Best short breaks in summer

 By Annabelle Thorpe

A summer break doesn’t have to mean an expensive fortnight in the Med. Short breaks are a great, affordable way to grab a couple of days away without breaking the bank.  It’s the best time of the year to explore the UK, while camping – or glamping – can be a great way to escape for some European sunshine.

Cornwall is at its best in the summer, when the spectacular beaches are filled with surfers and the long evenings are perfect for suppers in pretty pub gardens or barbecues by the sea.  Padstow is one of the county’s most picturesque villages – made famous by chef Rick Stein – but it’s also close to some spectacular beaches. You can rent a cosy log cabin. See more holiday ideas in Cornwall.

In Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire you can rent a luxury lodge with woodland views, plenty of outdoor activities and your own outdoor hot tub. Choose between a 3-night weekend break and a 4-night mid-week break. See the latest special offers.

A lot of cottages can only be rented for seven-day periods, but both Bramley & Teal (Kent and Sussex) and The Lakeland Cottage Company (Lake District) offer flexible rental periods from one night upwards.

Scotland is gorgeous in summer. Take a whisky holiday in Highlands and Islands, see whales and seals off the coast of Mull or tour the countryside in a classic car.

For a touch of the wild, there are the Faroe Islands, hidden away 200 miles north-west of Scotland.  The ideal summer escape if you want long walks, dramatic scenery and the kind of history you can touch and feel.

Take a flight or ferry to Jersey with its French influences, World War II history, great beaches and restaurants. Best places to stay include the Pomme d’Or Hotel in St Helier and the Greenhills Country House Hotel.

golfing weekend works well for both couples and groups of friends. You can usually find special offers offers with the specialist operator Elegant Golf Resorts. Walkers should head to Hassness Country House in the Lake District.

For guaranteed heat and some of the best food in Europe – along with beautiful beaches, towns crammed full of beautiful Baroque architecture and an innate sense of style – Sicily is a fantastic choice.  Mingle with the jet-set in Taormina, take a guided walk up Mount Etna, or simply laze on the beach with a gelato and watch the world go by.

Or head to the unspoilt Alentejo region of Portugal for a fly-drive trip or a short break in the beautiful city of Evora.

Or you could treat yourselves to a luxury journey on the Venice Simplon-Orient Express. The classic itinerary is London to Venice.

Another way to explore Europe without flying is on a mini-cruise of between two and four nights. You can visit cities such as Amsterdam and Bruges, or cruise the Scottish Isles, Channel Islands or Ireland.

Or head north to stylish Copenhagen for contemporary design, long days of sunshine hip award-winning restaurants. Sweden’s capital Stockholm is also majestic in summer, with al fresco dining, long evenings and a summer party atmosphere.

Have you ever been to Luxembourg? Thought not. But this pocket-sized country is packed with historic charm, world-class museums and classy hotels such as the five-star Hotel le Place d’Armes.

If you love nature, try one of these wildlife breaks which include a four-night Brown Bear Adventure in Finland with the chance to also see lynx and wolverine.

For more ideas, see my guide to the best short breaks in the Mediterranean.

Check out my recommendations for city breaks in springautumn and winter.

Last updated: 20 February 2020

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