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The best places to visit in the UK in 2019

Put away your passport. Here are the best places to visit in the UK this year, from the Scottish Highlands to the Kent Downs

Duncansby Head
By Ellie Walker-Arnott and Lucy Lovell |
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Planning your next travel adventure? According to recent research, a third of Brits are opting for staycations over foreign travel in 2019 as a result of the uncertainty caused by (you guessed it) Brexit. But that needn’t feel like a hardship. Really, there are zero reasons to leave the UK in 2019, when there are so many exciting places to explore. From awe-inspiring landscapes, deserted beaches and stargazing spots to arts festivals, fresh cultural hotspots and brand new destination hotels, plus a place to reflect on the D-Day landings and mark the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth. Put away your passport and check out the ultimate UK break bucket list for 2019. 

RECOMMENDED: The best weekends away from London

1
Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Photograph: Debu55y/Shutterstock.com

West Yorkshire

A groundbreaking new arts trail sees four leading galleries plus outdoor exhibitions put Yorkshire on the map as a leading sculpture destination. The Henry Moore Institute, The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Art Gallery and Yorkshire Sculpture Park are the key attractions of the first Yorkshire Sculpture International, taking place between June 22 and September 29 2019. Nearby, the perfectly preserved Victorian village of Saltaire is well worth a trip. Visitors can find the arts centre and independent shopping centre Salts Mill and the newly opened Salt Beer Factory – an impressive £1.7m brewtap, music venue and food hub launched by local beer heroes Ossett Brewery.

2
Bristol

Bristol

There’s never a bad time to visit Bristol, and 2019 is no exception. The city’s first shipping container park can be found in the new neighbourhood development Wapping Wharf. Here, some of the city’s best bars and restaurants are found in an idyllic waterside setting; try the seasonal, succinct cooking at Box-E and creative modern beers from Wild Beer Co. While you’re here, stay at Bristol’s coolest new hotel Artist Residence – a boutique chain born in Brighton with a plan to renovate a Grade I-listed former boot factory, opening this autumn.

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3
Tintagel, Cornwall

Cornwall

Cornwall is a county of contradictions. There’s myth and mystery, misty clifftops and sharp, rugged rocks rising out of restless waves, as well as peaceful coves, sleepy towns and vitamin D-soaked beaches packed out with surfers. Go in search of King Arthur at Tintagel’s romantic, clifftop ruin (which is reopening in August with a brand new bridge), before travelling along the coast to Boscastle and the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic – it’s the world’s oldest and largest collection of items relating to magic, home to creepy mirrors, mummified cats, lucky charms and spell-casting stones. Watch a play with the Atlantic as the backdrop at the Minack Theatre, see great works of art at Tate St Ives and have a freshly cooked feast under the stars at The Hidden Hut. Then wander the causeway out to St Michael’s Mount at low tide, lose yourself in The Lost Gardens of Heligan and explore Cornwall’s answer to Kew Gardens: the Eden Project, with its enormous indoor forests. This otherworldly part of the country makes a compelling case to stay in the UK this year.

4
Hope Valley in the Peak District
Shutterstock

Peak District

Bracing walks don’t get much better than those in the Peak District, but with so many on offer, how do you choose? Ask Jarvis Cocker, of course. The Pulp frontman – along with Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and local community groups – has put together a self-guided walking trail to show off the best of the area. The project comes almost 90 years after the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass of 1932 – a key moment in the fight for public access to private land. Celebrate by taking part in the walk, which starts at Edale and takes around three hours. Download the map from the National Trust website. In the words of Jarvis: “Be kind to the landscape. Be kind to the environment. Then stop, close your eyes for a moment and think of how to be kinder. To Be Kinder.”

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5
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Photograph: Getty

Scottish Highlands

Forget North America’s awe-inspiring National Parks and Asia’s otherworldly coastlines, we have incredible landscapes much closer to home. For an escape that couldn’t feel further from London (but isn’t actually that far), jump on the Caledonian Sleeper after work on a Friday and wake up early the next morning in the middle of the Highlands. A new fleet of plush trains, with double beds and en suites, are arriving this year (the launch date was originally in spring 2019, but it’s been pushed back), to make the overnighter to Scotland more comfortable. Disembark in Inverness and you’ll find yourself within driving or day-tripping distance from hikes in the Cairngorms, dolphin spotting at Chanonry Point and monster hunting at Loch Ness. Venture further afield to see the fang-like stacks at Duncansby Head, the deserted beaches of the north coast, the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by ‘Harry Potter’, and the dizzying heights of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles.

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Exmoor dark skies

Exmoor

2019 is the year to seek out darkness. Our lives are forever getting brighter, thanks to our devotion to screens, and spots where you can see the dark sky and stars above us are dwindling. In London, streetlamps, floodlights and illuminated office blocks mean real astral gazing is a no-go. It never gets truly dark at all. Thankfully, that’s not true of some other parts of the UK. Exmoor has the darkest skies in the country, according to the International Dark-Sky Association. Classed as a Dark Sky Reserve, the landscape is made up of moorland with nature reserves, ancient burial grounds, wild valleys and rugged sea cliffs. It’s a lush place to explore by daylight, but at night head to Holdstone Hill, County Gate, Brendon Two Gates, Webbers Post, Anstey Gate, Haddon Hill or Wimbleball Lake for impressive astral views.

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7
Dundee v&a

Dundee

Thanks to the V&A, Dundee is now a place of cultural pilgrimage. The new V&A outpost, set in a strikingly modern waterfront building, opened in this Scottish city in late 2018. The focus is on the brilliance of Scottish design, with the Scottish Design Galleries containing everything from a fifteenth-century ‘Book of Hours’ to Christopher Kane’s dresses, free to browse all year round. Also don’t miss Architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Oak Room, a hidden treasure whipped wholesale from its original tearoom setting in Glasgow and reinstated here. And in terms of the regeneration of Dundee’s waterfront, the V&A is just the beginning, with bars, restaurants and boat tours creating an increasingly buzzy scene.

8
Summerleaze Beach, Bude
Photograph: travellight/Shutterstock.com

Bude

What was once a run-of-the-mill sun-bleached holiday resort is now blossoming into a must-visit coastal retreat, fuelled by a handful of keen foodies and surfers. The achingly cool Temple, for example, is kitting out the town in Universal Works and feeding the masses with Francis Mallmann-inspired beach barbecues. Their Temple Takeover nights invite a changing roster of top chefs – some all the way from that there London – into the kitchen. Meanwhile, the off-grid campsite Kudhva, a 30 minute drive away, is attracting artists and watersports fans from around the globe to stay in its jaunty, plywood huts. Help foster this fledgling community with a visit.

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9
Glastonbury

Glastonbury

Didn’t get tickets to Glastonbury 2019? There are still plenty of good reasons to head to this sweet, spiritual corner of Somerset, which keeps the hippie vibes going all year round. Visit to stock up on healing crystals, spells, ethical skincare and celtic jewellery on Glastonbury High Street. Explore the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey and take a sip of healing water from the Chalice Well gardens before tackling the steep climb to the Tor. On a clear day you can see for miles from the top, where the iconic Grade-I listed tower stands. It’s steeped in history and legend, serving as a meaningful landmark for pagans and Christians over the centuries. Now, it’s a peaceful place to sit and find space to reflect.

10
Lake District, Ullswater

Lake District

England’s largest national park and the inspiration for countless artists and poets, the Lake District is the latest UK location to be named a Unesco World Heritage Site. There’s plenty of bucket-list natural wonders to visit, including England’s largest lake (Windermere at 14.8 square kilometres) and highest mountain (Scafell Pike at 978m). Top restaurants include L’Enclume, The Forest Side and The Samling, while contemporary lodgings are bolstered by the arrival of the award-winning Another Place – a chic new hotel on the shores of Lake Ullswater.

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