When it comes to a holiday or weekend away in the UK, not all destinations are equal. In some cities and regions, you’ll spend a fortune on hotels, and activities, eating out; and drinking can be expensive too. With a budget in mind, we’ve assembled a list of the best cheap places to visit in the UK. Each destination is worth seeing in general, it’s just a bonus that’ll your spending will stretch much further.
Stay in a luxury hotel for the cost of a 2/3 star somewhere else or indulge in a nice meal without spending a fortune. Our cheap places to visit in the UK list includes a good combination of cities, beach areas and nature destinations.
For big UK cities with plenty of places to see and a great nightlife, not many places beat Newcastle. Costs aside, it’s a destination anyone can visit and love; it just so happens to be one of the cheap places to visit in the UK too! Most hotels cost under £100 a night, even on weekends. It also has accommodation options for the lowest of travel budgets. Explore the sights of the city centre, go for a long walk or bike ride by its historic bridges of the Quayside, or browse the shops, bars and restaurants. For hotel, activity and eating/drinking out costs, Newcastle is one of the most affordable cities in the UK. It’ll keep you entertained for the entire weekend! Check out our list of the top things to do here.
A close competitor to Newcastle’s affordability, coupled with great nightlife and plenty to see and do, Liverpool is a must-visit city. It has birthed stars such as the Beatles, has a historic past and the local people are some of the friendliest you’ll meet. Hotels can be a little on the expensive side on weekends. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of affordable options and you’ll be able to stay, eat and drink on a budget with ease. The top things to see in Liverpool include the Titanic Museum, Royal Albert Docks and a walking tour of the historic statues and streets of the city centre. We highly recommend getting tickets to a Liverpool FC football match at Anfield if time permits!
As the capital of Wales, you wouldn’t expect Cardiff to be a cheap place to visit in the UK. Nevertheless, it is! Descend on the lively capital city to be greeted by friendly locals, vibrant nightlife and some beautiful areas in and outside of the city. Cardiff is fairly small for a major metropolis, but it’ll keep you entertained for a full weekend and you can navigate all of the key attractions on foot. Spend your days seeing sights such as Cardiff Castle or the boats of Cardiff Bay. Evenings might consist of a nice affordable meal, a trip to the theatre or tour around the electric bar scene. Food, drinks and attractions are all very cheap in comparison to other big UK cities.
40 miles west of Cardiff is another big Welsh city; Swansea. It sits on the coastline and is surrounded by beautiful beaches and scenery. Many visitors choose to stay in the city overnight for its vibrant restaurant and nightlife scene, using it as a base to explore during the day. Walk the picturesque promenade by Swansea Bay, check out a museum or catch the bus just outside of town for a day at the beach. Swansea is an off-the-beaten track UK city break idea that’s very affordable to visit and hotels are plentiful; stay in a 4-star boutique for less than £70 a night! We recommend taking the train directly into Swansea city centre or driving into town if you fancy exploring South-West Wales.
Scarborough and Whitby, Yorkshire
The delightful seaside towns of Scarborough and Whitby are a great place for a cheap summer holiday in the UK. Whitby was voted one of the most beautiful towns in England, famous for its rows of colourful boats and dramatic cliffside landscape. Scarborough on the other hand is a much more traditional seaside resort with a promenade, long beach and amusement arcades. Some of the top things to do here include relaxing on the beach with your family, eating out on the promenade or visiting the nearby Flamingo Land theme park. We recommend a stay Whitby for couples and Scarborough for families, but both towns are well worth visiting for anyone!
The Norfolk Coast
The Norfolk Coast is a sleepy collection of small towns and beautiful coastal scenery. It’s ‘peace and quiet’ year-round, except for the summer months. People from all over the UK flock to this quaint corner of the country for traditional beach holidays, golfing and a little bit of heritage. What makes the Norfolk Coast stand out to us most is the lack of crowds compared to other UK beach towns. Even in the summer you’ll have far more space to relax on the beach and accommodation costs are much lower than the south coast of England.
Weymouth is a traditional seaside town in Dorset. You have the amazing scenery of the Jurassic Coast to the east and Devon and Cornwall are onwards to the west. In Weymouth itself you have some excellent beaches, a long promenade and lots of sea-view shops, bars and restaurants. The accommodation options in town range from colourful beach-side B&B’s to luxury resorts on the outskirts, and location-wise, you couldn’t be in a better position to explore the best of Dorset’s magnificent countryside and coastline. Whilst Weymouth isn’t super-cheap, it’s considerably less expensive than neighbouring towns on the south coast.
The good old North-East of England is an unbeknown destination for a beach holiday. Sure, its temperatures aren’t the best between September and April. However, the summer months are perfect for a holiday in this area of the country. The Northumberland coastline stretches for miles, bringing with it beautiful beaches, quiet coastal towns and lots of attractions. Northumberland is one of the super cheap places to visit in the UK and you have the option of country cottages, luxury golf resorts and central Bed and Breakfasts. We personally recommend Seahouses and Bamburgh as nice places to base yourself, but take time to explore other towns and beaches along the coast.
Pembrokeshire in South Wales is by far the most underrated beach destination in the UK in our opinion. When the sun shines the sea glows a bright turquoise colour and the entire region is very pretty to look at. Colourful houses stacked on the cliffside and a nice promenade by the beach set the scene for the perfect weekend away during summer. Families are particularly at home here. You’ll find lots of attractions to entertain the kids and some beautiful walks for avid nature lovers. Pembrokeshire can get busy in July and August so secure your accommodation way in advance if you can. Prices are very reasonable and food, drink and entertainment costs are cheap.
Nature parks, forests and countryside
The Lake District
If a quiet nature retreat is your idea of a great cheap place to visit in the UK, The Lake District is a top contender. In fact, when it comes to nature walks, pretty lakes and cool scenery, you’ll be in one of the best places in the country for it! Go for a romantic retreat with your partner, cosying up in a wooden lodge with a hot tub and venturing for long walks by the lakes. Alternatively, take your family on an adventure break, with kayaking, bike rides and white-water rafting. There’s a lot going on in the Lake District and as it’s so vast, you’ll find affordable accommodation options throughout. Just be open on the region you’re staying in as some locations are more expensive than others.
Wales has made our list again! This time its for the sleepy villages, marinas and idyllic hills of the north. This splendidly quiet area of the country is far less visited than elsewhere, probably due to its secluded location. Depending on where you live, it could take you quite some time getting here, and the winding country roads don’t make it easy. Nevertheless, we highly recommend spending a full week exploring North Wales! Ancient castles Caernarfon, Harlech and Conwy will grab your attention from the outlook with their fairy-tale-like presence. You then have adorable little seaside towns such as Porthmadog and countless valleys, waterfalls and streams to explore. For those that like an adventure on holiday, Snowdonia National Park is a must! Ascend to the top of Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, on an epic hike.
The Peak District
The Peak District perfectly caters towards nature loving couples, families and singles that enjoy being outdoors on nature walks and hikes. Spend your days actively exploring the rolling hills and valleys, enjoy a pub lunch in the countryside or stop by one of the quaint towns. The Peak District has long been a favoured escape for locals in the Midlands and Manchester area to get away from the busy city life for a weekend. As the main activities are outdoors-based, you won’t really spend a penny on attractions, and eating out is very affordable. Book a quiet country house or cottage as your base for adventure!
Norfolk has made our list of cheap places to visit in the UK for a second time. This time round it’s for its countryside marshes and grasslands known as the Norfolk Broads. Situated a short drive from the city of Norwich, the ‘Broads’ are a collection of picturesque waterways. Enjoy floating downstream on a canal boat or go for a scenic bike ride down country roads. Windmill hotels, private bungalows and traditional B&B’s make up a collection of accommodation options that are affordable for any number of guests. Life here is all about being in the countryside and low-coast pub lunches will help you return from your holiday with cash to spare.
The Scottish Highlands
Head far north to the mighty Scottish Highlands for countryside views like no other. The wind and rain may be harsh throughout the autumn and winter months, but it brings with it some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine. Wake up for an early morning hike to catch a glimpse of eerie mist clearing on the horizon. Mystical lakes, vast mountain ranges and tiny Scottish villages all create an enchanting land away from the big cities. The Scottish Highlands are a nature lovers paradise where you can go for a long drive in the countryside or challenge yourself to a long hike. Boutique B&B’s and private cottage rentals make a trip to the Highlands extra affordable.
Our top tips for booking a cheap holiday in the UK
In addition to picking an affordable destination for your trip, here’s are some other great ways in which you can reduce overall holiday booking costs and spending.
- If you’re travelling in a group, consider an apartment rental instead of multiple rooms in a hotel. It’s a lot cheaper and you’ll often have more space.
- Book a hotel with breakfast included.
- Book a hotel with free parking included if travelling by car.
- Reserve attraction tickets for your destination in advance. It’s often cheaper and you’ll get to skip the queue.
- Consider transport costs such as trains, buses and petrol for your car. It all adds up to the total cost! With that in mind, choose a destination closer to home if you want to save money.
- Weekends are usually more expensive. Visit mid-week if you can.
- Travel outside of UK summer holidays and bank holidays for cheaper overnight stay prices.
- Choose a destination with plenty of free or cheap activities. Outdoor beach areas and nature parks are generally lower cost than city breaks.
- Buy everything you need for your trip ahead of arrival at your destination. Beach gear, good footwear, snacks and sun cream are all cheaper when you have time to shop around in advance. Being prepared saves money 😊
- Do your research before eating out. You’ll be able to find affordable hidden gems of restaurants if you plan in advance. Restaurants in the main tourist areas are often more expensive.
- Set an overall travel and accommodation budget, as well as a daily budget for when you’re on your holiday.
As you’ve probably noticed, many of our cheap places to visit in the UK are located in the north of England or outside of the South-East and South-West areas. London and the surrounding area, and onward to the south coast, are notoriously more expensive for a holiday or city break. It’s worth travelling a little further if you want to save money! We hope we inspired you to plan your budget holiday in the UK this year! Check out our UK travel guides here for more ideas on exploring this historic country.