Two Close-to-Home Weekend Escapes in the UK

 

If you fancy a break but your budget and time is limited, why not look closer to home? Two places that are culturally cool, affordable and packed with entertainment include Cardiff and Bath, and both are located right in the UK. Here’s the lowdown on both!

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Bath, England

Bath sits in South West England, about 100 miles from London. It’s a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site with a fascinating Roman history, and city breaks to Bath consist of jam-packed itineraries full of arts, dining and entertainment.

The tower of the still-active Bath Abbey is over 150 feet tall!

The tower of the still-active Bath Abbey is over 150 feet tall!

What to Do:

Bath is a major entertainment hub with an abundance of theatres, museums and sports venues. One thing visitors must do is catch a performance at the Theatre Royal. Over 200 years old and capable of seating over 900 people, the Theatre Royal is one of the most important theatre venues in the U.K. Showing this summer/spring is “A Little Hotel of the Side” (15 -31 Aug.), “Another Country” (4-14 Sept.) and “The Private Ear and The Public Eye” (16-21 Sept.).

The area of Somerset is incredibly beautiful with its many farms, high limestone hills, and caves and rivers. Make the most of it and hire a car or catch public transport, and spend an afternoon wandering the countryside. From there, you can continue relaxing at the only thermal spa in the United Kingdom: Thermae Bath Spa. With water temperatures of 33.5 degrees Celsius, you can choose from two, four and full-day packages.

A woman floating in the soothing waters of the Thermae Bath Spa. Photo credit VisitBritain.

A woman floating in the soothing waters of the Thermae Bath Spa. Photo credit VisitBritain.

What to See:

Three of the most notable attractions in Bath include the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and Pulteney Bridge/Pulteney Weir. The Roman Baths are obviously one of the biggest drawcards as a former site for public bathing in Roman times, sitting six metres below street level. The baths are incredibly well preserved and give an insight to life in Roman times. Bath Abbey is another must-see, as it’s one of the few remaining examples of Gothic architecture in South West England. Pulteney Bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a prime example of Georgian architecture, having been built in the 18th century.

The historic Roman Baths are what gives Bath its distinctive name. Photo credit HeatherOnHerTravels.

The historic Roman Baths are what gives Bath its distinctive name. Photo credit HeatherOnHerTravels.

What to eat/drink:

You can’t go past the local produce from Bath farms, including vegetables, cheese and free-range meats. Also, you must have a crack at the traditional Bath buns; they are so much better than anything you’ll get outside of the area! In terms of what to drink, make the most of the two delicious local brews: Bath Ale and Abbey Ale.

Cardiff, Wales

It’s just hop, skip and a jump from England, but you will find Cardiff city breaks offer the chance to experience the completely different Welsh culture. Cardiff itself is a bustling city full of food and entertainment.

A sunrise over the boats of Cardiff Bay.

A sunrise over the boats of Cardiff Bay.

What to Do:

The capital of Wales features entertainment in the form of performing arts, festivals, partying and shopping. It has a great nightlife with an abundance of pubs and clubs. There are a number of concert venues in Cardiff, which attract some amazing local and international talent. These venues include the Motorpoint Arena and St David’s Hall. Cardiff also has a great line-up of annual festivals including the Cardiff Big Weekend, held over the summer and consisting of live music, food and carnival rides.

A rock band performing at the Cardiff Big Weekend music festival. CC SA.

A rock band performing at the Cardiff Big Weekend music festival. CC SA.

The Cardiff shopping scene is another major highlight. The best shops are found in the city centre around Queen and St Mary streets. The St. David Shopping Centre is particularly noteworthy, being one of the biggest shopping centers in the U.K. It’s so big that it even has its own team of paramedics.

What to See:

Cardiff is renowned as being home to the largest concentration of castles in the entire world. Some of the most impressive include Cardiff Castle, Castell Coch and St. Fagans Castle. If you’ve never experienced Wales before, it’s worth visiting the Welsh National Museum or the open-air St. Fagans National History Museum, which will give you a great overview of Wales through the ages. Other key attractions include Llandaff Cathedral and the Wales Millennium Centre. The latter is an arts hub that houses the national orchestra, theatre, dance and opera companies.

Tourists climbing up to the 11th century Cardiff Castle. CC SA.

Tourists climbing up to the 11th century Cardiff Castle. CC SA.

What to Eat/Drink:

Embrace Wales in its entirety and gorge yourself on Welsh cuisine. Some highlights of the area include roast lamb, cockles and laverbread (seaweed). These will be on the menu at the majority of Cardiff’s many restaurants. You won’t ever want for a drink, either, as there’s a Welsh watering hole on nearly every corner.

See all the articles, top ten lists and guides in our United Kingdom travel section.

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Lily White is a lifestyle blogger who lives in the small village of Bibury, England.