The UK rediscovered: the top staycation spots of 2020

Days out

Posted by Hannah on 30th November 2020

COVID-19 may have ruined plans for international travel in 2020, but it didn’t stop us from taking a break and spending time with our family and friends. 

With staycations becoming more popular than ever, we decided to run a survey to discover where the most popular spots were, whether holidaymakers had been before, and if they’d consider another staycation in 2021.

The top staycation spot for 2020

It perhaps comes as no surprise that the top place to staycation in 2020 was London, with 11% of Brits visiting this year. With so many things to do in the capital, holidaymakers could visit the many tourist attractions (whilst staying socially distanced, of course!), enjoy a spot of retail therapy, have a stroll through one of the many parks, and sample delicious food and drink at the capital’s best restaurants.

Cornwall and Devon placed in joint second, with 10% of Brits visiting for a staycation. With beautiful beaches, breathtaking scenery, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, both counties were a great option for family and friends to spend some time away together.

The other city that made the list was Edinburgh at 9%, for people who preferred a city vibe. The Lake District placed fifth, with 7% of Brits visiting.

The other five destinations that made up the 10 most popular staycation spots are:

  • Yorkshire Dales (8%)
  • East Sussex (8%)
  • Scottish Highlands (8%)
  • East Anglia (8%)

14% of Brits holidayed somewhere new in 2020

14% of Brits who staycationed in the UK visited a new area of the country this year – showing that whilst international travel may have been put on hold, as a nation, we were still up for a (COVID-safe) adventure.

30% of Brits who enjoyed a staycation said they’d always wanted to visit the area they did, but had never considered it before this year, with the lure of overseas holidays (and better weather!) likely to be too strong. And in fact, 22% said they only went on a staycation because they either couldn’t or didn’t want to travel abroad this year.

This shows the positive impact COVID-19 has had on the UK travel sector, with more Brits exploring the beauty of their own country than ever before.

Ullswater in the Lake DistrictThe breathtaking beauty of Ullswater in the Lake District


However, when we broke down the list of staycation spots by each destination, only the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales, and the Scottish Highlands were featured on both the most visited staycation spots and on the list of places people hadn’t visited before this year. Therefore, there were still plenty of people who travelled to places they’d already visited – perhaps for familiarity and a feeling of nostalgia during this time of uncertainty.

Cornwall tops the 2021 travel bucket list

With 84% of Brits saying they’d consider a staycation in the future, Cornwall tops the UK’s travel bucket list, with 48% of respondents saying they’d like to visit.

Pedn Vounder beach in Cornwall - sandy beach surrounded by cliffsPedn Vounder beach in Cornwall

The Scottish Highlands and Devon came joint second, at 43%, followed by the Lake District (41%) and the Yorkshire Dales (35%): suggesting that for most people, a country or seaside escape is preferable to a city break.

The other five destinations that featured on Brits’ travel bucket lists are:

  • Edinburgh (34%)
  • Peak District (32%)
  • Snowdonia/Eryri (32%)
  • The Cotswolds (31%)
  • Dorset (30%)

18-44s preferred city breaks to country escapes

When broken down by age, there was a clear split between two ages. The most popular staycation spots for 18 to 34-year-olds in 2020 was London, at 12% and 16% respectively (Cornwall came joint first for 18 to 24s), and the top destination for 35 to 44-year-olds was Edinburgh.

Those over the age of 45 preferred a quieter country retreat, with those between 45 and 54, and 65+ choosing Cornwall, and Brits between 55 to 64 opting for East Anglia.

Cornwall topped the bucket list for those between the ages of 25 and 64; whereas those aged 18 to 24 want to visit Edinburgh, and Brits aged 65+, the Scottish Highlands, demonstrating a shift from city to nature.

Mountains in the Nevis mountain range in the Scottish HighlandsThe dramatic mountain scenery of the Nevis Range in the Scottish Highlands

With 42% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they wouldn’t have considered a staycation were it not for lockdown restrictions, and that they only went because they couldn’t travel abroad (27%), 2020 has been really positive for younger generations to explore more of their own country.

The majority of staycationers travelled locally for holidays

When we broke down the top staycation destinations for each city, most Brits chose to stay fairly local. For example, the Scottish Highlands was the top staycation spot for Edinburgh and Glasgow, at 35% and 38% respectively, whereas Leeds’ top choice was the Yorkshire Dales, and Norwich’s number one spot was East Anglia.

The Yorkshire Dales: the top destination for Leeds

In fact, the only city-dwellers who chose to travel further afield were those from Belfast (their top spots were Snowdonia/Eryri and Edinburgh), Cardiff (Cornwall), and Southampton (also Cornwall).

With so much to see and do in the UK, we don’t blame you if you want to book a staycation or two for 2021! With a range of cottages all across the country, simply choose your destination, before booking one of our stunning holiday cottages. 

UK staycations

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.