Staycation ideas: The best national parks and caravan parks for your next trip away

Staycation ideas: The best national parks and caravan parks for your next trip away

While the international travel industry is starting to open up once again following the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, many Britons are still deciding to stay put this summer.

‘Staycations’ in the UK are becoming more and more popular, with lodge holiday firm Hoeseasons experiencing a booking every 11 seconds after Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted the ban on overnight stays away from home in June.

Meanwhile, research from CabinBookers found that a huge 90% of holidaymakers were planning to take a break on home shores once the Covid-19 lockdown was lifted.

If you live in London and you’re looking to escape the city for some much-needed fresh air after three months in lockdown, you should definitely consider a national park or caravan park for your staycation.

Here, we’ll round up the best of the UK’s national parks and caravan parks, so you can get booking!


The best UK National Parks for a staycation

England is home to 10 of the UK’s 15 glorious National Parks, meaning Londoners don’t have to travel too far to enjoy the best of what they have to offer.


1 The Broads

If you love being on the water as much as you love amazing rural views, then The Broads is for you.

It’s also one of the closest National Parks to London, via the M11 and A11 towards Norfolk and Suffolk.

Located between Norwich and Great Yarmouth, The Broads is the UK’s largest naturally protected wetland, meaning the wildlife is as spectacular as the scenery, too. 


Best things to do on holiday in The Broads

Given The Broads is home to more than 100 miles of lock-free waterways, unquestionably the best thing to do is a trip on a boat.

And when we say ‘trip’, we mean hiring one for a few days, or even a week.

The Broads has more miles of water than Venice, so you’ll need that time to truly explore everything this gem has to offer.


Distance from London

The Broads is 130 miles from London, around two hours and 30 minutes by road via the M11 and A11.


2 The South Downs

If your staycation desires are based around food, drink, vineyards, quaint market towns and chalky white cliffs, the South Downs is the place to head.

The South Downs is the closest National Park to London thanks to its 260-mile stretch of chalk hills that start in Hampshire and finish in East Sussex.

The location of the South Downs also makes it a great spot for a summer staycation, with the south east usually benefiting from the best of the British weather in July and August.


Best things to do on holiday in the South Downs

The South Downs National Park really is a haven for walkers, with some stunning views of the white cliffs at Seven Sisters worth all those steps across the chalk grasslands.

The best thing about the South Downs, though, is the number of ‘hidden’ villages within the National Park, which are home to traditional country pubs and vineyards enjoyed by thirsty hikers and bikers.


Distance from London

The South Downs lies around 60 miles south of central London, which is a 90-minute car journey via the A3 and Guildford.


3 The New Forest

Of all the National Parks in England, The New Forest is arguably the one most steeped in history.

If you like a little learning from your staycation, this is the National Park for you.

The New Forest is home to rolling heathland and mysterious woodlands, all of which are great for the kids to explore.

Villages like Burley, near Ringwood in Hampshire, are a step back in time to a more picture-postcard world, with quaint coffee shops and traditional pubs for the adults to enjoy while the children play.

The New Forest is also home to a section of the south coast, so if you like a seaside feel for your staycation, it’s the perfect place to visit.


Best things to do on holiday in the New Forest

If you’re heading to the New Forest, exploring the area’s history should be high on your agenda.

Head to Beaulieu to discover the monasteries and Victorian heritage of this tiny village, before exploring the saltmarshes and coastal wildlife of Milford-on-Sea, with stunning views across the water to the Isle of Wight.

And no visit to the New Forest is complete without a picnic among the roaming New Forest ponies. If you’re really lucky, you might also catch sight of one of the National Park’s five species of deer, too.


Distance from London

The New Forest is around 90 miles from central London and a two-hour car journey via the M3 towards Southampton.


4 The Peak District

The UK’s first National Park, the Peak District is also one of the best for a staycation.

As well as breathtaking views, the Peak District is also the perfect place if you’re looking for a little more activity than relaxation from your staycation.

Rock climbing, cycling and horse riding are all on offer across the Peak District, alongside some great camping locations if you feel like getting even closer to nature.

The Peak District’s location close to some of the powerhouse cities of the North, meanwhile, also makes it the ideal National Park for those who want to combine some city exploration with rural tranquillity.


Best things to do on holiday in the Peak District

If you’re heading to the Peak District, activity is the name of the game.

Whether it’s abseiling down the Millersdale Viaduct near Bakewell in Derbyshire, or canoeing along the white waters of the River Derwent near Matlock, the Peak District is one National Park that will get your heart racing.


Distance from London

The Peak District is around 150 miles north of London, meaning a three-hour car journey via the M1 motorway.


5 Northumberland National Park

While most of the best UK National Parks attract their fair share of tourists and staycationers, Northumberland is among the least populated.

So, if you’re looking to simply get away from the city and relax, this trip to the North East is definitely worth it.

Northumberland is home to around 700 miles of trails and paths through a vast terrain with and moody landscape.

The park is also the least polluted of all the UK National Parks, so clear skies at night can mean star-gazing opportunities that include the Milky Way itself.


Best things to do on holiday in Northumberland

There aren’t many places in the UK where you can experience a stunning natural waterfall, but Northumberland National Park is one of them.

Check out the nine-metre falls at Hareshaw Linn after a walk through magical and mysterious woodland.


Distance from London

Northumberland is one of the National Parks furthest away from the capital, with a 300-mile journey north east via the M1 and A1(M) taking around five hours.


Best caravan parks in the UK

Caravanning has always traditionally been a niche holiday choice, with many Britons preferring to jump on a plane to warmer climes than sit in motorway traffic towing a caravan.

But the rise of static caravan and park holiday resorts in the UK means you can now get the best of what a caravan holiday has to offer, without the motorway frustration.

Here are five of the best holiday parks in the UK:


1 Devon Cliffs, Devon

A tranquil and peaceful haven with stunning views from atop the cliffs, Devon Cliffs offers great facilities as well as sandy beaches that are just three miles away.


2 Sandy Balls Holiday Village, New Forest

A great location for a family staycation, Sandy Balls offers plenty of activities as well as relaxation for the grown-ups.


3 Sandymouth Holiday Resort, Cornwall

If you’re looking for a seaside break, they don’t get much better than Sandymouth, which is right by the coast at Sandymouth Bay near Bude.


4 Hopton Holiday Park, Norfolk

Close to Great Yarmouth in The Broads National Park, Hopton is close to the beach and offers a whole host of activities.


5 Whitby Holiday Park

Located on top of a cliff with amazing views across North Yorkshire, Whitby Holiday Park is a great retreat for nature lovers and walkers.


Further reading…

If you’re looking to move to London, or you’re already in the city but planning a move, check out our guide to the best areas to live in London.