19 Top Town & City Breaks in Great Britain
During the past two years, I’ve often packed up the car to explore my homeland’s best staycation spots. During my urban, seaside and countryside adventures, I have stayed in some fascinating places…
Find out my top 19 staycation locations to inspire your next trip.
1) Bury St. Edmunds
I learned that many medieval towns were divided into God’s Square and the People’s Square, a division still apparent in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
I was also enthralled by a tour of the Royal Theatre and spent hours wandering in the stunning Abbey Gardens. The ancient Guildhall features the unique Second World War Control Centre.
A highlight of my visit to Woodbridge, also in Suffolk, was an early morning visit to the Tide Mill to watch flour being ground by its huge millstones. This working mill is a living museum that will fascinate adults and children alike for hours.
3) Blandford Forum
Blandford Forum, in Dorset, features a market square surrounded by Georgian buildings including the church. This pretty market town also features an interesting fashion museum and the Town Museum that tells the story of the Great Fire of 1731 that destroyed most of the town.
Christchurch, another Dorset town, exceeded all expectations as I wandered by its estuary enjoying the bustle of an area called the Quomps where locals and visitors enjoy picnicking, strolling and watching the abundant water fowl. This town, with its mysterious ruins, is a delightful place to spend some time.
The city of Wells in Somerset surrounds its magnificent cathedral and the neighbouring Bishops Palace. Both these buildings take their visitors back to the days when the Church was all-powerful. The wells for which the city is named can still be seen in the formal gardens of the Bishop’s Palace.
Once the capital of England, the town of Winchester in Hampshire has much to offer from riverside walks to the magnificent Round Table on a wall of the Great Hall, which is the only surviving building of its castle.
Seaside Resorts in Great Britain
The sandy shores of Great Britain are peppered with pretty resorts that offer much more than lazy days on the beach.
Bournemouth, in Dorset, is a good example of a seaside location with a variety of tourist attractions.
I particularly enjoyed strolling through its impressive historic gardens and taking a guided tour of the unique Russell-Cotes Museum.
Not far from Bournemouth the traditional seaside resort of Weymouth flourished when it became a favourite destination of King George III. Traditional amusements include donkey rides and Punch and Judy on the beach. Nothe Fort, built to protect Portland Harbour merits a visit to appreciate its strategic position and the artillery on display there.
A third Dorset town, close to the famous and spectacular Jurassic Coast, is Swanage another traditional seaside town. Originally a fishing port that expanded to carry Purbeck Stone to London it is now a popular holiday resort featuring its classic, old-fashioned pier. This town is also the terminus for the Swanage Steam Railway.
Tenby, in Pembrokeshire, is also fringed by glorious golden beaches, one of which I crossed to visit St. Catherine’s Island and the fort perched on its rocky outcrop. I also took a boat trip around Caldey Island and saw seals stretched out on the shoreline. This was a contrast to the beautifully restored Tudor Merchant’s House.
The Suffolk town of Aldeburgh has an extensive pebble beach and I enjoyed the long walk along this beach to view the unusual Scallop Sculpture created by Maggi Hambling and is a memorial to Benjamin Britten who once lived there. The Red House where he lived is open to visitors and I learnt a lot about this famous composer during my visit.
Ramsgate in Thanet, a region of Kent, has an attractive harbour ringed by renovated boat houses that house small restaurants and shops. The Ramsgate Tunnels, used as a shelter from air raids during the Second World War, offer visitors a real insight into this turbulent period of British history.
Countryside Retreats in Great Britain
Pembrokeshire in Wales proved to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. So much so that I returned a month later to explore further.
14) St. David’s City
St David’s City is an ideal base for exploring the incredible St David’s Peninsula, a rocky, natural peninsula ringed by the Pembrokeshire Coast Path that stretches for 186 miles. This path is ideal for walkers of all standards, as short, scenic sections are easily accessible. Ramsay Island, close to this coast is abundant with wildlife and the perfect way to relax for a couple of hours.
Newport, stretching along the Nevern River estuary, offers shaded flat paths that emerge by the sea at the Parrog. This pretty, peaceful little town has many visitors who return year after year and I found it easy to understand why.
Windermere is a great favourite of mine and I enjoyed walking up to its viewpoints to look out over Lake Windermere not far from the town. There is so much to do here, as much of the land in the area is owned by the National Trust and open to the public. Bowness Pier is not far away and boat trips on the lake depart from here.
Sherwood Forest Hideaway in Nottinghamshire offers a rare opportunity to spend some time in the forest itself surrounded by its verdant trees. I loved the freedom to wander in the woods and the experience of taking part in a photography masterclass featuring birds of prey gliding from tree to tree.
Lymington in the New Forest in Hampshire is verged by salt marshes criss-crossed by paths that edge the old salterns that ceased production in the nineteenth century. Its unusually wide High Street is lined by the numerous market stalls of its Saturday Charter Market. The narrow, cobbled streets that weave their way down the Town Quay are lined with little independent shops.
Walking along the Saxon Walls in Wareham in Dorset was a new experience. Regular information boards outlined the history of the walls and the town. I really enjoyed this gentle walk with extensive views of the typically English countryside.
Read more from Valery at http://experiencedtraveller.com