Close-to-home getaways

An idyllic UK holiday conjures up images of rural walks in rolling countryside. And while we love getting back to nature at every opportunity imaginable, the United Kingdom’s status as an island means there are a variety of holiday types on offer close to home.

You can pretty much do it all here, from long country strolls to beach holidays and city breaks – and you don’t even need to travel far to experience all three in one go. Some areas, such as Lincolnshire and Sussex, provide city vibes, sweeping coastlines and lush greens all within a few miles of each other.

Such diversity is a bonus during the Covid pandemic, which has us all stuck indoors. While we’ve got our fingers crossed for some form of normality this year, including jet setting off to far-flung destinations, for the time being, it’s all about the staycation.

We’ve put this guide together, looking at close-to-home getaways you can enjoy (lockdowns permitting) in the UK. And who knows? You may even find yourself opting for a beach break in Bournemouth or a historic holiday in York even when other countries welcome us back with open arms.

Brighton

To call Brighton “the beach of London” is a tad unfair as it offers far more than an escape from the capital. But the moment the sun comes out to play, you can bet that Londoners will zip down the A23 to be by the seaside. It might not be Barcelona or Rio de Janeiro, but a city and beach rolled into one offer plenty of fun things to do and see, even in the UK. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Brighton attracts more than 11 million visitors each year.

Ok, so the beach has pebbles rather than sand, but it’s still a relaxing day out where a dip in the sea is much encouraged during the warmer months. The city is also well known for its nightlife, where spots like Patterns and N0.32 hold iconic status amongst seasoned clubbers.

There’s also Brighton Pier with its rides and attractions that are suitable for young adults and the entire family. If you’re looking to add some style to your Brighton holiday, head to The Lanes. The old fishing town has been transformed into a lively neighbourhood with stylish restaurants, chic bars and tea rooms – just so you know you’re still in the UK.

The Cotswolds

If you were asked to create a postcard reflecting quintessential England, you could bet that it will feature an image of the Cotswolds. This English countryside offers quaint villages to the backdrop of outstanding natural beauty and is a favourite holiday spot with Brits.

Whether you’re in Burford or Bouton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold or Broadway, prepare to be taken aback by beautiful stone-walled cottages and cosy country pubs. It’s a great destination all-year-round, so you can enjoy long scenic walks in your wellies or bask in the sun by the local river streams.

Why not expand your visit with a trip to nearby Gloucestershire? There’s towns like Cheltenham with its shopping centre, and Stratford-upon-Avon, a historic town and the birthplace of a certain William Shakspeare.

Manchester

It’s not just the south of England where you’ll find all the fun holiday destinations. In the north, Manchester is proving itself a heavyweight city full of entertainment and culture. After going through extensive regeneration over the last couple of decades, the northern powerhouse now offers the perfect city break.

Foodies will delight at the culinary scene, with many Manchester restaurants named some of the best in the UK and awarded Michelin-star status. While culture vultures can visit places like The Lowry, a waterside gallery and theatre complex that showcases the best of local and international talent.

Manchester is full of eclectic neighbourhoods offering something for everyone. The Northern Quarter is where you’ll find bohemian vibes and hidden bars, while Castlefield offers peaceful settings with canalside restaurants and charming red-brick buildings. Then there’s Deansgate and the Trafford Centre, one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe and a shopaholic’s dream.

Lake District

England is full of natural beauty, and nowhere is that more prevalent than at the Lake District. Discover natural lakes and some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes in a close-to-home getaway that’s perfect for adventurers and romantics alike.

The Fells is one of the biggest draws in the Lake District and something you’ll certainly want to tick off your UK bucket list. The views from the summits of the mountains will have you rubbing your eyes in disbelief as you look on at the scenery in front of you.

Pretty villages like Kendal and Hawkshead are places to enjoy some pub grub in a traditional country inn, as well as embrace a warm welcome from the locals. There are also quirky museums to discover, such as Keswick Museum, which exhibits aspects of the landscape and the Lake District’s history.

Edinburgh

People come from all over the world to visit Edinburgh, but you’ll arrive in just a few hours for your staycation. With its Royal Mile, the Old Town is a must-visit destination where you’re encouraged to embrace city life in medieval quarters. The Georgian new town is just as attractive and features a range of restaurants, pubs and bars.

The Edinburgh Castle should be on your list of places to visit so you can embrace history wrapped up in a charming facade. There’s also The Palace of Holyroodhouse, another popular tourist attraction and the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland.

Back in the heart of the city, spend some time at Grassmarket, where public hangings used to take place (fortunately, it’s just boutique shops on cobbled streets these days). And don’t forget to take some time wandering around and soaking up all the beautiful architecture on show.

Tenby

A delightful harbour town and seaside resort in Wales, Tenby is the place to go for pastel-coloured buildings, historic ruins and beautiful beaches. Spend some time wandering the cobbled streets with their local restaurants, coffee shops and welcoming pubs, before heading to the hilltops to walled Old Town.

A fashionable holiday destination since the 19th century, Tenby still holds its status as a picturesque paradise in 2021. The beaches look like something straight off the front of a postcase and stretch to the north, west and south of the town; they will surely gain you a few hundred followers on Instagram, and they’re not bad for lazing about in the sun either.

While you’re in Tenby, why not extend your trip with a visit to Caldey Island? You can board a boat along the harbour and cruise to one of Britain’s holy islands. The remote spot is somewhere to find tranquillity and peace and has been a place of prayer for more than a thousand years.

There are so many unique places to visit in the UK, so you don’t need to feel too bad about not boarding a plane to a new destination – though you might not have to wait too long until it’s time to get those passports stamped again. And with Fly Now Pay Later, you can experience the holiday of a lifetime (whether it’s in an exotic location or something closer to home) by booking now and paying later for a hassle-free experience that lets you focus on the good stuff like enjoying the holiday you always dreamed about.

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