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23 of the best places to holiday in the UK

Staycationing this summer? Then you're going to want to check out our bang-up-to-date insider guides to these top towns and cities across the Muddy counties.

St Ives, Cornwall

The jewel in Cornwall’s crown, head to St Ives on a sunny weekend and you’d never know you’re still in Blighty. Beachgoers are spoilt for choice when it comes to white stretches of sand, clear sea and surf, plus there’s also a thriving art and independent foodie scene to explore.

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Bath, Somerset

There are few cities in the UK as postcard-perfect as Bath with its golden Georgian streets and Roman remnants. The history’s a given (you can hardly throw a stone for hitting a museum) but there’s also boating, shopping, eating and drinking aplenty in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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BRIGHTON, sussex

Arguably Britain’s favourite seaside spot, a portion of fish and chips and a wander down the pier are non-negotiable here. But Brighton also boasts a quirky hipster scene, bursting with independent eaters and cool bars as well as throwing one hell of a Pride celebration each summer. Fancy a trip?

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OXFORD, OXFORDSHIRE

A city of dreaming spires that houses the oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford was home to the literary likes of J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lewis Carroll. Its quaint streets are packed with foodie gems, boutique stays, and classic pubs, and we know all the best places.

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ISLE OF WIGHT

This sunny, picturesque island is accessible only by ferry, catamaran, or perhaps hovercraft — practically abroad! Holidaying here you’ll be spoilt for choice with fresh seafood, charming architecture, stunning landscape, and the amazing flora that comes with the island’s own microclimate.

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CANTERBURY, Kent

Another cookie-cutter city, Canterbury can boast both the oldest still-running school in the world, and the oldest church in the English-speaking world. Not too shabby — but there’s more than one egg in this basket. You won’t want to miss the renowned theatre scene, the showstopper gardens, the indie boutiques, and the reams of farm-to-table restaurants.

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Southend-on-Sea, Essex

The newest city in the UK boasts picture-perfect cocklesheds, the longest pleasure pier in the world, buzzy beaches, and the requisite charm of a 19th century seaside resort. Being a blink of a train journey from London, Southend’s developed a clutch of cool eateries and independent shops to suit the well-heeled commuters — check our guide of where to shop and refuel after a day sunning on the beach.

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THE COTSWOLDS

The honey-tinged cottages of the Cotswolds are straight out of an American daydream about rural England, and a real sight to behold. Patchwork hills of rolling fields, ambling sheep, and charming market towns make this land of bucolic boltholes a dead-cert destination. Convinced? Check out our guide of the coolest places to visit.

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WINDSOR, Berkshire

If it’s good enough for the Queen it’s good enough for us, eh? But Windsor’s not all royal castles: find the coolest bars, destination hotels, and fashion-hotspot shops that you need to know about in our insider guide.

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Folkestone, Kent

A pretty coastal town with an eclectic, arty heart. From cultured festivals and thriving art studios to totally-trendy eateries and sunny seaside pubs, there’s plenty to see and do in Folkestone. Don’t miss our unmissable guide to where to hit up first.

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Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Regency splendour, a world-famous racecourse, and 25+ festivals annually — just a few of the feathers in Cheltenham’s well-plumed hat. Head on over to this picturesque spa city for tree-lined promenades, pretty architecture, and a surprisingly edgy side, to boot.

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Winchester, Hampshire

Major literary creds abide in this cool Cathedral city that inspired Keats and saw Jane Austen to rest. There’s history at every corner, fabulous places to eat, drink, and shop, and the stupidly pretty South Downs National Park stretching out alongside. Whatever the season, Winchester’s a brilliant weekend break.

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Norwich, Norfolk

Creative, friendly, and fiercely independent, Norwich has stunning medieval architecture in spades and a surprisingly progressive vibe. Whether you want to find a cool bar or the best indie shops, we know all about the most unmissable bits of the city.

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Truro, Cornwall

Cornwall’s county town and sole cathedral city offers just the right dose of urban life in a laidback, Cornish kind of way. There’s a criss-cross of cobbled streets, a knockout cathedral, and more gorgeous restaurants than you could possibly eat at (trust us, we’ve tried).

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Deal, Kent

Frequently touted as one of the best places to live in the UK, Deal has an unspoilt coast and hopping high street of good food and charming indies. It’s also positively picture-perfect — your Instagram thanks you for your visit to this underrated gem.

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SALISBURY, Wiltshire

There’s the famous (and stunning) Salisbury Cathedral, sure – but did you know Wiltshire’s only city is also buzzing with arty, off-beat and indie places to shop, eat, and dive into culture? Even better: it’s pint-sized enough that you can do the lot in a well-managed weekend. Sorted.

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GUILDFORD, Surrey

A bustling market town with a cracking high street, Saxon origins, and a royal history, Guildford is crying out for a weekend escape. Wander along the River Wey or through the little cobbled lanes of the centre, and don’t miss the impressive array of arts and culture on offer.

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BURY ST EDMUNDS, Suffolk

Fancy something a little more under the radar? Suffolk’s historic market town was a major player in the Medieval ages and today enjoys a Michelin-star restaurant, a thriving arts scene, and independent shops aplenty.

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ST ALBANS, Hertfordshire

The third biggest city in Roman Britain, St Albans today is a historic metropolis complete with funky, buzzing independent shops, markets, a packed events calendar, and one of the best pub cultures in the country.

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Exeter, Devon

Sitting comfortably between the rugged wilds of Dartmoor and the buzzy surfer beaches of the South Devon coast is Exeter, a historic city that’s still firmly alive and kicking today. There’s an array of eating delights, museums, and more boutique shops than you can shake a stick at.

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Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

A riverside spa town with Regency streets, lush parks, and a vibrant and creative independent scene, Leamington Spa is a little under-the-radar gem. It’s known more as a well-heeled and happy place to live than as a tourist hotspot, and so offers a one-two punch of pretty museums without the tourist traps.

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Leicester, Leicestershire

The most populous municipality in the East Midlands, Leicester’s a diverse hubbub of urban culture, exciting cuisines, fab indie shops, festivals, art, theatre, and more. If they could find Richard III in a carpark, just think what else is waiting to be discovered…

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NORTHAMPTON, Northamptonshire

A destination that’s off the beaten track but no less packed with charm, Northampton has a whole clutch of quirky hidden gems and independent foodie joints to enjoy.

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