We all know that London is fantastic for a night on the town and a trip to the theatre, Bath has some beautiful architecture, and the Lake District is home to some of the most gorgeous countryside views that the UK has to offer; however, when you’re looking for your next UK staycation, why not think outside the box? Here are some of the UK’s best-kept secrets for a fantastic weekend away, or even longer if you’ve decided to fully embrace the staycation style of holidaying. Check out our unexpected UK spots for a surprising escape not-too-far away from home.
Beautiful County Durham is a magical area of northeast England where you’ll find the 900-year-old Durham Cathedral and the majestic Durham Castle, both not to be missed. If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, then there’s plenty on offer with the spectacular Durham Dales and the medieval Raby Castle and its surrounding 200-acre deer park.
The area around Sedgewick is among the most attractive in the county. The 120 acres of Hardwick Country Park offers easy walks for all abilities. Darlington and Middlesbrough are close by, as is the stunning Durham Heritage Coast with miles of beaches, dramatic cliffs, and wild headland to roam about.
Fancy venturing further afield? The historic Durham City is just 30 minutes south of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Must-dos within easy driving distance also include browsing the designer boutiques in the small town of Yarm and enjoying excellent views of the vast wetland from Saltholme Nature Reserve.
For navy and history buffs, plan a visit to Britain’s oldest warship on display at the Hartlepool Maritime Experience. Other nearby attractions include taking a sojourn around Sedgefield Racecourse, and wrapping up warm to go hiking in the North Pennines – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Beautiful Warwickshire is where you’ll find the home of William Shakespeare, Warwick Castle and, for those with a sweet tooth, Cadbury’s World. There are several good golf courses in the area, for those who like to holiday with their five-iron in tow, and plenty of National Trust properties for long afternoon walks.
Spend a day discovering Stratford-upon-Avon and its fascinating relationship with William Shakespeare at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Houses and Gardens. Visit the beautiful Holy Trinity Church, the final resting place of Anne Hathaway and Shakespeare. Nearby you’ll also find the supremely pretty towns of Warwick with its medieval castle and the Victorian spa town of Royal Leamington Spa, which are within a 30-minute drive.
Coventry is likewise great for a daytrip (or more) – the cathedral, transport museum and Herbert Art Gallery & Museum are among its top sights, and it’s also home to Warwick Art Centre, the second largest art centre in the UK. You could easily spend a whole day admiring and exploring Warwick Castle.
Retreat to the Wiltshire countryside and embrace some of the area’s best attractions. Go wild at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park or spend time in the beautiful city of Bath.
A verdant city with a Gothic cathedral at its heart, medieval Salisbury is a place that stands out. Stock up on fresh farmers’ produce at its outdoor Charter Market, take a romantic stroll along the River Avon, soak up the history at Mompesson House, and don’t miss a chance to see the famous Magna Carta. Sights worth seeing as you wander the city’s old streets include the stately Wilton House, the Old Sarum Iron Age fort, the Salisbury Museum and, of course, wandering along the cathedral’s cloisters. Those travelling through Wiltshire can’t pass up on the opportunity to visit the prehistoric Stonehenge.
The Berkshire countryside is surrounded by acres of green rolling hills and serene woodland. There is plenty of scope here to get outdoors, with a wide variety of footpaths and walking trails nearby. There are several Bronze Age mounds dotted throughout the area, and excavations have shown that they were used for burials when the Anglo-Saxons moved into the area.
Reading town is famous for its shopping facilities and riverside restaurants, as well as its long-standing music festival. Top sights here include the Reading Museum, a gallery exhibiting a Victorian replica of the famous Bayeux Tapestry, as well as the ruins of the 12th-century Reading Abbey – where a King of England is buried.
If it’s a spot of history that interests you, take a trip to the ruins of the Kennet and Avon Canal as well as the Riverside Museum. For horticultural & nature enthusiasts, the Forbury Gardens are not to be missed. What’s more, the Royal County of Berkshire is surrounded by the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so there’s plenty of day-long trails and breath-taking views to be discovered.
Why not head to Herefordshire? If you’re in the mood to explore then the nature-filled surroundings of Herefordshire are ideal; bring your bikes and traverse the cycle-friendly countryside, taking in the trademark monochrome-hued villages of the Black and White Trail, kayak along the River Wye or tee off on one of the nearby golf courses. For a dose of culture, pay a visit to Eardisley to catch a glimpse of the Elizabethan architecture on display at the charming Kinnersley Castle or cross the Welsh border to Hay-on-Wye, a quaint town famed for its string of browse-worthy book shops.
While you could easily spend your time browsing all the shops in Hereford’s bustling town centre, there’s plenty more to do in the area: why not learn about Herefordshire’s cider-making heritage, or visit Hereford Cathedral and marvel at the 13th-century shrine of St. Thomas of Hereford? A little further afield, you also have the Brecon Beacons, Forest of Dean, and the Malvern Hills for long country walks.
You also have the option of two more cathedral cities – Worcester and Gloucester – as well as the charming spa towns of Great Malvern and Cheltenham. For those seeking some fresh air, the rolling Malvern Hills are right on your doorstep, brimming with rambling walking routes and picture-perfect English villages. The acclaimed International Bird of Prey Centre can be found just outside Newent.
Lincolnshire’s surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be explored either by foot, bike, or car. For the active travellers, spend a day or two walking through the lush Lincolnshire Wolds with their unspoilt beauty, hills, valleys, and marshlands, and quaint towns along the way.
Take a tour of St Botolph’s Church, Blackfriars Theatre, Boston Market, and more. If shopping’s more your thing, antique dealers, quirky boutiques, and various market stalls can be found. Blow out the cobwebs with a waltz across the Wolds or head towards the coast for some rejuvenating sea air.
In North East Lincolnshire, you have the option of both Grimsby and Cleethorpes for a relaxing weekend away. Start with a little shopping at Abbeygate, a quiet shopping centre dotted with boutiques, before heading to Docks Beers for a brewery tour and beer-tasting. Over in Cleethorpes, why not stroll along the beach, or grab some traditional fish and chips and while away some time at the pier.