This past year has been tough for the travel industry, with restrictions on international and nationwide travel at present I’m looking ahead to summer and autumn 2021 with some optimism! Should travel open up, I intend to travel locally this year. There are so many beautiful England holiday destinations on our doorstep, and many small businesses will have been (and continue to be) impacted by the lack of overseas visitors. These tourism-focused regions and local businesses are so deserving of our domestic support, and I urge you to consider taking a stay-cation this year instead of flying overseas once travel opens back up.
As such, I’ve compiled a list of my must-see England holiday destinations. Whether you’re looking for a white sandy beach, awe-inspiring forest views, quaint country villages or a buzzy city break – there’s an England holiday destination to suit us all. So, in no particular order, here are my top destinations:
England Beach Holiday Destinations
Holkham beach is a seemingly endless stretch of golden sand. And did I mention it backs on to a nature reserve too? For a ‘this feels too wild to be in England’ experience, you must visit Holkham.
The soft golden sand makes for the perfect sunbed or picnic spot. Just bring your towel, snacks and a good book. However, I’m the type of beach-goer who can’t sit still for too long. If you also love to stretch your legs and explore your surrounds, then Holkham is about to delight you that little bit more as there’s a 4-mile beach walk! Pass pinewoods, a saltwater lagoon and gaze over at the charming Wells Harbour.
Are there larger stretches of sand in Devon? Most definitely! But what Clovelly lacks in size, it more than makes up for in charm. Since seeing Clovelly featured on Susan Calman’s Grand Days Out (S01E01 if you’d like to check it out), I’ve been so excited to visit once the village re-opens.
Clovelly is a privately owned, picturesque fishing village that clings to a 400ft cliff. There are no cars so your walk down into the village is a steep descent down cobbled lanes, followed by an uphill climb back to the car park. However, if you don’t feel like walking back up right away (understandable), there are a few accommodation options in the village.
Frankly, Clovelly, you’ve had my heart since I first laid eyes on you. I’ll certainly be visiting as soon as I can, but in the meantime I guess I’ll just fawn through the webcams of the village – enjoy!
No list of the best English beaches would be complete without an honourable mention of Cornwall. There truly is a beach in Cornwall to suit everybody, whether you’re a surfer, sand castle builder, stroller or a sunbather. I would recommend a trip to find your perfect fit, but for me, it has to be Porthcurno beach.
The turquoise waters, white sand and dramatic cliffs could have you believe you’re somewhere far more exotic than the south-west English coast. Porthcurno is right at the very southerly tip of Cornwall, but if you’re willing to make the journey, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
England City Holiday Destinations
England has a real eclectic mix of cities, and to narrow them down to just a couple is an impossible task. So on top of my top two below, I also want to shout out the undeniably brilliant Bristol, Manchester, London and Southampton – you’re all my favourites too!
Brighton really has it all for me! It has an electric energy with just enough going on, but not in an overwhelming way (like the big, busy capital of London). The Lanes are a shoppers paradise, local businesses are abundant and bunting hangs from above – just the kind of whimsy I enjoy.
I also love a city that’s small enough to explore on foot – admittedly I enjoy 6+ hour walks, so Brighton’s not that small and public transit is available. Finally, food. Oh, the food. Brighton has heaps of vegan-friendly restaurants, which makes eating out so much easier for vegan and veggie visitors – I encourage non-vegan visitors to try the delicious plant-based restaurants too, you might be surprised.
Heading out west, we find the historic city of Bath. Having been a wellness destination since Roman times, if you’re looking for a spa break in England you can’t really go wrong with the original spa break destination.
If you can bring yourself to leave the spa, Bath greets you with stunning architecture. Most of the buildings are made from the local, gold coloured Bath Stone. While I’ve visited Bath just once myself, I would love to go back and see the city glow at golden hour – that stone, plus sunset lighting is a match made in heaven!
It’s been said that Bath has inspired writers for centuries. Whether you’re a bookworm or wordsmith, there’s no denying that laying sprawled out on the banks of the River Avon with a book is what literary dreams are made of. You know where to find me this summer.
Countryside England Holiday Destinations
What’s that I hear you cry? “She’s forgot about the north!” Never in a million years would I forget about you, you rugged, gorgeous, lush-green slice of English heaven. While there are certainly charming countryside spots down south (I’m looking at you Cotswolds), for me a countryside break should feel at least a little wild and for that we must head north.
Lake District National Park, Cumbria
England’s largest National Park is a great fit for those wanting to re-connect with nature. For those wanting to see some quaint villages, take brunch in cosy tea rooms and perhaps a leisurely stroll in nature too, the Lake District has so many village destinations to choose from. However, if you’re more into a cabin retreat out in the wilderness then boy, you’re in for a treat.
I’m eyeing up The Lookout for a cosy cottage stay, and with those panoramic views, you don’t need to leave the comfort of the cottage to enjoy the beauty of the Lake District. (Tip: feel free to use my Airbnb discount link for £25 off if you decide to book a trip – your support is so appreciated!)
Peak District National Park
Lakes not your thing? Well, how about the peaks? After spending just two days in the Peak District back in 2018, I’ve been wanting to return and see more ever since. During my visit I spent as much time as possible out walking the trails, and I would urge visitors to do the same – there are so many wonderful walks available in the region.
I previously stayed at Gradbach Mill and can vouch for the great location and charming rooms. There are plenty of walking trails right on the doorstep of the hotel, and you’re a short drive away from some more famous walking trails.
As soon as it’s safe to do so, I can’t wait to hit the road and explore the delights England offers – I hope you will too. Wherever you choose to travel in 2021, I hope we all get to explore somewhere new soon!
What are your travel plans this year? And are there any must-see England holiday destinations you would recommend?