The best staycations without a car

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Lyndhurst The New Forest

Superb transport links make holidaying without a car a breeze. But if you’re stuck for ideas on where to travel to, this list of car-free staycations should give you some inspiration for your next UK holiday. 

Including visits to seaside towns, luxury places to stay and picturesque islands, these are our top picks for a holiday without a car. 

Sightseeing in London

Location: London

Best for: Exploring the capital

How to get there: Direct train from most major cities 

From the streets of quirky Camden to the quintessential Westminster, London’s 48 neighbourhoods have something for everyone. Whether you’re on a family vacation, a romantic weekend getaway or travelling solo, this buzzing capital city has so much to offer. And the London underground means it’s all perfect for travelling by train – you’ll never be bored on a UK staycation in London!

The thing to do: Take in the city from above on the London Eye. Watch a musical in the West End. Wander through the city on a guided walking tour and marvel at London’s iconic landmarks. 

Rent a beach hut in Bournemouth

Location: Dorset

Best for: A relaxing staycation by the sea

How to get there: Direct train from London Waterloo (1hr 30mins)

Its seven-mile-long golden sands and tropical-like summer weather (most of the time at least!) makes this staycation destination a firm favourite. Located on the Dorset coast, Bournemouth is the perfect escape to the seaside. Plus with 3 railway stations, it’s easily accessible from most parts of the country. 

Stay in the heart of it all along the seafront in a Bournemouth beach hut. These contemporary lodges have everything you need for a cosy staycation with picturesque sea views. 

The thing to do: Of course with them right on your doorstep, Bournemouth’s beaches are a must-do. But if you fancy something a little out of the ordinary, take the bus to Dorset’s iconic, medieval Corfe Castle

Enjoy a cultural city break in Norwich

Location: Norfolk

Best for: A staycation with city hotspots and country walks

How to get there: Direct train from London, Liverpool, Peterborough, Nottingham, Sheffield or Manchester

Visit the City of Stories, one of Britain’s most modern cities, and uncover its must-see attractions, world-renown restaurants and cosy traditional pubs. Being the only city to be located in a national park, enjoy rural walks right on your doorstep.

The thing to do: Go wine tasting at the award-winning Winbirri Vineyards. Or check out the eclectic mix of stalls at Norwich Market, the country’s oldest and largest outdoor market. 

Visit the seaside town of Southwold 

Location: Suffolk

Best for: Fun for all the family

How to get there: Train from London to Halesworth/Darsham, then a short bus ride to Southwold.

The picturesque seaside town of Southwold, situated in Suffolk, is perfect for families and couples, no matter your age. Its beautiful green spaces are actually the result of a fire that engulfed the town in 1659. Instead of rebuilding the buildings that were lost, this small town left its open spaces to flourish.  

The thing to do: Southwold Pier has enough to keep the family entertained for the entire day, with a mix of restaurants, shops and even an arcade. Southwold’s working lighthouse is worth a visit too, this Grade II listed building stands at 31 metres tall.

Take a self-guided cycling tour of Cambridge 

Location: Cambridge

Best for: A scenic city break

How to get there: Direct train from London (50 minutes)

Home to the prestigious University of Cambridge, with remarkable alumni of Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton, this city is full of things to discover. Dubbed as one of the safest places in the country to cycle with more than 80 miles of cycle lanes, explore Cambridge’s green spaces and iconic buildings on two wheels—making it the ultimate car-free holiday destination.

The thing to do: Cruise by the city’s stunning scenery on a punt tour. Or walk in the footsteps of the world’s most remarkable scientists as you tour the University’s impressive campus.

Book a hot tub haven in Exeter 

Location: Devon

Best for: City, rural and coastal adventures

How to get there: There are superb rail and air links from most major cities 

Nestled in the heart of Devon, explore both the city and countryside from the doorstep of your luxury hot tub lodgeExeter has a history dating back to before the arrival of the Romans in AD 50, and while it might be small in size, it’s a city that’s unrivalled with attractions and things to do. 

The thing to do: Go underground at Exeter’s Underground Passages, a series of tunnels built in the 14th century to deliver fresh water to houses. South Devon’s beautiful coastline is also just a short train journey. 

Go bus-hopping in Pembrokeshire

Location: Wales

Best for: Endless outdoor activities

How to get there: Trains to Pembrokeshire run from London Paddington, Reading, Bath and Bristol

Take a road (bus) trip to Pembrokeshire’s stunning coastlines and small towns on their extensive coastal bus services. Perfect for families and couples alike, this panoramic area of Wales is home to award-winning beaches, as well as an abundance of adventure parks and coastal walks. 

The thing to do: Visit St. Davids, the smallest city in Britain. If you’re feeling adventurous, try your hand at kayaking or diving in Pembrokeshire’s waters. 

Explore the Shetland Islands on foot

Location: Scotland

Best for: A remote staycation

How to get there: Overnight ferry from Aberdeen 

If you’re having to travel without a car to your next staycation, the Shetland Islands in the heart of the North Sea, might not have been on your list. But with its white-sand beaches, dramatic coastlines and rich wildlife, this once Viking stronghold is full of culture and picturesque scenery that you just cannot miss.

The thing to do: Learn everything there is to know about these northernmost Scottish islands at the Shetland Museum and Archives. Between May and August, you might be lucky enough to spot orcas swimming inshore

Book a luxury spa break at The Randolph Hotel

Location: Oxford

Best for: Cultural highlights and relaxation

How to get there: Direct train services run from London Paddington and London Marylebone

Situated in the heart of the city centre, this grand spa hotel is a serene escape from everyday life. Just a few minutes walk from your stay, you can explore the heritage and history of Oxford. It’s most famous for its university, but this bustling city is packed with places to see including historic architecture, botanical gardens and walks galore. 

The thing to do: Visit the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, it’s the oldest of its kind in England. Then wander around the Oxford Covered Market, which is home to over 50 unique stalls. Some of which are original businesses from the 1770s that are still trading today.