Top 10 UK Destinations for Budget Travellers

By on Published: August 9, 2017 | Last Updated: November 28, 2020 in Budget Travel Ideas, Europe, UK, Western Europe with 4 Comments

10 Best Budget Travel Destinations in Britain

People often don’t associate travelling in Britain with being on a budget.

Instead, they tend to think of heading to the capitals of Eastern Europe or the alluring beaches of the Mediterranean for their cheap European excursions.

But I’m here to prove them wrong …

.. Ok, well maybe not wrong (because those places are definitely some of the best budget destinations in the world to explore) but I’m here to prove there’s an alternative.

Yes good old Blighty is positively bursting with beautiful budget travel spots, a fact that was brought to my attention once again on my recent trip back to my home country.

And I kind of felt like this was worth shouting about actually, worth celebrating even, or at the very least worth writing a blog post about … before Brexit potentially ruins it all !!!!

So here they are, the top 10 UK destinations ideal for shoestring travellers.

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#1 London

London Bridge

My London Budget Accommodation Pick: St Christopher’s Inn, Greenwich

Ok, so England’s capital isn’t known for its budget travel prices, but there are definitely some easy steps to takes if you want to save money when visiting London.

Following these can really help turn a trip to the capital from crazily pricey, to just about reasonable.

But then you add in all the free things to do in London and suddenly the myth surrounding this city as one of the best British budget travel destinations, starts to grow some real truth rings!

Yes, when it comes to world cities, there’s few that offer as much complimentary fun as this great metropolis.

From markets to parks, museums to palaces, there’s such a huge range of things to enjoy in London for nothing, that you really needn’t pay for any entertainment while you’re here at all!

Even just sightseeing in this iconic city is a real treat and for that, all you need to do is either stroll along the Southbank or hop on the number 11 bus that will take you past Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, the Strand and the Bank of England for just a few quid!

Now budget travel doesn’t get much better than that!


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#2 Bristol

England, Bristol, M Shed

My Bristol Budget Accommodation Pick: Kyle Blue

If London is the capital of complimentary attractions, then Bristol, in the UK’s southwest, is a close second.

Yes on my first trip to this growing, vibrant city I was bowled away by the amount of free things to do in Bristol and spent the perfect weekend unearthing the very best of this city, its culture, heritage and great pubs!

Bristol really has got a stack to offer the budget traveller from delightful boat journeys on the River Avon, to great street art walking tours, beautiful views from the famous Suspension Bridge and some great little suburbs like Clifton and Stokes Croft to explore on foot too.

I can’t recommend this city enough, so check out my top tips for seeing Bristol on a budget if you’re heading that way soon.


#3 Lake District

England, Lake District, Trees

My Lake District Budget Accommodation Pick: YHA Grasmere Butharlyp Howe

Oh the beautiful Lake District, the jewel of Northern England, the most inspiring of British landscapes!

Yep, if the Lake District was good enough to get Wordsworth’s and Beatrix Potter’s creative juices flowing, then it’s definitely good enough for me!

In fact I voted it one of my top 50 places to visit in Western Europe.

But seriously, this huge area of natural beauty, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is definitely one of the best places to visit in Britain if you’re on a budget.

For starters, its remote location and country setting mean most of the fun to be had here revolves around exploring the great outdoors … and that don’t cost a thing.

Yes it doesn’t get any cheaper, or more spectacular, than strapping on your hiking boots to tackle Scafell Pike or Friar’s Crag.

In addition, the small villages of this area provide ample opportunity for you to fill your stomach and wet your whistle for half the price of some of the country’s cities, and there’s plenty of hostels around too for those looking to sleep on the cheap.


#4 Bath

England, Bath, Weir

My Bath Budget Accommodation Pick: Bath YMCA

Definitely one of the best trips from London, heading to Bath for the day is the perfect way to explore this iconic British city on a budget.

Regular trains from London run from Paddington station, or you can keep your costs down even lower and hop on the Megabus from Victoria Coach Station for as little as £5.00 one way!

Start early and give yourself a good day to wander the historic streets and green spaces of this heritage spa city, taking in the Weir, Bath Abbey and The Crescent as you go.

There’s plenty of well-priced pub lunches available (I really liked The Huntsman) and you can easily sample the local ale too if you’d like.

Alternatively, check out the famous Sally Lunns Bakery. Sampling a Bath Bun here is a quintessential (and cheap) treat you can’t pass up … discover why in my perfect Bath day trip itinerary!


#5 Leeds

Leeds, Corn Exchange, Doors

My Leeds Budget Accommodation Pick: Leeds Central Travelodge

The city where I went to University is fast becoming one of the UK’s best cities.

Yes good old Leeds in the county of Yorkshire, is a great part of the UK to visit if you’re looking for a cheap night out – having lived there for 3 years as an impoverished student I should know!

FYI:  The HiFi Club was always my fav.

Coupling a great Yorkshire character and a huge number of universities, Leeds also boasts lots of cultural attractions, but with a distinctly down-to-earth feel.

The nearby Yorkshire Dales, also make for an excellent and cheap day trip from the city.  And for just a few pounds on the bus, you can find yourself in delightful towns like Ilkley, Harrogate or Hebden Bridge, where classic British tearooms rub shoulders with rolling, green hills.

Learn more about this top-rated UK city in my article about the 15 best things to do in Leeds on a budget.


#6 Liverpool

England, Liverpool, Beatles Statue

My Liverpool Budget Accommodation Pick: Liverpool One Premier Inn

Another Northern beauty, Liverpool is more well-known than Leeds, mostly due to its famous musical export – The Beatles.

Walking along the iconic Mersey waterfront, or listening to the city’s plentiful live music, are all great things to enjoy here that won’t cost you a penny.

Then there’s the city’s Cathedral, the many museums and galleries and the stadiums of several well-known football clubs too! All of which are free to enter.

Being on the coast, Liverpool also offers some excellent English fish and chips, which can be enjoyed with a view of the sea for next to nothing.

For more ideas about things to do in Liverpool, check out this post I wrote following my time exploring the city.


#7 Glasgow

Scotland, Glasgow, Street

My Glasgow Budget Accommodation Pick: University of Glasgow – Cairncross House

Scotland’s second city often lies in Edinburgh’s shadow, but I’m here to pull it into the limelight and show you that this is one of the best travel spots for those wanting to travel Britain on a budget!

Originally a Medieval settlement, Glasgow is now famous for its Victorian architecture, which has a distinct style that can be easily enjoyed just by strolling the streets.

So too can the city’s many parks and gardens, although I’d advise you to bring your waterproof jacket to ensure the good old Scottish weather doesn’t put a stop to your plans.

If it does, despite the waterproof clothing, then Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens are really spectacular and a great alternative with indoor sections and free entry!

There’s also the very popular Gallery of Modern Art here, as well as a super collection of street art, which can be enjoyed as part of Glasgow’s free walking trails – easy to follow and downloadable here.

And when it comes to cheap eats, who can forget the mother of all Scottish inventions – the deep-fried Mars Bar! Get yours, for next to nothing, at chippys around the city!


#8 Devon

England, Devon, Beach

My Devon Budget Accommodation Pick: North Morte Farm

Devon is probably my favourite part of Britain with its beautiful beaches, soaring cliffs, green countryside and rural pace of life.

Visiting this gorgeous corner of Southern England is a treat any time of the year, but perhaps doesn’t get better for us budget travellers than during the summer, when the weather allows us to finally get our tents out!

Yes camping in the Devon is one of the UK’s biggest delights and there’s such a huge range of quality campgrounds to choose from here that it’s hard to go wrong really.

That said, my favourite has to be North Morte Farm in North Devon.

Wonderfully close to many of the best beaches in this glorious part of the country, this delightful campsite is a family-run affair with a warm and friendly feel.

Pitch a tent on what almost feels like the edge of a cliff and fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves.

In the morning, get up and explore local villages and wonderful walking tracks right from your tent door or set your sights further afield with the chance to catch some waves in the surf-friendly town of Woolacombe.

Rated one of the 15 best UK campsites (as voted by me!), this place is the perfect excuse to get down to Devon and enjoy life in the glorious south!


#9 Margate

UK, Margate, Coloured Houses

My Margate Budget Accommodation Pick: Margate Premier Inn

When I first heard that Margate was one of Britain’s up-and-coming destinations, I could hardly believe my ears, but then I took a trip there myself and, lo and behold, it’s true!

Made famous by Tracy Emin, one of the UK’s leading contemporary artists, this seaside town is making a big splash on the British cultural scene.

The Turner Contemporary opened in 2011 really set the scene for this, and now the once downtrodden resort is filling up with lovely independent shops and cafes, which beautifully compliment the cobbled streets of its old historic centre.

If you feel like taking in the sea air, then the brilliant Viking Coastal Trail is an easy and enjoyable path that offers fantastic views of Botany Bay.

No surprise therefore, that I rate Margate one of my top London day trips for those travelling on a budget. If you want to learn how to get here from London by bus, train or car, check out this post I wrote all about that!


#10 Sark

Sark Bicycle

My Sark Budget Accommodation Pick: La Valette Campsite

And going out with a bit of a bang, in 10th place I’ve included my new favourite British destination, the remote island of Sark!

One of the Channel Islands, located between England and France, this tiny 2sq mile gem offers the ultimate in relaxation with its lack of cars, supermarkets, roads and modern day distractions.

You can read more about this exquisitely unique place in the article I wrote about my day trip to Sark, but suffice to say that once you get here, there’s little to spend your money on besides bike hire and a few drinks at the pub!

In fact, even getting here isn’t that bad if you can pick up a budget flight to either Guernsey or Jersey and from there catch a ferry.

Any money you do spend on getting to Sark will be quickly justified once you realise how incredible this little beauty is!

A seriously ideal destination for those looking to travel Britain on a budget, it’s almost impossible for this tiny treat not to steal your heart as soon as you step ashore!




I hope you’ve found my list of the top 10 UK destinations for shoestring travellers useful and fingers crossed they’ve shown you how affordable exploring this country can be.

Now it’s over to you though …

What’s your favourite UK destination and what are your top budget tips for seeing the best of it?


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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 4 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Tal Bright says:

    Great post! I love England and have travelled around it quite a bit, but there’s always more to discover. Thanks for sharing your advice 🙂

    • Steph says:

      There is always more to discover, you are absolutely right! Sometimes I forget how beautiful my homeland is, so it was great to write this post as a reminder 🙂

  2. kalyn says:

    Some of these places look really awesome, definitely visiting the next time I come to London.

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