10 places to tick off your UK bucket list

Roshina Jowaheer
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From Good Housekeeping

Now that the government has announced people in England can stay overnight in hotels and other holiday accommodation from 4 July (with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also planning to ease restrictions later in the month), it's time to plan a great British staycation.

Going abroad can be a real treat but, if like us, you enjoy exploring the beautiful places we have right here at home, you'll want to know the best UK holidays to experience at least once in your life.

Providing you with quaint villages, sublime countryside and dramatic mountains, not forgetting 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 Leicestershire countryside, you'll want to read on for inspiration to tick these getaways (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 bespoke 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 and with financial protection. Here are the top holidays in UK spots, from the Hebrides to Norfolk.

1. Get to know London's royal history with a TV expert

However many times you've visited London, there's always more to explore and if you're fascinated by the UK capital's royal history, you'll want to take a tour and meet historian Suzannah Lipscomb, who has appeared on BBC and Channel 5 shows based on Britain's royal families.

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On a three-day exclusive trip to London, Berkshire and Surrey, you'll delve into the world of the royal family. During the September break, there'll be a private tour Windsor Castle, a visit to the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace and a look inside Westminster Abbey. Suzannah will join you at Hampton Court Palace. FIND OUT MORE

2. Discover the Caribbean-esque beaches of the Isles of Scilly

If the coronavirus pandemic taught us anything, it's that spending time in the great outdoors, whatever the distance from home, is one of life's greatest pleasures. The Isles of Scilly is one place that proves you don't have to spend hours on a plane to experience some of the world's best beaches, wildlife or natural sites.

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Its paradise sands, ample walking opportunities and exotic gardens will make you feel like you're abroad - the weather's generally warmer too! On an exclusive island escape with top guide Will Wagstaff taking you to the top spots in September or May 2021, you can experience Tresco Abbey Garden, witness puffins on a boat trip, take in the wild beaches of Bryher and more. FIND OUT MORE

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 was a star in the Harry Potter movies, this magnificent railway journey takes you close to Ben Nevis, Loch Morar and Loch Nevis.

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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 in June and August 2021 takes you on the Scottish escape of a lifetime. FIND OUT MORE

4. Ride the delightful Bluebell Railway through Sussex

The south of England is home to glorious gardens and beaches but it's also where you can take an unforgettable train ride. The Bluebell Railway offers just that as one of the loveliest railway journeys at any time of year. The UK’s oldest preserved standard-gauge railway, it's run by volunteers and takes you through 11 miles of gorgeous scenery.

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The old stations where you'll stop are a treat too - don't miss a look around Sheffield Park, which harks back to the 1880s, and Horsted Keynes, which transports you to the 1920s. You can take a nostalgic train ride on the Bluebell during a four-day Sussex staycation, with 2021 dates available. The trip includes a look around some grand country estates, seal spotting in Chichester Harbour and visits to pretty gardens. FIND OUT MORE

5. Retreat to a blissful spa in Leicestershire

Spa breaks are one of our favourite ways to spend a staycation and with an array of spas up and down the country, it can be hard deciding on the right place for that well-earned R&R - but there's one place spa lovers should know about. Nestled in the glorious Leicestershire countryside, Ragdale Hall makes for a heavenly rural escape, with facilities that go far beyond those found at your average spa.

Photo credit: Ragdale Hall

Housed in an attractive Victorian manor house, Ragdale Hall boasts a total of six pools (yes, really), including a rooftop infinity pool, treatments that range from massages to manicures, fitness classes and cosy rooms to make you feel right at home. Whether you're looking for a treat to gift someone or fancy going away with your partner, you'll want to check out our amazing deal for a two-night spa break. FIND OUT MORE

6. See the beauty of Norfolk with Jennie Bond

With its royal connections, wildlife spotting opportunities and lovely river scenes, Norfolk is an absolute must-see - and there's no better person to experience it with than former royal correspondent Jennie Bond. On a celebrity-led tour, you'll visit the Sandringham Estate, the Norfolk Broads and villages like Wroxham and Horning.

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You can drink in the amazing landscapes - from unspoilt countryside dotted with windmills to pretty market towns - with relaxing train rides on the Bittern Line, Poppy Line, Bure Valley Railway and the Mid-Norfolk Railway. Experience all of this and more during a five-day July 2021 break in the company of Jennie Bond. FIND OUT MORE

7. Explore Scotland's untouched islands

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

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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 in May 2021 will show you the best bits. FIND OUT MORE

8. Take in the Isle of Wight's gorgeous gardens with TV's Christine Walkden

Home to Queen Victoria's summer home Osborne House, the Isle of Wight isn't all sun-kissed beaches and dinosaur history. Thanks to its warmer climate it's an absolute treat for gardeners who can explore the royal attraction's impressive outdoor space, filled with exquisite fountains, historic plants creeping up the walls and bold, seasonal blooms.

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On a four-day tour of the Isle of Wight with The One Show's expert gardener Christine Walkden, you can expect to have your garden questions answered by the pro and visits to epic attractions including Shanklin Chine, Nunwell House and Morton Manor. FIND OUT MORE

9. Check out the Peak District's stately homes with Flog It!'s Paul Martin

We can't think of a better place to take to great open spaces and soak up the views of England's wild beauty than the Peak District. It's also a terrific spot to marvel at sprawling stately homes and do a bit of antiques shopping along the way, with Chatsworth House and Chesterfield Flea Market being the top places to visit.

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On our exclusive four-day staycation, you'll spend time with Flog It! presenter Paul Martin, who will give you tips on finding antiques. There's also a stay at one of England's oldest hotels and cream tea included. FIND OUT MORE

10. Be inspired by the Cotswolds' gardens on a tour with TV's Christine Walkden

Think quintessential English country gardens and you probably picture wildflowers, impressive topiary and backdrops of honey-coloured houses found in the Cotswolds. Home to marvellous gardens, such as at Prince Charles' home Highgrove House and the amazing Hidcote Manor.

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On an exclusive UK holiday in the Cotswolds in June 2021, you'll join The One Show's expert gardener Christine Walkden as you visit the most delightful gardens and ask her questions about perfecting the look of your own garden. From Batsford Arboretum to Sezincote, you'll get to know the Cotswolds' fascinating corners. FIND OUT MORE

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