If you want a budget-friendly break full of culture, history, and delicious food, the UK offers many interesting destinations.
From a romantic getaway to a fun weekend away with friends, there are plenty of places to visit in the UK. Whether it’s the rolling countryside of the Peak District, the seaside towns of Cornwall, or the bustling market towns of the Welsh-English border, there’s no shortage of options for special weekends away in England and the UK.
From Blackpool to Bath to Cardiff, all these destinations have their own special attractions, unique character, and affordable activities.
You can also reach all these locations and more by train with Avanti, so you don’t even need to worry about paying for petrol or parking. All you need to do is sit back and relax into your weekend away.
So, if you’re looking for inspiration for short weekends away in England and beyond, here are some of our top recommendations.
How to plan the best weekends away in England
To plan the best cheap weekends away in England or across the UK, start by setting a realistic budget. Once you’ve got this in mind, you can start to research your UK short break using these top tips:
- Consider lesser-known destinations such as small towns or rural areas
- Look at least a few weeks in advance for deals on your hotels, travel, and attractions
- Try to travel outside of peak hours wherever possible to save money on transport
- When planning daily activities, think about free or low-cost options like hiking, museums, art galleries, or local festivals
- Consider self-catered accommodation and buy food from a supermarket rather than eat out for every meal
- If you do want to treat yourself by dining out, take a look at review sites and website menus to find affordable options as well as deals like happy hour, early bird meal, or offers on specific days
- Consider camping, and holiday parks for cheaper and dog-friendly options in the great outdoors
- Sign up for mailing lists for discounted accommodation, as you might get a bargain on the likes of a sea view room in a boutique hotel for your romantic weekend break
By doing some research and planning ahead, you can have a memorable and affordable weekend away in England and the rest of the UK.
The best cheap weekends away in England and the UK
With so many exciting destinations to visit in the UK, it can be difficult to know where to start. To help with your research, here are some of the best and most affordable places to enjoy a weekend away.
Edinburgh is a beautiful city that’s rich in history and culture. Not only is it one of the top destinations for romantic weekends away in England and Scotland, but it also has plenty of free things to do.
Visit the Royal Botanic Garden, explore the National Museum of Scotland, or take a stroll along the Water of Leith walkway. For a small fee, you can also climb up to Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that provides stunning views of the city.
Hikers and outdoor adventurers can also explore Pentland Hills Regional Park. Spanning over 100 km of interlinked walkways, it has options for casual, beginner, and advanced hikers. For a family-friendly walk, try the Hawlaw Biodiversity Trail and learn about wildlife and plants along the way.
You can also enjoy Scottish cuisine and local produce without breaking the bank at The Scran & Scallie. For lunch or dinner overlooking Edinburgh Castle, try The Outsider.
When looking for a place to stay, there are plenty of central hostels like Castle Rock Hostel and Royal Mile Backpackers. Bed and breakfasts can also be affordable, especially if you’re travelling out of season. If you’re looking to treat yourself to a bit of hotel luxury, The Glasshouse and The Roseate are noteworthy recommendations.
Getting to Edinburgh by train
To get to Edinburgh, you can take a train from towns and cities across the UK, including London Euston, Birmingham New Street and Preston.
Edinburgh Waverley train station is in the heart of the city’s beautiful Old Town, meaning you’ll be at the centre of it all the moment you step off the train.
Bath is a charming city located in the southwest of England. Known for its beautiful Georgian architecture, natural hot springs, and Roman Baths, it’s another popular destination for weekends away in England for couples.
Bath is also a student city, which means there are plenty of affordable activities. The Royal Crescent, Victoria Park, and the Botanical Gardens are all beautiful and free to visit. Bath Abbey is also worth a visit for £6.50 per adult. Walking the Bath Skyline trail is also a great way to spend an afternoon and enjoy stunning sunset views.
There are plenty of independent hostels and budget hotels in Bath, including St Christopher’s Inn, The Z Hotel, and Bath Backpackers.
For dinner, The Circus Restaurant is highly rated and serves modern European cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients. The Bath Pizza Company makes delicious pizza in the relaxed surroundings of Green Park Station. They also offer happy hour deals on pizzas, prosecco, and cocktails so it’s worth timing your visit accordingly.
Getting to Bath by train
It’s possible to get to Bath by train from London Paddington, Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New Street and other UK cities. The journey from London Paddington to Bath Spa takes around one hour and 20 minutes.
Oxford is a historic city located in the south of England. It’s known for its prestigious university and stunning architecture. If you’re on a cheap weekend away in Oxford, there are lots of activities to fit the budget.
The Ashmolean Museum is free but booking ahead is recommended. Admission to the Oxford Botanic Garden is £6.30 per adult and children under 16 go free. For a costless afternoon, you can stroll along the iconic and picturesque River Thames.
When it comes to places to eat, The Missing Bean is a popular independent cafe that serves great coffee and light bites at a low price. Otherwise, try The Handle Bar Cafe and Kitchen located in the trendy Jericho neighbourhood.
There are lots of affordable places to stay too, including The Old Parsonage Hotel or The Head of the River.
Getting to Oxford by train
Oxford can be reached by train from as far afield as Glasgow Central and as nearby as London Paddington. The journey from Manchester Piccadilly to Oxford takes approximately two hours and 50 minutes.
York is a historic city in the north of England. It’s known for its Viking and Roman heritage and the stunning York Minster Cathedral.
A popular choice for weekend breaks with friends, there are plenty of free things to do in York. This includes visiting the National Railway Museum, exploring the mediaeval architecture of the Shambles, and walking along the city walls.
Check out Middleton’s Hotel or Hotel Indigo York for affordable places to stay in the city centre.
If you’re looking for a romantic dinner on a budget, try The Star Inn The City, an award-winning brasserie which serves modern British cuisine. Otherwise, there are lots of cafes like Caffe La Tazzina where you can recover from your big night out with a delicious breakfast. Eat in or takeaway to enjoy while exploring the beautiful surroundings of the city.
Getting to York by train
You can travel in comfort to York from major UK stations such as Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool Lime Street and Birmingham New Street. The journey from London Kings Cross to York takes less than two hours.
No list of special weekends away in England would be complete without the vibrant northwestern city of Liverpool.
Famous for producing superstars and icons like The Beatles, Elvis Costello, and Cilla Black, it has a strong musical heritage. Liverpool also has a deep maritime history and a stunning waterfront.
Visiting the World Museum, exploring the Royal Albert Dock, and taking a walk along the River Mersey are all great free activities. For music fans, The Liverpool Beatles Museum costs £17 for adults and has over 1,000 items to explore.
As a regular host to thousands of football fans, the city centre has lots of cheap hostels and hotels including a YHA, CityStop Apartments and the Tune Hotel. For a bite to eat, Rudy's Neapolitan Pizza and The London Carriage Works both come well recommended.
Getting to Liverpool by train
Regular train services run to Liverpool from London, Crewe, and Stafford. The train from London Euston to Liverpool Lime Street will take you to the centre of the city in just over two hours.
Cardiff is the capital city of Wales. Home to iconic buildings such as Cardiff Castle, the Principality Stadium and the National Museum Cardiff, there’s plenty of free sightseeing to do here.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly activities, visit the Cardiff Bay area, explore Bute Park or take a stroll around the thriving city centre and its many small arcades. You can also enjoy a stroll around the city-adjacent area of Pontcanna for a variety of small coffee shops, bars, and restaurants.
With rugby fans and groups of friends regularly visiting for a city break, central hotels like Cathedral 73 and the Park Plaza Cardiff are great places to stay.
For a romantic dinner on a budget, try The Potted Pig for European cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients. To treat yourself to some cosy cocktails, try Rum and Fizz or the neighbouring Gin and Juice.
Getting to Cardiff by train
Cardiff is accessible by train from all parts of the UK. Services run from Manchester Piccadilly, Crewe and Edinburgh Waverley into Cardiff Central.
The journey from London Paddington to Cardiff Central takes just under two hours and the train station is only a short distance from Cardiff’s main high street, St Mary Street.
Known for its iconic tower and promenade, Blackpool offers plenty of places to have fun, eat and stay for budget-conscious travellers.
This historical seaside destination is ideal for families looking to enjoy some fun on the beach for less, with many affordable B&Bs and hotels on the seafront.
Take in the sights of the promenade, visit the Blackpool Tower Circus, or walk through Stanley Park for a relaxed morning or afternoon out. Enjoying a packet of fish and chips is a must while in Blackpool, with C Fresh Fish and Chips coming highly recommended.
Getting to Blackpool by train
It’s possible to get to Blackpool by train from various towns and cities including Preston, Warrington and London. The train journey from London Euston to Blackpool North takes around three to four hours.
Save on your weekends away in England and the UK with Avanti
A weekend break in the UK doesn't have to break the bank. Whether you’re travelling from London or elsewhere, there are lots of destinations you can visit without overspending.
With a little bit of planning and research, it's possible to have an enjoyable weekend away as a couple or with friends and family.
Plus, by booking your ticket in advance using the Avanti West Coast journey planner, you can get the best deal on your train travel. If you download our app, you can also find the most convenient time, select your preferred seat, and get a discount with your Railcard, all in one place.