When it comes to finding a staycation with plenty to see and do, little else can rival a city break. Paris and Lisbon may be off-limits for now, but the UK certainly holds its own when it comes to cosmopolitan hotspots and picturesque gems worth visiting. Holidaying on home turf – we think we can manage that just fine, Boris!
Renowned for its creative vibe, craft beers, indie shops and colourful streets, Bristol is one seriously happening city. Home to some of Banky’s most iconic murals including Well-Hung Lover on Frogmore Street and the Grim Reaper at M Shed, you can experience the elusive street artist’s work first-hand and free of charge at various locations throughout the city.
When you’re done strolling Britain’s most walkable city, start rolling at Chance & Counter, Bristol’s hipster board game cafe. Make a day of it and order milkshakes and grub while you play before ambling the photogenic neighbourhoods and admiring the views of the iconic Clifton suspension bridge.
Where to stay: Number 38 Clifton, 38 Upper Belgrave Road, Bristol, BS8 2XN
Music fans will be hard-pressed to find a city that hits the high notes quite like Liverpool. Head to Matthew Street to discover the legendary Cavern Club – the cradle of British pop music and birthplace of The Beatles. Since its opening in 1957, the club has played host to The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Adele, so it certainly knows how to please a crowd.
With some of the best museums and shopping in the country, you’ll never be twiddling your thumbs here. Take a stroll down Bold Street to experience the creative spirit of Liverpool. It’s the place to be if you’re in the market for quirky homeware, vintage gems, second-hand books and pre-loved bargains. When you’re all shopped out, head to the Hot Water Comedy Club for a barrel of laughs, followed by an Indian street food feast at Mowgli. Whether you’re on the hunt for sport, food, Instagramable architecture or art galleries, you’re likely to find it in this beautifully diverse city.
Where to stay: Hope Street Hotel
The Queen’s stomping ground needs no introduction. Discover the greatest collection of art, design, fashion and textiles on the planet in the V&A museum, swoon over the pastel-coloured houses of Notting Hill, snap the street art surrounding Brick Lane and soak up nature in one of the many manicured royal parks dotted around the city. Regent’s Park really comes into its own in the Autumn months and Richmond Park is the perfect spot for deer-watching. A visit to Peggy Porschen aka the prettiest bakery in town is a must if you’ve got a soft spot for pink aesthetic and award-winning cakes.
Flower lovers can get their floral fix at Columbia Road flower market, on every Sunday – a whole street overflowing with buckets of beautiful bargain blooms, house plants and shrubs. If you’re feeling peckish after a weekend of sight-seeing, tuck into a delicious roast dinner at Hawsmoore, complete with giant Yorkshire pudds, goose fat potatoes and the best roast beef the city has to offer. This is Sunday done right!
Where to stay: The Hoxton, 199-206 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7BD
If buttery beige Georgian crescents, quaint pebbled streets and sweeping countryside sounds like a bit of you, then look no further than the beautiful history-soaked city of Bath. With its postcard picturesque architecture and quintessential Englishness, it’s easy to see why this place left such an impression on Jane Austen during the time she was living here.
Feeling hungry? Bath does independent restaurants very, very well and a visit to Sotto Sotto before you head home is a must-try. Book in advance to avoid empty bellies. No trip to Bath is complete without immersing yourself in history and visiting the natural hot springs that give the city its name. Using hot mineral water that rose through the limestone beneath the city, the Romans created hot baths to bathe in the waters and worship the religious temple. You can’t bathe in the Roman Baths these days but you can take a dip in the natural hot springs at Thermae Bath Spa. A final word: you need to experience the superior teacake / sweet dough situation that is a Sally Lunn bun. Expect queues out the door but it’ll be totally worth it.
Where to stay: No. 15 Great Pulteney, Bath, England, UK, BA2 4BR
Come rain or shine, Cambridge will charm the pants off ya. Grab a boat for a punt along the river, wander the historical streets and university surroundings, lose yourself in the lush greenery at the botanical gardens and stop for a latte-sipper & world-class Chelsea bun at Fitzbillies.
This café has been serving famously sticky Chelsea buns since 1920. It would be rude not to! And because you can never have too much coffee when you’re walking 20,000 steps a day on a city break, make sure you get a cup of joe and a slice of something nice at Hot Numbers. It’s the perfect spot for people watching & brunching.
Where to stay: University Arms, Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1AD
With an abundance of history, sandstone buildings and breath-taking natural beauty, Edinburgh is not a city you’ll forget in a hurry. Visit the most famous of Scotland’s castles – you’ll want to be around for the gun salute at 1pm- and experience the stunning stained-glass beauty of St Giles’ Cathedral.
Outdoorsy types can take a hike up the extinct volcano summit to enjoy spectacular vistas from Arthur’s Seat, or have a leisurely wander around the remarkable royal gardens at the Palace of Holyroodhouse – the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. If it’s a rainy day, head indoors to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions for mirror mazes and shrinking rooms. It’s hours of fun for all the family!
Where to stay: The Bonham, 35 Drumsheugh Gardens, EH3 7RN
As city breaks go, Brighton’s got it all. It’s got the beach (albeit a pebbly one), it’s got the night life and it’s got the independent coffee shops and the vibrant food scene. Grab an ice cream from Brass Monkey and mosey around the historic lanes. You’ll be spoilt for choice for places to stop and graze but if you’re in the market for a hot beverage and a banging doughnut or artisan toastie, The Flour Pot Bakery is a favourite among the locals.
No trip to this city by the sea is complete without a visiting the Taj Mahal style Royal Pavilion and iconic palace pier. During the winter months, you might be lucky enough to watch the starlings perform their spectacular aerial show above the West Pier. Every year, just before dusk, hundreds of the birds gather on the pier to roost but the real magic happens when they take flight in a cloud-like formation. Just look for the eerie skeletal ruins to the west of the Palace Pier and take a seat on the beach to watch the show. It’s a mesmerising sight!