Going abroad can be a real treat, unfortunately due to recent circumstances we all appreciate the luxury of freedom a lot more now. However, there’s no stopping summer and we don’t want to be missing out on any fun and excitement.
Whether you’re planning solo travel, family holiday, or a trip with your buddies, the United Kingdom has some of the best holiday destinations that you should not fail to see!
Below are many ideas of beautiful quaint villages, sublime countryside and dramatic mountains, not forgetting the cities & seaside to ”holi-stays” in the UK, for when we are allowed out and about of course!
Where to Go in the UK…
It’s easy to get confused about the UK, especially the nations that it binds. For a start, the UK is not all about England. It is also composed of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland which means that you have more options to check when in search of UK summer holiday destinations.
So before you pack your summer beauty essentials in your bag, here’s a summary of what to explore in each nation in the United Kingdom.
The most popular of all UK nations, England has a variety of destinations for all types of travellers. Here you can get a dose of both country and urban living. It also boasts of attractions from empty beaches and coasts to historic landmarks and national parks.
While it may seem like Scotland is an empty nation, it doesn’t fall short in offering great summer destinations. If you are the adventurous type, you’ll find here some of the most breath-taking highlands, borders, and moor landscapes that you’d want to explore. Not to mention, it is where you can find Glasgow and Edinburgh, the most famous cities in the UK where you can experience an unforgettable getaway!
If you want your summer getaway to be as perfect as the ones you read in storybooks, Wales is the place to be. Complete with castles, it offers a location that would be perfect for sightseeing and strolling as it is mostly rural as compared to other UK nations. It is also in Wales where you can find awesome beaches and heritage coastlines.
Northern Ireland can be considered as a ‘late bloomer’ among nations in the UK that are known as tourist destinations. The place is booming with historic landmarks, gorgeous rural landscapes, and world heritage sites.
Must See UK Summer Destinations
Certainly, there are enough destinations in the UK to fill your bucket list. Start dreaming about enjoying the warmth of the sun, the sound of the waves, the feel of sand beneath your toes, or being embraced by a picturesque landscape in your home country!
Reach new heights - If you look forward to getting up close with nature plus engaging in a lot of activities, Snowdonia relatively serene location in North Wales, Snowdonia is geared towards making memorable experiences with Mother Nature. It offers a series of outdoor activities that include nature walks, hiking, cycling, bungee jumping, rowing and much more.
Make sure not to miss The Llyn Tegid Bala Lake and Castell Harlech Castle. Plus explore The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways which stretch for 40 miles through the Snowdonia National Park and allows you to explore pretty villages, rolling countryside and natural attractions, such as waterfalls and lakes. Take a trip to Wales' beauty spots with a five-day rail adventure.
Planning a quick trip to the beach? Southport won’t fail you. Referred to as a classic Victorian town, it offers beautiful beaches plus a lot more! You’re sure to get your dose of holiday fun even with limited time as it hosts recreational areas from golf courses, theatres, casinos to botanical gardens.
3. SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS
Embark on a different adventure in the epic Scottish Highlands. If you have grown tired of theme parks and you don’t feel like exploring coastlines, you can check out the wildest landscapes and natural sights that don’t fall short in bringing a homey feel, famed for its majestic castles, including the 14th century Cawdor Castle, which featured in Shakespeare's Macbeth.
What to do:
Hike the Cairngorms, Spot dolphins at Chanonry Point, See the highest mountain in the British Isles or turn on your ‘Harry Potter’ vibe at the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
One of its most breath-taking attractions, the Jacobite steam train, making its way across the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct, which was a star in the Harry Potter movies, this magnificent railway journey takes you close to Ben Nevis, Loch Morar and Loch Nevis.
Dunrobin and Her Majesty the Queen Mother's former home the Castle of Mey are other must-visits. On a four-day tour themed around the castles and gardens, you'll have the very best Highlands experience, watching a falconry display, visiting the stunning gardens of The Lookout at North Kessock and be taken around the Inverness Botanic Gardens by Colin Crosbie, who was the head gardener to the Queen Mother.
Popularly known as the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh doesn’t fail to offer a range of sensory attractions to visitors. Whether you’re hoping to experience its rich culture, find entertainment for the whole family, or attend all sorts of festivals, you’re sure to find it in Edinburgh.
5. BELFAST & DUBLIN
Want to experience Irish culture? Belfast is the place to go. Aside from its rich history, it also offers what holiday-goers usually look for–activities, festivals, landmarks, and even culinary treats.
A visit to Belfast won’t be complete without checking out Albert Clock.
The capital of Ireland, Dublin is the most populous city in Ireland and where most cheap flights to Ireland will take you. Don’t miss the Trinity College Library, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Green, and Dublin Castle.
Try taking a guided tour of Dublin which contains many of the top sites in Ireland and then getting out of the city to see what the rest of the amazing island has to offer.
6. THE ISLE OF WIGHT
Whether you’re a savvy for history or a beach buff, the Isle of Wight serves holiday-goers the kind of summer holiday in the UK, the way they imagined it to be. The place is packed with vast stretches of sandy coast and even rocky beaches. Not to mention, the old-fashioned feel of the island has made the place more beautiful. On one side, it is also the place to check a range of attractions from the best places for a day trip to palatial holiday homes!
Aside from being recognized as a location that breathes Celtic history, Cornwall also boasts of beautiful coastlines, fishing harbors, and a diverse landscape that all contribute to making the place an award-winning tourist destination.
Did you know?
Cornwall is home to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, known for the world’s oldest and largest collection of items relating to magic, terrifying mirrors, lucky charms, spell-casting stones, and even mummified cats!
Want to give your vacation a feel of what you usually read in storybooks? Don’t miss Pembrokeshire! This destination is not just home to scenic beaches and coastlines, Here, you’ll also spot castles, including the historic Pembroke Castle. This stunning fortress offers the most beautiful views of lush greenery surrounding it.
Looking for dark skies? At a time when finding a place in London for astral gazing has become more difficult with lights flooding places to make them brighter, Exmoor makes an exemption.
In the country, it has the darkest skies in the country which creates the perfect formula for getting the most mesmerizing astral views.
Where to Go:
Once night time hits, go on an astral gazing trip by heading off to Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, Webbers Post, Anstey Gate, Haddon Hill or Wimbleball Lake.
If you’re planning a family getaway this summer in the UK, you should visit Llandudno. It brings you close to some of the best parks and hiking trails in Wales, including the famous Alice in Wonderland themed walks! But that’s not all, it is also home to Conwy, a World Heritage Site.
However many times you've visited London, there's always more to explore and if you're fascinated by the UK capital's royal history, take a tour around Buckingham, Kensington or Hampton Court palace, the Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey
If you are considering a trip to London, include Berkshire and Surrey. As you delve into the world of the UK royal family at a time when all eyes remain on the younger royals, Princes William and Harry, and Duchesses Kate and Meghan, you can find private tours of Windsor Castle, a visit to the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace and a look inside Westminster Abbey.
Fancy exploring more at your own pace, include Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, the Tower of London and The Royal Botanical Kew Gardens, not to mention all the museums, culinary delights, the West End theatres and navigate your way through the tube!
Just an hour from London lies one of Britain's top wellness retreats, Grayshott Spa, where you can bliss out in the Surrey countryside on a relaxing spa break. The spa sits among 47 acres of manicured gardens, with views from the bedrooms facing the lake, pool or garden - how's that for serenity? A spa break here is about wellness with an indulgent twist - think healthy yet delicious meals created by a dietitian and a whole host of treatments, from reflexology to detoxifying body scrubs.
On a short break to the retreat, you'll stay in a comfy room, enjoy tasty meals, treatments, guided walks and access to the on-side professionals, such as nutritionists and holistic practitioners.
Not only do you have Surrey’s beautiful Box Hill and Virginia Water park which is renowned for its lakes, historic treasures and totem pole; take a trip to Painshill Park in Cobham with its awesome views and surreal follies. You're sure to find Surrey's parks and gardens a pleasure to discover through the seasons.
Think quintessential English country gardens and you probably picture wildflowers, impressive topiary and backdrops of honey-coloured houses found in the Cotswolds. Home to marvellous gardens, such as at Prince Charles' home Highgrove House and the amazing Hidcote Manor.
Spa breaks are one of our favourite ways to spend a staycation and with an array of spas up and down the country, it can be hard deciding on the right place for that well-earned R&R - but there's one place spa lovers should know about. Nestled in the glorious Leicestershire countryside, Ragdale Hall makes for a heavenly rural escape, with facilities that go far beyond those found at your average spa.
Housed in an attractive Victorian manor house, Ragdale Hall boasts a total of six pools (yes, really), including a rooftop infinity pool, treatments that range from massages to manicures, fitness classes and cosy rooms to make you feel right at home.
15. KENT AND SUSSEX
When the temperatures rise and Britain is in bloom, nothing says summer more than a visit to a quintessential English country gardens and pebble beaches. Some of the loveliest ones are found in Southeast England, with the likes of Sissinghurst Castle Gardens, Great Dixter, Scotney Castle and Lullingstone Castle providing stunning displays of English roses and lavender.
KENT - can also offer 900 rare and endangered animals, where you ask… Go on a safari at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve. Home to the UK's original and authentic safari experiences, Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve offers a unique family adventure like no other zoo! Set in over 600 acres, you will be transported to the plains of Africa and Asia to see animals roaming freely, then explore on foot to see big cats, small cats, primates, gorillas and many more animals before discovering life sized prehistoric creatures in Dinosaur Forest.
SUSSEX – countryside views and beachs aren’t all there is to offer, take Sussex’s Bluebell Railway, one of the most insane railway journeys at any time of year. The UK’s oldest preserved standard-gauge railway, it's run by volunteers and takes you through 11 miles of gorgeous scenery.
The old stations where you'll stop are a treat too - don't miss a look around Sheffield Park, which harks back to the 1880s, and Horsted Keynes, which transports you to the 1920s. You can take a nostalgic train ride on the Bluebell and do seal spotting in Chichester Harbour, what more could you ask for?!
Less photographed and talked about than its neighbours Sussex and Dorset, Hampshire doesn’t get a lot of airtime—but the best things to do in Hampshire are pure fun. It's one of England's beauties, and a brilliant place to visit. From pretty pebble beaches to forests full of wild ponies, chefs doing delicious things with fresh, local produce and one of the UK’s best gin distilleries (which you can taste your way around) it’s a perfect pick for a day out or a weekend away.
Places to visit & things to do:
Take a trip to Winchester, Hampshire’s ancient cathedral city is rammed with cool places to eat right now. The New Forest ponies, Southwest Hampshire, wild ponies, trotting freely around one of England’s most incredible landscapes. Stretching from Salisbury to the Solent, the New Forest’s 285 square miles of heathland and trails are home to 5,000 four-legged locals which have had the legal right to graze there for thousands of years. Make sure to factor in any car journey delays, as these beauties are known for chilling out in the middle of the road, causing a few short traffic delays, fun ones at least!
The Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Laverstoke. Hampshire has strong links to the navy (hello, sailor), so it makes sense that gin is a big deal here. Bombay Sapphire’s distillery is housed in a mill that dates back to the Domesday Book, and has the River Test running through its grounds.
Hayling Island Just south of Havant, this traditional seaside spot has always been the place to go for fun in the sun – in fact, windsurfing was invented here. There’s nowhere nicer in Hampshire to spend a hot summer’s day: walk or cycle the Hayling Billy coast path, or just lounge by the water with a picnic.
The Pig, in The New Forest. Deep in the New Forest, The Pig at Brockenhurst isn’t so much a hotel as an incredible restaurant with rooms. Classy without being stuffy, and welcoming to all, it’s a treat to visit for lunch: everything from snacks like Spenwood cheese straws to purple sprouting broccoli (picked that morning) and local wood pigeon is a delicious eye-opener.
Last but not least, you can visit Jane Austen’s House in Chawton.
With its royal connections, wildlife spotting opportunities and lovely river scenes, Norfolk is an absolute must-see - and there's no better person to experience it with than former royal correspondent Jennie Bond. On a celebrity-led tour, you'll visit the Sandringham Estate, the Norfolk Broads and villages like Wroxham and Horning.
You can drink in the amazing landscapes - from unspoilt countryside dotted with windmills to pretty market towns - with relaxing train rides on the Bittern Line, Poppy Line, Bure Valley Railway and the Mid-Norfolk Railway.