The brilliant British trips to book this year and next

·10-min read
Photo credit: DieterMeyrl
Photo credit: DieterMeyrl

Going abroad is a real treat but if you plan on keeping it local and exploring the beautiful places we have here at home, you'll want to know the best UK holidays to experience at least once.

Providing you with quaint villages, sublime countryside and dramatic mountains, not to mention beautiful cities beyond London and Edinburgh, the best UK holiday destinations leave you with memories you won't make anywhere else in the world.

If you've always dreamed of taking to the Scottish Highlands and riding the legendary Jacobite train, or going on a luxurious spa break in the unsung Leicestershire countryside, you'll want to read on for inspiration to tick these holidays (and more) off your travel bucket list.

And because we don't do things by halves at Good Housekeeping, we've brought you a selection of exclusive UK breaks and hotel offers in these wonderful locations, which you can book safe in the knowledge that you'll travel with like-minded readers. Here are the top holidays in the UK, from the Isle of Wight to Norfolk.

1. Get to know Scotland's coastline on a luxurious boutique cruise

From checking into the best hotels in Scotland and swish Scottish spas, there are so many ways to explore this beautiful country and we've got a couple in this roundup. One way to explore the country is by going beyond the cities and discovering the stunning coastline on a yacht-style cruise ship.

Photo credit: Lord of the Glens
Photo credit: Lord of the Glens

From the pretty town of Oban to the waterside ruins of Urquhart Castle, some of Scotland's wildest and most picturesque beauty spots are best seen on a boutique cruise. Taking place in autumn when you can witness the fiery hues of the season too, Good Housekeeping's luxurious sailing on the Lord of the Glens ship is the perfect way to see Scotland in style. You'll pause in front of the ruins of Urquhart Castle, get to know colourful Tobermory on foot and visit a whisky distillery in Oban.

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2. Discover Wales from a height on heritage railways

Home to mighty Mount Snowdon, the scenic beaches of Anglesey and fairy tale villages like Betws-y-Coed, North Wales boasts some of the UK’s most wonderful scenery. One of the best ways to take in these magical landscapes is by riding some of Wales’s heritage railway lines, like the Snowdon Mountain Railway which climbs up to a breathtaking panoramic view over Snowdonia National Park, previously named one of the best views in Britain.

Photo credit: Snowdon Mountain Railway
Photo credit: Snowdon Mountain Railway

Our short break in North Wales allows you to experience the golden age of rail travel as you soak in the beauty of its countryside. You’ll stay for four nights at the Celtic Royal Hotel, within walking distance of Caernarfon's walled town, you'll enjoy an excursion on the Snowdon Mountain and Llanberis Lake Railways, as well as two other memorable Welsh rail journeys.

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3. Head for the Scottish Highlands for a ride on the Hogwarts Express

Harry Potter fan or not, you'll be seriously impressed by the beauty of the Scottish Highlands and one of its most breathtaking attractions, the Jacobite steam train. Making its way across the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is the real life Harry Potter train, this magnificent railway journey takes you close to Ben Nevis, Loch Morar and Loch Nevis.

Photo credit: GAPS - Getty Images
Photo credit: GAPS - Getty Images

For the trip of a lifetime, combine the epic train journey with a magnificent Loch Katrine cruise on a steam ship and the incredible Falkirk Wheel. Our four-day Jacobite steam adventure takes you on the Scottish escape of a lifetime.

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Alternatively, you can experience the Highlands on a luxurious train ride on the Royal Scotsman.

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4. Soak up the beauty of the Cotswolds' glorious gardens

With their honey-hued villages, quintessential country pubs and idyllic scenes, the Cotswolds rarely disappoint. This stunning region is also home to some of the most beautiful gardens in the country, including the sprawling outdoor space at Prince Charles' home Highgrove House and the wonderful Hidcote.

Photo credit: John Evans - Getty Images
Photo credit: John Evans - Getty Images

One of the best ways to experience the Cotswolds and the vibrant gardens is on a horticultural-themed tour, which invites you to explore the likes of Highgrove, Hidcote and Sezincote, and meet The One Show gardener Christine Walkden. You'll have plenty of time to ask Christine for tips and tricks for your own garden, too.

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5. Experience the railways and walking trails of the Yorkshire Dales

If a walking holiday takes your fancy in 2022, let it be in the mesmerising Yorkshire Dales, where epic views and charming villages await. It's also a fantastic place to experience English railways, like the heritage Keighley and Worth Valley Railway (which stops at Oakworth, made famous in The Railway Children) and the Settle-Carlisle Railway.

Photo credit: Alexander W Helin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Alexander W Helin - Getty Images

Wildlife fans can enjoy walking along the Bolton Abbey River Loop, while exploring the world of Wuthering Heights at Haworth and on a Bronte-themed walk across Yorkshire's wild moors is another must-do. You can experience the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales on an exclusive five-day staycation.

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6. See the beauty of Norfolk with Delia Smith or Lucy Worsley

With its royal connections, wildlife spotting opportunities and lovely river scenes, Norfolk is an absolute must-see - and there's no better way to experience it than with a celebrity expert and we have two terrific holidays for you in 2022 and 2023: one with historian Lucy Worsley and a cooking break with the legendary Delia Smith. You'll get to visit the Sandringham Estate, the Norfolk Broads and gorgeous villages like Wroxham and Horning, or explore the picturesque city of Norwich.

Photo credit: George W Johnson - Getty Images
Photo credit: George W Johnson - Getty Images

You can drink in the amazing landscapes - from unspoilt countryside dotted with windmills to pretty market towns - with relaxing train rides on the Poppy Line and Bure Valley Railway. Or simply get to know the city of Norwich as you dine in the restaurants and try your hand at cooking with a star.

Join Lucy Worsley on a five-day escape.

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Alternatively, you can taste the flavours of Norwich on a three-day staycation with Delia Smith.

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7. Explore Scotland's untouched islands

Who needs Greece for island hopping when we've got the breathtaking Hebrides in Scotland which are waiting to be discovered? With their sandy beaches, spectacular wildlife and array of castles, the Hebrides will show you why some of the best UK holidays take place in Scotland.

Photo credit: Andrea Ricordi, Italy - Getty Images
Photo credit: Andrea Ricordi, Italy - Getty Images

There are hundreds of islands that make up the archipelago, which is divided into the Inner and Outer Hebrides. Islay, Mull, Skye and Harris are some of the most famous isles, where you can sip quality whisky, spot puffins and experience stargazing like nothing else. Island hopping on a cruise is a top way to see the Hebrides in one go and our exclusive trip will show you the best bits.

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8. Explore Northern Ireland’s history and captivating beauty with Kate Adie

A trip to Northern Ireland will allow you to discover the country’s enchanting cities, spectacular landscapes and historic attractions. There’s the unmissable Giant's Causeway in County Antrim, with its intriguing basalt columns, and Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, the important royal residence where critical peace process talks unfolded.

Photo credit: joe daniel price - Getty Images
Photo credit: joe daniel price - Getty Images

Our trip with former BBC correspondent Kate Adie will allow you to discover the stories that have shaped this mesmerising land. Your trip will begin in Belfast, with a visit to the Titanic Belfast museum. You'll then explore the streets of Belfast on a unique black taxi tour, visiting historic sites with a local who lived through the Troubles. Kate Adie will join you for dinner to share her unique perspective on the events that unfolded during the Troubles, allowing you a rare expert insight into the history of Northern Ireland.

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9. Sail around the Isles of Scilly, Fishguard, Dartmouth and more

Want to see the British Isles' best bits in one go? You'll find a cruise for that! Whether you want to sink your toes in the heavenly sands of the Isles of Scilly, feel a world away from the stresses of daily life in the charming fishing village of Fishguard or visit Northern Ireland's largest seabird colony on Rathlin Island, you can tick off a selection of bucket list experiences on our amazing cruise around the UK.

Photo credit: LauraPerrett1 - Getty Images
Photo credit: LauraPerrett1 - Getty Images

Taking place over 13 days, you'll start from Dover and take in the likes of Pembrokeshire, County Antrim, St Kilda, the Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly and pretty Dartmouth. An excellent range of excursions are included so you can make the most of your time in every location and you'll stay on Hurtigruten's expedition ship MS Maud, so you can feel like a true explorer.

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10. Explore the glorious gardens of Somerset with David Domoney

Somerset is a paradise for any garden-lover, with its spectacular variety of glorious gardens. There are cutesy cottage gardens with lush flower beds and edible plants and vast, manicured country house grounds too, making this colourful county a must-visit for the green-fingered.

Photo credit: RMAX - Getty Images
Photo credit: RMAX - Getty Images

Our tailor-made tour is organised to allow you to experience the best of Somerset life, with trips to many of the area's postcard-perfect gardens and an insightful talk from leading gardener David Domoney. Just one of the highlights is a visit to Batcombe House, with its delightful ornamental kitchen garden and vibrant herbaceous borders, where you'll be joined by David as you explore.

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11. See the highlights of the fascinating Jurassic Coast

Famous for its towering cliffs and fascinating fossils, the dramatic Jurassic Coast spans 95 miles from Dorset to Devon. On a Jurassic Coast adventure, you'll be able to enjoy unspoilt cliff top walks, vast sandy beaches and intriguing geological sights like Durdle Door and Old Harry Rocks.

Photo credit: joe daniel price - Getty Images
Photo credit: joe daniel price - Getty Images

Good Housekeeping’s Jurassic Coast rail tour takes in the best of this UNESCO World Heritage Site as you explore the area on historic railway lines. You’ll spend a day on the wonderful Watercress Line, which transported watercress from the beds in Alresford up to London and the Midlands between the 1890s and 1960s. You'll also travel on the historic Swanage Railway and the Sea Train, as well as taking a trip to Exbury Gardens and Beaulieu National Motor Museum.

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12. Visit the grand houses of Yorkshire with historian Lucy Worsley

Yorkshire has many grand stately homes filled with impressive art and priceless antiques. The region's vivid history is on display in these buildings, where the paintings, furniture and gardens tell stories of the eccentric historical characters of the county.

Photo credit: AGF - Getty Images
Photo credit: AGF - Getty Images

And who better to bring these stories to life than the historian, author and broadcaster Dr Lucy Worsley? On this tour, Dr Lucy Worsley will join you for dinner and an exclusive talk at Newby Hall - built in the 1690s by Sir Christopher Wren. You’ll also visit the Harewood Estate, home to the Lascelles family for almost 250 years, Studley's Royal Water Garden and Temple Newsam, with its splendid garden landscaped by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.

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13. Be amazed by the wonderful wildlife and gardens of the Isles of Scilly

Life seems to pass by at a more leisurely on the tranquil Isles of Scilly, where visitors are instantly charmed by the striking scenery, white powdery beaches and spectacular wildlife. These unspoilt islands 28 miles off the Cornish coast are an extraordinary place in the UK that make you feel like you could be abroad.

Photo credit: LauraPerrett1 - Getty Images
Photo credit: LauraPerrett1 - Getty Images

The second largest isle, Tresco, has craggy headlands, quiet beaches and historical forts plus the incredible Tresco Abbey Gardens, known as ‘Kew without the glass’. On our Isles of Scilly holiday, you'll enjoy excursions to several of the islands' best beauty spots, including Tresco, and be joined by two expert speakers who will teach you all about the gardens and native wildlife on these mystical isles.

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