Top Weekend Getaways in the UK (Part Two)
The UK is full of amazing attractions: from seaside towns to UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In this blog, the second part of our series (read part one here!), we’ll explore some of the most exciting weekend getaway destinations in the country. Planning your next trip starts right here!
Brighton has it all: less than an hour from London by train, this trendy coastal town has become an extremely popular location for weekenders and day-trippers alike. And it’s not hard to see why – boasting a unique mix of amazing architecture, food, culture and seaside nostalgia, Brighton is a fantastic place to spend time in.
Where to start…
For unrivalled nostalgia and fun, head to the water by way of Brighton Palace Pier. Play the many slot machines at the buzzing arcades; browse the old-fashioned shopping stalls; or sit on one of the iconic striped deckchairs and tuck into a fish-and-chip supper. If you’ve got young children that need entertaining, the rides – including the Brighton Zip – are great fun, as well as the popular beachside SeaLife Centre. You can take in the gorgeous waterfront by hopping on Volk’s Electric Railway, or rent a couple of bikes and hit one of the many trails. Whatever you decide, you’ll want to explore the ancient coastline: the Undercliff Walk, which runs from Brighton Marina to Saltdean, is 5 km long and provides unparalleled views of the city and the glorious seashore.
Brighton isn’t just an amazing beachside destination, though: it’s also home to some of the UK’s most exciting and experimental theatre. The Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe, both of which take place in May, are world renowned (the Brighton Fringe is one of the world’s largest arts festivals). Visitors to Brighton in May have their pick of fantastic music, side-splitting comedy, award-winning circus acts, and new drama.
A final must-see is the famous Royal Pavilion (pictured above). Built in the 1800s with the support of acclaimed architect John Nash, this eye-catching and slightly peculiar creation – inspired by both Oriental and Indo-Saracenic architecture – has to be seen to be believed. The Royal Pavilion was established as a ‘seaside pleasure palace’ for King George IV when he was the Prince Regent, and is an excellent example of Regency grandeur.
Bath happens to be the only city in the UK that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site – so you know it must be something special. Indeed, even if all you did on a visit to Bath was walk the gorgeous Georgian streets, that might be enough: its famous crescents and terraces have inspired countless photographs and works of art (Jane Austen set two of her novels in the city for a reason!). But there are many other reasons to visit Bath: from historic attractions to a buzzing independent shopping scene, you’ll find plenty to do and see in this magical city.
Where to start…
Any trip to Bath must start with a trip to the famous Roman Baths – in fact, it’s advised that you start early, as this popular tourist attraction can get very busy. Delve into the ancient history of the city with an interactive tour through the well-preserved remains, and enjoy some witty audio commentary from Bill Bryson as you explore the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House, and more. After you’ve immersed yourself in history, why not enjoy the experience for yourself with a dip at the UK’s only ‘naturally’ warm spa? The Thermae Bath Spa, which is a short walk from the Roman Baths, offers a variety of experiences (including spa treatments, an infra-red sauna and an ice room), but it’s main draw has to be the heated rooftop pool with stunning views across the city.
As mentioned earlier, a pleasant stroll around the city is a great, free way to bask in Bath’s unique charms. Brimming with independent boutiques, fantastic restaurants and lively bars, it’s possible to pass many happy hours strolling through the paved streets. Wherever you wander, you must ensure that your route takes you to Bath’s beautiful Royal Crescent: this famous curved street, which comprises 30 golden terraced houses, is a perfect encapsulation of Georgian style.
Bath is a place full of culture: home to famous artists, architects, statesmen and even royal figures (Louis XVIII lived in Bath for a time!), it’s no wonder that Jane Austen was so taken with the city (she made a home in Bath between 1801 – 1806). Indeed, Austen set two of her novels – Northanger Abbey and Persuasion – in Bath. If you’re a literary lover or simply curious about Austen’s background, stop by the Jane Austen Centre to learn more about her life.
Situated at the south-west tip of the UK, surrounded by sea, there’s nowhere quite like Cornwall. Fiercely proud and independent (some call it ‘God’s Own Country’), and blessed with a rich heritage – from mythical tales of pirates and smugglers to legendary cream teas and seafood – Cornwall is a delightful coastal destination for a weekend getaway.
Where to start…
If you’re a fan of sand, sea and surf, look no further than Cornwall. Boasting some of the finest coastline in the country, Cornwall has a range of beaches to explore: ranging from beautifully-manicured, golden shorelines (such as Porthcurno or Summerleaze beaches), perfectly-placed for family swims or picnics with friends, to more rugged, hidden stretches of sand surrounded by craggy cliffs (like Kingsand Beach or Kyance Cove), you’ll be hard pressed to find more impressive beaches in the whole UK.
The varied and attractive Cornish landscape means that whether you’re keen to hike, dive into the water, take your canine companion for a long walk or simply relax on a blanket and enjoy the view, you’ll find a spot to suit in Cornwall. But don’t be tempted to dash off the moment the sun sets: certain parts of Cornwall have received the award of ‘Night Sky Status’. This means that, due to the low levels of light pollution, it’s possible to stargaze without obstruction. So snuggle up on your beach rug and look up into the night sky before you leave – you might even see a shooting star!
Cornwall isn’t just a place for beach bunnies, though: there are plenty of other attractions. Interested in top-notch seafood? Head to Rock or Padstow to enjoy Michelin-starred fare at Restaurant Nathan Outlaw or Paul Ainsworth at No.6. Fancy taking in some incredible theatre? Cornwall happens to be home to the UK’s best open-air theatre: the Minack Theatre, which has been carved out of the cliffside and is set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. Are you a keen history or nature fan? Visit Tintagel, the rumoured birthplace of King Arthur; or take a trip to the Eden Project, an epic showcase of the world’s most important plants and the largest indoor rainforest in the world.