The best UK staycations is a hotly debated topic. So we've rounded up a few of our top suggestions!

For some, the focus is to find a cheap holiday in the UK (hello HomeExchange, goodbye hotels and holiday rentals!) For others, the focus isn’t on the cost-factor, but the sheer indulgence of exploring this beautiful collection of islands. Whether you’re looking to while away the hours in National Trust properties, take leisurely strolls on the beach or explore iconic cities such as London, Liverpool and Cardiff, there’s something for kids of all ages.

Some of the best UK staycations involve island-life

The Needles in the Isle of Wight_The best UK holiday destinations for families

The British Isles are actually a collection of more than 6,000 islands! While the majority of them are uninhabited, more than 180 of them host a local population. And while they might take a little planning to reach, the journey is half the fun! Take the Isle of Skye for example. You can reach this beautiful island by using the Skye Bridge, or the Outer Hebrides can be reached via plane or ferry. Other popular island haunts include the Scilly Islands off the coast of Cornwall, Anglesey just off North Wales, or the eternally popular Isle of Wight which is easily reached via ferry from England’s south coast. With plenty to see and do here - like Tapnell Farm Park, Monkey Haven and the steam railway - many would argue that the Isle of Wight offers families one of the best UK staycations.Looking for some more island inspiration? Then take a look at our article on 5 islands to visit off Ireland.

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Treat yourself to a coastal staycation in Pembrokeshire or the Gower Peninsula

Golden sand, turquoise water and rocky cliffs at Bullslaughter Bay in Wales_The best UK holiday destinations for families

Inland Wales has lots to see and do. But if you’re looking for one of the best UK staycations, then the Welsh coastline really steals the show. To be really precise, there are two locations that both beg to be explored - the Pembrokeshire coastline and the Gower Peninsula. In the northern corner of Wales lies Pembrokeshire, which is home to long stretches of golden sands and numerous rockpools. Here you’ll find Barafundle Bay (often cited as being one of the world’s best beaches), plus the charming seaside town of Tenby and great surfing spots including Freswater West. Further south (and near the bustling city of Swansea) the Gower Peninsula is hard to beat. Whether you’re looking for a secret cove like Bullslaughter Bay, or a much-loved stretch of sand with good facilities like Langland Bay, there’s something for every swimmer, paddle-boarder and sandcastle-builder!

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Discover London for a cheap holiday in the UK

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London_the best UK holiday destinations for families

If you’re looking for a cheap holiday in the UK, you might not immediately think of London - but there’s a lot to be said for visiting England’s capital city with the kids. With plenty of free things to do in London, you can easily fill your days with zero-cost activities, all while saving money by staying in a HomeExchange property. Start by doing a walking tour of London’s best sights. At 5-miles long, the route suggested by Londonist is brilliant, as it will take you up the Mall, past The Houses of Parliament and across the Millenium Bridge, before eventually arriving at St Katherine’s Docks. Other free family-friendly activities in London include visiting the playgrounds in the Olympic Park, discovering the museums and exploring the Sky Garden for iconic views over London.
If you're looking for more tips on where to stay in London on a budget, then check out our great blog.

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Drive the winding lanes of the Kent countryside for a top UK staycation

Hever Castle with autumn leaves and a moat in Kent_The best UK holiday destinations for families

If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of London, then the Kent countryside is a child-friendly delight. Consider hiring a car so that your kids can:

  • play in the bomb crater at National Trust property Chartwell
  • see the knights dueling at Leeds Castle
  • discover 13th century Hever Castle and play in the water-maze
  • cycle or walk the shady paths of Bedgebury Pinetum
  • play Pooh sticks in the Ashdown Forest
  • see endangered animals and learn about the breeding programme at Howletts Wild Animal Park.
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Discover Yorkshire for a great last-minute holiday

Close-up image of the water at Runswick Bay in Yorkshire, with people and houses in the distance_The best UK holiday destinations for families

From the dramatic landscapes of the Dales to the quaint seaside villages of the Moors - and various dynamic towns and villages such as Runswick Bay, Knaresborough and Ripon, the entire Yorkshire region is jam-packed with experiences for every type of traveler. Steam trains, beautiful waterfalls, great countryside walks (and picnicking opportunities!) are just some of the reasons the Yorkshire Dales make for a great UK staycation. Burn off some energy with a hike to Aysgarth, Hardraw or Ingleton Falls, or book a ticket for the Wensleydale or Stainmore railways.

Love the coast? Then head to the Yorkshire Moors and make a beeline for the charming fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay - while if you fancy a city break, the university towns of Leeds and Sheffield are thrilling, and York is absolutely stunning. Kids of all ages will particularly love the immersive Jorvik Centre. Brace yourself for an extraordinarily bad smell, which is all part of the chaotic fun!

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Head to Northern Ireland for an amazing UK staycation

Red fishing trawler on the water in front of the Titanic Belfast_The best UK holiday destinations for families

It’s impossible to sum up why the entirety of Northern Ireland is one of the top UK staycation destinations, so let’s tackle this with a few key highlights (then book yourself a HomeExchange in this stunning region!)

  • Giant’s Causeway - formed nearly 60 million years ago, this dramatic rock formation is otherworldly. Consider joining a tour to find out more about this beautiful sight.
  • Titanic Belfast - inspired by the shape of the ship, this gloriously modern museum and building is packed to the rafters with fascinating exhibits. While you’re here, spend the day exploring Belfast’s impressive social scene.
  • Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Requires nerves of steel, but is great fun none-the-less.
  • Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven - otherwise known as the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail in County Fermanagh. You’ll require a pretty good level of fitness to make it to the viewing platform, but it’s so worth the effort.
  • Kids will love the Crumlin Road Gaol which offers gruesome insight into the history of the jail and its executions!
  • The ruins of Dunluce Castle. Beautiful and dramatic, these ruins are one of Northern Ireland’s most famous sights.
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The top UK staycation destination? Step forward the Scottish Highlands

Gold and green hills and mountains crossed by The Glenfinnan Viaduct in Scotland_The best UK holiday destinations for families

The north-west of Scotland delivers everything a vacation should offer - exceptional food, the most beautiful scenery and world-famous sights. Ben Nevis (which happens to be Britain’s highest peak) is a huge lure for avid hikers, while those who fancy something gentler will find plenty of lovely walks and cycling routes in the Cairngorms National Park. If you’re travelling with kids, the Landmark Forest Adventure Park and the Highland Wildlife Park are both fun, while adults should treat themselves to a visit to one of the many gin or whisky distilleries. Harry Potter fans are also in for a treat, as they can hop on the Hogwarts Express which trundles over the 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct which featured in the movies, while Loch Ness should be top of your ‘must-see’ list! Fancy spotting some dolphins? Then head for the Moray Coast - or if you want to pretend you're lying on a Caribbean beach, you simply have to see Achmelvich Bay.

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The best staycation in the UK? Consider The Lake District

Mountains and water with blue sky and clouds_Buttermere in the Lake District_The best UK holiday destinations for families

A quick Google of ‘Staycations UK’ will tell you that The Lake District is one of the best places to explore - and for good reason. Located in Cumbria, this gorgeous region boasts picture-perfect towns and villages and epic lakes, nested against the dramatic backdrop of the most incredible mountain-scapes. World-famous locations to visit include Bowness-on-Windermere, Coniston, Kirkby Lonsdale, and Keswick. But to really make the most of the area, try one of these family-friendly walks:

  • Ambleside to Grasmere - make sure you coincide with the bus home.
  • Buttermere’s lakeside path - head to the Croft Cafe for a warming hot chocolate!
  • Keswick to Latrigg for views over Keswick.
  • Grizedale Forest, which has a combination of sculptures and child-friendly trails.
  • Fell Foot playtrails at Lake Windermere. Kids will love the climbing walls and crawl tunnels!
  • Windermere Lake Cruises - the walkers ticket combines 3 boat cruises with a 4-mile lakeside walk.
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Combine Norfolk and Suffolk for a great family holiday in the UK

White lighthouse with paste-coloured houses in Southwold_The best UK holiday destinations for families

The two counties of Norfolk and Suffolk each deserve their own entry on our list of top UK staycation destinations, but many families choose to combine the two into one brilliant trip. Just a few of the best things to see and do in the two counties are:

  • Visit the lovely seaside towns of Southwold and Aldeburgh. With plenty of eating-out options and boutiques, you can easily laze away the days.
  • Take a leisurely stroll along Holkham Bay, Wells Next the Sea, Gorleston-on-Sea - or any of the other pretty beaches along this picturesque coastline.
  • Go crabbing in Cromer! This is when children fish for crabs from the pier…
  • Visit the outdoor adventure park, BeWILDerwood. Perfect for overgrown kids too!
  • Hire a boat for the day and cruise the peaceful Norfolk Broads.
  • Explore the 800+ year history of Framlingham Castle.
  • Meet the animals at Africa Alive Zoological Reserve - or have fun at Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park!
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