The South of England is a picturesque region filled with rolling hills, quaint villages, and historic cities. It is the perfect UK region for a weekend getaway, whether you’re looking to relax and unwind or explore the city, villages and surroundings
From the stunning coastlines of Cornwall to the charming streets of Bristol, the South of England offers something for every kind of traveler. In this blog post, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the best weekend trips to this beautiful region, all contributed by local travellers among the travel community. These locations include must-see attractions, hidden gems, and insider tips for making the most of your visit. So grab your suitcase and get ready for a South of England adventure!
Weekend Destinations In Southern England
A weekend trip to Southern England is an excellent idea for anyone looking for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The region boasts some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK, with picturesque villages, rolling hills, and stunning coastline.
Here are our collected list of weekend destinations in Southern England that you can get inspired to visit. Some of these we have personally travelled to ourselves and can vouch for them, with others now on our list to visit!
Rye, East Sussex
If you need some sea air and a slow travel weekend, head to Rye in East Sussex. This historical town is just under two hours by train from London and two miles from the seaside.
Characterised by cobblestone streets and red-roofed cottages, it’s hard to imagine it as one of England’s most famous pirate ports of the 13th century.
Remnants of its swashbuckling past can be found in The Mermaid Inn which was established in the 12th century but the Tudor building you see today was built in 1420. Go there for a drink or take a tour and learn about its ghosts and smugglers.
The best views of Rye are at the top of St Mary’s Church Tower. It costs £4 but it’s worth it. As you climb the steps, you’ll see the oldest working church clock in the UK. Once you reach the top, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Rye and the sea.
Other attractions include Landgate and Ypres Tower, fortifications which were built to defend the town in the 13th to 16th centuries.
Stay at the Hope Anchor Inn. Once a haunt for local sailors, it’s now a lovely hotel with a delicious traditional breakfast.
Contributed by Francesca from Little Lost Travel
Bristol is a vibrant city in Southern England that offers visitors a perfect weekend getaway. The city boasts a rich history, stunning architecture, and a buzzing cultural scene. You must not miss its iconic street art scene (including Banksy) and maritime heritage.
One of the most popular attractions in Bristol is the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The bridge offers stunning views of the city and the Avon Gorge. You can take a stroll across the bridge and admire the beautiful scenery.
Bristol also offers a wide range of museums, such as the M Shed, which provides an immersive experience of the city’s history. You will be captivated by the museum’s intricate design and the unique way it interweaves the stories of Bristol’s residents with the city’s past.
Foodies will love exploring Bristol’s vibrant culinary scene, with various restaurants, cafes, breweries and bars. The city’s food markets, such as St. Nicholas Market, offer visitors a chance to try some of the best street food the city offers.
Stay at The Bristol Hotel, which is nearby to all the main attractions and is fantastic. Overall, it is easy to see why Bristol is one of these must-visit weekend destinations in Southern England, offering visitors a perfect blend of history, culture, and fun.
Contributed by Rachel from Average Lives
Together In Transit Tip: Enjoy Bristol with a Banksy Guided Walking Tour
The flight of stairs which gave the town its name are long gone, but today, Broadstairs remains a destination of desire because its natural beauty is some of the best in the south of England. From picturesque bays to fantastic hiking trails, this beautiful coastal town charms visitors searching for great outdoor adventure as it lies on the Isle of Thanet in Kent.
Broadstairs’ stunning and tranquil seaside is a collection of seven sandy beaches supported, in a typical manner, by fishermen cottages, clifftop walks and lively streets featuring unique, independent shops. The most notable parts to explore here include Viking Bay, Joss Bay which hosts a surf school, and Botany Bay which attracts photographers with its towering chalk stacks. As such, Broadstairs is where you want to be if you are in need of a relaxing getaway blessed with delicious ice cream, sunbathing and waterfront meals – but still have the opportunity to indulge in heart-pumping activities, whether that be water sports or walking the coastal trail from Broadstairs to nearby Margate.
Broadstairs is one of those places in England that people visit for a day trip, but if you have time to spare, why not spend a night at one of the amazing hotels around that offer clifftop views of the North Sea? Great options include The Bay Tree Hotel and Botany Bay Hotel.
Contributed by Sanika from Trailing Pages
Lyme Regis, Dorset
Lyme Regis, a pretty beach town steeped in millions of years of history, promises a quintessentially British seaside weekend in South England.
Set on the western limit of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, Lyme Regis is the ideal base to learn about the region’s incredible prehistoric past. Named after the astonishing collection of Jurassic and Cretaceous period fossils discovered along this UNESCO-listed stretch of shore – some date back more than 185 million years – the town is a hub of history.
Spend your weekend strolling the beach trying to find your own Ammonites and Belemnites (small mollusc fossils); visit Dinosaurland to see some of the most remarkable relics; and pop into the town’s museum to learn about local Mary Anning, the region’s most famed fossil hunter.
Other attractions include boat trips to spot dolphins, beautiful coastal trails such as the Church Cliff Walk, and enjoying freshly-caught fish and chips in a traditional pub. The Town Mill – an ancient watermill – is a hotspot of creativity with independent boutiques, a gallery and even a microbrewery.
Lyme Regis is packed in summer and school holidays, but if you visit in the off-season, you’ll find a more idyllic setting. Book in advance to secure a unique beachside chalet stay – those uninterrupted views will make your weekend break in South England even more memorable!
Contributed by Daniel James Clarke from Dan Flying Solo
Together In Transit Tip: Visit the Dorset Upside Down House with easy entry tickets
It’s the journey to Cornwall that puts many people off for a short weekend trip, even after you’ve arrived in Cornwall it’s still another 70 miles to Penzance. However, the fabulous Nigth Riviera Sleeper train from London to Penzance makes a weekend trip to Cornwall the perfect getaway.
Get a decent night’s sleep arriving in Penzance at 8 am in time for a perfect weekend away. Drop your overnight gear at the fabulous Hotel Penzance and head out to St Michael’s Mount to explore this glorious castle on an island.
Enjoy Cornish pasty from Warren’s Bakery while exploring Penzance’s glorious Morrab Gardens and then in the evening settle into the Admiral Benbow – a 17th-century inn with a few quirks.
Wake up refreshed and take the hour-long local bus to Land’s End, you’re so close it’s almost rude not to! There’s heaps to explore there, and the cliffs are stunning. It’s a perfect location for one of these Weekend Destinations in Southern England for those who want to enjoy the views and fresh air.
Don’t miss the opportunity to walk at least a little of the famous South West Coast Path before heading back to Penzance for a traditional fish and chip supper before catching the overnight sleeper train back to London.
A perfect Cornish weekend away! You’ll need to book your train and accommodation about 2 months in advance, more during holiday periods.
Contributed by Sarah from Cornwalls Best
Weymouth is a lovely beach town in Dorset in Southern England. The long stretch of golden beach and a picturesque harbour has secured Weymouth a spot among Europe’s top ten beach destinations. Lively marketplace, Dorset Michelin Star Restaurants, delicious local food stalls and architecturally beautiful buildings make this a favourite weekend destination of the Brits. Its happening destination has no shortage of activities and things to explore. The streets of the town are decorated with beautiful Georgian-style buildings. The harbour is almost a postcard-like view with beautiful pastel-coloured houses. Enjoy a beach day by lounging on the rental deck chairs or swimming in the water. Watersports like Stand-Up Paddleboarding, sailing, kayaking, windsurfing etc., are famous here. Visit the Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park to witness the fascinating aquatic life of this region. The historical Nothe Fort is a must-visit for any tourist. St. Catherine’s Chapel is another monumental town site with great historical importance. Rent a bike or hike on one of the many walking trails to explore the place from within. The town centre is a bustling marketplace with shops ranging from high-end boutiques to local sellers selling traditional items. Accommodation options are plenty, but be sure to get a prior reservation if visiting during summer.
Contributed by Ruma from The Holiday Story
Located along the southern coast of England is the unofficial LGBT capital of the United Kingdom: Brighton. This coastal city is known for its lively atmosphere, beautiful beach, and abundant street art. There’s even a Banksy mural right near the train station on the side of the Prince Albert Pub.
You’ll find wonderful cafes and restaurants throughout Brighton, where you can enjoy a tasty breakfast to fuel you for your day of adventuring. There are also plenty of opportunities to shop in The Lanes, a series of streets in Brighton that contain both brick-and-mortar shops and open air markets with vendors selling jewellery and other gifts.
No trip to Brighton is complete without heading to the seaside. Try to visit on a weekend with nice weather so that you can swim, enjoy an ice cream, and soak in the sun on Brighton’s pebbly beach. Those who are traveling with families can also make their way to the Brighton Pier, which is packed with rides and arcade games to keep kids busy for hours.
If you want to get a bird’s-eye view of the city, take a flight on the i360, located right on the beach. This pod-like ride takes visitors high up over the city, from which you can enjoy the sunset and even a glass of champagne, if you want.
Choose a hotel near the waterfront, like the Leonardo Royal Hotel Brighton Waterfront, for the best access to everything the city has to offer.
Contributed by Amber from Amber Everywhere
Together In Transit Tip: Take a local Brighton tour or activity with easy access tickets!
With its charming waterfront, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture, Falmouth is a wonderful weekend destination for visitors looking to explore the southern coast of England. It’s a perfect location for one of these Weekend Destinations in Southern England!
You can take a leisurely stroll through the atmospheric streets of this beautiful coastal town, explore the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, or catch sight of the stunning views of the harbour below. Adventure-seekers can explore Falmouth’s cliff-top paths with spectacular views, enjoy sailing tours on the River Fal or go surfing or kayaking in the crystal-clear waters of Gyllyngvase or Swanpool Beach. But don’t fret if you’re looking for something more peaceful; the tranquil Pendennis Castle, built during the reign of Henry VIII, offers spectacular estuary views, inviting picnic areas, and impressive architecture. Museums and art galleries that showcase Cornish heritage are also aplenty, providing a safe haven for history and culture buffs.
Those looking for a quintessentially Falmouth experience, should not miss these two annual events: The Falmouth Oyster Festival and the Falmouth Beer Fest. Both are fantastic ways to sample some delicious local cuisine and drinks while also enjoying music, entertainment and activities set against a stunning backdrop.
Accommodation options range from luxury hotels with stunning views of the harbour to more budget-friendly hostels and holiday homes. Additionally, there are several glamping sites and charming cabins (tested and approved!) located in nearby countryside locations, giving visitors even more choices when it comes to their stay.
With plenty to engage the senses on your visit, Falmouth promises to be a tourist destination you’ll want to include in your itinerary.
Contributed by Goya Galeotta
Arundel is a small market town on the edge of the South Downs. It is famous for its medieval castle which dates from 1607 and sits majestically on a hill overlooking the town. The castle is still the seat of the Duke of Norfolk but it is open to visitors from April to the end of October (except for in August, on Monday, and bank holidays). Tickets can be bought online or on the gate. After wandering around the castle and its gardens why not climb to the top of the hill to see the roman catholic cathedral.
In addition to historical sights there are also many pretty streets and local shops to browse both along High Street and Tarrant Street. For lunch try the Juniper café. For dinner the Parson’s Table and Butlers are two of the most popular options so make sure you book in advance.
For an afternoon to remember, do an English sparkling wine tasting at Digby Fine English where you will get to try several Digby sparkling wines and learn about the production process.
The Norfolk Arms Hotel on High Street has a great location right in the centre of town. The train station is a 15-minute walk away. Trains leave from London Victoria for the one-and-a-half-hour journey to Arundel making it a perfect weekend destination to visit in the south of England.
Contributed by Kristin from Scotland Less Explored
In the southwest of England, the County of Devon is a fantastic destination for a weekend break. Devon has plenty of things to do for visitors on a weekend away from the beautiful beaches of The English Riviera in south Devon to medieval towns and the craggy cliffs and moorlands of Dartmoor National Park. Whatever your interests Devon will not disappoint you.
For a weekend away you can choose from luxury hotels with full spa facilities, cheap bed and breakfasts to just get some sleep and a shower or camping in Devon which is always fun to get outdoors for a weekend. Depending on your budget, you will find plenty of accommodation options all throughout the county.
Kents Cavern is a must see on any visit to Devon. The prehistoric caves have amazing geological formations and are known as one of the most important stone age sites in Europe. It was the site at which the oldest human fossil was found in northern Europe dating back over 41000 years! Kents cavern is open all year round and it’s cheaper to book your tickets online in advance.
For adventurous types walk the Jurassic coastline along part of the south west coastal path and take in the fantastic views over the English Channel. Perfect for one of these Weekend Destinations in Southern England!
Contributed by Stephanie from Book It Let’s Go!
Together In Transit Tip: Enjoy some local Devon activities or a tour here!
Salisbury in Wiltshire is the ideal place for a weekend break. A thriving medieval city of half-timbered buildings around a large town square, it is also blessed with a multitude of things to do.
Most visitors head to Salisbury Cathedral, famous for having the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta and the tallest spire in the country, which you can climb on a special guided tour (book in advance for this one as they can sell out fast). The largest cathedral close in the country is also home to two museums and two houses open to visitors. You can even stay inside the Close at the budget priced Sarum College, which has sweeping views over the cathedral.
On the edges of the city is Old Sarum, a Roman fort which still has the remains of a Norman castle and beautiful views over the landscape. A mere 20 minutes away is Stonehenge, which features on many a traveller’s bucket list – take the Stonehenge bus from the train station for an easy journey.
It’s not all about the history though as there are plenty of shops, restaurants and pubs which cater to all tastes, as well as two cinemas and a theatre. Surrounded by countryside and filled with parks there are some excellent places for walking and exploring, making it the ideal place for a weekend break, whatever your interests.
Contributed by Sarah from Slow Travel
Isle of Sheppey
The Isle of Sheppey is a hidden gem that makes a great weekend trip from London. Even if it’s a very small region, the Isle of Sheppey is home to two natural reserves, one of the which, the Swale National Reserve, is freely accessible to the public. The second one, Elmley National Reserve is private land which you can visit if you book ahead. You can also stay here overnight, for a unique experience, in one of the charming pods in the reserve, undisturbed from any city noises.
The Isle of Sheppey is important as this is where the River Thames flows into the sea. From Sheerness, one of the many seaside towns in Kent, you can see the river meeting the English channel.
The Isle of Sheppey is a great destination for a peaceful weekend trip spent in nature, as there aren’t that many things to do here other than walking and exploring the local fauna and flora. You can observe here different types of birds in their natural habitat, small reptiles and mammals. A town worth exploring is Minster-on-the-Sea, where you will find Minster Abbey, once one of the largest monasteries in England.
If you like watersports, you should know that the Isle of Sheppey is a popular place for sailing. The local sailing club in Sheerness organises different events as well as cadets classes.
Contributed by Joanna from The World In My Pocket
Without a doubt one of the best locations to visit in Southern England is Looe. Located in south east Cornwall and near the city of Plymouth, Looe truly is a beautiful place to visit.
Whether you fancy grabbing a traditional Cornish Pasty or walking along the East Looe Rover, there’s absolutely loads to do! One of the best things you can do is walk down Fore Street where you can admire the beautiful buildings and pop in and out of the local shops. You’ll end up East Looe beach where you can choose to sunbathe, grab a cold one from the Admiral Boscarn or carry on walking!
However, if you’re visiting with family, make sure to pop into the Riverside Amusements Arcade. Now let your children run wild with a pocket full of 2p’s and 20p’s! Also make sure to grab some homemade Cornish ice creams that come in tons of yummy flavours!
If you’re looking to stay then why not check out the Hannafore Hotel which is perfectly located across the estuary and has great views over the town. The best way to get here is by car as the train and bus take a lot longer and not directly into the city.
Contributed by Alex and Leah from The UK Wanderers
For a great weekend visit in England, make your next trip to the location of Southampton. It’s easily reachable from many travel hubs, such as only being 1.5 hours away from London by train. By car, Southampton is an easy 1 to 1.5 hour drive from cities such as Bristol, Bath, Oxford and more. It’s also easily reachable from the beautiful Isle of Wight with a 45min boat trip.
The first thing that comes to mind about Southampton is the shopping. There are two huge, indoor shopping malls in the city centre, one called Marlands and the other called Westquay. These are both perfect for those who love a shopping trip. You can find all top brands here but the best part is that there are lots of local boutiques that you would not necessarily find elsewhere.
If you end up visiting while its raining and don’t want to shop, head to a local museum. Southampton is known as the place where the Titanic left the port, with the Titanic Story being a perfect place to stop at if you want to learn more about the history. Other museums include the Solent Sky Museum, SeaCity Museum and The Brickworks Museum. Get tickets in advance for some local events and activities too!
Once you get hungry, you can head to one of the cheap eats at the top of the Westquay Shopping Centre, where you can find all the usual take away and snack places. Else a personal recommendation is to reserve a table at the Coriander Lounge Indian Restaurant. It is one of the best Indian restaurants I’ve personally enjoyed in England.
For a relaxing stay after a long day, sleep at the Leonardo Royal Southampton Grand Harbour hotel. It’s just a 15 minute walk from the city centre and have large rooms and lots of daylight. The room I personally stayed in was also very clean with a comfy bed, just what you need after a long day.
Perfect for a Weekend Destinations in Southern England!
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is the perfect weekend destination for many reasons, such as the island having lots of local activities, events and parks for families to enjoy. Else for the gorgeous hiking routes and superb local restaurants for a local treat, such as the Spyglass Inn in Ventnor.
Some top places for all to enjoy is to Osborne House, once the Royal home to Queen Victoria, which can be explored all year round. The gardens are exceptionally beautiful during Easter. There is also Carisbrooke Castle, once an artillery fortress but now a historical spot with shows, dungeon tours and even a friendly donkey as their main resident.
For those who prefer more adventure, hike or mountain bike one of the many routes across the island. Find yourself also speeding in the water in a rib-adventure boat at Alum Bay or kite surfing along Compton Beach.
For a cute place to stay and central to the island, I have stayed at many places but Goshens Farm B&B comes to mind as the best place for those that want somewhere to rest after a long day. It’s also the perfect start to the day with breakfast freshly served (with lots of choice) at a time of your choosing.
In short, there is so much to do on the island that just visiting for Easter is not enough to experience everything! Perfect for a Weekend Destinations in Southern England!
Make sure to book in advance for some tickets and activities, as busy weekend days will sell out in the busy seasonal weekends!
British Isles – Island Inspiration!
Did you know that both Jersey and Guernsey are in the South of the United Kingdom, but are officially part of the British Isles. Both are British Crown Dependency, which is a territory that is self-governing but is not part of the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth Realm. That means that both Jersey and Guernsey have their own government, legal systems, and taxation, but their defense and foreign affairs are the responsibility of the UK government.
Read on to see why these two are perfect weekend destinations not far from Southern England:
Take a short flight from England’s south coast to Jersey in the Channel Islands – a truly wonderful place to visit for a short break. While Jersey is not part of the UK, it is a British island, so you won’t have any language barriers or exchange rates to worry about, but you will feel like you’ve been abroad!
The best things to do in Jersey include visiting the island’s impressive castles, taking a trip to the Jersey War Tunnels, enjoying Jersey’s outstanding beaches and eating out. Whether you’re looking for fine dining, seafood, or the chance to grab delicious Thai food from a beach shack, Jersey has you covered!
For a real buzz, book an exhilarating RIB trip to the Les Ecrehous reef to see dolphins, seals and porpoises, or a low tide guided walk with Jersey Walk Adventures, one mile out to sea along the undulating seabed to Seymour Tower – an isolated 18th century fort, usually surrounded by the sea! You’ll need to book both in advance as they are very popular.
Stay at the Grand Hotel in St Helier to be close to transport links and great restaurants, or the St Brelade’s Bay Hotel on the best beach in the island, for a real touch of luxury.
Contributed by Coralie from Grey Globetrotters
Guernsey is the perfect destination for an island getaway with ferry sailings from the UK as short as 3 hours, and flight times as little as 40 minutes.
Guernsey is an island in the Channel Islands and is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a British Crown Dependency. Guernsey boasts a warmer climate than the UK with longer Summers and milder Winters.
There is plenty to do in Guernsey, including a visit to the capital; St Peter Port, a dip in La Valette Bathing Pools, or a trip to visit the Little Chapel. The beaches are just breathtaking and quiet, with crystal clear waters, secluded covers and glittery white powdery sand. Top beaches include Coco Bay, Port Soif Bay, Fermain Bay, and Grandes Roques. Whilst you are there you can choose from wild swimming, kayaking, surfing, or paddleboarding around the sheltered bays.
During your stay you could island hop to the Island of Herm or Sark. Island hopping is highly recommended and really straightforward, you can catch a ferry from St Peter Port (booking advisable in the Summer as the ferries do get busy). Herm is just 20 mins away and offers spectacular beaches. Sark is a short boat ride away and transports you back in time, with no cars, and horses and carriages or tractors to get around the island.
Camping in Guernsey is a dream – you need to stay at a registered campsite and these include Les Fauxquets Valley, La Bailloterie, Le Vaugrat or Beaucette Marina, or Le Vaugrat registered campsite for caravans. Les Fauxquets Valley has a swimming pool making it an ideal choice for families. Alternatively there are plenty of accomodation options including self catering accommodation, or one of the many hotels on the island.
Contributed by Katy Stern from Otis and Us
Summary Of Our Weekend Destinations in Southern England
So as you have seen, this list is quite an inspiration on Weekend Destinations in Southern England that you can visit, either alone, with friends or loved ones. Not to forget your furry four-legged friends too!
These are all great idesa for anyone looking for a quick escape to beautiful countryside, historic landmarks, and stunning coastal scenery. There is truly something for everyone!