Explore the UK

UK – Family holiday guide

A lack of year-round sun doesn’t make the beaches any less appealing in summer or winter. Ancient history is woven into every corner of the islands, from Orkney’s Neolithic villages to the castles, keeps and stately homes of England.

London comes second only to Bangkok as the world’s most-visited city. And, out in the legendary countryside, magnificent national parks protect untold hectares of wild and wonderful land.

Just because you can drive from Land’s End to John o’ Groats in 15 hours, why would you want to when there are so many reasons to stop along the way?


Why holiday in the UK?

  • All-weather fun

    It rains more on most Caribbean islands than it does in the UK, but the country’s range of wet-weather attractions and activities is one of the best in Europe.

  • Exciting days out

    The UK has over 50 theme parks and some of Europe’s best zoos, including ZSL London and award-winning Chester Zoo.

  • Cultural attractions

    The UK’s public museums and art galleries are free and often have inventive kids’ programmes, giveaway goodie bags and excellent guides, too.

  • National Parks

    There are 15 National Parks across the UK, including Loch Lomond & the Trossachs, the Lake District and Snowdonia in Wales.

  • Family festivals

    From Latitude in Suffolk to the New Forest’s Curious Arts, there are dozens of family-friendly summer festivals all over the country.

  • Beaches

    Over 60 coastal areas, from the remote Outer Hebrides to the tip of Cornwall, have thousands of incredible, unspoiled beaches.

  • The National Trust

    You can visit over 400 National Trust properties throughout the UK, and many parks, gardens and forests cost nothing to explore.


Where to go

England

Many of England’s most famous attractions are in London, but the capital is far from the only place to discover. The south coast is trimmed with pretty seaside towns, dramatic ports and enormous stretches of sand to run wild on. In the countryside, mythical forests like Dean and Sherwood are made real for kids. And, from the Yorkshire Dales to the Lake District, moors, mountains and sky collide in vast landscapes just waiting to be explored. The country’s chocolate-box villages and Victorian pleasure piers are just as much fun, in their own way, as dozens of theme parks, waterparks and world-class zoos the country offers.

Families can camp, glamp and eco-lodge in National Parks, choose five-star luxury or good-value self-catering in cities, and enjoy everything from cosy cottages to stately homes, guesthouses, gorgeous hotels and cute B&Bs on the coast and in the country.

Take me to England

Scotland

Sightings of the Aurora Borealis can be as spectacular on tiny Fair Isle as in the remote north of Sweden. But that’s Scotland for you. The land of unsung marvels also has some of the world’s oldest, most bloodthirsty and romantic castles. Cities with personality are a national speciality – much as they like to compete, you can’t compare Edinburgh and Glasgow, so you have to do both. And then, of course, there are all the accessible wildernesses, enormous glens and mountains, lochs that cross regions and islands so remote, the next stop is Newfoundland.

Whether you want Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria or an energy-efficient chalet on Skye, Scotland offers as many family accommodation choices as experiences.

Take me to Scotland

Northern Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway alone is enough to put Northern Ireland on the family-holiday wishlist. Add in friendly, exuberant and exciting Belfast, beautiful walled Derry and the enchanting Mountains of Mourne and you could fill several lifetimes with enchantment and still leave plenty unseen. So, if you haven’t discovered Northern Ireland’s all-drama coastline, gorgeous green wilds and entertainment-packed towns and cities yet, you should.

The country does exquisite hotels to family-friendly hostels and everything in between. Each area is different, but a warm Irish welcome is standard.

Take me to Northern Ireland

Wales

Wales never fails to surprise. The country has some of the UK’s prettiest seaside resorts and astonishing beaches. But it’s also home to the darkest dark skies over the Brecon Beacons – stargazing holidays with kids are unforgettable. Snowdonia National Park is like a small, action-packed nation in its own right. And from Cardiff to Swansea, Welsh cities are just the right size to be fascinating and comfortable for kids at the same time.

Manageable Wales is great for touring, and staying anywhere from hill farms in the wilds to holiday homes on the coast and five-star city-centre hotels is possible here.

Take me to Wales

Educational value for kids

  • The UK has 30 UNESCO World Heritage sites, which puts it in Europe’s top five countries.
  • There are kids’ activities year-round at National Trust properties.
  • Most British museums and galleries have kids’ event programmes.

 

 

  • The Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust have hundreds of visitor education centres.
  • Britain’s railways travel cities, countryside and coast and almost any journey is fun and some are just astonishing: Glenfinnan in Scotland.
  • Hire bikes and explore amazing places like Forest of Dean and the New Forest.
  • Find sea legs and skills on boats everywhere from the Norfolk Broads to the Isle of Wight.

What to do

The UK is teeming with enchanting, educational and fun places for families to explore. Discover 12 very special places that prove there is magic in the UK, or enjoy one of these exciting days out:

  • Chester Zoo, Chester
    Voted the UK’s best zoo time and time again, this is a trip round the world of wildlife for kids.
  • British Museum, London
    The most popular attraction in the country is free, and the collection of more than 8 million objects, spanning the history of the world’s cultures, from stone-age tools to 20th-century prints, is mesmerising for young visitors.
  • Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim
    A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most visited National Trust properties, this is as much about mystery and legend as extraordinary geology.
  • Jurassic Coast, Dorset
    The fossil-strewn coastline, almost as famous for movie appearances as ammonites, is one to walk along, linger over and love with your kids.
  • Caernarfon Castle, Snowdonia
    Wales is one of Europe’s smallest countries but not shy when it comes to mighty castles, towering Caernarfon beats them all.
  • Royal Greenwich, London
    The spot where time is measured, the National Maritime Museum is found, and the Cutty Sark is moored. Sail down the Thames from central London to arrive like ancient kings and queens.
  • Brecon Beacons, South Wales
    One of the UK’s most thrilling national parks for kids, this wildly magical place is a holiday in itself.
  • Edinburgh Castle
    The towering icon that defines Edinburgh’s breathtaking Old Town is just one unmissable sight in Scotland’s capital.
  • Eden Project
    Apart from the marvellous beaches and cuter-than-cute towns, this biosphere is one of the best reasons to visit Cornwall.
  • National Museum of Scotland
    If you can tear your kids away from the ghostly closes and haunting tales on the Royal Mile, this museum is worth the effort.

Getting around with kids in the UK

The perfect size for travelling around, the UK has an excellent road network and car ferries connect the mainland to the most isolated islands.

Trains cover most of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

And buses, underground, trams, boats and taxis get you everywhere you want to go in most British cities.

 



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