Planning a big getaway in 2018? Then make your annual leave go further by building a bank holiday (or two) into your plans. Here, we've outlined the key dates and destinations to aim for. We've also designed a new Holiday Hacker search tool to find the cheapest flights for your trip.
How much annual leave am I entitled to?
In the U.K, a full-time worker is entitled to 28 days of leave per year.
When are the U.K public holidays in 2018?
See below for this year’s bank holidays in England and Wales. Of course, Northern Ireland and Scotland have some different days off – click here for details.
|PUBLIC HOLIDAY DATES||DAY||HOLIDAY|
|1st January||Monday||New Year’s Day|
|30th March||Friday||Good Friday|
|2nd April||Monday||Easter Monday|
|7th May||Monday||Bank Holiday Monday|
|28th May||Monday||Spring Bank Holiday|
|27th August||Monday||Summer Bank Holiday|
|25th December||Tuesday||Christmas Day|
|26th December||Wednesday||Boxing Day|
What’s the best way to stretch my time off?
Unfortunately, some workers’ contracts count public holidays as part of their 28 days of annual leave. But if yours doesn’t, then you can stretch your time off considerably by booking all your trips around them. Fly out on the Saturday before a bank holiday week, and home again on the Sunday afterwards, and if you live in England and Wales you can turn your annual leave into 59 days of holiday – and have one final day off to spare at the end of it too. That makes 60 days in total. Using the same system, Scottish workers can get 61 days off. Workers in Northern Ireland will do even better, with 63 days off. (They’ll have two bank holidays and one day of leave to spare at the end of it as well.)
What’s more, by using the Holiday Hacker search tool at the end of this feature, you’ll find the cheapest flights to a vast range of destinations during each holiday period.
Where to go for the St Patrick’s Day holiday (Northern Ireland)
If you live in Northern Ireland, the week of March 19th is the first opportunity to give your annual leave a boost – by integrating the St Patrick’s Day bank holiday into your plans. It’s a little early for Semana Santa in Seville, but if you’re looking for the festival spirit Dublin is just over the border, and it’s the best place to be for St Patrick’s. Those looking for something a little warmer this March should look to Crete, the Canary Islands or Cyprus for guaranteed short-haul sun.
Read the full guide: where to travel in March
Where to go over Easter
Amsterdam is just right for a spring city break. From buzzing nightlife to the seven million tulips, hyacinths and daffodils on display at the Keukenhof, there’s plenty to see and do. If you’re ready for further flora and fauna, South Africa is also calling, as Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg all have great weather around now, with minimal rain and average temperatures of 26C. Build a safari or a road trip along the Garden Route into your plans and you’ve got the makings of varied and visually stunning trip.
Read the full guide: where to travel in April
Where to go for the first May bank holiday
This is one of the best times to visit Portugal, whether you want to explore the hipster districts of Lisbon or kick back on one of the country’s epic beaches. Both Lisbon and Porto are ideal for short city breaks, but sun-worshippers should fly into Faro and explore the Algarve’s coast.
Read the full guide: where to travel in May
Where to go for the second May bank holiday
Keep it Mediterranean with a beach break in Ibiza. It’s opening-party season in San Antonio, so if you’re craving a wild weekend blessed with sunshine, this is the spot. Meanwhile, in Sweden the long days create a giddy early-summer atmosphere – and there’s no better place to enjoy it than Stockholm, with picnics in the park, kayaking on the Riddarfjärden, and cycling along its elegant quays.
Read the full guide: where to travel in May
Where to go for The Twelfth (Northern Ireland)
It may be peak holiday season in Northern Ireland, but it’s not yet fully underway in England – and besides, at this time of year everyone’s hurrying to the beach. So head inland to the Cotswolds instead – to unwind in its hipster pubs, explore its ludicrously pretty towns, and soak up the forever views from the top of Broadway Tower. If you need a more solid guarantee of sunshine, this is the hottest month in Rome with a 30°C average. Lap up the sunshine on the Spanish Steps or in the grounds of the Villa Borghese, frequent visits to the nearest gelateria for ice cream.
Read the full guide: where to travel in July
Where to go for the August bank holidays
The best part of travelling during August is Europe’s beautiful weather. Make the most of it with a city break in Warsaw, hopping through the city museums, a festival in Berlin, or throwing down your towel on one of Corsica‘s pristine white beaches. Make sure to book your flights early, as it’s peak season for school holidays.
Read the full guide: where to travel in August
Where to go for the St Andrew’s Day holiday (Scotland)
If you haven’t been tempted by the rugged cliffs of Skye or the St Andrew’s Day festivities in Edinburgh, how about a taste of Iceland’s raw and magnificent landscapes instead? WOW air’s cheap flight deals to Reykjavik are particularly tempting in November, and there’s a chance you’ll see the Northern Lights too. Just as memorable is a close encounter with one of the island’s volcanoes, or a couple of nights in the spectacular seafront village of Vik.
Read the full guide: where to travel in November
Where to go over Christmas and New Year
Enough of winter already? Then swap Europe’s chill for an average daily temperature of 29°C on the sunny beaches of Rio de Janeiro – before extending your trip into the Amazon rainforest. But if it’s the Yuletide spirit you’re after, you can’t beat one of Europe’s Christmas Markets. Budapest lays on one of the most festive spreads, with cosy Christmas stalls and glittering window displays adding sparkle to the streets. Vörösmarty Square is the place to be for all things Christmassy come December 24th.
Read the full guide: where to travel in December