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UK weekend breaks and holidays

In need of a break? Fed up with the Med? Read on for our guide to the best holidays and weekend breaks in Britain

Classic UK weekend breaks: Traditional cottages lining a street in Bibury, South Cotswolds © W. Lloyd MacKenzie


UK overview

The image of UK weekend breaks may suffer from associations with gloomy campsites and rain-soaked caravan parks, but a little exploring yields delights: historical towns, quaint villages and breathtaking countryside, offering up great pubs, epic hikes, wild coastline, wilder sports – and some altogether more esoteric activities. To make your destination a little easier to choose, we sent our most patriotic writers out across the British mainland to experience the best England, Scotland and Wales have to offer.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Make sure you check back as this guide is regularly updated with new destinations and ideas for great British breaks come rain or shine, dazzle or drizzle.

County by county • Great UK getaways

Come, let’s take a pleasant scroll through the British countryside…

The Shropshire Hills© Ed Fury

The Shropshire Hills© Ed Fury



Wake up to wakeboarding in North Wales – and a host of other watersports – at the idyllic Abersoch beach.


Live out your Biggles fantasies barrel-rolling a bi-plane at the Imperial War Museum Duxford. Chocks away!

Cornwall and the Scilly Isles

Dangle from Britain’s extremities at Land’s End and Lizard Point

… then head out even further to meet the seals of the Scilly Isles.

Step into a postcard scene in beautiful and boho St Ives.

Hayle Rivermouth, St Ives Bay© Britta Jaschinski

Hayle Rivermouth, St Ives Bay© Britta Jaschinski


Not a county, perhaps – but definitely a state of mind. Drop in on archetypal rural England and find great food and drink amid the green-and-pleasantness.

Owlpen Valley, the Cotswolds

Owlpen Valley: as Cotswolds as it comes© Britta Jaschinski

Cumbria and the Lake District

There’s more to the lakes than a cruise on Windermere and a peruse of Penrith. Swap Wordsworth for Wainright in recreating a classic fell ramble.

Take in the picturesque scenery at a trot, horseriding on Silecroft beach.

Or try the quirkier side of Cumbria: witness the gurning at an authentic medieval festival or the canine spectacle of a ten-mile dog race.

Sublime reflections on Derwent Water© Michael Sayles

Derbyshire and the Peak District

Clamber over some of England’s most colourfully named terrain in the Peak District National Park – from controversial rambling target Kinder Scout to the harder-core climbers’ hangout of Stanage Edge.

Or get yourself into a bit of a hole going caving in the Peaks.

Castleton, the Peak District, Derbyshire

Peaky blinder: Castleton in the Peak District© Charlie Pinder


Take the alternative (otternative?) route around the county on the Tarka Trail.

Find splendid isolation in the Bristol Channel – and a beach all to yourself – on Lundy Island.

Shamble across three miles of Shingle at Slapton Sands – before it disappears into the sea…

Slapton Sands, Devon

Slapton Sands, Devon© Walter Weber

Dumfries and Galloway

Astronomical larks in the national park after dark – at Britain’s officially recognised best spot for stargazing.

Make your fortune (or at least cover the cost of your holiday) in them thar Wanlockhead hills.


Work on your quads – on a quad-biking odyssey through a Welsh Valley.

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Roll out over England’s big southern wrinkle at the Winchester end of the South Downs Way.

Find idyllic seclusion on the Isle of Wight’s Priory Bay beach.

Priory Bay, the Isle of Wight

Quite the Wight highlight: Priory Bay© Shutterstock


Gaze out towards the Great Glen from the great Ben (Nevis), the UK’s highest mountain peak.

Then get down to sea-level on the white sands of the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides.

Luskentyre beach, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

Luskentyre beach, Isle of Harris© Alistair Keddie


Follow the surprisingly lengthy Crab & Winkle Way through the Kentish woodlands to Whitstable.

Live out your digger-driving dreams (or site-foreman fantasies) at construction-vehicle themepark Diggerland.


For sand and sea as far as the eye can see (as well as the odd stranded seal), head to East Anglia’s Cley-next-the-Sea beach.

Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk© Shutterstock

Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk© Shutterstock


Discover the north-west’s best-kept secret – the Forest (that’s not a forest) of Bowland.

Whitewell, Forest of Bowland, Lancashire

Can’t see the forest for the lack of trees?© Charlie Pinder


Get behind the wheel and mash up a banger at the Santa Pod Raceway.


Head off on a canny, craggy ramble around the Rumbling Kern at Howick.

Lose yourself in misty history in the shadow of Bamburgh Castle, and cross the causeway to Holy Island.

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

Moatworthy: Bamburgh Castle beach© Don Brownlow


Join the straw-boater brigade at Henley, and drift off to riverside reverie in the towns of the Thames Valley.


If you can find it, enjoy time standing still at Barafundle Bay in south Wales.

Barafundle Bay, Wales

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire© Barafundle Bay


Go river-tubing amid glorious scenery deep in central Scotland.


Unearth a the England that time forgot in the Shropshire Hills.

Shropshire Hills

Top of the Shrops: the South Shropshire Hills© Ed Fury


Take the Coleridge Way and follow in the great Romantic poet’s footsteps – all 36 miles of them…


Indulge in a true Home Counties pursuit – tweed up for clay-pigeon shooting on the Surrey heath.

Sussex (East and West)

Roam the dunes at Camber Sands in East Sussex – or go west to try the more genteel and gourmet Littlehampton beach.

Camber Sands, East Sussex

Camber Sands© Britta Jaschinski

Witness the annual Birdman competition – along with other classic British seaside larks – at Bognor Regis.

Head for the hills on the South Downs Way.

Utter downer: Ditchling Beacon, East Sussex© John Dominick

Total downer: Ditchling Beacon, East Sussex© John Dominick


Scale the South Yorkshire side of Stanage Edge in the Peak District.

Or view the definitive northern English landscape in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – including the rock-climbing highlight of Brimham Rocks.

Yorkshire Dales

Daley fix: haybarns and co in the Yorkshire Dales© Michael Sayles


The best things to do in UK cities

Imperial War Museum North, Manchester

To make the most of a UK city break, see Time Out’s city sites – constantly updated with information and recommendations from our local writers and editors…

For sheer scale, splendour and bucket-list potential, you can’t beat London – the UK capital, and a global hub for the arts, gastronomy, history, sightseeing and serious cash-depletion (make use of Time Out London’s guide to experiencing London on a budget). From there, it’s only a skip, a hop and a two-hour train ride to Birmingham, the nation’s second-largest city, notable for its splendid Victorian buildings and its rather more controversial modern architecture. Complete the triangle with a visit to Bristol, the vibrant student town that’s big on nightlife, street-art and maritime history, and manageable in size.

In the north of England, Manchester’s mighty clubs and world-beating sporting institutions might bring the tourists – but it’s the city’s cultural hit-rate and heritage that make it an essential UK experience. Or discover there’s more to Yorkshire than medieval spires and moors with a visit to Leeds where you’ll find a buzzing Civic Quarter and superlative shopping.

Leave tartanry and Scottish stereotypes at home on a city break to Northern Britain: Edinburgh, strong contender for the UK’s most civilised city, pulsates with Georgian grandeur, an unmatched bar and pub scene and – throughout August – cutting-edge theatre and comedy. Or hop across to its great civic rival Glasgow for flourishing contemporary arts, unique 19th-century heritage and world-class dining and nightlife in the city’s West End.








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