Britain is full of dazzling destinations where – with a pinch of imagination and a glimpse of sunshine – you can feel like you are abroad. From Caribbean vibes in Cornwall to Icelandic wonders in Scotland, here are 10 holiday destinations in the UK that feel like you have arrived abroad.
Jurassic Coast, Dorset: Feels like the Algarve, Portugal
While road trips along the Algarve coast still have to wait, a spree in Dorset’s Jurassic Coast might just do the trick what it comes to strolling on sandy beaches and admiring glorious sunsets. And as in Algarve, there is plenty to explore on the Jurassic Coast. The main sight is the Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch near Lulworth Village. The village itself is one of the Jurassic Coast’s gems, as well as Man O’War Beach just next to Durdle Door. Other sights include Lulworth cove with a pebble beach, crystal clear waters and the three chalk formations of Old Harry Rocks. There is also plenty of accommodation in the area, varying from traditional cottages to modern hotels.
2. Portmeirion, Wales: Feels like Portofino, Italy
Pastel coloured buildings and vine-covered colonnades snuggled against a rocky background sound like a daydream of Italy, yet you can find it solidly set on North Welsh soil. Located on the western edges of Snowdonia National Park, the area’s mild climate encourages the growth of palm trees and other exotic plants. Stroll around the pastel buildings and pergolas, take in the sea views and stay at Hotel Portmeirion, snuggled between a rocky cliff and the River Dwyryd.
Shetland Islands: Feels like Norway
It’s no wonder you get a slightly Scandinavian feel in Shetland, as the islands used to belong to Norway until the 15th century. And even now, as you stroll the streets of the island’s capital city Lerwick, you can spot the Scandinavian influence on the architecture and place names – not to mention traditions, such as Up Helly Aa fire festival where locals dress up as Viking warriors and carry burning torches to mark the end of yule season. You might also appreciate the northern feel of the islands during the winter months, when there is a chance of spotting the Northern Lights.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London: Feels like India
Rising on London’s North Circular Road, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a spectacular piece of India set in urban London. Commonly known as the Neasden Temple, the mandir is Britain’s first authentic Hindu temple. In the early 1990s, almost 5,000 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone and Carrara marble were shipped to India, hand-carved by local craftsmen, and then transported to north-west London. The temple was completed in 1995 and has been enthralling visitors ever since.
Isles of Scilly, Cornwall: Feels like the Caribbean
Turquoise sea, sandy beaches and sub-tropical gardens: arriving in the Isles of Scilly you might mistake them for the Caribbean! The Isles of Scilly archipelago has five inhabited islands, and with an airport and a harbour, St Mary’s is the starting point to explore further. You can cycle around the island in half a day, and stop at seafood restaurants and beach cafés along the way. St Mary’s has a bit of a “mainland vibe”, but in St Agnes, a 15-minute ferry ride away, you’ll get the feeling of proper island living. Here, you will find rocky outcrops and paradise beaches in hidden coves.
If you are after tropical colours, head to Tresco and its Abbey Gardens. The sight and scent of exotic plants from over 80 countries will take you to Brazil, South Africa and other warm corners of the world. If it’s the beach vibes you are after, visit St Martin’s with its spectacular beach line, often listed as among the best in the UK.
Lake District National Park, Cumbria: Feels like Switzerland
You don’t have to travel all the way to the Alps to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. The Lake District National Park in Cumbria has plenty to offer, boasting a rugged mountain scenery, over a dozen crystal clear lakes and plenty of ‘tarns‘ – an Old Norse word for a small mountain lake or pool. Apart from hefty hikes to the highest peaks, you can also take it easy and enjoy lakeside strolls, bike tours, picnics or boat trips.
Torquay, Devon: Feels like the French Riviera – with a murderous twist!
Torquay, also known as the ‘English Riviera’, is a popular seaside town for a reason: this is the closest thing you’ll get to the Mediterranean without needing to fly!
If you wish to explore further, Devon’s two coastlines offer finds to all types of beachgoers – whether you wish to surf at Croyde or sunbathe at Woolacombe. One of the best beaches is Meadfoot Beach. It is located a mile from Torquay harbour, in a stunning spot at the bottom of cliffs. Relax on a deckchair, enjoy the sound of the sea and open up an Agatha Christie murder mystery – Torquay is also where the Queen of Crime was born and got a lifetime of inspiration!
King’s Lynn and Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk: Feels like Holland
As parts of the Norfolk coast are closer to the Dutch capital Amsterdam than London, no wonder that Low Countries heritage is visible everywhere. One of the most picturesque Dutch-style towns is King’s Lynn, a medieval port town. Spend a day strolling around the town, sample some fresh seafood and check out the two medieval guildhalls, St. George’s and Trinity Guildhall. For a sight of a historic windmill, head to Cley-next-the-Sea, edged by a nature reserve that’s perfect for rambling walks.
Isle of Skye, Scotland: Feels like Iceland
Dramatic mountain ranges, rugged coasts and magical waterfalls: is this Scotland or did you accidentally land in Iceland? The Isle of Skye is the perfect destination if you want to swap a road trip in Iceland to a domestic destination. With harbour towns, such as the colourful island capital Portree, Cuillin mountain range and landscape dotted with blue lochs and orange highland cows, there is plenty to see when driving around the 80 mile-long island. Hike up to the Old Man of Storr and plunge into the Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye’s own magical waterfall.
Snowdonia, Wales: Feels like New Zealand
Mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes and starry night skies: a road tripper’s paradise of Aoraki Mount Cook National Park in New Zealand can be swapped to an epic tour around Snowdonia National Park, in Wales. While there are 23 mountains that are over 3000 feet high in the Mount Cook National Park, Snowdonia is not far behind with 15 peaks. While Snowdonia boasts an abundance of daytime activities from hiking to fishing and castle spotting, as a member of the International Dark Sky Reserves, the park is also a perfect destination for stargazing.