11 Inspiring Last Minute Breaks for the 2023 Bank Holiday Bonanza

by Karly Rayner

The bumper edition of Bank Holidays this May make it the perfect month to escape the everyday with a last minute getaway. 

Whether you fancy surprising yourself with an unfathomably under-visited city or escaping it all in a remote corner, this selection of UK-wide breaks has you covered. 

Oh, and there’s also a relaxing night in a haunted jail or on a Bond Villain-style island to cover that person in your life who's already seen it all. 

Surprising Cities 


Image credit: Trip Advisor 

I know, I know. Starting the list with Hull is a bold move, but it really is a delight. Like many others, I rolled my eyes when Hull was crowned as the City of Culture in 2017, but I ate my hat when I visited recently. 

With a quaint, chocolate box old town, a stunning marina and some world class museums, Hull makes a great city break. Oh, and if you have little ones in tow, they will love The Deep aquarium. 


Image credit: Flickr.com/nicksarebi

Straddling the River Avon and enveloped by hills, Bristol is a city with a real buzz. Lively nightlife, often with an alternative bent, meets absolutely breathtaking scenery. 

The harbourside’s 19th century warehouses are now converted into restaurants and art galleries with locally sourced food and microbreweries to tempt the palate. The Grain Barge is housed on a huge boat and is my top tip for lush (gotta get down with the dialect) local grub. 

Take a trip to the decidedly upmarket Clifton Village for a posh pub lunch, and test your head for heights on the genuinely terrifying Clifton Suspension Bridge. 


Image credit: Wikicommons

I currently reside in Sheffield where literally everyone went to the Jorvik Viking Centre in York as a school trip and cannot get enough of talking you through the ride in great detail after a couple of glasses of wine. Honestly, it’s like a cult. 

As amazing as the Jorvik Viking Centre is (yes, I let them take me in the end), York has so much more to offer. This walled city was founded by the ancient Romans and is steeped in history. The 13th Century cathedral is an absolute stunner and the atmospheric cobbled streets of the  mediaeval Shambles are a paradise for moseying about in quaint local boutiques. Great charity shops too! 

Hideaway From it All

Isle of Skye 

Image credit: Wikicommons

If you fancy hiding away from humanity and be pretty much uncontactable 98% of the time, get yourself off to the Isle of Skye. 

With rugged, dramatic views blowing your mind from all angles, no matter where you go, there is not a corner of this island which isn’t jaw droppingly picturesque. While areas like the unique Fairy Glen can get a little busy, you’ll have a lot of the island to yourself and there are plenty of spots to park up by the side of the road (important note: Not the designated passing places) and soak up the scenery.

Make sure you book all your meals in advance as the tiny local community struggles to meet capacity. I stayed at Skye Eco Bells in Dunvegan, but if you want a bit more civilization, go for Portree. 

Yorkshire Dales 

Image Credit: Flickr.com/einalem

The vast Yorkshire Dales offer a great opportunity to strap on your walking boots and bathe in the majesty of nature. The small, picturesque village of Malham makes a wonderful base with a pretty little stream cutting through the stone-built village. 

There are plenty of manageable local walks to beauty spots such as Malham Cove, and it’s a short drive to other beauty spots such as Rylstone Cross and Victoria Cave.

By the Sea 


Image credit: Wikicommons

The South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty doesn’t mess about and Salcombe is the jewel in the crown. If you catch it on a sunny day, the smattering of bays and coves shimmer turquoise like the Mediterranean, but with better fish and chips. 

Overbecks Garden, carved into the cliffs with tropical palm trees and panoramic seascape as a fetching backdrop is a must see. Soar Mill Cove beach is only accessible by foot, so generally peaceful and quiet. 


Image credit: Wikicommons

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park provides a totally different kind of coastline, but just as magnificent. 

With a 186 mile long coastal path offering some of the most varied coastline in the country, you’re spoiled for choice here and accommodation is still surprisingly affordable. The pretty pastel-painted Tenby or the UK’s smallest city, St David’s both provide a pleasant base for exploring. 

Something Totally Out There 

Shrewsbury Prison

Image credit: Flickr.com/Frank_kinch

If you want to do something totally different, why not scare yourself stupid in the most haunted prison in the UK? It will be a far cry from relaxing, but hopefully it will leave you feeling grateful that the stress of working life is somewhat more clement.  

Belle Tout Lighthouse 

Image credit: Flickr.com/rwassell

Belle Tout Lighthouse at Beachy Head in Eastbourne has six luxurious rooms which, as you might expect, offer panoramic sea views. 

This lighthouse has so many tales to tell that it has its very own book. One of the most recent chapters in its colourful history involves moving the whole building to save it from coastal erosion. 

Before you go, it might be tempting to watch some films about lighthouses to get you in the mood. It might have the temptation of RPatz, but avoid the one by Robert Eggers unless you’re a bit of a sadist. 

No Man’s Fort 

Image credit: Berkshire Live 

Sadly, this fort is currently up for sale, so it isn’t available to stay in right now, but I just had to include it as it’s truly unique and will hopefully be back in business soon. 

Originally built between 1867 and 1880 to protect Portsmouth from attack from Napoleon, this Victorian fort is like a Bond Villain’s lair, but with a sauna, a helipad and laser quest. Oh, and Jeremy Beadle was once locked up in its basement for 6 weeks for a 2002 TV show. 


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