Thinking of staying local this year? You’re not alone.
Although official figures for all of 2018 aren’t yet available at the time of writing, VisitBritain has predicted that domestic tourism enjoyed a bumper year, primarily due to the prolonged summer heatwave. Remember that? Great days… Anyway, this looks to have set a trend for UK holidaymakers taking advantage of the great destinations on their very own doorsteps.
So, what’s hot for 2019? Let’s look at some of Admiral’s favourite destinations within Britain and Northern Ireland.
Pembrokeshire, west Wales
Around Tenby is an obvious choice for hiring a cottage or setting up camp. The harbour town itself is charming, with higgledy-piggledy colourful buildings, and excellent wildlife-spotting boat trips around the nearby islands. Keep your eyes peeled for seals and puffins. Nearby there’s plenty to do for families, with Folly Farm, Oakwood and plenty of surf schools within striking distance.
But it’s not all about Tenby… If you want all your adventure within one resort, there’s also the Bluestone holiday park, which features wooden lodges and tons of family activities.
Or you could explore the county further for tons of beautiful views, adventure sports and - after a good day’s splashing about - an abundance of country pubs. Our recommendations include:
- Coasteering and braving a plummet into the Blue Lagoon at Porthgain
- Having a crack at kitesurfing in Newgale
- Checking out the Iron Age forts and striking vistas of the Preselis
For those wanting to get their yomp on, the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is a wonderful walk - all 186 miles of it. Spanning around the county from Amroth to St Dogmaels, it’s a marvel of windswept cliffs and stunning unspoilt beaches. Of course, it’s possible to do in sections if the whole thing seems a little daunting.
Isle of Arran, Scotland
For a UK city break, it’s hard to beat the beauty of Edinburgh or the vibrant diversity of Glasgow. However, if you want to escape the city, taking to the stunning Scottish west coast is something that has to be done at least once. And we’re particularly fond of the Isle of Arran.
Affectionately known as ‘Scotland in miniature’, Arran boasts lochs, mountains and beaches all of its own - and all around two hours from Glasgow. The ferry from Ardrossan on the mainland arrives into the main town, Brodick. If you fancy staying, there’s a lovely beach, crazy golf and Brodick Castle, which has wonderful gardens. But going to Arran is all about escaping to the wild.
The island has a huge amount to offer nature lovers in particular. Keen on spotting seals, deer, golden eagles and red squirrels? Then this is your place. And if you’re prepared to brave to Scottish waters, there are plenty of ace snorkelling spots rich with colourful sea life. The protected sea space of Whiting Bay is a particularly lovely spot.
If you have a head for heights, climbing the magnificent Goatfell is highly recommended, where you can get views of a number of neighbouring islands and the Mull of Kintyre peninsula.
And after a hard day’s trekking, why not take in the Arran Malt Distillery in Lochranza, and relax those weary muscles. We’re sure golden eagles nest near here… Or maybe it was just the whisky?
County Antrim coastal tour
If you like your trips windswept and spectacular, a tour of the Causeway Coast in Antrim is right up there. The iconic Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-A-Rede near Ballycastle rope bridge are day-trippable from Belfast… But with so much to see and do, we’d really encourage you to take your time. The coast has incredible country and forest parks, and the Old Bushmills Distillery - home of Ireland’s oldest whiskey. Plus keen golfers will already know that The Open is coming to Royal Portrush this year.
OK, Game of Thrones. There, we said it. Several locations in Antrim have featured in the HBO fave, and - with the eighth and final season due to hit in April - what better time to visit? There are, as you might expect, a variety of tours available for enthusiasts.
So which areas can you visit? Ballintoy doubles up as the Free Cities; Melisandre gave birth to the shadow being in Cushenden Caves - aka The Stormlands; and one of the most photographed areas in Northern Ireland - the Dark Hedges - may be familiar to fans as The Kingsroad.
If you’re a ‘culchie’ (otherwise known as a culture vulture), then it’s worth spending some time in Belfast itself. If you swing by in October, you could be inspired by the Belfast International Arts Festival, which features a variety of contemporary art, literature events, music, theatre and film. And then you could indulge in the colourful nightlife at the Cathedral Quarter, and be inspired by the Guinness.
If a cosy, welcoming pub after a day taking in sweeping countryside is your bag, then North Yorks could be for you. Alternatively, if a day at the seaside followed by dinner in a Michelin-starred restaurant is more your thing, then North Yorks could also be for you.
The historic city of York is the ideal launchpad for a holiday in this stunning county. You can stroll along the city wall encircling the town, seek out some great boutiques, and see how many of the 365 pubs you can tick off - one for each day of the year. We’re fond of The Habit, The House of Trembling Madness (!), and even the railway pub - The York Tap - is a banger.
You’re within range of two National Parks - the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. For leaving urban life behind and really breathing in the open country, these are unbeatable escapes. With one park rolling and serene, the other rugged and stirring, those wanting to get back to nature are truly spoilt for choice. After a day’s yomping, there are also three North Yorks restaurants with Michelin stars to choose from - The Black Swan in Oldstead, Yorke Arms near Harrogate, and The Star Inn at Harome.
If you do like to be beside the seaside, staying in Whitby is a worthy alternative to York. Surrounded by the sea on one side, North York Moors on the other, it’s a stunning harbour town. There are plenty of wholesome activities you can indulge in here, such as going on a steam train journey, learning to surf or taking the kids to the pier.
Alternatively, the darker side of the town may be of interest if you have something of the night about you. Bram Stoker was took a lot of inspiration from the gothic abbey in writing Dracula. In fact, Whitby is the spot where the count landed in England, in the guise of a black dog. As such, the town has an array of gothic and horror film festivals. But whether you fall on the side of wholesome daytime activities or nighttime prowling, one thing everybody can agree on is fish and chips from the Magpie. Lush!
Did you know? An annual travel insurance policy will cover you for domestic trips as well as jaunts abroad. So it’s well worth having one, even if you don’t plan venturing beyond the UK. Take a look at our guide to UK travel insurance for more information on what's covered including things like cancelling your trip, missed flights and lost or stolen property