What are the most popular small British cities for travellers in 2021?

The 10 most popular small towns online for British travellers over the last 12 months


A little over a year since the start of the pandemic and the desire to travel is not diminishing. If anything, it’s stronger than ever! The regulations are changing day by day, and despite this, we continue to dream of holidays and look for our next destination. Due to the restrictions imposed over the last year, staycations have been booming and this year will be no different. But where do people want to go? What will be the most popular destination in 2021?

Holidu, the search engine for holiday rentals, decided to carry out a study to determine which small UK towns and cities British people have been looking for in the last twelve months. All towns with less than 20,000 inhabitants were considered for this study. The ranking was drawn up using the average number of monthly searches on Google for these towns with the terms “what to do in” and “things to do in” to determine the most popular small towns with holiday-makers.

1. Whitby, North Yorkshire – 6,280 searches per month

The winner of this ranking is the glorious seaside town of Whitby and it is the most searched small town by travellers this year with an average of 6,280 searches per month. This gorgeous town is a regular family favourite, especially in the summertime. Lovely beaches, quirky cafes and unique Gothic culture make this town the perfect destination for travellers of all ages and interests.

Find a holiday rental in Whitby here


2. St Ives, Cornwall – 5,280 searches per month

In second place is St Ives, and it’s not hard to understand why! This southern seaside town is located on the Cornish coast and is frequently one of the most loved destinations in Cornwall. Frequently topping lists of Britain’s favourite staycation destination, St Ives has it all – sun, sea, surfing. The town is also famous for its vibrant art scene and frequently hosts art displays with the works of many world-renowned artists.

Find a holiday rental in St Ives here


3. Llandudno, Clwyd – 4,080 searches per month

Claiming third place with 4,080 searches per month is the much-loved Welsh coastal town of Llandudno. The town is famous for its Victorian architecture and regularly attracts thousands of people to its pier and promenade, particularly during the summer months. With shops and eateries galore, you won’t be short of options when visiting this popular location.

Find a holiday rental in Llandudno here


4. St Andrews, Fife – 2,790 searches per month

The only Scottish location to make it into the top 10 is the coastal town of St Andrews. Located in Fife, this town is known for its links to the Royals, as well as its many magnificent golf courses. Most notably is it famous for its world-class university, the University of St Andrews, which behind Oxford and Cambridge universities, is the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world.

Find a holiday rental in St Andrews here


5. Penzance, Cornwall – 2,380 searches per month

The second destination in Cornwall securing a space in the top 10 is Penzance with an average of 2,380 searches per month. As well as offering great pubs, restaurants and attractions, Penzance is home to one of the mildest climates in the UK, making it the ideal destination for a summer break.

Find a holiday rental in Penzance here


6. Matlock, Derbyshire – 2,160 searches per month

At number six is the first non-coastal destination in the list, Matlock, with an average of 2,160 searches per month. Located in the south-eastern part of the Peak District, and its beautiful scenery led Daniel Defoe to nickname this area “Little Switzerland”.

Find a holiday rental in Matlock here


Matlock credit Andrew Woodvine via Flickr

7. Cirencester, Gloucestershire – 1,920 searches per month

Next up is Cirencester, a town that is bursting with traditional English charm and gained an average of 1,920 searches per month. Known as the Capital of the Cotswolds, the buildings in this market town have stunning architectural features and the town also boasts great transport links throughout the Cotswolds region.

Find a holiday rental in Cirencester here


Cirencester credit katkinspix via Flickr

8. Penrith, Cumbria – 1,810 searches per month

A bustling market town and the hub of the Eden Valley, number eight is Penrith with an average of 1,810 searches per month. The town lies just outside of the Lake District National Park, making it the perfect base for a summer trip to the mountains.

Find a holiday rental in Penrith here


Penrith credit VisitLakeDistrict.com

9. Aberystwyth, Dyfed – 1,560 searches per month

Aberystwyth is the second Welsh town in this ranking, with 1,560 searches per month. During the academic year, Aberystwyth is a well-known university town and in the summer months, it is a thriving seaside location. Brimming with thousands of years of history, this is a quaint town that is perfect for a relaxing getaway.

Find a holiday rental in Aberstwyth here


Aberystwyth credit Visit Wales

10. Skipton, North Yorkshire – 1,510 searches per month

The tenth and final destination in this ranking is Skipton. The small town located in North Yorkshire has an average of 1,510 searches per month. There is no shortage of things to do in this market town, with a wide range of food and drink places, a famous market, stunning countryside and seeping in history.

Find a holiday rental in Skipton here


Skipton credit Historic-UK

Discover the rest of the ranking in the table below:


All British towns and cities with less than 20,000 inhabitants were considered for this study. The ranking was then drawn up using the average number of monthly searches on Google in the last 12 months for the terms “what to do in [town]” and “things to do in [town]” in order to determine which destinations were most popular with travellers.

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