We’re all familiar with the ‘Great American Road Trip’, but what about the Great British one? With tourist hot-spots booking up fast, we’ve compiled a handy guide to help you choose the perfect destination for your summer get-away.
Top staycation destinations revealed (and where to avoid)
Our research considered a variety of factors, from the safest roads to the most dog-friendly accommodation. Who came out best overall?
With rugged cliffs and sandy beaches, when you imagine a UK holiday, you probably picture Cornwall or Devon. Its popularity isn’t misjudged, as both counties score highly across the board. Devon cruised in third place overall and performed outstandingly for nature and accommodation factors. Be warned, its charm is no secret, and the county fared poorly for ‘quietness’ — so expect to wield those elbows at the ice-cream van.
Perhaps due to its longer, winding coastline, tourists can find more tranquility in Cornwall. Again, this county outdoes itself on hospitality and things to do, making it the UK’s second best staycation destination.
So what about our overall winner? From the most southern tip of England we pan up to its north-western edge. Cumbria is not only home to the Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it also encompasses parts of the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines. It matches the Cornish Riviera’s accommodation, natural beauty and activities, but is better for drivers and boasts the safest roads in England.
Where to avoid this summer? North Lanarkshire’s lack of accessible greenery let it down. With the lowest range of hiking routes and campsites, the Scottish region landed in third to last position. With limited hotels to choose between, the Welsh county Flintshire’s hospitality was found wanting, faring only better than Northamptonshire, England, which scored particularly poorly for drivers.
What are our road trip recommendations?
If a stressless, scenic car ride is a driving force behind your trip, then consider Scotland. Scotland accounts for eight of the top ten regions for driving and meets practical necessities (like safe roads and petrol stations) whilst also providing dramatic views. Shetland tops the list, followed by the less well known Clackmannanshire.
If the rural expanses of Scotland are too long a drive away, consider Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. Take advantage of the high density of car parks in the region to make pit-stops to enjoy some of the many attractions or walks the county offers.
Where not to plan your next road-trip? Unsurprisingly, urban areas are more frantic and score poorly for road accidents. Merseyside is the worst, the West Midlands comes second-worst, and is narrowly followed by Greater Manchester which has had a shocking 3212 recorded road-side fatalities since 2012.
Get back to nature
After being stuck at home staring at the same blank walls, many of us are clamouring for some fresh air and natural beauty.
The northern half of the UK officially trumps the southern half if you are after a holiday in the ‘great outdoors’. Two tied Scottish regions steal the show: the Highlands and Stirlingshire. Pack your walking boots and sleeping bag, the Highlands hosts at least 89 different routes to ramble round and more than 86 camp-sites!
For hipster-hikers looking to go somewhere off the beaten track, Stirlingshire offers a less saturated option to escape the crowds and get in touch with nature, scoring high on ‘quietness’ but low on ‘trendiest’. Cumbria, our overall winner, nabs the third top-spot.
Unless you’re after a more civic break, avoid Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Northamptonshire. All score poorly for access to green space, walking routes and road safety.
Best regions for culture and hospitality
The best holidays are both refreshing and stimulating, so which UK destinations are the best equipped to satiate ‘wanderlust’? To work this out, we considered the things to do in the area (museums, national trust destinations etc.), alongside the number of hotels, the number of pet-friendly accommodation and how ‘trendy’ the area is.
A hot-bed of artists and writers, Cornwall is one of the ‘trendiest’ locations you can go. With thousands of hotels to choose from, the most of any region after London, you are guaranteed to find a home from home. If you are holidaying with your pooch, consider Devon which lists more than 182 dog-friendly places to stay. In third position is Cumbria, with a complex history as fascinating as its landscape, it’s no surprise it has at least 238 attractions.
At the bottom of this list is Inverclyde, Scotland. According to the data, the county offers the least pet-friendly accommodation, and scores low to average on all other factors. Other underwhelming destinations are Flintshire, Wales (which ranks in the bottom three overall) and Blaenau Gwent, also in Wales.
The trendiest UK spots (and where to escape the crowds)
Do you like to follow the crowd, or escape it? If raking up Instagram likes is on your holiday itinerary, then consider these ‘trendy’ locations. The cosmopolitan cities of London, Glasgow and Cardiff take the hot-spots, although — perhaps surprisingly — Edinburgh has fallen out of fashion, coming last. Apparently, Celts aren’t cool: 18 of the 20 least-trendy regions can be found in Scotland, with Stirlingshire and Perth and Kinross in the bottom three.
But if you are looking for unspoilt, tranquil destinations ignore the fleeting trends and choose by ‘quietness’. The Orkney Islands, Shetland and Clackmannanshire (all remote Scottish locations) are an introvert’s heaven, whereas din-filled London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester are best avoided.