Enjoy a quiet staycation with our UK hidden gems guide

While many of us are guilty of snapping up the first flight to a sunny destination for our holidays, 2021 is set to be the year of staycations. As Brits across the country are warned not to book trips abroad, they’re instead urged to get to know their home country a little better.

Away from the bustle of busy UK holiday spots like the Lake District or the Cornwall coast, there are hundreds of hidden gems across the country, usually reserved for locals or those-in-the-know. Whether you’re lucky enough to be able to set up home anywhere thanks to your caravan or motorhome or need to find reliable and safe accommodation at your destination, our guide to UK hidden holiday gems is sure to set you off on the right foot. 

Latest Roadmap

England key dates:

  • 29th March — Day trips allowed
  • 12th April — Self-contained accommodation (holiday lets), outdoor attractions, non-essential retail, and outdoor hospitality to reopen 
  • 17th May — Outdoor performances, indoor hospitality and entertainment, sporting events, hotels and campsites to reopen
  • 21st June — Nightclubs, large events and performances to reopen

Scotland key dates:

  • Dates to be confirmed

Wales key dates:

  • 22nd March — non-essential retail to reopen
  • 27th March — travel within Wales now permitted, self-contained holiday accommodation to re-open for one household

Northern Ireland key dates:

  • Dates to be confirmed

Hebden Bridge, Calderdale

Rochdale Canal at Hebden Bridge. Image credit: Poliphilo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Average highs of 20°C in summer

Prone to flooding — check ahead of your journey

Hebden Bridge, nestled in the Calderdale hills, is a fantastic getaway for those looking for something midway between town and country. Although it’s accessible by train, you can make the most of the surrounding area if you bring a car.

For walkers, there’s beautiful countryside to explore, either along the canals or up into the surrounding valleys. Use the town as a base to explore the Pennine Way: start with a woodland hike through nearby Hardcastle Crags. And when you’re finished for the day, retire to one of the many pubs, cafes or restaurants to enjoy.

Waren Mill & Budle Bay, Northumberland

Budle Bay. Image credit: Ian Capper, CC-BY-SA/2.0, via Geograph

Average highs of 20°C in the summer

For those looking for white sands and crystal-clear seas without leaving the country, the wild beaches of Northumberland should be a massive draw. Make your base around Waren Mill at a nearby campsite or cottage. Budle Bay, the village’s beach, is one of the best birdwatching spots in Britain.

There are also local hire shops nearby, as the Bay’s tidal lagoons are great for trying out watersports. At low tide, you’re treated to an absolutely stunning beach that stretches up towards Bamburgh. Walk up to the castle by circumnavigating the bay or journey slightly further afield to Lindisfarne — the perfect place for seal-spotting!

Wine Garden of England, Kent

Wine Garden of England, Kent
Hops and grapes in Kent. Image credit: Oast House Archive CC-BY-SA/2.0, via Geograph

Average highs of 21°C in the summer

Instead of booking a wine tour around Italy, France or New Zealand, enjoy a tasting at one or many of England’s finest vineyards. Book your stay in the villages of Ashford or Tenterden to explore the wineries of the area like Chapel Down or Hush Heath — they offer guided tours, tastings and farm to table dining experiences, as well as a shop for you to take home your favourite bottle.

The Gusbourne vineyard, near Appledore, are opening their doors once more on the 12th April for vineyard tours and pre-booked picnics amongst the vines. A perfect way to enjoy a lesser-seen side of Kent.

Ludlow, Shropshire

Ludlow, Shropshire
The historic centre of Ludlow. Image Credit: Rodtuk, CC-BY-SA/2.0, via Flickr

Average highs of 22°C in the summer

For those who love quintessentially English towns, Ludlow is a must-visit. Close to the beautiful rolling countryside of Shropshire, it’s the perfect place for a short getaway. Base yourself just outside the town to find the best of both worlds — visiting stunning natural reserves and rich woodland, or stargaze at the county’s Dark Sky sites in the Shropshire hills.

For a change of scenery, walk into town to discover why Ludlow has such a strong reputation for food and drink; with plenty of restaurants, pubs and bars to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Staithes, North Yorkshire

Staithes, North Yorkshire
Staithes. Image credit: Hartmut Schmidt, Heidelberg, CC-BY-SA-4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Average highs of 20°C in the summer

Close to the popular seaside town of Whitby, Staithes is the quieter alternative. Filled with beautiful and authentic fishing cottages for hire, there’s plenty of places to rent for a blissful week by the sea. Although complete with a small beach and a harbour, the village is very small, so you’ll do well to explore the surrounding area too — think walks along the headland or fossil searches by the sea, followed by afternoons spent in the pub.

Staithes is picturesque but still off the Yorkshire tourist trail, and is very much a working fishing village. Use this to your advantage and get up early to barter for that evening’s meal. It’ll be some of the freshest fish you’ll ever taste.

Argyll, Scotland

Argyll, Scotland
Kilchurn Castle. Image credit: Andrew McKie, CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Average highs of 19°C in the summer

The west coast of Scotland is home to some of the UK’s most breathtaking scenery, none so much as the region of Argyll — home to 23 inhabited islands, many with rugged, white-sand beaches. Wildlife lovers will appreciate the area’s nature reserves, where sightings of golden eagles, red deer, otters, puffins and seals are common.

Choose from a range of accommodation such as B&Bs or holiday cottages; or for the wild at heart, camping or bothies. With castles, gardens and abbeys, as well as water sports, breweries and distilleries, there really is something for everyone in this less-visited part of Scotland. Before you travel, check what’s open here.

Kelso, Scottish Borders

Kelso, Scottish Borders
Floors Castle, Kelso. Image credit: Bernard Blanc, CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0, via Flickr

Average highs of 20°C in the summer

The Scottish Borders are often overlooked as tourists tend to travel straight through to the Highlands or to major cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow. Towns such as Kelso, however, are a fantastic reason to spend some time just north of the border.

As well as its traditional Romanesque architecture and fantastic restaurants, local stately homes Mellerstain House and Floors Castle are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. They’re well worth a day trip for their stunning grounds and gardens, as well as the imposing buildings. Don’t forget to explore the surrounding countryside of the Cheviot hills before heading back to the town for your evening meal.

Ceredigion, Wales

Ceredigion, Wales
Aberaeron Harbour. Image credit: Ann, CC-BY-SA/2.0, via Geograph

Average highs of 17°C in the summer

This Welsh county is home to a number of hidden gems that make it a fantastic destination for the adventurous. The Teifi Pools are a series of lakes in the wild and untamed mid-Welsh countryside. Hikers will enjoy a climb up nearby Cardair Idris, whilst families can make the most of the beautiful Mwnt Beach — remote enough to be quiet at most times of the year.

Also in the area is the beautiful Artists Valley; quiet and serene, it’s the perfect place for a summer’s day picnic. Choose your base away from the coastal towns to avoid the crowds, and enjoy the best of what the county has to offer.

Ballintoy, County Antrim

Ballintoy, County Antrim
Ballintoy Harbour. Image credit: dareangel_2000, CC-BY-2.0, via Flickr 

Average highs of 18°C in the summer

Although the beautiful harbour has grown in popularity since being featured on Game of Thrones, Ballintoy remains a quiet place for a getaway in Northern Ireland. Close to stunning natural formations like the Giant’s Causeway and The Park End, it’s a fantastic base to explore Northern Ireland’s magnificent coast.

The village itself is incredibly picturesque, with quaint B&Bs being the accommodation of choice in the area. Be sure to visit the distinctive white parish church on the hill — but for those seeking a different kind of thrill, the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, linking the cliff face to a small island, is a must.

Omagh, County Tyrone

Strule Arts Centre. Image credit: Kenneth Allen, CC-BY-SA/2.0, via Geograph

Average highs of 19°C in the summer

Situated along the River Strule, Omagh has something for everyone and is a great destination for those looking for a stay in Northern Ireland that’s off the beaten path. Fantastic traditional pubs, access to some of the area’s most beautiful natural sites, and a fascinating arts scene makes it well worth a short stay.

For those who love a dose of retail therapy, the town centre is packed with independent gift shops and clothing boutiques. Be sure to visit the Strule Arts Centre to see both local and international artists’ work on display, and families will love the Ulster American Folk Park — offering a true insight into the lives of the Irish diaspora in the USA.

UK Hidden Gems

Of course, you don’t have to travel far to find your perfect holiday. Although the weather may be unpredictable, taking a break in Britain can also have its upsides. As well as not having to bother changing currency or learn phrases in a new language, it’s also an opportunity to reconnect with your heritage and see the beauty in the place that we call home.