Content Manager
February 3, 2020

Why you should stay local: UK vs EU weekend trip inspiration

Cotswolds over Tuscany, Dorset over Portugal - who said you have to leave the country to achieve peak #travelgoals?

With a certain political event currently unfolding (you know, the one that kind of sounds like a brand of high-fibre biscuit?), we thought we’d shine a light on some of the UK's most prized travel destinations.

So, bad flyers rejoice - we've compiled a list of popular European doppelgangers found right here in the UK.

Swap your gelato vendors for clotted-cream scone-filled cottages, your boarding pass for a train ticket, and keep it local for your next getaway.

Save for a weekend away in less than three months.

Cotswolds over Tuscany, Italy 

The quintessential English countryside, the Cotswolds, is rich with affluence, a heck load of cobblestone and rolling, green hills. And, if you hired a vespa, spoke with an accent and ordered the ravioli, you could totally be in Tuscany. 

Time from London: Roughly 1.5 hours by train from central London, similar time by car. 

Time from Manchester: By train, you can get there in just under five hours.

What to do: All the history. Must dos: Antique shopping, Cheltenham races, the roman baths of Bat, Stow-on-the-Wold, take a day trip to Castle Combe, and finally check out Snowshill Manor. Theeeeeen you can rest.

Where to stay: Park up at one of the acclaimed honey-coloured stone cottage, like this one. But there’s certainly no shortage, so you needn't. 

What to eat: Dig into some much-loved Sri Lankan street food at the Coconut Tree, but not before immersing yourself in some authentic countryside cuisine with breakfast at Thyme.

What to drink: Wet your whistle at one of the many cosy and extremely olde timey pubs. Head to the Maytime and choose from over 100 gins or if you love an espresso martini, don't miss Porch House’s 'Black Cow' espresso martini (under £10, too, which is a rarity).

Chip insider tip: If you’re around in May or October, make it down to the Gypsy Horse Fair that operates biannually.

Bath over Budapest, Hungary

If you’ve yet to visit Bath, the largest town in Somerset county, rest assured it’s not a town cordoned by tubs of water mixed with bodily fluids. Instead, expect a hotspot for wholesome, wellbeing-laden British countryside and, quite literally, hot spots with their famed Thermal spas. 

Time from London: 1hr 20m train ride - just enough time to fit in a movie. Fun fact: parts of the 2013 adaptation of Les Miserables were actually filmed in Pulteney Bridge and Weir in Bath.

Time from Manchester: 3hr 35m train - two movies, or just Les Miserables in its entirety.

What to do: Roman Baths/Thermae Bath Spa, check out the Royal Crescent / the Circus (Georgian architecture), Pulteney Bridge, Bath Abbey, Green Park Station - Flea market/farmers market.

Where to stay: In Jane Austin's eclectic abode.

What to eat: Check out Bath's Guildhall Market, and despite being over 800 years old, the food still tastes just as good. Other popular haunts include Ole Tapas, the Oven (pizza), Graze (chophouse + microbrewery), Comptoir + Cuisine (French),Corkage (bistro/natural wine)

What to drink: If you fancy a beverage or six, try out BeerCraft of Bath, Garricks Head, Locksbrook Inn, Electric Bear brewery or Dark Horse (cocktails).

Chip insider tip: If you’re into live music, head to Moles (gigs/late drinks), or if you’re into something a tad more unusual, make your way to Slight Bar, a weird cocktail/basement bar that does magic shows. 

Cornwall over Lagos, Portugal 

Cornwall is the whole package: epic cliffs, stretching beaches to surf at, expansive greenery and the definitive home of the pasty (don't tell Devon we said that). 

Time from London: 4-5hrs by train. Just over three hours by car. 

Time from Manchester: Almost 5 hours by train, roughly the same by car. 

What to do: Catch the sunrise surf in Polzeath, hunt the Beast of Bodmin in Bodmin Moor, get lost in a jungle in the Eden Project, or go back in time at the Lost Gardens of Helligan.

Where to stay: Camp near Damer Bay, AirBnB in St. Ives or find a country house near Launceston.

What to eat: Pasty, pasty, pasty (Chip’s CMO Alex’s favourite is from Warren’s Butcher). Also a proper Cornish cream tea (again, don't tell Devonians).

What to drink: Our top three recommendations are DoomBar, Cornish Rattler cider and Atlantic Ale.

Chip insider tip: One of the oldest Churches in the country is “Altar Nun St. Nonna’s Church”. It’s labelled by locals as the Cathedral of the Moors… if you recognise the name it’s because the vicar of Altar Nun is the baddy in the book Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier.

Dorset over Greek Islands

Dorset, found on England's Jurassic Coast, is a geological treasure that you need to sink your claws into. It's Juras-sick.

Time from London: It’ll only take you 2hr 15m train. Similarly, it’s only a 2hr 37m drive, but factor in time to stop for all the picture opportunities.

Time from Manchester: You can get there in 5 hours by train.

What to do: Explore the Jurassic Coast UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, visit Sandbanks ‘riviera’ ; hike through New Forest (don't befooled by the name, this is arguably Britain's oldest national park - founded by William the Conquerer) - you may even spot some wild ponies.

If that excited you, catch a ferry to Brownsea Island to see red squirrels. If you're into surfing, don't miss the artificial reef in Bournemouth. The must-sees, however, are Lulworth Cove and Durdle's Door (pictured below). Unreal.

Where to stay: Don't settle for ordinary - put yourself up at this Shepherds hut on the edge of a lake set on an organic estate.

What to eat: Key West and Urban Reef in Bournemouth, water-front fish and chips. 

What to drink: Hire a driver and make a day of travelling between the many distilleries, wineries and breweries.

Chip insider tip: This part of the country is classed as 'dark-sky territory', making it ideal for stargazing. Our top spot to stare at the skies above is at Durlston Country Park, plus the in-house Astronomy Centre has a 14" Meade telescope.

Manchester over Berlin, Germany 

Manchester is the UK city equivalent of that really cool person you know; the one who somehow achieves peak level coolness without really trying. If bars and nightlife are what you're chasing, pull out that elastic and get ready to let your hair down.

Time from London: 2hr 30m train. If time, playlist choice and company permits it, go by car and you’ll only arrive an hour later. 

What to do: Sink drinks and (safely) throw darts at Flight Club; explore Spinningfields and wander through the Northern Quarter neighbourhood. If football's your game, head to the National Football Museum. Head down Canal Street and get a taste of the famed Gay Village.

Where to stay: Relish in the ultimate hotel aesthetic at Whitworth Locke (pictured below) 

What to eat: Bondobust (modern Indian), Mackie Manor or Hatch (an insane cosmopolitan hub of food, drink and retail vendors), Dishoom.  

What to drink: Cane & Grain (NY themed bar over three themed floors), Dusk Til Pawn (a former fortune teller’s haunt, this groovy bar disguised as a pawn shop).  Blue Lagoon from Zombie Shack.

Chip insider tip: Line up cocktails at sunset at 20 Stories for panoramic views.

Scotland's Western Isles over Norway's fjords

With white-sand beaches, epic mountains, and the home of whisky, Scotland's Western Isles are a destination to come to relax, unwind and forget all about your annoying co-workers.

Time from London: This is a bit of an odyssey, but a very scenic one.

12-15 hour drive to Oban/the Isle of Skye/Ullapool (you can go via some tier-1 landscapes), 2-5 hour on the ferry.

Or a 4 hour train to Glasgow, +3 hour train to Oban, +3-4 hour ferry to Barra. You can fly in about 2 hours airtime from London (1 hour to Glasgow, 1 hour to Barra/Stornoway).

Time from Manchester: See the London time, but shave off a few hours.

What to do: Some of the world’s best beaches. Sadly despite looking like the Maldives, you’re still in Scotland, so the weather isn't equatorial (bring a wetsuit, if you have one). You should be able to see plenty of sea otters, dolphins and porpoises. If you’re lucky you might even spot some whales.

If you head up from September onwards there’s a chance you could see the Northern Lights.  

Where to stay: You can (responsibly) wild camp in Scotland, so pitch up somewhere scenic and pop out a tent! The Polchar Inn built in 1750, serves world-famous chowder. Lewis Castle made famous by the classic Wickerman film (no, not the Nicolas Cage one). 

What to eat: Seafood. Check out Barra Atlantic for the raw fresh stuff (they supply many of the top restaurants around the UK and world). If you go via Oban, the fresh dressed crab you get on the harbour front is amazing. Also head to Charles Macleod for what is widely considered the world’s best black pudding; propper Stornoway black pudding. 

What to drink: All the whisky (not whiskey). Talisker and Laphroaig are the local big names, but there's lots of smaller local distillations. Ask the locals for the good pubs.

Chip insider tip: If you’re driving up via Skye, Chip's Head of Content had the best fish and chips of his life in Portree, where the fish was brought in from a boat 10 yards away. 

Brighton over Nice, France 

We'll admit this beloved beach town channels more of a California, 'Santa Monica Pier' vibe, but if you were to compare Nice's beaches to Brighton - you'll see why we settled on this pairing.

Time from London: Only a 2hr 12m drive, or 1hr 10m train ride. Ample time to apply sun-cream.

Time from Manchester: About a 5 hour car trip. By then, your sun-cream should have dried.

What to do: If you have to do two things, head to Brighton Palace Pier for fish and chips (and try not to vomit them back up on the rides), and get a pic for the gram at the upside down house.

Where to stay: There are plenty of apartments to rent a stones throw from the shore line which will save you on transport and enable those early morning swims. Here's one.

What to eat: The eaterie at the top of many lists, Isaac At, was the first restaurant in the world to offer a wine list entirely made up of British vino; The Coal Shed cult favourite, THe Chilli Pickle if you’re a lover of Indian.

What to drink: For those looking for something more than a pint, check out Alcotraza: Cell Block One Three. For a beachfront beer, head to Patterns, and when you’ve had one too many, try Lucky Voice, a highly acclaimed karaoke and cocktail bar. 

The list could go on forever

Honourable mentions need to go to Newcastle over Amsterdam, the Lake District over the Italian Lakes, Cairngorms over the Alps, York over Prague, Bournemouth over Barcelona... We could do this forever.

With Chip you can save up for the big trips or the small ones, without feeling a thing.

But if it's any incentive to stay local, our clever data team reckon you could automatically save £444 in just three months with Chip. Which should get you to more or less anywhere in the UK in some style.

Don't forget to tag #ChipPaidForThis in your travel photos.

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