Short breaks are a great way to escape the daily grind and enjoy a change of pace for a few days. If you’ve been thinking of getting out of the city for a couple of days, why not check out these weekend getaways not too far from London? Skip the luxury hotels and try out a cosy, self-catering holiday cottage. Whether you’re looking to be beside the seaside or perhaps wanting to retreat to the English countryside, there’s something to suit everyone.
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Time to get there: 1.5-hour drive or up to 1 hour on the train.
How to get there: If you’re driving down, take the A2 and follow signs to Maidstone. For those travelling by train, use the Southeastern train service.
Known as the ‘Garden of England’, Kent has been the muse of famous authors throughout history, including Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Visit the medieval county town of Maidstone and you’ll find plenty of things to do. Take a stroll along the paths of Mote Park, a scenic parkland where you’re bound to find a fantastic picnic spot by the lake. On a rainy day, visit the Maidstone Museum, where you’ll discover Iggy the Iguanodon – dinosaur bones dating back millennia, unearthed in the town in 1834.
Featured property: Maplehurst Barn Stables, a snug barn conversion sleeping up to two guests. From £195 for two nights.
Where to visit: Leeds Castle has quite the history. It was once a Norman stronghold and a palace used by Henry VIII, as well as an elegant 20th-century retreat.
Where to eat: The Poet sits within a 17th-century building. Ideal for an evening meal, the restaurant is best known for its beautifully prepared and presented dishes.
2. Isle of Wight
Time to get there: 3 to 4-hour drive or 3 hours on the train.
How to get there: If you’re driving, take the A3 and follow signs down to Portsmouth Harbour and take a ferry. If you’re taking a train, get the South Western Railway service to Portsmouth Harbour. From here, take a hovercraft ferry to Ryde.
For those seeking sun, sea and sand, the Isle of Wight might be just what you’re looking for. This busy little island is renowned for its long sandy beaches and bustling promenades. Visit the island’s largest market town, Ryde, where its shallow waters and sandy beaches make it the perfect place to take a dip in the sea. For those who would rather stay on land, you’ll find a selection of boutique shops, bars and restaurants along the promenade.
Featured property: You can’t get much closer to the beach than at Shoreside, Royal Cliff, a seaside property with fantastic views. From £249 for two nights.
Where to visit: On your weekend trip, visit Ventnor Botanic Garden. Hosting a variety of international plants, its microclimate is close to that of the Mediterranean.
Where to eat: Accessible only by foot is the impressive Boathouse Restaurant. Book in advance in order to secure a table with views of one of the Island’s best beaches.
Where to drink: Found at the water’s edge in Shanklin, The Fisherman’s Cottage is an inviting pub with a pretty beach garden.
Time to get there: 3 to 4-hour drive or 2.5 hours on the train.
How to get there: If you’re driving, you’ll need to get on the M3 until Junction 8. From here, follow the A303 into Devon. For those travelling via train, get on the Great Western Railway (GWR) service to Devon.
Home to wild moorlands, medieval towns and an abundance of sandy beaches, Devon has something for everyone to fall in love with. For those seeking an adventure-packed weekend, there’s plenty of opportunities in this beautiful county. Take to the waves and have a go at surfing on the coast or hire a mountain bike and visit the county’s forest parks for an exhilarating ride among the trees. Of course, there’s always the option to relax by the seaside for the whole weekend!
Featured property: Bothy is a romantic hideaway for two, surrounded by woodlands and gardens. From £245 for two nights.
Where to visit: The award-winning Royal Albert Memorial Museum features a diverse collection of over one million objects.
Where to eat: Set within a 1920’s style beach hut, The Winking Prawn serves up hearty English breakfasts, fish lunches and fresh buckets of prawns.
Where to drink: The Hope and Anchor is a modern, coastal retreat in the secluded seaside village of Kingsbridge. Enjoy a drink as you watch the waves roll by.
Time to get there: 1 hour and a 50-minute drive or 1 hour on the train.
How to get there: For those travelling via car, follow the signs to Brighton using the A23 and M23. If you’ll be heading down by train, take the Southern line that goes directly to Brighton.
Take a break from London and head to the coast! The popular seaside resort of Brighton offers picture-postcard seaside views from its historic pier. The Grade-I listed pier has been entertaining visitors since 1823 and is still a bustling attraction today. It’s now home to a collection of fairground rides, restaurants and food stalls. In true seaside holiday tradition, don’t forget to grab a stick of rock while you’re there!
Featured property: Pelham Square is a period cottage sleeping five, ideally located in the centre of Brighton. From £448 for two nights.
Where to visit: The Royal Pavilion is an extravagant and exotic palace dating back to the 18th-century. Inside, you’ll discover its lavish interior and priceless treasures.
Where to eat: Inspired by the traditional American diner, visit Compass Point Eatery for breakfast and enjoy their fluffy, buttermilk pancakes.
Where to drink: Visit The Station Hotel for a great choice of cask ales. This family-run pub and sports bar is popular with both locals and visitors alike.
5. New Forest
Time to get there: 1 hour and a 40-minute drive or 1 hour and 35 minutes on the train.
How to get there: If you’re driving, get on the M4 and follow signs onto the M3 for Southampton. Then, take the M271 down to Totton. If you’re travelling by train, take the South Western Railway to Southampton Central. Change here and catch a train to Totton.
Enjoy a relaxing weekend break in the New Forest and discover its idyllic heathlands, glades and ancient woodlands. As stunning as national parks like the Lake District but much closer to get too, you’re never too far from nature with deer, donkeys and ponies freely roaming its fairytale forests. There’s plenty of walking trails for you to explore all of its wild beauty so it’s a great place for those looking to take their four-legged friends along with them for an adventure.
Featured property: Located in the heart of the New Forest National Park, Brookside Cottage is a dog-friendly property sleeping seven guests. From £756 for two nights.
Where to visit: Nature lovers won’t want to miss the New Forest Wildlife Park, home to wolves, lynx, otters and the elusive Scottish wildcat.
Where to eat: Lanes is a chef-owned restaurant in the town of Lymington. They pride themselves on using fresh, seasonal ingredients to create quality British dishes.
Where to drink: Grab a drink in The London Tavern, a traditional guesthouse with live music and a wide range of draft ales, and ciders, as well as an extensive wine list.
6. The Cotswolds
Time to get there: 2-hour drive and 2.5 hours on the train.
How to get there: The fastest route via car is the M40. At Junction 8, take the A40 exit following signs to Cheltenham. If you’re travelling via train, take the GWR service to Gloucester Railway Station. From here, the 853 bus travels into the Cotswolds.
City breaks will often leave you more exhausted than when you first arrived. Grab your walking boots and escape to the Cotswolds, where you’ll be surrounded by quaint, picturesque villages and verdant, rolling hills. Stay in a country house or a secluded cottage to enjoy the peace and tranquillity this stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offers each and every one of its guests.
Featured property: Rose Cottage No2 sleeps up to four guests. With its thatched roof and pretty garden, it looks straight out of a storybook. From £282 for two nights.
Where to visit: Visit The Royal Gardens at Highgrove, the home of Prince Charles and Camilla. Here you’ll find an impressive display of beautiful trees and plants.
Where to eat: Huffkins Burford is a long-established tea room and bakery. Treat yourself to an indulgent afternoon tea, served with delicious homemade scones.
Where to drink: Aptly named, The Village Pub is a traditional country pub located in Barnsley. Cosy up in front of the open fire and try a local Cotswolds ale.
7. The Lake District
Time to get there: 5-hour drive or 3.5 hours on the train.
How to get there: Those driving will need to follow the M40 and the M6 until Junction 36. From here, follow the A591 into the national park. Those travelling by train will need to take the Avanti West Coast rail service to Preston. From here, change onto the Northern line to reach the Lake District.
If you’d prefer something a little more rural than a typical city break, venture over to the Lake District and discover the natural beauty of this famed national park. This stunning area sees over 19 million visitors a year, thanks to its collection of glacial lakes, verdant valleys and craggy mountainscapes. It’s the perfect playground for hikers and cyclists but if you’d prefer to take it easy, there’s plenty of quaint and historic market towns to explore.
Featured property: St Francis Cottage, a cosy cottage in Duddon Valley, sleeping up to three. From £269 for two nights.
Where to visit: Keen explorers should visit Cathedral Cave. This network of old slate quarries is located just above the Little Langdale Valley.
Where to eat: Baldry’s is a vintage style tearoom located in the heart of Grasmere village and has been renowned for over 25 years for their home baking.
Where to drink: Situated right on the shores of beautiful Lake Windermere, the Wateredge Inn is the ideal place to enjoy a relaxing drink.
Time to get there: 4 to 6-hour drive or 4.5 hours on the train.
How to get there: If you’re travelling by car, you’ll need to get on the A303 and then the A30 to reach Cornwall. For those hopping on the train, take the Great Western Railway (GWR) service down to Cornwall.
Take a break from London and all its hustle and bustle by escaping to the seaside for a few days. In Cornwall, you’re never too far from a recognised area of outstanding natural beauty. Whether it’s the sandy beaches and hidden coves of St. Agnes or the Camel Estuary where wildlife thrives, you’ll discover breathtaking landscapes from every corner of this beautiful county. Stay in one of its picture-postcard harbour villages to soak up the glorious coastal sights or surround yourself in its peaceful woodlands.
Featured property: Quarryman’s Cottage, a secluded woodland home that can sleep a family of four. From £235 for two nights.
Where to visit: On your weekend break, head out on a voyage of discovery and visit the National Maritime Museum for intriguing exhibits.
Where to eat: The Old Quay House is a 19th-century riverside restaurant, located on the Fowey estuary. Its spacious dining terrace is a great place to enjoy afternoon teas.
Where to drink: The Star and Garter is a 19th-century pub with a unique and contemporary menu, boasting incredible views over Falmouth Harbour.