One of the best times to travel to the UK is during the European spring, from around March to May. This is when the weather is beginning to warm up and there is less rain compared to the much colder winter months. This is why some of the UK’s most famous events (such as Glastonbury Festival and Wimbledon) are held during this time. The pandemic has put a halt on many Australians’ overseas travel plans for the past few years. But now that UK travel restrictions have eased, it may be a great time to begin planning your next overseas holiday.
For many, the United Kingdom is synonymous with wet weather and grey skies. But this is only one small piece of the picture. Come spring, the countryside comes alive with flowers, and some of the area’s most famous gardens put on incredible displays for visitors. If you’re planning a holiday from Australia to the UK, travel in spring can make for some fabulous holiday memories. Read on to discover our top picks of the best tourist destinations to visit in the UK.
Cornwall gets first place on our list as it’s the first part of the UK to begin to thaw after a long, cold winter.
Cornwall is located in the south-west of Great Britain. It’s famous for its beautiful beaches, which are some of the best beaches in the UK. One of the best beaches for surfing in Cornwall is Fistral Beach in Newquay, where the Boardmasters surfing competition is held each year. There’s also Godrevy Beach, a rugged and dramatic area where you’ll find Godrevy Lighthouse, the real-life inspiration for Virgina Woolfe’s novel, To The Lighthouse; and Porthmeor Beach, an idyllic stretch of sand that is just a short walk from the centre of St Ives.
Aside from beautiful beaches, Cornwall also comes alive with colour during the springtime. You’ll find flowers everywhere – blooming wild beside the road or within one of the thirteen acclaimed ‘Great Gardens of Cornwall’.
Brighton Beach has long been a favourite seaside destination for people all over the UK. In the mid-1700s, sea bathing became a popular pastime, as it was believed to be good for one’s health (though an 18th century aristocrat’s idea of a dip in the ocean was very different to what we experience today). During the 18th century, Brighton began to welcome wealthy tourists who came to this little seaside town for their health. But it wasn’t until the Prince of Wales visited in 1783 that Brighton really grew from a small fishing village to the fashionable seaside resort town it is today. In 1787, the Prince commissioned the Marine Pavilion to be built. This became his seaside residence, and the building was expanded a number of times. It has become one of Brighton’s most famous tourist spots for its royal history and striking Indo-Islamic architecture – unlike anything else you’ll see in the area.
Other must-see tourist attractions in Brighton include the Brighton Palace Pier on Brighton Beach, the British Airways i360 Viewing Tower and The Lanes, Brighton’s historic quarter.
3. The Cotswolds
If you’re planning to travel to the UK, then the Cotswolds in England are a must-see destination. The Cotswolds could be described as one of the most quintessentially English areas in the UK. If your idea of England includes quaint, thatched-roof cottages, cosy pubs and green, rolling hills, then you need to see the Cotswolds for yourself. And there’s no better time to travel than in spring. With the days warming up, leaves turning green and the smell of spring flowers in the air, the Cotswolds has got to be one of the most idyllic places in the UK to explore.
Spanning more than 2000 square kilometres, the Cotswolds covers six counties across England and Wales. Some of the most wellknown villages and towns within the Cotswolds include Bibury, known as the ‘most beautiful village in England’; Castle Combe, which has been used as a film location in a number of movies; and Bourton-on-the-Water, which features a picturesque river that runs through the town.
Cambridge is most famous for its world-class university, which was founded in 1209 and is the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university.
One of the best reasons to visit Cambridge in the springtime is to enjoy punting on the River Cam, the main river that flows through Cambridge. With an experienced guide at the helm, you can enjoy a relaxing punt along the river and see Cambridge from a different viewpoint.
There is also the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, which is open 7 days a week and is home to more than 8000 species of flora. During spring, the Botanic Garden hosts the International Garden Photographer of the Year Exhibition, and you’ll be sure to see plenty of spectacular blooms as part of the exhibition and the gardens themselves.
Of course, as a university town, there is plenty to see and do no matter what the season. Cambridge is steeped in history, and there are loads of museums, art galleries and historical sites to visit that history buffs will love.
Like England, Scotland generally sees less rainfall in Spring than at other times of the year. And while a Scottish spring day is much more brisk compared to what most Aussies are used to (the average temperature in May is around 9°C in the capital, Edinburgh), spring is also much less muggy compared to a Scottish summer. And up in the Scottish Highlands, you should still be able to see snow capping the tops of mountains. This is what makes spring the best time to travel to Scotland.
Inverness, sometimes known as the capital of the Scottish Highlands, sits at the mouth of the River Ness, which flows into the infamous Loch Ness. Around the Loch Ness area you’ll find some of the darkest places in the UK – that is, there is little to no light pollution. This makes it an exceptionally great place for stargazing; and travelling in spring rather than summer means there are still plenty of hours of night in which to enjoy the incredible view.
Inverness also makes for a great place to travel from to see other famous parts of northern Scotland – such as the Isle of Skye, the Speyside Whisky Distilleries, Glen Affric, Cairngorms National Park and the Orkney Islands, where you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an adorable puffin in their natural environment. Puffins are migratory, so the only time you’ll be able to see them in Scotland is from around April to August.
6. Ards Peninsula
One of the best ways to travel in Northern Ireland is by car, as it offers travellers some truly breathtaking views. The Ards Peninsula in Northern Ireland stretches for 32 kilometres, and provides tourists magnificent views along the Irish Sea coastline. From Donaghadee, tourists can drive along the coast before the road eventually turns inland towards Portaferry. There are also a number of places to stop along this drive for tourists eager to explore the area’s history – such as Mount Stewart House and Gardens, originally built in 1820; and the impressive Killyleagh Castle in the town of Killyleagh, parts of which date all the way back to the 1100s.
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