One of my friends from Paris called me last week as she was trying to organise a girls’ weekend away in the UK. ‘Where should we go? And please don’t say London. We’ve already been there 3 times! We want to go somewhere different.’
Whilst London is a popular destination for a short break, there are so many other lovely places to go for a girls’ weekend away in the UK. From city breaks to country escapes, the UK is the perfect place for a weekend getaway with your friends. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next break, here are five of my favourite, tried-and-tested destinations for a girls’ weekend away in the UK.
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Why visit? With its Roman ruins, quintessential tea rooms and honey-coloured buildings, a weekend in Bath will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Jane Austen novel. And let’s not forget about the fabulous Thermae Bath Spa.
What to do:
There is so much to see in Bath but luckily the centre is quite compact so you can fit a lot into a weekend trip. Wander through the city centre and you’ll pass quite a few well-known attractions, including the historic Roman Baths, the beautiful Bath Abbey and the iconic Pulteney Bridge. If you’re a Jane Austen fan then don’t miss the Jane Austen Centre where you can learn more about one of Bath’s most famous residents.
Pop into one of the many quirky tea rooms for afternoon tea before heading up to the Circus and the Royal Crescent, two of Bath’s most impressive architectural landmarks. Whilst you’re there take a stroll through Victoria Park and see the botanical gardens.
For a fabulous view of the city, walk up to Bathwick Meadow. It’s a short walk from the centre with a slight incline but you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping panorama of the city. If you have time then carry on along the Bath Skyline Walk. It’s a 6 mile route through woodlands and meadows but there are lots of footpaths for shorter routes.
If you’re short on time but want to see all the main sites, consider booking a guided tour. There are lots of walking tours available as well as the hop on and off bus which is a really fun and easy way to explore the city.
A girls’ weekend in Bath wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Thermae Bath Spa, Britain’s only natural thermal spa. They have a wide range of treatments and packages, including my personal favourite, The Twilight Package. If you just want to use the facilities then you can opt for the Thermae Welcome, a 2 hour spa session for £36 (Monday to Friday) which includes access to the rooftop pool.
Where to eat:
Bath has no shortage of lovely places to eat. Sally Lunn’s is one of the most well-known tea rooms in Bath and visitors from all over the world flock to this famous café to try the Sally Lunn bun. It’s a delicious secret recipe so be prepared to queue! The Bath Bun and the Regency Tea Room are two of my favourite tea rooms and are definitely worth a try if you are in Bath.
For a special evening meal try Sotto Sotto. It’s a romantic little restaurant serving fresh, authentic Italian dishes and is located in a candlelit stone cellar.
Bath has plenty of luxury hotels, grand guesthouses and chic apartments to suit every budget. We stayed at the Francis Hotel, a beautiful Grade 1 listed hotel made up of seven original 18th century townhouses. Bath Spa railway station is only 90 minutes by train from London. National Express also runs frequent coaches from London Victoria Coach Station and the fastest journey will get you there in just 2 hours 20 minutes.
Why visit? The Cotswolds is one of England’s prettiest regions, filled with picturesque villages and market towns just begging to be explored. You’ll find gorgeous gardens and elegant stately homes here too. Rent a cute cottage and enjoy the country lifestyle for a weekend.
What to do:
The Cotswolds is a huge area spanning five counties but the majority of its quaint villages and towns are in Gloucestershire which is where I grew up. Castle Combe and Bibury have become extremely popular thanks to Instagram so opt for some of the lesser known towns such as Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Camden, Painswick and Tetbury.
Step back in time by visiting some of the historic National Trust properties dotted throughout the Cotswolds. My favourites are Chastleton House, Hidcote Manor Gardens and Newark Park. If you have time spend an afternoon exploring some of the Cotswolds prettiest gardens such as Highgrove Royal Gardens and Painswick Rococo Gardens. Westonbirt Arboretum is also a must see especially during autumn.
For beautiful views of the unspoilt countryside, head to Broadway Tower or Crickley Hill for sweeping views over the Cotswolds rolling green hills.
Where to eat:
The Cotswolds is a foodie’s heaven so you really are spoilt for choice. Head to one of the farmers’ markets where you can sample some of the Cotswolds best local produce. Stroud Farmers’ Market has won lots of awards and is a great place to go on a Saturday morning. Pick up some of the local delicacies like Double Gloucester cheese and Gloucester Old Spot pork before heading off on a picnic.
For something special, book a traditional afternoon tea at one of the Cotswolds’ grand hotels. Tortworth Court in Wotton-under-Edge is nestled in the picturesque countryside and provides the perfect setting for a girlie afternoon tea. If you’re visiting Bourton-on-the-Water then visit The Rose Tree, a family run restaurant on the water which serves home-cooked food. It’s one of my favourite restaurants in the Cotswolds as the food is always full of flavour and the setting has so much character.
Another favourite of mine is the Weighbridge Inn in Minchinhampton where they serve the 2 in 1 pie – it’s definitely something you need to try on a trip to the Cotswolds!
There are bus and train stations in Cheltenham, Stroud and Gloucester but the easiest way to see the different villages is by car. From hotels to holiday cottages, there are so many lovely places to stay in the Cotswolds. There are lots of spa hotels such as Calcot Manor Hotel and the Cotswolds Water Park. If you fancy something a bit different, Daylesford Organic Farm has some beautiful self-catered cottages which have a real rustic charm. Daylesford itself is definitely worth a visit. It has a lovely organic farm shop, a wonderful spa and also runs fun cookery classes!
Why visit? Medieval streets, secret alleyways and a world-famous castle, Edinburgh is nothing short of enchanting. The Scottish capital is steeped in history but it’s also a leading festival city and knows how to throw a spectacular New Year’s Eve bash!
What to do:
Despite being quite compact, there is almost an endless list of things to see and do in Edinburgh. Walk down the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Park, listen to the bagpipes and admire the incredible architecture. Take a little detour down one of the narrow hidden alleys and get a glimpse of life back in the medieval days. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, make sure you visit the colourful Victoria Street. This curved, cobbled street is said to have inspired J. K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley and is lined with quirky independent shops and cafes.
The hilly capital has some wonderful viewpoints where you can really admire the architecture and design of the city. Visit the National History Museum and head to the rooftop for one of the best views of Edinburgh Castle. Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat offer panoramic views of the city and are two of the best spots to watch the sun rise and set.
For a bit of tranquillity, head to the picturesque Dean’s Village which is only 10 minutes from the bustling city centre and is one of the cutest spots in the city.
Where to eat:
From Michelin-starred restaurants to trendy cafes, Edinburgh’s food scene is diverse and vibrant. The Bon Vivant serves a delicious and homely Sunday Roast, and the salt fudge ice cream is far too good to be true. If you’re a fan of Mexican food then you’ll love El Cartel. They serve freshly made, authentic Mexican street food as well as an exciting range of cocktails – perfect for a girls’ weekend away!
If you’re looking for a restaurant with a view then you really can’t beat the Tower Restaurant. Located above the National Museum of Scotland, you can enjoy a glass of prosecco and a delicious menu whilst soaking up the views. They also do a wonderful brunch from 10am to 12.30pm.
Edinburgh’s international airport is only a 30-minute tram or bus journey from the city centre. If you prefer to go by train Edinburgh has several train stations. The main two are Waverley and Haymarket. The train journey from London is very scenic and only takes 4.5 hours.
There are so many lovely places to stay in Edinburgh regardless of your budget and tastes. Stockbridge is only a short walk from the city centre and has some cool Air BnBs (plus the picturesque Circus Lane is very close by – an Instagram favourite!) If you’re looking for luxury then I highly recommend The Caledonian. We stayed there on a deal and loved the old-fashioned glamour and elegant décor.
Why visit? Home to Durdle Door and Old Harry’s Rocks, Dorset has some spectacular and unspoilt scenery. Enjoy beautiful cliff walks along the Jurassic Coast, explore historical castles, and relax on sandy golden beaches. All in one weekend!
What to do:
Get up early and head to Durdle Door before the crowds descend. Make the most of the morning light and the peace and quiet at one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks before walking along the coast to Lulworth Cove.
Pay a visit to Lulworth Castle. Built in the 17th century, this beautiful castle has a rich history worth exploring. It also has spacious grounds and lovely woodland walks, as well as the Castle Tearoom where you can enjoy some delicious cream teas and other treats. For a panoramic view over the pretty Purbeck countryside climb up the tower and don’t forget your camera!
Explore the quaint village of Corfe and wander down the pretty streets lined with independent shops, tearooms and pubs before visiting the romantic ruins of Corfe Castle. Perched on a hill, the castle is a dramatic site and is one of my favourite castles in the UK.
Head to Studland and walk down to Old Harrys Rocks where you can admire these amazing white chalk formations. Photos don’t do them justice so don’t miss them on a trip to Dorset. You can also book a Jurassic Coast cruise with City Cruises Poole and see the rocks from the sea.
Where to eat:
Being so close to the sea, it’s hardly surprising that Dorset has some of the best fish and seafood restaurants in the UK. If you’re in Lulworth then try the Boat Shed Café. Situated on the edge of Lulworth Cove, it’s a lovely place to enjoy breakfast or lunch whilst admiring the views out over Lulworth Cove.
If you’re staying in Weymouth The Ship Inn is a lovely harbour side pub in the heart of Weymouth. If you’re after something a bit quirky then try the Nautico Lounge. It’s located on the high street inside a former post office. It has a fun, colourful vibe and serves a wide variety of dishes.
Dorset is a large county so plan what you want to see and then decide where to stay. We used Weymouth as a base and were able to get to most places easily by taxi or public transport. Weymouth’s train station is located in the city centre and you can easily walk to most hotels and guesthouses from there. There are lots of cosy B&Bs, hotels, holiday parks and self-catering cottages depending on your budget.
Why visit? Known as the birthplace of Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon is perfect for a cultural weekend away. Learn more about its most famous inhabitant on a walking tour, admire the cute thatched houses and spend an evening at the theatre, after all, all the world’s a stage!
What to do:
Spend the day exploring the town and visit some of the well-preserved buildings to get a glimpse into Shakespeare’s history. Make sure you don’t miss Anne Hathaway’s cottage. This is the former home of Shakespeare’s wife (not the actress!) and is one of the most picturesque cottage’s I’ve seen in the UK. Learn more about their love story and life together whilst strolling through the beautiful gardens.
There are lots of non-Shakespearean things to do in this pretty Tudor town too. Take a boat trip down the Avon or book onto a gin cruise to make your girls’ weekend away in the UK even more special. The Stratford Butterfly Farm is a lovely place to visit. You’ll find some of the world’s most beautiful butterflies here in a tropical paradise with waterfalls and fish filled ponds.
For a panoramic view of the town, head up the 104-foot tall Theatre Tower at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The view from the top over the historic buildings and surrounding landscapes is truly spectacular.
A weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the theatre. The Royal Shakespeare Company has three theatres in Stratford; The Other Place, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Swan Theatre. There is always something on but book in advance to make sure you don’t miss out. Lots of restaurants in the town have lovely pre-theatre menus which are very reasonable.
Where to eat:
The Opposition is my favourite restaurant in Stratford-upon-Avon and is only a short walk from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Known affectionately as the Oppo by locals, this bustling bistro has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and is perfect for pre and post theatre meals. The food is delicious and is made with local products.
Loxley’s Restaurant and Wine Bar is a cosy 2 floor restaurant with an open fire and a lovely terrace. It’s a great place for Sunday roasts. Located on the historic Sheep Street, it’s an ideal place for a pre-theatre meal.
You can reach Stratford-upon-Avon by coach or train but the easiest way is to drive. Trains do run from London Marylebone and take about 2 hours, although you can change at Leamington Spa which is a quicker alternative.
As a popular tourist destination, Stratford-upon-Avon has a vast selection of hotels, country inns and apartments to choose from. If you want something a bit different for your girls’ weekend have a look at Stratford Caravans’ riverside park. It has several unique and cosy glamping pods, including curved hobbit huts with cute oval doors. There is a river taxi service which can take you from the hut into the town and offers some picturesque views!
I hope this gives you some ideas for your next girls’ weekend away in the UK. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below!
Love from Steph
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