Great British destinations: UK Staycation 2021
After a year that we would all like to forget, we find ourselves sliding into 2021 and dreaming of a Covid-Free Britain with the freedom and safety we once had to travel and live life to the full. That time will come but we all know in our hearts that it is going to take longer than we could have ever anticipated.
Last year was the year of cancelled travel plans and disappointment at every turning. I was due to travel to France, Norway, Poland and Mauritius. The airlines cancelled three of them and I chose not to go to Mauritius in October. I was no-where near ready to sit on a plane not knowing whether the person next to me was asymptomatic. I have never been good at gambling and wasn’t going to start now!
While disappointment ran deep, I was really grateful that my family and friends stayed healthy and it gave me time to think about some of the beautiful places we have here in the UK and how many of them are extremely similar to other countries abroad.
How many times had I looked at the clear, turquoise waters in Cornwall and said it reminded me of holidays to the Caribbean. Driven through the Scottish Highlands and thought I was back on New Zealand’s South Island. Or visited the wineries in Kent and Sussex and dreamed of balmy days in the Loire Valley. Do you get my drift?
With the thoughts of another chaotic British summer looming over us, I decided to write a post about the great destinations we could visit in the UK (if regulations permit) that would remind us of their doppelgängers overseas.
Sit back and discover some great destinations in the UK to satisfy your wanderlust for travel.
Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall / Algarve, Portugal
Both beaches are set in secluded coves with sandy, family-friendly beaches and turquoise waters. But which is which? Can you tell the difference?
Head to Portcurno beach and explore the surrounding area especially the incredible Minack Theatre, carved into the granite rock face with a view straight out to sea. Land’s End is only 3 miles away from Porthcurno.
Cambridge / Bruges, Belgium
One of the most popular British destinations attracting 8 million visitors each year is Cambridge.
One of the best things to do in Cambridge is to explore the university buildings and grounds and then cruise the River Ely in one of the world-famous Cambridge punts. Discover what university life is like at Cambridge from one of the students that will be rowing your punt and absorb the history all around as you pass some of the most well-known buildings in the world.
Fistral Beach, Cornwall / Bondi Beach, Australia
One of the finest surfing destinations in the world is Fistral Beach in Cornwall. Its curved bay is perfect for riding the big waves. All the big UK surf competitions take place here including the Famous Night Surf, Boardmasters Surf Championships and National Surf Championships.
High cliffs and dunes back the beach with restaurants, hotels and surfing schools making Fistral Beach one of the top British destinations for an activity holiday.
St Michaels Mount, Cornwall / Mont St Michel, France
On the tidal island in Mount’s Bay, St Michaels has been used as a priory, fort, castle and family home. Check out the tides and either walk across on the cobbled pathway or hop aboard one of the tourist boats.
Explore St Michael’s and learn all about its history before wandering through its lovely gardens.
Isles of Scilly, Cornwall / Antigua, Indian Ocean
The Isles of Scilly are an archipelago of islands sitting off the coast of Cornwall. Only five of the islands are inhabited and only 2000 people live there. Due to the positioning of the islands the warm Gulf Stream ensures that sub-tropical gardens and hot sunny days on the beach will have you imagining you are in the Caribbean.
Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland / Great Wall of China
Stretching across 73 miles of mesmerising Northumberland countryside stretching from Wallsend on the River Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west, Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Romans over 2000 years ago is a formidable feat of engineering.
You can walk the route over several days discovering Roman ruins on the way. The village of Wall is a fun spot to visit with houses constructed from bricks taken from Hadrian’s Wall. Head to Restaurant Hjem, pronounced “yem”, located inside the pub named The Hadrian at Wall and enjoy the best produce of Northumberland fused together with Scandinavian cooking techniques.
Brighton Pavilion, East Sussex / Taj Mahal, India
Brighton is one of those great British destinations that you have to visit. The Royal Pavilion, (Brighton Pavilion) is an exotic former royal palace in the town centre. Built as a seaside retreat for King George IV, it mixes Indian and Chinese visual aesthetics with Regency grandeur.
The Royal Pavilion’s interior rooms are incredible and all inspired by the Far East. Intricate designs in the Banqueting Hall and Music Rooms will have you entranced. After your visit enjoy afternoon tea on the terrace overlooking the gardens.
Mudeford, Dorset / Muinzeburg, South Africa
Colourful beach huts are a familiar sight in seaside spots throughout the UK. Used by families to store beach equipment and spend a family day out to the coast, some beach huts even have small mezzanine levels for sleeping!
The beach huts at Mudeford in Dorset are some of the most expensive Britain and hardly ever come up for sale. The beach is lovely and you can still enjoy it, with or without a beach hut. Discover Hengistbury Head or take a boat ride over to Christchurch, a charming town to explore.
Mayfield Lavender, Surrey / Provence, France
Lavender fields can be found everywhere in the world but here in the UK we have lots of them. Mornings or afternoons spent wandering through the flowers inhaling the beautiful scent is one of my favourite things to do in summer.
The most famous and most photographed lavender farm in the UK is Mayfield Lavender in Surrey. It has lots of props such as a red phone box and a tractor in the middle of the field as a vivid contrast to the lavender. It also has a small cafe where you can order lots of delights made with lavender – delicious.
South Bank, London / Brisbane, Australia
When I visited Brisbane I was shocked at how it looked and felt exactly like my hometown. Both locations are called the Southbank, sit alongside a river and have big wheels. They are vibrant areas with restaurants and green areas as well as buildings housing museums and concert halls. These two are real doppelgängers in every sense of the word!
London’s Southbank is another one of our British destinations that is a magnet for tourists as it constantly evolves throughout each season. The best walk in London is along the Southbank starting at Tower Bridge and finishing at the Houses of Parliament.
Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean / Amazon Rainforest, Brasil
Head to the Forest of Dean and get lost in Puzzlewood, a charming forest location like no-where else. As you wander around you expect fairies and goblins to pass you by, it is that magical.
Puzzlewood has been used in many fantasy films due to its aesthetics, including Harry Potter and Star Wars. If you can’t get to Brasil, Puzzlewood in Gloucestershire is the next best thing – if you have a vivid imagination!
The Needles, Isle of Wight / Twelve Apostles, Australia
The Needles are three chalk formations that rise about 30m out of the sea. As the fourth rock, now gone, was shaped like a needle it gave them their name. They sit off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight next to the lighthouse. A chair lift will take you down to the beach and boat tours sail around the rocks.
Loch Leven, Scotland / Canada
Loch Leven Nature Reserve is the largest natural shallow body of water in Britain and is brimming with wildlife and history. Thousands of wildfowl migrate here each year meaning Loch Leven is one of the great British destinations to visit for birdwatchers. In spring and summer flocks of swallows and osprey arrive and in early autumn to early spring geese, ducks, swans and eagles can be seen.
The 13-mile, Loch Leven Heritage Trail follows the banks of the loch where you can walk, run or cycle around this stunning lakeside location.
Shetland Isles, Scotland / Lofoten Islands, Norway
I bet you didn’t know you could see the Aurora Borealis in Scotland! They can be seen from several remote island locations in Scotland including The Hebrides, Shetland and Orkney islands.
Tobermory, Scotland / Burano, Italy
Tobermory on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides is a traditional fishing village with brightly coloured harbour-front buildings and a lively main street. Enjoy a distillery tour, boat trips or even a round of golf while visiting this charming island. A 45-minute ferry ride from Oban on the mainland will take you to Mull.
Glencoe, Scotland / Mont Blanc, France
The Glencoe Mountain resort has the longest and steepest ski run in Scotland and offers plenty of outdoor activities all year round. In winter enjoy snowboarding and skiing and in summer take the chair lift up the mountain and enjoy walking and hill climbing all with the panoramic views of the Glencoe valley.
Tenby, Wales / Simi, Greece
Both locations have golden sands, colourful buildings, delicious fish restaurants and offer a warm welcome to tourists. Tenby also has 13th-century town walls, castle ruins and a tidal island with a Napoleonic fort! Admittedly the sun won’t shine as much as in Greece, but you will still have a great holiday.
Read about the NT Tudor Merchant’s House in Tenby recreating domestic life in 1500.
Brecon Beacons, Wales / Iceland
The Brecon Beacons National Park is an area of outstanding beauty and offers nature lovers a wealth of outdoor activities to experience. One of its outstanding natural features is Pen-Y-Fan, the second highest mountain in Wales and a popular tourist attraction.
The Brecon Beacons are one of the great British destinations on this list and are a perfect place for all the family. Walking, hiking, cycling, kayaking and bird-watching are just a few of the outdoor pursuits you can try in the area.
Fancy a weekend break in Wales? Read here for a full itinerary of what you can do during your 3-nights in the Brecon Beacons.
Snowdonia, Wales / Norway
Snowdonia National Park is the location of some of Great Britain’s most stunning scenery. It also happens to be the location of Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales. To enjoy views across the sea to Ireland from Snowdon’s peak, either hike to the top or take the Snowdonia mountain railway to Hafod Eryri, the UK’s highest visitor centre.
Snowdonia National Park is also home to over 100 lakes, mountain and woodland trails, and craggy peaks like Cader Idris and Tryfan.
Dingle Peninsula, Ireland / Azores, Portugal
The Dingle Peninsula is a fantastic destination on Ireland’s southwest Atlantic coast. The peninsula is ringed by sandy beaches and green craggy cliffs with stunning views in every direction. Away from the beach are rolling hills and mountains, including 952m Mount Brandon, the 8th highest peak in Ireland.
If you loved finding out about these great British destinations then why not check out my post: 9 Great Coastal Walks in the UK
Have you been somewhere in the British Isles that reminded you of a destination overseas? If so, let me know in the comments box below.