Author Emily Ray is a travel blogger based in London who aims to make as many trips as possible around her full time job ans a content designer. From chasing the Northern Lights over the Arctic Circle to celebrating Thanksgiving in New York City, Emily shares all of her travels on Instagram and Twitter.
In the year of stay, many of the UK’s most popular domestic vacation spots are busy quickly and demand is not slowing down. However, there are still quieter, under the radar vacation destinations up for grabs and ready to explore.
1. Birmingham, West Midlands
What do you get when you combine the waterways of Venice with the edginess of Shoreditch? Birmingham might not be the first answer that comes to mind, but this West Midlands city is a hub of British counterculture thanks to its cool neighborhoods, quirky architecture and vibrant street art. .
Birmingham has more kilometers of canals than Venice (35 miles, compared to 26 in the Italian city). Its bustling network of waterways dates back to the 18th century, when Birmingham was the most prolific industrial city in the world and coal and iron were transported from factories along the water. Today the canals are more romantic. Take a seat in one of the many waterfront restaurants or admire some of the city’s industrial architecture from a small glass-roofed boat.
Birmingham: Highlights for Insiders
- For exciting exhibits, pop-up markets and vintage shops, head to Digbeth, a short walk from central Birmingham. It was once touted as’ Britain’s coolest neighborhood ‘by The Sunday Times – a big headline to live up to, but Digbeth delivers on even the coolest critics’ expectations.
- Make your way to the Custard Factory, a relic of the industrial revolution that is now a creative hub of shops, restaurants and an independent cinema. It’s perfect for alternative souvenirs and for meeting the city’s creatives.
- After a deep cultural dive? Visit the National Trust’s Back to Backs Homes to learn about local working class history, the Ikon Gallery for contemporary art, or the space-age Bullring Mall for retail therapy.
Plan your trip to Birmingham:
- Check out flights to Birmingham or our car rental deals
- Stay at the original and affordable Bloc Hotel or browse the best hotels in Birmingham
- Go back in time at National Trust Back to Backs Heritage Site.
2. Penzance, West Cornwall
In South West Cornwall, Penzance is a windswept and dilapidated seaside town, whose faded Victorian promenade is closer to authentic old-fashioned Cornwall than some of the area’s more upscale tourist spots. The coastline is more rugged here, but no less beautiful for it.
Penzance also serves as a gateway to the westernmost parts of Cornwall, so you can easily hire a car or take public buses to nearby sites including Land’s End and the picturesque harbor town of Mousehole .
Penzance: the essentials for the insider
- Take a tour of the downtown pastry shops. Rowe’s Bakery has been stuffing golden dough with minced meat and onions since 1949, and now takes its off-road flavor combinations with non-traditional toppings, like butter chicken. Meanwhile, Warren’s Bakery in the main square is the oldest Cornish Pasty business in the world.
- Take some time for Jubilee Pool, an Art Deco triangular lido that contains a large saltwater pool overlooking the beach (there’s a geothermal heated pool for when it’s cold).
- Anyone who developed a love for the great outdoors during the lockdown will love the exotic greenery of Morrab Gardens, which is teeming with subtropical plants and rare palm groves.
- Catamaran wildlife boat tours depart from Penzance Harbor, and in good weather you’ll see gray seals, dolphins, and even minke whales. Take a slightly longer boat trip and you’ll reach the Isles of Scilly, a remote archipelago of sandy bays and moorland. Less than three hours from Penzance by ferry, it’s a world of its own.
Prepare your trip to Penzance:
- Check flights to Penzance or our car rental offers
- Stay in the magnificent Penzance Artist Residence or browse the best hotels in Penzance
- Visit Morrab Gardens
3. Whitstable, Kent
From Margate to Ramsgate, the North Kent Coast is firmly on our radar as one of the UK’s top destinations for a revitalizing dose of sea air. Just down the road from the popular Margate is the more sleepy seaside town of Whitstable, which is a great alternative for gorging on fresh seafood and sleeping soundly to the sound of crashing waves.
Famous for its fresh oysters, Whitstable is home to one of England’s most adorable seashores. There are pebble beaches, colorful beach huts, seaside pubs and restaurants – not to mention a pretty town center lined with quaint cafes, independent boutiques, and a few splashes of street art. .
Whitstable: the insider’s must-haves
- At the end of Tankerton Beach, just off the docks and hidden by shipping containers is the Lobster hut, one of the best places to eat in Whitstable. No reservation is necessary, as it is first come, first served.
- Pick up unique creations at Whitstable’s Harbor Market (open Thursday through Monday), which specializes in local crafts.
- Visit the 18th-century Whitstable Castle, a remarkably well-preserved crenellated masterpiece, surrounded by manicured gardens. Tours are currently on hold, but you can soak up the most English of treats: afternoon tea, with clotted cream-coated scones, finger sandwiches and a cup of tea or two.
Plan your trip to Whitstable:
- Check the flights closest to Whitstable or our car rental offers
- Experience sea views at The Marine or browse the best hotels in Whitstable
- Enjoy a cream tea at Whitstable Castle. Tea has never looked so chic.
4. Dumfries, Scotland
The birthplace of famous Scottish poet Robert Burns, the small town of Dumfries lies just north of the Anglo-Scottish border. This lowland destination is often overlooked by travelers heading to the Highlands, but this historic part of Scotland is home to a UNESCO World Heritage-listed biosphere, dark sky reserves and whiskey distilleries – much to dream of. a long weekend.
Spend your stay on exhilarating country walks and heartwarming walks along the River Nith. Just make sure you take the time to sample the local grog – you can even do it at Robbie Burns’ local.
Dumfries: must-haves for insiders
- Start work at the Robert Burns Center, where you will spot 18e Scottish century and visit his former home Ellisland (where he wrote Auld Lang Syne).
- Fancy a glass of whiskey? Head toward Auberge du Globe, which has 300 whiskeys behind the bar, and drink from where the bard was drowning her sorrow. Or spend the afternoon at the Annandale Whiskey Distillery, where you’ll learn to taste the brew like a pro.
- Stop by the family-run Pumpernickel cafe for an after-ride meal.
- If you’ve hired a car, head to the nearby Cream o’Galloway Farm (for award-winning ice cream and cheese).
Plan your trip to Dumfries:
- Check out the nearest flights to Dumfries or browse our car hire deals
- Stay at the charming Caledonian hotel or choose from a list of the best hotels in Dumfries
- Explore the little chalet Robert Burns was born in.
5. Scarborough, Yorkshire
Yorkshire’s charming east coast rarely receives its fruits. Far from offering only family-friendly beaches, sugary seaside rocks, and seaside entertainment (although it does all of that well), Scarborough is also home to a number of lesser-known sites.
Oh, and Simon & Garfunkel weren’t kidding: there really is a Scarborough Fair. It’s called Luna Park, it’s a stone’s throw from the port, and you’ll find bumper cars, thrill rides and traditional fairground stalls (but not a lot of parsley or sage).
Scarborough: Insider’s Essentials
- Pass through the harbor, where you can board a speedboat, steamboat, or pirate ship for a wildlife tour. Scarborough’s marine life is not to be sneezed at. On a boat trip, you can spot everything from elegant northern gannets and adorable puffins to playful dolphins.
- Back on dry land, the Alpamare Water Park features adrenaline-filled slides and a wave pool, as well as a relaxing Alpine-style wellness center and spa.
- At nightfall, the Scarborough Open Air Theater is the place to be. Everyone’s seen from Britney Spears to Elton John gracing their stage, so check out the schedule before you go to book tickets for the big names passing through.
Plan your trip to Scarborough:
- See flights to nearby Scarborough or browse our rental car deals
- Stay in the funky and affordable Bike & Boot Inn or browse some of Scarborough’s most upscale hotels
- Discover upcoming shows at Scarborough Open Air Theater.
Book a last minute local getaway! Skyscanner can help you find the best flights, hotels and car rental deals to get the most out of your next trip.