Europe & Britain | Destination Guides

The best UK staycations for last-minute summer holiday trips

August means one thing – a UK Bank Holiday is fast approaching and it’s time to lock in some UK domestic travel this summer. Whether you’re looking for a fun, relaxing destination for a longer getaway, or a short trip for the August Bank Holiday long weekend, these are the best UK staycation destinations that are sure to appeal to every member of your family.

Cotswolds

The picturesque Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful locations in the UK. The honey-coloured villages and rolling green hills ooze with quintessential English charm. The Cotswolds is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England, encompassing 787 square miles across six counties. Whether you are spending a long weekend or several weeks here, there are plenty of activities for families. Beyond admiring the beauty of the villages or the surrounding landscape there are lots of different museums, castles and stately homes throughout the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds Motoring and Toy Museum in Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most popular museums in the region with its huge collection of motoring memorabilia and their collection of toys, perfect for the kids (and kids at heart)!

Lake District

The Lake District is one of the best options for a last-minute staycation. There is plenty to appeal to families who want to get out and experience the great outdoors. Take a leisurely family bike ride down winding country lanes or a day-long hike across the hills for those families with older children. There are also other fun activities like boat rides and kayaking on the region’s many lakes. 

For those families with more literary tastes, the Lake District has many artistic and literary connections as well. Williams Wordsworth was born in Cockermouth in 1770 and drew much of his inspiration from the surrounding landscape. One of the top Lake District attractions is Hill Top, a 17th-century house that was the home of beloved children’s writer Beatrix Potter. 

RELATED CONTENT: 15 of the prettiest places to visit in England

Scottish Highlands

Travelling further north into Scotland, the Scottish Highlands is a treasure trove of stunning landscapes, soaring mountain ranges, quaint villages and some of the most unexpectedly beautiful beaches in the UK. The Highlands are a must-visit for any family looking for some of the best UK staycations. Achmelvich Bay, Oldshoremore, Morar and Durness are some of the most beautiful beaches in and around the Scottish Highlands. If you make it out to the islands, Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris is sublime. But of course, no visit to the north of Scotland is complete without visiting the mountains. If you have children old enough to enjoy this, you will find plenty of family-friendly walks and hikes.

The Highland Wildlife Park is another absolute must-visit for families visiting the Highlands. The whole family will love the different species of animals at the park and the many interactive exhibits. Even better, if you want to beat the heat, the park stays open into the early evenings in summer. 

RELATED CONTENT: 7 Scotland travel experiences you can enjoy with Trafalgar

Brighton

Escaping to the coast is one of our favourite things to do in summer and Brighton is one of the most popular summer destinations for UK domestic travel. In Brighton, you will never be bored. This lovably eccentric city always has something going on. Is there anywhere else you’ll see a skateboarding Jack Russell? Well, maybe. But Brighton is an eclectic mix of sea-facing yoga classes, beachfront markets and fun museums. The Brighton Toy and Model Museum is a perennial favourite, but make sure to check out the Museum of Penny Slot Machines and the Old Police Cells Museum for an interesting look at English history.  

Isle of Wight

The hidden gem of UK staycations, the Isle of Wight has plenty to offer, including some of the best beaches in England. Reaching the island is quite easy with several Isle of Wight ferry routes and even a hovercraft if you are not bringing a vehicle. Once you are on the island, there is plenty to do on your Isle of Wight staycation. 

If your kids like the beach, there are plenty of great options. One of the best is Sandown, which is sandy, fairly sheltered and safe for swimming. Shanklin and Compton also have lovely sandy beaches. There is also, of course, Alum Bay, the beach with the multi-coloured sands. 

Robin Hill Adventure Park is one of the many zoos and animal sanctuaries on the Isle of Wight and is extremely popular for families with younger children. The 88-acres of natural parkland incorporates treetop canopy walks, tobogganing and epic rides. For the dinosaur lovers, Dinosaur Isle and Blackgang Chine are a must-visit. 

RELATED CONTENT: 8 Unusual Things to Do in England

North Wales

For history and nature lovers, North Wales is a must for a last minute staycation. Historical tours of the area take you to some of the most amazing, ruined castles, such as Harlech and Rhuddlan, as well as magnificent fortresses that are still standing strong. To get a glimpse into family life of the past, castles like Chirk, Caernarfon and Conwy are perfect examples of how these fortresses not only protected the people inside but were also family homes. Not so  unlike the homes we know today. But Wales is perhaps most well known for its picture-perfect scenery. From rolling green hills to grey mountains, for adventure-loving families with older kids, hiking is the perfect way to experience the Welsh landscape. 

Mount Snowdon is a popular hike, but if you feel like just sitting back and taking in the scenery, there is the Snowdon Mountain Railway that will get you to the top of the mountain for some of the best views in the UK. 

County Antrim

If you want to pop over to Northern Ireland for a last minute staycation, County Antrim is packed with family-friendly activities. In the country’s capital, Belfast, the brilliant Titanic Museum has excellent interactive exhibits that tell the story of the RMS Titanic and will keep the kids entertained for hours. If you want to make the most of the gorgeous weather and head outside, the Antrim Coast has miles of sandy beaches, clifftop castle ruins and seaside towns and villages aplenty. 

The Giant’s Causeway is nature’s adventure playground that children will love clambering on. The excellent visitor centre is the place to go to learn about the myth of the giants (for those who love folklore and fairytales) as well as the more scientific explanation of this natural wonder.

For the parents, the Bushmills Distillery is close to the Giant’s Causeway (after all, mum and dad need a treat as well). Touring this famous whiskey brewery is an essential part of visiting County Antrim. 

London

There’s no other place like it. London is perhaps one of the most cosmopolitan cities on Earth and the English capital is jam-packed with family-friendly entertainment. If you can make only one trip this summer, London has almost everything you could want from the wonderful world of UK staycations. 

If you’re keen to broaden young minds, then the city is filled with history as well as the British Museum, Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, among many others. 

If your kids are Harry Potter fans, they’ll enjoy spotting the many London sights that are featured in the Harry Potter films. The Harry Potter World London Studio tour has to be at the top of any Harry Potter fans’ bucket list. 

What’s the best UK staycation destination you’ve ever experienced? Let us know in the comments! Or, visit our website to learn more about how you can travel to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland with Trafalgar.

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