If your New Year's Resolution was to fly less this year to help do your bit to curb climate change, then you're probably panicking right now.
The first few months of the year, often the dreariest, are peak holiday booking time as people plan summer escapes to distract them from the misery of January and February. Everywhere you look there are adverts encouraging you to book those flights and indulge your future self in a week of sunshine in Italy, Vietnam or Dubai.
While taking a train to some far-flung place sounds fun, you've got limited annual leave and limited cash and, unlike Greta Thunberg, sailing across the Atlantic isn't exactly something you're equipped to do.
But there are plenty of places that really aren't that far at all from home – places that take less than six hours to get to either by train and ferry or by car. While you've been scanning Instagram, yearning to head further afield, it turns out we've been ignoring beautiful beaches, incredible food and stunning scenery right on our own doorstep.
A couple of super handy tips. When it comes to train travel, The Man in Seat 61 is your bible. This guy has mapped out multiple routes by train to most places in the world, suitable stopovers included for longer journeys. Another great tip, this time from our Money Diary Facebook group, is that Eurostar tickets go on sale exactly three months before departure. If you can get in there early, you've got a better chance of snapping up their £29 tickets.
Ahead, we've rounded up our pick of a few places you can get to in six hours or less because, let's face it, with all the faff of flying, what plane trip hasn't taken you just as long?
Did you have a no-fly holiday that took less than six hours to get to? We want to keep adding to this list so let us know in the comments or drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org
, WalesJust over a five hour drive from London, three hours from Manchester and four hours from Bristol or six (ish) hours from London by train
While tough to get to (train stops past Machynlleth
are literally request stops and the closest motorway is somewhere around Liverpool), it is nevertheless worth the trek to what is surely one of the most spectacular areas the UK has to offer.
Head to Aberdaron for surfing, beaching, pubs and fish and chips, and Abersoch for more of the same but slightly bougier. Portmeirion
, the absolutely bonkers town based on the Italian Riviera (sure) sits just at the top of the Llyn and absolutely needs to be on your list.
For walkers, there's no end of incredible routes to take advantage of
, and again, horse riders and sea activity aficionados will be in their element. The sea is, of course, cold but with the right wetsuit and the right summer's day, you'd be hard pressed to distinguish the beaches from those in southern Europe.
For the intrepid, there's even an island called Bardsey
which is said to hold the graves of 20,000 saints and is only reachable in the summer months due to devastating tides. It is (probably definitely) haunted.
Deauville, FranceFive hours and 49 minutes from London by ferry and car or five hours and 10 minutes from London by train
If it's a beach holiday you're after then Deauville and nearby Trouville are perfect. Located in Normandy, right on the Atlantic coast (the sea might be a tad
colder than the Mediterranean), Deauville was created as a chic holiday town for the well-heeled in the 1860s and features grand hotels
, an impressive boardwalk and a famous casino.
These days, it's still upmarket and home to six huge sandy beaches, a seawater lido and plenty of amazing restaurants (some at EXORBITANT prices but there's enough to keep the budget traveller happy too – Au Potager near Trouville
, which grows lots of its own veg, for instance). Also, sailors, horse riders and yogis take note: there are plenty of activities for you to do on the beaches.
If you're driving, check out the nearby Parc Naturel Régional des Boucles de la Seine for beautiful walks, castles and even the odd also haunted (maybe?) ruin
The North Coast 500, Scottish HighlandsThree hours from Edinburgh to Inverness via LNER train line
In Inverness, you're going to want to visit the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery to get some context of what's to come. And just outside the city (regular bus services go), you can do your bit to see if you can spot Nessie in Loch Ness.
To go further, you're going to need to rent yourself a car (low emission of course) and take yourself off on a round trip of the North Coast 500, a 516-mile road that circles the northernmost section of the Scottish mainland. 10/10 would not recommend doing this during the colder months: winter + driving + northern Scotland do not mix well – especially if you're not used to driving.
On the way you'll encounter John o' Groats, stunning beaches (Sinclairs Bay and Redpoint are two), castles (definitely
haunted) and insane natural wonders.
Deffo stop off at the Isle of Mull for some hiking and (in the experience of one R29er) wild otters, seals and puffins on a kayak trip around the island.
Also, for the Harry Potter fans, once you hit Fort William, you'll be mere miles from the Glenfinnan Viaduct – or, as you more likely know it, the bridge that the Hogwarts Express goes over. Take a ride on the West Highland Line.
Ghent and Ostend, BelgiumThree to four hours by Eurostar from London or four and a half hours by ferry and car if you drive
Sure, the Eurostar goes to Brussels and Bruges but everyone goes to Brussels and Bruges. These days, Ghent is where it's all kicking off.
It's a university town, which means that there are plenty of places a hip, young, trendy person like yourself would like to hang out – by which I mean cheap bars, live music venues and restaurants full of other cool young people.
Drinking and socialising aside, Ghent looks like a storybook town, the architecture is ridiculously beautiful and it's worth getting lost down the narrow cobbled streets
for at least one day to see what you find.
Make sure you explore the outrageously imposing Gravensteen Castle
(with 24 turrets it's clear someone was compensating for something
), the STAM Ghent City Museum, the Design Museum and the House of Alijn.
Nearby, in Ostend, there's an unexpectedly brilliant beach
that seems very out of place for Belgium and is marvellous if you're there in the hot summer months.
Cologne, GermanyRoughly four and a half hours from London via Eurostar
If you know anything about Cologne, it's probably that it's got a massive cathedral with two spires that looks like it was built as a definitive F you to anyone who dared visit from neighbouring cities.
But! There is more to this super fun, laid-back city than a big old building (although it's worth noting the sunset with the cathedral in view from the KölnTriangle is an absolute must).
There is a huge number of bars and restaurants – check out Ehrenfeld, the 'arty' bit of the city, for street art, galleries, warehouses and more.
When it comes to museums, visit Museum Ludwig for a really great modern art collection and the Chocolate Museum, which has a pick 'n' mix Lindt chocolate station in its café. Heaven really is a place on Earth.
SarkThree hours and 42 minutes from Poole to Guernsey via ferry and then 55 minutes via ferry from Guernsey
Located between Guernsey and Jersey, this teeny island has banned cars, making it as peaceful a holiday as you're going to get in the UK (it is
weirdly UK territory despite being just a few miles off the northern coast of France).
There's all sorts of wholesome activities to do on Sark, from the beautiful La Seignurie Gardens
to cycling La Coupée
. There are plenty of activities planned by locals, like yoga, stargazing or taking a trip around the island in a traditional fishing boat.
The beaches are unrivalled. Check out Derrible, Dixcart and Greve de la Ville (but do remember it's the Atlantic and the water's unlikely to be super warm). If you're looking for something a little different, hunt down the Venus Pool
, a natural rock pool only accessible two hours either side of low water.
DublinThree hours and 15 minutes via ferry from Holyhead
You might have already been to Dublin but it's entirely possible that you've only been to tourist
Dublin. These tips (from a real-life Dubliner) will keep you off the Guinness trail.
"Temple Bar is fine
for a stroll through but it is a tourist trap so you’d be better off just looking and then going for a pint somewhere the locals drink, like Grogans
, where the art on the walls is as diverse as the clientele. Try Kehoes
off Grafton Street and stick your head inside the Horseshoe Bar in the very swanky Shelbourne Hotel
(right across from St Stephens Green). The new Aloft hotel has an old Dublin pub attached to it as its 'residence' bar and roof terrace.
If you want to see a little of the coast, get the Dart
to Dún Laoghaire
where you can see the famous tower from Ulysses
. Do the pier walk and stop at People's Park for the Sunday food market or get fish and chips at Howth.
If you are a brunch person there is a new brunch place in Dublin 8 called Daddy’s
. Again, it's local-approved. There is also a new and good restaurant off Camden Street called Sprezzatura
which is so
The Guinness Museum is
actually worth it to be fair, and the Leprechaun Museum is JOKES. I also love to go to the gates of Trinity and see the lovely grounds, then go see the Book of Kells
in the library."