The staycation is set to play a big part in how people in the UK enjoy their holidays this summer. With the lockdown beginning to ease a little, people are starting to think about planning a getaway for a well-earned break.

In recent years, the staycation has often been lauded as the new vacation and, with miles of long golden beaches, acres of rich woodland and cities bursting with culture and heritage, there really is something in the UK for everyone.

But with so much to choose from here in Blighty, which are the towns, cities and escapes that suit your holiday needs?

The Guide to a Very British Staycation answers exactly that. It provides a range of options to help you plan ahead. The study looked into the most popular towns and cities in the UK, according to VisitBritain. After removing the larger metropolitan areas, this combined the average number of visitors and a series of other factors, including pricing, accomodation and parking, from 59 small towns and cities to reveal the best tourist destinations for a British staycation. Take a look at some of the best destinations for you, based on a variety of factors from campsites, to parking, dining options and more…

This study was completed before the coronavirus outbreak and all accommodation, attractions and restaurant figures were correct at the time. Some facilities will be closed or operating to different opening times and procedures than usual. This guide aims to provide inspiration for those planning future staycations, once lockdown restrictions are lifted further. 

We recommend you follow national and local government advice when booking your staycation.

Dog walkers in the forest illustration

The Pet-friendly Staycation

While nothing beats a trip away with our four-legged friends, it can often be tricky to find a place to stay that accommodates all. Equally, you will need to be able to do things with your pets. After all, you aren’t going to be taking your pooch to see a West End show or out partying until 4am.

Looking at the destinations with the most pet-friendly places to stay, alongside places for them to stretch their legs, Hastings comes out as leader of the pack with a wealth of suitable accommodation and a number of great National Trust sites to explore within driving distance.

Town Pet friendly accommodations per 1000 visitors Total score
Hastings 11.1 63
Cheltenham 11.5 56.9
Newquay 5.3 56.6
Penzance 3.9 56
Torquay 5.8 55
Ambleside 11.1 52
Nairn 9.4 51
Plymouth 1.8 50
Aberystwyth 3.5 49
Gloucester 4.5 48
Dog walkers reading map in the forest illustration

The Outdoor Staycation

If pulling on your hiking boots and letting a map and compass guide your getaway is for you, then this list of destinations is perfect. Considering the number of campsites, outdoor attractions and National Trust sites, places such as Poole, Brighton, York and Aberdeen (just a stone’s throw from the Cairngorms) prove the ideal adventure.

For National Trust members, a stay in Guildford provides a good base to explore the whopping 38 sites nearby.*

Town Campsites per 1000 visitors National Trust sites Total score
Poole 2.7 18 56
Brighton 0.1 17 55
York 0.2 2 49.3
Gloucester 1.3 21 49.1
Cheltenham 0.8 23 48.6
Aberdeen 0.2 9 48.2
Durham 0.8 5 48.1
Turnbridge Wells 1.7 23 47
Cambridge 0 6 45.8
Taunton 1.2 29 45.5
Family and dog enjoying the beach illustration

The Coastal Staycation

With over 7,000 miles of coastline, the UK has plenty of stunning spots to choose from, whether you’re looking for a hike across cliff tops or some fish and chips on the promenade.

Poole, a south coast destination where you may be lucky enough to spot a dolphin, is the top-rated coastal town according to the statistics, with an ample 14 restaurants for every 1,000 visitors and around 1,800 hours of sunlight annually.

Perhaps surprisingly, Aberdeen also ranked highly with a long stretch of golden sands from the mouth of the River Dee north to the quaint town of Newburgh.

Town Distance to coast Total score
Poole 0.5 67.4
Aberdeen 0.5 63.9
Hastings 0.5 63.7
Plymouth 0.5 62
Brighton 0.5 56
Torquay 0.5 61
Weymouth 0.5 59
Newquay 0.5 58.9
Penzance 0.5 58.1
Eastbourne 0.5 57.3
Man and woman cycling through town illustration

The City Staycation

As well as rugged coastline and woodland adventures, many British cities are brimming with history and landmarks, alongside tons of dining options and places to stay and park.

Brighton came out on top of our city stay list with almost 700 attractions, ranging from exploring The Lanes to a stroll down the famous pier and the Royal Pavilion Gardens. The city also has many parking spaces, restaurants and hotel rooms lining the seafront.

Town Parking spaces Average cost of accommodation Restaurants per 1000 visitors Total score
Brighton 8,686 £148 4.2 59
York 9,448 £140 23.5 57
Gloucester 5,643 £150 19.4 54
Cheltenham 13,514 £80 6.4 50.7
Aberdeen 17,222 £174 4.3 50.6
Durham 11,197 £121 16.6 50.2
Turnbridge Wells 10,918 £72 20 49.6
Cambridge 7,155 £78 7.2 49.5
Taunton 6,800 £115 19.3 47.7
Penzance 1,523 £134 1.2 47
Map of the UK illustration

Time to Explore

We understand that many staycations are reliant on proximity and transportation. Below you’ll find all the holiday destinations we analysed in the UK, with a full list of statistics to help you decide which would make the perfect staycation for you.

If you're ready to head off on your staycation and are looking for insurance for your family car, you can get your Ageas Car Insurance quote online today.

And, if you're bringing your pet along and want to make sure your four-legged friend is protected, see what Ageas can do for you with our pet insurance.

Data Sources 

Visitor Numbers - Visit Britain 

Campsites - Campsites.co.uk 

Pet friendly Accommodation - Air BnB Listings 

Rainfall/Sunshine/Sunlight Hours -  Historical Met office Data 

Average Cost of Accommodation - Air Bnb

National Trust - *National TrustNational Trust Scotland

Distance to Coast - Google Maps

Parking Spaces - Parkopedia 

Restaurants – Tripadvisor

Methodology Information

Thre data used in this study was collected before the coronavirus outbreak. All statistics about accommodation, attractions and restaurant figures were correct at the time. At the time of publication of this study a large proportion of these are currently closed under government guidelines. The staycation guide seeks to provide inspiration for those planning future staycations, once lockdown restrictions are lifted further.