What are you up to this Easter weekend? If you’re staying in the country but still on the fence about what to do with your days off, let me give you some ideas! Here are my 6 all-time favourite weekend breaks in the UK. Good times guaranteed.
Every time I visit Edinburgh I wish I could pack up and move here forever. This city is a photographer’s dream, where stunning architecture meets a dramatic landscape that sweeps from mountains to sea. If you can pull yourself away from the views, Edinburgh will treat you to a weekend of fun visiting royal attractions (I’m talking castles, palaces and yachts) and exploring its charming medieval old town. It only takes a day to realise why the Scottish are famous for their hospitality so don’t be surprised if like me, you end up with your nose pressed against the estate agent’s window when it’s time to leave!
What to do:
Climb the spiral staircase up the Scott Monument to see shoppers scurrying across Prince’s Street like little ants
See how the other half live with a tour of the Royal Yacht Britannia; the Royal Family’s retired personal yacht
Potterheads: take a pilgrimage to the Elephant House Cafe where J.K. Rowling filled pages with the story of Harry Potter (and leave your mark on the graffitied bathroom walls..shhh)
Revel in the greenery with half a day at the Royal Botanic Garden; entry is free and it’s a true gem
The Lake District
The Lake District is one of the loveliest parts of England with a quaint old-world beauty like something out of a novel. Its winding roads, stone cottages and fields of grazing animals are set against a backdrop of towering mountains and vast, shimmering lakes. This is the place for those who want a break from their daily grind to get back to fresh air and nature.
What to do:
Explore the mountains by foot or car to catch some awesome views
Rent kayaks for a day and paddle across Lake Windermere
Go horse riding through the rolling countryside
Cyclists: if you’re brave enough, try conquering Hardknot Pass; one of the steepest and most gruelling roads in England
Once ruled by Vikings, York is a picturesque walled city with great shopping and dining and loads of history to boot. The jewel in its crown is York Minster; one of the most impressive cathedrals in the UK and an absolute must-visit. The city’s most unusual attraction may be The Shambles; the closest thing to Diagon Alley you could possibly find in the muggle world (somehow we’re back to Harry Potter). Crammed with little shops and cosy tearooms, this maze of precariously leaning buildings is a complete delight. I recommend ending your trip to York with a visit to the nearby Yorkshire Dales where waterfalls and woodland walks are waiting to be discovered.
What to do:
Take a tour of York Minster and climb up to the viewing gallery for panoramic views
Spend an afternoon buying souvenirs at The Shambles
Revisit history with a walk along the ancient city walls which will take you past the riverside where you can stop for a pint or two
Go for a legendary afternoon tea at Betty’s Tea Rooms
One of my favourite places to visit in England, Bath is a spa town that offers a lovely urban break in a picture-perfect setting. Its got great shops and restaurants, chilled out bars, and a pretty riverside promenade made for afternoon strolls. Most famously, the city is home to the Roman Baths, where the mineral-rich waters were once believed to have healing properties. With its historic buildings and incredible natural beauty, its no wonder Bath is the only city in the UK to be declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
What to do:
Sample the famous fare at Bath’s oldest tea house, Sally Lunn’s (whatever you do, try the cinnamon sugar bun!)
Try the National Trust’s Bath Skyline walk for sweeping views of the city and the surrounding countryside
Visit the Jane Austen Centre to discover how the city inspired the author’s work
Visit the Roman Baths, then enjoy a paddle in the rooftop pool of the Thermae Bath Spa with stunning views over Bath Abbey
England’s oldest university town was home to some of the greatest poets and writers in the world so no wonder it’s known, quite poetically, as the city of dreaming spires. It only takes a walking tour to appreciate how fitting the description really is; the grand, honey coloured university buildings dotted throughout the city, fringed by perfect English gardens and snaking rivers.
What to do:
Go for a punt down the river but make sure you get a guide – it’s way harder than it looks! On the other hand, watching other novices struggle can be thoroughly entertaining
Tour the university buildings, including the beautiful Christ Church College which famously inspired the Great Hall of Hogwarts (Harry Potter yet again…I know, obsessed)
Explore the Christ Church Meadow and walk along the riverside to watch university rowing teams practice their craft
There’s no way to sum up London in just one paragraph. The beautiful capital city has something for everyone, whether you’re after a weekend of retail therapy and good food or one packed with culture, art and history. It’s for that reason exactly that it’s an absolute must-visit destination. And as one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, this is the place to go in the UK if you want a holiday packed with new experiences. Be prepared to exert your energy and considerably lighten your wallet!
What to do:
Spend an afternoon at one of the Royal Parks: for a whistle-stop tour, rent a Boris Bike and cycle from Kensington Palace at one end of Hyde Park, past the Royal Albert Hall down to Buckingham Palace, then to St James’ Park to visit the resident pelicans, ending with a photo-op at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament…Whew!
Forget The Shard – climb up to the Golden Gallery of St Paul’s Cathedral for my favourite view of London in all its majestic glory. Bonus points if you make it in time for sunset
Graze through the food markets of London for delicious artisan food from all over the world (Borough market is a great one)
Watch a show at the West End: the Lion King is a firm favourite
Explore some of the best museums and art galleries in the world – for free. The National Portrait Gallery and The Victoria & Albert museum are great, while the Natural History Museum is worth a visit for the architecture alone