Staycations have never been as popular as they are now.
Overseas travel restrictions have given people the chance to enjoy the wonderful countryside, coastline, cities, towns and villages of home nations England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Why head further afield when all that is on your doorstep? Whether it’s a family getaway, romantic stay, camping or glamping, touring holiday, off-grid escape or spa break to recharge your batteries, a holiday on home soil is the perfect choice.
Ireland provides a warm welcome a short ferry crossing or plane hop across the Irish Sea. Its emerald-green hills, craggy coasts and pubs alive with the sounds of traditional music are just the antidote to those interminable Zoom meetings.
You can find a surprising variety of holiday options in England. Explore glorious nature with gentle rambles, bike rides or hikes in the wilds of Exmoor, the fossil-filled cliffs of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, the New Forest, the rolling South Downs or the Cotswolds in the south and the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors and Lake District in the north.
Alternatively, relax in a luxury spa resort, a cosy B&B, a pub with rooms or a country house hotel, take in refined Georgian spa towns such as Bath and Harrogate or dip your toes in seaside resorts including Brighton, Bournemouth, Blackpool, Margate, Scarborough and Torquay.
Slow right down on a canal-based holiday or a boating trip on the Norfolk Broads.
Then there’s the lure of London, York, Manchester, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Liverpool and other cities for their shopping, sightseeing, cultural institutions, dining and entertainment.
For a small country, Wales packs in an incredible array of attractions from natural to man-made as well as a huge variety of holiday offerings.
Bleak landscapes in Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons contrast with the softer beauty of the Wye Valley straddling its border with England, the wide expanse of beaches on the Pembrokeshire coast and even an Italianate village – Portmeirion.
The principality’s turbulent past is evident in the chain of medieval castles built by English king Edward I to suppress local uprisings and still standing tall and powerful today, among them Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy and Harlech. Towns and cities popular for short breaks include Cardiff, Swansea and Llandudno.
The skirl of bagpipes is enough to stir the soul and invoke dreams of rugged Highlands, barren islands and imposing castles.
The reality will surely exceed those dreams, too. Indeed, you will almost certainly come across a piper on a visit to Edinburgh Castle, the nation’s most iconic fortress, as well as in other locations. You may not spot Nessie, but the grandiose scenery of Scotland’s lochs and mountains will leave an indelible imprint in your heart and soul. The ambitious can even climb one of its 282 munros – mountains over 3,000ft (914.4m) – although you can take a gondola, chairlift or funicular to the top of several.
Get into the spirit of Scotland’s cities with a break in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Stirling and Inverness, capped with a visit to a nearby distillery. Discover island life, history and traditions in the communities of the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Orkneys and Shetland.
Scotland is the home of golf, so it would be rude for golfers not to play a round or two on the hallowed links of St Andrews and its 550 other golf courses.
Visitors are guaranteed a giant welcome in the land of the Giant’s Causeway. Northern Ireland is compact, measuring just 110 miles across and 85 miles north to south, so everywhere is within easy reach no matter where you stay.
Fast roads link its major cities and towns with each other and with Ireland’s Dublin, while scenic country lanes and winding coast roads allow you to enjoy its natural wonders more leisurely.
Belfast has been transformed in recent years, becoming one of Europe’s friendliest, most vibrant and most cosmopolitan cities. There are pubs and bars galore throughout the city, many with traditional live music. The city is where the Titanic was built and its award-winning Titanic Belfast attraction tells the story of the tragic liner.
No Northern Ireland trip is complete without visiting the spectacular Causeway Coast and its UNESCO-listed star attraction. Games of Thrones was filmed across Northern Ireland and fans of the TV series can take organised tours of locations as well as seeing them on self-guided driving tours.
Ireland’s social scene is legend. From city-centre pubs, bars and nightclubs to local watering holes, you’ll be welcome to join in the fun and music, savouring its celebrated craic for yourself.
Museums, galleries and a host of castles and historic monuments are among the many draws for visitors. There’s wonderful nature in abundance, from lofty mountains to towering coastal cliffs, and greenery everywhere. Not for nothing is Ireland known as the Emerald Isle. County Wicklow, south of Dublin, is called the Garden of Ireland and is home to some of Ireland’s most beautiful gardens.
Waterways and inland lakes, called loughs, can be explored by boat. There are picturesque roads to cruise along in your car and scenic rail journeys to enjoy by train.
Sample local specialities in restaurants and pubs, and imbibe Ireland’s famous liquid refreshments – Guinness and Irish whiskey.