Time to pack your bag and hop on a train for a staycation? With most of us confined to the borders of this little island we call Great Britain we've all had to start thinking about our holiday at home options, so check out our top five places to visit in the South of the UK.
- London. No surprises that our nation’s capital get’s the top spot here, particularly as The Big Smoke has just been ranked number one city in the world by International consultant group Resonance. London beat Paris and New York to take the top spot for the sixth year in a row! If you’re visiting London for the first time then Covent Garden and the West End is most people’s first stop with an array of shops, bars, restaurants and, of course, stage shows to choose from. When you’re ready to venture a little further then not far away is London Bridge and Bermondsey area for the fabulous food market on the weekend and Bermondsey Street’s village feel and low key coffee shops and bars. Camden should also be on your list for some great punk pubs and vegan food stalls, not to mention the world famous Camden Market where you can get lost for hours amongst the eclectic array of bohemian wares on offer. Finally for a whistle-stop tour (we could go on forever with recommendations) the trendy East End district of Shoreditch should be paid a visit for the hipster arts scene and buzzing cocktail bars.
- Rye. A small and heart achingly traditional town just inland from the sprawling Camber Sands beach which is well worth a visit if you can get a parking space on a hot sunny day, or even for a long summer evening stroll. There’s a fisherman’s feel to Rye that just oozes history. There are numerous old style pubs to try, even a drink-in-wine-shop called Olde Worlde Wines, and most will greet you with tiny timber frame doors and inviting open log fires. Rye is also close to several vineyards and wine producers so there’s a decent wine scene in the town if you seek it out. Tillingham natural winery is close by in Peasmarsh but you’ll have to arrange a cab which isn’t as easy as it sounds as Rye runs a little slower than the rest of the South East. It’s definitely a local town for local people, but they are used to tourists and it doesn’t get as busy as other fishing towns in the South East. There are some decent restaurants to feed you, but you go here for the pubs.
- Brighton. A buzzing, bohemian city by the sea. Our top two might have been a bit of a shock to your wallet and, while there are plenty of ways to spend a lot of money in Brighton, there are also a lot more budget options. In the summer you will find hundreds of sunbathers lying on the pebble beach, but Brighton is certainly not about the seaside. Nor is it your typical British seaside staycation. Brighton is pretty big, especially when you count in Hove as well, and it’s tricky to drive and park, so public transport it the best way to get around if you have to. However the most interesting part of the city is The Lanes; rows and rows of treasure troves; bohemian shops, vegan restaurants, hemp cafes, bonsai tree growers, vintage sellers and more. You could call it a cliché but it’s too cool for that. Brighton is liberal, left wing and totally hippified in the best way, and it’s also a university town to boot so you won’t be short of a cheap pint. As with all brilliant places expect it to be crowded, especially in the summer, but it’s worth it.
- Canterbury. Another great destination for a weekend trip and only about 45 minutes away from Whitstable if you’ve got a bit longer, also a fairly small town that can be easily navigated by foot. The high street architecture is breathtakingly historic and of course the world famous Canterbury Cathedral is located right in the middle. There are a few nice little parks to stroll around and, while the centre is quite compact, there are plenty of shops, cafes and bars to choose from. The restaurant scene is local and solid, notable mention to Korean Cowgirl, and as it is still close to the sea there is some decent fish to be eaten. A short trip along the River Stour with a bottle of fizz is a lovely way to spend the morning, followed by a self guided tour of the most notable sights.
- Tunbridge Wells. A mid-sized spa town in between London and the coast, so if you’re visiting London it’s a good stop off on your way down to the seaside if you have time for an overnight stay. Steeped in historic buildings and quaint little streets, the nicest part of the town is at the bottom where The Pantiles and Village area are located. Summer is the best time to visit this town with its buzzing music and beer garden scene. Weekly jazz festivals, the annual Pub in the Park festival and The Forum music venue (that is housed in converted public toilets) will keep you entertained when you’re not in the pub. And pubs there are a-plenty, with the town centre and surrounding areas enough to keep you well oiled for a good few days. A decent café and restaurant list will also fill your stomach.