From city breaks to romantic countryside escapes, options for short trips in the UK abound. Whether you're looking to get active, overindulge or just chill out, we've got you covered. Here's our pick of the best weekend breaks in the UK. Need more inspiration? We've also rounded up 20 of the most memorable places to stay.
It’s easy to see why the Lake District National Park inspired William Wordsworth’s Romantic poetry. With its rolling green hills peering over clear expanses of water and quintessentially English towns and villages, the national park makes the perfect romantic getaway. Stay in a stone-clad cottage, light a roaring fire and enjoy the peace and quiet of this stunning region after a day admiring awesome views from the top of the fells.
Scotland’s northwest Highlands boast some of the best cycling roads in Britain. Weekend breaks in the UK don't come much better than this on two wheels. Wild swathes of largely deserted mountainous terrain give way to clear, well maintained roads perfect for a bike ride, with few cars joining you along the way. The scenery around is astoundingly beautiful, and you’ll find yourself cruising through deep valleys and past inky-blue lochs. Visit in summer, when the weather is most reliable.
The home of The Beatles, Liverpool has been dubbed the World Capital of Pop. For your fix of the Fab Four, head to the Albert Dock for The Beatles Story, or check out a Beatles tribute band at the Cavern Club. More recently, the city’s award-winning festivals: Sound City, Creamfields and Liverpool Music Week, have consolidated its status as a go-to destination for music lovers. In the evening, there are open mic nights and live venues across the city.
Where better for a pint of shamrock-topped Guinness than an Irish pub? Belfast won’t disappoint, with everything from a National Trust pub The Crown Liquor Saloon to chic modern bars. Join a pub crawl around the city’s traditional bars for cold Guinness and live music. You can even try pouring your own pint at Lavery’s. If the black stuff isn’t for you, northern Ireland’s recent craft beer revolution means there are plenty of beers to try too.
World-class museums, West End theatres and leading art galleries; when it comes to short breaks in the UK, England’s capital has it all. With a packed calendar of exhibitions and events throughout the year, London draws the biggest names in music, sport and the arts. It doesn’t need to be expensive, either, as many of the capital’s museums are free, and cheap events are held year-round. Rough Guides readers even recently voted it the world’s coolest city. You’ll never be struggling for something to do here.
The sweeping curve of Llandudno’s bay draws in visitor after visitor every year, and it’s no wonder why; the seaside town offers stunning coastal scenery. Take the tramway to the top of Great Orme for wonderful panoramic views across the bay. Or, take in the scene from above on one of the town’s cable cars. Nearby Conwy Castle is a must-see; climb the battlements to admire the snow-peaked mountains of Snowdonia and the placid Conwy estuary.
Bath has been a popular spa destination since the Roman era, and its natural hot springs still steam today, with boutique hotels offering luxury spa breaks. Of course, the town’s focal point is the wonderfully preserved Roman Baths. In July and August, the Baths stay open until 10pm, and torches light up the ruins, making an evening summer stroll through the Georgian streets even more enticing.
The Cornish coast attracts thousands of surfers every year, with some of the best waves in the UK. In the summer, Rip Curl Boardmasters festival brings together music and surfing, pulling in big names from both. Fistral Beach, where the festival’s surf competitions are held, is the most popular year-round, but the many bays will leave you with plenty of choice. There’s no end of surf schools to try, and when you’re tired of the waves, treat yourself to a Cornish cream tea.
Edinburgh Castle’s fairytale towers are a reminder of the city’s ancient roots, while sleek, urban design in the city centre gives the the city a decidedly cool edge. Take an architecture tour to explore the Old Town's winding Reformation-era streets and the elegant Neoclassical buildings of the New Town. Modern highlights include the controversial Scottish Parliament building and the swirling Edinburgh Landform. When you've had your fill of the city from the ground, head to the top of Calton Hill to take in the skyline from above.
A trip to the New Forest is truly magical. Designated a royal hunting preserve 1000 years ago, the enchanting working forest is wonderfully unspoilt, with unenclosed pasture land allowing animals to roam free. The area is a wildlife haven, where you can find many indigenous species in their natural surroundings. The most iconic are the New Forest ponies, which rule the land; you’ll find yourself giving way to horses rather than people on a drive through the forest.