It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, at some point during the month we feel that financial pinch. When you’re planning a holiday, it’s often advised to double your budget and halve the time - often a kick in the stomach if you want to have a good break without spending too much. Luckily, there are people who understand our financial predicament and have kindly kept their prices low without skimping on quality, so that we can take a well-deserved holiday without having to live on bread and jam for the next few weeks. Enjoy Essential Travel’s list of the best UK Budget Holidays.
Imagine a gated city sitting between two adjoining rivers. The city has a history dating back to prehistoric times and has been a backdrop for numerous influential political events. Okay, now stop imagining. This city is York. It sounds like a place in the process of emerging from the pages of a dark fairytale, but not only does it offer a wealth of historic attractions, it’s also pretty reasonably priced.
Accommodation: You can stay in Bed and Breakfast accommodation at James College for just £30 per night. Don’t let the college part fool you. The beautiful green lawns and rivers make it quite a special place for travellers during holiday times.
Food: The Hairy Fig claims to sell York’s finest pork pies, and at £1.30 a pie, it's worth the gamble. Or for something a little more filling, Cafe No.8 Bistro’s steak and chips has been known to keep patrons full for days. At just £4.95, it certainly is a delicious bargain.
About 96 miles west of London lies a World Heritage Site that has come a long way in the history books. The City of Bath plays host to a multitude of theatres, museums and other significant cultural establishments. A tour of Bath is a bit like a very interesting history class, and you’ll leave with an abundance of knowledge along with a relatively full coin pocket - Bath is well known for their two for one city tours.
Accommodation: Once again, we’re in a university town and if budget accommodation is what you’re looking for, then university residences are perfect. At £30 per person for a standard room, you’ll be saving a lot of money. Or if you want to leave your university days behind, but still want to save money, then staying at a farm or inn might suit you better. Think baked bread, smouldering fireplaces in the winter, and swimming in the river in summer, all with the hospitality of the locals. Farmhouse bed and breakfasts are upwards of £60 for two people sharing.
Food: Best of British isn't just a deli selling organic, locally produced food with an emphasis on making everything delicious; it is also really cheap, an anomaly when it comes to healthy, organic food. With gourmet sandwiches sitting comfortably at £2.50 and a slice of quiche for just £3.25, it’s no surprise that this is one of the more popular Bath eateries.
One of the best features of Brighton is the opportunity to do quite a few activities for free. From visiting the scenic beaches to exploring a few of their 98 parks and gardens and taking a walk in the Sussex countryside; it’s a budget explorer’s dream. Of course, we can’t spend all our time outdoors, so for those rainy or cold days, you can visit Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, the Hove Museum and Art Gallery or the Brighton Fishing Museum. There’s a little bit of free fun for every kind of traveller and with the sea at your doorstep, your holiday is already off to a great start.
Accommodation: Many of the hotels in Brighton offer family rooms for up to five people for just £125. Self-catering accommodation places have comfortable rooms and chalets with stunning sea views. And if you’re looking for a real money-saver then self-catering is the way to go as prices start at a reasonable £29.
Food: If you enjoy a good plate of curry, you’ll love Planet India. The warm dishes are served up for just £4.50 and the starters are priced at a reasonable £2.
Belfast may be a small city, but it's home to many things - from the Irish linen industry and tobacco production to rope making and Harland and Wolff shipbuilders. While playing host to so many important production houses, it has learnt a thing or two about welcoming visitors with open arms. So whether you prefer shopping and down-to-earth dining, or unique cuisine and relaxing outside, Belfast is a city that fits all your tourist desires. And if you’re a party lover, fear not, the powers that be have thought of you too - there are many nightclubs that allow you to dance right into the morning.
Accommodation: Ibis Belfast Queens Quarter offer rooms for two people at just £50. The three-star hotel is situated within minutes of the hub of the city and is tastefully decorated, with wooden floors and modern furnishings.
Food: Build a Burger is probably every fast food lover’s dream. You can literally build a burger. It starts with a choice of four buns, and then a choice of four burger patties. Before you know it, you’re having to choose between hundreds of sauces and toppings. Okay, maybe not that many, but it's a lot. You can get all of this and chips for just £5. (If this article stops in the middle of a sentence, you know where to find me.)
If you’re looking for something a little more health-conscious, there’s a delicious salmon salad, amongst other options, at the charming John Hewitt Bar . With all the trimmings of a traditional pub (solid dark wood, a polished bar and good-natured food and drink lovers), John Hewitt is a winner. The food sits in the £5 to £8 range.
The gift of Cornwall is wrapped by 300 miles of coastline and tied, not with your average bow, but with a peninsula tumbling into the magnificent Atlantic Ocean. And with all the trimmings of a bustling beach destination - from busy fishing harbours to clear waters - it’s no surprise that Cornwall is popular for surfing and a variety of other water sports.
Or if you prefer to be on solid ground, Heartland Amusement Park is one of the places you have to visit. The chances of finding a free amusement park anywhere in the world are pretty unlikely - especially one with tunnels, slides and a shipwrecked boat. But in Cornwall, that’s not all though - The Camel Trail, Falmouth Art Gallery and Roskilly’s Ice Cream Farm are all awesome. And free. Did I mention that?
Accommodation: Cottages in Cornwall are incredibly popular, and fairly reasonably priced. Tideway is one of the best cottages in Cornwall. With pubs,shops and the beach within walking distance and a garden and a pool to enjoy, it’s easy to understand why. It’s a bit more expensive than other Cornwall cottages but it still only adds up to about £30 per person.
Food: I first wanted to include Porthmeor Beach Cafe because their menu made my mouth water. And when I checked their prices, I did a mental fist pump; it turns out their prices are good too. They’re big on breakfasts with plates of scrambled egg, bacon, pancakes and baked bread continuously coming out of the kitchen. Their lunch menu ranges from grilled fish, chips and vegetables to a wide selection of tapas. Not bad considering their prices are all under £10.
Relish in Wadebridge is another popular cafe. Their menu items scream independent deli - from homemade soup with bread to Thai fish cakes with Thai dipping sauce and salad, it certainly does sound appetising.
Norfolk seems to have it all; clear coastline, interesting nature reserves, incredible wildlife, market towns and seaside resorts. Yep, every important tourist criteria was just ticked off. How can a place that has so much to offer be a budget destination? I guess the people in Norfolk aren’t just in it for the money, they genuinely want people to come and enjoy their picturesque county. If that isn’t enough to entice you, then maybe Britain's Magical Waterland will do the trick.
Accommodation: The Travelodge Great Yarmouth Acle won’t be the Hilton Hotel, but provides a decent room at £30 per night. With pubs just down the road and a garage on site, you won’t have to go far to get what you need. Or if you want peace and quiet and space to yourself, then a quaint cottage is the best option. In North Norfolk, four bedroom cottages can go for just £225 a week for four people. That works out to just under £10 per person per night, a definite bargain.
Food: Situated in Great Yarmouth Road, Norfolk, The Artichoke is, as described on their website, a quiet, rural, free-house pub. And they serve great food. A soup starter is around £3, but the real meal winner is their lambs' liver, sausage, bacon, mushrooms and saute onions, which costs £9.95. It may be a bit steep, but there's so much food that you can share it.
It’s not hard to understand why Pembrokeshire is the most popular coastal destination in Wales. It boasts the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the only coastal national park of its kind in the United Kingdom. Pembrokeshire has an abundance of great beaches, so now is the perfect time to visit. A beach holiday at budget prices? Count me in!
Accommodation: For just £25 you can find yourself in the comfortable, three-star Springwell Inn. This Bed and Breakfast is located directly opposite Pendine beach and even serves breakfast, lunch and supper at its Welsh Cottage Pub.
Or for an even cheaper deal, Bunkers Self Catering is ideal for big groups. It prides itself on its convenience for Hen and Stag Parties and at £20 per person per night, it’s easy to see why this is the go-to option for those wild nights.
Food: With breakfasts starting at £1.50, The Sound Café is one the most popular cafés in Pembrokeshire. Customers love their Thai-style fish cakes and linguine pasta with roasted vegetable sauce (a personal favourite of mine).
Dorset has a long history of human settlement; from the Romans who conquered the indigenous Celtic tribes, to the shire making Saxons of the 7th century, the charming area in the South West of England has come a long way. Receiving accolades like UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site for its 200 million year old shoreline and being slated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for its countryside, Dorset is a place best enjoyed with a good camera, a sense of adventure and a desire to learn more.
Accommodation: Booking at the right time is the best way to save. While many people think that booking early is best, sometimes taking the risk and booking at the last minute pays off. If you can book in the nick of time, you can sleep in four-star hotels for just £20. Many of them come with a catch that you have to stay for at least four nights, but at that price, I’d stay for a week.
Food: Town Mill Bakery doesn’t only make delicious, freshly-prepared food, but also has a charming quality about it that sees the informal bordering the alternative. These days, it’s cool to be simple and relaxed - an atmosphere echoed throughout the restaurant’s menu. Since they don't do plates, you can just grab a breadboard and help yourself to toast, eggs, muesli or pizza. Once this is done, you can enjoy your meal in a converted boatyard shed. At £5.75, being cool just became a whole lot cheaper.
The Peak District
Another surprise on the list. With all that the Peak District has to offer, you’d think that accommodation and food prices would be pushing the boundaries danced around by the rich and richer. Thankfully for us, this is not the case. Enjoy walks on the Monsal Trail or cycling around Rudyard Lake - arguably one of the most beautiful places in England. Rudyard Lake was created between 1797 and 1800 as a reservoir for the Caldon and Trent and Mersey canals. Today, it's used for rowing, fishing, mini boat cruises and for the more daring, swimming.
Accommodation: Pinewood Cottage in Ashover is a spacious, comfortable cottage just on the edge of the Peak District. It’s perfect for a family or a group of friends. And they even allow pets. With a charming garden featuring a pond and waterfall, the price of £130 for the week certainly sounds worth it. It’s a walk away from the local pubs and restaurants and with outstanding views, you’ll be walking the path quite often.
Food: In a tourist destination as popular as the Peak District, finding budget food is all about knowing the right places to visit, and then going at the right time. Village Green in Eyam is relatively new, and in a wanting to establish their business, they've made their prices seriously low for this area. Breakfast can be ordered for just £2.70, while sandwiches, pies and jacket potatoes come in at about £2.60.
While Liverpool has been in the shadow of its famous football team for many years, the city has its own set of accolades to be proud of. The first one is how long it’s been around for - since 1207. Secondly, it's produced more number one singles than any other city - from the Beatles to Gerry and the Pacemakers, Liverpool is the home of music, which explains why Guinness named Liverpool the Capital City of Pop. You can even visit the Cavern Club, the world-famous venue the Beatles played at in the 1960s. For culture enthusiasts, the World Museum is a must-see. And we haven't forgotten the night-time adventurers - Hardman Street caters to everyone.
Accommodation: Booking a hotel in Liverpool will set you back anywhere between £30 and £90 per night, depending on when you book and where you choose to stay. But cottages and guesthouses are significantly cheaper. You can get a holiday cottage that sleeps seven for just £80 per night.
Food: Most Liverpool bars and pubs have meal specials and reasonably-priced snack foods. Sandwiches are around £3.95, while burgers, fries and a drink are just £4.95. For a full on meal at a restaurant, you’re going to have to fork out a little extra.