Amazing destinations that feel like they're abroad
Nine South Western destinations that will make you feel like you’re abroad
Take advantage of these amazing spots to make the most of a staycation
Travelling abroad for the foreseeable future is likely to be a confusing and uncertain experience. Fortunately, the UK has plenty of places to travel to – no passport or quarantine required. With the glorious landscapes found across our region, you can discover everything from Amsterdam-style canals to a coastline reminiscent of Bali – without ever leaving the ground!
1. Jurassic Coast
Instead of: Nusa Penida, Bali
A bit of creative work with your angles and the stunning Jurassic Coast really can look like tropical Bali (although we can’t guarantee the temperature). The impressive cliffs and sandy beaches mirror those of Nusa Penida – but at a fraction of the cost of an international flight.
Less than an hour from London Waterloo you’ll find a startling replica of one of France’s premier wine-making regions: Denbies Wine Estate. Responsible for more than 10% of the UK’s planting, there are 265 acres of vineyard to discover here. Stay to enjoy some award-winning English wine on a par with anything you’ll find abroad.
A quick trip on the Bakerloo line from Waterloo to Paddington gets you just south of beautiful Little Venice. These cute canals and leafy walkways are a perfect way to spend an afternoon exploring – whether on the water or on the street discovering the beautiful regency architecture of Maida Vale.
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4. Durdle Door
Instead of: Arch Rock, California
Just as beautiful, but much closer to home, the beach at Durdle Door is a remarkable gem. Easily one of the most photographed sights in Dorset, the impressive natural rock formation rises around 200 feet out of the sea – making it a spectacular companion to a day on the beach.
The Isle of Wight’s milder climate makes it ideal for wine varieties that love a cooler climate. The Rosemary Vineyard takes perfect advantage with its south-facing slopes and sheltered valley spot – making it the spitting image of Sonoma Valley vineyards – no passport required.
This little-known museum celebrating the work of Frederic, Lord Leighton, is a unique building in its own right. The UK’s only “studio-house” open to the public, the gem here is the incredible Arab Hall. A golden dome rises above you, and the intricate Islamic tiles and mosaics make it feel like you’ve stepped into the heart of Istanbul itself.
The Needles are famous as one of the most iconic landmarks on the Isle of Wight, but they’re also a fitting substitute for the Great Ocean Road’s 12 Apostles – a spectacular series of limestone pillars rising from the ocean.
Head to: Lymington Pier (change for the ferry to Yarmouth, and the bus to the Needles)
8. Mayfield Lavender, Surrey Hills
Instead of: Provence, France
The rolling hills of Provence are renowned the world over for their expansive fields of lavender. But there’s plenty grown in the UK too – including at Mayfield in the Surrey Hills. Summer brings round the incredible aromas and an opportunity to visit your own local version of the continent.
Head to: Dorking
9. Kyoto and Fukushima Gardens
Instead of: Japan
Tucked inside Holland Park is a little slice of Japan – the Kyoto and Fukushima Gardens. These beautiful gardens filled with Japanese Maple trees, koi ponds and stone lanterns offer a tranquil idyll in the heart of central London – complete with the odd peacock.
Head to: Clapham Junction (change for London Overground services to Kensington Olympia)
And there you have it – 9 amazing opportunities to discover some of the most exciting parts of the South West and still feel like you’ve jetted overseas, all within easy reach by train. And remember, you can save money on your tickets when you travel with a group, or with a railcard – even when you book in advance.