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York, Cambridge and Wells among best UK staycation destinations

Best UK staycation destinations

York, Cambridge and Wells have come out on top in their respective categories for the best UK staycation destinations in new research findings from Which?

Which? members voted on the UK’s best towns and cities they had visited for leisure purposes in the past year and stayed in for at least one night.

York has been named as the UK’s favourite large city to visit in 2022, closely followed by Belfast and Edinburgh in second and third places respectively.

York scored highly in the Which? survey for cultural sights and food and drink while Belfast is the only large city to score five stars for its lack of crowds.

Meanwhile, the Scottish capital scored top marks for cultural sights, accommodation and food and drink.

NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YORK: Characterised by its iconic Gothic Minster with medieval stained glass windows, it’s no surprise that York scored five out of five stars for cultural attractions in this year’s survey. And it’s easy to while away a few hours strolling along the Shambles - a medieval street lined by independent shops and restaurants. 

York got the full five stars for food and drink and accommodation from Which? members and, with four stars for value for money, you’re more likely to get your money’s worth here compared with other cities in the survey. Other attractions include the National Railway Museum, the Jorvik Viking Centre and Spark York - a street food and arts centre shipping container project.

The university town of Cambridge was rated by Which? members as the best medium-sized city for a short break in the UK. Cambridge scored 81% overall and four stars for cultural sites.

In joint-second place were Canterbury and Winchester. Canterbury, however, was ranked as much better for accommodation than Winchester, scoring four out of five in this category.

NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CAMBRIDGE: Cambridge’s historic college buildings, with their well kept gardens, have no doubt contributed towards its four-star rating for cultural attractions. The best way to see the sights is to punt along the River Cam, which slices through the city centre past university buildings backing onto the willow-fringed banks.

King’s College Chapel, with its fan-vaulted ceiling, and Trinity College are particularly worth visiting. The Botanic Gardens are a plant-lover’s paradise all year round and art aficionados will enjoy a nose around Kettle’s Yard, the former home of artists Jim and Helen Ede, now a museum. Head to Mill Road for a choice of restaurants serving up dishes from all corners of the globe. 

Wells has been voted the best small UK city yet again by Which? members. Scoring the full five stars for lack of crowds, it’s the ideal place to find some peace and quiet while also enjoying value for money (rated four out of five stars).

Coming in close second is St Davids, followed by Bath. Both were rated highly for their accommodation options and cultural attractions.

Sitting on the central green perches, Wells Cathedral, an epic endeavour of ecclesiastical architecture, was raised as England's first Gothic cathedral between 1175 and 1490. Alongside runs Vicar's Close, one of the only intact residential medieval streets left in Britain, with the moated Bishop's Palace close by. It all adds up to the full five stars Wells received in our survey for cultural sights and attractions.

Better still, it's walkable: England's smallest city has a historic core that's hardly a mile wide.

Top 10 best UK large cities for a staycation

  1. York
  2. Belfast
  3. Edinburgh
  4. Liverpool
  5. Newcastle-upon-Tyne
  6. Glasgow
  7. London
  8. Bristol
  9. Cardiff
  10. Portsmouth

Top 10 best UK medium cities and towns

  1. Cambridge
  2. Canterbury
  3. Winchester
  4. Chester
  5. Harrogate
  6. Oxford
  7. Worcester
  8. Chichester
  9. Dundee
  10. Norwich

Top 10 best UK small cities and towns

  1. Wells
  2. St Davids
  3. Bath
  4. St Andrews
  5. Ely
  6. Stirling
  7. Durham
  8. Windsor
  9. Lincoln
  10. Stratford-upon-Avon

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