Although the United Kingdom occupies a relatively small island, its vibrant history as the seat of a world empire makes it a giant among weekend getaway destinations. The possibilities of where to go and what to see are as diverse as the rich histories and colourful cultures of England, Scotland and Wales. Some deservedly famous towns and cities in the United Kingdom have attractions and accommodations that are surprisingly cost-effective to make your UK getaway a memorable one.
The city of York in North Yorkshire, England is famous for its walls and its Roman settlement. York was the hometown of Guy Fawkes, famous for plotting the gunpowder plot to blow-up Parliament in 1605. York also was a base for emperors Hadrian and Septimius Severus during Roman times. Depending on lodging needs, and whether children will be travelling, too, it is possible to book a reasonably nice hotel for less than £65 per night. To see York from a less posh but still adorable dwelling, travellers should look into cottage hotels, which run upwards from £39 per night. There might not be as many amenities but you will have a self-contained kitchen to cut down on eating out. Explore York's outdoor markets and picturesque streets before heading home to cook in the cottage apartment. There are free walking tours available, and the York Visitor Information Center offers a two-mile walk along the city walls where tourists are invited to rub the panels for a take home souvenir by placing a sheet of paper on top of the stone, and rubbing a piece of coloured wax over the paper. For about £3, visit the Aldborough Roman Site and marvel at the Roman mosaic floor. Also included in the ticket price is the museum at this northernmost Roman settlement.
Two days in Edinburgh is just enough for seeing a few castles, pubs and attractions with its easy transport links and wide variety of accommodations. Begin at Edinburgh Castle, but bring your student ID if you have one, as the entry price, which includes a guided tour and access to the Castle and grounds, is about £14 for adults and only £11 for students. A World Heritage Site, the Castle dates from the 12th century and houses the Crown Jewels of Scotland and the Great Hall built by James IV in 1510. Visit the New Town to take in the urban architecture and have lunch in the fashionable West End for some of the UK's best seafood. Edinburgh is a student town, and, as such, offers an excellent transportation service, so avoid cabs to keep your holiday thrifty. For an almost-free walking tour of the historic city, download a Tourist Track for about £7 and take in the sights at your own convenience, using your MP3 player as a tour guide. In a central location, a hostel can run from £7 to £29 per night, so book in advance and opt for a place outside the city centre. If privacy is important, a mid-range hotel in Edinburgh can cost easily £97 per night for a double room. A budget option is to explore the university accommodation if travelling outside of term time, as universities in Britain often rent out rooms to tourists.
For a sleepy Welsh holiday, visit the university town of Aberystwyth, situated on the banks of the Irish Sea on the West Coast of Wales. Somewhat isolated, Aberystwyth is a lovely seaside weekend destination only about 100 miles from Cardiff, and with easy links to London and Birmingham. There are two beaches in this Welsh town, and the main draws are the Iron Age fortress and the castle Ruins. With a population of about 16,000 and the student numbers topping 7,000, Aberystwyth has a healthy nightlife for its size with some fifty pubs, cute little cafes and a wide range of international cuisine. For a cheap weekend at this beachfront college town, stay in university accommodation for about £17 per person, per night. Frugal luxury can be found with guest houses and bed-and-breakfasts averaging about £29 per person per night.