and it’s stunning coastline, ice creams and family amusements has been attracting visitors since the late 1800’s!

The sweeping promenade stretches across the seafront of Whitmore bay and is not only one of my favourite places in the world, but is also everyone’s picture postcard perfect idea of a British seaside holiday, so get yourself an ice cream, enjoy the funfair, have a go on the slots in Nessa’s arcade and then get yourself a deckchair for the beach! Just watch out for that Newport lot!

Best things to do:

  • Follow the Gavin and Stacey Trail and visit all the outside locations from the popular TV series.
  • Spend the day at the popular Whitmore Bay Beach.
  • Take a stroll in Porthkerry Country Park.
  • Have a few rides at Barry Island Pleasure Park.
  • Check out Barry’s role in WWII at the Barry War Museum.

Cornwall.

The Cornish coast is famous among UK holidaymakers for over 400 miles of stunning, rugged coastline, and almost half of that specifically designated as Heritage Coastline by the Countryside agency of England and Wales. The world famous Eden Project and the UNESCO heritage mining sites are slightly inland, but the beaches and the coastline are the real draw with Portcurno and St Ives beaches packed with traditional seaside charm, and the lesser known local spots like the Pentire steps filled with local lore and legend.

Best things to do:

  • Explore the Cornish Coastal Path.
  • Spend the day on Fistral Beach and grab a bag of fish and chips.
  • Surfing! You can’t visit Cornwall and not get wet!
  • Discover Pendennis Castle.

Manchester.

The engine of Britain’s industrial revolution, Manchester has risen from it’s grimy smoke filled sprawl with high rise skyscrapers, concert halls, theatres and a wide range of ingredients that all fit together to make this Phoenix of a city a great staycation option. Not quite as good as Liverpool, obviously, but still a great one! With one of the UK’s largest student populations outside of London Manchester boasts an impressive nightlife and foodie scene and plenty of options to keep anyone entertained whether it is a short weekend break or a longer staycation.

Best things to do:

  • Get a taste of Gothic, Victorian Manchester at the John Rylands Library.
  • Football fans can take a tour of the Etihad Stadium.
  • Go shopping and grab some lunch in one of the restaurants in the Printworks.
  • Spend the day at the Msnchester Museum, Library and Art Gallery.
  • Explore the Castlefield Urban Heritage Park.

Shropshire.

Shropshire deserves special mention in any list of UK staycation ideas because not only is it one of England’s largest counties, it has a unique mixture of countryside charm and distinctive industrial history. Divided by the river Severn, Shropshire is home to the UK’s very first iron bridge, and the county’s contribution to the UKs industrial revolution is celebrated in the famous Ironbridge Gorge by a series of museums, from the Ironbridge Gorge Museum itself to the Coalbrookdale Museum, each one celebrating a specific aspect of Shropshire’s industrial past. Blist’s Hill Victorian Town is one of the UK’s best hidden secrets. This huge open air museum is essentially Victorian Britain come to life in a recreated Victorian village where visitors can step back into a bygone era and experience what life was like at the start of the industrial revolution. The actors bring everything to life and make sure you step inside some of the workshops! Shrewsbury brings you back to modernity a little bit, but only just! The picturesque Tudor architecture holds beautiful shops and tearooms, and unique churches and even Shrewsbury castle are all framed perfectly by the River Severn. Just a short distance away there are walking and hiking trails along the Long Mynd, taking you through some of the most attractive parts of the county.

Best things to do:

  • Get lost in time at Blists Hill Victorian Town.
  • Revisit the Industrial Revolution at the Ironbridge Gorge Museums.
  • Escape from Jail at Shrewsbury Prison.
  • Take a river cruise down the Severn.
  • Stargaze at one of the four officially recognised dark sky spots.
  • Hike the long Mynd.

Essex.

Okay, hear me out. This may not be many people’s first choice for a staycation, but Essex is far more than its stereotypes of Sugar Huts, TOWIE stars and less than favourable pop culture references. If you take the time to look beyond all of that you will see that Essex is filled with rolling medieval villages and picture perfect countryside perfect for hiking or a bit of glamping. The Dedham Vale area of natural beauty is home to Constable country, named after the artist famous for his paintings of the English countryside in the romantic tradition. Fans of the artist can even spot one or two of the landscapes still largely unchanged!

Best things to do:

  • Visit Colchester Zoo.
  • Stroll around Hylands Park.
  • Take in a show at the Princes Theatre.
  • Spend the day on the beach at Clacton on Sea.
  • Explore mountfitchet castle.

Yorkshire.

You can’t get more Northern than a trip t’Yorkshire! Yorkshire is so Northern it was the inspiration for the entire North in Game of Thrones and Sheffield’s Sean Bean can’t speak without evoking images of Kes and Yorkshire tea! Famed for some of England’s finest scenery in the Yorkshire Dales and Haworth Moor, this is Bronte country where you can relive your very own Jayne Eyre or Wuthering Heights adventure! But if grand countryside and romantic novels aren’t your thing you can take in some history. Ranging from Medieval castles to Roman ruins, Yorkshire has a wealth of history to explore and a wealth of places to stay for a week or two. If glamping surrounded by sheep and rolling hills or residing in a large country estate or hall isn’t your style, you could always try a walking tour of all the country pubs and B&Bs instead to get your countryside fix.

Best things to do:

  • Explore the history and architecture of York Minster.
  • Visit the Royal Armouries Museum.
  • Explore the Botanical Gardens and Sheffields Winter Garden.
  • Hike the Yorkshire Dales.
  • Hike the 199 steps at Whitby and discover the Abbey.
  • Head to Whitby beach.

The New Forest.

For lovers of nature or adrenaline loving adventure travellers, the New Forest is a little bit of a well known but still hidden gem in England. Featured in the Domesday book, proclaimed a royal forest by William the Conqueror and still one of the largest areas of heathland and forest in the UK today, taking up large parts of both Hampshire and Wiltshire. It is a natural habitat for thousands of rare species and its unique eco system makes it a nature lovers paradise. Hikers and naturalists can hike for days through the forest looking for birds and bats, and if they are really lucky may come across Britain’s largest land mammal, the fallow deer, as well as otter, polecats and of course a fox or badger too. It’s a real life Animals of Farthing Wood! Except for the destruction of course, because it is fiercely protected. As well as the gentle hiking there are also a wide variety of cycle trails for all ages and levels of fitness, and there are plenty of adventure companies offering horse riding, archery and bushcraft to get back to your ancient medieval roots, not to mention the watersports activities on the many lakes.

Best things to do:

  • Hike one of the 40 plus trails through the forest.
  • Hire a bike and see the forest from a different angle.
  • Try out some archery, axe throwing, woodcraft or outdoor adventures with one of the many outdoor centres.
  • Try out some coarse fishing at one of the many lakes.
  • Spend a long weekend glamping in the woods.

Southport, Merseyside.

Looking for a traditional English seaside holiday? You can’t beat getting some ice cream or candyfloss and walking along the Grade II listed Southport Pier, the oldest iron pier in the UK standing for over 150 years, and taking in some of the 22 mile stretch of beach! The quaint English seaside atmosphere continues away from the beach at Southport Pleasureland funfair, or you can relax on a pedalo on the Marine Lake or stroll around the Kings Gardens. The coastline is a haven of hiking paths and heritage trails, Marshside bird watching areas and Martin Mere Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is nearby too, and the famous ‘Another Place’ installation by Antony Gormley is just a short drive away on Crosby Beach. And if all of that is too much for you, head back to the traditional Victorian Pier and have a cup of tea, some fish and chips and play some of the penny slot arcades! Southport is an ideal seaside staycation spot with a lot to see and do, but without the crowds of nearby Blackpool!

Best things to do:

  • Have a traditional seaside day out on the beach.
  • Walk to the end of Southport’s famous pier.
  • Have a go on the funfair at Southport PleasureLand.
  • Check out the UKs quirkiest and only lawnmower museum.
  • Walk around the botanical gardens.

Chester.

Another ideal city break option and easily reachable from either Manchester or Liverpool, Chester is steeped in ancient Roman history which you can see before you even enter the city! The two mile long medieval and Roman walls that surround the city are like an open air museum, easy to walk along in sections and spotted with Roman ruins and archaeological treasures. Once you get inside the Tudor and Victorian buildings take you instantly back in time and let you explore the narrow cobbled lanes and shop filled rows.

Best things to do:

  • Vist Chester Zoo.
  • Shop in the picturesque Chester Rows.
  • Walk along the famous Roman Wall.
  • Learn about Chester’s Roman past at the Grosvenor Museum and park.
  • Visit Blue Planet Aquarium.
  • Visit Minerva’s Shrine, the last outdoor Roman Shrine in Western Europe.

Swansea and the Gower Peninsula.

Swansea Bay Gower Coast Wales travel guide

Coupled with a city break in the modestly cosmopolitan Swansea, the Gower Peninsula makes for an ideal extended staycation. Home to one of the most stunning coastlines in the world, the Gower peninsula holds the award for the UKs first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has held that status for over 60 years. Home to the Gower Coast National Nature Reserve and an array of stunning beaches from Oxwich Bay to Whiteford Sands, and even Rhosilli Bay which has been voted among the top 4 beaches in the UK for the last few years! Then of course there are the secret coves and caves hidden among the limestone cliffs and filled with local lore and legend of smugglers and pirates. And if beaches aren’t your thing you can always head inland with miles of coastal and countryside hikes too with sheltered woodland and a few country pubs dotted about. But if that isn’t enough for you, the Gower is also a lowkey adventure seekers paradise too, the waves have turned many of the beaches into an international surfing hotspot, and there are even opportunities to go dolphin spotting with a responsible boat tour!

Best things to do:

  • Visit Swansea Castle.
  • Take a walk through a traditional seaside town at Mumbles Pier.
  • Have a day on one of the many beaches along the stunning Gower coastline.
  • Hire a boat and go dolphin spotting.
  • Go for a hike in Penllergare Valley Woods.
  • Discover a tropical paradise at Plantasia.
  • Hike up to Melincourt waterfall.

Aberdeen.

This coastal city near the northern edge of Scotland takes a bit of effort to get to with a few hours spent on the train from Edinburgh alone, but your effort is rewarded tenfold with one of the most stunning and least obvious city breaks in the UK. Aberdeen is worth visiting for the stunning and atmospheric gothic architecture of its city alone, the mixture of granite and sandstone giving the city a unique feel, but there is enough culture and things to do packed into this unique city to make it impossible to fit into a short city break. Two cathedrals and countless churches make for an impressive backdrop for lovers of architecture, and culture buffs will love the many art galleries and museums devoted to everything from Aberdeen’s maritime history to it’s military one. Check out the Gordon Highlanders museum, it’s one of my favourites! And Union street in the heart of the city centre has an array of shops, restaurants, bars and even a thriving West End. The surrounding Aberdeenshire is filled with ancient castles and ruins (you could literally throw a stone from anywhere and hit one) and the rugged coastline is worth a hike or two if you don’t mind braving the weather!

Best things to do:

  • Explore St Machars Cathedral.
  • Take in some fine art at Aberdeen Art Gallery.
  • Admire the architecture of the Kirk of St Nicholas.
  • Learn about military history at the Gordon Highlander’s Museum.
  • Dance on the beach ballroom, a 1920s art deco building on Aberdeen’s waterfront.
  • Admire the wild, ruined beauty of Dunnottar Castle.

London.

London Houses Of Parliament

Okay, okay, London makes the list too. As much as I try and pursuade anyone who visits the UK (or anyone who wants a staycation in it) to think outside of London and explore the rest of the UK, there is no denying that London is one of the worlds premier tourist destinations and is still an ideal staycation option for anyone whether you want a short weekend break or a full two week holiday! London doesn’t really need any introduction does it? One of the most ethnically diverse capital cities in Europe and certainly the largest, London oozes history and culture from every pore, with unique architecture ranging from medieval churches and Victorian town houses to ancient Royal palaces, even the ultra modern aspects of the city with the Shard, the Tate Modern and the numerous skyscrapers are somehow seasoned by the antiquity on display, with many of the buildings from Big Ben and Westminster Abbey to the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace holding the status of instantly recognisable global landmarks. London is a cosmopolitan city with world class art, culture, food and nightlife options all at your fingertips any time of day or night, take in a West End show or grab a traditional pub lunch before hitting the town, you will never get bored in London, that’s for sure!

Best things to do:

  • Watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.
  • Spend the day at the British Museum or the Natural History Museum.
  • Visit the Tower of London.
  • Take a day trip to the Warner Brothers studio tour.
  • Stroll through Hyde Park.
  • Visit St Pauls Cathedral and take in views over the city.
  • Pay your respects to the Templars at the Temple Church.

With so much to see and do in the UK, not being able to fly for a while doesn’t seem so bad anymore! Get out there and discover some of your own backyard!

Did you enjoy this article? Have you ever taken a staycation? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

Related Articldes

5 Free things to do in Liverpool.

5 Free things to do in London.

40 Of The Best Days Out In The UK.

England.

Is Backpacking Just About Travelling The World?

Scotland.

Wales.

Michael Huxley is a published author, professional adventurer and founder of the travel website, Bemused Backpacker. He has spent the last twenty years travelling to over 100 countries on almost every continent, slowly building Bemused Backpacker into a successful business after leaving a former career in emergency nursing and travel medicine, and continues to travel the world on numerous adventures every year.

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28 comments on “The Best UK Staycation Ideas For An Ideal Summer Break.
  1. Rose says:

    A UK break is definitely on the cards for this summer since we can’t go abroad. Thanks for the ideas, had never considered Wales before!

  2. Sophie says:

    I love staycations! We may not have any other choice at the moment but still love them! I can totally recommend Hendra Holiday Park in Newquay, love it there.

  3. Louise says:

    Determined to see more of my home country now. I just wish they’d stop restricting things opening and having to make appointments for everything it is getting stupid.

  4. Lottie says:

    You can never beat London for a city break! 😉

  5. Alex says:

    The North East is conspicuously absent from this list? Where’s the love for Newcastle?

  6. Ben says:

    Good to see you giving a spotlight to a few lesser known places too, London is great but there is so much more to the UK.

  7. Paul says:

    You can spot dolphins in Wales? Are you serious?

  8. I have been enjoying your post. I often wonder how the rest of the world is doing with Covid and often think of England. Thanks for letting us know what you are dealing with.

    • Thanks very much, we have our problems with lockdowns the same as everyone else but we are coming through the worst of it now and as IFR rates and hospitalisations drop drastically things are starting to open up again. A recovery is on the horizon! Hope things are doing as well where you are?

  9. Paul says:

    Lockdown may be over but #Stayathome is still in effect. We are in the middle of a pandemic! Now is not the time to be advocating travel, it is just irresponsible and you should be ashamed.

    • No it isn’t Paul. We are at the end of a pandemic, not in the middle of one, and covid19 hasn’t been considered a HCID (High Consequence Infectious Disease) since the beginning of March. Now is EXACTLY the time to be advocating for travel, when the risk from covid19 is negligible (the stats prove this) and the risk of the consequences of further lockdowns and travel restrictions are significantly worse. People should get out, enjoy our amazing country safely and healthily and boost the economy.

    • Chloe Gunner says:

      Paul you need to get a grip. Entire industries are going bankrupt, people are suffering from the consequences of heavy lockdowns and more people are dying from these consequences than died from coronavirus. All for a disease with a less than 1% chance of having severe symptoms and an even lesser chance of dying! You need to stop being afraid and should be ashamed at allowing your fear make you attack people like that. We have been locked down for 6 months and it is time to travel again!

    • Kim says:

      So should we all stay in our homes forever Paul?

  10. Aubrey Scott says:

    You are making me want to visit the UK so much!

  11. Ste says:

    Thanks for the ideas, never even heard of south port!

  12. Joe says:

    Not much love for Scotland up there! Scotland has some epic destinations.

  13. Paul says:

    Southport? Really? Ok.

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Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a published author, qualified nurse and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent 15 years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

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