From iconic coasts to quaint market towns, adventurous experiences to relaxing spa weekends, big cities to remote landscapes, these are the best weekend breaks in the UK.
What makes a good weekend break in the UK?
Fresh air and natural scenery are great places to start. Rolling green countryside etched with walking paths and framed by dry stone walls; or dramatic windswept coastlines battering iconic cliffs into wilderness perfection.
Perhaps you’re looking for a more urban escape. Big city sights with world-class art and a bar scene waiting to be explored, or quaint market towns with a slow relaxed vibe and a thriving local food scene
Whatever type of weekend getaways you’re looking for, the UK has an answer
Treat yourself to the best of British dining in Michelin starred restaurants or scoff the freshest lobster rolls from a van parked at the beach. Unwind in a traditional country pub nursing a glass of red in front of an open fire or dive off cliffs into the sea to recharge the batteries with a shot of adrenaline.
We’ve put together our favourite short breaks in the UK sorted by experiences in the south of England, the north of England and Wales. The Scotland weekends are currently being curated to include in this guide.
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Best UK Breaks & Getaways in Southern England
01 – ENJOY COUNTRY LIFE IN THE COTSWOLDS
The English countryside conjures up images of rolling green hills and chocolate box cottages; babbling brooks winding through picturesque villages and meadows speckled with sheep.
Nowhere brings this more to life than the Cotswolds, one of the best places to spend a weekend getaway in the UK.
The Cotswolds is one of the best places in the UK to enjoy a classic country walk, followed by a pint in a traditional pub. The dreamy Cotswolds villages are popular for antique hunting, cream teas and soaking up an idyllic slice of rural England.
Before your trip, read our guide to the best things to do in the Cotswolds for more ideas.
WHERE TO STAY
For suggestions on where to stay, the Lords of the Manor is an elegant house set on lovely grounds in the village of Upper Slaughter, one of the most picturesque in the Cotswolds.
The Lygon Arms is a 14th-century coaching inn in Broadway, perfectly situated for hiking the Cotswolds Way. Finally, the Kingham Plough is a local pub in an area with a reputation for quality food.
03 – TAKE A MINI-BREAK IN HISTORIC OXFORD
Oxford is the perfect destination for a weekend retreat in the UK, where history and architecture combine to create a thoroughly interesting city. Walk wonky cobbled lanes, have a pint in legendary student pubs, and explore the grandeur of the Oxford University colleges.
The most impressive college is Christ Church, the grand hall of which was the inspiration behind the dining room in the Harry Potter movies. The Bodleian Library is an exquisitely decorated masterpiece, and the Ashmolean Museum has an impressive collection including everything from Egyptian mummies to modern art.
For more ideas for your weekend away, read our guide to the best things to do in Oxford.
WHERE TO STAY
A great place to stay is the Old Parsonage, a lovely boutique hotel just a few minutes’ walk from the city centre. The Old Bank Hotel is a slice of urban elegance in an old building right on High Street.
If you would like more space just outside the city, the Artist Residence Oxfordshire is a country-style residence with modern furnishings and deluxe hot tubs just 25 minutes from Oxford.
04 – ENJOY RUGGED SCENERY ON THE JURASSIC COAST
The Jurassic Coast stretches for 95 miles along England’s southern coast from Studland Bay to Exmouth. But one of the best sections for weekend getaways is the eastern end surrounding the Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door walk.
In addition to the natural arches of Durdle Door, some of the highlights on this section of the coast include the glorious Man O’War beach, the thoroughly atmospheric Corfe Castle ruins, the golden sweep of Studland Bay and the limestone stacks of Old Harry Rocks.
We’ve captured all the best things to do in our guide to the Jurassic Coast.
WHERE TO STAY
For fancy UK weekend getaways, The Pig on the Beach in Studland is a beautiful property a few minutes’ walk from the beach with their own on-site kitchen garden.
The Priory Hotel in charming Wareham is a great choice for old school glamour set across 4 acres of English gardens.
05 – AN OUTDOOR WEEKEND ON THE THAMES
Stretching for 215 miles, the River Thames is the longest river confined to England. It winds its way from the edge of the Cotswolds, through Oxford, Reading, Henley, and Windsor before entering the North Sea just east of London.
In places, the Thames has little appeal, but upstream – in the right places – it’s an idyllic reed-fringed brook home to a host of wonderful outdoor activities for your next weekend getaway.
Escape for a UK short break in the market towns of Henley and Marlow, where you can enjoy some of the best pubs and restaurants in the country. The Bistro at The Boathouse has an excellent heated terrace overlooking the Thames serving artfully prepared but simple dishes.
The villages of Hambleden and Hurley are also great choices.
There are plenty of areas for a great stroll along the Thames Path National Trail, with secluded picnic spots and some surprisingly lovely places for a wild swim.
WHERE TO STAY
One of the most luxurious places to stay in the area is Cliveden House, one of the world’s finest luxury hotels featuring several rooms with a private hot tub. Perched on the banks of the Thames this spa hotel has welcomed every British monarch since George I.
For a more local stay, The Stag and Huntsman in Hambleden is traditionally furnished with plenty of cosy spaces for a quiet weekend away. Chequers at Marlow is a good choice if you prefer to stay in a town with a few more facilities around you.
06 – REVIVE AMONGST HISTORIC ARCHITECTURE IN CAMBRIDGE
There are few better short getaways in the UK than a weekend in Cambridge. Exquisite late-Gothic architecture with medieval stained-glass windows tower over cobbled streets and immaculate greens. Beautiful gardens line the river crisscrossed with punters regaling customers with anecdotes spanning 800 years of history.
Students negotiate wonky lanes on bikes, balancing a pile of books in one hand and a latte in the other. It’s no surprise that several Harry Potter scenes were filmed in these charming streets.
Over a historic break, visit the architectural grandeur of Trinity College and Wren Library; walk over the Bridge of Sighs to St John’s College, and have your soul lifted at evensong in the King’s College Chapel.
WHERE TO STAY
For a boutique stay with fine finishing touches in a lovingly decorated hotel in The Gonville is just a five-minute walk from the centre.
To treat yourself to some luxury, the University Arms by Autograph has recently been refurbished with elegant style.
07 – ENJOY SEASIDE ADVENTURES ON THE CORNISH COAST
There’s a lot to love about Cornwall. A coastline stretches around the tapered country at the furthest end of the English mainland revealing a string of blissful beaches and picture-postcard harbours.
Take a weekend escape to stroll rugged coastal paths, amble unique tropical gardens and visit grand country houses. As a change from the compelling natural scenery, dive into tiny fishing villages lost in time.
Our favourite weekend break in Cornwall involves leaping into the many activities available. Take a surf lesson at Watergate Bay in North Cornwall, or try coasteering in the craggy cliffs nearby. Visit what is perhaps the most beautiful beach in the UK with a slightly tricky descent that keeps it quieter than it otherwise would be.
WHERE TO STAY
The boutique Trevose Harbour House in bohemian St Ives is the perfect base for travellers who love art, good coffee and fine wine.
We recommend Watergate Bay Hotel for outdoor enthusiasts with a host of activities nearby.
If you’re looking for a luxurious stay in a sophisticated fishing village, make a beeline for The Idle Rocks in St Mawes.
08 – SPA TREATS IN GEORGIAN BATH
In Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen wrote of aristocrats negotiating a day trip to Bath ‘to see and be seen’. Little has changed today and the many magnificent things to do in Bath are perfect for a long weekend in the UK.
Blessed with a combination of Roman remnants, including one of the world’s best-preserved bathhouses, the whole city has been certified a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Part hipster, part posh, the town straddles the divide between quirky independent shops and glamorous boutiques. Enjoy a thermal spa, socialise in Georgian tea houses, shop for designer goods and stroll lanes bursting with character-filled architecture.
WHERE TO STAY
Set in a beautiful sweep of Georgian houses, the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa is the finest address in the city.
The Gainsborough Bath Spa is the only hotel in the UK that offers access to the naturally heated thermal waters, and the Broad Street Townhouse is a lovingly furnished period property right in the centre of town.
09 – TAKE A BOUTIQUE BREAK IN LONDON
A city like London needs no introduction. While you could spend a long time in the capital and still not scratch the surface, a weekend getaway is a great way to dip into the delights of our hometown.
Uncover history at Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, delve into world-class collections at the British Museum, or check out the temporary and thought-provoking exhibitions at Victoria and Albert Museum.
After visiting the major galleries that are still free to the public, dive into some of London’s neighbourhoods. The street art and vintage shops of Shoreditch and Spitalfields under the shadows of the city skyscrapers are a great place to start. Have lunch at Broadway Market in Hackney, then head over to Soho for a night out.
WHERE TO STAY
The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone is a boutique hotel in a quiet neighbourhood just north of Oxford Street, the shopping centre of London.
For an antique stay on a cobbled lane in one of the most beautiful streets in the east, check out Batty Langleys.
To be right in the centre of Soho stay at Ham Yard Hotel, an arty boutique hotel with a lively bar and cosy rooftop terrace; the perfect stay for city breaks.
Best UK Breaks & Getaways in Northern England
10 – A FOODIE WEEKEND IN LUDLOW & THE SHROPSHIRE HILLS
We love a weekend away that combines a cool town with some fresh air and fine views and this one ticks the box nicely. Ludlow is an attractive market town near the English-Welsh border. Black and white Tudor buildings sit beside an active market square and tiny little streets wind past artisanal delis and bakers. There’s a castle overlooking the river and several paths through a woodland.
Ludlow is known for its food scene with a wide range of good restaurants and old pubs. It’s also a city that likes to celebrate. The Ludlow Food Festival takes place early September; the Spring Festival is mid-May, and Ludlow Magnalonga is an 8-mile wine walk in August.
There are several great walking trails at Carding Mill Valley in the Shropshire Hills, just a short drive from Ludlow. Hike through the bracken and up the valley onto the Long Mynd where you might spot wild horses and on a hot day, take a dip in the Carding Mill Valley Reservoir.
WHERE TO STAY
There are a couple of lovely places to stay just on the edge of Ludlow. Fishmore Hotel and Boutique Spa has wellness facilities including a private hot tub in a rural location overlooking Ludlow.
The Clive Arms is a former coaching inn with contemporary country décor and an award-winning restaurant onsite.
11 – A TRADITIONAL COUNTRY PUB RETREAT IN THE YORKSHIRE DALES
The 10 official dales, or valleys, that make up the Yorkshire Dales are more than just geological wonders. The majestic, curved limestone pavement of Malham Cove may be the drawcard, but there are also mighty abbeys and castles, imposing viaducts, and scenic drives into wild and remote places.
Being a cost-effective destination in the UK, North Yorkshire is a great destination for cheap weekend breaks. You can read all the best things to do in the Yorkshire Dales, in our guide to this rugged area.
WHERE TO STAY
The best way to enjoy a weekend break in this wild and beautiful part of England is by staying in a traditional pub. For rustic remoteness, the Tan Hill Inn on the top of a wild moor just north of beautiful Swaledale takes some beating. A roaring fire and live music make it a great weekend getaway even in winter.
At the southern end of the Dales, the Lister Arms is an ivy-clad 18th-century inn on the village green with open fires, plenty of outdoor spaces and top quality food. The rooms are modern but with a stylish old country feel.
12 – REMOTE COUNTRY GETAWAY ON THE NORTHUMBERLAND COAST
Near the border between England and Scotland, Northumberland is an area of big sweeping landscapes and rugged coastlines. Visit imposing castles, discover Roman history, encounter an abundance of wildlife and laze on sandy beaches.
For all our insights, read our guide to the many wonderful things to do in Northumberland.
The least-populated county in England, Northumberland is a great destination to get away from the crowds and put in some quality time with the other half. The beaches are some of the quietest in the country and the fishing villages dotted along the rugged coastal path are delightfully untouched.
WHERE TO STAY
The Joiners Arms is a destination pub in a little village near Embleton Bay and Dunstanburgh Castle. For a more boutique experience, the Beadnell Towers Hotel goes the extra mile with an urban cool interior and fire pits on the patio.
If you like to mix the great outdoors with a market town then Alnwick is also a great place to stay. Barter Books is a fantastic second-hand bookstore in an old railway station and The Alwick Gardens is 12 acres of immaculate beauty.
Enjoy it all by staying at the Cookie Jar, a lovely townhouse hotel right in the centre of town.
13 – FELL WALKING & FINE DINING IN THE LAKE DISTRICT
There’s no doubt about it, the Lake District is one of the most scenic destinations for a short break in the UK. Craggy mountains frame shimmering lakes connected by rivers that course through valleys, creating some of the best territory in the country.
Read about our favourite walks in the Lake District to help you select the scenic adventures you’d like to undertake on your weekend getaways.
If you’d prefer a more relaxing break, we’ve put together the best views in the Lake District, which includes some beautiful areas that are very easy to get to.
WHERE TO STAY
Cumbria – the home county of the Lake District – has more Michelin stars than any other area in the UK. The tiny village of Cartmel boasts 2 Michelin starred restaurants, L’Enclume and Rogan & Co. Stay at the Cavendish Arms sits just a few minutes’ walk from either of them.
For a getaway sprinkled with adventure, Another Place is perched on the banks of Ullswater with plenty of water sports on your doorstep and a luxurious outdoor hot tub.
If you’d like some pampering, Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse offers indulgent weekend breaks with hot tubs and spa treatments.
The Forest Side in a wooded estate in Grasmere is known for its excellent onsite restaurant.
14 – A WEEKEND BREAK EXPLORING HEXHAM & HADRIAN’S WALL
Hadrian’s Wall stretches for 73 miles from coast to coast in northern England. Built by the Romans to defend the furthest north-western edges of their empire, the defensive fortification consisted of a 10-foot wall with forts and turrets backed by a massive ditch.
Set amongst beautiful rolling hills, glacial lakes, and rocky crags, it’s a remote and picturesque destination for a scenic weekend break in the UK.
The best-preserved sections of wall with the most dramatic viewpoints are all covered on our one day Hadrian’s Wall itinerary.
For the rest of your stay, Hexham is a lovely market town with gardens and grand houses. Hexham House and Hexham Abbey, with its Saxon crypt dating back 1,300 years, has a bloody history and England’s first purpose-built jail.
Combining Hexham with Hadrian’s Wall is an interesting break in the UK.
WHERE TO STAY
For a grand Victorian hotel in the centre of Hexham The Beaumont is a great choice.
To base yourself in the hills surrounded by glorious sweeping countryside, The Pheasant Inn is a traditional Northumberland pub with the warmest of welcomes.
15 – THE GRAND SIGHTS OF THE WALLED CITY OF YORK
York is a preserved walled city that continues to reinvent itself. From Roman settlement to captured Viking town, to the inspiration for Hollywood films, York is a city break with a past.
The recently renovated York Minster is just the cherry on top of a wealth of architecturally grand buildings including the Merchant Adventurers’ Hall and the King’s Manor. Winding between them are tiny lanes like the 14th-century Shambles which supposedly was the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
The whole centre is pretty much pedestrianised making it a great place to stroll around. There are intriguing local independent stores, good coffee, and lunch spots dotted along the river.
WHERE TO STAY
For a unique stay in a grand old hotel book the Grays Court Hotel situated in lovely gardens between the Minster and the medieval walls.
A little more affordable and 15 minutes’ walking distance from the city centre is the quirky Clementine’s Town House Hotel.
Best UK Breaks & Getaways in Wales
16 – TOWN & MOUNTAINS AT HAY-ON-WYE
Nestled in the Wye Valley, the book-loving town of Hay-on-Wye is an excellent destination for weekend breaks. With quirky independent shops, stunning natural scenery, medieval ruins and glorious outdoor pursuits, it combines many of the selling points we love on a good weekend break
Potter the second-hand book shops in town and sift through antiques in quirky shops dotted around the centre. Have lunch in one of the many excellent cafes or grab some supplies for a picnic by the riverbank.
Read about our favourite things to do in Hay-on-Wye where the relaxed independent vibe will recharge you for the week ahead.
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, hire a canoe and enjoy an afternoon paddling down the River Wye.
You can also head out to the Black Mountains, just outside Hay-on-Wye for impressive hiking scenery. Drive up Gospel Pass to Hay Bluff following the long, narrow, steep-sided Ewyas Valley with stunning views over the rolling countryside on one side and the Black Mountains on the other.
WHERE TO STAY
Book a couple of nights at Radnor House, a cosy and rustic old country house in the centre of town.
17 – A COUNTRY RETREAT ON THE PEMBROKESHIRE COAST
The exquisite coastal paths in Pembrokeshire provide fresh air and uplifting views. Multi-coloured cliffs fall abruptly into crashing oceans, and forgotten beaches are framed with golden arcs of powder-soft sand.
It’s one of our favourite regions in the UK and the perfect destination for weekend getaways. Read all about the wonderful things to do.
Refresh yourself after a long scenic coastal path with fresh lobster rolls from a van perched oN the seafront. Some of the best are at the Café Môr van at Freshwater West. Alternatively, for a sweeter finish, the Welsh cakes at MamGu (Grandma) in the harbour village of Solva are delicious.
WHERE TO STAY
See it all while staying at the period house of Penally Abbey Country House Hotel. Perched on the cliffs just west of colourful Tenby and with views over Carmarthen Bay, it’s all old-world charm and candlelit dinners.
Take the relaxation a step further with a few nights at the St. Brides Spa Hotel in Saundersfoot and relax in their incredible indoor pool.
18 – ADVENTURE BREAK IN SNOWDONIA NATIONAL PARK
Snowdonia is a land of incredible natural beauty and the perfect weekend trip in the UK for both photographers and adventure enthusiasts.
Standing on the summit of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdonia National Park is unveiled beneath your feet. A maze of walking tracks curl away over steep-sided pinnacles and along pristine lakes. Craggy and buttressed mountains disappear into the distance and Ireland flickers as a faint mirage across the sea.
One of the best ways to experience the area is by climbing Snowdown via the Pyg Track. But you could also go white-water rafting, wild swimming, or kayaking. It’s a great weekend destination for getting away from it all and experiencing some of the best outdoors the UK has to offer.
We’ve covered all the best things to do in our guide to Snowdonia National Park.
WHERE TO STAY
On the eastern edge of Snowdonia National Park, the 4-star Tal Y Cafn Hotel is a slice of modern cool with a private hot tub in a great location for getting to the park.
Slightly deeper in the national park, just south of Betws-y-Coed, the 4-star award-winning Victorian Craig-y-Dderwen Riverside Hotel is an excellent property set in 16 acres of woodland.
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As London based travel bloggers, we’re often exploring exotic destinations far from home, but there’s a wealth of great experiences to be had within the UK. Here are some of our favourite guides to our home country. For more see our Britain page.
HIKING & OUTDOORS
Best wild swimming locations in the Lake District
Mild to wild adventures at the Blue Lagoon, Wales
Pembrokeshire circular walks
Our curated guide to Oxford
A wonderful day exploring St Ives
Best things to do in colourful Tenby
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