Whether you fancy the sun-soaked beaches of the South West, the sheet-like lakes of the Lake District or the sparkling magic of the Scottish Lowlands, the islands of Old Blighty can surely provide. Every year more and more holidaymakers are deciding to spend their vacation days exploring the UK. To help make your next trip as perfect as possible, we’re shining a spotlight on 15 locations that are becoming increasingly popular.
Best for: Rough and wild magic.
Certain words seem made to describe the different parts of Britain. Look at the Lake District, and all you can say is ‘elegant’. Visit the Highlands, and you’re bound to think ‘peaceful’. But the journey to the misty hills of the North York Moors, or the craggy cliffs of Whitby, and the one thing that comes to mind is ‘rugged’.
It’s no wonder that parts of this gorgeous spot were the inspiration for Dracula, the most famous gothic novel in history. The rough and wild magic of North Yorkshire makes for some of the most stunning scenery in Britain and, of course, some of our best walking routes.
Best for: Being surrounded by historic sites.
While everywhere in Britain boasts at least one unmissable tourist attraction, Wiltshire holidays seem to be overflowing with important landmarks in this nation’s history. Beyond the softly rolling hills of the Cotswolds, and the quaint, chocolate box cottages of the market towns, Wiltshire is home to the mountainous monument that is Stonehenge. From here, you can visit the wonderful Westbury White Horses and the medieval magnificence of Salisbury Cathedral.
Best for: Wandering the English countryside.
Home to fallow deer, wildflowers and the Winnie the Pooh, Sussex holidays are oh so stunning – it has a certificate to prove it. The county is home to three incredible Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which combined, take up a vast portion of its overall size.
The High Weald, the Sussex Downs and Chichester Harbour are all exemplary examples of just how beautiful the English countryside can be. Each one is home to a vast range of glorious walking routes which display not just Sussex, but Britain at its very best.
Best for: Finding hidden treasures.
Nottinghamshire is best known for the incredible legend of the charitable outlaw, Robin Hood. Today however, it’s biggest draw is something a little different. Six times a year, the county hosts the largest antiques fair in Europe, seeing hundreds of thousands of second hand valuables passed from hand to hand.
But, Nottinghamshire’s treasures don’t just sit above the ground, it’s also got a lot to offer below. The Creswell Crags, near Worksop, are home to some of the most important Ice Age finds in Britain. Here, you can wander beneath the surface of the earth, on the search for treasures hundreds of times older than humanity itself.
Best for: Soaking up class and culture.
Best known for being home to one of the oldest institutions in the world, the innovation and excitement that surrounds Oxford University is present across the county of Oxfordshire. For anyone looking to spend their holidays soaking up some new knowledge, Oxfordshire is the perfect place.
Explore the Ashmolean, the world’s oldest public museum, see the priceless paintings of tomorrow in the Wychwood Art gallery, or tour the neoclassical architecture of the ‘City of Spires’. When you’ve had your fill of class and culture, why not give your mind and feet a rest, with a lazy afternoon punt down for Magdalen Bridge Boathouse.
Best for: Endless award-winning beauty.
Hear the name Cumbria and you’ll probably picture the Lake District. Taking up around a third of the county, the national park is named by many as the most beautiful place in Britain. It’s a spot so stunning it’s received international acclaim. The park stands alongside the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site ‘of outstanding importance to the common heritage of humankind’.
But the Lake District is far from all Cumbria has to offer. To the east, the county also boasts a picturesque portion of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and to the north, part of the North Pennines, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If you’re looking to push the thought of morning commutes from your mind, the beauty of the Cumbrian countryside is the perfect place.
Best for: Seeing the marks left by history.
Britain has a rich and, at times, brutal history, with countless battles fought on Old Blighty’s shores. Strategically positioned on England’s border with Scotland, Northumberland has been a witness to almost all.
Over the centuries, kingdom after kingdom left its mark on the bright green landscape, scattering it with everything from Roman forts to Anglian castles, Norman strongholds to Medieval barracks. Today, Northumberland is home to more significant historic structures and recognised battle sites than anywhere else in the UK and is the ideal holiday spot with anyone with a thirst for English history.
Best for: An untainted slice of medieval England.
Thanks to almost all of Durham being a designated conservation area, and housing a whopping 630 listed buildings, this incredible county is an almost perfectly preserved slice of medieval England, nestled in the North East. While there are hundreds of historic structures to visit, one you certainly won’t want to miss is Durham’s well known Norman cathedral.
Every part of this building is steeped in history, right down to the door knocked. In Medieval times, criminals who ‘had committed a great offence’ could rap the knocker and would be given 37 days of sanctuary in the cathedral. Sheltered inside, they could spend their time trying to reconcile with their enemies or plan their escape.
Best for: Moving towards the dawn of time.
When we talk about history in Britain, we usually think of incredible castles, ancient churches, and mist-covered fields where bloody battles were fought. But Leicestershire has something far more impressive. Head to Charnwood Forest, and you can find the oldest fossils of Earth. Here, you can meet Charnia Masoni, our earliest ancestor, which lived on the Earth over 540 million years ago. More than three thousand times older than humanity itself, these incredible fossils make castles seem modern.
Best for: An utterly Scottish experience.
What images spring to mind when you think of Scotland? For us it’s ancient castles, sitting atop rugged green hills. It’s silent lochs, covered in mist, and, of course, a hearty glass of whisky. If like us, you want your staycation in Scotland to be full of history, scenery and top-shelf Scotch, then Aberdeenshire is the perfect place.
This North East county is home to almost 300 castles, more per acre than anywhere else in the UK. It boasts eight award-winning distilleries to get you into the spirit of the northern nation, and some of the most beautiful lochs in the country. What more could you need?
Best for: A romantic trip for two.
When people look for romance, they usually head straight to Paris or the quiet canals of Venice. But connoisseurs of the English countryside will know that Cambridgeshire can beat them all. Grab ahold of your special someone and start your trip in Cambridge. Describing itself as ‘England’s most beautiful historic city’, its ancient streets are awash with an utterly English magic.
Once you’ve had your fill walking hand-in-hand past some of Britain’s most beautiful architecture, don your wellies and set off for a picturesque ramble through lush countryside, rolling hills and green forests. Or, give your feet a rest and take a lazy punt down the River Cam. Drifting through Cambridge, and onto Eastern England, this beautiful brook winds past riverside cottages, wild greenery and under picture-postcard bridges.
Best for: Reconnecting with your childhood.
Peter Pan is the story of a never-ending childhood. It’s a tale about holding onto your sense of whimsy, mischief and letting your spirit stay free. It’s also a tale that was inspired by the beautiful Dumfries landscape.
Nestled in the lush Scottish lowlands, Dumfries is an undulating county of rocky coasts, sandy beaches and almost endless acres of thick green forests. One look at this incredible county, and it’s easy to see how it could give birth to maybe the most famous children’s story ever told. While in Dumfries, why not catch a stage production of Peter Pan, at the oldest working theatre in Scotland, the Theatre Royal Dumfries?
Best for: A little bit of everything.
Sat as far East as its possible to be without wandering into the North Sea, Suffolk is one of those counties that offers a little bit of everything. It’s home to sandy beaches and rolling hills, salt marshes and city skylines. A long walk through Suffolk can serve up a bit of just about every kind of scenery England has to offer, along with the county’s own, cosy English vibe.
Speaking of cosy, Suffolk is also home to the smallest pub in Britain. Nestled in the heart of Bury St Edmunds, and recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records, the Nutshell’s quaint and incredibly snug interior is a favourite with tourists and locals alike.
Argyll and Bute
Best for: A big step off the beaten track.
Ready to take a walk in the wilderness and big step off the beaten track? When we think of a holiday in Argyll and Bute, we think of freedom. Nestled in the North East of Scotland, this collection of islands is a place to breathe pure air, watch spectacular sunsets and see starry skies far from the light pollution of the city. It’s a place where nature rules, where beauty grows untrimmed and where Celtic magic hides behind every turn.
Best for: Stepping into Medieval England.
Warwickshire is best known as the birthplace of the world’s most famous bard, William Shakespeare. Drive through the city today, almost 500 years since the playwright was born, and you’ll still see signs saying ‘Welcome to Shakespeare’s County’. But Warwickshire is much more than a home to the man who wrote Hamlet.
Boasting some of the most beautiful medieval market towns in Britain, a trip to Warwickshire is a trip back in time. Stay in perfectly preserved Tudor homes, and dine in ancient coaching inns, which once played host to England’s most infamous highwaymen.