United Kingdom

The best autumn getaways in the UK

3 January 2022 | Updated 15 October 20215 min read

An eye-level view of a road running between the orange and red trees and shrubbery in an autumnal park in the New Forest

The weather may be chillier, but autumn is the perfect time to get out and about on a staycation in the UK and experience all the glorious season has to offer. We are lucky enough to have a variety of destinations to visit, from beaches and countryside to forests and great cities. But what kind of holiday at home should you pick at this time of year? We’ve rounded up some options, whatever your preference.

If you want to get active

Autumn brings a riot of spectacular colour to the UK’s beautiful countryside, and there’s no better time for a rural retreat. You’ll be able to head out into the countryside to enjoy long, healthy walks, take in the fresh air and return home energised.

For bracing coastal walks and jaw-dropping scenery, Cornwall and Northumberland are spectacular, while dramatic gradients in the Peak District offer challenging routes. The quaint market towns of the Cotswolds are another option, or visit Wiltshire for rolling fields steeped in history.

Staying in a cottage is an ideal option as it gives you the freedom to come and go as you please, it’s cost effective, and it means you can have cosy nights in front of the fire after a day out walking.

If you want attractions for the kids

Keeping the kids entertained once the summer is over can be a real challenge, but there are plenty of attractions across the country. Theme parks such as Alton Towers, Chessington World of Adventures and Gulliver’s World are always popular, and you can often get a discount if you book online.

However, some of the most memorable family days out are the ones that don’t cost a great deal. Why not try a traditional seaside break, for example? Although it might not be ice-cream and bucket and spade weather, you can still enjoy bracing walks on the beach collecting shells, enjoying fish and chips in the sea air and playing in the arcades. Blackpool and Brighton are just two of the UK’s quintessential seaside towns, with the former showcasing its famous illuminations until January 3, 2022.

Finally, if you’re looking for a family break where everyone can relax while enjoying a selection of amenities, consider staying at a holiday park. There is plenty to keep the kids entertained such as swimming pools, fairground rides, live shows and family activity sessions.

If you want to get back to nature

Nature produces some of its best offerings in autumn, so why not sample some of the goods? For example, you could incorporate a visit to a vineyard into your break away. Denbies Estate in the Surrey Hills does a daily tour, as does Hush Heath Estate in Kent.

If you’re a nature lover and are hoping to spot some wildlife, the UK’s largest woodland, Kielder Forest, is home to the biggest colony of red squirrels and also boasts a huge man-made lake and 44km (27.5 miles) of shoreline. As a designated Dark Sky Park, it’s also ideal for stargazing, so book a cottage, bring your binoculars and experience the beauty of the night sky.

Meanwhile, Calke Park in Derbyshire is home to roaming red and fallow deer, while the ancient woodlands of the New Forest are beautiful in autumn – you'll likely even spot one of its resident ponies!

If you want to try something new

Ever wondered what it feels like to fly? If you’re fed up with the daily grind, now is the perfect time to get out and experience all the weird and wonderful experiences on offer in the UK! On a weekend break in Manchester, for example, you could try indoor skydiving at iFly, then hit the slopes at Chill Factore, for indoor skiing or snowboarding.

Or, if you’re an explorer at heart then you could take a short break away and get involved with geocaching – a global treasure hunt that is completely free to partake in. Sites are located across the world – it’s just knowing where to look! You’ll need a GPS device or GPS enabled mobile phone, then you simply enter the co-ordinates to track down the location of the geocache – and it's so addictive!

If you want to experience a new city

We can often be so preoccupied with far-flung destinations that we fail to appreciate all the great cities that are on our own doorstep. The beautiful city of York, for example, is steeped in history and there is plenty to enjoy at this time of year. Known as Europe’s most haunted city, there are plenty of events and ghoulish delights awaiting you, and with a variety of hotels and B&Bs, you’ll be able to relax in comfort after a day of sightseeing.

Alternatively, visit Edinburgh to see the spectacular castle, get immersed in museums and galleries, and sample a wee dram on a distillery tour. Or, in Liverpool, visit classic sights like the Albert Dock, St George’s Hall and its two impressive cathedrals.

Remember, if you are travelling by train, book your tickets as early as possible. While you will have missed the 12-week window when the cheapest tickets are released, the sooner you buy, the less you’ll pay for your transport.

If you want some retail therapy

With Christmas approaching, many of us will be thinking about starting our shopping. However, if the thought of stuffy shops and long queues instils feelings of dread, why not combine it with a trip away and discover some great new shopping destinations?

If you’re looking for unique gifts, North Laine and ‘the lanes’ in Brighton are a treasure trove of quirky independent stores and boutiques offering an eclectic mix of curios, jewellery, clothing and antiques. You’ll also find a variety of trendy restaurants, bars and cafes to ensure you reward yourself after all that shopping.

London is the obvious choice for shopaholics, but instead of heading straight for Oxford Street, try one of the more quirky markets like Portobello in Notting Hill, Camden, Spitalfields or Leadenhall and Borough markets.

Often touted as the best in the UK outside of London, Glasgow is another great shopping destination. Check out its Style Mile to pick up everything from great vintage finds to high-end wear.

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