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One thing I loved when I was living in London was how easy and cheap it was to get out of the city. Sure, London itself is fantastic, and I don’t think there was a single weekend in my years spent there that I wasn’t doing anything, because there is always something awesome going on, but sometimes the city can get a bit too much. After all, it is a hectic place, and with 8 million people in Greater London, sometimes you just want to escape. And that’s why I want to share five of the best weekend getaways from London with you today!
Budget airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir that connect London not only with other UK destination but also with mainland Europe make it so easy and inexpensive to spend the weekend somewhere else – even when I was on a lousy graduate salary I was able to escape the city every other month!
Five cheap weekend getaways from London
Edinburgh with its wonderful medieval architecture in the Old Town and grand Georgian houses in the New Town is one of my top three places in the UK. I have spent several weekend getaways in this Scottish treasure and am thinking about my next visit all the time. Going for a stroll on the Royal Mile up to the castle, hike up to Arthur’s Seat for the views over the city and the scenery around Edinburgh, go on a spooky cemetery tour at night and feel like you’re back in the 15th century – I dig it all. Not to mention the cozy pubs for a pint and the hearty Scottish breakfasts in the morning.
- Flight duration from London: 90 minutes
- Flights from: £39.99
Ah, Cornwall! This incredibly scenic slice of England, down in the far southwest of the island, with beaches that are sometimes even too pretty for people to believe they are in the UK! Newquay, albeit a surfing hot spot, still hasn’t lost any of its old-time English charm, with plenty of little tea houses that invite to stop for a scone and a cuppa. While Newquay is nice, it is also quickly explored, and I recommend venturing further into Cornwall on your weekend getaway – either with a rental car or by foot, hiking one of the many coastal hiking trails. Even though summer is obviously the best time to visit Cornwall, it is an absolutely gorgeous spot year-round.
- Flight duration from London: 1 hour 10 minutes
- Flights from: £37.34
It seems like I can’t stop gushing over this oh-so-picturesque city! Quaint tree-lined little streets that line a maze of canals that cut their ways through the city, imposing 17th century historic merchant buildings with hoists, the smell of fresh waffles that made their way into the Dutch cuisine from nearby Belgium, and yummy Dutch cheese – what’s not to like? Amsterdam feels downright relaxing compared to bustling London, (only if you can block out the hundreds of bicycles that whiz by you constantly, of course). There is just no better way to spend an evening strolling by the canals, crossing the lit-up bridges and finding a sidewalk café from which you can watch the boats glide up and down the canals. Add some art (the Rijksmuseum), history (Anne Frank House) and some quirkiness to the mix (the porn or the sex museum, for example), and you’re set to have a blast on your weekend in the Netherlands.
- Flight duration from London: 1 hour
- Flights from: £39.99
Newcastle, often overlooked as a bland city in northern England, has actually seen an amazing transformation over the past few years. I have always loved Quayside and the great architecture of the city, plus the fabulous Baltic Centre For Contemporary Art which I visited several times when I lived in nearby Durham. Newcastle itself doesn’t have a whole bunch of sights to offer – but it is noteworthy that the castle has just reopened after extensive renovations, and the views from the top are stunning – and yet, the city was recently voted the ‘UK’s best city’ by readers of the Guardian newspaper. I can’t quite put my finger on what makes Newcastle so special – a mix of the architecture, the river and riverside bars, the pub and club scene, and the friendly Geordies, I guess? – so you’ll have to go visit and find out for yourself!
- Flight duration from London: 75 minutes
- Flights from: £34.99
I admit, the flight time can be a bit off-putting for a weekend getaway to the Shetland Islands, but it’s definitely worth the trip on a long weekend. Leaving Friday for Sumburgh and flying back to London on Monday would give you two full days to explore these remote little islands, which are Scotland’s northernmost outpost. The rugged beauty of the green, treeless islands is simply stunning, and you can get a glimpse of what life is like in such a desolate northern location in the middle of the ocean. If you need more reasons to convince you to go to the Shetland Islands, check out the Daily Mail’s One Minute Guide To The Shetland Islands. The islands are best explored by car – just hop into a rental car straight at the airport and drive up north, taking in the incredible scenery around you.
- Flight duration from London: 5.5 hours
- Flights from: £118.98
What’s your favorite weekend getaway from London?