Hello. In need of R&R! Can fly into either Manchester or Birmingham, which I realize aren't near the water, which is where I'd prefer to be close to. No more than 2.5 hours from either city by train. If not near the water, a quaint town or village that has pubs and markets would be helpful. Thanks in advance.
I would have said Holkham Beach and the Victoria Inn at Holkham Hall, but according to Rome2Rio it would take about 5 hours one way from Birmingham airport by train. Darn! In any case, here's the website just FYI. By car it's about 2 hours (again, according to Rome2Rio, which probably doesn't calculate traffic).
You can get from Birmingham airport to Aberystwyth, on the coast of Wales, in just under 3 hours by train. Would that do? If you want someplace nearer (but not on the sea), the train from Birmingham to Moreton-in-Marsh is almost exactly 2 hours. That would put you in the heart of the Cotswolds.
BTW, what's your budget? Do you want to be pampered in the lap of luxury, or can you combine much-needed R&R with a bit of roughing it? I can't remember the name of the hotel/resort where Meghan and Prince Harry went for their "babymoon" but it combines all-out luxury with zen simplicity and farm-to-table cuisine.
One place I would not go for R&R is Stratford-upon-Avon (unless you're a diehard Shakespeare enthusiast, of course). The town is fairly congested and built up with big-box stores, car dealerships, etc. When I was there in spring 2015 I felt that the people in the hospitality industry were rather tourist-fatigued. It wasn't unpleasant, but it was a world away from the friendly, quaint village I'd remembered visiting with my parents decades earlier.
Hope this helps to give you some ideas!
Yes, Aberystwyth wouldn't be that bad as long as I wouldn't need to change trains often, direct train would be much better. Oh I would love to be pampered in the lap of luxury, lol, but I save that for when I travel with my partner. I can rough it a bit as long as the B&B is clean, is walkable to the city center and provides breakfast. Wouldn't want to pay anymore than £500 for five or six nights. Stratford upon Avon was suggested on TA, which I'm not remotely interested in as I knew it would be congested with tourists. Thanks for the advice about Aberystwyth!
I would not go to the UK. My favorite is Turku, Finland, and I am a retired alone traveling lady. Turku is not a tourist trap so it will be pleasant not to follow the hordes. You could fly inexpensively by Norwegian to Gatwick and from there to Helsinki. From the Helsinki airport you can take an express bus (35 euros) to Turku, 2 hrs. Turku is the old capital of Finland and has lots of history, a medieval castle (museum) and cathedral, and the Aura River, making it the 'Paris' of Scandinavia. The Turku archipelago is lovely and easily accessible by commuter ferries and city buses. You could stay at the m/s Bore youth hostel right in the city. It is floating in the Aura River, and you sleep in the old cabins, most are for one or two people, price is very reasonable. Summer time is filled with festivals, my favorite is the Medieval Market with real jousting, I feel like I am in a movie!
It is 3 hours 10 minutes from Birmingham International rail station (by the airport) to Aberystwyth by direct train. www.nationalrail.co.uk
If you do go - take a trip on >https://www.rheidolrailway.co.uk
Also take a bus down the coast road to Aberaeron >https://www.cardigan-bay.com/aberaeron-cardigan-bay.php
The Cambrian Coast Railway going north up the coast is very scenic but you would have to change at Dovey Junction or Machynlleth - not sure about the connections.https://www.scenicrailbritain.com/lines/cambrian-lines
Neither Birmingham or Manchester is particularly well-located for quaint seaside, sadly. And needing the train is an issue for some of the lovelier parts of the north, like the Yorkshire Dales.
From Birmingham, Ludlow is a beautiful historic small town with an excellent market, good pubs and restaurants - and also a castle. No sea though, although a river loops around the town.
Does it have to be one of those airports? Gatwick or Stansted would open up Sussex and Suffolk/Essex for you - train services tend to be better in the South East. Normally I’d be all for someone wanting to explore the Midlands or north, but how about Rye or Southwold or Aldeburgh?
Although the travel time is longer that 2.5 hours, one option you might consider is to fly into Manchester and take train or bus to Whitby - https://www.visitwhitby.com/ . If you want to be close to the water, that would certainly fit the bill.
While there you could take a ride on the North York Moors Steam Railway, either to the end-of-the-line in Pickering or only part way. The popular TV show Heartbeat was filmed in that area so if you'd like to have a pint at the "Aidensfield Arms", stop in the village of Goathland. I believe the station there was also used in one of the Harry Potter movies.
If you'd like something a bit closer but not on the ocean, you might consider the historic and beautiful city of York, which is only about 1H:45M from Manchester Airport. While it's not on the ocean, as I recall it has canals - https://www.visityork.org/ . There are lots of good day trip possibilities from there such as Castle Howard - https://www.castlehoward.co.uk/ .
There are LOTS of great places to visit in the U.K.
Do you plan on renting a car? I am from the UK and would suggest if Manchester is your airport to keep to the North. Lots of beautiful villages to stay at within the North Yorkshire Moors or Dales. The Lake District would be another suggestion, but tends to be busier. York is a nice walkable city. I would suggest doing B&B's - there are lots to choose from within the Yorkshire area. If you were to come further south, I too would recommend North Essex/Suffolk boarder and the Suffolk coastal towns of Southwold and Aldeburgh. But this again would be more suitable if you had a car and Heathrow or Stansted the preferred airport.
How about landing in Scotland and heading southwest to the Lake District. Plenty of water - the place has it to spare, and mountains and A+++ scenery. Not too far at all.
Or can you fly into Liverpool? Actually Manchester with an easy change is doable too. Just 1:24 from Manchester Airport with no changes to Oxenholme Lake District where you can change for the service to Windermere. Unfortunately the wait at Oxenholme is over 45 minutes so the whole journey takes 2 1/2 hours. Or stay on the first train another 25 minutes, one stop more, 1:49 of total travel time to Penrith (North Lakes) where there are buses and taxis to take you over to the north Lakes.
Tough to beat the views.
Might be a tourist or two though. Take waterproofs for the inevitable.
Thank you for the replies. I don't plan on renting a car, would like to be able to take a train or a bus. York is much larger than what I'm looking for. Whitby looks promising but still might be a bit larger than what I'm interested in. Ludlow looks interesting as it's very close to the border with Wales. Shrewsbury has been mentioned to me as well, as has Aberystwyth. I'm not interested in Finland at this point. Want to make this trip easy and uncomplicated without adding in another flight connection.
You could take a look at the country houses operated by HF Holidays. They have 3- day, 4-day and 7-day programs of guided or self-guided walking, or themed programs such as yoga, photography, cultural tours, etc. Several of their homes are on the water,, at Whitby, the Lake District, and the Dorset Coast. We are going to this one next week:
There are also sites in Scotland and Wales.