UK holiday ideas
By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer
Because of variants, traffic lights and costly tests, “staycations” remain popular in the second half of 2021. On the plus side, many people are enjoying the natural beauty of the UK coast and countryside, as well as our world-class cities. On the other hand, prices have gone up and many prime spots have sold out.
So what are the best UK holiday destinations? Here’s where to stay in the UK in 2021 and booking ahead into 2022. Given high demand, don’t hang about: if there’s a holiday you fancy, book it now.
* Did you know you can save up to 40% on holiday prices? See all the latest deals.We publish new deals most weeks and you can get them delivered to your inbox by entering your email address below.
Family summer holidays in the UK
The West Country never loses its allure. In Cornwall, you can rent a cottage or indulge in a little luxury at the family-friendly Sands Hotel Resort & Spa. If you’re on a budget, head to the glorious Perran Springs Holiday Park close to a white-sand beach and just six miles from Newquay. It has tents, caravans, pet-friendly pitches and log-built glamping pods.
You can rent a cottage in the Lake District and discover some of the UK’s most beautiful landscapes, whether you want to tackle challenging walks or potter around charming villages and lakes. We recommend Sykes Cottages – see their latest special offers.
In the Yorkshire Dales you can find glorious countryside, historic market towns and stone hamlets, and lots of things to do. Rent a cottage and explore castles, walking trails, fishing villages and cosy pubs. Or take your walking boots on holiday in the Peak District.
Enjoy the glorious wide open spaces of Scotland where you could rent a historic house, enjoying some of the clearest night skies in the UK, or drive the North Coast 500, one of Europe’s great coastal roads.
Devon has a wonderful choice of places to stay at good prices. See this selection of rustic cottages and barn conversions.
Children love farm stays. We recommend Holiday Cottages which has locations across the West Country and Wales.
You can send your youngsters away to summer camp. PGL has adventure holidays and summer camps for kids aged 7 to 17, while Kingswood Camps has seven camps in the UK, from Northumberland to the Isle of Wight. PGL also runs activity holidays for families in the UK (and France). See details.
If you want to travel with your pet, try this dreamy collection of dog-friendly cottages.
>> Find more ideas at our sister site, 101 Family Holidays
UK activity holidays
If you’re looking for something different next summer – on a budget – we recommend a self-drive boating holiday with Waterways Holidays. Rent a motor cruiser, sailing boat or narrowboat to explore some of the many beautiful waterways that criss-cross Britain. The boats are easy to navigate, with no experience required.
The beautiful countryside of the Peak District is easily reached from much of England and perfect for walking, cycling, rock climbing and horse riding. Rent one of these cottages (and check for last-minute deals).
In the Lake District, Hassness Country House has a superb location away from the crowds and offers free daily guided walks. With no more than 21 guests, it’s ideal for couples, solo travellers and groups of friends.
It’s only a short hop by flight or ferry to the Channel Islands. On Jersey you can explore Second World War tunnels, castles, hidden coves and wide open beaches. Stay at the Pomme d’Or Hotel in St Helier or relax at Greenhills Country House Hotel.
On the Shropshire-Wales border, we love Pen-y-Dyffryn, a cosy Georgian country house hotel set in gorgeous unspoilt countryside away from it all. It has an outstanding restaurant and is ideal for walkers. Check out the latest special offers. Nearby, in the charming town of Bishops Castle, The Castle Hotel has great food, a dozen contemporary rooms and great walking country on the doorstep.
Join a small boat cruise in the Hebrides to explore remote islands such as Mull, Jura and Skye, where you can fish, swim, dive, set lobster pots, go kayaking, and view dolphins, porpoises, basking sharks and otters.
The UK has some of the finest hotels in Europe, many set in classic unspoilt countryside. Our favourite country house hotels include Gilpin Lodge in the Lake District, and the award-winning Three Choirs Vineyards in Gloucestershire where you can discover British wine making at its best.
We also recommend i-escape which has boutique hotels across the UK. Its budget options include a groovy guesthouse in Brighton and riverside hotel near Bath, while luxury ideas include a spa hotel in the New Forest and a relaxed country house hotel in the Cotswolds.
If you want to go away with a group of friends or two or three families, consider renting a big house in the countryside. You’ll find a great selection at The Big Domain catering for groups of between 12 and 56.
In the Cotswolds, check out this collection of luxury rental properties. You can also get your hands on a historic house in England, Scotland or Wales that would be perfect for a long weekend celebrating a significant birthday or anniversary – see the special offers.
Explore Britain’s ancient history on an expert-led small-group tour with Martin Randall focussed on the country’s musical, architectural or artistic heritage. You could tour some of the Great Houses of England, attend a classical music festival or sign up for the new Turner & The Sea tour for example.
Last updated: 6 August 2021