Ranked: The top 40 UK travel experiences to try before you turn 40

Revealed: The top 40 UK travel experiences to try before you turn 40, with stargazing in Northumberland No.1 and a spectacular Scottish road trip ranking second

  • The ranking has been determined by a survey that asked Britons to choose their favourite travel experiences 
  • Third in the ranking is a visit to Birmingham’s Balti Triangle for a uniquely British-Asian foodie experience
  • Other top 10 experiences include seal spotting in Norfolk, a canal boat staycation and a Kent vineyard tour 
  • A tour of a Welsh coal mine and a walk on the oldest road in England are among other highlights in the top 40  
  • The top 40 UK travel experiences to try before you turn 40 have been revealed – and it’s a night spent stargazing in the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park that takes the top spot.

    The silver medal goes to a road trip on Scotland’s North Coast 500 scenic route, stopping off along the way to admire spectacular wildlife, landscapes, and landmarks such as the imposing Dunrobin Castle.

    In third place it’s a visit to Birmingham’s Balti Triangle, the culinary birthplace of the famous ‘Balti’ curry, for a uniquely British-Asian foodie experience.

    The top 40 UK travel experiences to try before you turn 40 have been revealed – and it’s a night spent stargazing in Northumberland that takes the top spot. Pictured is the night sky over Northumberland's Sycamore Gap Tree

    The top 40 UK travel experiences to try before you turn 40 have been revealed – and it’s a night spent stargazing in Northumberland that takes the top spot. Pictured is the night sky over Northumberland’s Sycamore Gap Tree

    The silver medal goes to a road trip on Scotland’s North Coast 500 scenic route. Above is the Kylesku Bridge, which features on the route

    The silver medal goes to a road trip on Scotland’s North Coast 500 scenic route. Above is the Kylesku Bridge, which features on the route

    The rest of the top five comprises a staycation on a canal boat, exploring the UK’s 2,000 miles of canals and rivers (fourth), and learning bushcraft (skills for surviving in a natural environment) on a wilderness course in the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District (fifth).

    The ranking is courtesy of research commissioned by NatWest. It polled 2,000 Britons aged 18 to 40 who chose their favourite travel experiences from a shortlist compiled by a group of travel experts.

    The survey also finds that 84 per cent of the nation admit there are many places they have ‘yet to explore’ in the UK, with 56 per cent keen to rectify this before they reach the big 4-0.

    THE TOP 40 UK TRAVEL EXPERIENCES TO TRY BEFORE YOU TURN 40, FROM GIN TOURS TO SANDBOARDING

     1. Stay the night at the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park and stargaze into the darkest skies in England  

    2. Take the ultimate road trip on Scotland’s North Coast 500 and see spectacular wildlife, landscape and imposing Dunrobin Castle

    3. Travel to Birmingham’s Balti Triangle, the culinary birthplace of the famous ‘Balti’, for a uniquely British-Asian foodie experience

    4. Explore the UK’s 2,000 miles of canals and rivers with a staycation on a canal boat

    5. Learn bushcraft and survival skills on a wilderness course in the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District

    6. Go seal spotting for common and grey seals at Blakeney Point Nature Reserve

    7. Bask in the early morning sunshine on the golden sands of Porthcurno Beach after an overnight stay in Cornwall

    8. Savour world-class English wines and book a vineyard tour in Kent

    9. Explore the Puzzlewood in the Forest Of Dean, the landscape that inspired Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’

    10. Climb the basalt steps of the Giant’s Causeway in Country Antrim, Northern Ireland

    11. Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Pentle Bay, Tresco, and stay by the white sandy shores on the Isles of Scilly

    12. Go hiking in the vast, wild Epping Forest, Essex, and get back to nature in a camping pod

    13. Take a stroll round the picturesque and colourful Italian-style village of Portmeirion, Wales

    14. Watch the headline act at Glastonbury Festival, Somerset

    15. Hire a traditional punt and sail under the Bridge of Sighs on the River Cam, Cambridge

    16. Visit the Turner Contemporary Gallery in the trendy and kitsch seaside town of Margate, Kent

    17. Enjoy nature with a touch of luxury whilst glamping in the New Forest

    18. Hike up Mount Snowdon in the Snowdonia National Park, Wales – the highest mountain in England and Wales

    19. Taste-test a cream tea from Devon and neighbouring Cornwall and decide which is best!

    20. Sandboard down ‘The Big Dipper’, Europe’s second-largest sand dune, in Merthyr Mawr, Wales

    21. Visit Devon and Dorset’s stunning Jurassic Coast to discover prehistoric fossils

    22. Tour a former mine 300ft underground at the Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon, Wales

    23. Breathe in the fresh sea air during a coastal hike along the Seven Sisters, Sussex

    24. Take a scenic drive from Glasgow to Fort William up the A82 for peak Scottish views

    25. Cycle along a former railway line, the Tissington trail, in the Peak District

    26. Join the parade at Notting Hill Carnival in London, celebrating the UK’s Caribbean history

    27. Get a taste of the upper class and visit the real Downton Abbey; Highclere Castle in Hampshire

    28. Take a trip to Windsor Castle, Berkshire, and see one of Her Majesty’s residences

    29. Book tickets to explore the magnificent palace, park and gardens at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire

    30. Go on a whiskey tasting tour at a Scottish distillery in Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland or Speyside, in Scotland

    31. Relive history by walking the 5000-year-old Neolithic Ridgeway in Oxfordshire, the oldest road in England

    32. Hire a kayak off the beautiful beaches of the Isle of Lewis in Scotland

    33. Book a walking gin tour through the iconic pubs and artisan distilleries in Belfast

    34. Party in an old brick warehouse in the Baltic Triangle; the thriving cultural hub of Liverpool

    35. Take a trip to Manchester and dance the night away in one of the many gay bars lining Canal Street

    36. Join the lively London Pride parade as it goes through London

    37. Experience the history of the Thames at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London

    38. Travel on the oldest, steepest inland electric funicular railway in England on the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway

    39. Get an adrenaline rush whilst coasteering cliffs, caves and rockpools in Pembrokeshire

    40. Go surfing on the 19 miles of coastline in North Devon

    Source: NatWest

     

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    The bronze medal goes to a visit to Birmingham’s Balti Triangle, the birthplace of the famous ‘Balti’ curry (above)

    The bronze medal goes to a visit to Birmingham’s Balti Triangle, the birthplace of the famous ‘Balti’ curry (above)

    Sliding into sixth place in the top 40 ranking is a seal-spotting trip to Blakeney Point Nature Reserve on the north coast of Norfolk, which is home to common and grey seals.

    Seventh place in the ranking is basking in the early morning sunshine on the golden sands of Porthcurno Beach after an overnight stay in Cornwall. It’s followed by savouring world-class English wines on a vineyard tour in Kent (eighth).

    The remainder of the top 10 is made up of exploring the Puzzlewood woodland in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean, the landscape that inspired J.R.R Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’ (ninth) and climbing the basalt steps of the Giant’s Causeway in Country Antrim, Northern Ireland (10th). 

    A staycation on a canal boat, exploring the UK’s 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, ranks fourth. Above is a stretch of canal in Oxford

    A staycation on a canal boat, exploring the UK’s 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, ranks fourth. Above is a stretch of canal in Oxford 

    The ranking has been determined by a survey that asked Britons to choose their favourite travel experiences from a shortlist

    The ranking has been determined by a survey that asked Britons to choose their favourite travel experiences from a shortlist

    Other notable inclusions in the top 40 include taking a stroll around the picturesque and colourful Italian-style village of Portmeirion, Wales (13th), sandboarding down Europe’s second-largest sand dune – ‘The Big Dipper’ – in Merthyr Mawr, Wales (20th), and cycling along a former railway line, the Tissington trail, in the Peak District (25th).

    Reliving history by walking the 5,000-year-old Neolithic Ridgeway in Oxfordshire, the oldest road in England (31st) and dancing the night away in one of the many gay bars lining Manchester’s Canal Street (35th) also make it into the top 40.

    The study also finds that the key motivation for wanting to travel the UK is that Brits simply enjoy being outdoors (40 per cent), while a quarter want to explore destinations to tick them off their bucket list, and 22 per cent are keen on learning something new from their adventures. 

    Exploring the Puzzlewood woodland (above) in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean lands in ninth place

    Exploring the Puzzlewood woodland (above) in Gloucestershire’s Forest of Dean lands in ninth place 

    Twenty-second place goes to touring a former mine 300ft underground at the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, Wales (pictured)

    Twenty-second place goes to touring a former mine 300ft underground at the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon, Wales (pictured) 

    But finances are a top barrier for Brits to make their travel dreams a reality, with 34 per cent of adults saying the cost is the key issue when choosing their travel experiences, as well as lack of transport (26 per cent), inconsistent weather (20 per cent) and being too busy (18 per cent).

    As a result, a quarter admit they often end up travelling abroad as it is more affordable, while 29 per cent think it is more relaxing to leave the UK.

    Despite the popularity of going abroad, 49 per cent will still consider booking a trip at home while saving money – with 53 per cent considering a staycation as good value. 

    Pictured is the Tissington trail, a former railway line in the Peak District. Cycling along this route lands 25th in the ranking

    Pictured is the Tissington trail, a former railway line in the Peak District. Cycling along this route lands 25th in the ranking

    Dancing the night away in one of the many gay bars lining Manchester's Canal Street (pictured) finishes 35th

    Dancing the night away in one of the many gay bars lining Manchester’s Canal Street (pictured) finishes 35th 

    Travelling on the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway, the oldest, steepest inland electric funicular railway in England, ranks 38th overall

    Travelling on the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway, the oldest, steepest inland electric funicular railway in England, ranks 38th overall

    It also emerges that 53 per cent of those polled feel they have missed out on travel experiences due to financial problems.

    Commenting on the findings, travel writer Lisa Francesca Nand, a member of the expert panel, says: ‘A life well lived is a life filled with experiences. Now more than ever, we’re all looking to invest in moments to create brilliant memories either solo or with friends and family, and travel is a key part of that – whether it’s getting back to nature, seeing amazing architecture, learning about new culture and history or just going on a fantastic road trip.’

    NatWest’s Martin Wise adds: ‘The research shows many of us have yet to see what the UK truly has to offer, with finances being a key factor in how often they book a trip away and how far they are willing to travel.’