Fancy holidays on luxury yachts are overrated. Well, that’s what I like to tell myself when eyeing up my piggy bank holiday fund. Who needs the white sands and crystal blue waters of Paradise Island when you’ve got the glorious sandy beaches of Skegness on your doorstep?
Ok, I jest, but in all seriousness, I for one firmly believe that holidays are what you make of them. There is so much on this beautiful isle that all too often gets overlooked and, if you’re a little strapped for cash, these 12 places are some of the most affordable (based on an average weekly rental). Here’s to happy holidays that won’t break the bank.
Here’s a little travel trivia for you… Where was the first ever Butlin’s holiday camp? Yes, you guessed it: Skegness (1936, to be precise). This crowd-pleasing British resort has been wooing visitors ever since and its traditional, seaside town vibe is just as alluring as ever. But put your assumptions aside as it’s not all donkey rides, fish ‘n’ chips and strolls along the prom (although, you can’t beat a fish ‘n’ chip supper). Enjoy a family day out at the historical Village Church Farm, take a tour of Bateman’s brewery or maybe practise your swing at the Skegness Golf Centre.
Sitting pretty on the coast of Essex, Mersea Island is a hidden gem. Potter around this scenic fishing community and you’ll find that there’s a real sense of escapism, ideal for those wanting to get away from it all. And if you’re a seafood lover, prepare to be spoilt: there’s an abundance of fantastic restaurants selling the catch of the day. If you’ve never tried oysters before, you’re in the right place!
The scenery on Mersea is stunning so a good pair of walking boots and a picnic hamper is a must. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the elusive red squirrel, inhabitant of the east side of the island, so don’t forget to pack a camera too.
From the famous white cliffs to the East Kent Railway, there’s so much to do in Dover. This family-friendly favourite has a welcoming atmosphere, beautiful beaches and a fascinating Roman and Saxon heritage. Explore the imposing Dover Castle or look out to sea from the Victorian South Foreland Lighthouse. Take a turn around the six-acre Pines Garden before stopping for tea and cake at the café. Or if you’d prefer something with a little more pace, join a high-speed boat tour around those iconic white cliffs.
It’s fair to say that the Isle of Skye is one of the most beautiful places in the world. The scenery is spectacular and the glittering lochs, dramatic mountains and heather-coated moors will take your breath away. There’s a mysteriousness to Skye that will leave you enraptured and inspired, so it’s the perfect place for budding poets, painters and people who want to leave everyday life behind for a while. You won’t feel too cut off though, as the island’s picturesque fishing villages have plenty to keep you entertained. Visit Kilmuir to wander around the Skye Museum of Island life or maybe head to Uig and try your hand at pottery before taking a tour of the Isle of Skye Brewery.
This exciting city in the northeast of England has so much to offer, you might need a bit of help knowing where to start – that’s where we come in! Go underground to find out about the history of the city with a guided tour of 4km long Victoria Tunnel. Get inspired with a look around the BALTIC – Centre for Contemporary Art on the banks of the Tyne.
If you fancy a spot of shopping, the options are huge, but my top tip is the Grainger Market (aptly, on Grainger Street) where you’ll find over 100 stalls selling everything from fruit and veg to vintage clothing. And if that wasn’t enough to keep you busy, the nightlife is vibrant and eclectic: expect cosy pubs with live music, stylish cocktail bars and romantic bistros.
Like world-famous legendary monsters? Then you’ll love Loch Ness, home of the elusive “Nessie”. When you’re not trying to decide if the object you’ve seen in the water is a dolphin or the tail of a mythical beast, the area boasts many other, more attainable, attractions. Spend a relaxing day fishing for salmon, trout and pike, or maybe have a go at sailing or canoeing on the Loch or the Caledonian Canal.
Golfers can tee off at one of the many links courses in the Highlands and if you fancy a tipple, try the Glen Ord Distillery Visitor Centre and Whisky Shop – one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland dating back to 1838.
Perfectly placed in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this pretty town is quintessentially English and has the unspoilt Cotswolds on its doorstep. If you’re looking for a romantic break, then Winchcombe ticks a lot of boxes. The town is full of character, with charming tea rooms, independent shops, inns and restaurants just waiting to be enjoyed. And if you fancy a spot of live music, the White Hart on the High Street has folk nights every Tuesday. Want to cook a romantic meal for two at your self-catering holiday let? Pick up some fresh local produce at the country market, held every Thursday morning at the town hall.
With its welcoming, friendly and fun atmosphere, it’s not surprising that it was voted as Rough Guides’ “fourth friendliest city in the world”. Since The Beatles and their contemporaries shook up the British music scene in the Sixties, Liverpool’s association with music is still going strong. So much so, it’s known as the ‘World Capital of Pop’ with more number one hits than any other city. So, if live music is your bag, Liverpool is where it’s at (groovy, baby!). Alongside The Cavern Club, other must-see attractions include a RIBA city tour, a boat trip on the famous Mersey Ferries and a look inside Anfield stadium, home of Liverpool FC.
The architectural awesomeness that is the Francine Houben–designed Library of Birmingham is worth a stay in Birmingham alone. The library houses Britain’s most important Shakespeare collection alongside rare books and the National Film archive. The subterranean amphitheatre is a thing of wonder. When you’ve managed to drag yourself away, discover some more art and culture of a contemporary nature at the Custard Factory in Digbeth’s creative quarter. Just a short walk from the centre is the serene Brindleyplace. Here you’ll find a range of stylish restaurants, wine bars and, if you’ve got a few hours to spare, the Sea Life Centre is definitely worth a visit.
From quirky restaurants to shopping and theatres, this vibrant city has something for everyone. Kids will love Chill Factore, the UK’s longest indoor skiing and snowboarding slope. For your cultural fix, take in a world-class production at the Palace Theatre. There are numerous museums and art exhibitions in Manchester we can’t possibly list them all here, but The Manchester Museum is a good place to start (and an easy name to remember!). Manchester’s varied music scene means that evenings out enjoying live gigs are a must, and the cool cocktail bars and fine dining restaurants top it all off.
If it’s cutting-edge art and experimental music you’re looking for, Brighton is one of the best places in the UK to experience it. The Prince Albert and the Green Door Store are just two of the many venues hosting regular performances. The Regency architecture, Victorian aquariums and iconic Brighton pier will have you yearning to come back year after year.
Fancy a spot of shopping? The quirky independents in The Lanes, North Laine & London Road are too good to miss. And when you’ve got your glad rags on, Brighton has some of the best nightclubs in the country so be prepared to party into the early hours.
The Royal Mile, the Edinburgh Fringe, Edinburgh Castle, Mary King’s Close…need we go on? There are so many reasons to visit Edinburgh that after your holiday, you might find yourself walking past estate agents’ windows and dreaming about taking up residence in this historic city. There’s never a dull moment in Edinburgh with street performers, art exhibitions and museums around every corner.
Eating out is an exciting experience too and the options are diverse. Try the smorgasbord at Swedish restaurant Henna or warm up with a bowl of Cullen Skink in one of the many traditional pubs. End your day by joining one of the many ghost walks to find out about spooky goings on in the city, such as the legend of Greyfriars Bobby.