Alternative holiday destinations to try in the UK

Days out

Posted by Ruth on 9th February 2021

Alternative destinations

If 2021 is the year of the staycation, then we couldn’t be luckier. Call us biased, but we’d say we are blessed with the pick of some of the best holiday destinations in the world – right here on our doorstep. From the idyllic turquoise bays of the Cornish coast to the placid shimmering waters of the Lake District; the flat Norfolk Broads stretching towards the horizon to the giant peaks of Scotland dominating the skyline, there’s a spectacular destination to suit everyone.

But maybe you’re looking for alternative holiday destinations this year; somewhere a little less well known, where you can enjoy a much-needed change of scenery and create new memories with loved ones.

We love helping people discover our wonderful country, from celebrated destinations to more hidden locations, so we’ve come up with some ideas for alternative holidays in the UK to aid your staycation inspiration. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for alternative day trips or a well-deserved summer getaway, read on to find out some lesser-known alternatives to some of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations. Or, click below to browse our fantastic range of holiday cottages.

All UK cottages


St Ives and Penryn

Love St Ives? Why not try Penryn?

St Ives is well known for its thriving arts scene, fantastic restaurants and picture-postcard beaches – all white sand and turquoise sea; so much so, in fact, that nearby Carbis Bay has been chosen as the setting of the 2021 G7 Summit.

If you love St Ives but are looking for somewhere different to go on holiday in Cornwall, why not try Penryn? Set at the mouth of the Penryn River, and just a stone’s throw from bustling Falmouth, it’s a fabulous Cornish destination for those looking for spectacular scenery and plenty of things to see and do.    

Fal Estuary

You can sit in one of the waterfront pubs and gaze over the placid river that sparkles on the fringes of the beautiful Roseland Heritage Coast, set out on stunning walks along the nearby Fal Estuary, or take a day trip to the enchanting Enys Gardens. And, if you’re missing your culture fix, visit Penryn Museum to browse fascinating displays of times gone by, or catch a show at the Academy of Music and the Theatre Arts.

Highlights:

  • Roseland Heritage Coast
  • Enys Gardens
  • Academy of Music and the Theatre Arts

All Penryn cottages


Edinburgh and the Isle of Arran

Love Edinburgh? Why not try the Isle of Arran?

Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, attracts visitors from the world over to enjoy its special blend of history, culture and nature. Whether exploring Edinburgh Castle, sampling a wee dram at the Scotch Whisky Experience on Royal Mile, or enjoying the spectacular views from the top of Arthur’s Seat, there is so much to do on a holiday to Edinburgh.

But if you’re on the hunt for different holiday ideas for your trip to Scotland, why not visit the Isle of Arran? Often described as ‘Scotland in miniature’, Arran has everything you could want from a Scottish holiday – plus, the ferry over to the island will put you firmly in the holiday mood.

Isle of Arran

Visit historic sites such as Brodick Castle and the Machrie Moor Stone Circles; climb to the top of the highest mountain on the island, Goat Fell, for breathtaking panoramic views; or sample local produce at the Isle of Arran Distillery or Isle of Arran Brewery. Plus, there are plenty of golf courses too if you wanted to indulge in Scotland’s favourite sport.

Highlights:

  • Brodick Castle
  • Goat Fell
  • Isle of Arran Distillery

All Isle of Arran cottages


Woolacombe and Branscombe

Love Woolacombe? Why not try Branscombe?

Regularly appearing in lists celebrating the best beaches in the world, Woolacombe is a fantastic North Devon holiday destination offering everything you could want from a coastal break. The 3-mile-long sandy beach has plenty of space for everyone to enjoy themselves; it’s widely regarded as one of the best places to surf in Devon; and there are so many great places to eat and drink too, all set in a pretty green valley in the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

However, if you fancy an alternative Devon break, head to the south coast to visit Branscombe instead. This National Trust-owned beach is a mix of sand and shingle, flanked by giant Jurassic Coast cliffs and accessed via a pretty and traditional village that is reminiscent of Woolacombe.

Branscombe village

Set in the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the 2-mile stretch of beach is especially popular with families due to the gentle sea and abundance of rock pools that appear at low tide. There are plenty of facilities too, including a charming, thatched beach café for when you just need an ice cream!

Highlights:

  • Rock pooling
  • Sea swimming
  • The Masons Arms pub

All Branscombe cottages


Tenby and Llanbedrog

Love Tenby? Why not try Llanbedrog?

A picture-perfect town on the Pembrokeshire coast, Tenby is a popular destination for a seaside holiday in Wales, and for good reason. The town boasts four beautiful beaches, along with a variety of pastel-coloured houses creating a charming scene, plus there is a wide variety of places to eat and drink on the pedestrianised high street. It’s also popular with lovers of water sports, especially sea swimmers, due to the gentle waters around the town.

But if you’re looking for somewhere a little more off the beaten track in Wales for your next coastal break, how about Llanbedrog? Found on North Wales' Llyn peninsula, it’s a charming village with a wide sandy beach that overlooks the picturesque Cardigan Bay.

Llanbedrog

If it’s water sports you’re after, the palm tree-fringed, sheltered bay is a great place for swimming, and nearby Porth Neigwl is one of the best surfing beaches in Wales. For a culture fix, you can visit the Arts Centre or hike to the top of the Mynydd Tir y Cwmwf mountain to see the ‘Iron Man’ sculpture, and there are plenty of great places to eat and drink too. Plus, the Llyn Peninsula has a high proportion of Welsh speakers, allowing you to immerse yourself in a potentially unfamiliar language without having to leave the country!

Highlights:

  • Swimming in Cardigan Bay
  • Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre
  • Surfing at Porth Neigwl

All Llyn Peninsula cottages


Windermere and Hawkshead

Love Windermere? Why not try Hawkshead?

Home to England’s largest lake, Windermere is a fantastically popular destination in the Lake District and offers so much for all members of the family. Little ones are delighted by the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, outdoorsy types are satisfied by the Orrest Head hill climb, and we bet anyone would be enchanted by a Windermere Lake Cruise.

If you’re looking for different holiday destinations in the Lake District, Hawkshead has just as much to offer but is a little further out from the main Lake Windermere. It’s still within striking distance, however, and also allows you to explore two more Lake District lakes: the picturesque Coniston Water and Esthwaite Water.

Esthwaite Water

Kids looking to come face to face with their favourite characters can visit Hawkshead’s Beatrix Potter Gallery, or nearby Hill Top – the former home of the beloved author. Esthwaite Water is a haven for keen anglers, being one of the best venues in the Lakes for course fishing. And those looking to explore the landscape on foot can climb 803ft to the top of Latterbarrow, or hike the Old Man of Coniston a little further afield.

Highlights:

  • Beatrix Potter Gallery
  • Fishing on Esthwaite Water
  • Latterbarrow

All Hawkshead cottages


Whitby and Runswick Bay

Love Whitby? Why not try Runswick Bay?

Beloved by literature fans, goths and fossil hunters, Whitby is a charming town on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. It’s famous as being home to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and hosts a biannual Goth Weekend – plus, you can reputedly find some of the best fish and chips in the country here.

If you’re looking for alternative holiday ideas on the gorgeous Yorkshire coast, head to Runswick Bay. This picturesque seaside village is similar to Whitby in that is has clusters of red-roofed houses clinging to the cliffs and overlooking a beautiful swathe of sea, but it has a much sleepier feel – in fact, some say it’s one of the most underrated holiday destinations in the UK.

Runswick Bay walks

The history here is more seafaring than gothic; you can wander the tiny streets, pop along to the Lifeboat Station or walk the Cleveland Way National Trail to soak up the incredible coastal views on one of the best coastal walks in Yorkshire. And if you’re worried about missing your fish and chips fix, fear not – the Royal Hotel has a mouth-watering menu that includes this seaside favourite, and also boasts beautiful vistas from its cliff-top position.

Highlights:

  • Cleveland Way National Trail
  • The Royal Hotel
  • Runswick Bay Beach

All Runswick Bay cottages


Bourton on the Water and Broadway

Love Bourton on the Water? Why not try Broadway?

With classic honey-hued stone and the burbling River Windrush flowing sedately through the village, Bourton on the Water is one of the prettiest places to visit in the Cotswolds. Known as the Venice of the Cotswolds, Bourton has a relaxed, olde-worlde feel and many visit to absorb its quintessentially ‘English’ feel, dine in the wonderful pubs and restaurants and visit quirky attractions such as the Model Village, where the entirety of Bourton is recreated in painstaking detail.

For an alternative Cotswolds holiday without compromising on the classic countryside charm, take a trip north to Broadway, one of our favourite villages to visit in the Cotswolds. The village’s high street is flanked by golden buildings and has a backdrop of rolling green hills, giving you the idyllic Cotswolds atmosphere, and there’s no shortage of things to see and do either.

Broadway Tower

If it's museums and galleries you’re looking for, there are plenty including the Cotswold Motoring Museum and the Broadway Museum. More unusual things to do include a trip to the nearby Cotswolds Lavender, where the purple fields in full bloom are certainly a sight (and smell!) to behold. And no visit is complete without a trip to one of the Cotswolds’ most famous attractions: Broadway Tower. This folly tower stands proud and regal just outside Broadway, and it’s said that you can see 16 counties from the top!

Highlights:

  • Broadway Museum
  • Cotswold Lavender
  • Broadway Tower

All Broadway cottages


Seahouses and Amble

Love Seahouses? Why not try Amble?

A charming fishing village, Seahouses is known as the gateway to the Northumberland coast. As you can expect, it’s popular with people who want a true seaside holiday; boat trips to the Farne Islands to spot puffins, days on Seahouses Beach and fishing trips off the coast are all popular ways to spend a holiday here.

If you’re looking for an alternative coastal destination in Northumberland, which still allows you to make the most of the seaside setting and nature on your doorstep, head further south to Amble. This town at the mouth of the River Coquet is perhaps a less obvious choice for a Northumberland break but we think it’s just as lovely.

Low Hauxley beach

Swap boat trips to the Farne Islands for trips to Coquet Island, where you can spy up to 35,000 puffins and other seabirds in the summer months. For a day on the beach, head down the coast to Low Hauxley which has a huge sweep of sand that’s virtually deserted most of the year. And if you’re itching to cast a line, you can charter a fishing boat from Amble Marina or compete for the heaviest catch in Serenity Sea Charters annual competition.

Highlights:

  • Coquet Island
  • Low Hauxley Beach
  • Sea fishing

All Amble cottages


Great Yarmouth and Sea Palling

Love Great Yarmouth? Why not try Sea Palling?

Families have been flocking to Great Yarmouth for a traditional bucket ‘n’ spade holiday for generations and, as well as the golden beach, there are so many classic attractions to visit too. Get your adrenaline pumping on a rollercoaster ride at The Pleasure Beach, play traditional seaside games near the South Beach, and even take a ride on a donkey!

But for a change of scene on the Norfolk Coast, you could visit Sea Palling; home to a golden sandy beach fringed by sand dunes, this beautiful resort is lesser known but still offers an unforgettable family holiday.

Norfolk seal

You could spend all day playing on the soft sandy or paddling in the gentle waves, take the little ones to have fun on the traditional amusements just behind the beach, or go on one of Norfolk’s best coastal walks along the bay to Eccles on Sea; you may even see a seal or two bobbing around in the water! Finish the day with some classic fish and chips on the beach for the perfect end to a fabulous family holiday in Norfolk.

Highlights:

  • Sea Palling Beach
  • Sandy Bay Amusements
  • Beach Rock Fish & Chip Shop

All Sea Palling cottages


Margate and Deal

Love Margate? Why not try Deal?

Having long thrown off its reputation as a cheap and cheerful seaside resort, Margate is now a trendy coastal destination with a thriving arts scene, plenty of independent shops and loads of fantastic places to eat. It’s a popular place to visit for those who like a cosmopolitan atmosphere to their holidays, whether they’re relaxing on Margate Main Sands Beach, browsing the independent shops in the Old Town or tucking into something delicious at the Old Kent Market.

But down the coast, Deal is one of our top places to visit in Kent, offering a great alternative destination for a coastal holiday. The town’s motto is “adjuvate advenas”, or “befriend the stranger”, and this welcoming atmosphere, as well as the wide array of things to see and do, makes Deal a great destination for your next holiday.

Deal

If it’s lounging on the beach that’s top of your holiday bucket list, Deal has a long pebble beach with a quirky 1950s pier – the perfect setting for a lazy day by the seaside. If it’s some retail therapy you’re looking for, Deal was once awarded High Street of the Year and more than packs a punch when it comes to independent shops. And when it’s time for something to eat, Deal also boasts a wide selection of cafes and restaurants – our favourite is Deal Pier Kitchen at the end of the pier, which serves a varied menu of global flavours.

Highlights:

  • Deal Beach
  • Deal High Street
  • Deal Pier Kitchen

All Deal cottages


Alternative holidays in the UK

Whether you’re planning an off-the-beaten-track holiday or are looking for inspiration for an alternative road trip in the UK, we’re sure you’ll agree there are so many lesser-known destinations all around our country that are the perfect setting for your next getaway. And there are just as many fantastic choices when it comes to places to stay too; wherever you choose to visit, we have a wide range of high-quality accommodation where you can relax and unwind after a day of exploring the UK. Take a look at our full collection below to find your perfect base.

All UK cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.