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15+ amazing last-minute weekend break ideas in the UK

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Fun weekend in Nottingham, England: 11 amazing things to do
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In this post, I would love to share with you 15+ amazing last-minute weekend break ideas in the UK! 

Given the circumstances, it’s probably not the best time to travel internationally. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t travel at all. If you have a bit of cash and a spare weekend, here are 19 best last-minute weekend break ideas in the UK. As I live in London, I would tell you about the ways of getting there from London. However, the UK isn’t that huge, so you can perfectly reach these places from many places in England, Scotland and Wales (maybe not Northern Ireland though). 

You will be able to explore most of these places by public transport, however, in some locations, it’s just easier to hire a car. I would recommend using Rentalcars.com (we almost always use them because of their amazing car insurance). However, if you prefer to book directly, I can recommend Avis

For this post, I teamed up with some amazing travel bloggers, so many of the suggestions below would come from the. Without further ado, let’s get started with the best weekend breaks in the United Kingdom!

weekend breaks in the UK
Bristol

15+ amazing last-minute weekend break ideas in the UK

1. Cotswolds 

One of my favourite destinations in England is Cotswolds. Cotswolds is am AONB, which stands for the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Cotswolds is a stunning area with a lot of hills, fields and some of UK’s most photogenic villages like Bibury and Upper and Lower Slaughters. Cotswolds is a perfect destination for a weekend road trip, where you get to explore all the highlights as well as the hidden gems you might discover on your way. 

It takes around 2 hours to drive there from London (to Cirencester, one of the loveliest towns in Cotswolds).

It’s possible to explore Cotswolds in just one day as we’ve done; however, I would definitely recommend staying in Cotswolds for longer. Some of the most charming places to stay in Cotswolds include the Cowsheds and The Slaughters Manor House

2. Bristol

Another fabulous last-minute weekend break destination in the UK is Bristol. Bristol is England’s capital of street art. However, Bristol also has affluent neighbourhoods like Clifton. Bristol has plenty of fun and exciting museum, greet street food and amazing nature to explore around. Bristol also has one of the most Instagrammable cafes in the entire UK (The Florist).

10 most instagrammable places in Bristol - The Florist

It’s very easy to get to Bristol – it wouldn’t take longer than 2 hours to get there by train. However, you can also get there by coach or by car.

If you want to read more about spending a weekend in Bristol, check my post. Make sure to check out these Instagrammable places in Bristol as well.

Great places to stay in Bristol: Radisson Blu with panoramic views and Number 38 Clifton.

3. Manchester

Manchester is England’s second fastest growing city, and it’s definitely the most important city in the North. Manchester isn’t a pretty and glamorous place, but it’s fun, edgy, cool and has so many amazing places to go out, eat and drink. Manchester has its signature industrial architecture, and it’s a perfect spot to spend a weekend in the UK. Moreover, it’s a must, if you’re a football fan – there are two fabulous stadiums – Old Trafford (the one of Manchester United) and Etihad Stadium (Manchester City). There is also a world-famous Football museum. 

Manchester is straightforward to get to – it takes slightly over 2 hours to get there by train. However, if you want, you can also fly (though, it might be a bit inconvenient).

Make sure to check out my post about the best alternative things to do in Manchester & this post about the best Instagrammable spots in Manchester. 

Nice places to stay in Manchester: Motel One Manchester, The Edwardian Manchester.

4. Edinburgh

Even though Edinburgh is in Scotland, it’s just 4 hours away by train from London. If you choose flying, that’s just 50 minutes flying away. Edinburgh deserved more than just two days, however, if you only have a weekend to spend in Scotland, that’s better than nothing. 

Edinburgh is stunning. Having visited 93 countries, I still think that Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. It has everything from hills (Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill) to medieval architecture (most of the Old Town and the Edinburgh Castle). It’s the Capital of Scotland, so there are plenty of good restaurants, interesting shops and places to visit. Edinburgh has plenty of attractions, and as we used to live there, we visited them all. You can check the list of the best attractions in Edinburgh here

In order to read more about Edinburgh, check my Scotland posts category, I have a lot of content about Edinburgh and Scotland.

Some amazing accommodation options in Edinburgh: MotelOne Edinburgh, the Inn on the Mile.

5. Nottingham

Nottingham is a city in Central England that is famous for its ancient pubs (some of England’s oldest pubs are located there) and the legendary story of Robin Hood. Nottingham also has a fun and young spirit – there are plenty of students (Nottingham is a student city). It also has plenty of fun things to do. Moreover, the city is also very photogenic and has a lot of history (it used to be the leading manufacturer of textile and lace in England). 

You can read more about the fun things to do in Nottingham here. 

Some nice places to stay: Mama’s Inn, Chatterley House.

6. York

York is England’s most beautiful city (or it’s one of the most beautiful cities). It’s a relatively small and compact city, and its city centre is stunning. The most beautiful street in York is called the Shambles – it looks like it’s straight out of the Harry Potter movie. Moreover, York is famous for its stunning Minster, beautiful Merchant House and its chocolate. York also has a lot of Viking Heritage. There are many excellent restaurants in York as well as cute coffee shops. Overall, it’s a perfect destination for a weekend trip in England, especially if you’re keen on doing a bit of sightseeing. 

You can read more about the most Instagrammable places in York here. Read my 2-day weekend break itinerary for York HERE

Some nice places to stay in York include Jorvik House and Hotel Indigo York.

7. Cardiff & South Wales

Another great last-minute weekend break idea in the UK is actually Cardiff and the entire South-Wales. If you’re able to leave your city on Friday afternoon/evening and head to Wales, you will be able to see a lot in Wales. I liked the vibe of Cardiff a lot – and its castle is unique and beautiful. However, I recommend spending 4-5 hours in Cardiff and then hiring a car and going to explore the rest of Wales. You can definitely check out the Brecon Beacons (if you have a bit of time, you can go for a hike; otherwise, you can drive around and enjoy the landscapes) and then, you can explore beautiful Pembrokeshire with its castles and charming villages and towns like Looe and Tenby.

Read more about our weekend trip itinerary for South Wales here >>>

Some lovely places to stay in South Wales: CWTCH Farm & B&B and The Wern.

8. The Durdle Door

A great way to spend a weekend in the UK would be exploring Dorset and one of its most famous landmarks – the Durdle Door and well as the Lulworth Cove. While it’s also possible to do the Durdle Door in one day from London, it’s less stressful to come to Dorset for a weekend. There are plenty of beautiful villages, parks and castles to explore in Dorset and some of the best beaches in England are also located in Dorset. Dorset is also an amazing destination for hiking – the entire Jurassic Coast is stunning.

The nicest place to stay in Dorset would probably be in a lovely village or farm B&B, where you can enjoy amazing morning and evening walks and get re-energised in the countryside.

9. Peak District

Nestled between the big cities of Manchester, Sheffield and Derby, The Peak District National Park is the oldest National Park in the UK. It’s perfect for a last last-minute weekend break as apart from sorting your accommodation, you really don’t need to organise or book much else. The Peak District is all about enjoying the great outdoors, and the best way to spend your precious days off is with a long walk through the green rolling hills and over dry stone walls to a cosy old pub serving real ale in front of a roaring fire.

Stay in a farmhouse B&B or rent a little holiday cottage. Or if you’re on a budget, consider booking into one of the many YHAs or campsites. Just remember to pack your hiking boots, layers of clothing (it can get windy up on those hills), and an OS Map for your hikes. Dovedale and Mam Tor are popular hiking areas, but if you want to get away from the tourists, consider a walk around the villages of Youlgreave or Monyash.

Ideally you need a car to get around the Peak District, although it is possible to get the train to Edale or Grindleford from the train running between Manchester and Sheffield.

Photo and submission by Jenny from Peak District Kids

Amazing last-minute breaks in the UK
Peak District

10. Glasgow

Glasgow is the perfect city for a weekend getaway as it has something to offer all interests and age groups.  The city is packed with word class museums, art galleries and historic sites.  Most of them are free to visit which also makes Glasgow a great travel destination for those on a budget.  Some of the most popular attractions include the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, The Riverside Museum and Glasgow Cathedral.
It is also a UNESCO City of Music and live music can be found on the streets, in pubs and specialist venues of every size. Theatre goers and film buffs are equally spoiled for choice.

If the weather permits, there are more than 90 parks and gardens to explore including the popular Botanic Gardens and Kelvingrove Park in the west end. Over on the south side of the city, Pollok Country Park is a favourite thanks to its walking trails and herd of hairy Highland Cows.

The Hop on Hop off Glasgow tour bus is a great way to explore the many attractions outwith the city centre over 1 or 2 days.  The bus route also takes in vibrant street art, a whisky distillery and several craft breweries.  At night the city comes alive with countless pubs and clubs which open every weekend until the early hours.
Glasgow can easily be reached in just over an hour flying from London or around 5 hours by train direct to the city centre, making it a  great choice for a last minute break.

Submission and photo by Susanne from Adventures Around Scotland

12. The Suffolk Coast

The Suffolk Heath and Coast is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it’s incredible that it is still relatively undiscovered compared to the likes of the south coast and Cornwall.

Suffolk is known for its laid-back charm and yesteryear feel. Coastal towns like Aldeburgh and Southwold, in particular, have done well to retain their Victorian seaside holiday charm and are perfect for a weekend break.

Aldeburgh has a huge range of holiday accommodation and eateries including arguably the best fish & chips in the country and is a great place to base yourself. From Aldeburgh, you can take a stroll along a coastal path to Thorpeness and the Peter Pan themed boating lake where you can while away a lazy summer’s afternoon before heading to the nearby Dolphin Pub for a well-deserved BBQ.

Just up the coast is Southwold, home to the famous Adnams brewery, the beautifully colourful beach huts and a traditional pier.

The Suffolk coast is a great place to bring the family for a relaxing break. It certainly feels like the least developed part of the UK and yet there are so many things to do in Suffolk with kids. The best thing about visiting the Suffolk coast, however, is that you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the pace of life there.

Submission and photo by Jacquie from Flashpacking Family

13. Lake District

The Lake District, located in Cumbria in northwestern England, is known for its ribbon lakes and rugged fells. It’s the perfect outdoorsy weekend break, with plenty of opportunities for activities like hiking and boating. It’s also a great place to go for a couple of laidback days of exploring the local market towns and enjoying the scenery.

Easily accessible from London, the Lake District is less than three hours away by train. The main train station is Oxenholme Lake District, located just outside the town of Kendal. From the station, the popular Lake District towns likes Kendal, Windermere, and Ambleside are just a short train or bus ride away.

There are many great hikes and walks in the Lake District. Climbing a fell or walking around one of the lakeside loops is the perfect way to spend a morning or afternoon, before heading into one of the towns for dinner. (And be sure to get a Grasmere gingerbread cookie for dessert – this small Lake District town is famous for its gingerbread!)

The Lake District is also known for its association with British literature, with the homes of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth being popular with visitors.

Submission and photo by Dale from Wander Her Way

14. North Devon

Renowned for the most beautiful, breath-taking beaches, North Devon is a true wonder for the eyes. The easiest way to reach the picturesque coastline via public transport is to jump on a train down to Exeter and change to get on one to Barnstaple. However, to make the most of a last-minute weekend trip, it’s recommended to make it into a road trip! 

Quintessential towns such as Braunton, Lynton & Lynmouth and Appledore are all situated in North Devon. The best thing to do here is to explore the glorious beaches. The three-mile stretch of Saunton Sands has been voted as one of the greatest beaches in the UK by The Telegraph. 

In addition, North Devon also has some incredible National Trust walks. Heddon Valley to Woody Bay is a six-mile walk which should take around three hours and is also dog-friendly.

When it comes to food, I’d recommend finding a Hocking’s ice cream van (which you’re able to find at most beaches!) perfect for an afternoon treat. How about stopping off for the best fish and chips you’ll ever have at Squires in Braunton? Or treating yourself to a traditional Afternoon Tea (always cream first!) at Tea On The Green?With an incredible coastline, picturesque villages and Exmoor (known as one of the UK’s hidden treasures), North Devon is an amazing place for a last-minute break!

Submission and photos by Kim from The Adventure To Me

15. Liverpool

Mention Liverpool and most people’s thoughts instantly turn to The Beatles and Liverpool Football club. However there is a lot more to the UK’s fifth biggest city with hip urban hangouts and some of the most well preserved and historic buildings in the country. Several areas in the city centre have been granted World Heritage Status by UNESCO including the Royal Albert Dock Area and William Brown Street. The city is easy to reach by public transport – regular trains and coaches run from all over the country, and there is also an international airport.

Liverpool’s highlights include the hipster area Baltic Triangle, officially known as the ‘Creative and Digital Quarter’. This is a historic area spread over several city blocks with outdoor cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as colourful murals and street art. Make sure you check out Cains Brewery Village, Red Brick Vintage Market and the Baltic Market for great street food.  

If you have a head for heights, a new observation deck has just opened at the top of the Liver Building offering amazing panoramic 360° views across Liverpool from the 15th floor viewing platform.

Liverpool also has some amazing galleries – Tate Liverpool isone of the most visited in the UK and is located in a Grade I listed building in the Albert Docks. The Museum of Liverpool is located on the city’s waterfront, and is the world’s first national museum devoted to the history of a regional city (entry is free).

Submission and photo by Caroline from CK Travels

16. Isle of Wight

If you are looking for a unique place in the UK to spend a great weekend away, you have to visit the Isle of Wight.

The Isle of Wight is famous for its very diverse terrain and beautiful landscapes. It is not surprising that tourism is the main source of income for the island’s inhabitants. It is also worth coming here because of the unique paleontological findings, e.g. the dinosaur footprint that can be seen at low tide.

How to get there? You will have to take a ferry or a hovercraft from Portsmouth, Lymington, Southampton or Southsea. The route between Isle of Wight and Portsmouth is served by Wightlink ferries – they take both pedestrian and motorized passengers.

The island is easiest to get around by car, although the cities on the island are well connected – Southern Vectis buses depart from the main city, Newport, and reach the most important places on the island. We would definitely advise taking a car to the Isle of Wight!

On the Isle of Wight one of the most famous rock music festivals takes place, the island is also very popular among British tourists who come here to relax among the surrounding nature. The most characteristic point is The Needles – three chalk rocks emerging from the sea. At the end of one of the columns a small lighthouse was built.

Submission and photo by Darek from Darek and Gosia

17. Newcastle

Newcastle. The toon where girls don’t wear coats and stag parties stalk the streets. If that’s your perception of this north England city I’m here to prove you wrong. Sure, during Saturdays in summer you may still step over a bride-to-be at 2pm but there is more to this city which is actually split into two sections connected by bridges. 

Newcastle upon Tyne and its neighbouring town, Gateshead, is a fun weekend trip from Edinburgh, less than a couple of hours train ride away. Things to do in Newcastle include a visit to the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, a show at the Sage Gateshead and the art gallery, The Biscuit Factory. 

There’s a jumping drinks scene in Newcastle catering for every kind of party-goer from rooftop cocktails at The Botanist to pints in gentrified old men’s pubs in Ouseburn. 

Football fans might want to visit St James Park, the stadium smack bang in the middle of the city. 

Getting to Newcastle 

Trains run daily from Edinburgh and take around 1 hour 30 minutes. Driving takes around 2 hours 25 minutes. From London, it’s about 5 hours by train.

Photo and submission by Gemma from Two Scots Abroad

Best weekend breaks in the UK

18. Harrogate

A town long regarded as the affluent centre of England’s north, totally contradicting the industrial image usually and somewhat erroneously associated with the region, Harrogate is one of the best representations of classic England.

It was its reputation as a spa town through the presence of its thermal springs particularly during the Victorian years that really attracted visitors and enhanced its image and status. Although a number of the old spas have closed there are still the historic Turkish Baths in the town centre and the baths at Rudding Park just outside which make for some of the best such experiences you can find.

A visit to the Royal Pump Room Museum is a great place to learn about the town’s history and heritage as a spa town as well as many of the best treatments and remedies still effective to this day. Visiting
Harrogate you will also become acquainted with one of the town’s most cherished institutions otherwise known as Betty’s Tea Rooms. It is impossible to miss the grand glass-ceiling cafe where you can expect lengthy queues especially at weekends, so booking a table in advance would be highly recommended. This is certainly a place for a proper afternoon tea experience.

Harrogate has always taken great pride in its horticulture too and as
well as admiring the neatly arranged parks and flower displays at
various points in the town, a regular winner of Britain in Bloom awards, a day out exploring the RHS Harlow Carr gardens nearby is essential. Also ideal is the close proximity of Harrogate to the stunning lengthy acres of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the adjacent Nidderdale AONB also full of fascinating hiking itineraries and curious structures such as the Brimham Rocks.

I would personally recommend using a car (or bicycle if you’re feeling adventurous) for such explorations as public transport in and out of the rural park areas can be somewhat limited. Getting to Harrogate by train is very easy and convenient little more than a 30 minute train journey from Leeds or York, both of which are regularly served by direct LNER trains from London St.Pancras taking not
much more than two hours.

Submission and photo by Jonathan from JourneyMaxx

Harrogate - best weekend breaks in the UK

19. Bath

Bath, UK is an amazing destination for a quick weekend getaway.  A trip to Bath is all about slowing down and taking in the scenery of one of the UK’s most gorgeous towns.

You can easily reach Bath from London via an hour and a half train ride from Paddington Station to Bath Spa.  From the Bath Spa train station, catch a taxi right outside to your lodging. For the perfect retreat, I recommend staying at Marlborough House, a simple yet chic inn that is excellently located and serves a lovely breakfast each morning.

The village of Bath is instantly recognizable due to its uniform honey-colored stone buildings.  Merely strolling through this town and popping in and out of local shops is a treat. In fact, an awesome free thing to do is picnicking on the lawn outside of the grand Royal Crescent building.

Of course, any visit to Bath would be incomplete without stopping to explore the Roman Baths, which date back to 70AD and are said to have healing powers. Other can’t miss places in Bath include Bath Abbey, the Assembly Rooms, and The Jane Austen Centre.  Finally, finish up the perfect day of sight-seeing with upscale fish and chips at The Scallop Shell.

Photo and submission by Theresa from Fueled By Wanderlust

england's best weekend breaks - Bath

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