how is your weekend going? As part of our Summer on the O2 Community thread we thought to talk about holiday locations. But let me tell you travelling is still a bit of a pain these days - so why not stay in the UK? Since my road trip last year I am a massive fan and we got some tips here for your staycation.
From cosy campfire getaways to the basics of water therapy, discover the lesser-known experiences that make Britain great.
Hidden gems to discover in Aberdeen this summer
Fancy a trip to a secluded beach or an afternoon of cool contemporary art? Aberdeen and the surrounding area has plenty of left-field spots that are ideal for adventuring this summer
Aberdeen is known for being a business hub in Scotland, but with its sweeping cliffs, impressive scenery and many cultural attractions, it’s also the perfect place to spend some quality downtime. As things begin to open up with lockdown easing, why not put the north-east coast on your list for this summer? To give you a helping hand, we’ve rounded up a selection of hidden gems worth exploring in and around the Aberdeen area, curated exclusively for Priority customers.
1. Bullers of Buchan
North of Cruden Bay, around 40 minutes from Aberdeen city centre, you’ll find the breathtaking Bullers of Buchan. This collapsed sea cave on the coastline is home to seabirds of varying species including puffins and kittiwakes, with wildflowers painting the clifftop with colour. It’s a really lovely place for a wander, and if you continue along the coast, you’ll get to the Longhaven Wildlife Reserve, where you might be able to spot dolphins and seals.
2. Craigievar Castle
Head an hour west of Aberdeen and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a fairytale. The bright pink Craigievar Castle, which is said to be the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella Castle, is well worth exploring, and not just for its epic architecture. Inside, you’ll find a collection of artefacts and art, including Raeburns, armour and weapons, and the surrounding woodlands also have stunning trails which are great for seeing red squirrels and pine martens.
Hidden gems to discover in Belfast this summer
Explore secret bars, lush botanic gardens and fascinating history tours in Belfast this summer
If you’re a Belfast local, you’ll know that there’s no shortage of great things to do – whether you’re a foodie, art-lover or enjoy escaping to gorgeous nearby rural areas and world-famous coastline. But if you’re yet to check out the largest city in Northern Ireland, then you’re in for a treat. Below, curated exclusively for Priority customers, we’ve put together some lesser-known spots to explore this summer – perfect for whether you’re a local or a visitor.
1. The Sagart
Bigger isn’t always better. The Sagart is possibly the smallest bar and restaurant in Belfast, with just five tables inside and two benches outside. Its cosy, quaint atmosphere pairs perfectly with its charcuterie boards, or small plates and wine pairings menu: try cured salmon with dill and cucumber with a glass of Viognier; or scallops with nduja, apple and fennel with Chardonnay. As far as date nights go, it doesn’t get much more romantic...
2. Belfast Mural Experience
Belfast’s tumultuous history – and in particular, the Troubles – is told through famous murals which adorn the walls of the city. Who better to illuminate them than a local cab driver who has lived and worked through the Troubles? On this acclaimed tour, you’ll visit murals which were created by people from both sides, on famous roads like Falls and Shankin.
Hidden gems to discover in Birmingham this summer
From under-the-radar restaurants to lush nearby forests, you’ll find plenty to get excited about in Birmingham and further afield this summer
With just over twelve months spent in various states of lockdown, the potential to explore now restrictions are starting to ease can be somewhat overwhelming. What is considered old, new or good when you’re a year out of practise? Fortunately, Time Out and Priority have saved the day by digging out some hidden gems for you to make the most of the Midlands this summer.
1. Wyre Forest
A bit further afield in Kidderminster, the Wyre Forest is an emerald of a gem often forgotten about in regional competition with the more expansive Sutton Park and Cannock Chase. Though not by any means small, the forest has a cosy quality that makes it great for family days out (and not losing sight of the kids). With a range of trails for casual and seasoned walkers alike, plus a GoApe treetop experience in their lofty fir trees, there’s something for all nature lovers – and a Gruffalo or two.
2. Luna Springs
A new addition to Digbeth’s thriving independent scene, Luna Springs’ can be found a stone’s throw from the renowned Custard Factory and opposite Mama Roux’s on Lower Trinity Street (which was, until recently, home to Digbeth Dining Club). Tucked under the shadow of the area’s grand railway arches, it is a great sun trap for summer months. With an endless stretch of benches and an event calendar crammed with everything from disco to bingo, it's a great setting to hang whilst dipping into street food and lip smacking cocktails.
Hidden gems to discover in Cardiff this summer
Make this summer your most joyful yet with our guide to under-the-radar attractions, restaurants and more in Cardiff and beyond
In many ways, Wales is the UK’s ultimate hidden gem. Often overlooked in favour of more celebrated spots to the north, east and south, Cardiff and its surroundings remain a treasure trove of history, culture, gastronomy and, erm, museums about baked beans. Looking for your new favourite spot? Look no further than stunning South Wales. Together with Priority, we’ve put together a guide to some of the very best things to do in this stunning region.
1. Baked Bean Museum of Excellence
South Wales has plenty of tremendous museums that will inspire and influence, but every now and then a little bit of eccentricity is needed. Does it get any more eccentric than Port Talbot’s Baked Bean Museum of Excellence? In a word, no, no it doesn’t. A love letter to all things baked beans (and to a lesser extent, all things orange), this private museum is a shoo-in for the award of the weirdest museum in Wales. Visits must be arranged ahead of time, but this place is well worth it.
2. The Gwent Levels
They say that the best way to see the Gwent Levels is either with a microscope or a helicopter, a testament to the intricate biology and vast coverage of these living wetlands. Most visitors are neither armed with microscopes or have access to helicopters, however, thus will have to make do with one of the many gorgeous circular walks that take in this estuarine area of international importance. Several routes are available, the most popular of which begins at the Newport Wetlands Reserve visitor centre (18 miles east of Cardiff).
Hidden gems to discover in Glasgow this summer
Celebrate the return of spontaneity by uncovering some unfamiliar places around Glasgow
As we look ahead to lockdown easing, many of us will be eager to get out and about again and make those summer plans we’ve been craving. But if you’re bored of doing the same old and looking for something out of the ordinary, why not go beyond the usual haunts and tourist hotspots? Whether you’re hoping to stay local or go a bit further out, Glasgow is an excellent example of a city with plenty to explore just below the surface. Curated exclusively for Priority customers, we’ve rounded up some hidden gems that are well worth checking out in Glasgow and the surrounding area.
1. Benmore Botanic Garden
Just under two hours away from Glasgow city centre by car or public transport, Benmore Botanic Garden is a haven for anyone looking to spend a day in the great outdoors, surrounded by trees, shrubs and wildlife. Located in Strath Eachaig at the foot of Beinn Mhòr, this mountainside garden is famous for its beautifully restored Victorian Fernery and incredible collection of plants from around the world, including over 300 species of rhododendron and 150-year-old giant redwoods.
2. Glasgow Music City Tours
Glasgow’s music scene is arguably one of the best in the UK so naturally, there are loads of amazing stories of artists and audiences that deserve to be heard. From the early days of certain bands to the various shenanigans that took place in renowned venues, Glasgow Music City Tours will take you through it all. The Music Mile Tour is a good shout if you want to know more about the city’s venues past and present, including the Apollo, the Royal Concert Hall and King Tut’s, while the Merchant City Tour takes you on a musical journey through the oldest streets of the East End.
Hidden gems to discover in Liverpool this summer
Discover some of the under-the-radar hotspots of Liverpool and further afield this summer
Liverpool is a place bursting with stunning architecture, world-class culture and a history that most cities would lie awake at night envying. But away from all of the big hitters that pull in the crowds, there are a whole host of gems just waiting to be discovered. Curated exclusively for Priority customers, we’ve put together a guide to some of the very best.
1. News From Nowhere
Back in the days before the internet and when sexism, racism and homophobia were culturally the norm, News From Nowhere’s books and magazines made it a holy grail for people seeking alternatives to the mainstream. Established in 1974, it retains its not-for-profit credentials and is still run by a women’s co-operative. The shop is a reflection of Liverpool’s character and heart – radical, caring, community-minded and a survivor.
or dining of the fine variety, The Art School Restaurant is a stunner. But did you know about the cellars? Beneath the restaurant is a Champagne and wine bar, a beautiful space where you can also enjoy British cheeses and Basque Country inspired Pintxos. And if you’re celebrating something special, the private Tasting Room for ten people is a food and wine lover’s heaven.
Hidden gems to discover in London this summer
Finding an undiscovered cultural spot in London is like searching for the Holy Grail, but it is possible – as these picks of the capital's lesser-known best bits prove
Finding an undiscovered cultural spot in London is like searching for the Holy Grail. Every bar has been drunk in, each newly opened food hall comes with the side of an hour-long wait to enter, while finding a patch of grass come peak summer is nigh-on impossible. But it's not completely out of the question. Curated exclusively for Priority customers, here is our guide to London's lesser-known best bits.
1. Saint Dunstan-in-the-East
Think the City of London is all skyscrapers and glass monstrosities with stupid nicknames like the Gherkin, Walkie Talkie, or Cheesegrater? This bombed-out church in the heart of the financial district will make you think again. The Grade-I listed church has been a feature of the area since 1100 and has had to deal with the Great Fire of London and being partially destroyed by the Blitz in its near-1,000-year history. Today, its ruins are a public garden and offer up a strangely beautiful contrast to the extravagant surrounding buildings.
Eating on the tube is generally not the done thing – it’s dirty, unhygienic and no one else in your carriage wants to smell your sweaty sandwich; especially if it’s tuna. This neat supper club turns pigging out on public transport on its head though, creating a fine dining experience in an everyday setting. Stationed at Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum, the decommissioned 1967 Victoria Line carriage hosts a six-course Latin American menu three nights a week in the truly unique setting.
Hidden gems to discover in Newcastle this summer
Discover some of the under-the-radar hotspots of Newcastle and further afield this summer
Beloved by everyone from foodies to students to young professionals, Newcastle is one of the most bustling places to visit in the North of England. As a result, it’s also teeming with under-the-radar places where you can do everything from eat and drink, to wholesome family activities, to soaking up some alternative art and culture.
Ernie is a little deli serving freshly made focaccia sandwiches, coffee and snacks from their outdoor counter. Inside is also a great selection of local produce and crafty booze. Ernest is the café bar above the deli, focusing more on tasty fresh food, beers and cocktails. Pre-COVID they also hosted DJs, film screenings and comedy events, so keep your eyes peeled for the hopeful return of those.
2. The Cycle Hub
A bicycle café at the end of the Quayside, away from town. They offer reasonably priced bike hire, along with tasty coffee and fresh food. It’s also conveniently situated on the start of the Newcastle-Tynemouth cycle path, which is a great activity to do as a group or a family – especially on one of the tandems that you can hire from there. There’s also a workshop there should you need to tune up your bike before your next outing or get that longstanding puncture fixed.
Hidden gems to discover in Sheffield this summer
Discover some of the under-the-radar hotspots of Sheffield and further afield this summer
Due to its proximity to the Peak District, Sheffield is a city that can offer the best of both worlds when it comes to experiencing the buzz of a city and the tranquillity of nature. It’s also loaded with lots of great hidden gem locations that offer culture, food, drink and the great outdoors.
1. Delicious Clam
A DIY music venue located in an old shop unit from the now non-existent Castle Market. You’ll find local talent playing alongside international touring bands. It’s relaxed and friendly with a focus on safe space behaviour and for some events it’s even bring your own booze. It also has a recording studio upstairs and Delicious Clam is also a record label putting out local bands.
2. Rother Valley Country Park
Around about a 30-minute drive from Sheffield. This is a great day out for kids and adults alike, and is packed with lots of water based activities, such as: canoeing, fishing, a nature reserve, water-skiing, jet skiing, model boating, sailing, paddle boarding, mountain biking, an aqua park and windsurfing.
If you have any staycation tips let me know below. We want to know your favourite spots and of course your plans for the summer.
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What an excellent guide to some wonderful places @LukasB
I have been to Liverpool on numerous occasions. Since it became a City of Culture some years ago, they plowed a lot of money into the city and it's regeneration. The birthplace of the Beatles and many other great bands in the 60's, it's a great place to visit.
My relatives were born and bred in and around Newcastle. I spent many summers staying with relatives. They have some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK. Unspoilt as it's a bit cold even in the summer.
Never been to Wales or Ireland. (Once we bought the apartment in Spain, that was our holiday of choice)
The only problem with holidays in the UK currently, is the cost.
Unless you are prepared to pitch a tent somewhere (and I'm not) the cost is quite prohibitive post covid.
However, you have mentioned some places I've never considered so thanks for that.
A very interesting read. Thank you
Excellent piece, @LukasB!
It's amazing how many places in the first two cities I have not visited, despite having lived in both for several years.
That said, none of the places in Liverpool were known to those here today who spent their student years in the city either 😆
I was surprised at the first place in Belfast, given the current mantra of Hands-Face-Space 🤨😎
I've travelled the world in the last 40 years but have to admit not so much so in the UK
I prefer the lake district and Scotland
But I'm staying home this year
Liverpool is a no-no though
Been umpteen times for football matches and to the Thai Embassy
Hate the place!
Apologies to those unfortunate enough who live there 🤐
I've lived in Cardiff and frankly, it's not that touristy and expensive for no other reason that its the capital of Wales. If you're coming in from the M4 then the first thing you encounter is the 50mph average speed camera section heading into Newport which is impossible to break as you'll hit the Newport tunnels which funnels into two lanes causing tailbacks back to the start of the average speed camera zone.
Best keep going along to Pembrokeshire, drive up along the coast or through Mid Wales to Snowdonia then onwards to Anglesey. Way better things to discover then go on the ferry across to Dublin and discover Ireland! Also as pointed out above, there is heavy demand especially in Wales for places this year and that includes the camping sites.
Hi @LukasB There is no order to this list, just what is popping into my head:
I have travelled all over N. Ireland, Eire, England, Scotland and Wales
I love Scotland, Perth is lovely, Aberdeen the Granite City, Edinburgh,
Skye too. I love the knitting styles in Scotland : Fair Isle so pretty.
Take a look at The Giant's Causeway absolutely fantastic. (Northern Ireland)
Look at Pendine Sands in South Wales : Donald Campbell used this beach to break the land speed record, and it is fab. North Wales : Portmeirion the Italian style village where The Prisoner was filmed and famous for it's Pottery, lovely Botanical ware. Climb up Snowdon ~ the easy way by train please!
I love Walton on the Naze, Essex
Lyme Regis Jurassic Coast
Kiss the Blarney Stone Eire, Nr. Cork
I also love the Irish Aran knitting too with the oiled wool, lovely.
Dublin City cross the halfpenny bridge there.
The Royal Albert Dock buildings in Liverpool, the first buildings in the world to be built
of Iron and brick and no structural timber, safer from fire. These are a superb design.
I haven't visited Birmingham City but have been on the Bull Ring ~ Help! The Black Country I have been
all around there, full of lovely spaces and history.
Have been to the Potteries too, Stoke on Trent.
Brecon Beacons South Wales : wow
There are so many absolutely stunning places in the UK and Eire to visit.
I am thrilled with the history of Greenwich Meantime at the Royal Observatory the history of it and
why it was set up.
I also adore Big Ben the Westminster Clock Tower ~ Big Ben the main bell.
UK has much history and wonderful places to visit Villages, Towns, Cities.
Just one jolly one I like ~ Piddlehinton Village, Dorset so sweet.
Tolpuddle, Dorset where the "Tolpuddle Martyrs" were arrested under some obscure act and sent to Australia! There seems to be much Piddle and Puddle in Dorset....gorgeous place.
Great topic thank you LukasB
Lovely to see some of the hidden gems of our (mostly) brilliant country here.
Some others not mentioned include Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole in Somerset, Black Gang Chine on he Isle of White and Durdle Door near Weymouth.
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