The best weekend breaks in the UK feature some of the country’s most popular cities, with a variety of noteworthy attractions. Without spending too much time on travel, you can enjoy some of the UK’s most beautiful scenery, best beaches, and intriguing history.

    Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation there’s a destination on our list for you. So, if you've got a couple of free days and are trying to figure out where to go for a mini break in the UK, look no further.



    The jewel of the English Riviera

    Torquay is the main city on the English Riviera and easily one of Britain’s most famous and popular beach resorts. A weekend on the sunny south coast allows you to enjoy the beaches around Torbay as well as a wide range of unique and fascinating attractions.

    Among the must-sees in Torquay are the prehistoric Kents Cavern, the medieval Torre Abbey, and the Bygones Victorian Museum. Between them, they’ll give you a taste of the area from millennia back. However, if you’re into more modern diversions, you can’t go far wrong by heading for Torquay Beach and the lively seafront.



    The entertainment hub of England’s south coast

    Brighton earns its place among the best weekend breaks in the UK by having a lively pulse, a bohemian style, and a convenient location just 47 miles from London. You just need to take a look at the city’s star attractions to get a feel for its eclectic atmosphere – the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Palace Pier and the i360 Viewing Tower are the most iconic things to see here.

    Once the sun goes down, Brighton really comes to life. It boasts an extraordinary number of clubs, casinos and theatres and is also said to be one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the UK.



    Take a spa break in Somerset

    Bath is a fantastic destination for those looking for a relaxing weekend away in the UK – and has been since Roman times. Somerset’s largest city takes its name from the Roman baths built around 60 AD to take advantage of the area’s hot springs, with the supposedly therapeutic waters remaining a draw throughout the centuries since.

    Bath’s long history has left its mark in the shape of a wide variety of beautiful buildings. The original Roman baths remain the highlight, but Bath Abbey is also very significant, Pulteney Bridge is worth a photo or 2 and the Royal Crescent is architecturally impressive. The city is also a good place for shopping, theatres, and museums, so there’s plenty to keep you busy for a few days.



    The gateway to the Lake District

    Windermere is a very small town close to the shore of the largest natural lake in England, with which it shares its name. Being one of the relatively few towns in the Lake District to have a train station, its popularity is at least partially down to it being the first stop for many on their adventure weekend in this beautiful part of the country.

    Windermere is more than just a transport hub, though. The lake itself is the star attraction, but there are also plenty of hikes to enjoy within a very short distance, several interesting museums and National Trust properties, family-friendly adventure centres as well as the charming town centre itself to explore.



    There are more than just beautiful spires to see

    Oxford is best known for its striking skyline, earning it the name 'The City of Dreaming Spires'. Those famous spires belong to a wide variety of historical buildings: the oldest university in the English-speaking world, medieval churches and cathedrals, the Victorian-era town hall and beyond.

    Aside from admiring the extraordinary range of architectural styles on display, Oxford offers an excellent shopping scene (especially around Cornmarket Street and the High Street), a host of acclaimed restaurants and even some beautiful green spaces. There are at least 28 nature reserves in and around the city to explore.


    St Ives

    One of Britain’s best seaside towns

    St Ives has won several awards for the quality of its beautiful beach as well as the inland attractions, making it one of Britain's favourite seaside escapes. Its accolades don't stop there – the sea beyond the little cove is considered one of the county's best places to surf and there's beautiful Cornish countryside just a stone's throw away.

    The beautiful scenery in and around St Ives has inevitably attracted and created a large number of artists, giving the town a distinctly creative and bohemian flair. The town centre is speckled with many galleries and museums and there's even an annual arts festival in September – one of the longest-running and widest-ranging in the UK.



    Relax on the River Cam

    Cambridge is just 55 miles north of London, making it a convenient weekend break destination in the UK, as well as a very beautiful one. The historic city on the River Cam is known for its university and the charming old buildings they're housed in. Cambridge also has an impressive number of museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, Polar Museum, and plenty of others.

    The river that gives the city its name is also the highlight attraction. The image of people punting along Cambridge’s waterways, passing under the various historical bridges, and admiring the greenery of The Backs and the other greens and commons alongside the river is an iconic and appealing one. If you're looking for a relaxing way to spend the weekend, this is a great place to start.



    Explore the UK’s industrial heritage and live music scene

    Bristol has been a hub of industry and innovation since as far back as the Iron Age, though most famously during the Industrial Revolution. Many of the city’s most iconic sights date back to the early 19th century, including the Clifton Suspension Bridge and SS Great Britain. In total, the city has over 50 Grade I and 4,000 Grade II or II*-listed buildings to see, dating from as far back as 1129.

    If history isn’t your thing, Bristol can still be a first-class destination for a short break. The city has a thriving arts scene, including many works by Banksy, with a particular focus on live music.



    Home of some of England’s most important history

    Winchester has had played some significant roles throughout British history, giving it a wealth of interesting sights and attractions. It was England's first capital city and temporarily reprised the role during the English Civil War. Its cathedral is one of the largest in Europe, while its public school (the oldest in the UK) still occupies its original buildings. Other historical sights worth checking out include Winchester Castle, the Winchester City Mill, and the ruins of Wolvesey Castle.

    Winchester has a close association with the British Army, containing no fewer than 6 regimental museums and a training base just outside the city. You’ll also find King Arthur’s Round Table in the Great Hall of Winchester Castle – one of the city’s most popular attractions, even if it really dates from well after Arthur’s time.



    Take a weekend pilgrimage to one of the UK’s most visited cities

    Canterbury is best known for its cathedral – the seat of the most senior bishop of the Church of England and a UNESCO World Heritage site. While you don’t have to be on pilgrimage to enjoy a weekend break here, it certainly doesn’t hurt as many of the city’s top attractions have a religious origin. Among these are St Augustine’s Abbey, St Martin’s Church, and Greyfriars Chapel.

    If you’re looking for some more secular things to do in Canterbury, you’ll find plenty of beautiful old streets to explore as well as the remarkable Roman Museum and the Westgate. The city is known for its musical attractions, one of which is the Canterbury Festival in October.

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

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