UK weekend breaks & holidays

Great ideas for holidays and weekend breaks in Britain

UK weekend breaks & holidays Bamburgh Castel, Northumberland coast - © www.visitnorthumberland.com
By Time Out editors

Britain is full of interesting and entertaining cities, towns, villages and countryside escapes offering great pubs, restaurants, museums, walks, and exciting and unusual things to do. To make your weekend getaway a little easier to choose, we sent our homeland lovers out to experience the best England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland 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.

Cheshire

Alderley Edge

Discover the wizardly walks of Cheshire's bijou town
Taking off my glove, I knocked on the rock face and opened my mouth to say the magic word, but nothing emerged. ‘You haven’t forgotten, have you?’ I looked at my wife. I had. Edoardo Albert takes a magical journey.

Read more about UK breaks: Alderley Edge

Cornwall

Cornwall's south-east

A unique atmosphere: from the Port Eliot estate to the fishing town of Looe
With its intense awareness of its landscape and its sense of a continuing history, south-east Cornwall has a unique atmosphere, finds Chris Waywell.

Read more about UK breaks: Cornwall's south-east

Padstow

Get on board with paddle surfing, the latest craze in British watersport
Hype it up and hang ten as often as you like, Cornwall ain’t Santa Cruz – but now it’s got a very British watersport. Helen Ochyra goes paddle surfing.

Read more about UK breaks: Padstow

Penwith Peninsula

Taking ‘locally sourced’ food to the next level, foraging is on the up
Ismay Atkins gets a taste of the wild near Land’s End.

Read more about UK breaks: Penwith Peninsula

Derbyshire

Chatsworth

Eighteenth century glamour with 21st century amenities
A sensational triple-decker bacon sarnie on Saturday morning fortified me for a day exploring Derbyshire's rolling hills.

Read more about UK breaks: Chatsworth

Devon

Chulmleigh

North Devon's secluded base for a low-key midwinter hideaway
Logs crackled on the open fire and quiet chatter filled the cosy Grove Inn in Kings Nympton, a small village in rural north Devon. I sipped a pint of Spinney, a delicious malty ale brewed in the West Country, and warmed my hands and feet, chilly after an early morning stroll.

Read more about UK breaks: Chulmleigh

Lynton & Lynmouth

North Devon’s most beautiful twin villages
Hidden by forests and moorland to the south and facing out to sea on the north, this fairytale scene exists far from north Devon’s more fashionable hotspots.

Read more about UK breaks: Lynton & Lynmouth

Dorset

Moonfleet

The perfect place for a British family holiday in Dorset
The British family holiday still revolves around the theme park and the wind-blasted beach. But Peter Watts finds refuge in a country manor made for grown-ups as well as little ’uns.

Read more about UK breaks: Moonfleet

Essex

Essex

Forget vajazzling, come here for endless beaches, clay clad seals and fresh oysters
Misunderstood, misrepresented and often simply missed, London's eastern neighbour, says Zoe Kamen, is a pleasantly pastoral surprise.

Read more about Essex

Colchester

Discover Colchester's surprisingly romantic haven
Where’s the most romantic place to propose in the UK? England’s tallest Tudor gatehouse, Layer Marney Tower, near Colchester, comes close.

Read more about UK breaks: Colchester, Essex

Mersea Island

Creeks, a beach and the all-important oysters
You might struggle to guess the answer in a pub quiz, but the most easterly inhabited island in England lies just nine miles south-east of Colchester. And, yes, it’s a proper island, five miles by two, which, though connected by a causeway (The Strood), is still cut off a few times a month at high tide.

Read more about UK breaks: Mersea Island

Gloucestershire

Cheltenham

Salty spa water, a literary festival and plenty of green spaces
There’s so much green space and floral life it’s easy to see why Cheltenham has been called ‘a town within a park’.

Read more about UK breaks: Cheltenham

Hampshire

The New Forest

Ramble past sparkling streams and free-ranging ponies
Lucy Halfhead meets an award-winning sommelier, visits an award-winning pub and avoids an acorn-snuffling pig on a New Forest country walk.

Read more about UK breaks: The New Forest

Winchester

This small Hampshire city was once an inspiration to Keats
The solemn saints of the Great Screen stared eerily out over the vast altar. Having just walked down Europe’s longest medieval nave, the cathedral’s intricately carved limestone wall – built over two decades from 1455 – had me transfixed.

Read more about UK breaks: Winchester

Isle of Wight

Ventnor

Discover the peaceful charms and dated delights of the Isle of Wight
I’d only heard a few things about the Isle of Wight in my life and none was particularly inspiring. I remembered the words of a friend, who’d described his childhood holidays there as ‘numbingly dull’. At best, the island is presented ambiguously. On the one hand, it witnessed the invention of the hovercraft and still has red squirrels. One the other, it gave us Level 42 and has welcomed the likes of David Icke and Alan Titchmarsh as residents.

Read more about UK breaks: Isle of Wight

Kent

Kent

Eat oysters, shop on the ‘King’s Mile’ and marvel at Canterbury Cathedral
Kent's landscape is timelessly lovely, from the tranquil beauty of the Weald, stretched out between the chalk escarpments of the Downs, to the splendid sweep of the coast.

Read more about UK breaks: Kent

Kent coast

Visit the best spots along Britain's South East coastline
Whether your interest lies with dogwalking and beaches, or fishing and stunning views — Kent is sure to provide an ideal spot for a relaxing UK weekend break by the sea.

Read more about Kent's coastline

Margate

A new boutique B&B brings hope to this derided seaside town
I had been warned by friends, but the arrival into Margate via the train station was still shocking. First came the ugly Arlington House tower block. Then a blustery walk along the grim seafront: boarded-up shops, empty amusement arcades, bored-looking teenagers, immigrant families weighed down with bulging bags.

Read more about UK breaks: Margate

Whitstable

Cycle on the seafront and suck oysters in Kent’s quaintest seaside town
Pedalling furiously along the paved promenade and enjoying the invigorating autumn air, I smiled at the thought that I’d not yet encountered any other weekending Londoners. It was a peaceful Sunday morning, and the only people out and about were walking dogs.

Read more about UK breaks: Whitstable

Lancashire

Manchester

Rejoice in Manchester's cultural energy and football fervour
Manchester today is unrecognisable from the post-industrial city of 20 years ago. Home to grand relics of the industrial revolution, the modern city is also studded with independent boutiques and top-flight shops, cool bars and snug pubs. Not only do its museums house some of the UK’s finest historic collections, but Manchester has a contemporary cultural pulse that puts other British cities to shame.

Read more about 10 great things to do in Manchester

Morecambe

Mudflats, sea and Lake District peaks: Lancashire's bird-watchers paradise
The taxi ride from Lancaster station to Morecambe took about 10 minutes, cost under a tenner and included a running commentary by our driver on the sights and history of the area: the importance of the Edwardian oil and cloth tycoon and philanthropist Lord Ashton, the horrific new train station and the recent refurbishment of the Midland Hotel. He dropped us at the hotel’s grand white façade.

Read more about UK breaks: Morecambe

Ramsbottom

Jump aboard the East Lancashire Railway to a new foodie haven
Browse Bury Market, climb Holcombe Hill and tuck into top-notch cuisine.

Read more about UK breaks: Ramsbottom

Lincolnshire

Stamford

Amble around Stamford's seductive, stone-built Georgian streets
It may be a furtive delight but this stone-built Georgian town in Lincolnshire is oddly familiar, perhaps because it has starred in period dramas including ‘Middlemarch’.

Read more about UK breaks: Stamford

Norfolk

Ride the Poppy Line, dine in a yurt and sleep in a windmill
Norfolk offers charming stretches of coast, a vibrant cultural scene and pubs and restaurants that take pride in dishing up the finest local produce, making for a hearty and welcoming dining experience.

Read more about UK breaks: Norfolk

Northamptonshire

Fawsley Hall

Northamptonshire's place for an indulgent, Tudor-themed escape
Queen Elizabeth I stayed at Fawsley Hall in 1575 and several of the 52 bedrooms boast the sort of comfy four-posters an exacting royal might expect when swiving a maid or prebeheaded wife. With 2,000 acres of rolling pastureland, two tempting restaurants and the fact you can get there on the train after work, this grand pile has everything you’ll need for a decadent, upper-class weekend break.

Read more about UK breaks: Fawsley Hall

Northern Ireland

Belfast

Turning the troubles into tourism
I looked down at the simple black gravestone below me as the drizzle fell on the grey cemetery. One name stood out among rows of brothers, fathers, sons and neighbours: BOBBY SANDS. ‘Over there, behind that Celtic cross, that’s where Michael Stone threw his first grenade into the crowd,’ said my guide, Pod Devenny, referring to the UDA attack on a republican funeral in 1988.

Read more about UK breaks: Belfast

Northumberland

Northumberland coast

Two castles, three lighthouses and a beach
Illuminated gospels and brilliant beaches – Edoardo Albert is enchanted by England’s north-east coast.

Read more about UK breaks: Northumberland coast

Oxfordshire

Appleton

Go wild in the country!
In an effort to shake off his urban ennui, Daniel Neilson goes wild on a bushcraft weekend in Appleton, Oxfordshire.

Read more about UK breaks: Appleton

Scotland

Scotland

From Edinburgh's stately castle to the epic Cairngorm mountains
For many, the epic peaks, sweeping glens and heather moorland of the Highlands are the classic Scottish vista. But the land has other, older stories to tell and the countryside is as varied as it is magnificent: they may not appear on any shortbread tins, but this is also a land of subtropical gardens, ancient swathes of woodland and breathtakingly beautiful beaches.

Read more about UK breaks: Scotland

Ben Nevis

Catch the Caledonian Sleeper for a climb up the beautiful Ben Nevis
The Caledonian Sleeper, the night train that connects London with the wilder reaches of Scotland, is comfortable, romantic and, if you book in advance, very cheap – and it’s one of very few long-distance services left in the UK.

Read more about UK breaks: Ben Nevis

Edinburgh

Read our full online guide to Edinburgh

The West Highland Way

Forget the flat, boring bits and cut to the chase with two days in Glen Coe
Every year walkers trudge from the outskirts of Glasgow and along the bonnie but interminable and boulder-strewn banks of Loch Lomond, for the sake of two glorious days in the mountains of Glen Coe. Then it’s a frustrating last day into Fort William, with trees obscuring the views, just so you can say you’ve walked the entire 95 miles of the West Highland Way.

Read more about UK breaks: The West Highland Way

Shropshire

Clun

Unruly hill-country and wooded streams are a paradise for walkers
What’s the witchiest place in the UK? Well, according to an eminent Anglican cleric, certain ladies of the Long Mynd followed the old ways well into the twentieth century.

Read more about UK breaks: Clun

Ironbridge

Worth a trip to see the handsome 1779 ‘iron bridge’ alone
Approached by a series of twisting roads, it’s a cleft that was created after the last Ice Age, when a huge lake cut a chasm through layers of coal, iron ore, clay and limestone.

Read more about UK breaks: Ironbridge

Suffolk

Hike, bike, eat in an oysterage and sleep in a stable
We've used our local knowledge to reveal the best of Suffolk. Enjoy a breathtaking variety of countryside, explore miles of magnificent coastline, wander around charming market towns and feast upon local dishes served up in lovely settings.

Read more about UK breaks: Suffolk

Surrey

Box Hill

Flora-filled nature trails and unbeatable North Downs views
A nature lover’s Mecca, Box Hill boasts a dozen species of orchid, butterflies and its namesake box trees. Arriving in drizzle, we checked in to our lodgings and refuelled in preparation for a long walk. Once fortified, we left the pub ready for a flora- and fauna-packed afternoon.

Read more about UK breaks: Boxhill

Sussex

Sussex

Try tempura cod, take a bushcraft course and visit a mock-Mughal palace
The shingle beaches, dune-backed sands and boat-filled harbours on the Sussex coast are interspersed with classic seaside resorts, from genteel Worthing to bohemian Brighton. Inland are ancient castles and romantic gardens, unspoilt villages and cosy country pubs, along with the cathedral cities of Canterbury and Chichester. Sussex aslo has a vibrant cultural scenes, taking in opera and music festivals, architectural gems and world-class art galleries.

Read more about UK breaks: Sussex

Amberley Castle

A 900-year-old castle with a rare mixture of grandeur and homeliness
Love conquers all – except old VW vans. Bella Todd rescues her honeymoon with a night scaling battlements and treehouses in Sussex.

Read more about UK breaks: Amberley Castle

Battle, East Sussex

Spend a weekend in one of Sussex’s historical meccas
This is the scene of the momentous Battle of Hastings and a charming little town built around the ancient Abbey.

Read more about UK breaks: Battle

Bexhill, East Sussex

A South Bank-on-sea in a tranquil south-coast setting
Walking the four-minute stretch from Bexhill station to the sea is less like stepping back in time, more like shuffling forward into your own default future. The south-coast town where Eddie Izzard spent his childhood, Spike Milligan his first war years and Fanny Craddock her final days is known as God’s Waiting Room, and not without good reason.

Read more about UK breaks: Bexhill

Brighton, West Sussex

20 great things to do in Brighton
With its bracing sea air and whiff of scandal, Brighton has a charm all of its own. It may have started life as a humble fishing village, but when the Prince Regent came here for his first ‘season’ in 1783, its status as a fashionable seaside resort was sealed.

Read more about 20 great things to do in Brighton

Eastbourne, West Sussex

Discovering the wilder side of a sleepy costal town
Brighton might rock, but its mellow neighbour to the east is arguably more filmic. Bella Todd swaps her Lambretta for a mobility scooter.

Read more about UK breaks: Eastbourne

East Grinstead, West Sussex

Done the beach at Bognor? Visit West Sussex's secret hideaway
As weekends away go, East Grinstead isn’t really up there with the likes of, say, Bath or Paris. A quick survey of the office confirmed my worst fears: ‘You could go on a coastal walk’ said one colleague. ‘It’s near Gatwick,’ I said. Another enthusiastically remarked that the area has the biggest concentration of independent churches in the world.

Read more about UK breaks: East Grinstead

The Lake District

Climb mountains, walk fells, waterski or even go Go Ape!
This is a landscape of breathtaking beauty: of still lakes, surrounded by forest and fells; of tranquil valleys and jagged summits; of plunging cascades and remote, reed-fringed tarns. Its pleasures are timeless, whether you’re idling on a rowing boat on Windermere or following in the footsteps of Wordsworth.

Read more about UK breaks: The Lake District

Wales

Harlech

Explore the high mountains and haute cuisine of the Welsh Rhingos
The first Welsh word I learned on the drive from London to Harlech was painted on every bend in the road. 'Araf'. Slow down. It was exactly what I intended doing when I got to north-west Wales.

Read more about UK breaks: Harlech

Laugharne

Where Dylan Thomas came to write and drink
Bob told me the guest book in the Boathouse had been signed that morning by a literary pilgrim. He said she’d put only one word in the comments box: ‘Lonely’. He said he’d found that moving.

Read more about UK breaks: Laugharne

Pembrokeshire

A 'little England' in the far south-west corner of Wales
Despite its location in rural Wales, Pembrokeshire is a surprisingly English escape where visitors can wander along stunning shorelines or simply enjoy the rustic solitude.

Read more about UK breaks: Pembrokeshire

Porthgain to Strumble Head

Picturesque fishing harbours and sublimely rugged cliffs
Dramatic scenery and the soft south-western air- Pembrokeshire is often described as Cornwall without the crowds.

Read more about UK breaks: Porthgain to Strumble Head

Yorkshire

Hull

A vibrant city and home to a literary genius
For the silver jubilee of Philip Larkin's death. Chris Moss visited the poet's adopted home and found what just might be England's nicest city.

Read more about UK breaks: Hull

York

Historical buildings, art and the National Railway Museum
While we like to champion Britain’s lesser-trod paths, what about those places that do merit a visit but are already overrun with tourists? Chris Waywell takes on York.

Read more about UK breaks: York

Great British breaks

Beaches, walks, spas, hotels and holiday lets
Everything from the best budget hotels to the quirkiest holiday homes; from adrenalin-fuelled outdoor activities to weird and wonderful adventures.

Read more about Great British breaks

Time Out Britain guidebooks

Time Out produces an indispensable range of guidebooks to help you get the best out of Britain.

Discover more great things to do with Time Out's '1000 things to do in Britain' book, available from www.timeout.com/shop at the discounted price of £8.44.

Discover 100 British coastal gems with Time Out's 'Seaside' book, available from www.timeout.com/shop at the discounted price of £11.04.

Discover 100s of places to stay in Britain with Time Out's 'Britain - Perfect places to stay, eat & explore' book, available from our shop www.timeout.com/shop at the discounted price of £11.80.

See all of Time Out's Britain guidebook range in our shop www.timeout.com/shop.

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