Best Short Breaks Near London: UK holiday guide
Get out of London for the weekend and explore the best attractions near the city with our guide to the best mini breaks in England.
Margate: Dreamland brings cool to this seaside town
Once a shabby seaside town, Margate has had quite the makeover. It is fitting that Tracey Emin's hometown now boasts a world class art gallery and a rejuvenated theme park. Dubbed Britain's answer to Ibiza and mentioned by Vogue, Margate has never been cooler. Best of all, it's only an hour and half train ride from St Pancras. Now, more than ever is the time to make the journey: this British summer belongs to Margate.
Essex: Grayson Perry & Constable's countryside
Think you've got Essex pegged? You'll be pleasantly surprised. It's well worth the short trip from London to explore out-there artist Grayson Perry's latest project, a whimsical Dream House that merges art, fiction and reality. And the for the traditionalists, rural Essex is where John Contsable's greatest art comes to life. Get your nature fix and explore the landscapes that inspired paintings such as The Haywain.
The Chilterns: mini break for families
Rolling chalk hills, our favourite zoo in the country, and an eccentric selection of family activities make The Chiltern Hills our top pick for taking the kids away. Around an hour North of London, spanning Herts, Beds and Bucks, we recommend driving through the Chilterns to get the best views of the scenery, spot the fabled chalk lion etched in the hills (and to dodge the death of public transport between the towns and villages when you're there).
The New Forest: wild ponies and eco-friendly feasts
In under two hours you can escape city life and get lost in the rustic woodland of the New Forest. The biggest draw is The Pig Hotel, which serves up freshly foraged feasts from a hidden away spot in the middd of the forest. Book early; the fully sustainable menu, all sourced locally, is hugely popular. Luckily there's no booking involved for the most majestic attraction of the New Forest: wild ponies roam free, and are guaranteed to enchant.
Further afield, but worth the journey: best England weekend breaks
North Norfolk: secret beaches and Michelin starred seafood
Vast stretches of sand, ancient ruins and quaint market towns make North Norfolk a delightful destination for those that want to get out of London for the weekend. Just three hours away from the big smoke you'll find serenity and open skies. And it's not just dramatic scenery; there's plenty of culture if you know where to find it, plus seafood restaurant that's been described as "a little slice of heaven".
Somerset: contemporary art and ancient ruins
Gone are the days when London had the monopoly on arts and culture. Intruigingly our favourite new contemporary gallery is tucked away in rural Somerset. Hauser & Wirth is a powerhouse of the most vibrant new art, and is surrounding by idyllic gardens with which no London gallery could compete. It's worth the two and a half hour trip from London for the art alone, but Somerset also boasts picture perfect scenery and historic sites to explore.