Over 65,000 people are expected to book a short break this Easter. With the current financial climate, UK cities and resorts are expected to attract more visitors, and many tour operators are pushing breaks to destinations that are close to home, within a two-and-a-half-hours drive.
London is a great place to visit and has plenty of attractions to offer not only the visitor, but also the resident. However, if you want to get away from London for an Easter break then you are spoilt for choice. The coast and countryside are not that far away, just jump on the North Circular and you're on your way.
If the weather is good (if may not be!) then a visit to the seaside makes for a great Easter break. Some of the best beaches in the south and east of England are at Bournemouth, West Wittering and Wells-next-the-Sea.
Bournemouth has seven miles of Blue Flag beaches and the town has invested heavily in its facilities. The area between the main beaches and the flower gardens has been pedestrianised, making it a good place to visit with the children. The sea is not far away even at low tide. Bournemouth also boasts all the attractions usually associated with a seaside resort such as a pier, a promenade, an award-winning playground and a
West Wittering on the other hand is managed by a conservation group which preserves the natural assets of the area. Sand dunes provide the perfect place for picnics and the grassy headland has wonderful views across the Solent to Chichester. At low tide the lagoons left in the sand provide perfect paddling pools for children.
Wells-next-the-Sea is a more offbeat destination. Despite the name, it is no longer next to the sea; in fact visitors have to take a mini train across the salt marshes to the beach, which is part sand and part shingle. However, it is worth the ride as here the visitor will find the brightly-coloured beach huts on stilts, an inspiration to many painters. The quayside is busy and children can fish for crabs. The area is good for swimmers, but the currents can be strong so look out for any warnings. At nearby Titchwell is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds most popular nature reserve. Binoculars can be hired on the site.
If you only have time for a short break, or want to stay close to home then try Brighton, Bath, the Isle of Wight or the New Forest. The historic city of Bath is Britains finest Georgian city with a wide range of museums, exhibitions, galleries and shops. Renowned for its beauty, Bath has over 5,000 listed buildings and includes Roman, Georgian and medieval architecture. Baths most famous resident was Jane Austen and a visit to the Jane Austen Centre lets you explore life during Regency times, with the help of guides in authentic costumes. You can also take the waters at the Pump Rooms or watch a demonstration of glass-blowing at the Bath Aqua Theatre of Glass. Near to Bath are the Standing Stones of Stanton Drew, the medieval castle of Farleigh Hungerford and Stonehenge.
The New Forest is a great destination for a short break and is only a short drive from London. Hotels in the New Forest offer short breaks with Easter egg hunts, cream teas and gala buffets. You can also rent cottages for short stays which include breakfast and evening meals and a complimentary Easter egg. The New Forest has many wonderful walks and is home to many listed buildings, ranging from small cottages to palatial mansions.
The Isle of Wight is also a popular destination and is just a short ferry journey from Portsmouth. The island has a relaxed atmosphere and over half of its area has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are plenty of holiday cottages that can be rented for short stays and as well as the beautiful, unspoilt scenery there are plenty of activities on offer such as walking, sailing, cycling and windsurfing. Despite its laid-back charm the island also has plenty of pubs, restaurants, galleries and historic homes.
Brighton can be reached from London in a little over 45 minutes. It is one of the most cosmopolitan of seaside towns in the UK. It has a vibrant nightlife and hundreds of restaurants. Combined with this are its curious and quaint Regency architecture, street cafes, pleasure pier and the unique and exotic Brighton Pavilion. There is a wide variety of holiday cottages around Brighton or you can stay at one of the many hotels. Not far from Brighton are the Sussex Downs where you will find the picturesque villages of Alfriston, Petworth and Lindfield. The famous gardens of Borde Hill, Leonardslee and Nymans as well as the historic houses of Parham, Great Dixter and Standen are also found in this area. Further afield are the castles of Arundel, Leeds and Hever and the historic towns of Royal Tunbridge Wells, Chichester and Lewes.
If you have a week to spend then you can venture further afield. Northumberland has some of the best beaches in North East England. Visitors can take boat trips to see puffins and seals on the Farne Islands and Holy Island (accessible by a causeway) is a must. The area is also home to Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick, made famous by Harry Potter films.
The Scottish Highlands also have much to offer; explore Skye, Cape Wrath and John OGroats, and at this time of year they are thankfully midge-free. Cruising along the Llangollen canal into Wales in a narrow boat makes for a memorable trip as you glide past lime cliffs, cross the 120ft high Pontcysyllte aqueduct and negotiate its 42 locks and the 1,377ft Chirk Tunnel. You can also stay on a farm in North Devon, rent a lighthouse in Norfolk, paddle a canoe through Hertfordshire or learn bushcraft in Yorkshire.
So where are you going this weekend? Are you driving? Let us know where you're going....