Friday, February 18, 2022

UK holiday destinations: 13 of the best places for a staycation in 2022

From the Cotswolds to the Scottish Highlands, these are the best UK holiday destinations to visit.

With the ongoing uncertainty around travelling abroad, keeping things local could be the answer to a happy holiday in 2022 and we're here to help you plan the perfect staycation with our roundup of the best UK holiday destinations to visit.

When it comes to escaping the daily grind, UK holiday destinations offer incredible sites you just won't find abroad. From our amazing railways taking you through breathtaking countryside to our quaint villages and historic cities, there's so much to explore right here at home.

The best UK holiday destinations are found all around Britain too, from north to south. There are the Scottish Highlands offering wild, remote beauty and the Cotswolds leaving you utterly mesmerised by their unspoilt scenes.

Snowdonia is a terrific place for captivating views, while the Isles of Scilly are ideal for experiencing Caribbean-like beaches without the carbon footprint. The opportunities to see the charms of the UK are endless!

Whether you're planning on travelling as a couple, a family or solo, you'll find a variety of places in the UK for an amazing staycation in 2022.

Whatever the time of year you're travelling in, be it winter, spring, summer or autumn, these are the UK holiday destinations to consider.

1. Scottish Highlands

Scenic, remote and one of the real treasures of Britain, the Scottish Highlands offer a truly wild escape, where you can get lost among mountains, lochs and beaches. Home to Britain's largest national park, the Cairngorms, as well as the legendary Loch Ness, mighty Ben Nevis and Eilean Donan Castle, the Highlands are also where you can ride the amazing Jacobite steam train, aka the Hogwarts Express.

Taking you over the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct, just like Harry Potter and his friends, and close to Ben Nevis, Loch Morar and Loch Nevis, the Jacobite is an absolute must-do. Try it on a four-day Scottish adventure, where you'll also take in Loch Katrine and the Falkirk Wheel.

Alternatively, you can experience the Highlands in classic luxury as you sail around on a yacht-style cruise that takes in Fort William, Loch Linnhe and Oban.

2. Norfolk

With its royal attractions, wonderful wildlife and stunning natural scenery, Norfolk is a marvellous destination for your UK bucket list. Marvel at its windmills, watch the seals and their pups, and be amazed by the unspoilt countryside. There's no better way to explore Norfolk's charms than by train, with the Bittern Line, Poppy Line, Bure Valley Railway and the Mid-Norfolk Railway providing relaxing rides.

For something truly special, you can experience a variety of rail journeys in Norfolk during a five-day escape with historian Lucy Worsley, who will join you on a tour of the Sandringham Estate.

If you're a foodie, you can experience Norfolk during a tasty trip with cookery legend Delia Smith.

Royal fans can check out our exclusive trip to Norfolk with former royal correspondent Jennie Bond, who will take you on a once-in-a-lifetime tour around the Queen's Sandringham Estate.

3. Isle of Wight

It was a favourite UK holiday destination of Queen Victoria and is the location of her Italian-style summer home Osborne House - and the Isle of Wight is simply a must-see. It's not all beaches and dinosaur history here, either. There's a warm climate for those after an island escape with a little more sunshine and Osborne House has an impressive garden filled with beautiful fountains, historic creeping plants and gorgeous blooms to see.

The unique isle's landscapes go beyond the chalk cliffs and golden sands. You'll want to venture to Shanklin Chine, the breathtaking gorge with more than 150 varieties of wild plants and waterfalls. Then there's Ventnor Botanic Garden which showcases the amazing microclimate of the Isle of Wight's south coast and is where you'll find rare and exotic plants.

You can experience the Isle of Wight, its glorious gardens and Osborne House during a staycation with TV's Christine Walkden, who will pass on her gardening tips and tricks and join you on a tour of Osborne House and Mottistone Manor's gardens.

4. North Wales

This impressive part of Wales is where you'll find some of the most attractive UK holiday destinations. From the dramatic seascapes of Llandudno and Anglesey to ancient castles and the bucket list-worthy Snowdonia National Park, there's so much to experience in North Wales in 2022. Another highlight of the region is the glorious gardens, which include Plas Cadnant, the National Trust Bodnant Garden and the stunning parklands at Bodrhyddan Hall.

Other ways to soak up the floral scenes of North Wales include a visit to picturesque Portmeirion, an Italian-style village with colourful buildings.

You can join a once-in-a-lifetime garden tour of North Wales with TV's Joe Swift, where you'll enjoy a garden tour and hear stories from the Gardeners' World star.

5. Cotswolds

One of the most picturesque pockets you'll find in all of Britain, the Cotswolds are where you'll fall in love with chocolate box villages, miles of rolling countryside and grand stately homes. Covering 800 square miles of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, you can only imagine how much there is to explore - from 'England's prettiest village' Castle Combe to the gardens of Prince Charles' private residence Highgrove House.

Escaping to a Cotswolds hotel is a wonderful way to soak up the cosiness and tradition in a cute village. The Double Red Duke in Clanfield is one of the newest boutique hotels to open in the region, while The Lygon Arms in Broadway is as iconic as they come, hosting the likes of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell.

6. Northamptonshire

With its sprawling estates, historic houses and manor gardens, Northamptonshire is the underrated UK holiday destination to add to your 2021 and 2022 bucket list. It's home to Althorp House, the home of Earl Spencer, which is one of the highlights of the county. The magnificent 13,500-acre estate features a 90-room Grade I-listed stately home filled with art, furniture and ceramics.

Around 20 minutes from Althorp in the village of Stoke Albany, on the edge of the picturesque Welland Valley, lies The White Horse Inn, a quintessential English village inn, originally built as a coaching inn in 1706. It's small and cosy, with exposed oak beams, open fires and exposed stone walls.

7. Hebrides

The wildlife, white sand beaches and ample walking opportunities, Scotland's Inner and Outer Hebrides are an utter delight. The more than 50 inhabited islands off the west coast of the country offer island hopping at its finest - because who needs Greece and Croatia when the islands of islands, like Islay, Mull, Harris and Lewis await?).

It's here that you can truly immerse yourself in Britain's natural beauty by spotting puffins, eagles and deer. There are enchanting castles to discover too, such as Duart Castle on Mull and Dunvegan Castle on Skye, plus there's whisky to try and dark skies for stargazing.

Experience the ultimate island hopping cruise around the Hebrides with Country Living in spring.

8. Peak District

We can't think of a better place to experience the great outdoors than the Peak District, where you can make the most of the great open spaces and soak up the views of England's wild beauty. It's also a fabulous spot to marvel at sprawling stately homes and do some antiques shopping, with Chatsworth House and Chesterfield Flea Market being two of the top places you'll want to visit.

From quaint farm houses to country inns and blissful holiday cottages, the Peak District has an array of places to call home during your break. It's also the perfect place for walkers to enjoy. In fact, you can join Country Living's exclusive five-day walking break in the Peak District in 2022.

9. Greater Manchester

It's not the first place you'd think of for a holiday but look beyond the city of Manchester and the county has some stunning places to visit if you're a fan of beautiful gardens, historic mansions and impressive National Trust sites. One place we've had our eye on since it opened for the first time in May 2021 is RHS Garden Bridgewater, the first RHS garden to be created in an urban area.

Designed by one of Britain's best landscape architects, Tom Stuart-Smith (who has a few gold medals from the Chelsea Flower Show under his belt), it's a haven for horticulture enthusiasts. Here you'll find one of the UK's largest still-working Victorian walled gardens, alongside extensive landscaped grounds including orchards, woods, meadows and lakes.

Other places you won't want to miss include Dunham Massey and Tatton Park in nearby Cheshire. You can visit RHS Garden Bridewater on an exclusive tour with Country Living, where you'll get to meet Tom Stuart-Smith and hear landscaping tips from the expert and ask him questions.

10. Belfast

Britain's most underrated capital city, Belfast is compact but packed with delights, from its Botanical Gardens, which are free for everyone to visit, to its maritime history, which you can get to know at the architecturally-stunning Titanic Belfast. For more history, you'll want to stroll in front of City Hall and stop for a pint at one of the most beautiful British pubs around, the National Trust-owned Crown Liquor Saloon.

The best thing about Belfast? It's a city that nature-loving active travellers will appreciate. Due to its size and location, you're just a few minutes from beaches and scenic Strangford Lough. This is the place to get up close to wildlife by kayaking the calm waters (try an experience with Mobile Team Adventure), where you'll spot seals and make your way to the lough's deserted isles.

From city-centre hotels to country retreats, Belfast has an array of wonderful hotels you can check into.

11. Kent

A haven for gardeners, Kent is a superb county for seeing England at its very best. Here, you can stroll through writer Vita Sackville-West's Sissinghurst Castle Garden, take in impossibly pretty manor house Ightham Mote and sip delicious wine at Chapel Down.

There's plenty to explore in Kent, from gorgeous gardens to vineyards and castles. A great place for a couples' escape, there's romance all around and if you're after a quintessential British country getaway, there's miles of it to discover on two feet - or two wheels!

Kent has a huge range of hotels, cottages and cosy inns for a mini-break.

12. Jurassic Coast

A place so beautiful it often features on posters for British tourism, the Jurassic Coast is a UK holiday destination everyone should visit at least once. It was England's first natural UNESCO World Heritage Site and if you like beaches, you'll find a whopping 95 miles of dramatic coastline to discover.

Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door are its most iconic spots, while the pretty seaside towns of Swanage, Lyme Regis and West Bay are worth adding to your list. This spectacular region in Dorset has plenty of history, too - we're talking dinosaur history! Famous around the world as one of the richest heritage sites for prehistoric remains, the Jurassic Coast is the place to join a fossil hunting walk.

Around 20 minutes from Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door lies The Bear Hotel in Wareham, a quirky boutique hotel, combining 18th century charm with modern day luxury.

13. Isles of Scilly

Sitting 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall, these idyllic islands are the UK's answer to the Caribbean. The heavenly white sands, turquoise waters and slightly milder climate make the Isles of Scilly a UK holiday destination everyone should have on their bucket list. Five of the 140 isles are inhabited (St Mary's, Tresco, St Martin's, Bryher and St Agnes) and boast some of Britain's most outstanding attractions, including Tresco Abbey Garden.

There are dark skies for stargazing, wildlife that thrives (including puffins and Atlantic grey seals), plus the laidback lifestyle that's high on most island holiday wish lists.

You'll find a range of hotels, cottages and B&Bs to book in the Isles of Scilly, such as St Mary's Hall Hotel in Hugh Town, St Mary's

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