With so many beautiful destinations to choose from when planning your UK staycations the main problem can be picking the right one for your travel style and budget. In this article discover the best places to visit in the UK for 2021 and beyond.
Are you planning to explore more of the UK in 2021 but are wondering which area to visit? To help you choose we have put together this guide o the best staycation destinations for 2021.
We have provided an introduction to each region which includes the top 3 must-see landmarks and attractions plus links to our dedicated travel and accommodation guides for each.
- Best UK staycations: Top destinations for 2021
- Overview of the best staycation destinations in the UK
- Lake District
- Peak District
- Dorset and Jurassic Coast
- The Cotswolds
- The East of England (Norfolk and Suffolk)
- North Wales
- South Wales
- Scottish Highlands
- Scottish Islands
- UK staycation ideas 2021
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Best UK staycations: Top destinations for 2021
Overview of the best staycation destinations in the UK
- Lake District – for nature, walking, water sports, star gazing, food and drink, relaxing.
- Peak District – for hiking, cycling, outdoor sports, foodies, adventure lovers, stargazers, wildlife.
- Dorset and Jurassic Coast – dinosaur hunting, long coastal walks, cycling routes and days on the beach.
- Devon – beaches, nature, walking, food and drink, surfing and historic sites.
- Cornwall – Beaches, food and drink, relaxation, nature, art, historic sites.
- The Cotswolds – Walking, food and drink, shopping, cycling, romantics and historic sites.
- East of England – architecture, history, punting (Cambridge), boating, windmills, food and drink, lavender, walking, cycling, Anglo Saxon history (Sutton Hoo)
- Northumberland – Road tripping, walking, star gazing, castles and Roman sites, fishing villages, beaches and book lovers.
- Yorkshire – heritage railway, seaside towns, food and drink, walking, history, Viking and Roman sites.
- North Wales – walking, history, heritage railway, adventure, beaches, natural beauty, hiking, climbing, and castles
- South Wales – beaches, rugged coastlines, museums, hiking, waterfalls, castles, history, UNESCO World Heritage, heritage railway, book shops (Hay-on-Wye)
- London – sightseeing, history, art, culture, shopping, families, architecture.
- Scottish Highlands – Road tripping, castles, scenery, scenic train journeys, food and drink, nature.
- Scottish Islands – scenery, relaxing, nature, food and drink, history, beaches.
Best for – nature, walking, water sports, star gazing, food and drink, relaxing.
Visited by over 18 million people annually the Lake District was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017.
Explore lakes, tarns, woodland, mountains, towns and villages.
The Lake District has provided inspiration for writers and artists over the centuries including Beatrix Potter who bequeathed her home to the National Trust. Hill Top is now one of the most popular attractions for visitors in the North West.
Top 3 things to do and see in the Lake District
- Don’t miss visiting some of the pretty towns and villages in the Lake District including Grasmere, Coniston, Ambleside and Bowness.
- Base yourself in Windermere and take a cruise across the lake.
- Visit Hill Top the former home of Beatrix Potter.
Best for – hiking, cycling, outdoor sports, foodies, adventure lovers, star gazers, wildlife.
The Peak District National Park was established in 1951 and was the first National Park in the UK.
Divided into the southern area known as the White Peak and the northern area referred to as the Dark Peak.
Whilst both areas feature dramatic landscapes, valleys and moorlands, ridges and hills the White Peak is characterised by areas of limestone and is located primarily in Derbyshire and Staffordshire while the Dark Peak is found to the north and has a wilder and more desolate character.
Top 3 things to do and see in the Peak District
- Visit beautiful Chatsworth House and estate the ancestral home of Lord and Lady Devonshire.
- Sample Bakewell Pudding in the pretty market town of Bakewell
- Take a hike along some of the Peak District’s walks including the Tissington Trail or High Peak Trail.
Dorset and Jurassic Coast
Best for – dinosaur hunting, long coastal walks, cycling routes and days on the beach.
Enjoy a road trip along the south coast of England and explore a region blessed with natural landmarks, beaches, historic sites and seaside resorts.
The cobbled streets and 18th century cottages of Shaftesbury, medieval buildings of Sherborne and county town of Dorchester are just some of the attractions for those planning a staycation in Dorset.
Top 3 things to do and see in Dorset and Jurassic Coast
- Follow in Mary Anning’s footsteps and go fossil hunting along the beaches of Lyme Regis.
- Take a drive along the East Dorset and Jurassic coast and visit some of the natural wonders including the Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove
- Enjoy the coastal views from the ruins of Corfe Castle
Best for – beaches, nature, walking, food and drink, surfing and historic sites.
Plan a staycation in Devon and you will find not one but two coastlines to explore. Drive between Devon’s north and south coastlines visiting ruined castles, pretty villages, market towns and the rugged landscapes of Dartmoor National Park along the way.
Spend some time exploring the beaches, coves and trails that run along the south coast or head to the north coast for fishing villages and a spot of surfing!
Top 3 things to do and see in Devon
- Take a trip to Burgh Island and stay at the beautiful Art Deco hotel where previous guests include Amy Johnson, The Beatles, Agatha Christie and Noel Coward.
- Visit some of the harbour towns, fishing villages and beaches along the coasts (North and South Devon to choose from!)
- Enjoy the open moorlands, valleys and wildlife of Dartmoor National Park.
Best for – Beaches, food and drink, relaxation, nature, art, historic sites.
With hundreds of beautiful beaches and one of the most stunning coastlines in the UK Cornwall is the perfect destination for couples and families looking for a relaxing summer getaway.
Foodies are also in for a treat with a plethora of Michelin starred restaurants to choose from. Or simply enjoy the local produce including the best cream and ice cream you will find in the UK!
Don’t forget to add a Cornish afternoon tea into your itinerary. Jam first please. This isn’t Devon!
Top 3 things to do and see in Cornwall
- Saint Michael’s Mount is a tidal island located in Mount’s Bay near Marazion. The island is accessible by foot (15 minute walk across the cobbles when the tide is out!) or boat. Don’t miss exploring the beautiful Victorian terrace gardens and castle.
- Associated with the legend of King Arthur Tintagel is one of the most spectacular historical sites to visit in Cornwall (and England) Enjoy dramatic sea views whilst crossing the new footbridge.
- Base yourself in one of Cornwall’s beautiful coastal towns (St Ives, Looe, Polperro) and spend lazy days by the beach or day trips to enjoy the sights.
Best for – Walking, food and drink, shopping, cycling, romantics and historic sites.
For those seeking the prettiest destination in the UK its hard to argue when the Cotswolds is one of the first suggestions to be made.
Quaint and picturesque villages can be found in abundance. It is truly the quintessential English destination!
The Cotswolds are wonderful to explore at any time of year though can be very busy during the summer months.
Book a special stay in one of the villages and explore the area from your base – there are lots of things to do and see in the Cotswolds for all the family.
Top 3 things to do and see in the Cotswolds
- Take a road trip and visit as many of the famous Cotswolds villages as possible! My top recommendations? Bibury, Lower Slaughter and Bourton-on-the-Water.
- Explore Warwick Castle – visit during the summer months and enjoy jousting tournaments!
- Visit Sudeley Castle final resting place of King Henry’s last wife Katherine Parr.
The East of England (Norfolk and Suffolk)
Best for – architecture, history, punting (Cambridge), boating, windmills, food and drink, lavender, walking, cycling, Anglo Saxon history (Sutton Hoo)
The East of England region (or East Anglia as it was formally called) is an easy destination from London. The area is typified by cathedrals and stately homes. The Queen’s private country house of Sandringham is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty along the Norfolk coast.
If you enjoy walking, cycling or messing around in a boat and are looking for peace and tranquillity the East of England is an ideal UK staycation destination.
Top 3 things to do and see in the The East of England (Norfolk and Suffolk)
- Take a punt along the River Cam in the university city of Cambridge.
- Hire a boat and explore the open waterways of the Norfolk Broads.
- Visit the royal burial site discovered at Sutton Hoo in the 1930s. Although the original artefacts discovered in the King’ burial mound are located in the British Museum there are other treasures uncovered in some of the other burial mounds on display at Sutton Hoo.
Best for – Road tripping, walking, star gazing, castles and Roman sites, fishing villages, beaches and book lovers.
Situated in the north east of England Northumberland offers visitors a stunning coastline, beautiful islands, history, culture and more castles than any other county in England.
Take it easy and explore the castles, country homes, gardens and historical sites that litter Northumberland.
Or if you are looking for an active staycation enjoy a hike or bring your bike and take to the paths that cross the beautiful countryside along the Northumberland Coastal Route.
Top 3 things to do and see in Northumberland
- Take a leisurely drive along the picturesque Northumberland Coastal Route with stops at some of the fishing villages, castles and beaches along the route.
- Visit the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. This tidal island off the Northumberland Coast is a perfect day trip destination. Explore the beaches, castle and priory ruins – just check the tides before you plan your trip!
- Walk Hadrian’s Wall which stretches 73 miles from Wallsend on the east coast to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast. Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Romans to keep the marauding hoards invading from the north and is a popular walking route from March to October.
Plan your Northumberland staycation
Where to stay – BEST coastal villages & cottages in Northumberland
Find out more about what to do and see in the area (including practical tips and resources) in my Northumberland Travel Guide.
Best for – heritage railway, seaside towns, food and drink, walking, history, Viking and Roman sites.
Yorkshire is a destination that has something for everyone. Enjoy exploring the historic city of York, discovering the natural beauty of the Yorkshire Dales or head to the coast for a seaside break and some of the best fish and chips in the world.
Top 3 things to do and see in Yorkshire
- Spend a day or long weekend exploring the historic city of York
- Spend a weekend exploring the coastal town of Whitby. Enjoy some of the best fish and chips anywhere in the world from Magpie’s Cafe before climbing the 39 steps for views over the harbour and of the hauntingly beautiful Gothic Abbey.
Best for – walking, history, heritage railway, adventure, beaches, natural beauty, hiking, climbing, and castles
Spend your staycation exploring beautiful North Wales. Boasting castles, natural landscapes, beaches, mountains and beautiful valleys North Wales has something for everyone.
Take a road trip along the coast and and spend a day or two in the pretty seaside resort of Llandudno before continuing along the coast to Conwy and Caernarfon. Cross over to explore the island of Anglesey before heading to the beautiful but bizarre Italian inspired village of Portmeirion.
Top 3 things to do and see in North Wales
- Snowdonia National Park was established in 1951 and encompasses landscapes of mountains, lakes, rivers and coastline. Snowdonia is the highest mountain in Wales and can be reached by rail (or on foot for the ambitious) via the Snowdon Mountain Railways.
- The medieval fortified town of Conwy with its impressive castle and ancient walls is a must-visit for anyone heading to North Wales. Enjoy stunning views of the town and surrounding landscape from the castle battlements.
- Spend a few days exploring the beautiful island of Angelesey. The town of Beaumaris offers visitors mountain views plus the most technically perfect castle in Britain.
Best for – beaches, rugged coastlines, museums, hiking, waterfalls, castles, history, UNESCO World Heritage, heritage railway, book shops (Hay-on-Wye)
South Wales offers visitors spectacular countryside, a dramatic coastline, rich history and culture, a National Park and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In other words, plenty to keep you busy if you are planning a UK staycation in this part of the world.
Top 3 things to do and see in South Wales
- Explore the coastline of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. This is a great place to spot wildlife including puffins, seals and dolphins. The beaches at Tenby are some of the best in Europe which makes it an ideal destination for a family staycation.
- Visit the Welsh capital of Cardiff and explore the attractions of the city. Explore Cardiff Castle, browse the famous Victorian shopping arcades and market or learn about Welsh history and culture at St Fagan’s open-air Museum.
- If you love books don’t miss a visit to the second hand book capital of the world Hay-on-Wye. Located in the Brecon Beacons the town is the host of the annual and prestigious Hay Festival of Literature and Arts.
Best for – sightseeing, history, art, culture, shopping, families, architecture.
One of the most visited cities in the world London has something for everyone. Visit its famous museums, art galleries, markets, landmarks and attractions for a weekend staycation.
If you are on a budget create an itinerary which includes some of the many free things there are to do in the city. Not sure what they are? Check out my budget guide to London which details how to save money when visiting the capital.
Top 3 things to do and see in London
- It is actually impossible to choose only 3 things to do in London! For first time visitors don’t miss the most famous sights, landmarks and attractions such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Tower of London and Covent Garden.
- There are lots of free things to do in London and many of the most popular (and famous) museums and art galleries are included. Don’t miss the British Museum, Natural History Museum (with kids) and the Tate Modern.
- Greenwich is a bit of a hidden gem for many visitors but it is a beautiful part of London that deserves at least a day to fully explore. Don’t miss the opportunity to stand with a foot in 2 hemispheres at the international date line!
Best for – Road tripping, castles, scenery, scenic train journeys, food and drink, nature.
Stretching from Fort William in the west to Inverness and Elgin in the east and incorporating an area up to John O’Groats in the far north the Scottish Highlands includes some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery and landscapes.
Top 3 things to do and see in the Scottish Highlands
- Glenfinnan Viaduct – take the Jacobite steam train over the viaduct and head to Hogwarts (or Mallaig if you are a Muggle)
- Glencoe & Fort William. Probably my favourite drive anywhere in the world is through the hauntingly beautiful Glencoe. Take the Glen Etive drive if you are a James Bond fan and pretend you are driving an Aston Martin to Skyfall.
- Look for the elusive Nessie at Loch Ness before heading to Castle Urquhart for stunning views over the lake.
Best for – scenery, relaxing, nature, food and drink, history, beaches.
Scotland has 94 inhabited islands of which 24 offer an ideal destination for a Scotland staycation.
Gorgeous scenery, rugged coastlines, tranquil beaches, culture, history and plenty of food and drink to keep the most discerning of foodies happy the only complication is deciding which of the Scottish Islands to visit!
Top 3 things to do and see in the Scottish Islands
- The Isle of Skye is one of the most popular islands with spectacular scenery and rugged landscapes waiting to be explored. Plan to drive the Trotternish loop for some of the most amazing scenery. Accommodation is limited so book in advance.
- Enjoy Scotch whisky? Head to the island of Islay which offers visitors a total of 8 whisky distilleries to explore. Known as Scotland’s whisky coast the local peat gives Islay’s single malts their famous smoky richness.
- Wildlife lovers are in for a treat with many of the Scottish Islands offering opportunities to see a variety of birds and animals on their shores.
UK staycation ideas 2021
Looking for more inspiration and ideas for the best staycations UK wide? My country-specific guides include practical tips as well as ideas for places to visit in 2021.
If you have specific questions about a destination in England why not join my UK and London Travel Planning Group on Facebook where you can chat to others planning their trip.