27 Jun

Written by Kristin on June 27, 2012

Not all of us can afford to go off on a big holiday this year, and if sunny skies in exotic destinations are off your list, that’s ok. Closer to home, there’s plenty of brilliant things to do that won’t empty your wallet. Whether you’re looking to stay a week or just a short break, check out five ideas for affordable UK holidays.

Explore the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is one of those English destinations that make you feel like you’re in another world entirely, even if it’s a short ferry ride. If you’re into sand and sea, there’s no need to go abroad when you can soak up the beachy atmosphere right here (just hope for some sun!)

Off the sand, history and culture buffs can find maritime museums, historic Carisbrooke Castle and lovely stately homes. For the kids, check out the Isle of Wight Zoo or Seaview Wildlife Park. Wightlink has loads of info for planning your holiday such as things to do, places to stay and where to eat.

See London for less

You might think I’m crazy for listing it on a cheap holiday post, but honestly there are so many free things to do in the capital that it can be a really affordable break, as long as you find reasonable accommodation.

That being said, taking your holiday during the Olympics isn’t the best idea! Otherwise, enjoy the city’s beautiful green spaces, free museums, open air markets and scenic walks along the Thames. Most of my favourite things to do in London cost little to nothing at all, like sitting in the rose garden in Regent’s Park, antiquing at Portobello Road or having a pint at the historic George Inn.

Travellodge is offering London rooms from £25.50 this summer; stay 26 July through 9 September to take advantage of the promotion.

Soak up history in Stirling

I have a friend living in the historic city of Stirling, Scotland and have yet to make it there, but her gorgeous pictures always make me want to head up for a visit! It’s just over a five hour train ride from London, and you can find cheap tickets via Thetrainline.

One of the must-sees is beautiful Stirling Castle, with fascinating history (once home of the Stuart Kings and Mary Queen of Scots), castle gardens and plenty of special events over the summer. The premiere party for Braveheart was even held here, as Stirling is William Wallace land and the famous battle of Stirling Bridge takes place in the film. Afterward, visit Argyll’s Lodging, Scotland’s finest surviving 17th century townhouse (admission included in your castle ticket) and check out the nearby National Wallace Monument.

Get outdoorsy in The Lake District

Camping is a favourite affordable holiday, and where better to enjoy the fresh open air than The Lake District? Pitch a tent or bring your motorhome and soak up the unspoilt atmosphere, then head out for hikes, hire a canoe or simply pack a picnic and take in the views. When you want a break from the great outdoors, take in a show at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick or visit Cartmel Priory, a lovely mediaeval church in the village of Cartmel.

Even if you’re not a camper, there are plenty of other places to stay, with gorgeous holiday lodges, bed and breakfasts and hotels throughout the area.

Pony trekking in South Wales

Whilst I was at university I spent a short break pony trekking in Gower, Wales and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. We stayed at Parc-Le-Breos, a lovely little guesthouse covered in ivy and run by the cutest family. The pony treks took us past amazing scenery along the coast; I only wish it could be easier to take photos whilst riding a horse!

We headed to the nearby seaside village of Mumbles one night and visited the local pubs and walked along the beautiful pier; everyone was so friendly and welcoming! There are loads of other things to do in the area, as Gower is just 15 minutes from Swansea.

What’s your favourite UK destination? Send me a tweet at @KrisShopScoop

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