UK staycation spots that feel like being on holiday abroad

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Megan Murray
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Craigievar Castle in Scotland

These dreamy staycation spots may look like far-flung holiday destinations but you won’t have to board a plane to see them.

It’s still uncertain where we will be able to travel abroad this summer, but we have a hunch that once you see the jaw-dropping UK locations that look like they belong on the other side of the world, you might not bother jetting off anyway. 

From historic castles that look like they’re from a fairytale to picturesque coastal towns reminiscent of the Mediterranean, Britain boasts lots of beautiful destinations. 

And it is this fact, as well as the rise in the nation’s love of staycations, that inspired Sony Mobile to team up with Lonely Planet to publish a stunning photo series to show off staycation spots that you wouldn’t believe are right here in the UK. 

Holkham Beach.
Holkham Beach taken with Sony’s Xperia 5 II.

The gorgeous images are intended to provide 2021 travel inspiration and show off the capabilities of Sony’s Xperia 5 II smartphone which comes with a professional-quality triple lens camera and Photography Pro feature which brings Alpha™ technology.

So, while we might still be experiencing some April showers and cloudy days, use these amazing locations as inspiration for the coming months. Keep scrolling to see the full list of places to visit this summer in Britain that feel like being abroad.

Portmeirion taken on Sony’s Xperia 5 II.

Sony x Lonely Planet’s top destinations to visit this summer:

  • 1. Craigievar Castle, Alford, Scotland

    You might have already seen pictures of Craigievar Castle thanks to its Instagram-famous status as a favourite spot for travel bloggers to pose in front of. 

    And we can see why. This beautiful National Trust property looks like something out of a fairytale with pink walls and Sleeping Beauty-esque turrets. 

    The castle will re-open at the end of May, inviting visitors to experience an authentic tour, view artefacts and explore the gardens and woodland trails. 

  • 2. Portmeirion, Wales

    Portmeirion is an adorable tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village.

    Using an eco-friendly approach, Williams-Ellis modelled his architectural vision on a colourful Mediterranean piazza. He transported endangered buildings and unwanted artefacts from all over the globe to create a nest of loggias, grand porticoes and tiny terracotta-roofed houses, painted in bright hues.

    Not only is it an amazing place to see, there’s lots to do there, too. Visitors can wander between the colour-washed buildings, see the central piazza, explore the surrounding woodlands, visit historic cottages, gift shops, a spa and dine in award-winning restaurants. 

  • 3. Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isles of Scilly

    With palm trees, brightly-coloured flowers and sandy shores not far away, you’d be forgiven for mistaking Abbey Garden on Tresco Island for somewhere on the other side of the world.

    In reality, though Tresco is just 30 miles off the Cornish coast and is a family-owned island and UK tourist destination, which is home to an incredible sub-tropical garden. 

    Here you’ll find 20,000 plants from more than 80 countries, including the Mediterranean, Brazil, New Zealand, Burma and South Africa.

See the full list of UK destinations that feel like being abroad below:

  1. Craigievar Castle, Alford, Scotland
  2. Portmeirion, Wales
  3. Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isles of Scilly
  4. Oundle, Northamptonshire, England
  5. Benmore Botanic Garden, Strath Eachaig, Scotland
  6. Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) from the quieter Rhyd Ddu Path, Wales
  7. Howtown & Martindale, Cumbria, England
  8. Lincolnshire Wolds
  9. Holkham Beach, Norfolk, England
  10. Marshwood Vale, Dorset

And, if you’re looking for more inspiration on UK trips check out Airbnb’s trending staycation spots for this summer, the British cities that have been compared to Paris, New York and Amsterdam or our London city guide.

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Images: Getty / Instagram


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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.

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