21 UK Destinations to Visit in 2021 (Plus, Where to Stay)

Planning a staycation? Explore our favourite destinations across the UK, including towns where the coast meets culture, dynamic cities and remote islands that feel as if you’re far from home. Plus, the new hotels and tried-and-tested places to stay when you visit.

officially got a spring in our step. The temperatures are
climbing and with the prospect of easing travel restrictions on the
horizon, we’re making plans for a UK getaway. We called it before:
is the year of the staycation.

Taking a trip close to home needn’t feel like missing out,
thanks to the country’s diverse landscape – all rural idylls carved
by history, wild mountainscapes, world-class cultural institutions
and a coastline where the tide ebbs and flows between drama and
nostalgia. Plus, skipping the air miles will keep down your carbon
footprint. Win, win.

Our lowdown on 2021’s best UK destinations spirits you from the
outer reaches of Scotland’s west coast to sub-tropical islands,
chocolate-box villages, dynamic cities and the London neighbourhood
to watch. And better yet, we’ve spotlighted the boutique boltholes
to get booking. Ready? Set. Escape.

The great escape: 21 of the UK’s best staycation

North Yorkshire


If dancing with wild abandon among brooding valleys decorated
with heather appeals, make a beeline for the North York Moors –
three quarters of the world’s heather moorland is found in the UK,
and most of it is here. Hike trails that criss-cross ridge tops,
archaeological sites and age-old ruins. Sutton Bank and Rievaulx
Abbey are our favourite spots. Refuel on the fringes of the
national park in Yorkshire’s “food capital” of Malton before heading east to Robin Hood’s Bay and
Whitby – you’ll have to climb 199 steps to reach its famous abbey,
but North Sea vistas are worth the burning legs. Do save a bit of
energy for the evening; low light pollution makes for otherworldly

Stay: The Talbot

Lyme Regis


The Pearl of Dorset. Beyond the sandy beaches and crumbling
limestone cliffs that make Lyme
the UK’s fossil capital, its mod-rustic B&Bs, indie shops and
sea-to-plate fare draw urbanites craving a salty-fresh smack of
coastal charm. This small town hit the headlines in 1814 when a
young Mary Anning discovered the first complete ichthyosaur
skeleton; in 2021 the sea winds are likely to blow in its favour
again as Ammonite, a biopic of Anning starring Kate Winslet and
Saoirse Ronan, makes waves on the silver screen. Walk between
ice-cream-coloured houses to the 13th-century Cobb for cold-water
prawns washed down with local mead. After a hiatus, Mark Hix
recently reopened his The Oyster & Fish House here, while River
Cottage is just a short drive away in Axminster. Locavores, take

Stay: The Pilot Boat


West Midlands

A testament to the power of reinvention. Coventry’s fortunes
have seesawed over the years, rising and falling with the motor and
munitions industries. In fact, the city was so heavily bombed in
1940 that Nazis coined “coventrieren” meaning “to flatten”. This
year, it’s pulling out all stops to celebrate its title as the UK’s
Capital of Culture 2021. Beyond Coventry’s transport museum and
ruined medieval cathedral, pick up the walking trail inspired by the late poet Philip
Larkin or rub shoulders with locals in the creative workshops,
microbreweries and moonlight movie screenings of Fargo Village.
Named after Lady Godiva, who rode through the streets naked in the
11th century to protest against tax, Coventry Godiva
l is the UK’s largest free music festival. The Herbert
Art Gallery is set to host the Turner Prize in September 2021.

Stay: Telegraph Hotel



In the 16th century, Cardigan was an important port and herring
fishery. But today it’s alternative arts, disruptive fashion labels
(read: Hiut Denim Co.) and outdoorsy sleeping options that are
breathing life into this sleepy town at the mouth of the River
Teifi. By day, immerse yourself in Welsh culture at Cardigan Castle
and the National Wool Museum; get back to nature with sea kayaking
or bushcraft classes; or pick up the Wales Coast Path for windswept
walks and seal sightings. By night: choose between Fforest’s cult
glamping sites – one on a 200-acre farm; the other behind Penbryn
Beach – or try its new brick-and-mortar offering, The Albion.
Travelling with family? Line up your trip with the Fforest
, a summertime celebration of nature, creativity and
simple pleasures.

Stay: Fforest

Kent Coast


Nostalgic for the British seaside, we’re washing up on the
Kentish Riviera, where coastal towns are riding a wave of
reinvention. There’s oyster-loving Whitstable, Deal and renegade Margate, where the Libertines opened a hotel here last
year. Beyond Broadstairs and Dover’s (not-so) White Cliffs, are
lesser-visited bays, shingle shores and – believe it or not – a
desert, where you’ll be less likely to knock elbows with

Keep your eye out for Martello towers as you drift between the
Isle of Sheppey, St Margaret’s at Cliffe (the UK’s closest point to
France), wild Dungeness and historic Hythe. On Folkestone‘s Harbour Arm, you’ll pick up decent street
food as well as part of the UK’s largest urban outdoor collection
of contemporary art. These are spots as good for a weekend getaway
as they are stringing together on a road trip – or go by foot; the
England Coast Path is near completion.

Stay: Cabu by the Sea


United Kingdom

Virtual exhibitions. Gigs via Instagram Live. It’s been great to
see cultural institutions adapt during the last year, but can a
digital platform ever match the roar of a concert or the
awe-inspired hush of a gallery? Not really. Cue a trip to
, the former European Capital of Culture and perhaps
northern England’s most exciting hub of urban regeneration. An old
port with plenty of new tricks. Liverpool is a city best discovered
by foot. Step beyond the much-visited Albert Dock – where the Tate
and a Beatles museum inhabit former warehouses – to explore the
independent shops of Ropewalks, leafy Allerton and Crosby. On this
windswept beach, a Merseyrail ride away, Antony Gormley’s Another
Place figures gaze towards Wales on the horizon. By night, let your
hair down in the Baltic Triangle.

Stay: Hope Street Hotel

North Berwick


A 30-minute train ride from Edinburgh,
this East Lothian town has been a day-trip destination loved by
Scots since the late 1800s. But its growing community of indie
shops, restaurants and coffeehouses strung with Edison bulbs is
helping North Berwick become as attractive to UK staycationers as
its rocky promontory and yawning, sandy bays are to seabirds.
Stellar views of Bass Rock and a fresh-from-the-Firth lunch at
Lobster Shack will be your reward for coastal strolls between
Tantallon Castle and Misley Bay. Perhaps a session in Fletcher’s
Cottage Spa, too. The best days start with croissants from Bostock
Bakery (René Redzepi is a fan) and end at Tom Kitchin’s gastropub,
The Bonnie Badger.

Stay: The Bonnie Badger

Isles of Scilly

United Kingdom

Sparkling beaches aren’t just a cliché on the Scillies; its sands hold enough quartz to leave
glittery dust on your skin. Couple that with the creased-silk
waters, sub-tropical gardens and Atlantic seals, and it’s easy to
forget you’re just 40km (or a 15-minute helicopter ride) from the
Cornish coast. Of the archipelago’s 145 islands, just five are
inhabited, each connected by local boat routes – though it’s
possible (and magnificent) to walk between Tresco and Bryer at low
spring tides. The Scillonian pace of life rarely goes above second
gear, save for during the gig boat races. Other attractions include
paddleboarding, walking the Garrison Walls and stargazing – the
islands’ first Dark Skies Week is set for October 2021.

Stay: Peninnis
Farm Lodges


South Yorkshire

In best-of-both-worlds Sheffield, you could be bouldering at
Stanage Edge and knocking back a fine-dining locavore menu in
Jöro’s buzzy shipping container within the space of an hour. More
than 60 per cent of the “Steel City” is green; a third of it falls
within the Peak District National Park. In the centre, factories
are being recast by creatives – notably so in Kelham Island. Formed
by a man-made goit that once powered water wheels on the River Don,
it’s now a hub for indie businesses, a museum, Cutlery Works food
market and craft breweries. Continue the epicurean exploration in
suburban Sharrow Vale or scratch the surface of Sheffield’s
cultural riches at Millennium Gallery, The Leadmill and the
Crucible – part of the largest theatre complex outside London.

Stay: This loft-style apartment in the former James Dixon
& Sons factory.

Lundy Island


You’re more likely to rub shoulders with ponies and puffins than
people on Lundy Island, where the number of human residents hovers
in the late 20s. A boat trip from Ilfracombe Harbour, this
unspoiled granite outcrop – “Britain’s Galapagos” – is so small you
could walk its perimeter in an afternoon, and spot some rare birds
and marine life en route. That said, Lundy is often veiled in mist;
many ships have crashed on its rugged shores. And shipwrecks mean
lighthouses. Three of them. To the south, the Old Light was
abandoned in 1897 and has since been reborn as two self-catering
apartments. Gazing west from here, there’s nothing but the Atlantic
between you and the US.

Stay: Old Light Upper



Glastonbury may be cancelled for the second year running, but
don’t scratch Somerset from your staycation list. The good-life
market town of Bruton punches above its weight when it comes to art,
design and farm-to-fork restaurants (book ahead for Merlin
Labron-Johnson’s Osip). This West Country bolthole has been a
magnet for the creative beau monde since Hauser & Wirth opened
here in 2014, but it remains distant enough from London – two and a
half hours by train – that it’s not overrun with visitors. Days
here are spent between galleries and indie shops, quaffing cider
and stomping up Lusty Hill. Hotel wise, aesthetes are spoiled.
There’s Durslade Farmhouse, Number One and At the Chapel. But for
2021? It has to be the new Farmyard at The Newt in Castle Cary. A
bucolic-meets-bougie minibreak.

Stay: Farmyard at The Newt

Osea Island


Clapboard cottages. Salt marshes. Seaweed-fringed shingle. This
private island on the Blackwater Estuary feels farther from London
than a couple hours’ drive. That’s in part thanks to the mile-long
tidal causeway that connects Osea to mainland
Heybridge – though paparazzi-shy celebs and the creative elite are
known to use the helipad. The island’s music-producer owner has
reimagined Osea’s rehab clinic as a recording studio, while a
former torpedo factory has become a party pad for hedonists hiding
out. But when the music stops, this is a place governed by nature.
No need to look for traffic as you spin a Raleigh Chloe bike around
the 380 acres. Dip between sea and pool. And do say hi to resident
donkeys Salt and Pepper. Accommodation includes beach cottages and
the 10-bedroom, Martha’s Vineyard-esque Manor House. Post-lockdown
reunion, anyone?

Stay: The Manor House


The Lake District

The Lake District is the antidote par
excellence to lockdown cabin fever and one-too-many Deliveroo
dinners. It’s home to England’s most green and pleasant land,
forage-to-fork restaurants and more Michelin stars per capita than
London. Whetted your appetite? Set your sat nav for Cartmel. The
chocolate-box village has been on the gastronome’s map since
L’Enclume snagged its second star, but the restaurant’s new, green
accolade – a hallmark of environmental responsibility – is a good
excuse to revisit. As is the nearby sticky toffee pudding shop.
Fuelled up, stomp between the national park’s peaks and tarns,
skipping popular Windermere and Keswick in favour of wild swimming
in Rydal Water, exploring the lesser-visited Langdale Valley or
dropping into Wordsworth’s former home for a reading. Cheers to
freedom at The Lakes Distillery.

Stay: Another Place


United Kingdom

Often overlooked by travellers beelining for the Brecon Beacons
or Stratford-upon-Avon, Shropshire‘s “blue remembered hills” are prime
territory for eeking out social distancing. A pocket of arcadian
bliss between the Midlands and Wales, the county is among England’s
most sparsely populated. It’s cities? There are none. Crowned by a
castle, Ludlow’s historic streets are peppered with buzzy
restaurants, while market town Shrewsbury is lined with the
country’s longest row of uninterrupted independent shops.
Elsewhere, hike the Wrekin, paddleboard on the Severn or sip
through family-run vineyards – Wroxeter is our tipple of choice. If
Shropshire’s folkloric tales don’t capture your imagination, check
into one of the new luxe lodges at the nearby West Midland Safari
Park in Worcestershire. There aren’t many UK destinations where
you’ll wake to elephants and cheetahs outside your window.

Stay: Old Downton Lodge


United Kingdom

So you’d been hoping to frolic among the perfumed fields of
Provence? Norfolk’s lavender meadows are a delightful alternative,
while the pinewood-fringed Holkham Beach is so vast, its skies so
endless, that it seems to make up for all that space you were
missing in 2020. Get back to nature on Salthouse Heath, spot
England’s largest grey-seal colony from Blakeney Point or rent a
canal boat to glide past windmills along the Broads. Want to keep
your feet on dry land? Newly opened, The Harper in Langham is a
self-professed “breath of fresh air”. Think laid-back luxe, East
Anglian menus and wellness practices inspired by the elements of
North Norfolk.

Stay: The Harper

Giant’s Causeway

Northern Ireland

Few things are likely to refresh your perspective as a giant’s
footprints. Cue, a trip to Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.
Lashed by the North Atlantic, its Tetris-stacks of basalt columns –
40,000 of them – make this one of the UK’s greatest geological
wonders. Yes, scientists have put the formation down to a volcanic
eruption 60 million years ago, but we’re sticking with the legend
of Finn McCool, a giant who built a bridge across the North Channel
to fight Benandonner, his Scottish rival. Want to get farther off
the beaten track? Follow the Causeway Coast Way to neighbouring
Portrush where centuries of waves have sculpted the limestone
cliffs of Whiterocks Beach. Or, catch a ferry from Ballycastle to
Rathlin Island, where the WiFi is weak, people
are few and seabirds are many.

Stay: Aurora Log Cabin



Tides are turning in this once-faded seaside town. Less than an
hour from London by train, Southend is shaking off its oh-so Essex
reputation thanks to a local community of grassroots creatives who
are nurturing a cultural revival between its noisy casinos, greasy
chippies and garish nightclubs. You’ll see it in the contemporary
Focal Point Gallery, arts hub Metal and a world-first digital-art
park. Elsewhere, stretch out your legs between its glorious
stretches of sand, refuelling at Leigh’s famous cockle sheds before
following the pier – the world’s longest – more than two kilometres
out into the Thames Estuary.

Stay: Seven

South Downs


The Sussexes (by which we mean East and West, not Harry and
Meghan) practically sparkle with staycation-worthy gems. Think
sandy shores in West Wittering, almost saccharine Rye and historic-meets-hip Hastings. And thanks to a
new open-air swimming pool along Madeira Drive and the prospect of
a local branch of Soho House, Brighton‘s day-trip appeal doesn’t look like it’s set
to diminish anytime soon. Take a walk on the wilder side (by which
we mean the rolling South Downs) to admire nighttime views of the
Milky Way and the world’s first geocached art trail. A project by
England’s Creative Coast, its waterfront installations will stretch
from the Thames Estuary to East Sussex. Farther west near Arundel,
The Pig’s seventh hotel is set to open this summer, complete with
its own vineyard.

Stay: The Pig in the South Downs



The end of the Jubilee line might not be the most obvious choice
for a staycation. But we’re calling it, Stratford is the
east-London neighbourhood to watch. Among the places to know:
Number 90 Bar, Copper Box Arena, The Yard Theatre, Stour Space,
Chisenhale Gallery and Crate Brewery, sitting merrily on the banks
of the River Lea. Hilton recently opened The Gantry here, but it’s easier to tap into
the local community at The Stratford thanks to its cultural
. It’s part of an urban regeneration project that will
eventually welcome a new V&A Museum outpost and Sadler’s Wells
dance theatre. Sandwiched between Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and
Stratford International, The Stratford has the design credentials,
sky terraces and network-friendly lobbies ideal for “workationers”
needing to put in a few hours.

Stay: The Stratford Hotel



Wiggling into a wetsuit, chugging briny air and chomping down on
a pasty is the stuff of which summer dreams are made. Small wonder
the Cornish Riviera gets so busy as the mercury rises. Thankfully,
you can skip the crowds of St
without missing out on its arty vibe. Enter: Falmouth, where an eclectic cultural scene is
adding a splash of colour to the town’s maritime history. On the
sloping Old High Street, Inspire Makers and the Old Town Hall are
beacons of contemporary local art – roll up your sleeves and join a
workshop before mingling with the cool crowd at Old Brewery Yard.
Take a look at the calendar of events at The Poly and you’ll
understand why this seaside town is making a splash.

Stay: Highcliffe Bed & Breakfast

West Coast


The call of the untamed Highland mountainscape has never felt so
strong. But we say, put the brakes on plans to drive the North
Coast 500 – it’s expected the route will get busy in 2021 as
travellers finally put pedal to metal. Trickle down the west coast,
however, and it’s likely to be a different story. Spend time island
hopping from the Firth of Clyde to the Outer Hebrides, skimming
past Skye in favour of lesser-visited isles such as Eigg, Lismore
and Rona. If wild camping (legal in Scotland) doesn’t feel like a
treat, check onto the private, car-free island of Eilean Shona –
it’s said to have inspired J. M. Barrie’s Neverland. Here, days of
wild swims, hikes and nature watching are best concluded around a

Stay: The Old Schoolhouse

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