It’s well known that the number of people choosing to take staycations in the UK has skyrocketed. Travel restrictions meant no trips abroad, and with that came more appreciation for the sights and attractions that are on offer in good old Blighty.
With the current cost of living crisis also on everybody’s minds, staying in the UK for your hols can be a good way to save some money on your trips. When you don’t need to worry about expensive flights and car rentals, you can focus a little more on enjoying leisure activities. But when you add everything up, how much does it cost to have a staycation in the UK?
In this article, we’ll be looking at research recently conducted by Fulton Umbrellas in order to count down the best value cities up and down the UK for dining, drinking, leisure, and travel.
Located in South Yorkshire, close to the edges of the Peak District, Sheffield is the fourth-largest city in England.
Despite this, you won’t have trouble finding a quieter place to take a stroll in the sunshine. The Sheffield Botanical Gardens offer over 18 garden areas designed around different botanical themes and locations across the world. Or, for culture-lovers, there’s also plenty of museums, galleries, and theatres all within the city to keep you busy during the day.
Just outside of the city you’ll find a day of family fun at Graves Park, where you can let kids loose on one of the two playgrounds or get up close to the goats, llamas, and donkeys at the Graves Park Animal Farm. If you’re hoping to get around the city quickly, the good news is that Sheffield has some of the best value taxi rates – on average 99p per km.
When it comes to keeping up with fitness, Sheffield also offers some of the best value gyms and clubs out of all the cities on our list, only charging around £24.29 for membership.
Then, when you’re ready to grab a bite to eat, a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost £50 on average. And to wash it all down, you can expect to pay around £3.80 for a bottle of beer.
Next on our list is Inverness, a city in the Scottish Highlands known for its sweeping natural landscapes, trails, historical sites – and, of course, Loch Ness.
Away from the bustle of the city itself, no trip to Inverness would be complete without taking the time to explore Loch Ness. You can explore this iconic loch both on foot or, if you’re not a hiking enthusiast, on a boat cruise where you may find yourself ducking underneath a windproof umbrella as you try to catch sight of Nessie.
Not to be confused with Loch Ness is River Ness, a city hotspot where you’ll find many pubs and taverns to grab a drink and chat to the locals. Here, the average price for a bottle of beer is £3.50, while draught beer is £3.90.
For afternoon treats, try popping into the one of the cafes in Inverness’s Victorian Market, where you can grab a cappuccino for an average of £2.94 and some light bites too.
If you’d rather make the most of the summer sun with a match or two of tennis, Inverness offers the best value for money out of the cities on the list for court rentals. On the weekend a 1-hour court rental costs just £5 on average, a great and inexpensive way of keeping kids entertained (and tiring them out!).
If you’re looking to dine out with a partner on your staycation, the best value you’ll find is in Preston, a small city nestled on the north bank of the River Ribble in Lancashire. After exploring the magnificent Hoghton Tower or having taken a trip on the Ribble Steam Railway, you can expect a three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant to set you back the small sum of just under £31.
With so many bars, pubs, and beer gardens to choose from in the UK, many staycationers will want to visit the local for a pint or two whilst on holiday. For beer fans, Preston has come out as offering the best value draught beer at £3, or £3.50 for a bottle of beer.
When it comes to leisure activities such as fitness clubs, gyms, tennis courts, and cinemas, there’s no shortage of places to choose from. Whether you’re looking to catch up on your exercise, take a class, or enjoy a spa day, the best value club membership fees can be found once again in Preston. Here, the average monthly fee is just £18.33, and it sits as the only city in the data that charges under £20 for an average membership.
The second-best value-for-money staycation spot on our list is Sunderland, a port city in North East England that’s steeped in history. From galleries and museums to heritage trails and even castles, there are countless attractions for you to get a glimpse into Sunderland’s industrial past.
Museums dedicated to railways, aircraft, glass, and steam engines are enough to keep you entertained and educated while you’re out and about in the city.
And when you need a break from all the sightseeing to recharge your own batteries, there are two gloriously sandy beaches just on the edges of the city. Roker and Seaburn beaches are both Blue Flag beaches, named for their facilities and environmental standards. This makes them the perfect spot to escape from the city or have some fun with the kids.
You’ll find many cafes and restaurants dotted along the seaside, and Sunderland offers among the best value cappuccinos out of the cities featured on the list – just £2.52 on average. Or if you’re looking for a more substantial meal, a three-course dinner for two averages at just £45.
The Welsh capital and largest city in Wales, Cardiff, takes the number one spot for being the staycation destination where you can get the most for your money.
From an ancient castle to modern shopping centres, calming spa hotels and exhilarating sports in the Cardiff International White Water, Cardiff has everything and anything you could want from a city staycation.
As a self-proclaimed city of sport, Cardiff is just the right place to keep on top of your fitness goals even while you’re on holiday. It’s also got some of the lowest prices out of the featured cities when it comes to activities. The average club or gym membership fee is just £25.25 a month, while renting a tennis court on the weekend is just shy of being the best value, coming in at £5.33 per hour.
If your outdoor adventures get rained off or you just can’t wait to catch the latest blockbuster release while away, the best value cinema tickets can be found in Cardiff, where the average price for a single adult ticket is just £5.
After all the excitement you’ll probably be feeling peckish, and Cardiff has a wealth of pubs, restaurants, and eateries to grab a three-course meal for two for just £53 on average. Then when the sun begins to go down your exploration of Cardiff can go on well into the evening with quirky independent retailers, bars, music venues, and theatres to get your fill of.
Some of the cities named in this article aren’t on the usual lists for must-see UK destinations. And while the more popular spots are popular for good reason, the ones that we’ve listed above are the best when it comes to getting value for money. And this means you can save your funds for something else, or simply pack more activities into your city break!
Wherever you plan to visit next, it’s time to consider trying somewhere a little less expected.