Looking for the UK bank holiday dates for 2024? Find them right here, plus cheap long-weekend destination ideas
Bank holidays in the UK are a big deal, whether that be for big football fixtures, the excuse to drink on a Sunday night, or taking a minibreak. We don’t get that many bank holidays, after all, and so it’s no surprise that lots of us jump at the chance of a long weekend away. So that you can plan ahead, here are some suggestions for where to go in Europe for each bank holiday in 2024 — at Easter, in spring, in summer, and at Christmas — based on why the given time of year is a great time to visit. Mark the dates in your calendar, be inspired, and book your cheeky escapes well in advance to get the best deals!
Where to go for Good Friday and Easter Monday (March 29 — April 1, 2024)
The long-awaited Easter bank holidays (the first since New Year in most of the UK) create the perfect opportunity for a well-deserved weekend away. We’ve got just the place…
It’ll be business as usual throughout Greece on your Easter weekend, as Orthodox Easter is celebrated much later this year. Southerly islands such as Kos, Rhodes and Crete typically get the best weather in the country — sunny with highs around 20°C. Sure, it’s not scorching hot, but visiting Greece in March or April means that you’ll avoid the crowds and cash in on shoulder-season accommodation rates. You can still swim in the sea, too, if you don’t mind the cooler average water temperature of 16°C.
If you’re more of a city-break kind of person, Athens is certainly worth your time. Many describe this ancient capital as the birthplace of civilization as we know it today, where East meets West. It’s a paradise for true history buffs, with more temples, ruins, and museums than you can shake a stick at. Athens is also easy to get to, with the airport being a major hub at which flights arrive from all over the UK, Europe, and the rest of the world. Give it a go this Easter — you won’t be disappointed!
Where to go for the spring bank holidays (May 6, May 27, 2024)
When the days get sunnier and longer, you want to be out and about, perhaps to explore somewhere new. There are two long weekends in May to play with — consider one (or both) of these tips.
The popularity of Budapest as a destination has grown immensely over the last 10 years or so, and it’s easy to see why. You get two cities in one in the Hungarian capital: the tranquil, hilly side of the river named Buda, and the dynamic, hip-and-happening side, Pest. They’re connected by a handful of handsome bridges, one of which offers a detour to Margaret Island — a vast park on the river itself.
Because it’s now a European city-break hotspot, Budapest isn’t quite as cheap as it once was, but the cost of living is still noticeably lower than it is in the UK. (Although arguably, that’s not saying much nowadays…!) Like a lot of places in Central Europe, Budapest is typically very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer, so May is the most comfortable time to go, weather-wise.
Branch out into the rest of the country, and the best thing you can do is take some time out for yourself at a spa. Hungary is renowned for its medicinal geothermal waters, particularly within Europe, and the bathing culture here goes back millennia. Check out our article on the best spas in Hungary, book your flight, and self-care away.
Where to go for the summer bank holiday (August 26, 2024; August 5 in Scotland)
You might have already had your big summer trip by the time the August bank holiday comes around, but it’s not too late for another quick weekend away before autumn sets in.
Many Brits don’t think about holidaying in Ireland, their closest neighbor, and this is a mistake. Okay, it’s not a particularly hot destination — the weather is notoriously unpredictable throughout the year — but in August, the days are long, so you’ll have ample time to behold the abundant natural beauty that this country has to offer.
Ireland is a pretty place in general, but the west-coast counties of Galway, Clare, Kerry and Cork are where you’ll find the stunning beaches, the spectacular cliffs, and the relaxed, charming towns home to some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. And as you might expect, it’s quick, easy, and cheap to get there — you can fly to Shannon, Kerry or Cork from several airports in the UK. Or, of course, fly to Dublin if you want a faster-paced holiday with an obligatory night out on the Guinness in Temple Bar. You don’t have to work on Monday, after all!
Where to go for Christmas Day and Boxing Day (December 25 — December 26, 2024)
Going away for Christmas is a bit like Marmite — some people are really into it, and some can’t bear the thought of breaking their homely traditions. If you’re in the former camp, read on…
December temperatures at the usual tourist destinations in the south of Spain — Málaga, Alicante and the like — hover around 15°C, which is considerably warmer than it’ll be at home. What’s more, nowhere near as many tourists will actually be there, compared to in the summer. Swap the routine Christmas stress for relaxing walks on the beach, and roast turkey for fresh seafood. But fear not — Spanish people do celebrate Christmas (and in quite a big way at that), so you’ll still get that festive feeling when you’re out and about among the light displays, nativity scenes, choirs, concerts, and traditional food and drink.
If you’re honestly not bothered one bit about Christmas, choose the Spanish city you’ve always wanted to see (we recommend Barcelona), make the most of the quiet streets on the 25th and the 26th and go exploring. If anything else, this is the biggest reason to take a trip over the Christmas bank holidays: it’s low season and almost everyone is at home with their family, meaning wherever you choose to go, you can count on your experience being virtually crowdless.
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