Amazing Locations in the south west that make you feel like you're abroad

9 south western destinations that will make you feel like you’re abroad

18 January 2021

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

Nusa Penida / Jurassic Coast
Left: Nusa Penida, Bali | Right: The Jurassic Coast

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.

Head to: Poole, Wareham or Weymouth

2. Denbies, Dorking

Instead of: Loire Valley, France

Denbies Vineyard / Loire Valley Vineyard
Left: Denbies, Dorking | Right: Vouvray Vineyard, Loire Valley


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.

Head toDorking

3. Little Venice, London

Instead of: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Little Venice, London / Amsterdam
Left: Little Venice, London | Right: Amsterdam

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.

Head to: Waterloo, changing for the northbound Bakerloo line to Paddington

4. Durdle Door

Instead of: Arch Rock, California

Durdle Door / Arch Rock, California
Left: Durdle Door | Right: Arch Rock

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.

Head toWool

5. Isle of Wight

Instead of: Sonoma Valley, California

Rosemary Vineyard, Isle of Wight / Sonoma Valley, California
Left: Rosemary Vineyard, Isle of Wight | Right: Sonoma Valley, California

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.

Head to: Ryde Esplanade (change for the number 37 bus), Ryde St John's Road (25 minutes' walk)

6. Leighton House Museum

Instead of: Istanbul

Leighton House Museum / Istanbul
Left: Leighton House Museum | Right: Istanbul

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.

Head to: Clapham Junction (change for London Overground services to Kensington Olympia)

7. Needles, Isle of Wight

Instead of: 12 Apostles, Australia

Needles, Isle of Wight / 12 Apostles, Australia
Left: The Needles, Isle of Wight | Right: The 12 Apostles, Australia

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

Mayfield Lavender / Provence Region, France
Left: Mayfield Lavender Farm | Right: 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

Kyoto Park / Japanese Waterfall
Left: Kyoto Garden, London | Right: Tokyo, 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.

Travelling soon? Make sure to find out how to stay safe and travel with confidence with our Coronavirus travel information.

Image credits:
  • Vouvray Vineyard, Loire Valley: Megan Cole
  • Kyoto Park, London: Davide Gorla
  • Denbies Vineyard: Amanda Slater