For too long, we’ve mainly thought of travel in terms of summer. Everyone is quick to ask where you’re going over the summer, and surprised if you’re not taking a holiday during that period. But the UK is filled with incredible places to visit, too many to fit into just the summer months. Additionally, travelling outside of summer is more budget-friendly and ensures you avoid the crowds and traffic jams. So if you can travel outside of summer, then we strongly urge you to consider it!
To help with this, we’re going to turn our attention to the best autumn weekend breaks in the UK. We’ll cover each corner of the UK to ensure there’s something for everyone, and you can fit it into a two-night trip if you’d like to. It’s time to pack your bags, pick up your motorhome, and head to these incredible destinations for an autumn road trip.
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
1. New Forest, England
When considering the best places to visit in the UK in autumn, it’s only natural that we think of forests. What better way to enjoy autumn than to see the rusty-coloured leaves and fields of heather?
The New Forest is often referred to as the ‘Eden of Southern England’. It offers the perfect balance of woodland, farmland and coastline. You’ll quickly spot its famous inhabitants, the wild ponies of the New Forest.
Things to do in the New Forest:
- Go pony trekking at one of the many riding centres in the New Forest. This is a great way to see more of the forest without tiring quickly.
- Head to the New Forest Lavender Farm for scenic strolls through fields of lavender. You can bring some home to make that holiday feeling last even longer. If you’re faced with some unfortunate autumn rain, you can find shelter in their tea room. The entire menu is based on available produce and local ingredients.
- Take some time to relax and enjoy your surroundings at one of the many campsites in the New Forest. Weekends away should contain time for both rest and adventures, so be sure to take time to sit with your feet up under your awning.
2. Aberystwyth, Wales
Tucked away in the west of Wales, you’ll find the charming town of Aberystwyth. It is known for its natural beauty, quaint streets, picturesque beaches, historic sights and more. There is always something to do in Aberystwyth, no matter the weather, making it ideal for October weekend breaks in the UK.
We particularly recommend this destination for art lovers and historians, as it is home to the National Library of Wales and the largest Arts Centre in Wales.
Things to do in Aberystwyth:
- Spend an afternoon at the beach. It might not be swimsuit weather, but there is something special about visiting the beach in autumn. There are plenty of beaches to pick from in the area, but we’d recommend going to Aberystwyth North or Aberystwyth South Beach.
- Take a trip on the Gwili Steam Railway. This Welsh heritage railway operates along the former Carmarthen to Aberystwyth line. It’s considered to be one of the UK’s most picturesque preserved lines.
- Visit the majestic remains of Aberystwyth Castle. This was the first true castle built in Aberystwyth and has changed hands numerous times over the centuries, particularly when the Normans warred with the native Welsh. You can stroll around the castle and be amazed at just how large this fortress is.
3. The Cairngorms, Scotland
Did you know that the Cairngorms is one of the UK’s largest national parks? It was also named one of the ‘top 20 places to visit in the world’ by National Geographic.
You’ll never run out of things to do in the Cairngorms. People flock to the Cairngorms to go hiking, bird-watching, biking and more. It’s also particularly popular with photographers, as the landscapes are varied across the national park and offer incredible views.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the Cairngorms is just a destination for summer, as actually, many prefer to visit it in autumn. That’s when the landscape is at its best, and the colours of autumn really highlight the natural beauty. It also ensures that you don’t get too warm while walking, and that you have a better chance of spotting wildlife.
Things to do in the Cairngorms:
- Grab your walking boots and try one of the many great hiking routes in the Cairngorms. If you’re looking for a shorter and easier hike, try the Falls of Bruar, which is only one and a half miles and takes you between two waterfalls. Or, for a challenge, try tackling the four trails of Muir of Dinnet, which are eight miles in total.
- Need to warm up after a day spent outside? Head to one of the many whisky distilleries in the region. Many offer tastings and guided tours. A trip to Scotland isn’t complete without a bottle of whisky to bring home and hide until Christmas.
- You’ll find plenty of options for pitching your motorhome here, and we’ve rounded up the best campsites in the Cairngorms.
4. The Cotswolds, England
The Cotswolds is one of our favourite weekend road trips from London, and a delight to visit any time of year, but especially in autumn. This area is like a cosy fairytale, and even a light drizzle can’t detract from its beauty. You won’t need any more October weekend breaks in the UK once you’ve visited the Cotswolds. Stroll along cobblestoned paths, past picturesque cottages with ivy creeping along the walls. This is the perfect place to reflect on the changing season and enjoy a slow holiday.
Things to do in the Cotswolds:
- Take a stroll through the impressive Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens. It features over 260 different species of wildlife across 160 acres of landscaped parkland and gardens.
- Take long, luxurious walks with your pup! The Cotswolds is known to be one of the most dog-friendly places in the UK. Be sure to check out our dog-friendly guide to the Cotswolds.
- Explore St Edward’s Church, a medieval church that is said to have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s Doors of Durin. This has never been confirmed, but Tolkien made many trips to the Cotswolds, and we can certainly see the resemblance. The church is open daily and free to enter. After your visit, you can explore more of the market town of Stow-on-the-Wold.
5. Glen Affric, Scotland
Said to be one of the most beautiful places in Scotland, there’s no doubt that we should consider Glen Affric in our list of the best places to visit in the UK in autumn.
Located in the Highlands, Glen Affric is southwest of the village of Cannich and about fifteen miles away from Loch Ness. Along its length runs the River Affric. This area feels magical, and the mix of native pinewoods, lochs and moorland offers an almost haunting type of beauty.
Things to do in Glen Affric:
- Keep an eye out for local wildlife. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot many of the residents of Glen Affric, including ospreys, otters, black-throated divers and deer.
- Glen Affric is a paradise for hill walkers with plenty of routes to pick from. We love the traditional Glen Affric Circuit, which takes about five hours over eleven miles. It consists mostly of accessible paths, but does require some experience and a good level of fitness. You follow the loch around for this hike, giving you the best chance to spot wildlife.
- Visit the charming Dog Falls. Don’t worry, no pups were harmed for it to get this name! This stunning waterfall is definitely worth a visit, and it’s a great location for a picnic or a short stroll.
6. Northumberland, England
Situated right on the border of Scotland and England, Northumberland is a breathtaking place to visit. It’s filled with ruined castles, tranquil beaches, bustling market towns and more. There is so much to explore in Northumberland, and it has a calmness that you’ll struggle to find elsewhere in the UK.
Northumberland is one of the best places to visit in October in the UK for the half-term holidays or longer weekends away. There is simply so much to see and do in this area.
Things to do in Northumberland:
- Head to the holy island of Lindisfarne. It’s located just off the Northumberland coast and hosts the Lindisfarne Priory. This island has held great religious importance over the centuries and is also home to various wildlife, particularly birds.
- Sit back and gaze upwards. Northumberland is a great destination for star gazing. The Northumberland International Dark Sky Park is 572 square miles, making it Europe’s largest area of protected sky. So download a handy app and see how many constellations you can spot. On a good night, you’ll even see some planets!
- Northumberland is a great destination for history buffs and home to many impressive castles. You can even make your own little road trip route to include them all, with stops at Bamburgh Castle, Alnwick Castle and Warkworth Castle.
7. Portstewart, Northern Ireland
This time, we’re crossing the water to Northern Ireland. Our list of the best places to visit in October in the UK wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Northern Ireland. It was tough to pick just one, but we’ve settled on Portstewart as an autumn getaway.
This seaside town can get quite busy in summer, so it’s perfect to visit after the peak season. It’s a dreamy little getaway that feels like it’s been pulled straight from the pages of a novel. While in Portstewart, make sure to try some delicious fresh seafood, which the town is known for.
Things to do in Portstewart:
- Take a stroll along Portstewart Crescent. There is plenty to do along the promenade, including shops, restaurants, cafes, go-karting and more. Finish it off with a stroll along the beach, which can be quite romantic if you’re travelling with your partner.
- Go paddle boarding. You’ll definitely need a wetsuit, which you can rent along with your paddle board. This is a fun way to enjoy the ocean in autumn and to get a different view of Portstewart.
- Visit O’Hara Castle. Built in 1834, O’Hara Castle now functions as Dominican College. It’s set on the clifftop along the water, offering an impressive sight. You can walk right up to it and explore this castle that wouldn’t look out of place in Game of Thrones. It’s part of the cliff path that forms the Causeway Coast Way.
Which of these seven destinations for October weekend breaks in the UK will you choose? If you plan your weekends right, you could even visit several of them this autumn. Plan little breaks to keep the adventure in your life and allow you to explore everything the UK has to offer. Travel shouldn’t be restricted to summer, and with these destinations, it doesn’t have to be. Experience the joy of travelling outside of peak season, and we promise, you’ll never look back.