Planning your weekend trip away, both near and far

If you're planning to spend a weekend away from the daily routine, we've got top tips and itinerary ideas to help you on your way, whether you want to explore English history and heritage or head abroad for an action-packed city escape.

Taking weekend trips in the UK

If you've only got a couple of days at your disposal it could be easier to plan a weekend escape close to home. After all, the UK has plenty of urban escapes and cultural breaks to keep you happy, wherever your interests and budget lie.

Get your big city kicks in London

For a varied and action-packed weekend trip in the UK, you can't do much better than the nation's capital. If you want a weekend full of good food, hip bars and clubs that are open till the early hours, you'll find plenty here. Or, if you prefer the rather more sedate charms of museums, galleries and botanical gardens, you'll find those here too. When you need a break from all that action, there are plenty of top notch places in which to rest your head, whether you fancy a stylish loft in the East End, a gracious Victorian townhouse in Notting Hill or a houseboat next to the Thames.

Get acquainted with the Bard in Stratford-upon-Avon

The Tudor market town of Stratford-upon-Avon is famous for one thing - being the childhood home of William Shakespeare, who was born here in the late 16th century. This means that the town's half-timbered streets are rammed with tourists come the summer season, so stick to the autumn or the spring if you want to spend a quiet weekend here. And come here you should. Not only are there some beautiful heritage buildings to visit, the town has some excellent pubs and restaurants; it's also the best place in the world to take in some of the playwright's works - courtesy of the feted Royal Shakespeare Company.

Breathe in the sea air on a lively weekend away in Brighton

British seaside resorts have been big news ever since the Victorian era, and Brighton has remained enduringly popular throughout. Bold, brash and Bohemian, Brighton is known not just for its traditional pier, Regency Pavilion and seafront amusement arcades, but for its thriving nightlife, lively gay scene and an alternative spirit that's visible throughout the town, from its vintage shops and vegan cooperatives to its cabaret scene. It has some pretty fancy rental properties too, including sea-view apartments in elegant Georgian squares and modern townhouses a short hop from the shops, clubs and bars.

Taking weekend trips abroad

If you fancy something a little more exciting, why not spend your weekend away abroad? There are plenty of places a short flight away from the UK where you can visit top notch tourists attractions and soak up a little foreign culture, too.

Explore the canals of Amsterdam

OK, so Amsterdam may have a reputation as a party town, thanks to its Red Light District and numerous coffee shops, but there's plenty on offer for a grown up weekend city break as well. The city has a compact city centre linked by numerous canals, so it's easy to get around on foot or by bike. What's more, its numerous museums and heritage sights mean that it's perfect for a cultural city break. Book a holiday letting here and you could be gazing at world famous art at the Van Gogh Museum or Rijksmuseum, or learning about the moving story of Anne Frank and her family at the Anne Frank House.

Live it large in New York City

Yes, New York is 7 to 8 hours away from the UK by plane, but if you have a long weekend to spare, then heading across the pond is perfectly doable. Visit in December and the atmosphere is magical, with ice skating in Central Park, checking out the Christmas lights at Rockefeller Center and viewing the window displays (and the clothes) in the city's top departments stores all top tourist must-dos. You'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to holiday lettings, too, whether you want a polished modern apartment in a soaring Manhattan skyscraper or an elegant brownstone in hip Brooklyn.