If you’ve been wondering when to book your trip to the United Kingdom, here are some suggestions to help you decide. With the help of fellow travel writers, you have a glimpse of the UK in all four seasons. Will you decide to visit in Spring, with lambs in the fields and blossom on the trees? Or the lazy days of summer, with surfing, beach huts and more sunshine than you’d imagine? Then there’s autumn, the season of mellow fruitfulness, with its slight hint of chill and the hedgerows full of bounty. And winter, when you can seek solitude or enjoy the celebrations on the busy streets of towns and cities. So when is the best time to visit the UK? The choice is yours. I’ll hand over to your guides to share some of the best things to see and do in the UK each season.
Wandering when to book your trip? Why not pin this for later.
- 1 When Is The Best Time To Visit The UK? Spring
- 2 London Is Bursting Into Flower For The Spring
- 3 The Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
- 4 Spring On The Yorkshire Coast
- 5 England’s Bluebell Woods In Spring, Hertfordshire
- 6 Spring On The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path
- 7 When Is The Best Time To Visit The UK? Summer
- 8 Cornwall In Summer
- 9 Summer In The Scottish Highlands
- 10 Summer In Oxfordshire (With Afternoon Tea)
- 11 When Is The Best Time To Visit The UK? Autumn
- 12 Sheffield Park And Garden in Sussex Clad in Autumn Colour
- 13 Autumn In The Lake District
- 14 Autumn In Exeter, Devon
- 15 When Is The Best Time To Visit The UK? Winter
- 16 Edinburgh in Winter
- 17 Exploring Bath In Winter
- 18 Hiking The Coast During Winter In Dorset
- 19 When Do You Think Is The Best Time To Visit The UK?
When Is The Best Time To Visit The UK? Spring
“Oh to be in England, now that April’s here.” Robert Browning
There’s great beauty to be had in springtime in the UK. The earth is coming back to life after winter, and you can see evidence of its renewal in places like the Vale of Evesham Blossom Trail. There are daffodils then bluebells in the woods. It may not be quite warm enough to swim yet, but the beach huts are opening for the season. Grab your drysuit or your wetsuit and the surf is up. The longer days give you more time to explore, and coastal and country walks are beckoning.
London Is Bursting Into Flower For The Spring
by Danila Caputo from Travelling Dany
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Spring in London is a very special time of the year. Not only because Instagram is flooded with pictures of wisteria and cherry blossoms. The British Capital in fact adds monuments and iconic views to the mix, offering a truly dreamlike experience to every kind of traveller.
One of the best places to go, if you’re looking for flowery patches and pretty petals, is the Kew Gardens. From March to the first half of May the gardens come alive. Five million flowers in bloom, romantic walks and a spectacular crocus carpet will make you glad to have visited in spring.
Greenwich Park is a close second: those who are planning to spend a day visiting the Royal Museums in Greenwich, should add the park to their itinerary. Blossom Avenue is one of the most beautiful places to spend an afternoon in London in spring!
While hunting for awesome souvenirs from London, you might also stop at Burlington Arcade. This unique arcade, which hosts 51 independent boutiques, usually sets up a lovely floral installation at its entrance: the perfect background for every influencer!
Last but not least, make sure you visit St Paul’s Cathedral Churchyard Garden if you’re looking for some wisteria shoots. This small garden is definitely less crowded if compared to the bigger and famous Royal Parks in London, yet it offers the chance to sit on a bench, admiring the majestic St Paul’s dome framed by green trees and lovely flowers. If you’re planning to take a few pictures, you should visit early in the morning: the light will be better!
The Causeway Coast, Northern Ireland
by Sinead of Map Made Memories
We enjoyed a fantastic springtime trip to the beautiful Causeway Coast in County Antrim in Northern Ireland. We experienced crisp, blue sky sunny days for exploring the windswept, dramatic Antrim coastline with longer daylight hours enabling us to pack a lot of sightseeing into our days. In the easily accessible Antrim Glens, we did scenic hikes amongst vivid yellow daffodils and past newborn lambs.
We spent hours beachcombing on the pristine beaches at Whitepark Bay and at the pretty coastal village of Cushenden. As it was out of peak season, major attractions such as Dunluce Castle and the popular Carrick a Rede rope bridge were much quieter. We even enjoyed the atmospheric Games of Thrones ‘Dark Hedges’ site at Armoy all to ourselves!
Undoubtedly, the highlight of our trip was visiting the stunning Giant’s Causeway. This busy summer spot was devoid of tourists on early Spring days. Plus, the colours of the landscape seemed to be heightened by the season. Overnight rainfall had enriched the famous black, geometric rocks whose wet stone sparkled in the low spring sunshine, all the while pounded by powerful spring tide waves. The rich, red-toned laterite rock found near the iconic Giants Chimney rock formation seemed to glow in the sunshine. I think we had unexpectedly – but luckily – visited at the best time of year!
Spring On The Yorkshire Coast
by Melissa McVeigh from Meet Me At The Pyramid Stage. Check out her account of walking Hadrian’s Wall Path.
Yorkshire, God’s own country (as its often referred to) boasts some of the most spectacular coast line in all of the United Kingdom. Spring is the best time to explore this breath taking region, an area that has inspired tales of pirates, vampires, epic battles and classic beach dramas.
Starting at the quintessential seaside town of Scarborough, take a walk along the promenade among the crab pots and seafood stalls; if you dare (and its warm enough) dip a toe in the North Sea. To truly discover the heart of the Yorkshire Coast, lace up your hiking books and proceed North on foot, following the Cleveland Way.
This 9 mile section will take you along the cliffs between Scarborough and the market town of Robin Hoods Bay. Spring along the coast will delight you with golden canola fields as far as the eye can see, curious and playful new lambs bounding in the pastures, and of course deep and dark ancient woodland that can be only have inspired by the Grimm Brothers. Stop for lunch at the Hayburn Wyke Inn hidden in the forest (follow the signs) for a hearty lunch before continuing on.
The final 3 miles of the coast heading into Robin Hoods Bay, will have you walk the exposed tops of the cliffs – here you may spy puffins nestled into the rocks. Robin Hoods Bay comes into view and it will leave you speechless (possibly from the energetic hike) – find yourself a cosy pub and have yourself the traditional meal of Fish (locally caught) and Chips and wash it down with a pint of real ale from the region.
A day on the Yorkshire Coast is merely scratching the surface, but when you come to this region even just once, it will have you wanting for more, and you will find yourself returning again and again.
England’s Bluebell Woods In Spring, Hertfordshire
by Ron and Michele Legge from Legging It
One of the most beautiful places to spend time in Spring is Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire. Not only does it have extensive bluebell woods, it also has a fascinating link to history. The 5000 acre National Trust property is a mixture of woodlands, park and gardens that were designed by Capability Brown a renowned landscaper responsible for many famous gardens in England including nearby Stowe in Buckinghamshire. His 1760 creation was upgraded in the early 19th century by Repton but his signature visual illusions remain in the Golden Valley which is open to the public.
The Ashridge Estate House was once a royal household of Henry the VIII. It is now a Management College, so you cannot visit the house unless you attend a private function. From the public areas you can still see the Neo- Gothic building complete with its tower, turrets, spire and archway to get an idea of what it is like.
You can however visit the Bridgewater monument an imposing granite Doric column topped by an urn; this was erected in 1832 to commemorate the third Duke of Bridgewater. History remembers him not only for his eccentricity but his building of a 10 mile canal between his coal mine in Worsley and Manchester making him the father of inland navigation in England. If you are feeling energetic you can climb the 172 spiral stairs to the top and take in the stunning views across the Hertfordshire countryside.
Ashridge is perfect for cycling, and the are plenty of tracks to explore the extensive woodlands with picnic areas. It is stunning at all times of the year but extra special in Spring when the bluebells are in flower.
Spring On The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path
By Alison Fay
Exploring the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastal path in spring is a must; with the longer days, increased wildlife activity and less chilly weather, spring gives you more time to enjoy this beautiful scenic area of Wales. Whether you’re planning on hiking, visiting port towns, bird watching or relaxing on a beach – Pembrokeshire has something for everyone to enjoy.
Along the north coast is the Abereiddy beach and the Blue Lagoon, a flooded quarry that has been reclaimed by nature. From here, you can walk along the coastal path towards the harbor town of PorthGain, stopping off at Traeth Llyfn – a beautiful beach, only accessible via the coastal path. On the west coast, you’ll find St David’s, a really quaint little city that offers a good place to rest and get a bite to eat in one of its many traditional Welsh Pubs. South of St David’s is St Non’s Retreat Centre, where St David was said to have been born. St Non’s Retreat connects onto a part of the coastal path, that offers breathtaking scenery, with jagged and unusually shaped rocks that makes for some amazing landscape photography. West of St David’s is Whitesands Bay, one of the more popular beaches so visiting in spring will help avoid the crowds. From Whitesand Bay you can continue along the coastal path, towards St David’s Head, this section of the coastal path crosses over sandy cliff edges before crossing into fields that during spring, is full of blooming plants and flowers.
Pembrokeshire is also home to tons of wildlife, including Atlantic puffins that return in late spring, to nest on Skomer Island. Boat trips to the island start in April, and visiting is a must as seeing these birds is a bucket list experience and they make for some adorable wildlife photography. Other wildlife in Pembrokeshire includes; whales, dolphins, seals, porpoises, and loads more. The boat trip season begins mid-March so visiting in spring will put you right at the start of the new season, and offers the perfect time to spot visiting birds as they return to Wales to nest.
When Is The Best Time To Visit The UK? Summer
Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” Henry James
Summer in the UK is an unpredictable beast. There can be rain – and plenty of it – described by we locals as liquid sunshine. But there can also be halcyon days when the non-liquid sunshine makes everyone happy. The big cities bring our their park life, where you’ll find picnics on the grass, squirrels hoping for a stealth feed, and time for messing about on the river. Then there are long days on the beach, walking and exploring in the National Parks such as the Lake District, where you can spend days hiking and boating.
Cornwall In Summer
by Leona from Wandermust Family. Check out the best things to do in Penzance and the surrounding area here.
It’s never a bad idea to visit Cornwall but in my opinion the best time to visit Cornwall is absolutely the summer!
I think Cornwall has the best beaches in the whole of the UK – a bold claim I know given the beautiful beaches around the country – but the perfect golden sand and crystal blue clear waters for me make Cornwall the best beach destination in the UK! Sun is never guaranteed in the UK but summer will give you the best chance to enjoy the beautiful Cornish beaches!
Cornwall also has some of the best gardens in the whole of the UK that are in full bloom during summer. Some of our favourite gardens to appreciate in the summer months are the Lost Gardens of Heligan and of course the famed biodomes of the Eden Project!
But don’t worry if you get a rainy day, Cornwall has loads of great indoor activities too such as visiting the beautiful St Michael’s Mount near Penzance- an island that gets cut off from the mainland during high tide, amazing museums such as the Tate at Ives, Maritime Museum and Penlee House art gallery! So even if it is a wet summer Cornwall will still deliver!
Cornwall is also renowned for having some of the best seafood in the UK and there is fresh fish aplenty in restaurants around the region in summer! For those who want a fine dining experience make reservations well in advance and head to Padstow to try the food at Rick Steins restaurant – a true bucket list Cornwall experience!
So if you want to visit Cornwall head there in summer to see the region in its full glory!
Summer In The Scottish Highlands
by Priya Vin from Outside Suburbia
Read Priya’s account of things to do in Scotland with kids here.
Filled with natural wonders the Scottish Highlands are perfect for a summer visit in the UK. The area is very sparsely populated, there are more cows than people here. Mountain ranges dominate the region including the highest mountain in the British Isles, the Ben Nevis.
When we were in Edinburgh, Scotland we went to see the magnificent beauty of Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, the Great Glen, Highland Perthshire and went looking for Nessie in Loch Ness.
Glencoe is Scotland’s most famous and most scenic and most historic glen, and it was recently voted as Scotland’s most romantic glen. Glencoe offers some of the Highland’s best hikes. We saw some highland cows with shaggy manes grazing on the meadows while driving through the beautiful glens
Mountain ranges dominate the region including the highest mountain in the British Isles, the Ben Nevis. We drove in the shadow of the mountain, before arriving at Fort Augustus on the shore of Loch Ness. Don’t miss a boat ride to go look for the legendary monster Nessie. Even if you don’t find the monster (my kids believe they spotted Nessie!), you will still be rewarded with some amazing views.
When driving through Fort William area we stopped to look around Old Inverlochy Castle (Pictured above). Now a ruin this was one of the most important castles in Scottish history and has been the backdrop for two major historical events, the first and second battles of Inverlochy.
Inverness the regional capital also has easy access to more Highland sights, including Culloden Battlefield. Isle of Skye is dramatic with castles, the craggy Cuillin Hills, the spiky The Old Man of Storr in Trotternish Peninsula, a dynamic clan history, and the colorful harbor town of Portree.
Summer In Oxfordshire (With Afternoon Tea)
by Annie from Off Goes Annie
You can’t beat visiting Oxfordshire in the summer – it’s my favourite part of the UK! By hopping on a one-hour train journey from London, you can quickly find yourself amongst rolling green hills and stunning architecture. It’s by far the easiest and closest rural escape from the big smoke of London, promising a fantastic country trip. Exploring around the beautiful university city of Oxford is perfect during the summer as most of the students have returned home, leaving much quieter streets and the ability to venture around the inside of the charming colleges. You’ll feel like you’re wandering around Hogwarts as you sightsee through Christ Church, which is far less accessible during term time.
Beyond this, Oxfordshire has so much to offer outside of town in the surrounding villages. Travel out to the gorgeous village of Eynsham to visit the incredibly grand Eynsham Hall for afternoon tea. As a perfectly typical British experience, sip tea and munch on delicious scones and cakes in this phenomenal mansion, set amongst 3000 acres of grounds and gardens. The food here is incredible, and as one of the most reasonable afternoon tea experiences, it’s the perfect way to spend a summer’s day. Ideally, try to visit during the week to avoid other events such as weddings. This will allow you greater freedom to explore this epic building and wander around the beautiful grounds. Make sure to book a table in advance, and allow yourself several hours to make the most of this beautiful setting.
When Is The Best Time To Visit The UK? Autumn
“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” J K Rowling
It’s confession time; this is my favourite season and I’ve already shared why autumn in England is such a great time to visit. On that first morning where there’s a hint of crispness in the air, but the sun is still vivid, I start to get excited at the thought of autumn. There are those walks, with crisp red and gold leaves scrunching underfoot, and mists in the morning. There are the crops harvested in the fields and windfall apples. There’s evidence of spiky pods being cracked open for chestnuts. Autumn seems to soften the country’s edges. Then there’s the bustle of return to school, and new students taking to university to become intoxicated with learning. It’s when both earth and people start to renew themselves.
Sheffield Park And Garden in Sussex Clad in Autumn Colour
By Andrea Wade from Happy Days Travel
Whilst there are several beautiful National Trust properties in Sussex, Sheffield Park and Garden near Haywards Heath holds a special place in my heart. I love the peace and tranquillity of the place and have many happy memories of walks around the lake and through the woods, particularly with my mother-in-law. I was always worried that she would trip and fall on the uneven ground as she walked along gazing up in awe at the magnificent trees!
Sheffield Park was landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the late eighteenth century. He created four lakes which formed the centrepiece of the park. His legacy remains, but it was Arthur Gilstrap Soames, who bought the estate in 1910, who was responsible for the ambitious planting programme, the spectacular results of which delight visitors today.
It is a joy to visit Sheffield Park at any time of the year. You can walk along the paths that wind through the woods, admire the lakes with their cascades and bridges, or enjoy a picnic in a quiet, shady spot. Wreath-making workshops are just one of many reasons to visit Sheffield Park in winter. In spring, the rhododendron garden is a sight to behold with flamboyant displays in vivid blues and pinks. The waterlilies are at their best in summer.
It is in autumn, though, when Sheffield Park comes into its own. The park glows with brilliant shows of reds, oranges, purples and greens, all reflected back in the mirror-like lakes. There are 25 species of acer ranging in colour from lime green to scarlet. 400 tupelos, raised from seed by Soames specifically to recreate the ‘fall’ colours he’d seen in the USA, give an eye-catching display. The katsura tree has foliage which changes from pale yellow to smoky dark pink and gives off an intriguing aroma of burnt sugar. There are maidenhair trees with brilliant amber leaves and several species of euonymus which have bright red fruit and leaves. All of these produce a stunning palette of autumn colour, the like of which I’ve rarely seen elsewhere.
Autumn In The Lake District
By Cat Smith from Walk My World
We’ve visited the Lake District in all seasons and none are more special than Autumn. The madness of the summer crowds is over and you’ll find the villages and fells are quiet and peaceful once more. Whilst the weather can be unpredictable at any time of year, Autumn often features sunny days and of course the chance to see some beautiful displays of colour. Perfect for photography.
If you love hiking it’s an ideal time to come with the opportunity to find a little solitude on even the most popular hikes. We shared the top of Scafell Pike, England’s tallest mountain, with just two others in the middle of the day – something that is unthinkable in summer! You can do everything from casual strolls around the water – such as the the Tarn Hows loop – to epic full day adventures on the incredible peaks of Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell.
After a day out on the fells or wandering one of the chocolate box villages (don’t miss Grasmere, Hawkshead and Buttermere) there’s nothing better than settling in at a cosy pub with a real log fire. Less crowds make experiences like visiting Beatrix Potter’s home or William Wordworth’s cottage (two of England’s most famous writers) that much more enjoyable – as neither home is very big!
As well as fewer crowds you’ll also find accommodation can be as much as 50% lower than during peak season and can be booked much closer to the time allowing you more flexibility in your plans.
Autumn In Exeter, Devon
by Nabiha Khan from Verses by a Voyager
The UK is a beautiful country, is very diverse in climate and enjoys all the four seasons. The south-west of the country gets more sunshine and less snowfall as compared to the rest of the UK. One of the cities in the south-west, Exeter, the capital of Devon is mesmerizing during autumn season.
Exeter is an ancient, small city and was built next to the River Exe. It has plenty of outdoor activities to do and lot of natural beauty to enjoy. The University of Exeter also has some perfect spots to enjoy the autumn season. During this time of the year, the city is decorated with fallen maple leaves all around. These trees with yellowish red leaves present a splendid sight across the city. There are many such trees all across the city and during autumn, their fallen leaves present a beautiful English sight, especially on sunny days.
One of the must-do activities in Exeter is having lunch near Exeter Quay. Exeter has a beautiful riverside which lot of greenery and plenty of restaurants. During autumn, the fallen leaves make this area look very lovely and gives an amazing vibe. Another great location to enjoy the autumn beauty in Exeter is in the University of Exeter. The university is beautifully decorated with trees all around and during the autumn season these spots become even more beautiful. There are some very secluded outdoor areas in the university and these are perfect spots to enjoy the autumn beauty in the city.
When Is The Best Time To Visit The UK? Winter
“There are two seasons in Scotland. June and winter. In Scotland, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.”
The UK has a mild climate, but you’ll still see snow further north and in the hills. You might get lucky and book a snowy night to take the sleeper train to the Scottish Highlands. Even places like Dartmoor, which is far south, get snow at elevation. You can see the hardy moor ponies making the most of the weather. Then there are cities that sparkle in the frostiness of winter: York and the narrow streets of The Shambles, the Hogmanay celebrations of Edinburgh and the lights and Christmas markets in London. Even peering in the shop windows at the Christmas decorations is a celebration in itself. There’s a certain pleasure too in experiencing the wind and rain, then diving inside for a cooked breakfast or afternoon tea. Nothing warms you up more than a traditional roast diner or a toad in the hole. (Confused? Check out traditional British food here.)
Edinburgh in Winter
By Eric and Lisa from Penguin and Pia
While visiting the UK is generally best reserved for the warmer months, spending time in Edinburgh in the winter time can be a festive and fantastic experience. Despite the cold weather, the chilly wind, and the often relentless rain showers, there are always things to do in Edinburgh.
Seeing the sidewalks, cobblestones, and the old architecture give off a bit of a sheen when wet actually (we think) enhances the experience of exploring the city centre. In the winter months, The Royal Mile – a road that stretches from Edinburgh Castle down to the Scottish Parliament Building – becomes a bustling hub of lights and activity.
If you are in Edinburgh in the winter months from November to early January, you will be around for the famous Edinburgh Christmas Market. Located in the Princes Street Gardens, this massive sprawling collection of wooden shops and stalls, food vendors, rides, a skating rink, and more truly does have something for everyone. You can choose a sweet treat, a hot snack, or even a cup of delicious mulled wine to warm you up (a personal favourite)!
If you decide to stick around after Christmas, Edinburgh is globally known for one of the best New Years celebrations – Hogmanay! From live shows and street parties to the incredible Torchlight Procession that brings thousands together, there are few better ways to ring in the New Year. Not to mention you get to see amazing firework displays!
Overall, as long as you are dressed warmly, there’s no reason you can’t be outside enjoying the sights and sounds of a wintry Edinburgh!
Exploring Bath In Winter
By Brooke and Buddy Baum from Trailing Away.
As the temperatures drop, many people resort to hiding indoors. But, it’s actually a wonderful time to get out and explore! The crowds dwindle down and the crisp air is refreshing on long strolls through the countryside or a new city. However, it is nice to have a way to warm up and relax – so a trip to the spa is a great way to reward yourself after a long day of outdoor adventures. Luckily, all of this is available in beautiful Bath, England.
Just a short trip from the London area, this well-preserved city is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its Georgian history, Neo-classical architecture, and famous historic Roman Baths – which tourists flock to this area to see. Luckily, in off-season, you can have a chance to see them for yourself without having hundreds of strangers crowding your space.
A ride on the hop-on-hop-off bus can also give you a great rundown of many of the reasons this is such a popular place to visit while getting to take in the beautiful buildings and surrounding countryside. Plus, there’s great food and cider – another of the city’s claims to fame! But, a can’t-miss while visiting Bath is taking a trip to the spa. The Thermae Spa in particular offers amazing rooftop views and a chance to soak in the same water the Romans did! This is the only natural hot mineral spring water in the UK and a grand excuse to plan a winter spa retreat to Bath.
Hiking The Coast During Winter In Dorset
By Hanna Thomas from Solar Powered Blonde. Read about her discovery of a pink lake in Aigues Mortes, France here.
I am from London and I have never enjoyed winter in the UK as much as I did in Dorset! My boyfriend is a drone pilot and this was very high on his bucket list. We stayed in two places in Dorset, and the accommodation we found made the trip even better. Both places we stayed, we were in a field in a small hut, surrounded by nature and totally secluded.
My favourite place we visited was Old Harry Rocks. This is an incredible rock formation, seen best from the sea, or with a drone. You can also see lots of the amazing white cliffs from standing on top of them. It is a lovely place to walk and we loved it so much we went here on New Years Day for an early morning walk. Although it was chilly, it was great to wrap up and explore the coastline here.
My second favourite place here was Lulworth Cove. You wouldn’t think it was the UK if you saw the colour of the water here. Then right next door to this beautiful Cove is Durdle Door, a natural arch jutting out into the sea. There is also a lovely long sandy beach here, and it is a perfect sunrise spot for photographers like us. The sun comes up right through the arch. It was very chilly but actually very romantic walking along the beach at sunrise with no one else there. For a serious hike, I would recommend Worbarrow Bay.
It is a steep hike, but will keep you warm in winter and the views from the top of the hill over the bay are perfect! We also ate plenty of delicious warm Cornish Pasties, which you must try while you are here. The beauty of Dorset at winter for me was how peaceful it is, I can only imagine how busy it is in summer. It was a really beautiful place to spend New Years, relax, and do some great hikes and walks along the beaches.
When Do You Think Is The Best Time To Visit The UK?
I’m spoiled. I get to enjoy the best of each season. If you decide to visit, check out some great 10 day itineraries for the UK at any time of year. When is the best time to visit the UK and why? If you can’t decide, that’s a great reason to return time and time again.
Thank you for sharing – we do appreciate your comments too.