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The 11 best British mini break destinations

Although holiday travel may be difficult right now, we can still start looking ahead to the future. Why not start planning a short weekend break in the UK? Whether you’re aching for a raucous city break, a romantic getaway, a weekend break with kids, culture or outdoor adventure, there’s a destination to tick all your boxes. Here’s everything you need to plan a weekend away in the UK, whatever type of escape you’re looking for.

UK getaway destinations:

1. Oxford

Best for: Parks and punting

Aerial view of Oxford architecture

If you’re looking for a serene, walkable destination, Oxford should be at the top of your list. This university city is home to acres of lush green parks running along the gentle waters of the River Cherwell. You can hire a punt at Magdalen Bridge Boathouse and explore at your leisure. Back on land, wander through the City of Dreaming Spires and gaze in awe at the stunning colleges peppering the streets. Marvel at magnificent quads, peek at the university porters or just embrace your inner book geek by exploring some of the literary hotspots in the city. You’ll find indie cafés and quintessential British pubs dotted throughout, and architecture to wow all the ages. Whether you’re looking for a cheap family holiday or a romantic weekend getaway, Oxford caters to the masses. 

Where to stay in Oxford:

If the idea of staying in one of the Oxford University colleges doesn’t take your fancy, try the quaint, centrally-located Mercure Oxford Eastgate Hotel on the High Street. Want to peruse more hotel options? Take your pick of the many hotels available in Oxford, and start pencilling in those future plans. 

2. Brighton

Best for: Seaside nostalgia and modern cool

A view of Brighton pier from the beach at sunset

Once a seaside resort for British holidaymakers, these days Brighton is everything that’s hip and cool about beach holidays in Britain. If you’re looking for good nightlife, family fun and a very British experience, then this is the weekend getaway for you. Also home to the UK’s most vibrant LGBTQ+ scene, the city’s inclusive vibe makes everyone feel welcome, any time. Stroll along the famous Brighton Pier with its bustle of rides and attractions, cafés and nostalgic seaside shops – even if it’s not the original pier, the shell of which you can see further along the beach. Fish and chips along the seafront is a must for anyone visiting Brighton, and sure to be a fondly-remembered childhood experience for your little ones. If the weekend crowds during spring and summer don’t appeal, plan a two- or three-night break in Brighton during the week – the fun isn’t reserved for weekend getaways only! 

Where to stay in Brighton:

For a central location, reasonable rates and to be in spitting distance of the main attractions, try the Legends Hotel. Tipped as the UK’s most LGBTQ+ friendly hotel, you don’t get much more inclusive than this. Explore more hotels in Brighton for that future trip. 

3. Alnwick

Best for: Golden sands and coastal castles

Alnwick castle on top of a green hill with blue sky in the background

Northumberland is an underrated goldmine as far as beaches are concerned. With the rolling white dunes of Craster and Embleton a mere 20-minute drive away, Alnwick is the perfect base for a weekend of coastal road drives, beach-bumming and market-town explorations. Life is slower-paced here, with narrow, cobblestone streets winding around Alnwick Castle. It’s a great destination for family weekend breaks in the UK, and especially fans of Harry Potter – Hogwarts filming took place at Alnwick Castle. The area has a rich and varied history and is home to a number of other stunning castles, too, such as the ruined majesty of Dunstanburgh and the kingly Bamburgh Castle towering over the Northumberland coastline. Alnwick is the perfect jumping off point for an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Where to stay in Alnwick:

In Alnwick, opt for The Bondgate Boutique if it’s cosy luxury you’re looking for (last minute romantic getaway, anyone?). If you’re a little further out from Alnwick, then the Percy Arms has 7 golf courses on its doorstep, gorgeous gardens, an affordable price range and a cooked breakfast to die for. Find more places to stay in Alnwick on Skyscanner.

4. Nottingham

Best for: Food, drink and culture

Aerial view of residential street in Nottingham, England

Nottingham is often overlooked as a cultural hub, but with its intriguing industrial history and stunning architecture, it definitely shouldn’t be missed. Make a beeline for Old Market Square, the largest public space in the UK after London’s Trafalgar Square and the centre of the city. Marvel at the looming architecture of Nottingham City Hall, take a spin around and pick your direction. As the centre of the city, it’s the perfect spot to start exploring. The chilled out Hockley area is packed with indie cinemas, bookshops and cafés just waiting to be explored. If you like a bit of European-style culture, head to the cute-but-funky Goosegate. For evening culture, catch a show at the Lace Market Theatre nestled in the heart of the city’s revitalised lace manufacturing district.

Where to stay in Nottingham:

Mere footsteps away from some of the best bars and pubs, the Lace Market Hotel boasts contemporary, chic design and chilled-out comfort. Plan a mini break to Nottingham to recharge, with hotel options to suit every price range

5. Keswick

Best for: Fresh air and stunning lake views

A cloudy sky over Derwentwater lake in Keswick

Keswick is a small market town set slightly back from the magnificently vast Derwentwater. Forest trails, dizzying hills and still, perfect waters make this an ideal weekend retreat, whether you’re after outdoor adventure or impressive scenery. Take a rowboat out to explore Derwent Island and House, a still-inhabited eighteenth century home that’s only open to the public five days a year. If walking is more your thing, try a gentle hike up the modest slopes of Cat Bells. If a day spent wandering hiking paths leaves you wanting an evening of pampering, head to a show at Theatre by the Lake. Nestled on the banks of Derwentwater and just a few minutes walk from Keswick, this quaint little theatre always has something worth watching. Keswick is the perfect destination for a short UK break to reconnect with nature, in whatever capacity suits you.

Where to stay in Keswick:

If a cosy B&B with a central location, reasonable rates and a drool-inducing cooked breakfast is what you’re after, look no further than Crossroads House right in the heart of Keswick. Browse more dreamy hotel and B&B options in Keswick.

6. Belfast

Best for: Outdoor action and adventure

Belfast coastal view of Giant's Causeway at sunset

Pass on a UK city break and head out to Belfast’s edges to see what adventures you can find among the green fields and jagged coastline. Try sailing on Strangford Lough, cycle the 24 miles from Belfast along the Lagan Towpath to Larne, or head out to Todd’s Leap and try your hand at everything from zorbing and archery to climbing and blindfold driving. Go along the coast to Islandmagee for an adventurous, stunning walk along The Gobbin’s Path. Bridges stretch from cliff to cliff over open sea and caves gape in the rock face until the path ends with The Swinging Bridge and Gordon’s Leap. It’s a perfect adventure with fantastic scenery.

Where to stay in Belfast:

For four-star luxury after adventure-packed days, try the Malone Lodge Hotel just minutes from Belfast city centre. If you want more of a countryside location, then check out Abbeydene House plonked right on the route that leads north to the Giant’s Causeway and with views out over the sea. Find the Belfast hotel to suit your future adventurous mini break. 

7. Manchester

Best for: Partying the night away

Millennium Bridge in Manchester at night

Whether you’re looking for chilled cocktails, pumping clubs or a pint at the local with your mates, Manchester is the place to be for a great night out. Fill the day time hours wandering the many galleries and museums, or grab a coffee from one of the many street-side cafés before settling in for some live music. Weekends see the city come alive as revellers travel from across the country to sample the fine food, drink and cultural scene. Try The Font for cheap-as-chips cocktails, a huge range of craft beers and real ciders. For a club experience, 5th Nightclub is the place to be with a range of thematic nights to suit all tastes, or hit the Warehouse Project between September and December. Find more tunes to plan your next UK city break at The O2 Ritz.

Where to stay in Manchester:

Get yourself right in the heart of the city and hang your hat in Church Street by Supercity Aparthotels on the edge of Manchester’s trendy Northern Quarter. Or explore the many Manchester hotel options, from budget-friendly to bank-busting luxe. 

8. Glasgow

Best for: Live music and gigs

Close-up of guitar player on stage

From punk to jazz, rock to pop, Glasgow is a gig-goer’s heaven. From the all-weather headliners of Summer Nights At Kelvingrove Bandstand to Sunday afternoon jazz at The Three Judges, there is no shortage of live music opportunities in Glasgow all year round. One of the most iconic music venues in Glasgow is Barrowland Ballroom, boasting past performers such as Oasis, David Bowie, the Pixies and Metallica, and is the top spot for catching musical talent, new and old. Whether you’re looking for a solo weekend mini break to get lost in the music, or if you’re planning a short trip with your family or friends for future gigs, Glasgow is an ideal UK destination for a short break fit for music lovers. 

Where to stay in Glasgow:

A little bit luxurious, but still with that Glasgow twist, the rooms at Grasshopper Hotel right in the centre of Glasgow are just what you need to unwind after a hard day of rockin’. Find more Glasgow hotels to rest your dancing feet. 

9. Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswolds

Best for: Rest and relaxation 

Still river stretching into the distance lined by traditional English buildings and grassy banks

Nicknamed the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’ thanks to its stone bridges and meandering curves of the River Windrush, Bourton-on-the-Water is the place to forget all of your troubles and indulge in a little rest and relaxation. Tree-lined banks await, begging to be strolled, while teahouses try to tempt you in with their mouth-watering cakes and endless pots of tea – take a book and watch village life go by. If you’re after even more idyllic charm, come in winter when Bourton-on-the-Water is at its most delightful, with a dusting of snow, atmospheric fog, warm glowing streetlamps and (dare we mention it) a hint of Christmas in the air. Whatever the season, the charming quietness of Gloucestershire makes for a fantastic weekend break filled with calm.

Where to stay in Bourton-on-the-Water:

There are a plethora of cosy B&Bs and guesthouses to choose from in this quiet village, but The Old Manse Hotel is a popular choice for its central location, gorgeous rooms and delicious breakfasts. Find your kind of cosy Bourton-on-the-Water hotel amongst the varied options in the area. 

10. Inverness

Best for: Lochs, Scottish food and Highland exploration

White house on the highland hills next to a loch in Inverness, Scotland

This traditional city, shouldering the banks of the River Ness, is the best place to base yourself for a weekend away exploring the Scottish Highlands and Lochs along the eastern side of Scotland. Hire a car in Inverness and go exploring the Black Isle and, of course, Loch Ness, both less than a 30-minute drive from Inverness. In the city itself, enjoy gentle walks along the riverside, explore the city and take in a wee dram and some traditional Scottish music at the award-winning pub and music venue, Hootananny. Inverness is a great place to indulge in traditional Scottish food, too. Try The Castle Tavern for some of the best haggis, neeps and tatties in town – and some Scottish Whisky to wash it all down. 

Where to stay in Inverness:

The Premier Inn Inverness Centre – River Ness has everything you need for a comfortable – and affordable – night’s sleep. The riverside views are a bonus, and the proximity to routes in and out of Inverness make exploring a little bit easier. If you want to splash out for fancier options, explore more hotels in Inverness

11. Snowdonia 

Best for: Camping, outdoor fun and stargazing

Looking down on the green mountains of Snowdonia, Wales

The Snowdonia region in northern Wales is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground, and makes for a fun-filled UK short break in the open air. You can cycle, climb, hike, zipline, enjoy watersports (and more!) throughout the region, which spans from the coastal sandy beaches to the highest mountain peak of Snowdon. Slowly amble up the gradual Llanberis Path ascent, which is the lowest incline, but by no means an easy trek at 14.5km (9 miles) there and back. The sweeping views across the park valleys reward committed hikers, though. Snowdonia National Park is also an astronomy-lover’s delight, and as an International Dark Sky Reserve, it serves as an excellent destination in the UK to stargaze with abandon. With numerous camping locations scattered across the region, you can pitch a tent, pack up a campervan or get comfortable in a caravan to enjoy the night sky’s show. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a family with kids keen for the great outdoors, Snowdonia will not disappoint. 

Where to stay in Snowdonia:

If a night under the stars doesn’t suit, consider cosying up inside resplendent Hotel Portmeirion & Castell Deudraeth, nestled in a quiet corner to the west of the park with its own private beach access and plenty of ways to pamper yourself. Or explore more hotel options to suit every price range

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