The world has a lot to offer and Brits are forever jetting off in search of white sandy beaches, exciting city breaks and green landscapes. But we often forget what’s sitting right on our doorstep. The UK is home to stunning national parks, historical towns and some real gems of beaches. If we’d only stay and take a look, we’d see how fortunate we are to live in such a diverse and interesting country.
Of course, with lockdowns and travel restrictions still happening all over the world, holidaymakers are now almost being forced to take a staycation but let us be the ones to tell you, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
If you’re keen to see what the UK has to offer but don’t want to break the bank then the good news is that there are plenty of affordable UK weekend breaks that’ll leave you with incredibly happy memories.
How To Find A Cheap UK Weekend Break
When some people think of taking a short break in the UK, they imagine a spa hotel and relaxing with a glass of champagne; that doesn’t come cheap. Of course, there are deals to be had and if that’s the kind of break you have your heart set on, it’s worth checking out local Groupons and other offers.
However, if you’re happy to be a bit more flexible with what you’re looking for then the good news is that there are plenty of last minute deals to be had. If you can hold off booking your accommodation until a few days before you leave, you’ll find that the price drops as businesses and owners don’t want their property to remain empty. Whether it’s a hotel with spare rooms or an Airbnb without a tenant for the weekend, you may find you save a lot of money. The only downside is that you won’t have such a vast choice.
One of the best ways to keep the cost down while exploring the UK is to provide your own accommodation. If you’ve got a passion for the outdoors then camping or caravanning is the obvious choice. You won’t pay a fortune for your spot on the campsite and you’ve got the freedom to go where you please.
Regardless of what or where you are booking, it’s always a good idea to compare prices. Some websites will charge more for the same hotel, lodge, cabin and any other type of accomodation and the difference can be quite significant. If you find somewhere that takes your fancy, be ready to take a look around for a better deal before you hit ‘book.’
Planning Your Activities
When it comes to booking a cheap weekend break, the last thing you want to do is wing it. Don’t take anything by chance and be prepared to plan your itinerary before you leave. This way you can book tours, wine tastings, activities and anything else that takes your fancy online, which often comes with a discount.
Doing this will also mean that you don’t face any disappointments on the day as some of the most affordable activities around the country are also among the most popular. Of course, if your plan is to simply walk and wile away the hours enjoying the beauty that the UK has to offer, you won’t need to worry.
Additionally, it is worth looking at any local free activities as these can often be extremely interesting and won’t add to the cost of your break. If you have children, there are often plenty of free things to do that’ll keep them entertained for hours.
9 Of The Best Cheap UK Weekend Breaks
All of the places we are going to be looking at are accessible and in mainland UK. While some of these places also offer more luxurious or expensive breaks, we have found some great options for an affordable getaway after a long week at the office.
The Norfolk Broads
If you love the water then the Norfolk Broads might be for you. More than 100 square miles of protected aquatic landscape awaits you and the great thing is that there is something to suit every budget.
You’ll probably want to hop on a boat while you’re here so you’ll be pleased to know that you’re not limited when it comes to choice. There are lots of boating tours with experienced guides but we think that one of the best ways to explore this stunning location is to hire a boat and guide yourself. For an entire day, you can hire a 6 seater boat to explore the Norfolk Broads for just £135.Of course, you’ll want a base and with quaint, countryside bed and breakfasts for as little as £75 a night, you might be tempted to stay on until midweek! But if you want to save even more on accommodation, a pitch at one of the local campsites will set you back less than £40 for the whole weekend!
Cornwall is one of the most beautiful places in the UK and while for many, it requires a lengthy drive, the breathtaking scenery certainly makes it a worthwhile journey. One of the county’s biggest attractions is Land’s End; the most southerly point of the UK, often considered to be the ‘end of the country’ and admission to the attraction is free. However, if you’re travelling with kids and are looking for affordable activities then the Shaun the Sheep experience is just £4 for adults and £3 per child.
Another of the things that draws so many people to this southern country are the stunning beaches. Cornwall is home to coastline that simply cannot be beaten and for tourists looking for a cheap weekend getaway, exploring the beaches here is a great free activity no matter what time of year it is. Many would consider Sennen Beach to be one of the most scenic but with more than 300 beaches to discover, Cornwall is a sea-lovers paradise.
In terms of accommodation, the county is packed with holiday rentals that start from as little as £43 per night. This is for a property located close to the beach with ocean views and ample space for a family.Alternatively, if you have a campervan, caravan or tent, you may be able to get even more affordable accommodation on one of the many Cornish campsites. One of our favourite campsites is the Little Trethvas Holiday site which is located near the beautiful Wild Lizard peninsula which offers some beautiful views and quaint nearby villages to explore. For a weekend stay at the campsite, you’re looking at paying no more than £24 a night; a short break for under £50, that’s what we call cheap! But the campsite is clean, well-managed and has plenty of amenities so you won’t have to cut any corners.
Loch Lomond - Scotland
Scotland is filled with rolling hillsides, majestic mountains and let’s not forget those world-famous lochs. For people who want an outdoor adventure on their weekend break, there is nowhere better than the most northerly country in the UK.
Loch Lomond is a 71km² expanse of water that has plenty to offer families and couples with a taste for the outdoor life. There’s the chance to hop in a kayak and try your hand at experiencing the loch in a totally different way or for those with a passion for hiking, the walking trails are among the best in the country. With rugged terrain alongside gently sandy beaches and stunning evergreen woodlands, Loch Lomond has something for every taste.
We know that a big part of the cost of going on a weekend break is taken up by your accommodation. But the great thing about Loch Lomond is that you aren’t limited by choice. The Oak Tree Inn in Balmaha sits along the banks of the loch and offers accommodation and dining in an authentic building. A standard twin room with breakfast will set you back £220 for a Friday to Sunday break. While this isn’t the cheapest option on this list, it’s certainly far more affordable than many other UK hotels, some of which will charge more than double this for a weekend stay.
But if you wanted to go even easier on your bank account, you might be tempted by one of the many campsites around Loch Lomond. Luss campsite is in the prime location for exploring the loch and costs as little as £7 per person per night for a tent pitch. While you’re in the area, why not head to the nearby military town of Helensburgh where you’ll find the Sugar Boat Shipwreck and a quaint row of shops on the banks of the Clyde.
Lake District Walks
The Lake District is the go-to place for those who want to explore the beauty of the UK through hiking. With 48 walking routes and 5 dog friendly walks across the Nation Park to discover, you may return for many more cheap weekend breaks in the future. Among some of our favourite walking routes is the Castle Crag from Seatoller route which offers stunning scenery as you make your way to the summit where you’ll be rewarded with views across the Borrowdale valley.
For families, the wildlife walk at Sizergh is a great choice and you’ll be treated to viewing animals such as deer and birds of prey. At the end of the trail there’s a nice little cafe where you can stop for refreshments before making your way back.
The Lake District is brimming with accommodation options whether you’re happier to go a little over budget or want to stay well within it. For less than £180, you can rent a stunning apartment for two which makes a great, affordable couple’s getaway. Or if you wanted something a little more adventurous and for slightly more at £220 for the weekend, you might try one of the many glamping experiences in the area.
For a real cheap getaway, the Lake District is home to an amazing number of campsites that give you a brilliant base for exploring the breathtaking countryside that this area has to offer. There are some campsites that allow you to pitch for as little as £10 per night but on average, you won’t expect to pay more than £25-£30 per night.
Cottages In Northumberland
Northumberland is the most sparsely populated country in England and so if you love to explore rural areas and enjoy peace and quiet, this is probably one of the best places for you to visit. But you certainly won’t be limited on things to do. There are direct links to some excellent places such as the famous Alnwick castle where two of the Harry Potter movies were filmed.
In terms of beaches, Northumberland has some of the most stunning in the UK. Take Whitley Bay, for example. With beautiful golden sands, rocky inlets and a quirky little seaside town alongside the beach, there’s not much that won’t capture your heart here.
Because the country is so rural, there are plenty of holiday cottages dotted around that offer peace and tranquility.
Peace In Wales
Wales is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK and while it is the smallest country here, it has a lot to offer those who love open spaces. There’s also plenty of seaside towns dotted around the coast so whether you’re looking for a traditional UK coastal break with fish and chips, amusement arcades and ice cream or something a little more laid back, the Welsh coast will appeal to you.
Snowdonia National Park draws in millions of tourists every year and this should be one of your bucket list locations when visiting Wales. The beauty of the national park is that there is no admission fee to any area which is perfect for those looking for an affordable weekend away. That said, there are plenty of attractions and events that do incur a cost , although for the most part, this certainly isn’t bank breaking.
The Torrent Walk campsite is perfect for large tents and caravans and costs as little as £20 per pitch per night. If you want a more solid roof over your head, the same campsite offers a bunkhouse which can be rented for £120 per night. This is a little more expensive but in the scheme of things, is competitive when you consider the cost of some of the local Airbnbs.
Exploring The Peak District
The Peak District spans a massive part of Derbyshire and has much to explore if you like the outdoor lifestyle. Glorious mountains and vast green spaces dominate the landscape but there are also plenty of things to keep those with a more active personality busy. Owing to the large number of peaks here, the climbing and caving opportunities are among some of the best in the UK. If you’re totally new to the sport then there are lots of instructors such as Peak Mountaineering which offers adventures for as little as £35 per person; that certainly isn’t going to break the bank.
If you prefer something a little slower paced then exploring the beautiful grounds at Chatsworth house near Bakewell is a must. Admission to the grounds is free aside from a parking charge which is merely a few pounds but entry to the house can cost up to £25 per person depending on the event you wish to attend. For the little ones, there is a farm and playground which costs as little as £26 for the entire family.
You can stay on the Chatsworth estate in one of the many bolt holes but this will set you back a very handsome sum of money. If you’re looking for a cheap weekend break, we would suggest loading up the car and choosing from one of the 87 campsites around the Peak District.
Why not try out the Barn Farm campsite in Matlock which has an excellent reputation including being awarded the title of the ‘best campsite for wildlife’ in the UK. With full facilities, a children’s play area and electric sockets, you’ll be camping in style and for a weekend night, it’s as little as £9 per adult and half of that for a child. Under 4s go free and you’ll have great access to Matlock which is almost like a seaside town in the middle of the Peak District. The main strip gives kids plenty of things to get excited about such as arcades, fish and chip shops and quirky little gift shops.
You might take a ride on the Heights of Abraham cable car which costs around £65 for a family of four. While not the cheapest activity, much of the other things in the area are free so it’s worth forking out for this to get stunning views across the area. But if you are looking for something truly affordable the Matlock Bath Aquarium and Exhibitions gives entry for just £3.80 per person and has some truly unique experiences inside including the petrifying well and a hologram gallery.
Historical In York
York was founded by the ancient Romans, so if you are looking for somewhere historical to enjoy a cheap weekend away then this is the place to be. While there are a lot of more expensive accommodation options here, the choice of affordable breaks is also excellent.
Anyone who loves exploring museums and exhibitions will feel very at home in this walled city. There are countless museums to choose from including the nationally acclaimed Railway Museum which is completely free to enter. However, you must book your free admission tickets in advance. If you prefer something a little darker then the York Dungeon is a great place to visit and while it isn’t free, tickets are only around £20 per person plus there are some great online discounts, depending on when you book.
Other great things to do in York that are kind to your wallet include York Castle Museum, the JORVIK viking centre, the vibrant Shambles Market and of course, the architecturally stunning York Minster
Where finding somewhere to rest your head after exploring the city is concerned, you’re spoilt for choice. York is home to some beautiful hotels, some of which can be booked for as little as £59 per night. But if glamping is more your thing, you can book a stunning pod for the weekend for under £100!
Relaxing In The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is one of the most beautiful places in the UK no matter what time of year you visit. This area is ideal for couples looking for a peaceful retreat for the weekend to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. A lot of people associate a weekend in the Cotswolds as being something of a luxury but when you know where to look, it might not be as harsh on your bank account as you may have thought.
Not to mention that the Cotswolds has some magnificent walking trails which are entirely free to use so you won’t need to spend a fortune entertaining yourself for the weekend. There are more than 120 self-guided walks across the Cotswolds but if you prefer to get a little more information and guidance, there are also a selection of guided walking tours. Since many of these walks are organised by volunteers, they’re often free of charge. But you will need to look on the website to find out what’s on when you’re in the area.
Hotels and BnBs in the Cotswolds are notoriously expensive, but there are some that will only set you back a couple of hundred pounds for the weekend. If you want to lower the cost of your break even more, there are many glamping opportunities in the Cotswolds with yurts for as little as £49 per night. We particularly like this glamping site at Moreton in the Marsh which is perfect for families looking for a central base to explore cycling routes, walking trails and lots of amazing places to eat and drink.
Of course, one cannot visit the Cotswolds without heading to the neighbouring county town of Gloucester, where you’ll find history and culture for all tastes. What’s more, many of the activities here are low cost and perfect for a budget weekend away. Gloucester cathedral is a sight to behold for lovers of architecture while The Soldiers of Gloucestershire museum is the perfect place for people with an interest in history and the military. When you’re done exploring, why not head to the docks where you can relax at one of the eateries here?
We’ve all become enamoured with the idea of a staycation recently but for a lot of Brits, finding an affordable weekend away in the UK isn’t easy. For starters, there is just so much choice and even once you have narrowed down your choice of location, there’s still a lot of research to do if you want to find activities and accommodation that won’t break the bank.
We’ve scoured the UK for the best, and most affordable options so all you need to do is choose what appeals the most! Whether it's relaxing in one of the UKs beautiful countryside locations, exploring