The Best Places for a UK Staycation
The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Why travel abroad when the UK has all you need? Here’s where you should go for a UK staycation.
You don’t need to jet off halfway across the world to experience that holiday feeling. The UK has its fair share of golden beaches, snowy mountains, green countryside and cultural cities. Besides, holidays abroad mean waiting around in airports (worldwide pandemics are annoying like that) and figuring out travel connections in another language. Staycations let you skip all of that and head straight to the fun stuff, whether it’s relaxing or exploring.
Here at Plum Guide, we’re the experts in where to go for a UK staycation. We’ve put together some of the best places around the country, each of them offering something unique. We also have a fantastic selection of homes around the country, from swanky apartments to cosy cottages.
Looking for a quintessentially English getaway? The Cotswolds are as good as it gets. Think honey-coloured stone cottages, chocolate box villages, medieval churches and rolling countryside. The Cotswolds are the largest AONB in England and Wales, straddling six counties. With such a large area, there’s no shortage of places to stay.
For some peace and quiet, head to villages like Bourton-on-the-Water, Burford, Castle Combe and Broadway. Or perhaps you want a taste of local life? There are plenty of buzzing market towns like Cirencester, Stow-on-the-Wold, Painswick and Tetbury. The best part is that anywhere you stay, you’re within easy distance to scenic walks.
The Cotswolds are full of attractions, so you don’t have to worry if you start getting restless. If you’re into gardens and historic houses, some of the best ones are Hidcote Manor Garden, Chastleton House and the splendid Berkeley Castle.
While you’re in the Cotswolds, we highly recommend some retail therapy (a staycation is all about treating yourself after all). There are endless local shops, boutiques, delis and markets that sell everything from jewellery and handicrafts, to local produce.
Speaking of, you're in a fantastic destination for foodies. With a whole host of talented chefs, fine dining, country pubs and local brewers, you’ll want to bring your stretchy pants. One particular experience you shouldn’t miss out on is Daylesford, perhaps the most famous organic farm shop in Britain. Set over 2350 acres, Daylesford is real farm-to-fork eating. Taste fresh produce, learn how to forage, see dairy products being made at the creamery, or join a cookery course.
The seaside should be on every list of UK staycation destinations. Devon is one of the best spots for a seaside staycation, where the sun seems to shine eternally. One of its main draws is the Jurassic Coast. Stretching for 95 miles from Devon to Dorset, this UNESCO World Heritage site is dotted with magnificent rock formations and iconic natural landmarks like Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.
The English Riviera on the south Devon coast is a popular spot for holidaymakers, and includes the towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. You’ll find all the usual seaside spiel here, from family attractions to history and heritage. One of the best ways to explore the coast is by getting out onto the water, so if you’ve been meaning to try out water sports, now is the time. Fancy something a little more leisurely? Take a boat trip or steam train to capture those millions of photos that you’re going to force your friends and family to look through.
But it’s not just beaches that you can expect from Devon. There are also exciting cities like Exeter and Plymouth if you’re interested in shopping, museums and nightlife. Exeter is particularly cool if you’re a keen historian, with its city walls dating back to the Roman era.
Get active and try some outdoor adventures in Dartmoor and Exmoor National Park. There’s plenty to get up to, like walking, cycling, mountain biking, horse riding and climbing. Looking for something unique? Dartmoor Llama Walks offer you the chance to explore the vastness of the moors alongside a furry friend.
While Wales is its own country and technically not a staycation if you’re based in England, it’s just a short trip over the border. And Wales is practically built for staycations, so we had to include it on our UK staycation list. Wales is a mix of outstanding natural landscapes, outdoor adventures, vibrant cities and a feast of local food and drink.
In South Wales you have Cardiff, the young and creative capital city. Culture vultures will find plenty of things to feast on, from museums and theatres to Edwardian and Victorian shopping arcades. There’s also the city of Swansea, with its sweeping waterfront and unique attractions. For some nature, head out to the magnificent South Wales Valleys, once famous for its coal. You’ll also find the Wye Valley, the Vale of Usk and the dramatic Glamorgan and Pembrokeshire coasts. But if there’s only one place you visit, make sure it's the Brecon Beacons National Park. Less than an hour’s drive north of Cardiff, this National Park is full of diverse landscapes, from swathes of moorland to rocky peaks.
North Wales is home to Snowdonia National Park, a must-visit for outdoor lovers. If you’re up for a challenge, take a hike up Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. Hungry for more views? There are also three AONBs in North Wales - Clwydian Range and Dee Valley, Llyn, and Anglesey. There are plenty of ways to explore, whether it’s water-based, walking and hiking, or something a little more adventurous – perhaps climbing or caving?
As well as natural landscapes, North Wales also offers World Heritage castles, bustling seaside towns and unique attractions like the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llechwedd Slate Caverns.
If you’re after a city break, Edinburgh is one of the top UK staycation cities. The city is divided into the medieval Old Town and the elegant Georgian New Town. Edinburgh Castle is perched high on volcanic rock, and looms dramatically over the city. The Royal Mile runs through the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town and connects the castle to the Palace of Holyrood House. There are plenty of unique attractions all around the Royal Mile, including Camera Obscura, Scottish Storytelling Centre and some of the best eateries in the city (there’s no excuse not to try haggis!). The New Town was built in the mid to late 18th century and is full of elegant Neoclassical architecture. It’s the artistic centre of the capital, with all three national art galleries in close distance to each other. For more arts and culture, visit Edinburgh Playhouse which hosts regular standup comedians, youth musical theatre and acapella revues. Fit in some retail therapy at Princes Street and George Street. If you’re not exhausted from all that spending, go for a short hike up Calton Hill at the eastern end of Princes Street. There are some pretty spectacular views on offer, and it’s the perfect spot for a picnic.