Staycations are here to stay! With more and more flights being delayed or even cancelled, and their prices rising daily, we’ve got to stop neglecting our own shores and rushing abroad. We’re past thinking that a holiday requires you to leave the UK when we’ve got so many incredible destinations right here at home.
There’s a reason that millions of travellers flock to the UK each year and this is your chance to discover it! Anything you’d look for in mainland Europe can be found right here in the UK. We’ll take you through our top UK alternatives for European destinations, from vineyards to beaches, road trips to picturesque villages, here’s a taste of Europe right here in the UK.
Who doesn’t love wine tasting? But for some reason, we only consider visiting vineyards when we’re visiting France or Italy, despite having some incredible vineyards right here in the UK. Here are our three favourite vineyards, all of which offer tours and wine tastings!
Castlewood Vineyards, Devon
Spread across the hills, beneath the ancient fort of Musbury Castle, lies Castlewood Vineyards. It specialises in fizz from the renowned champagne blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. These are also uniquely blended with a few of the lesser-known varieties that appear in English soils, including Reichensteiner, Madeleine Angevine and Seyval Blanc.
They frequently collaborate with the nearby Lyme Bay Winery, and aim for natural blends with minimal intervention. Head over for a lovely vineyard tour and picnic lunch in this beautiful area. You can also enjoy the Wine & Dine experience, and follow the vineyard tour with a two-course lunch in Hugh’s famous farmhouse!
Breaky Bottom Winery, Sussex
Situated in a secluded valley deep in the South Downs on isolated farmland, this is one of the more hidden Sussex vineyards. Breaky Bottom Winery has six acres of vines and is a small-scale family-run business. Their top-quality wines have gained a reputation for excellence and focus on attention to detail. Some of their best products include a high-quality Sparkling Brut and Seyval Blanc. Tour the vineyard, and enjoy the beautiful grassy lands. The tours are simple, but priced accordingly, and will be a lovely activity on a sunny day whilst visiting the surrounding area.
Simpson’s Wine Estate, Kent
After 16 years of producing rosé in Languedoc, France, Charles and Ruth Simpson chose to relocate to Kent and apply this expertise to English winemaking. Their vineyard is situated in Kent’s North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is one of the most beautiful vineyards to visit. They proudly create one of the country’s top-quality still wines, the acclaimed Roman Road Chardonnay and will be releasing their first sparkling rosé soon.
Visit Simpson’s Wine Estate for a ‘Sunset Session’ tour that begins with a stroll around the famed Roman Road vineyard. This is followed by a tasting and a winery visit. Your ticket also includes a platter of locally sourced cheese and charcuteries.
There are few things in life as freeing as a road trip! You get to be in charge of everything, not anchored by public transport schedules or wasting hours in a queue at the airport. You leave when you want to leave, and you go where you want to go. Make the journey as much fun as the destination, and enjoy the beauty of the open road. And we actually have some of the best road trips right here in the UK.
North East 250
The North East 250 is similar to the North Coast 500, winding through the captivating regions of Speyside, the Cairngorms, Aberdeen, Royal Deeside, the East Coast and the Moray Coast. It’s considered by many to be the best-kept motoring secret.
It’s shorter than other road trips, and so it’s perfect for those wishing to spend less time driving and more time exploring all the attractions and sites along the route. This road trip around Scotland is also ideal for those who enjoy a nice malt, as it spans the Malt Whisky Trail and offers the opportunity to visit some of the most famous distilleries in the world - such as Glenlivet. The route is also lined with dozens of mountains - or as the Scottish would call them, Munros- of over 3,000 ft.
Isle of Skye
A little more well-known than the NE250, and just as beautiful, the Isle of Skye road trip is a true gem of Scotland.
You can easily do this road trip in four days, or extend it for a more relaxed trip. Highlights include the Fairy Pools, Dunvegan Castle, and the Old Man of Storr. There are plenty of campsites along the route, and it’s a gorgeous drive, often with a sea view. This is the perfect coastal road trip, and far more beautiful than anything you’ll find abroad.
Considered to be one of the most scenic coastal landscapes in the world, the Norfolk Coast is a must-see and one of our favourite road trips in England. Within minutes of driving, it’ll be clear why these 280 miles of coastline are a protected region and classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This short road trip is perfect for a weekend away and is only 70 miles in total.
Forget flying to Spain or Portugal to sit on an overcrowded and frankly too warm beach. We’ve been having gorgeous summers right here in the UK, so make the most of this good weather by visiting local beaches. Here are some of our top picks of British beaches that will make you feel like you’re sunning yourself abroad.
Chesil beach, Dorset
Running uninterrupted for 18 miles, Chesil beach has plenty of space for beach-lovers. Keep in mind that the current can be strong, so it’s not ideal for young children. Dogs are permitted but must be kept on a lead to protect bird nests surrounding the beach. There are lovely walking routes around the beach, and nearby villages worth visiting for a spot of afternoon tea.
Woolacombe beach, Devon
Known as one of the finest beaches in the West Country, Woolacombe beach has won many awards. It’s particularly popular with families and surfers, and there are lifeguards present for safety.
Despite being a popular seaside destination, there’s always space on this beach and plenty of car parking spots. Head here for a sunny day, or make it a longer trip to visit Devon!
Anglesey is the proud home of six Blue Flag Beaches; Benllech, Llanddwyn, Church Bay, Trearddur Bay, Llanddona and Porth Dafarch. All these beaches earned their waving Blue Flag through their high standard of water quality, safety, cleanliness and other excellent facilities. Seven other beaches on the island have won a Seaside Award, ensuring you’ll be spoiled for choice!
Head to Anglesey for a proper beach holiday, and try a different beach each day of your trip.
Ballintoy Harbour, Northern Ireland
Hmmm… look a little familiar? As with a lot of Northern Ireland, you might spot this raised beach from Game of Thrones!
There’s a small fishing harbour and small shops nearby in case you need anything. This beach is particularly popular with local artists, as it’s incredible at sunset and sunrise. There’s a lovely coastal route, so why not walk this before resting up at the beach?
One of the highlights of visiting countries like Belgium or the Netherlands is walking through the picturesque villages, all with their unique charm. But that same sentiment can be captured right here in the UK, in these cosy villages tucked away in the countryside.
The Cotswolds, England
So quintessentially English, this postcard-perfect destination is only 2 hours from London. You could spend a long weekend, or more, exploring Castle Combe, Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water. Bring a bike or a pair of hiking boots and explore this stunning area.
Our favourite thing to do in the Cotswolds is to visit the Model Village, an exact replica of Bourton-on-the-Water complete with miniature gardens. Adventure lovers and those with little ones will adore the Dragonfly Maze, a classic maze and puzzle game that will have you exploring for hours.
This village was planned to be this perfect, built in the 19th century to house fishermen and crofters. The whitewashed cottages are organised so neatly, all facing the sea, that they almost seem to stand to attention. It’s a quieter village, perfect for couples looking to spend time together away from the bustle of daily life. You can also spot seals basking in the sunlight!
Considered by many to be the most photogenic village in Scotland, Shieldaig is the perfect getaway. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped straight into the pages of a storybook, with small cottages lining the pebbly shore and mountains rising in the background. You can take walks around the loch, visit Shieldaig Island and enjoy a cup of tea in a cafe.
Portstewart, Northern Ireland
On the scenic northern Atlantic coast, you’ll find this bustling harbour town. It’s home to boutique shops, art galleries and ample pubs and restaurants. This is the ideal destination for those who just can’t sit still on holiday. It’s accompanied by a 2-mile stretch of golden sand along Blue Flag-winning waters, ideal for swimming, surfing or simply snoozing.
Many visit Llangrannog as a day trip from nearby New Quay or Cardigan, but we recommend taking a weekend to rest in this picturesque village. It’s built around the hill, with grassy land surrounding it and a beach to look out upon. Visit the St Carannog Church and take in the spectacular view.
And there you have it, 15 destinations that will make you feel like you’ve been whisked away on a European getaway, without having to leave home! These destinations are all great alternatives for your summer trip that save you the hassle of flying abroad.
Hire a campervan for your holiday to make a true experience out of it. Stay at campsites and enjoy ending your day under the stars with your loved ones, and starting your day right in the midst of nature. Can you think of anything better? We certainly can’t!