Boats bobbing on the waves, pastel-washed beach huts, atmospheric lanes – yes Whitstable’s lovely looking but the real reason to come here is to eat. The town is home some of the UK’s best seafood, a fact celebrated each summer with its oyster festival. Head to centuries-old Wheeler’s or get your oysters cooked right in front of you at The Forge. Top it all off with a drink and dose of salty air at the Old Neptune – a charming white timber structure that’s one of the only pubs in the UK to be set right on a beach.
Getting there: One hour 20 minutes by train from London Victoria or one hour 10 minutes from St Pancras International; around one hour 40 minutes by car.
Charming and compact, this East Sussex town is a delight to explore. Amongst the history-steeped Georgian and medieval buildings that grace its cobbled streets are flashes of newness: high-end interior shops, independent coffee shops and some fantastic eateries have all carved out a home here. Duck into a quirky bookshop, gorge on seafood at The Ship Inn, check out the nearby Chapel Down Winery or just dig your toes in the sand – the rolling, sugary dunes of Camber Sands are only a ten-minute drive away.
Getting there: One hour 10 minutes by train from London St Pancras International; around two hours 30 minutes by car.
Trade in congested city streets for a rather different traffic issue: wild horses. These magnificent beasts with their windswept manes rule the roads here. Make peace with the leisurely pace and embrace what the New Forest does best: getting back to basics. Amble through sunlight-speckled woodland lanes, cycle across open pastures or explore the charming market towns that dot the area. Fallen under the New Forest’s spell? Luckily this is a great place to stay: soak your limbs at The Lime Wood Hotel’s spa or hunker down at the original The Pig hotel.
Getting there: One hour 30 minutes by train from London Waterloo to Brockenhurst; around two hours by car.