The pandemic has forced us reconsider the ‘Staycation’. With tourist hot-spots booking up fast, online motor marketplace DYLER has compiled a handy guide to help us choose the perfect holiday for your summer getaway.

We’ll look at the national figures shortly, but first, how did we fair here in Wales? Pretty good as it happens.

  • Top Performers: Gwynedd (1), Anglesey (2) and Conwy (3) named as the best Welsh counties for a road trip this year
  • The Great Outdoors: Powys, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion rank as the best counties for nature lovers with high numbers of quality campsites and walking trails
  • For the Drivers: Merthyr Tydfil is the best county for the designated drivers with some of the best access to car parks and petrol stations not just in Wales but in the UK
  • Diversion! Flintshire has been named the worst Welsh county to road trip in this year 
  • To Do List: Dyler recommends a road trip round A498 – Snowdonia and A470 – Cardiff to Conwy (Dragon’s Spine)
  • Green Space: Cardiff and Torfaen rank in the top 10 counties in the UK according to the number of green spaces

GWYNEDD is our top Welsh performer, it share borders with Powys, Conwy, Denbighshire, Anglesey over the Menai Strait, and Ceredigion over the River Dyfi. The scenic Llŷn Peninsula and most of Snowdonia National Park are in Gwynedd. 

Mount Tryfan in the Ogwen Valley on Snowdonia National Park

As a local government area, it is the second largest in Wales in terms of land area and also one of the most sparsely populated. A majority of the population is Welsh-speaking. Gwynedd also refers to being one of the preserved counties of Wales, covering the two local government areas of Gwynedd and Anglesey. 

Here in South Wales, Merthyr is such a beautiful place to drive through and across. The town itself has held many cultural events. Local poets and writers hold poetry evenings in the town, and music festivals are organised at Cyfarthfa Castle and Park.

The road improvements mean the town is increasingly a commuter location and has shown some of the highest house price growth in the UK.

Once you are up the Heads Of The Valley road on the A465, there are some of the best views you’ll find anywhere in the country. Along the route too there are lots of places to stop and enjoy what South Wales has to offer.

The UK’s top staycation spots

The research considered a variety of factors, from the safest roads to the most dog-friendly restaurants. Across all these factors, who came out best overall?

The popularity of Cornwall and Devon isn’t misjudged, as both counties score highly across the board. Devon came in third place overall and performed outstandingly for nature and accommodation factors. However, Devon scores poorly for ‘quietness’, so avoid this destination if beating the crowds is a priority.

Perhaps due to its longer, winding coastline, tourists can find more tranquility in Cornwall. Again, this county outdoes itself on hospitality and things to do, making it the UK’s second best staycation destination.

But the overall winner is the North-Western region of Cumbria, England. Cumbria is not only home to the Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it also encompasses parts of the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines. It matches the Cornish Riviera’s accommodation, natural beauty and activities, but is better for drivers and boasts the safest roads in England.

Bowness Pier at Bowness-on-Windermere

The research also suggested places to avoid. North Lanarkshire’s offers only one hiking route and two campsites on offer, landing the Scottish region in third to last position. With limited hotels to choose between, the Welsh county Flintshire’s hospitality was found wanting, faring only better than Northamptonshire, England (which scored particularly poorly for drivers).

Where to go for a road trip

Scotland accounts for eight of the top ten regions for driving and meets practical necessities (like safe roads and petrol stations) whilst also providing dramatic views. Shetland tops the list, followed by the less well known Clackmannanshire.

Merthyr Tydfil in Wales is officially the third best road trip destination. The region has a high density of car parks, making it easier to take pit-stops to enjoy some of the many attractions or walks the county offers.

Merthyr Tydfil Walking Route

Urban areas scored poorly for drivers, due predominantly to the amount of road accidents. Merseyside comes worst for overall drive-ability, with below average access to petrol stations and dangerous roads. The West Midlands comes second-worst, and is narrowly followed by Greater Manchester which has had a shocking 3212 recorded road-side fatalities since 2012.

Where to go for a break in Nature

Two Scottish regions are tied in first position for best nature breaks, the Highlands and Stirlingshire. The Highlands hosts more than 89 different routes to ramble round and at least 86 camp-sites to choose between. Stirlingshire offers a less saturated option to escape the crowds and get in touch with nature, scoring high on ‘quietness’ but low on ‘trendiest’. Cumbria, our overall winner, comes in third.

The regions scoring lowest for this factor are Buckinghamshire, Surrey and Northamptonshire. All score poorly for access to green space, walking routes and road safety.

Where to go for the best culture and hospitality

To work out the UK’s ‘cultural destinations’, we considered the things to do in the area (museums, national trust destinations etc.), alongside the number of hotels, the number of pet-friendly restaurants and how ‘trendy’ the area is.

Cornwall has inspired many artists and writers, and has at least 3744 hotels to choose from, the most of any region after London. Those travelling with dogs should consider Devon which offers 182 dog-friendly places to stay. In third position is Cumbria, with a complex history as fascinating as its landscape, it has more than 238 attractions to keep visitors busy.

At the bottom of this list is Inverclyde, Scotland. According to the research, the county offers no pet-friendly accommodation, and scores low to average on all other factors. Other underwhelming destinations are Flintshire, Wales (which ranks in the bottom three overall) and Blaenau Gwent, also in Wales.

The trendiest, and most peaceful, UK spots

To work out how ‘trendy’ destinations are, Dyler evaluated the google search metrics for each region. The cosmopolitan cities of London, Glasgow and Cardiff take the hot-spots, although — perhaps surprisingly — Edinburgh has fallen out of fashion, coming last. In fact, 18 of the 20 least-trendy regions can be found in Scotland, with Stirlingshire and Perth and Kinross in the bottom three.

Perth in Scotland

In contrast, for tourists after a more tranquil break, the research also took into account the ‘quietness’ of each area. The Orkney Islands, Shetland and Clackmannanshire (all remote Scottish locations) are the least densely populated spots in the UK, whereas London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester are the most cramped.

To see the full list just go here DYLER

Also take a look at our feature which is packed with ideas for a UK STAYCATION

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