If you’re yearning for a break to recharge your batteries, spring is the ideal time to explore the UK. Not only will the longer days and (in theory) pleasant weather allow you to visit attractions when they are looking their best, but the countryside will be in bloom and you’ll be able to walk down the UK’s beaches before the summer crowds arrive.
So, whether you want to see natural wonders, walk along a white-sand beach or experience the bright lights of a city on your next holiday, here are our suggestions to do just that in the UK.
Whether you’ve been to London before or are a first-timer, there’s so much going on in England’s capital that no two trips will be the same.
Complement seeing the big sights such as Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey with a trip to a West End show for the perfect introduction to the city, or plan time to see exhibitions, shop in famous stores and explore new areas such as Greenwich if you’re an old-hand.
And, if you’re green fingered, why not plan your trip around the ultimate spring event – the Chelsea Flower Show?
Taking place from May 21-25 in 2013, this year marks 100 years since the show was first held at the Royal Hospital, and there will be events to mark the centenary such as an opera concert on May 24 and a special garden celebrating garden design over the last century.
If you want to keep the cost of any trip down, be sure to book transport such as train tickets well in advance to stand the best chance of snapping up a cheap fare and shop around for your hotel, paying close attention to the factors that are important to you – whether these are location, star rating, facilities or the type of property.
And if London doesn’t take your fancy, there’s plenty going on in the UK’s other big cities – such as Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Newcastle – this spring.
It’s easy to take the attractions that are on our doorstep for granted but if you want to have a memorable trip to the countryside, why not plan a short break to take in one of the UK’s natural wonders?
On a trip to Somerset, for example, all of the family will be fascinated by Britain’s biggest gorge, Cheddar Gorge. The 450ft cliffs, caves, nature reserve and rich history can’t fail to impress, and sporty types can even rock climb or go adventure caving.
There are plenty of other attractions to more than fill a short break to this part of the UK too – from exploring the picturesque coastline and visiting historic destinations such as Wells to indulging in the area’s local produce such as cider and cheese. Keep your costs down by booking a self-catering cottage or shop around for a B&B.
Or, hop on a short ferry ride to Northern Ireland to take in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Giant’s Causeway. Made up of 40,000 basalt columns, the dramatic landscape on the North Atlantic Coast has inspired myths and legends for centuries.
There are walks near the attraction to enjoy, wildlife to spot and guided tours to help you make the most of it.
There are white-sand beaches in the UK that are just as beautiful as those we travel half way around the world to see and, the best bit is, many can be near deserted in the spring.
So, if you want to avoid the crowds of fun seaside destinations such as Blackpool, Brighton and Bournemouth, Cornwall is a great destination to visit to take in some magnificent stretches of white sand.
The area is home to the longest stretch of coastline in the UK and a huge 80% of the county is surrounded by the sea. So, take your pick from more than 100 beaches – six of which have been awarded the coveted Blue Flag status – take a stroll down one letting the sea air blow away the cobwebs and then indulge in a guilt-free Cornish afternoon tea or pasty.
And, you’ll be spoilt for choice by other attractions in the area too such as Land’s End, surfing opportunities galore and beautiful gardens such as the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Or, at the opposite end of the country, Northumberland is home to stunning beaches where you can spot wildlife, marvel at the dramatic backdrop of castles such as Bamburgh or plan a walk to take in part of the 64-mile Northumberland Coastal Path.
If you want to make the most of getting away from it all, why not book into a countryside cottage in either destination so you can come and go as you please – and perhaps even bring the family dog?
Whether you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids when the schools break up at the end of May or a romantic weekend with your other half, why not try something a little different in the UK?
Holiday parks, for example, are scattered throughout the UK in varied destinations from coastal resorts to countryside retreats and there are even some near cities.
And, if you’ve not visited one since you were a child, be prepared to have your preconceptions challenged as not only can you stay in accommodation to suit your needs and budget – from tents to luxury chalets – if you pick your park wisely, there will be attractions to keep all of the family entertained from swimming pools to sporting lessons, and even spas to allow parents to enjoy some pampering too.
If, however, you’re after a getaway for two, a wine tasting weekend will impress those who enjoy a tipple. English wine may not get much attention but did you know that there are nearly 400 commercial vineyards in England alone – and you can stay in some of them?
So, do a little research on places such as Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire, Ryedale Vineyards in Yorkshire and, if you want city attractions on your doorstep, Vinopolis in London offers tastings and experiences, masterclasses and qualifications, plus a selection of restaurants to eat in should you need to soak up a little alcohol.