The UK might not be the first place people think of when it comes to summer vacations but it should never be discounted. There are some pretty incredible places to visit in the UK during the summer. From the sunny coast of Cornwall to the dramatic and rugged landscape of Scotland. When it comes to escaping the daily grind, the UK offers some truly spectacular sites you just won’t find anywhere else.
Whether you’re planning a romantic couples retreat, a family adventure holiday, or as a trial run for when you decide to find the cheapest places to live in the UK. The UK offers it all. Although you can visit at any time of the year, we personally recommend the summer as it truly showcases just how beautiful this country can be.
We’ve put together a guide to nine of the best places to visit in the UK for summer and what you can expect to find in each place. Expect history, culture, beaches, and delicious traditional food.
Those that have visited Cornwall before will agree that it’s hard not to fall in love with its dramatic coastline, captivating fishing harbors, spectacular beaches, epic surf, and endless amounts of cream teas. It’s a part of England where you can indulge your inner water lover, walker, or foodie.
Located in the west of Great Britain, almost completely surrounded by sea, Cornwall has almost 300 miles of coastline. This is one of the best places to visit in the UK summer simply for the fact that there is so much here to surprise you. From the marvelous Eden project to the natural wonders of the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
For outdoor lovers, there are plenty of bike routes and walking routes to explore. For the foodies, there’s a multitude of award-winning restaurants to delight your taste buds. And for the history buffs, there’s a tremendous amount of history and heritage across many Cornwall villages.
You won’t need to visit the Med once you’ve taken a trip to Cornwall as its stunning beaches and glorious weather will captivate your heart. It’s the one place in the UK where you won’t really feel like you are in the UK. The picturesque harbor villages of St Ives and Padstow are perfect for a real cornish feel and the larger towns of Newquay and Falmouth are more tourist orientated and are often very popular with families.
Devon is often referred to as Mother Nature’s playground due to its sweeping moors and dramatic coastal cliffs. Just like its neighbor Cornwall, Devon has so much to offer visitors. Whether you’re searching for adventure, culture, history, or some simple R&R, Devon has it all. Stretching from Ilfracombe in the North to Plymouth in the South, you’ll find numerous sandy beaches, cliffside restaurants, and some perfect waves for a surf.
Encompassing Dartmoor National Park and the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty you’ll find copious amounts of walking trails, biking trails, wildlife, fauna, and so much more. It offers the best of both worlds, providing a great seaside family holiday destination or a countryside retreat.
Due to its diverse landscape Devon’s restaurants, hotels, cafes, and tearooms have menus packed with locally sourced, fresh, seasonal food and drink. Offering some truly sensational fish and chips as well as other seafood dishes and lavish cream teas – it’s a foodies destination for sure. One that might just rival that of London.
It may come as a surprise to know that the Devonshire coast enjoys more hours of sunshine than anywhere else on the British Mainland. This is why it makes our list of the best places to visit in the UK for summer. Taking a ride on the Lynton and Lynmouth Funicular Railway is a must as is feeling the sand between your toes at the award-winning sands of Woolacombe Beach.
Home to the iconic Jurassic coast and the infamous Durdle Door, Dorset boasts some truly incredible coast and countryside. There really is no bad time to visit but to make the most of the outdoor wonders this part of England has to offer you’ll want to visit in the summer. From spring breaks, summer vacations, dog-friendly getaways, and family getaways you’ll find it all here.
Stretching from Bournemouth in the South East to Lyme Regis in the West, Dorset has a wide expanse of coastline and rolling hills. While spring brings with it some beautiful new foliage and cute baby animals, the summer brings good weather and mass crowds. The summer also sees the Bournemouth Air Festival bring crowds from miles around as they watch the Red Arrows, wing walkers, Chinnock’s, typhoons, and more fly overhead, giving a show to awe-struck onlookers. It really is a spectacle you cannot afford to miss.
One of Dorset’s major draws is the World Heritage Site of Durdle door – a natural limestone arch on the Jurassic Coast near Lulworth. The attraction features a pebble beach and a stunning coastal walk along the South West Coast path. But that’s not all.
Explore castle ruins, walk along the sandy shores of countless beaches, and marvel at the sight of rare and endangered wildlife in its natural habitat. Camping, hotels, and resorts are in abundance along with shops for some retail therapy. A trip to Dorset will always bring happy memories to you and your family.
The western tip of west Wales is capped off by the UK’s only fully coastal national park: The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. It’s a stunner. White-sand beaches that would look right at home in the Caribbean meet puffin-stalked rocks out at sea, there are quaint Celtic fishing villages with hearty pubs and, inland, forests that roll over soft hills for as far as the eye can see.
The region is split into three main peninsulas. Northern Pembrokeshire is rugged and wild, with high cliffs and bald fells. It comes together in the ancient pilgrimage town of St David’s, where you can visit a grand cathedral and get lost in a maze-like old town laden with chocolatiers and craft beer. Middle Pembrokeshire finishes at the glorious but remote sands of Marloes. It’s a quieter area, with a few campsites and small towns like Little Haven.
The best for families and summer trips is probably the slightly-busier south Pembrokeshire peninsula. That begins in the gorgeous resort of Tenby, where you’ll see ice-cream-colored cottages fringing the docks. Head out from there to find handsome bays like Barafundle and the lily ponds of Bosherston.
From wildflower meadows, ancient wells, jaw-dropping gorges, lush green spaces and woodlands, and shimmering lakes, Somerset will leave you enchanted by its beauty. Somerset includes the historic city of Bath, the seaside resort town of Weston Supermere, and the coastal town of Minehead.
Whenever someone says Somerset they adopt a semi-pirate accent and we’ll bet that you’ll be repeating it over and over to the annoyance of your fellow friends, family members, and travelers. The name itself should be reason enough to visit, that and the fact its one of the warmest and sunniest places in the UK.
With Exmoor National Park, Cheddar Gorge, Glastonbury festival, and some of England’s loveliest beaches, you’ll be spoilt for choice of things to do and places to see. If you’re looking for a good nightout, Bath is the place to go. Exploring the beautiful countryside in Somerset is a must, with plenty of caves, underground rivers, various hills, and more, so be sure to bring your walking boots.
An outdoor adventurer’s paradise, the Lake District is one of the first places, besides London, people think of for a British vacation. With rolling green hills, vast expanses of lakes, and stunning views, it’s no wonder travelers vote this as one of the best places to visit in the UK for summer. Whether it’s your first time or 50th time, the Lake District keeps on giving.
Most travelers advise that three to five days in the Lake District is the optimal amount of time to explore some of its many natural wonders, however, you can also spend a lot longer here without getting bored. There’s plenty of accommodation to suit every type of visitor, whether you’re looking for a hot tub getaway, a romantic break, or even a dog-friendly cabin with lakeside views.
Cumbria is England’s nature playground with an inexhaustible list of experiences for all ages and interests. One day you could be flying through Grizedale Forest on a zip-wire and paddleboarding on Lake Windermere. Another day you could be fell walking or scaling some rocks followed by playing a round of golf or wild swimming in crystal clear waters. Those that live in the Lake District are proud of their world-class cultural heritage including world-renowned artists, poets, and writers.
Whether it’s your first trip or you’ve visited before, Northumberland offers you big adventures, endless possibilities, and breathtaking scenery. Visit barely touched beaches, romantic castle ruins, quaint market towns, and fishing villages as well as lush green forests. Its coastline is just as rugged as its mainland.
Sitting on the Scottish Border means you’re not restricted to staying solely within England. So why not make a day of it and cross the border for a day in Edinburgh? It’s only a two-hour drive. From Alnwick Castle to Bamburgh Castle, from Northumberland National Park to bird watching on Farne Islands, and everything in between.
For any Harry Potter fans, you’ll love the village of Alnwick where you can walk in the steps of Harry, Hermione, and Ron at The Outer Bailey where they learned to fly their broomsticks and play quidditch. Or take a walk around Bamburgh Castle, one of England’s finest, and discover its deep and fascinating history.
A firm favorite among many is star gazing and since the night skies in Northumberland Dark Sky Park are darker than anywhere else in the UK, you can understand why others love it. Due to the lack of night pollution, it’s an amazing place to take that stary nighttime photograph you’ve been trying to take for years. The park is also home to Kielder Observatory where you can participate in numerous stargazing events held there.
North Wales is a majorly popular summer destination. Close enough to the big cities of Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool to make it a quick drive across the English border for millions of domestic travelers, it’s been something of a vacation hub for families for since the 1950s. Resort towns like Rhyll and Llandudno are testament to that. They have Victorian buildings lining their foreshore and vintage attractions like the Great Orme and its cable car.
But there’s more to just North Wales than cotton candy on the seafront. There are soaring peaks here – the highest in all of Wales. Drive down through the Snowdonia National Park and you’ll be faced with the sleeping summits of Glyder Fawr and the Crib Goch, all watched over by Yr Wyddfa, the highest of all. Beneath them are charming glamping sites with hot tubs and mythical villages like lovely Beddgelert.
If you manage to make it out to the western coast of North Wales, then there are more treats. Hit the mighty castle at Harlech to channel your inner Norman invader. Skirt down the Llŷn Peninsula to find dune-backed beaches like Pwllheli. Cross to Anglesey to witness the Holyhead writhed in salt mists and waves.
One of the best places to visit in the UK for the summer are the Scottish Highlands. They’re the Scotland of your imagination and house the Cairngorms, Britain’s largest National Park; Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountains; and Loch Ness, one of Britain’s most famous lakes and the birthplace of the mythical Loch Ness monster.
This vast and sparsely populated UK vacation destination is known for its remarkable castles, friendly locals, traditional Scottish clan history, and whiskey. If you love walking and whisky, then you’re in for a real treat as it not only offers truly breathtaking scenery but it also offers tours around some of the world’s best malt and whiskey factories.
Hop over to the Isle of Skye for everything from wildlife viewing to fossil discovery. It sits on the northwest of the Scottish Highlands and is connected to the mainland of Scotland by a bridge. It’s the largest of the Inner Hebrides and has a number of small villages scattered throughout the peninsulas. The scenery across the Isle is some of the most awe-inspiring scenery around and will leave a permanent impression on your heart.
If you’re looking for a little less action, take a look at the Fairy Pools where you can swim in beautiful blue waters under the cascading falls, but be warned it will be a dip that’s far from warm. The Scottish Highlands are filled to the brim with adventure, so be sure to book a summer vacation here.
The best places to visit in the UK for summer – our conclusion
There are plenty of beaches and coastal destinations on our list of the best places to visit in the UK for summer, ranging from the sunny shores of southern Dorset to the wave-lashed edges of West Wales. You’re not guaranteed to have beach weather – this is Britain, remember? However, you are guaranteed some seriously jaw-dropping natural landscapes, from white-sand bays to craggy cliff scapes. Venture inland and the mountain regions really come into their own during the warmer months. Trails open and the likes of the Cairngorms in the Scottish Highlands and the Lake District over in England really shine at their best.