Sipping on some tea with milk and two cubes of sugar in the land of football after a long week? Our bags are already packed! Whether you're looking for some beach solitude or can't wait to take fab photos outside the Parlament, United Kingdom has a lot to offer. We've decided to stroll all over the country, South to North, so you can get a better grip of what awaits you. From busy Trafalgar square to the serene beauty of Chipping Campden, here's a teaser of what's to come:
- Portmeirion - A taste of Italy in North Wales
- If your heart desires whiskey go to Aberdeen
- Village paradise awaits at Cotswolds
- London - Go where royalty lives
Pasties or Surfing - Cornwall has it all
Let's start in the Southwest of England, where Cornwall takes the cake as the most gorgeous vacation destination (in our opinion, don't come for us). Home of the Cornish people can brag about its long coastline, the longest in the country, stretching over 433 miles (696 km) and having more than 300 beaches. With Truro being its only town, Cornwall gives you a lot to look forward to if you enjoy spending your time in nature. Fans of British dramas and romcoms will love this place; many memorable locations can be spotted on a leisure stroll across the county. Cornwall was also fruitful soil for musicians, specifically drummers, as it is the birthplace of both Mick Fleetwood and Roger Taylor.
Two things that make this county even more attractive are the food and the waves, perfect for surfing. Combine the two, and you've got yourself a perfect weekend break in the UK. Vacation in Cornwall can get quite pricey tho, as it houses some of the most expensive resorts in the country; it can cost you a couple of thousand pounds a day even. If you want to get the best of this destination and don't go into severe debt, choose a weekend in June or September for your visit. Here are some of the things that I'll make your fun getaway busy in the best way possible:
- Try surfing in Cornwall: Riding the waves of the Atlantic ocean, especially in the spot where one of the biggest competitions for professional surfers is held every year, sure sounds exciting. If 8ft tall (2.44 m) waves don't scare you, choose between Sennen Beach or Fistral beach. It can get overcrowded, tho, but we do think it's worth it. Perranporth Beach is on the bigger side, which makes it beginner-friendly.
- Go on a Cornwall food tour: Fish dishes and meat pies are the stars of the show. You cannot miss the iconic pasties, unique pastry stuffed to the brim with onion, beef, potatoes, and many spices. At tea time, have a saffron bun or whortleberry pie.
- Vineyard and farm excursions: Getting a firsthand experience of life on a farm is so much fun, especially if you have good hosts. Book yourselves a tour of Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm in Truro, where you'll get to go on a tractor ride, see how ciders and jams are made and have a hefty lunch. Award-winning Camel Valley Vineyard opens its doors to visitors throughout the year. Besides the stunning terrace views and a rich shop that may make you poor, knowledgeable tour guides will teach you a thing or two about wine.
- Visit the Eden Project: Situated just outside the small town of St Blazey, this greenhouse complex houses an extensive collection of exciting plants inside two enormous biomes. Upon you will be the world's largest indoor rainforest, beautifully arranged outdoor gardens, and Mediterranean vegetation area. Admission prices start at 30 pounds, with peak season tickets going to almost 40.
London - Go where royalty lives
This sure is an obvious choice. We need to give London the love it deserves! The capital of England that sits on the River Thames has iconic spots scattered around town, from Abbey Road to Platform 9 ¾. With its history reaching the Roman ages, London will be a wild ride for all your history buffs. Weekends in London are packed with action; this is the time you'll find the most cultural events and trendy parties, as this city is known to be one of the best nightlife places in the world. If you want to check out more destinations around the globe that will give you the party to remember, give our blog about cities with the best nightlife a read.
Weekends fly by fast, so choose how and where to spend your time in London wisely. Yes, you can go with the safe choice that takes you to British Museum or on a London Eye ride, but with a limit on your hands, we suggest you immerse yourself in unique activities. To give you a couple of examples, here are some of the options:
- Take Jack the Ripper tour: Whether you find true-crime podcast enthralling or appalling, the story of Victorian London's most infamous killer has for sure reached you. Follow his footsteps and learn more about the dark history of London on this exciting tour. You'll get to visit the alleyways, pubs, church premises, and doorways that silently keep Ripper's secrets to this very day. Depending on how much time you want to spend with this case and if you wish to incorporate other experiences, this little treat can cost you 15-60 pounds.
- Visit the Sunday markets: Sundays are for perusing the streets of bustling neighborhoods of London enriched with street markets. From as early as 8 am, busy vendors start gathering their stands, offering you a colorful experience and a threat to your budget. You'll find flea markets and food stands with treats from all over the world, exotic spices and ingredients, vintage clothing, movie memorabilia, and so much more.
- Dine in the dark: Don't mock it until you've tried it. As much as it can sound exhausting, it is also a bit liberating and will for sure cause a few laughs. The experience at Dans le Noir starts as soon as you walk in, where blind waiters and waitresses greet you. Once you've picked out your color-coded menu, you are taken into a pitch-black room that's gonna be your dining area for the day. The food is excellent, the experience is top-notch, and the service is just as good.
Have outdoor adventures at the beaches of Pembrokeshire
Runner-up of the best coastline in the world competition is a perfect place for all you outdoors people looking for a lovely weekend retreat. Pride and joy of southwest of Wales is also an excellent getaway for families on the lookout for outdoor theme parks. Pembrokeshire peninsula calls on adrenalin-hungry visitors to hike, climb and explore its many cliffs and beaches. On that note, give our blog about adventure vacation in Europe a read to find inspiration. If you want to visit as much as you can on the one go, driving your car or renting one will be the best course of action. Hitting beach after beach and stopping to admire St Davids Cathedral and Carew Castle are essential Pembrokeshire activities. A great mix of nature, history, and overall good vibes bring you:
- Visit the Preseli Hills: Fancy having a drink at the highest bar in Pembrokeshire while overlooking the Wicklow Mountains? Head up the hills of Preseli Mountains, where Tafarn Sinc awaits. We hear their Sunday lunch is a real treat. The picturesque walk will take you through the original place of the stones, believed to have been used in the Stonehenge construction. Lovers of the Neolithic architecture will have a blast, as these hills are guarded with many forts, stone circles, and burial chambers.
- Go whale and dolphin watching: You can take a boat trip to a place called Celtic Deep to find whales, dolphins, and even porpoises. The best time to go dolphin watching is during the summer when many of them come to feeding and breeding grounds. But, to catch the magnificent bests that are whales, you must go further on the open water of the Atlantic. Small groups typically go on tours a couple of times a day.
- Try coasteering: If you've never heard of it, you're not alone. Arguably the best places in the UK, maybe even in the world, to go coastline exploring are the cliffs and rocks of Pembrokeshire county. You'll be exploring these wonders at sea level, with a lot of safety gear, and in big or small groups. Be sure to check out Ramsey Island, as it has the highest cliffs and the most exciting fauna life.
Village paradise awaits at Cotswolds
Are you considering buying a property in the UK to turn your little weekend breaks into a tradition? Look no further than the rural wonders of Costwolds, also having the title of Area of outstanding natural beauty. This region of the UK stretches over six counties, covering even the famous Warwickshire, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. It's a great starting point for short trips to little or even bigger towns, such as Birmingham, less than a two-hour drive away. Cotswolds is famous for its many villages, perfect for a quiet detox from the madness of modernity. This is where you'll find William Morris' weekend retreat mansion, a cute corner that resembles Venice, many farm shops that sell organic food, and divine-smelling gardens. Some of the things you can incorporate in your short vacay to make it more fun are:
- Book a spa day at Kings Head Hotel: Nurturing the body should be a top priority when booking a weekend break if you ask us. The hotel is within walking distance of the hippest bars and restaurants, so we recommend you go on a fun date before or after. The Vaulted Spa is well-known to the hotel residents, which means it's best to snatch your appointments on time. A nice massage, some champagne, scented candles, and modern facilities do sound amazing.
- Pottery at Whichford: Picturesque village is blessed with substantial green pastures and a history of pottery. A family-owned business at Warwickshire valley will take you on a tour of their workshop, showing you the secrets of the trade and some of their best projects. The most unique pieces can be spotted in their gorgeous backyard, which combines pottery and landscape design to wow you. At the end of your tour have a nice meal at the Straw kitchen. We recommend the home-baked goods!
- Visit the Arlington Row: The village of Bibury is considered to be the prettiest in the whole of England. The charm is undeniable, so get ready to take some postcard-worthy photos. The icon, the legend, and the moment are the stone cottages of Arlington Row. Built during the 14th century, they still hold their original design.
Portmeirion - A taste of Italy in North Wales
Short but oh, so sweet, Portmeirion will keep you occupied and entertained for hours. The Italy-inspired passion project of the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis won't take up your whole weekend, even though during the Summer months it sure could, so you'll have extra time to go on another adventure. A quick drive to the Snowdonia National Park, perhaps? Welsh charm blends perfectly into the iconic Italian aesthetic to make you forget where in the world you are. Even though Sir Clough denies it, the resemblance to Portofino is noticeable.
Colorful Portmeirion village and the iconic hotel with the same name were made with tourism in mind and its location on the Snowdonia coastline and closeness to many beaches sure make it a package made in heaven. You'll have to leave your dog out of the plans, as the village is not dog-friendly. Admission to Portmeirion costs 11 pounds (around $14.5), and it includes a guided 20-minute tour perfect as a starting point. Here's what you'll get to see and do at Portmeirion on your weekend break:
- Soak up the architecture: With the nickname "a gorgeous visual poem", the village's landscape does live up to the hype. The most memorable places you should pay special attention to are the Gothic Pavillion, Hercules Hall, and Belvedere. The star of this show for sure is Central Piazza. It was envisioned as the space that speaks and serves as propaganda for good manners. It consists of an enormous chessboard in the courtyard's center, Riviera-inspired houses surrounding it, a gorgeous staircase, an arch entrance, and so many other intricate details.
- Go on a walk through the Gwyllt: Behind the Portmeirion Hotel stands a 10 ha subtropical forest perfect for a romantic stroll. Gwyllt is enriched with magnolias, rhododendrons, camellias, and some interesting exotic species that bloom in exciting colors each season.
Get to know Titanic closer in Belfast
The cradle of the world's unluckiest ship, Belfast, is a city break staple in the UK. This jewel of Northern Ireland, formerly nicknamed Linenopolis due to its groundbreaking linen industry, was also the first to hear the genius that is Starway to Heaven performed live back in '71. Today you can go to Belfast to have a busy weekend, especially if you like museums and large ships. Just going on a short walk in Belfast will be scenic, as you'll pass the gorgeous City hall building, cobblestone-covered Cathedral quarter, or the Peace wall that speaks of Belfast's resilience and turbulent history. But, the most notable attraction you ought to incorporate in your Belfast weekend break is the visit to Titanic Belfast.
Did you know that the Titanic was built in Belfast? At the very place where busy shipbuilders worked on the ship's construction now stands this award-winning attraction. It is one of the most compelling museums dedicated to Titanic and its bitter history, showcased through interactive exhibits. From the moment you walk in, you get sucked into a time machine, starting back to Belfast at the start of the 20th century. As you walk from one room to the other, you'll get to experience the good and the bad, from the eventful launching of the ship to the sinking aftermath. The experience is improved with photographs, models, and replicas, the mellow voice of Celine Dion, and terrifying sounds of Morse code SOS messages being sent to other ships. The tour lasts at least 2 hours, but you can stay more to soak in all the information. Be ready to cry, shiver, and spend at least 20 pounds on the admission ticket. Good luck!
Edinburgh is the mecca for festival-goers
Is Edinburgh the most haunted city in the UK? We may never know, but feel free to explore if you're into that kind of entertainment. The so-called Auld Reekie welcomes more than 3 million tourists each year, all of them hungry for a bit of bit o history and a lot of fun. The capital of Scotland is immortalized pop culture phenomenon, be ready to chase the most Instagram-able spots. If you're a writer, maybe you'll discover some Hogwarts magic in you after a stroll or two down Princess Street. Perhaps the unique thing about Edinburgh is the festival tradition it upholds. And what better way to spend your weekend than immersing yourself in it among other enthusiasts? Here's what you need to know about Edinburgh's festival scene:
- Edinburgh Fringe Festival: The most extensive arts festival globally, welcoming more than thousands upon thousands of performers and acts across 300 stages all over the city. For the last 75 years, it has been held during August and exceeding expectations each year. The Fringe festival gathers comedians, musicians, dancers, palm readers, face painters, cabaret performers, you name it.
- Edinburgh Science Festival: Even though Edinburgh also has an International Children's Festival, your younglings will most definitely love this one even more. Over the course of two weeks, the Science festival organizes over 270 events catered to be enjoyed in family groups. You'll get the chance to watch exciting experiments, be a part of some of them, go on workshops and discussions, learn about space and the human body, and have a couple of science-inspired tastings.
- Edinburgh International Movie Festival: The fin starts even before the festival itself. The weekend before the festival is reserved for free movie screenings at the improvised outdoor cinema in St Andrew Square. This is a perfect time to catch up on your latest movies and get a sneak peek of the stars, which will graze the city in the next few days. If you wish to go into filmmaking waters, test them on masterclasses and workshops held at that time as well.
If your heart desires whiskey go to Aberdeen
Want to become a millionaire without embarrassing yourself on a widely broadcasted quiz? Buy a lottery ticket in Aberdeen, and you might get lucky, just like over 40 other people did. This wonder of a town is an overachiever, to say the least. Voted safest town in all of UK, it leads the way for granite suppliers, and even the oldest bridge in Scotland calls it home. Also, the national parks in this part of the UK can easily be considered worthy opponents to the Lake District, mark our words. Throw in some dolphin watching, a visit to Maritime Museum, and a stroll through Johnston Gardens, and you've got yourself a postcard-worthy vacation. Oh, and we have to mention the golf. Take a short ride from the airport, and you'll find yourself in the land of 18 holes, as Aberdeen has an astonishing number of courses for a region of that size.
We have our favorite Aberdeen quality that will make your mini break so much fun. Weekend getaway in Aberdeen will be a wild ride for whiskey enthusiasts, as there are at least 17 distilleries open to the public. This can be a bit pricey and luxurious, especially if you want to take a bottle(s) home as a souvenir. But hey, what else would you buy in Scotland if not good scotch? If luxury is what you seek on your vacations, we have not one but 15 more recommendations in our luxury vacation blog. On your (responsible!) journey through alcohol heaven, you mustn't miss these two:
- Glen Garioch Distillery: Visit the mothership of distilleries in Scotland and discover how some of the most sophisticated flavors come to life. You can take several tours, such as Masters of Distillery Road which lets you taste several stages of Stillman or an on-site exploration of malt barns and warehouses during the Wee Tasting Tour.
- Speyside Whisky Trail Tour from Aberdeen: Visit the fruitful Speyside region that gave us Chivas Brothers. You'll learn about oak casks, visit Royal Deeside and Tomintoul, and so much more for around 50 pounds.
UK getaway - Map of destinations
We've even made a handy-dandy little map to show you the way. You can use it while planning your trip or for making sense of where you currently are in the world.
Our journey ends, but yours is just beginning. Philosopher George Santayana famously said that "England is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, anomalies, hobbies, and humor.", you should definitely go and see if he was right. Give some love to Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland as well, they so much deserve it.