There is truly nothing better than a weekend getaway somewhere close but far enough to offer a needed change of scenery.
I have spent quite some time in England I found that, like Germany, there are hundreds of amazing weekend breaks in England that were right at my fingertips.
I recruited some amazing bloggers to help pick out some of the best places to visit in England for a weekend. This is the list we came up with!
If you have a favorite destination in England, please drop it in the comments!
Best Weekend Breaks in England
London is one of the best cities in the world- it is full of history, culture, and incredible things to eat and do. Given its size, it is impossible to explore London in just a weekend even if you spent a year there exploring solidly you would still only have just scratched the surface.
However, a weekend in London is still amazing. For first time visitors, central London is full of fantastic places to visit that will take your breath away as you immerse yourself in the traditions of the country.
For those who have seen the main sites, take the opportunity to explore the lesser-visited parts of the city. In London’s east end, you will find plenty to do with cool boutiques, bars, and restaurants popping up constantly as the area regenerates.
While English food has a reputation for being beige and awful, London shakes that stereotype off and offers some of the best food in the world.
Explore the southern district of Tooting, which is home to some of the best Indian food in London. There are also cool indoor markets where you can find an amazing array of pop up restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
Pubs are a staple in England, and the craft beer scene has exploded in England, spend an evening visiting the pubs and breweries along the Bermondsey beer mile, and taste some of the finest brews London has to offer.
Manchester is England’s third city by size, but it really packs a punch when it comes to things to do. The city is manageable in size, meaning you can easily get to know the city within a weekend.
Manchester is a culturally vibrant city, having a huge impact on the British art and music scene with some of the UK’s best bands hailing from the area.
Thanks to its rich musical heritage and the fact that it is home to two of the country’s largest universities, Manchester has some of the best nightlife options in the country with bars and clubs dotted throughout the country.
Head to the Northern Quarter in the city center to experience the more creative side of the city, with plenty of craft beer bars and specialty coffee shops hidden away in the narrow streets of the trendy district.
Throughout the rest of the city, you will find amazing art galleries and museums dedicated to the history of the city and the northwest of England.
While the city is fiercely proud of its heritage, it has embraced multiculturalism with open arms and you can find some of the best international restaurants in the country, especially for those looking to try incredible Indian food.
Sundays in Manchester are a chilled out affair and there is nothing better than escaping the city to the suburb of Didsbury where you can find a traditional pub and enjoy a traditional English breakfast or Sunday roast while you watch one of Manchester’s two world-class football teams.
There are many things to do in the city and don’t shy away from visiting Manchester in winter! The pubs and restaurants will keep you occupied in between visiting Christmas markets and more!
On the south coast, you will find the city of Brighton- a charming and historic seaside resort. While the city is historical and there are plenty of amazing sites such as the Brighton Pavilion and Victorian Pleasure Pier, there is so much more to the city.
Brighton is one of the coolest cities in England, with winding streets that are home to boutique shops, bars, and restaurants.
Brighton has established itself at the forefront of the British specialty coffee scene with plenty of charming and hip cafes dotted throughout the city.
At the end of the Pleasure Pier, you can enjoy the fun, if not somewhat outdated, an amusement park with rollercoasters and other rides hovering above the sea below.
On the beachfront, there are plenty of traditional British fish restaurants where you can enjoy fish and chips along with other British classics if you are feeling brave try taking your meal to the beach to eat where you will most likely be harassed by flocks of seagulls.
To the east of the city, you can find the Seven Sister Country Park where you can see the fantastic white chalk cliffs that southern England is famous for. You can enjoy the Seven Sisters Walk from there and it is jaw-dropping.
There are a lot of things to do in Brighton and it is definitely one of the best weekend breaks in England.
Oxford is world-famous for its university that competes to be one of the best in the world.
The university is comprised of several different colleges spread out across the city, each set in a grand campus with historical buildings (some of which date back to the 13th-century).
Throughout the city, there are small shallow waterways where people spend their day leisurely floating around in punting boats. Punting is similar to the cruising gondolas of Venice.
Maybe not quite as grand or majestic but it is one of the must-do things in the city as you gently float through the city admiring the historic building from a different perspective.
In the evenings, you can head to historic pubs, where some of the world’s greatest writers once drank, like the Eagle and Child pub where the likes of Tolkein once drank.
If you are looking for a more lively night, follow the students to Cowley Road where Oxford shakes its uptight reputation and parties late into the night. You will find many of the best cocktail bars in Oxford around this area.
Close to England’s border with Wales is the city of Gloucester, one of the most beautiful cities in western England.
The city is dominated by a cathedral that dates back to 678 AD and has been featured in many films, including the Harry Potter films. Gloucester is famous for its fantastic cheeses, and there is nothing better than heading to the farmers market on the weekend and trying all the different local varieties on offer.
I loved strolling around the quays when I was there and checking out the small cafes and restaurants along the harbor.
The city is relatively small but the areas surrounding are places of unprecedented beauty.
To the east of the city is the Cotswolds, where the rolling green hills of England give way to small villages where you can find quintessential pubs and picturesque cottages.
To the west, you will find the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley, another one of Britains exceptional areas of beauty and history.
Bath is one of the best places in England to get up close and personal with its Roman history. The Romans swept through much of Europe and England was no exception, with the empire settling in nearly every corner of the country.
Due to naturally occurring hot springs in the area, the Romans created a spa town where people could come and bathe in the soothing waters.
The original Roman baths are still in existence today and are housed in some of the best-preserved Roman buildings in England.
The baths are no longer in use, although they were until 1978. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing modern spas around the city where you can relax and enjoy a chilled out weekend.
The city has more to offer than just Roman history and UNESCO has deemed the whole city a World Heritage Site.
In the evenings, relax in one of the many pubs with a pint of cider, the favored drink of southwest England, and you will be able to enjoy and taste many different varieties of the beverage.
In northern England, you’ll find the picturesque city of York, one of England’s most historic places. The gorgeous cathedral city dates back to 71 AD when Romans founded the city as they took over from a hostile tribe.
However, the most fascinating part of the city’s heritage lies in its Viking history which gave the city the origins behind its name.
The Jorvik Viking Museum is an amazing museum where you can learn all about Viking life in York and Northern England.
There are also fantastic examples of medieval architecture, such as the York Castle, which was built by the Normans after the Vikings were forced out of the country.
In the evenings, spend time checking out the cozy city pubs where you can shelter from the often temperamental northern weather next to a fireplace enjoying a pint of local ale or alternatively while sipping a cup of Yorkshire tea, known to be some of the finest in England.
Newcastle upon Tyne
They say the further north you go in England the friendlier the people are, and this is definitely true of Newcastle.
Known throughout England as the best night out in the country, the city has so much more to offer than its fantastic nightlife. As you approach the city, you can’t fail to be impressed as the Angel of The North that is perched on a hill just outside of Gateshead greets those arriving from the south of England.
The city is beautiful with buildings crawling up the hills from the banks of the Tyne river. Newcastle is relatively small, but just outside of the city you can find some of the most stunning nature in England.
Along the coast, you will see wild and beautiful beaches, like Whitley Bay where you can enjoy the brisk northern English weather and try some of the freshest fish and chips you will find in the UK.
Just south of Newcastle is the small city of Durham, famed for its impressive cathedral and castle.
Like many cities in England, Newcastle is football-mad and when matchday comes around, the city pulsates as all eyes turn to the stadium that dominates the city center and if they win the party goes on until the early hours of the morning with everyone heading out to party area of the Bigg Market to celebrate.
On the north-western coast, you will find the large town of Blackpool, a historical seaside resort that used to be one of the most popular holiday destinations for Brits looking to unwind.
While holidaymakers may no longer head to the town in their droves like former times, Blackpool is still a fun place to spend a weekend.
Along the waterfront, you can find several piers that stretch out into the sea and date back to the Victorian times when pleasure piers were all the rage and were home to theaters, arcades, and ballrooms.
While the piers now have more modern arcades with updated games, Blackpool is still renowned for its ballroom dancing scene.
On the waterfront, you can find the Blackpool Pleasure Beach- a small theme park in the middle of the town with a decent array of rides.
From late summer to the end of the fall, the seafront is lit up each night with the Blackpool illuminations and people travel from all over the northwest and further afield to see the fantastic display light up the city.
From Blackpool, you can also easily reach the cities of Liverpool or Manchester in the south or, alternatively, escape to the stunning Lake District north of the town.
Recommended by Sarah at Live Dream Discover
The city of Bristol is colorful and vibrant but also chill and scenic making it a perfect weekend break in England. Bristol can be reached from London in about two hours by car or train so it’s also a great city break from the busy capital.
Bristol sits on the banks of the River Avon which means many of the sites are scenically located along this famous stretch of water.
You can spend hours exploring the Bristol Harbour lined with trendy restaurants, bars, and shops as well as a couple of fantastic museums like the SS Great Britain.
A walk across the elegant Clifton Suspension bridge which spans the river and connects to North Somerset is also a must.
Away from the river you can wander around the medieval Old City, shop at St Nicholas Market, admire the Victorian Terraces of Clifton Village, sit on the lawn of Bristol Cathedral or search out the street art by the famous Banksy.
There are plenty of accommodation choices for your weekend in Bristol ranging in style and price but if you want to stay in a beautiful hotel in the heart of the city you can’t go wrong with the Bristol Harbour Hotel.
It’s a lovely Victorian-style boutique hotel across from the old Exchange Building with an amazing spa tucked into the old bank vaults.
Castleton (Peak District)
Recommended by Becky at Peak District Walks
Castleton in Derbyshire is a wonderful place for a weekend break in England, nestled in the heart of the Hope Valley in the Peak District National Park you are spoilt for amazing views.
Whilst you’re there, you can visit the nearby caves (Peak Cavern) or even Peveril Castle which overlooks Castleton village.
There are plenty of quaint little shops, cafes, and pubs and one of my favorite places is ‘Ye Olde Nags Head’, where you can stay for your trip, as well.
All perfect for treating yourself, that is either before or after you have explored the nearby hills on foot.
A short walk from Castleton you can see the mighty Mam Tor, known as the Mother Hill in the Peak District. There are plenty of different walks you can do including hiking from Lose Hill to Mam Tor.
Walking along the Great Ridge between these two hills is the best way to see the Peak District, you can see for miles in both directions before descending back into Castleton for a well-deserved rest.
Recommended by Kathryn at Wandering Bird
If you’re looking for a UK weekend destination, look no further than Dartmouth in Devon.
This beautiful and historic town is nestled into an inlet on the south England coast and it’s one of the most picturesque places you’ll ever visit.
One of the best things about Dartmouth is how easy it is to fit into an England road trip– it’s not as far away as you think.
The history in the town is incredible- it’s overshadowed by BRNC Dartmouth- home of the officer training for the Royal Navy. Look closely and you’ll likely see some very unhappy people being forced to run up some very big hills!
The river is one of the major features in Dartmouth- definitely take a river cruise or rent one of the small boats available for the day. It’s a wonderful way to relax and explore.
You can actually take a bot halfway up and then cycle back if you have push-bikes- that’s a great way to spend the day!
Also, be sure to enjoy the Dartmouth steam train. The route goes all the way up to Paignton and you can ride up and back in just a couple of hours. It allows for beautiful views across the river and the surrounding countryside.
Recommended Hotel: The Royal Castle Hotel- right on the banks of the river with fabulous views.
Recommended by Maggie at The World Was Here First
If you’re looking for the perfect weekend break in England, then you really can’t go wrong with spending a couple of days in Cornwall.
Located in the southwesternmost tip of England, this beautiful region is packed with charming villages, fascinating history, and beautiful coastal scenery that is sure to delight all those who visit.
If you’re interested in exploring some lovely Cornish villages, make sure not to miss St Ives.
Known for being a haven for local artists, there are plenty of galleries to browse, ample cute shops, a delightful sandy beach, and even a branch of the renowned Tate Modern museum.
If you’re after something a bit more small and charming, consider visiting the quaint fishing village of Mousehole. Or, alternatively, if you want to try your hand at surfing or just take in some of England’s best beaches, make sure to visit Newquay.
If you’d rather learn about Cornish history and legend, then make sure to visit Tintagel, believed to be the birthplace of King Arthur, and St Michael’s Mount, an island castle located a bit away from the town of Penzance.
And finally, no visit to Cornwall would be complete without enjoying a coastal walk and taking in some of the incredible natural scenery.
For great views, head to Cape Cornwall or Land’s End, where there are plenty of hiking routes to suit all kinds of travelers. Click here to see some of the best towns in Cornwall.
Recommended by Cathy at Mummy Travels
If you love history, Salisbury is hard to beat – one of the earliest recorded settlements in the country is Old Sarum on the outskirts of the current city, itself famous for its 800-year-old cathedral and half-timbered houses on the marketplace.
Compact enough to explore in a weekend, Salisbury Cathedral has to be the first stop. Climb to the base of the 123m high spire, or under the soaring roof, you’ll find medieval tiles and carvings, plus the world’s oldest mechanical clock.
It’s also home to a rare copy of the Magna Carta, with an exhibition showing the impact this 13th-century document had on democracy worldwide.
Stop off in the Salisbury Museum, inside another centuries-old building called the King’s House, after James I stayed here, for collections on local archaeology including Stonehenge.
The ancient site is less than 20 minutes’ drive away, so you can’t miss marveling at the iconic stones dating back over five thousand years.
Old Sarum is less dramatic but it’s still worth exploring the site of Salisbury’s former castle and Iron Age Fort.
Complete the experience by sleeping in The Chapter House, a boutique hotel set in a 16th-century building in the heart of Salisbury.
Ambleside (Lake District)
Recommended by Demi at Around the World with Her
The Lake District is the perfect place for a weekend break. This beautiful national park is a UNESCO world heritage site and offers so many activities for visitors.
I highly recommend basing yourself in the quaint little town of Ambleside. Set at the head of Windermere, the largest lake in England, there are plenty of things to do in Ambleside and the surrounding areas.
Many scenic walks can be done in The Lake District. The highest mountain in England, Scafell, is a big achievement for those who love the outdoors and a challenge!
For those who just want a relaxed stroll, walks between villages and along lakeshores are easy and offer stunning views. Many lakes also have old ferries or steamers to get you across and between shores.
Down at the Waterhead area of Ambleside, you can rent a rowing boat and explore the water. This is the area I would recommend staying in, with stunning hotels such as the boutique Waterhead Hotel offering views out over the lake and fells.
For those on more of a budget, try Waterhead YHA, with its prime waterside location.
Recommended by Deeptha at The Globe Trotter
The beautiful city of Winchester is primarily known for being England’s ancient capital and the former seat of King Alfred the Great. But the city has so much more to offer to its visitors.
Winchester has a fascinating history and historical attractions like the Winchester Cathedral, The Great Hall, Winchester College, and the ruins of Wolvesey Castle are a must-visit.
Also worth visiting are the military museums, the City Museum, St John’s Hospital, the City Mill, St Mary’s Abbey, and Winchester Castle.
You will find a number of free and paid walking tours in Winchester and these cover most of the attractions listed earlier.
For the shopaholics, Winchester has a prospering shopping scene. You will find everything from big-name stores to quirky boutiques and small independent businesses to shop from.
While there a number of hotels in the city center, Holiday Inn Winchester which is located on the edge of the South Downs National Park and a short drive away from the city center, is recommended.
It is in a great location with fantastic amenities.
Winchester is served regularly by Southern Western Railway from London and the journey time is less than an hour. National Express also operates numerous services daily from London with the travel time under two hours.
With easy connectivity and so many things to see and do in Winchester, it is one of the best weekend break destinations in England.
Recommended by Pauline at Beeloved City
If you are looking for an awesome weekend break in England, Liverpool will be perfect for you!
There is plenty to do there!
If you love history, you can walk around town and discover Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City (UNESCO World heritage). The best way to explore it is by going on a walking tour.
The guide will take you all around the city center down to the docks. You will learn plenty of fun facts about Liverpool.
If you love music, you’re in for a treat! Liverpool is the birthplace of the Beatles. If you head to Matthew Street, you will find plenty of pubs and bars with live music including the Cavern Club where John Lennon and his friends used to play.
Finally, Liverpool is a great place to go shopping! The main street, Church St, is full of high street shops but if you want to get more of that, you can walk down to Liverpool One.
It’s the biggest open-air commercial center in Europe!
Liverpool truly is a great place to spend the weekend. Shopping, music, nightlife, culture… it has it all!
Isle of Wight
Recommended by Manpreet at Hello Manpreet
Just a short distance away from mainland Britain is an amazing family-friendly island called the Isle of Wight. The island has an impressive history, with the Osborne House, being the summer home for Queen Victoria in the 1840s.
The island has been a very popular weekend break for Brits, as the weather is traditionally warmer than England and the beaches are not as crowded as those on the south coast.
You will need to book yourself on to the ferry which leaves Southampton or, more popularly from Portsmouth. You can take your car on board to make your time on the island more convenient.
One thing you will notice when arriving on the island is the vast amount of natural beauty, with lots of parks and the eroding, crisp white chalk cliffs.
A little fact for you is that if you happen to be taking a picnic along, the Island is home to the famous red squirrel, who is not a frequent find on the mainland where you will commonly see the grey squirrel instead.
Be sure to take one of the many bike trails which take you on routes all around the island and the shortest route is around 30km long.
It is a must-do thing as you will get a lovely feel of the culture throughout the island!
Recommended by Diana at Travels in Poland
As a university town about an hour and a half north of London, Cambridge is an amazing weekend break with plenty to see and do in the small city.
The very prestigious University of Cambridge campus is an amazing place to visit and has plenty to do, or a stroll through the main shopping area will give visitors plenty of opportunities to buy artisan items or eat at a proper restaurant.
King’s College Chapel is a great place to visit as the beauty of the interior is intriguing and makes for great photo opportunities.
The surrounding green space is perfect for an afternoon picnic or for a quick stroll across the lawn onward to see more nearby.
St. John’s College, as one of the oldest colleges in Cambridge is well worth a visit. The exterior architecture in itself is stunning and makes you feel as if you are in a fairytale.
Further on, St. Mary’s Church is accessible and has a fantastic vantage point from the top of the tower, which you can easily climb and get a bird’s eye view of the entire city.
Punting is a great pastime and readily available in Cambridge. If staying for a weekend, Gonville Hotel is a short walk from the historic city center.
Recommended by Chris at Global Shenanigans
Dorset is a beautiful example of the English countryside, nestled amongst Devon and Somerset in the South West of the country. There is a rich history of settlement in Dorset due to its strategic location on the English Channel.
It was the target of the first Viking raid on Britain in the 8th century, a focal point of the English Civil War in the 1600s, as well as a staging post for the Allied invasion of Normandy in WWII.
This long-running tapestry of English heritage has left its mark in the form of quaint rural hamlets, idyllic seaside towns and bustling historic ports.
What really draws me into Dorset is the truly breathtaking Jurassic Coast.
This 90-mile stretch of coastline is England’s only natural World Heritage site, earning its place due to 185million years of geological wonder in the form of fossils, rocks, and stunning white cliffs.
If you enjoy hearing about the natural world and how it can be protected, click here to read on.
The two most famous sections are the Durdle Door – a gigantic limestone arch extending out from the cliff and into the water; and Old Harry Rocks – three self-standing chalk stacks.
Old Harry is one for the drone pilots, as I am almost certain you will recognize a photo of it immediately!
Recommended by Stephanie at History Fangirl
The village of Windsor makes for a great getaway from London. Only an hour outside of the city by train, everything you want to see is within walking distance so you can leave the car behind.
In Windsor, you can enjoy the appeal of small village life, almost one thousand years of history, and plenty of special sites to fill a weekend. Start with a tour of Windsor Castle.
Begun as a Norman fortification, this is the longest continually inhabited castle in all of Europe. Afterward enjoy a walk around the area, exploring the beautiful views of the castle grounds.
You can grab lunch in the village before heading over to Eton to walk around the town. Make sure to see the Queen’s swans along the way.
At the end of the day, tuck into one of Windsor’s historic pubs and enjoy reflecting on how many important sites are in this small area.
Recommended by Izzy and Phil at the Gap Decaders
The New Forest is a large and beautiful national park of heathland and ancient forest in Hampshire.
Easily accessible from towns and cities across the south of England, the New Forest is a haven for wildlife and activity lovers alike and also makes a perfect spot for a longer UK holiday.
With fabulous hiking and cycling tracks right across the forest, kayaking opportunities on the Beaulieu River and sailing, kitesurfing, and paddleboarding on the Solent, activity enthusiasts will be in heaven.
Shoppers should head to the traditional town of Lyndhurst, or if you want to smell the tang of seaside air and enjoy chic independent shops and fish and chips for lunch, make for Lymington on the western fringes.
Head out on a walk or cycle ride and you’ll see the famous New Forest ponies, wild breed cattle, fallow deer, and even pigs roaming free.
In autumn, you may see male fallow deer locking antlers on the ancient rutting grounds in the forest as they fight for their chosen lady!
Stay right in the heart of the forest at The Pig in Brockenhurst. This stylish and cozy country house hotel has extensive grounds including an incredible rainbow-colored veg patch and a delicious menu served in an airy conservatory, where the focus is on fresh, seasonal, and local produce.
With carefully designed and pretty rooms, it’s the ideal place to relax after a busy day.
Recommended by Hartej and Manpreet at Your Vegan Adventure
Portsmouth is famous in the UK for its historic dockyards and ports for Army ships during the World Wars. Portsmouth has become a very popular holiday destination for the British public.
With something to do for everyone during all the seasons, Portsmouth is rich in history and culture. The city is a great family getaway over a regular weekend, but if there is a long summer weekend coming up, then the beaches nearby are worth a visit.
A few of the more popular attractions in Portsmouth include the Emirate Spinnaker Tower, the famous dockyard, and the lovely Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center.
This cultural center is an old courthouse that is now being used to exhibit art and local history for the visiting public. The sail-shaped, Spinnaker tower is 170 meters high with fantastic views of the surrounding area.
On a good day, you can see out as far as the Isle of Wight. When you head up the tower, be sure to take your first stop at the 100m point and walk over the glass floor!
Gunwharf Quays opened its doors in 2001 and consequently saw an increase in the number of tourists heading to Portsmouth.
This is an American style premium shopping outlet and is one the UK’s largest. Home to some of the most luxurious global fashion brands, you can expect to grab yourself a bargain of up to 90% off.
If shopping is not for you, then the Quays has over 30 restaurants, catering for all meals of the day and all tastes. No matter how fussy your group is, there is definitely something to suit everyone. Advance booking of restaurants is recommended as this part of Portsmouth is extremely busy every evening.
With being so close to the sea, no matter where you stay in Portsmouth, you will not be too far from a beach. This is where the long English weekend comes in handy.
During the warmer months, make your way over to Clarence Pier for child-friendly arcade activities or park up near the beach and take a dip in the English Channel.
Recommended by Rob at Roam Yonder
It’s over 50 years ago that The Costwolds was declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it hasn’t lost any of its appeal.
The Cotswolds is a region in South West England made up of rolling hills and sweeping meadows. It’s home to rustic villages and stately homes hidden away deep within the countryside.
What makes The Costwolds so good for a weekend away?
Well, firstly it’s huge. It covers almost 800 square miles spread across 5 different counties. So that means you can have a different kind of weekend every time you visit.
You can explore its literary connections. Or discover it’s royal heritage. The Costwolds is also well known for its local produce and the chefs that turn the local pork, lamb, cheese, and fruit and veg into delicious meals.
If you enjoy the great outdoors then this is the place for you.
There is plenty of different routes for hikers to ramble along, all the while enjoying the spectacular scenery. If you are looking for a place to stay, look no further than the Thyme Hotel.
Once a culinary school, it is now a chic hotel with a restaurant and spa.
Recommended by Stefania living in Grantchester
Home to The Canaries for football fans, Norwich is the provincial capital of Norfolk County, a coastal county in the East of England. Norwich is an excellent base from which to explore the county.
In Norfolk, you’ll find most of the medieval churches in the UK, thatched cottages, windmills, and rippling waterways.
Hikers, cyclists, and captains will get their money’s worth here. Because if you love nature, this is a water paradise. The Broads is one of the most important wetlands in Europe.
The flat landscape is ideal for cycling, boating, and walking. Besides, the Norfolk coast is framed with golden sand beaches and dunes.
Norwich is the medieval heart of Norfolk County. In the cozy city center, you will find half-timbered houses and cobblestone alleys, such as Elm Hill.
Until the Industrial Revolution, Norwich was the second largest city after London, and one of the most prosperous in England. Nowadays, it is mainly a pleasant university city.
Assembly House is a hotel in the center of Norwich with glamorous rooms. Breakfast choices are: continental, full English, or vegetarian.
Recommended by Bhushavali at My Travelogue by Bhushavali
I spotted Canterbury when I was returning to London from Dover and the direction board mentioned it’s a heritage site.
Soon after I was back home, I started to read a bit more about it and I was at Canterbury a couple of weekends later.
Canterbury can be easily reached from London by train in about 1 hour. Canterbury Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with a church & an abbey.
Canterbury Cathedral is humongous and mystifying with all its splendid sculptures. The beauty of the stained-glass windows there, along with the high ceilings are all just too fascinating!
I laid down on the ground to admire the beauty above my head! Its construction began in the 1100s and continued till the 1800s.
The church is called St. Martin’s Church. It was built in the 6th-century and is the oldest functional church in England. There were two other churches built around the same time that cease to exist now.
The abbey is called St. Augustin’s Abbey and it was built where the other two churches once stood. This has fallen into disuse since the 1600s and is now completely in ruins.
Apart from these three, there are Canterbury Castle, its gates & fortification walls, historic East Bridge Hospital, War memorial, etc to see. It’s even possible to go on a boat ride through the river Stour.
Eastbourne and Hastings (East Sussex)
Recommended by Helga at ShegoWandering
The seaside of East Sussex is very popular for locals and tourists alike. If you’re looking for a town that isn’t as crowded as, for example- Brighton where all Londoners go on a sunny weekend, East Sussex is really a great choice.
Eastbourne is about 2.5 hours’ drive from London, but it’s also reachable by train. The town has some nice beaches to spend the day, in addition to other amazing things to do.
You can go on a walk on Eastbourne Pier, or explore the Redoubt Fortress, shops, and restaurants.
The British seaside town is perfect for those looking for an authentic, yet peaceful and rich experience. The Cavendish Hotel or The Grand Hotel are great picks to stay of a more luxurious weekend getaway, both with sea views!
If you’re looking to discover the surroundings where you can find more peaceful beaches, Hastings would be another top choice, with its rocky, nice beaches and a cute town with stunning Victorian and even older British houses.
Hastings is a 40 minutes train ride/driving away from Eastbourne, and it’s really worth it if you’re already in the area and like to explore smaller towns like this!
Recommended by Pip at Pip and the City
Stratford-upon-Avon is a perfect weekend break for theatre and art lovers looking for an alternative to pricey London.
It’s a charming medieval market town in central England where hipster meets history. Here you’ll find 16th-century homes alongside shabby-chic cafes, canal boats, and a world-class theatre.
The town is best known as being the home of William Shakespeare and retains many cultural and historic ties to the world’s most famous playwright.
If you are a big Shakespeare fan you can visit several properties that are linked to the bard. The most popular include Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (his wife), and Hall’s Croft.
These properties are living museums that document the life and time of Shakespeare and his family. Some even have additional features such as ‘on-demand theatre’, where you can listen to actors perform iconic passages from his works.
There aren’t many English museums where you can hear, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies. But in battalions”, as you quietly potter around.
Theatre lovers also flock to the town to watch a play at the contemporary RSC, The Royal Shakespeare Company theatre.
The impressive 1,040 seat thrust stage theatre is devoted to the works of Shakespeare and also hosts more modern theatrical performances.
Make sure to also have a pre-theatre dinner in their rather swanky rooftop restaurant, the food is rather excellent.
Keswick (Lake District)
Recommended by Nick and Ashley at Illness to Ultra
One of the best weekend destinations that you head to while in the U.K. is in the Lake District National Park. Here you’ll find Keswick, a quaint but surprisingly cool little market town that has plenty to offer visitors.
Sitting right on Derwentwater, visitors can enjoy boating trips out to the nearby islands.
Fell walking and mountain biking are two of the more popular activities in the area, although climbing and paragliding are also widely available.
One of the best trails that can easily be accessed from Keswick is Walla Crag, a quick 10km route with 400m of climbing which provides beautiful views over Keswick and Derwentwater.
Back in town, you can visit the Keswick Museum & Art Gallery or head to the infamous Pencil Museum!
If you want to sit back and relax, you’ll find old-timey pubs on nearly every corner and don’t forget to eat some fish chips to top off the evening!
The best place to stay in Keswick is YHA. You may be put off by the thought of a Youth Hostel, but they have private rooms and are located right in town. Plus they provide the best value for money in Keswick.
Recommended by Anisa at 2 Traveling Texans
The Northumberland Coast is full of natural beauty and history. It’s the perfect area to explore on a summer weekend. You can visit the beach (although the water will still be cold) or go for a coastal walk.
Plus, there are countless castles to explore.
If you want to visit a castle, Alnwick is the most popular for good reason. It’s the home of the famous Percy family and was a filming location for the first two Harry Potter films.
In addition to exploring the castle keep, there are several museums, activities for the kids, and some majestic gardens.
Nature lovers will enjoy visiting the Farne Islands or Lindisfarne (also known as Holy Island). When the tide is low, you can drive to Holy Island where there are a castle and priory in addition to lovely scenery and wildlife.
If you take a boat ride to the Farne Islands, you may be able to see some Puffins.
For your weekend in Northumberland, you could base yourself at the modern luxurious B&B, the Cookie Jar, which is walking distance from Alnwick Castle.
Keep in mind, you will want to have a car to explore some of the more remote spots like Holy Island.
We hope that you found some amazing destinations and spots to take the ultimate weekend break in England. If you have other suggestions, please leave them in the comments!
Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany and Arctic Finland after also living in Norway, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. She has a passion for winter travel, as well as the Nordic countries, but you can also find her eating her way through Italy, perusing perfume stores in Paris, or taking road trips through the USA. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She co-authored Fodor’s Travel ‘Essential Norway’ and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.