As lockdown eases and borders open, we’ve all been daydreaming about our next trip. However, some of us might still not feel ready to get on a plane and leave the country for a break, as much as we might like to. If that’s you, don’t fret! There’s a lot to be discovered in the UK or wherever it is that you live, you just have to go! So here are a 15 ideas for a UK post-lockdown staycation to add to your bucket list as you start planning breaks.
1. Oxford, South England
By Rose from Where Goes Rose
For a UK post-lockdown staycation, there are few better places than Oxford for history, architecture, hidden gems and great eats. Despite being a small city, there’s plenty to do in Oxford. You can arrive by train, bus or car and explore the whole city centre by foot. You can see most of the city over a weekend or during an Oxford day trip.
It’s easy to take a self-guided walking tour around the main Oxford attractions. Including Radcliffe Square centred around the iconic Radcliffe Camera library, the Divinity School which was used for Harry Potter filming, and the University Church of St Mary the Virgin which offers spectacular panoramic views from the top tower. For lunch, head inside to the Oxford Covered Market for tasty food at Georgina’s Cafe or Sasi’s Thai. Fancy a traditional afternoon tea? There are a few options. The Rose Cafe, The Grand Cafe and the Old Bank Hotel all offer classic afternoon teas with finger sandwiches, scones, cake and tea.
Finish your trip at one of Oxford’s many museums. The Ashmolean houses art and archaeology while the Pitt Rivers is full of artefacts including dinosaur skeletons and dodo remains. For a sundowner before heading home, head to the rooftop bar, TVC.
2. Brighton, East Sussex
By Caroline from CK Travels
This famous and bohemian seaside resort town on the south coast is a great place to visit for a UK post-lockdown staycation. Popular with London day trippers (and known as London-by-the-Sea), there are heaps of fun things to do in Brighton. The huge stretch of pebble beach and beachfront bars are always busy with locals and visitors on a sunny day. The iconic Victorian Palace Pier is packed with retro fairground rides, stripy deckchairs, and stalls selling candy floss and traditional fish and chips. Als,o on the beach, is the fairly new i360 – a glass viewing pod with fantastic views.
If you like shopping you’ll love the Lanes – a district of small streets filled with around 300 boutique shops selling records, gifts, antiques and vintage fashion. It also has many independent hipster cafes serving brunch and vegetarian food. Another highlight in Brighton is the gorgeous Royal Pavilion – a Grade I listed building dating back to 1787 with fantastic architecture resembling a SouthEast Asian palace, and surrounded by pretty gardens.
After the sun sets you’ll find many entertainment options across town. Cocktail bars, karaoke, comedy, traditional pubs and a great live music scene at Komedia – a Brighton institution.
3. Kent Beaches, South East Coast
By Joyce from DIY with Joy
England’s South East Coast has some of the best beaches for swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Thanet, a district in Kent, boasts an impressive fifteen sandy beaches and bays, easily accessible from London by train or road, making it great for a weekend away from the city. Margate Main Sands is a well known seaside destination, popular for its sandy beach, tidal pool, Dreamland Amusement Park and fish and chip restaurants like Peter’s Fish Factory.
For some beautiful secluded beaches, visit the white chalk cliffs of Botany bay to watch the most stunning sunsets views on the chalk stacks. A short walk away you’ll find Joss bay, a surfers paradise in the coastal town of Broadstairs. If you want to give surfing a try, Joss Bay Surf School offers private or group Surf and SUP lessons.
Kingsgate Bay is one of my personal favourite sandy beaches for swimming. It’s a hidden gem sheltered by a sandy cove and edged by white chalk cliffs and sea caves. Stop by Morelli’s ice cream parlour, near Vikings bay, to enjoy delicious treats. If you have some time to spare, visit Dickens house museum to learn about England’s prominent writer, Charles Dickens!
4. Cornwall, South West
By Kat from Wandering Bird
If you’re looking for a UK post-lockdown staycation destination, head to Cornwall! This is one of the best places in the UK for a wonderful trip without crossing borders. The beaches are spectacular, the people are friendly and the food mainly consists of cream teas and ice cream (you’ve been warned!) And, despite what you may think, it’s possible to stay away from the crowds in summer too!
There is so much to do. It’s almost impossible to plan places to visit in Cornwall (but don’t worry- it’s doable). For history, visit the famous Tintagel Castle – home of King Arthur, the knights of the round table and Merlin the wizard. There’s even a cave where Merlin apparently lived!
For a fantastic beach with surfing, visit Westward Ho! (yes, the exclamation mark is part of the name). It’s one of the safest beaches in Cornwall, with plenty of places to eat, facilities, play areas and surf schools; perfect for some outdoor exercise!
There are several theme parks and kids playgrounds, but two of the best are Flambards and the Pirates Quest. For adults, head to the incredible Minack Theatre or enjoy an ice cream at St Michael’s Mount. Lastly, head to Lands End– and be awe-struck that the very next visible point of land headed west is America!
5. Camping in Devon, South West
By Steph & Lewis from Book It Let’s Go
For a budget friendly UK post-lockdown staycation, camping in Devon is high on the list. There are many campsites in Devon from huge family friendly resorts with static caravans, campervan hook-ups and activity centres on site, to small farms with minimal facilities that only allow tents. If you are planning to camp for a week or longer, ask for a price reduction as many campsites offer reduced rates for longer stays.
Devon is such a diverse destination with something for everyone! From beautiful beaches of the English Riviera to vast moorlands across Dartmoor National Park and the craggy Jurassic Coastline. Many of the activities and attractions are free. From historic sight seeing at the Castles and Museums to outdoor adventures like hiking, surfing, horse riding and scuba diving to enjoying British seaside vibes on the beaches. Some unique attractions can be found in Devon including the largest model village in Britain at Babbacombe and the highest totally water powered railway in the world connecting Lynton and Lynmouth.
Wherever you stay in Devon you can’t miss the award-winning seafood platters featuring freshly caught crab and mussels. Seafood is not the only thing to eat though, even the fish and chips taste better here. Head down to the nearest pier or harbour and try The Rockfish restaurants. And of course, it would be a crime to miss out on a famous Devonshire cream tea, a lovely afternoon treat found across Devon.
6. Dorset Jurassic Coast, South West
by Emily Luxton from Dorset Travel Guide
For beautiful beaches, rugged cliff walks, and cute seaside towns, you simply can’t beat the Dorset Jurassic Coast. The coastline is named for its geological and historical significance, because the rocks and fossils date back to 185 million years! Stretching 95 miles from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, the Jurassic Coast is the perfect place for a UK post-lockdown staycation. Especially the Dorset section, which is often overlooked by visitors flocking to more popular Devon and Cornwall.
There are so many things to do along the Jurassic Coast. One of the most famous sites is Durdle Door, a rocky arch over the ocean sheltering a small bay with a popular sandy beach. The cliff walk from Durdle Door to nearby Lulworth Cove is very scenic. And there are also dozens more amazing hikes along the South West Coast Path.
When it comes to beaches you’re spoilt for choice! Some of the best can be found at Studland, Worbarrow Bay, and Weymouth. Explore the cute seaside towns such as Lyme Regis and Swanage; or try fossil-hunting at Charmouth or West Bay.
And, of course, be sure to sample some of the local food – especially seafood! From cute tearooms in the village of Abbotsbury, to fish and chips next to the picturesque working harbour in Weymouth; to historic pubs like the Smuggler’s Inn at Osmington Mills, there’s lots of choice.
7. Barnard Castle, County Durham
By Sarah from A Social Nomad
Barnard Castle got its name in the 12th century with the building of the castle of the same name. It achieved notoriety during lockdown as one of THE places to visit, to “test one’s eyes”. But there are much better reasons to visit Barnard Castle.
For starters, it’s the market town of the area known as Teesdale. Timing your visit to include the weekly Wednesday market or the monthly Farmers Markers is a great way to pick up local produce. We recommend the local Cotherstone Cheese, it’s Moorish and unique. The English Heritage Managed Castle is great for understanding more about the city and some stunning countryside views. You also shouldn’t miss the world-famous Bowes Museum, built in the style of a French Chateau – be there at 14:00 and see the famous Silver Swan in action. Be sure to visit some of the local pubs – the Firkin Alley in Horsemarket is a great small traditional pub with local ales.
Walking is superb around Barnard Castle – whether it’s along the river, or further “up the dale”. Teesdale is one of England’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and you shouldn’t miss the picturesque waterfalls High Force (it’s England’s highest), Low Force and Cauldron Snout. The areas at the top of the dale are renowned for being Dark Skies locations and a perfect location for star gazing.
8. Exmouth, South Devon
By Claire from Go South West
A charming beach town in South Devon, Exmouth is located at the meeting point of the famous Jurassic Coast and the Exe Estuary, spanning some 12 miles up to the city of Exeter. Its location means that there are some amazing hikes in the area. You can climb up the Sandstone Cliffs and enjoy spectacular views over the sea and towards Budleigh Salterton and go birdwatching on the estuary.
Exmouth is located about a half hours drive or train journey from the city of Exeter. It’s about a 3 hr drive from London (with no traffic) or a 1.5 hr drive from Bristol.
Most people go to Exmouth for the beaches. There’s about 3 miles of gorgeous sandy coastline and plenty of funfair rides, arcades, pubs and ice cream shops. But if you like nature, be sure to check out the moors as well. Spanning inland from the town centre, hiking on the enchanting heathland is another one of the best things to do in Exmouth. The heathland encompasses charming villages like East Budleigh and its thatched cottages, and Otterton which has a mill and a river with otters.
Whatever you decide to do in Exmouth, rounding it off with an award-winning Krispies fish and chips is essential. Try the battered chips!
9. York, North East
By Maja from Away with Maja
York is a fantastic destination for a city break or a UK post-lockdown staycation. The city is full of history, and wandering the charming streets often feels like stepping back in time. Marveling at the magnificent York Minster, the largest cathedral in Northern Europe, is a must. Walking the City Walls is also one of the best things to do in York. Arguably, the best stretch is between Bootham Bar and Monkgate, where you can see some incredible views over to the Minster. This is also one of the best free things to do in York!
You can learn about York’s Viking history at Jorvik Viking Center, which includes a trip through a recreated Viking village. And you can’t miss a trip to the Shambles, the oldest shopping street in Europe.
There are some amazing places to eat in York. Brew and Brownie does excellent breakfast and brunch (try the pancakes). Or get your coffee fix at Gatehouse Coffee, a coffee shop built into the City Walls at Walmgate. There are some unique independent restaurants as well: Blue Barbakan serves up authentic Polish food, Yak and Yeti has amazing Nepalese cuisine, and the Rose and Crown does the best pies in the city. With plenty to see and do, York is perfect for a UK post-lockdown staycation!
10. Lake District, North West
Cumbria is a mainly rural county in the Northwest of England, bordering Scotland. Within Cumbria sits the Lake District National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is popularly known for being one of England’s best areas of natural beauty. and for good reason!
Despite the popularity of the Lake District, Cumbria is one of the largest and least populated counties in England. Which means there’s lots of space for social distancing, making it perfect for a UK post-lockdown staycation! It’s pretty easy to get there too; about 4.5 hours from London, 2.5 hours from Birmingham and Glasgow and only 1.5 hours from Manchester and Newcastle.
There is so much to see and do in the adventure hub that is the Lake District. Each town has its own unique charm and leaves you wanting to return. It’s the place to be if you love hiking and outstanding natural beauty. With it being home to all of England’s peaks over 910m high and 19 lakes and reservoirs, including the famous Lake Windemere. To the west, there is a bountiful coastline with large areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty if hiking isn’t your thing.
11. Liverpool, North West
Liverpool, named the European Capital of Culture in 2008, is a city who’s name precedes it. Home of the Beatles, and a place with ferociously passionate citizens, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re after a culture rich stay, eating & shopping, or even spending time on the beach (yup, you read right, beach!), Liverpool truly is the best place for a UK post-lockdown staycation.
Like many cities in the UK, Liverpool is best explored on foot and there’s a lot to do & see. From exploring some of Beatle’s attractions like The Beatles Story, an exhibition devoted to the lives and history of the band or the variety of museums and architecture dating back to the 15th century.
For food, you’re spoilt for choice! From fine dining options with a view like Panoramic 34 or for something more casual, visit the Baltic Market for great food and music.
If you fancy an escape from the city, Liverpool actually has a number of great beaches! (I know, you’re surprised the Northwest has beaches!). From New Brighton beach with miles of golden sand to Formby beach, a beautiful beach with sand dunes, surrounded by coastal pinewoods.
12. Orkney Islands, North East Coast Scotland
By Suzanne from Meandering Wild
The Orkney Islands are located in the far north of Scotland. Getting on the ferry or plane to get to there feels like you’re really escaping everyday life. The pace of life here is slow and the wildlife and archaeology on these islands is unique.
The main island has a UNESCO world heritage site listing for its Neolithic heritage. Skara Brae is a Neolithic village which still has the original buildings with bed boxes and dressers. It’s hard to believe that they have been here longer than Stonehenge or the Pyramids! Close to Skara Brae is the Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic stone circle, as well as a number of other protected sites. The islands have a more recent history with a massive involvement in both World Wars with the stunning Italian Chapel and sobering museum on Hoy.
The main island has two towns, Kirkwall and Stromness. These are small and compact with their own history including the beautiful Kirkwall Cathedral and the Bishops Palace. Both towns have good restaurants and cafes to experience local food, whisky and gin.
As well as history, there are long sandy beaches and high sea cliffs, home to puffins and gannets during the summer months. You can see seals all around the coast, you just have to lookout for them.
13. Llanddwyn Island, North West Wales
By David Angel from Delve Into Europe
Llanddwyn Island is a small tidal island off the south-west coast of Anglesey, in North Wales. It’s not the easiest place to reach, but worth the 40-45 minute walk, as it’s one of the most beautiful places anywhere on the British coast. Its name derives from Santes Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers who retreated there. The story goes, after a suitor was turned into a block of ice, she remained there in solitude praying for happier outcomes for other lovers. Her feast day is celebrated with cards and gifts on January 25th .
Dwynwen couldn’t have chosen a more romantic location to see out her days. Her island is a 30 minute walk along stunning Newborough Sands, a vast long beach with dunes and forest behind. The views back to the mountains of Snowdonia and the Llŷn Peninsula are breathtaking. The island is accessible except an hour either side of high tide, and has a small resident population of wild ponies.
The two beaches at the end of the island, each with its own lighthouse, are sublime. Llanddwyn’s location around four miles from the nearest village, Newborough, means that the only access is by car. Nearby Menai Bridge and Beaumaris offer the best accommodation options. However, one of the best restaurants in North Wales, The Marram Grass, is close to Newborough.
14. Snowdonia, North Wales
Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash
From golden beaches, rugged mountains to beautiful lakes, Snowdonia has everything to make your staycation special. With blue beautiful banner beaches, breathtaking landscape, UNESCO heritage sites AND an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Snowdonia is a place you must visit at least once. And what better time that post-lockdown! Beyond the countless activities, it’s also a place where you can sit back, rest and relax while on holiday.
There’s a huge variety of adventure and experiences on offer in Snowdonia. From lounging on the beach, ziplining, climbing the highest mountain in England and Wales, beautiful walking trails or driving down the steepest road in the world – you’re spoilt for choice. It’s a pretty unique place, you can spend the day on the beach and then to rinse off in a waterfall all in the space of a few minutes!
North Wales has fantastic places to eat, and Snowdonia isn’t any different. Corris’ Idris Stores are known for great breakfasts and lunches. For casual lunch or even dinner, visit Y Cyfnod in Bala. For amazing scones, head to Llew Glas in Harlech.
15. Gower, South Wales
Located in South of Wales, the Gower Peninsula is an absolute hidden gem when it comes to UK post-lockdown staycation destinations. Having lived in the UK my entire life I had no idea that this place existed. When you think of Wales most people think of Snowdon, Cardiff or Swansea due to the beautiful walks, capital cities and universities by the beach. But did you know Gower is less than an hour from Swansea!
Filled with stunning beaches, gorgeous little villages, castles, it’s the ultimate UK post-lockdown staycation. My favourite beach is Oxwich bay, with an ever stretching golden beach and water so shallow that you can walk out half a mile and it’s still no higher than your waist. The water is crystal clear you’d think you were in the Mediterranean! It has a huge onsite car park as well as a restaurant, hotel and a shop where you can get fish and chips and wine! This beach is also super popular for paddleboarding and kayaking. There is also Rhosili beach with beautiful sunflowers and Three Cliffs bay (though be warned it is a steep walk down).
And if you are all beached out, you can head to Mumbles, a beautiful little village with a Castle in its centre, on the coast and even grab a bite to eat at Marco Pierre Whites restaurant!
We’ve Come to the End!
First off a big thank you to all the contributors, literally couldn’t have done it without you! Make sure to check out all the blogs and blog posts linked in this post and also share in the comments if I’ve missed off any amazing UK post-lockdown staycation destinations! I would love to see more.
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Until next time xx