Our top under the radar destinations
With so many of us staying in the UK this year, it’s a good opportunity to look away from the usual holiday hot spots and discover new places right here at home. Our team have been on the hunt finding the best, emerging destinations to go to this summer. We’ve looked at places that are popular on our website, those with exciting events throughout the year, plus some of our old favourites.
Long known for its cider production and pioneering foodie scene, Somerset is also becoming known as one of the most popular destinations for fashion and antique lovers. Bargains can be found at Kilver Court near Shepton Mallet, where one of Somerset’s most successful exports, Mulberry, have their outlet shop. Or head to the newly opened creative hub, Phoenix Studio in Ilminster, which was set up by fashion designer Alice Temperley.
Artisans have lived in Somerset for years, but a cluster of new creatives have recently moved in and set up shop. Not long ago, it was Frome that took centre stage in the county, but now places like Bruton have made a serious mark on the map. Along its small but vibrant high street you will find the likes of International gallery, restaurant and gardens Hauser & Wirth, as well as the Bruton Art Factory, famous Godminster Cheese Shop, Michelin-starred restaurant Osip and the “must-visit” Matt’s Kitchen.
With 7 new outdoor artworks having launched for 2021, following England’s Creative Coast is one of the best ways to get the creative juices flowing while discovering a lesser-known coastal destination. Cultural hot spots such as the Turner Gallery in Margate and Folkestone Artworks make Kent one of our favourite counties for art-lovers.
If there’s one spot you’re going to visit in Kent, make it Whitstable. Not only is it a gorgeous beach destination, the town is jam-packed with pastel-coloured cottages and vintage shops such as Anchors Aweigh. It’s a big foodie destination too, with heavy seafood ties (being by the coast of course!). Try and plan your trip to coincide with Whitstable’s famous Oyster Festival at the end of August or Wheeler’s Bar (the town’s colourful seafood outlet) is open year-round.
With its vast rugged coastline, England’s least-populated county is a great alternative to the traditional seaside counties of the south. Interest in Northumberland has grown over recent years: not only have stylish new accommodation options popped up around the county, it was also voted as having some of the best beaches in the country. Bamburgh is one of our favourite places that combines history and scenery.
While many beaches impose dog restrictions over summer, Bamburgh is open to pooches all year around. It’s also part of an AONB, with its pristine beach, drifting sand dunes, snug eateries tucked away on street corners, and magnificent castle views everywhere you turn. We’d recommend trying The Potted Lobster for excellent seafood in an alfresco setting as well as The Hut. You can also take a boat trip to The Farne Islands, where puffins, seals and dolphins reside.
Ventnor, Isle of Wight
Back in the late 1800s, Ventnor was the go-to retreat in England. However, it sadly suffered in the 60s when its train link was axed and its pier destroyed. You can still feel its sense of grandeur from its rows of Georgian villas, and what makes it truly special today is its landscape and gardens.
The Ventnor Botanic Gardens is home to a gentle microclimate and a world of flowers from New Zealand to the Med and Japan. With over 30,000 different plants, there’s always something to admire whatever time of the year you visit. Make sure you also head to Steephill Cove, one of the Isle of Wight’s most beautiful secret coves, as well as the spectacular Cascade Gardens. It’s opposite the town’s main promenade, and a waterfall runs right down the side of the cliff. The Ventnor Haven Fishery is another great spot, and sells the best in local crab and lobster.
Llŷn Peninsula, Snowdonia, Wales
When it comes to beach holidays in Wales, most people think of pretty Pembrokeshire or the wild Gower. One of our favourite spots, however, has to be the Llŷn Peninsula. It’s known as the “arm” of Snowdonia, and as an AONB its full of traditional farmsteads and little ports, beaches, bays and sea-cliffs. It really is quite unlike anything else you’ll find in Wales.
There are so many places to explore: head to Abersoch for a stylish sea resort, colourful beach huts and great watersports. Or Tre’r Ceiri, an astonishingly well-preserved prehistoric village occupied until about 2,000 years ago. Ty Coch is a fantastic gastro pub plonked right on the water’s edge, with white sands and bobbing boats creating the most idyllic of atmospheres. Wildlife lovers will enjoy discovering Bardsey Island, which is only accessible via boat. It is a national nature reserve and renowned for its choughs, grey seals, puffins and oyster catchers.
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