Thinking of taking a trip somewhere in the UK this year? You’re not the only one! Check out my UK staycation ideas and holiday inspiration for a range of holiday destinations without going anywhere near an airport.
Coastguard Cottages, Seven Sisters, East Sussex
Please use this article for inspiration and planning until the area you want to travel to is up and running again. Please check ahead before your visit for up-to-date information. Check the latest Covid-19 Advice for the UK. This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in my disclaimer.
UK travel is opening up again this year. In England overnight stays in self-contained accommodation, like holiday cottages, are allowed for people who live in the same household from 12 April. Hotels are opening up again with stays allowed under the same guidelines from 17 May. Indoors, the Rule of 6 or 2 households will apply, if all goes well, which means holiday lets and cottages will be an option under those guidelines. Things are looking up!
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a wish list to choose from for your UK holiday inspiration or a bucket list for summer. If not, then I’ve got you covered with an assortment of UK staycation and holiday ideas that are guaranteed to scratch that travel itch until we can get back out in the big wide world.
This means now is the perfect time to start thinking about UK staycation ideas and destinations you want to explore this year. Britain has so much to offer from quaint villages, beautiful countryside, historic towns and stunning coastlines.
Ilfracombe, North Devon
UK staycation ideas and holiday inspiration for 2021
There are heaps of fabulous places in the UK and hopefully you’ve found my England travel guides useful. The following staycation ideas are a round-up of some of my top UK destinations and travel picks for 2021. I hope you find some great British holiday inspiration.
Ilfracombe, North Devon
We’ll start in the South West of England where Ilfracombe is the perfect holiday location for the whole family. It’s good for couples, solos and groups of friends too.
This small coastal town is packed with things to do and its status as the culinary and cultural core of North Devon continues to grow. Ilfracombe is often likened to St Ives in Cornwall and I’d agree – there are a lot of similarities.
Ilfracombe Harbour, North Devon
See and do
Visit the little harbour lined with old pubs and good restaurants. Buy fresh seafood from the harbourside stall and see Damien Hurst’s statue Verity. It’s so big that you can’t actually miss it.
For wildlife lovers there are boat trips to spot birds, seals, porpoises and dolphins or take a mini-cruise to the island of Lundy. Hikers will want to walk the part of the South West Coastal way which empcomasses the area’s stunning coastline.
For kids there’s an aquarium, lifeboat station and the Fish Trail which details the history and maritime heritage of the area. Ilfracombe’s stunning beaches are a huge draw, especially the sheltered Tunnels Beaches and shallow bathing pool. Read more about what to see and do in Ilfracombe, Devon
We stayed at Horizons, a lovely coastal themed apartment overlooking the harbour which we loved – read my review here. There are a range of B&Bs in the town and a huge selection of holiday cottages and rentals.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Ilfracombe? Check here for rates and availability
Cheddar in Somerset in the South West of England is a land of stunning scenery, the deepest natural gorge in the country, underground caves, glorious countryside and is also where Cheddar cheese is made. Do you really need any other reason to visit?
See and do
Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the edge of the Mendip Hills there’s plenty to see and do in Cheddar. From hiking the impressive gorge, gentle walks around the nearby reservoir and biking the Strawberry Line to exploring caves, hot tubbing and cheese tasting.
The picturesque village of Cheddar has a series of streams and waterfalls running through it. There’s an ancient market cross, entrance to Cheddar caves and plenty of cute tea rooms.
If you love cheese then pay a visit to Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company where you’ll learn how Cheddar is made and taste some of the different types of Cheddar. There are plenty of walks in the area and nature reserves for wildlife lovers. Glastonbury and the city of Wells are nearby for daytrips and more sightseeing.
Read more about things to do in Cheddar.
Strawberryfield Park luxury lodges, just outside Cheddar are great if you’re looking for a self-catering holiday. The modern luxury lodges are beautifully fitted with everything you need for fabulous staycation, including private hot tubs in each lodge. Check out my review of Strawberryfield Park.
The Bath Arms is within walking distance of the village and has an excellent restaurant serving traditional and Asian food.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Cheddar? Check here for rates and availability
St Ives, Cornwall
Any UK staycation ideas guide worth its salt includes a visit to Cornwall. As well as four beautiful beaches, St Ives is home to cute cobbled lanes, a pretty harbour complete with mini lighthouse and the Tate St Ives gallery.
Sheltered coves for sun-worshipers, amazing beaches for kids, and great surfing make St Ives the perfect destination for seaside lovers. The weather is pretty good too which is make or break for a UK staycation. The town sits on the Gulf Stream which means it enjoys more than its fair share of sunshine.
See and do
Explore the cobbled alleyways full of artist studios and galleries and for contemporary art pay a visit to Tate St Ives. Remember to check out the views from the rooftop café.
Enjoy a pint at the fourteenth century Sloop Inn before picking up a pasty to eat on the quayside. Serious hikers are well catered for with some superb scenic trails nearby as are surfers and beach-lovers. Read more in my post about St Ives.
Tregenna Castle Hotel sits on the hill overlooking St Ives harbour. Book into a castle room or one of the lodges in the grounds. Read my review of Tregenna Castle Hotel. If you’d prefer there are plenty of holiday cottages and holiday lets if you want to stay in the town itself.
Looking for somewhere to stay in St Ives? Check here for rates and availability.
The Lake District, Cumbria
I adore the Lake District and would spend half the year there if I could. If you love beautiful scenery, hiking, getting out on the water and pretty little lakeside towns then Cumbria’s for you.
See and do
There’s so much to see and do in the Lake District that I’m not sure where to start. If you’re looking for an active break in the Lake District there’s lots to keep you occupied from hiking, biking and climbing to paddle boarding, boating and chasing waterfalls. It’s a photographer’s dream. The Lake District has a host of adventure activities.
If you just want to take in stunning views, pretty villages and take a gentle hike or two then Cumbria’s got you covered. Literary fans can follow in Wordsworth’s footsteps and for younger family members Beatrix Potter’s tales will enchant.
Find yourself a base in one of the towns. Windemere, Ambleside or Kendal are good choices. If you want somewhere quieter then Arnside, where we’ve stayed twice, right in the south of Cumbria is a great spot. There are plenty of walks nearby and the estuary is beautiful.
Looking for somewhere to stay in the Lake District? Check out rates and availability
The Isle of Man
The Isle of Man is part of the British Isles, but is a self-governing kingdom that doesn’t belong to the UK, although the Queen is head of State. Even though the Isle of Man doesn’t strictly belong on a UK staycation list I’m including it here because it’s a fabulous place for a holiday and it is part of the British Isles.
The Isle of Man is a tiny island that sits in the middle of the Irish Sea and because you need to take a ferry (or a flight) to get there it kind of feels like you’ve travelled abroad. At just 52km long and 22km wide the island is easy to explore and a must for your holiday inspiration wish list.
See and do
The Isle of Man is a beautifully green island with rugged coastlines marked with ancient castles, towers and old stone circles. You’ll find pebbled coves, wide sandy beaches, cobbled harbours, lighthouses, the Laxey wheel and Snaefell mountain railway.
Walkers will love the island’s glens and waterfalls. For wildlife lovers seals, basking sharks, and dolphins can be spotted near the Calf of Man in the south. The Point of Ayre, at the northern tip of the island, is home to Ayres National Nature Reserve where oystercatchers and arctic terns nest in the dunes. Read more about things to do on the Isle of Man.
Douglas, the island’s capital or Peel are both good places to base yourself. Both are towards the centre of the island which makes it easy to explore. You’ll find good restaurants and plenty to do in the evenings.
Looking for somewhere to stay? Check out rates and availability on the Isle of Man
No holiday inspiration list would be complete without including the Cotswolds. Think pretty villages and market towns lined with honey-coloured stone cottages, ancient inns and quaint village shops. The Cotswolds is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales and a beautiful part of the UK to spend a weekend break or longer staycation.
See and do
Walkers and cyclists will be in their element exploring the gently rolling hills and countryside. There are over 3000 miles of trails and public walking footpaths. The towns and villages are chock full of character and history going as far back as the Romans and Anglo Saxon times.
Explore some of the villages, making sure you include time for afternoon tea. Bibury is home to Arlington Row. Built in 1380 this little row of weaver’s cottages is one of the most photographed spots in the Cotswolds. Broadway tower is a folly on Broadway Hill with fabulous views over the countryside.
A visit to a lavender field like Cotswold Lavender make a fabulous day out during a UK staycation. Check out my list of UK lavender fields.
The Slaughters (Upper and Lower) are pretty little villages to explore or head to bigger towns like Evesham or Cheltenham for the festivals and a buzzier feel.
There’s a huge choice from historic country house hotels to cute cottages, log cabins by the water or even treehouses.
Brighton, East Sussex
Our UK staycation guide takes us to the south coast next. I grew up just outside Brighton so I know it well. It’s a fabulous city for a weekend break or even a week as there’s a host of things to see and do close by like hiking the Seven Sisters Cliffs, visiting Rathfinny Vineyard and Brighton Marina as well as enjoying the city itself.
Brighton and Hove beach huts
See and do
The seafront will keep you busy for a day or two with Brighton Palace Pier, the promenade, the BAi360 tower, Sealife Centre, the upsidedown House, zip-wire, beach bars, clubs and restaurants all within a stone’s throw of the famous pebble beach.
The remains of the West Pier are the most photographed structure in the city and if you’re lucky you might spot a murmuration of starlings as the sun sets.
The Royal Pavilion will keep history buffs happy whilst shoppers and antique collectors will love The Lanes. The North Laine is more bohemian and artsy with loads of cool street art, vegan restaurants and shops. Discover more things to do in my Brighton post.
Murmuration of starlings, West Pier, Brighton
You’ll find plenty of hotels, B&Bs, boutique hotels, hostels and AirBnBs along the seafront. There’s something for every budget.
Check rates and availability for accommodation in Brighton.
Eastbourne, East Sussex
A short hop along the coast, 24 miles to be precise, and you’ll find Eastbourne, Brighton’s slightly quieter and more refined coastal cousin. Eastbourne sits right next to the South Downs National Park and has an altogether more genteel feel to it. Eastbourne is an excellent family holiday destination.
Eastbourne Pier, East Sussex
See and do
Four theatres and the Towner Art Gallery will keep you entertained along with performances and tribute bands on the iconic art deco bandstand.
Eastbourne has a gorgeous promenade which stretches four miles along the coast, a Victorian pier with the usual chippy, tea rooms and penny arcade. There’s also a perfectly preserved Napoleonic fort to visit, miniature steam railway and harbour for boat trips and sailing.
Nearby you’ll find Seven Sisters Country Park where you can kayak on the Cuckmere River or hike the Seven Sisters cliffs to Birling Gap. Read more about what to see and do in Eastbourne.
Eastbourne hosts some top events including the Eastbourne International Tennis Tournament, and Airbourne, the International Air Show.
You’ll find every kind of accommodation in Eastbourne from B&Bs to boutique hotels, glamping and holiday cottages. The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne is the only 5 star luxury hotel to be found on the British coastline.
Check out rates and availability for places to stay in Eastbourne
Rye, East Sussex
A personal favourite destination in my UK holiday inspiration guide is Rye in East Sussex. Rye, a Cinque Ports town, is perfect for a weekend break or, if you’d like to stay longer, there are plenty of things to keep you busy just a short jaunt away. Read my more in-depth post about things to do in Rye.
Mermaid Street, Rye, East Sussex
See and do
A picturesque town with crooked gabled houses, cobblestone lanes and ancient buildings, Rye is enchanting. Mermaid Street is probably the most Instaworthy view in the town and is home to the Mermaid Inn which dates back hundreds of years. There’s a small castle which looks out to sea and an old landgate.
You’ll find tea rooms, galleries, antiques and more independent shops than a town this small warrants. Rye also has more than its fair share of fabulous pubs and its own boutique cinema.
If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air then the massive swathe of beach at nearby Camber Sands is perfect for paddling, sandcastle building and picnics on the beach. Rye Harbour Nature Reserve a haven for over 280 species of bird is worth a wander.
Nearby Bodiam Castle is the castle of fairytales with the Kent and East Sussex Stream Railway just steps away. A clutch of England’s best vineyards are also close by and quirky Hastings Old Town is just half an hour’s drive away
Camber Sands near Rye, East Sussex
Check out accomodation in Rye, East Sussex
Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Laugharne, pronounced Larne, is a tiny town sitting on the edge of the Taf Estuary in West Wales. Laugharne, is perfect for a weekend break or, if you’d like to stay longer, there are plenty of things to keep you busy a little further afield.
Laugharne Castle, Carmarthenshire
See and do
With a brooding castle, a quaint little town, plus countryside and estuary walks, there’s a lot to like about Laugharne. There’re charming tea-rooms, cute cottages and as Laugharne is the place where Welsh poet Dylan Thomas lived for the last years of his life there’s a fascinating literary history too. For a small place Laugharne has a lot to offer.
There seems to be a large number of pubs for a small town. Brown’s Hotel and The Cross House Inn are two amongst many and both among the poet’s favourites.
Pay a visit to Laugharne Castle which looks out over the estuary. Inside you can visit the towers and the small summerhouse. I think the best view of the castle is from the outside just past the little bridge over the stream (above).
You’ll find The Boathouse, the house where Dylan Thomas lived with his family from 1949 to 1953 on the Estuary. It’s believed the poet worked on Under Milk Wood whilst living there. The Boathouse is now a museum, shop and tearoom which you can visit. Check the Boathouse website as you may need to pre-book. His writing shed is nearby.
There are walks aplenty in Laugharne, the Wales Coast Path runs through the town. Follow in Dylan Thomas’ footsteps on The Birthday Walk or take the Laugharne Heritage Trail through town and countryside or even combine the two for a longer walk.
We stayed in a luxury lodge at Dylan Coastal Resort on the hill overlooking the estuary which is a fabulous resort with spa and restaurant. You can also get a room in The Brown’s Hotel, Dylan Thomas’ favourite pub or the Boathouse Bed and Breakfast.
Check out rates and accommodation in Laugharne
That brings my list to an end for now but I’ve got some UK staycations of my own planned for later this year. I’ll be heading to South Wales, Dorset, The Isle of Wight and the Scottish Highlands. I’ll add details of these staycations to this holiday inspiration list after I’ve visited each one.
I hope you’ve found some tempting travel ideas here – let me know in the comments where you’re heading this year.
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In collaboration with Hotels.com, however, all views are my own