By Jade Braham
If you’re in need of staycation inspiration but want to avoid the more popular tourist traps, consider these alternative UK holiday spots instead.
Whether you prefer remote staycations or crave adventure on the road less travelled, these underrated UK holiday destinations are just waiting to be discovered.
Find out how to escape the crowds – and the traffic – in the Lake District, or stay in a lesser-known Cotswolds village still close to must-visit Chippenham.
Visit a tiny Cornish coastal town that could give St Ives a run for its money and is fast getting a name as a foodie destination.
Have you heard of the sleepy village which is home to one of the best wild swimming spots in Scotland? While a trip to the UK’s only national park with a coastline will uncover beautiful sandy beaches, colourful seaside villages and outstanding fine dining.
Whatever kind of getaway you’re into, these are some of the most underrated UK holiday destinations – and where to eat, drink and stay when you get there.
Underrated UK Holiday Destinations
Ullswater, Lake District
The Lake District is the most visited national park in the UK and home to Windemere, England’s largest natural lake. But if you want to escape the crowds – and the traffic – give Ullswater a try.
With multiple marinas, Ullswater is ideal for paddleboarding, canoeing and windsurfing. However, the lake is best explored by boat. Hire your own or hop aboard the Ullswater ‘Steamers’, which conveniently connect to some of the area’s best walking routes.
Braving the Ullswater Way, a 20-mile walking route around the lake, will bring you to Howtown, a sheltered harbour perfect for picnics. Equally quaint are the villages of Patterdale, Glenridding, and Askham, the ‘Cotswolds of the North’.
Where to eat and drink: For sustainable dining head to the George and Dragon, an 18th century coaching inn with rooms. Its sister hotel, Askham Hall, has a Michelin star tasting menu. The Inn on the Lake is best for afternoon tea or visit the award-winning 1863 restaurant.
Where to stay: Book a spa getaway at Another Place hotel (dogs are welcome too). Enjoy exclusive lake access and breakfast on the balcony at The Boathouse at Knotts End. Going as a group? Up to six guests can rent luxury lake house, Aquila.
From Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers to its modern-day associations with period drama Poldark, the market town of Corsham has been inspiring people for centuries. Despite this, it has remained relatively under the radar.
Set on the southwest edge of the Cotswolds, it has all the Bath-stone charm of the nearby villages of Castle Combe, Lacock and Chippenham – but with less crowds.
Meander down its cobbled streets lined with independent shops and restaurants. Step back into the 17th century with a visit to Corsham Schoolroom. If you look hard you’ll see graffiti left by schoolboys over 350 years ago.
Discover the history of photography at the Fox Talbot Museum at Lacock Abbey, or walk the gardens at Corsham Court. The city of Bath is also nearby should you want to follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen.
Where to eat and drink: For a traditional country pub try The Quarrymans Arms. Set on Box Hill and boasting miles of country views, it’s the ideal stopover for walkers and cyclists. Cool neighbourhood cafe bar Mother & Wild serves sourdough pizzas straight from their wood-fired oven. No.21 is where to head for modern British cuisine and cocktails.
Where to stay: Marco Pierre White’s Rudloe Arms is a country house restaurant with 12 rooms. Decor ranges from traditional antique to rock star glamour. In the heart of Corsham, The Methuen Arms is a boutique hotel with a restaurant and outdoor terrace. Artisan Cottage in Chippenham is a stylish Grade II listed bolthole for two.
The tiny seaside town of Falmouth might not get as much attention as Padstow or St Ives, but it’s just as worthy of a visit.
With the world’s third deepest natural harbour, Falmouth attracted many a pirate, Henry VIII built a fortress there, Pendennis Castle, and it’s where the Royal Mail first started sending letters around the globe in 1668.
Today, there is still plenty to do. The town is known for its festivals, from fish and oyster shucking to beer and sea shanty singing.
Its subtropical climate means the exotic Trebah Garden is great to visit all year round, with four miles of footpaths leading to its very own secluded beach. Gylly Beach is also a 15-minute walk from the town centre. The sandy cove of Maenporth Beach is two miles away. While Castle Rock, in the shadow of Pendennis Castle, is great for rock pooling.
Where to eat and drink: Falmouth has a growing reputation as a food and drink destination. Head to Gylly Beach Cafe or Rick Stein’s Fish for seafood. Restaurant Four, pub with boutique rooms The Star & Garter, and Beerwolf Books – a pub in a bookshop – are worth visiting. Cheese and wine bar, The Chintz, which also hosts live music, and The Moth and Moon are where to head for late night drinks.
Where to stay: St Michaels Resort is a spa hotel with new beach residences and hot tubs overlooking Gylly beach. Greenbank Hotel has views of Falmouth harbour. Check into the five star Highcliffe B&B, a stone’s throw from the beachfront. A short ferry ride from Falmouth in the harbour village of St Mawes is luxury hotel, The Idle Rocks.
Port of Menteith, Scotland
Tucked away in a sleepy and tranquil corner of Scotland, in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, is the village of Port of Menteith.
The area is full of glens and walking trails. Have a picnic along the shore or take a dip in the Lake of Mentieth, one of Scotland’s best wild swimming spots. When the lake freezes in winter, curling events are held here.
Between March and September, catch a ferry from the village pier to the island of Inchmahome. Spot an abundance of wildlife or visit the ancient priory where Mary Queen of Scots once sought refuge.
Celebrity chef Nick Nairn has a cookery school here. Stirling Castle, the William Wallace monument and Doune Castle, which featured in Game of Thrones, Monty Python and Outlander, are nearby. Edinburgh and Glasgow are around an hour’s drive if you fancy a day trip.
Where to eat and drink: Locally, try The Lake of Monteith Hotel. Fine dining can be found a 20-minute drive away at Venachar Lochside. A little further round Loch Lomond is Colquhoun’s restaurant which enjoys spectacular views. While The Drovers Inn is one of the oldest pubs in Scotland.
Where to stay: Lochend Chalets, a mix of waterfront lodges, log cabins and cottages, situated on the Lake of Menteith, are the best self-catering, luxury residences in the area. The Bothy at Nether Glenny and Arcadia Glamping cabins both come with outdoor baths and decking areas for stargazing.
On the southwest coast, Pembrokeshire is not as easy to get to as some parts of Wales, but if you have the time to visit you should.
The Pembrokeshire Coast, the UK’s only national park with a coastline, has been voted one of the best in the world. The remote Barafundle Bay has been likened to the Caribbean, with its pine trees, turquoise sea and soft sandy beach. While Church Doors Cove is a geological wonder, instantly recognisable by the huge ‘door’ the sea has cut into the cliffs. Descend the steps to Traeth Llyfn beach and you might find you’ve got it all to yourself.
There’s also an array of quaint seaside villages overlooking their own beaches to visit, from colourful Tenby to Aberaeron – voted one of the best staycation spots in the UK.
Hop on a boat and go whale and dolphin-spotting. The more adventurous should try sea kayaking or coasteering with the help of a professional guide. Beyond the coast, Bosherston Lakes, said to be home to the Lady of the Lake and King Arthur’s Excalibur, has the most beautiful waterlily displays.
Where to eat and drink: For seafood head to Coast. Book a table at Blas Restaurant in Twr y Felin Hotel, which used to be a windmill, for some of the best food in the area. Stop off at The Stackpole Inn, once named the best gastropub in Wales. For drinks, head to SandBar in Tenby for craft beer or venture to Tafern Sinc, a traditional pub hidden in the remote Preseli Hills.
Where to stay: St Brides Spa Hotel has an infinity pool with breathtaking views of Saundersfoot. For boutique hotels try Slebech Park or Penally Abbey. Stay at The Druidstone atop St Brides Bay and eat at their guest and members only restaurant. Adagio is a luxury countryside cottage in easy reach of the coast.