As wonderful as it can be to travel to a far-off destination overseas and experience new cultures, different languages and another climate altogether, there is no doubt that sometimes, a trip closer to home is what you want.
As surprising as it may be to learn, the UK itself has plenty of attractions that will make a perfect holiday – and will be perfect for those occasions when you don’t have the time or the money spare to take a longer trip.
Of course, we all know about the bigger cities and the famous tourist resorts, so for this post we're going to look beyond the obvious and find, for each part of Britain (and Northern Ireland), a place that you should be penciling into your plans for a future holiday. Rest assured, each of these destinations is well worth your time…
England: The Peak District
The county of Derbyshire is home to a surprising amount of exceptional scenery, and along with the Dales, this spectacular district is home to many of its standout spots. On the more touristy level, Chatsworth House is heartily recommended, while you'll also be enthralled by surrounding towns such as Matlock with its hilltop views, and Bakewell – which lives up to its name thanks to cake shops offering the famous tarts that bear the town's name.
As you cross the border into Scotland, aim for the East Coast of the Border region and you'll soon come to the county of Roxburghshire, and within it the town of Kelso. A small, unassuming town on the face of it, Kelso has a population of just over five thousand. It is, however, also home to the atmospheric ruins at Kelso Abbey, and to Floors Castle – a beautiful stately home with an enchanting walled garden.
The splendid isolation of Hensol in the Vale of Glamorgan has allowed the village's many wonders to remain a secret shared by those who have visited and loved it. The large gothic Hensol Castle is its standout feature, but the nearby lake is also an excellent destination for hikers – and after your walk, you can make use of a few gift vouchers to enjoy the facilities at the Vale. Just over 20 minutes away you’ll find Barry, an old-fashioned seaside resort that’s more than worth a visit.
Northern Ireland: Rathlin Island
If you really want to avoid the crowds, then a remote island with a population of 150 is a good place to do it. That’s 150 people, mind you, because on Rathlin you will be sharing the space with an exceptional range of seabirds. Most famously among its inhabitants, this island off the Antrim coast can lay claim to a healthy community of puffins – and if you want to take in a superb view, trek out to Fair Head – it's been rated among the best rock-climbing destinations in Ireland, and its vertical rock pillars are a geological wonder.
So there we have it – four varied destinations with a lot to recommend them. And best of all, you don't even have to pack your passport!