Five UK Destinations for a Blissful Bank Holiday Weekend

From the rugged and romantic Orkney Islands to the independent boutique-lined streets of Oxford, these are our five favourite destinations for this August bank holiday

The August bank holiday is bittersweet. Sure, an extra day away from the desk is delightful, but there's no avoiding the fact that this long weekend marks the end of summer for us Brits - fellow summer babies, we cry with you. For that reason, we're swapping our usual trip abroad for a UK adventure; one where we can soak up the last of the warm hazy days closer to home - even if it does require forfeiting our tan.

Travelling from the rocky Orkney Islands to the twinkling spires and cobbled streets of Oxford, we've rounded up our five favourite destinations to visit. Whether you're a city dweller on the hunt for an action-packed day trip or the outdoor type seeking a lazy staycation in glorious surrounds, our shortlist is set to satisfy everyone's vibe.

So long, summer: five destinations to visit this August bank holiday

Orkney Islands, Scotland


Orkney Islands, Scotland

Wild, dramatic and remote, the Orkney archipelago is home to some 70 islands, only 20 of which are permanently inhabited. It's the main island, known as the Mainland, that we recommend making tracks for. Still untouched by big-name chains and hedonistic hipsters, this is the sort of place that offers a proper recharge - the kind where weekends are best spent getting lost on blustery beach walks and ploughing through a stack of books. Who said bank holidays have to look like booze-fuelled antics, anyway? Lace up your hiking boots, rope in that friend who enjoys the great outdoors and set off for a stomp along the moody sandstone cliffs of Yesnaby.

Where to stay: Standing Stones Hotel

Oxford buildings at sunrise


Oxfordshire, England

One of the UK's most culture-rich cities, Oxford might be best known for its academia-steeped buildings, medieval lanes and gardens, but step past the candlelit libraries and you'll discover vibrant foodie start-ups, smart hotels and a thriving creative community. Spend an afternoon gliding along the Cherwell, floating past the Botanic Garden, St Hilda's College and Christ Church Meadow, then carve out some time to visit The Oxford Artisan Distillery, where a "grain-to-glass" process promises an organic take on vodka, gin and whisky. Insider tip: gin lovers won't want to miss taking part in one of the immersive tasting tours.

Where to stay: The Randolph Hotel

Norfolk, East Anglia


East Anglia, England

The sweeping skies, vast sandy beaches, marshlands and historic windmills of Norfolk make for a soothingly comforting adventure. A thriving independent retail scene sees high streets shaped by artisanal delis and family-run fish and chip shops - Gurneys Fish Shop and Picnic Fayre are our favourites. Come with your main squeeze and make a beeline for the quintessentially English village of Langham, where you can bed down at The Harper. The 33-key stay comes complete with a Jacuzzi, sauna and indoor pool, and that's not to mention the cosy and ridiculously chic rooms - think bare-brick walls, original oak beams and stained-glass windows.

Where to stay: The Harper

Rye, East Sussex


East Sussex, England

An hour's train ride from the capital, the chocolate-box town of Rye is set on a hill that rises 3km from the briny coast. A beautiful blend of old meets new, this is a destination where cobblestone lanes, half-timbered houses and storied inns slot seamlessly alongside artisan coffee houses, well-curated second-hand bookshops and craft boutiques. Start by taking a stroll along the picturesque Mermaid Street, before slipping into The Fig for brunch - the smoked-haddock fishcakes are sensational. Jazz fans will no doubt be familiar with the renowned Rye International Jazz & Blues Festival, which conveniently takes place across the bank holiday weekend. Snag a ticket to watch big-name artists such as Liane Carroll and Emeli Sandé take to the mic.

Where to stay: The Gallivant

Richmond, Greater London


Greater London, England

Richmond is a go-to for Londoners seeking a dose of country life - one look at Richmond Park on a balmy weekend and you'll know exactly what we're talking about. Stroll along the riverside, before popping into The Retreat Kitchen for planet-friendly plates - the smoothies are spectacular, too. Not your vibe? Make a beeline for the Roebuck. The traditional watering hole serves up top-notch nibbles, flavoursome cocktails and panoramic views across Richmond Hill and the Thames. Kew Gardens should be on any Richmond itinerary: one of London's four Unesco World Heritage sites, the 200-hectare green space is home to an indoor rainforest and 50,000 different plants.

Where to stay: Richmond Harbour Hotel & Spa

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