Let's be honest: the chances of us visiting some far-flung beach destination this year are slim to none. Even if we're technically allowed to do so later in 2020, the health and safety concerns many of us have may hold us back. For this reason, a huge amount of UK residents are probably considering holidaying right here, ditching the idea of hopping on a plane altogether. With ample options all over the country, these
best spots within 60-minutes' drive of big cities will make the UK the hottest vacay destination of the year.
Most cities have neighbouring areas that offer something different. Be it a gorgeous seaside village or a quaint town with green open spaces and impressive scenery, the UK is full of lovely little spots that are ideal for a stay-cation.
I've selected seven of the most glorious-looking places, all of which are within a 60-minute car ride (or thereabouts) from some of the country's biggest cities, including London, Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds. Fill up the car and whack these postcodes into your Google Maps, because they're definitely worth the trip.
The obvious choice, and one which will bring you some instant joy in just under a 45-minute drive is Southport. Southport has some lovely beaches, shops, and a beautiful botanical garden, all of which are now back open following lockdown easing. It is also a great close-by destination for those living in Bolton, Wigan, Preston, and Blackpool.
Also nearby to Liverpool, if you fancy a slightly longer drive, are the Peak District and Lake District National Parks, which are both around a 90-minute drive away.
A tiny bit further than 30 minutes by car from Leeds, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is also near to neighbouring areas Harrogate and Bradford. With moors, valleys, hills and villages aplenty, this place is the ONE for unspoiled natural beauty and outstanding scenery. Be sure to visit Aysgarth Falls, an impressive area for hiking and waterfalls, and Malham Cove, which has scenic views galore.
If you've already experienced the Yorkshire Dales National Park and live in Leeds, you're lucky enough to also have the Peak District and the North York Moors National Park pretty much right on your doorstep, both at under an hour away.
There's no shortage of destinations close to London that can serve as a stellar getaway location. But Windsor is one of the closest by car if you live in West London, and will give you a breath of fresh air, if only for a day. Visit the castle, sit in the great park, and spend your time browsing around the cute shops and little tea-rooms. If you love the royals, this place is for you; Windsor goes wild for it all, and is often host to a royal wedding or two.
If you're prepared to go a little further, Brighton, Margate, and Whitstable are all around 90-minutes away by car, and offer great beachy options.
The obvious choice for an outdoorsey getaway is the Peak District, which is around an hour away. Expect beautiful scenery, brilliant hiking trails, and unspoiled natural beauty.
Another great destination is nearby Knutsford, which will only take you 45 minutes by car to reach. The historic and picturesque area is best known for being the setting of author Elizabeth Gaskell's best-selling
Cranford novel. If you love all things historical, be sure to visit Tatton Park and explore its sprawling grounds and gardens.
A lovely option nearby (around a 50-minute drive) is Peebles. While the name is cute, the town is even cuter, with picturesque scenery and lovely walking and hiking trails.
Then there's Culross, which is just 45-minutes away by car. This divine little Scottish village was a filming location for US TV series
Outlander. The cobbled streets and old buildings will have you forgetting city life in an instant.
Nottingham residents are lucky enough to have the Peak District pretty much on their doorstep, at 45 minutes away by car.
Alternatively, you could visit nearby town Burton-Upon-Trent, which is a nice escape from the big city. The town is famous for brewing, so be sure to incorporate a trip to the National Brewing Centre into your stay (reopening July 11).
Just 30 minutes away from Belfast is Carrickfergus, which is a lovely town for a getaway. The cute area is full of history and culture, and is home to the 800-year-old Carrickfergus castle. The lovely seaside town of Whitehead is also close-by with plenty to keep you entertained.
Slightly further away (at a 50-minute drive) is Glenarm, a Georgian village with plenty of charm. With cobblestone streets, historical buildings and Ireland's oldest walled gardens, this is the place for history buffs.
Glaswegians luckily have cute beach-side towns aplenty at their disposal, one of which is Ayr. The pretty area has an unbeatable beach, along with some really interesting architecture should this interest you. It's only about a 40-minute drive from Glasgow, too.
Another option is Helensburgh, which is also a coastal area. The streets here are lined with charity shops where you can find some real treasures, and many of them are actually around the seafront, meaning you can combine your shop with a paddle.
Wombourne is a cute village just 40 minutes away from Birmingham by car, which is well worth a visit for its stunning green spaces and medieval roots.
Similarly, Tanworth-In-Arden is another little village steeped in history. It's famous for its country pubs, walking trails, and quaint feel; the population is a mere 3000.
A much more well-known choice would be Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, which is around a 45-minute drive on a good day. Take a boat trip on the river Avon, watch a show at the Royal Shakespeare Company, or admire the Tudor houses the area is famed for.
Those living in Cardiff actually have a whole host of options, all within an hour (or thereabouts) drive away. First up, there's Abergavenny, which is the entrance of Brecon Beacons National Park, and has a strong market culture.
Next up is Crickhowell, which is a small town known for its fishing, hiking, and general countryside splendour.
Then just an hour away, you have somewhere truly beautiful: Cheddar in Somerset. While the name may have drawn you in, the incredible scenery will keep you. Be sure to visit the Cheddar Gorge, which is the deepest in England, and will give you real New Zealand vibes. When you can't hop on a plane to the other side of the world, this place is the next best thing.
The quaint village of Eaton Scoton on the River Great Ouse from Cambridge will counteract your city woes and is a mere 30 minutes away.
Also nearby is Ely, which is a similar half hour drive away from Cambridge. A small town with medieval roots, there's plenty of charming architecture to take in here. Interestingly, the place is apparently named as such
because of the amount of eels that were caught here in the marshes in the 17th century.
Oxford residents are lucky enough to have The Cotswolds fairly close by, at around a 45-minute drive. The Cotswolds is a well-known weekend break destination, which is accessible to many other areas in the South, including Bath and Bristol. The area is filled with cute villages and old school buildings, along with amazing outside spaces and scenery you won't want to miss. It's the ultimate escape from bustling city life.
Another option is Goring, which is 30-minutes by car. The village, which is close-by to neighbouring town Reading, is full of green spaces and opportunities to get out in nature.
Sheffield is another city which benefits from its close proximity to the Peak District. In fact, you can do the drive in 30 minutes on a good day, meaning all the splendour of the National Park is literally
Outside of the Peak District, there's another great option in Penistone, which is also about 30 minutes away. The market town is famed for its steam-train attraction and castles aplenty.