Are you one of the most adventurous holidaymakers in the UK?

Discover Ferries reveals where the UK’s most adventurous holidaymakers live

9 in 10 Brits love to explore beyond the holiday resort but Discover Ferries, which represents 13 ferry operators and more than 80 UK ferry routes, can reveal that Bristolians are the most adventurous holidaymakers. People from Cardiff, Birmingham and Edinburgh are also more likely to explore their destination than travellers from other parts of Britain. Holidaymakers from the North West, particularly those from Manchester are the least likely to explore their destination when abroad.

These findings come from the ferry industry body, which is tracking trends for travel “off the beaten track” as 70% of British holidaymakers rate experiencing attractions off the beaten track as an important part of their holiday*. They cite getting away from the crowds (44%) as the number one reason for heading to lesser-known attractions.

Abby Penlington, Director of Discover Ferries, comments: “We’ve long known British holidaymakers are craving new travel experiences that offer something a little different and this is a trend that has been steadily growing in recent years. With news that some destinations are suffering with over tourism, we want to shine a light on some lesser-known experiences that are within easy reach of the UK to inspire and tempt even the most cautious tourists to swap popular visitor spots for hidden gems.”  

Are you from an adventurous area? Residents from these UK cities are the most likely to explore when they go away**.

  1. Bristol
  2. Cardiff
  3. Birmingham
  4. Edinburgh
  5. Glasgow
  6. Brighton
  7. Leeds
  8. Newcastle
  9. Plymouth
  10. Belfast

And the British holidaymakers most likely to stay in the holiday resort…**

  1. Manchester
  2. Nottingham
  3. Southampton
  4. Sheffield
  5. Liverpool

Seeking authentic adventures away from the crowds

Popular TV series Race Across the World has potentially inspired travellers to seek more authentic cultural experiences. After relaxing (86%*), British holidaymakers rate trying local food and drink, learning about the culture and speaking with local people as the most important holiday experiences. Just over three quarters of UK travellers (76%) look to launch themselves into the local food and drink scene* and 71% want to immerse themselves into culture and speak to local people*.

Getting lost is the main deterrent for venturing off the beaten track, with more than a third of UK holidaymakers (36%) citing it as the reason they wouldn’t explore lesser-known places. Not having the right gear, such as walking shoes, because they didn’t fit into the suitcase puts 14% of British travellers off. Transport is another concern, with just over a fifth of UK holidaymakers (21%) put off going somewhere because it may be difficult to reach with public transport and 16% of holidaymakers say they are put off exploring if they don’t have a car to get there.

Penlington adds, “Ferry travel offers real freedom, providing a remedy for these concerns and helping them to feel confident to explore more. People can take their own vehicle across to Europe or other parts of the British Isles avoiding car rental costs. Ferry operators also offer unlimited baggage for vehicle drivers, and foot passengers can take advantage of incredibly generous luggage allowances. The ability to pack more than just the bare essentials can also help passengers save money as they can take their own sports equipment, all the suncream they need and even a picnic basket to reduce spend on dining out.”

The hidden gems within 90 minutes of your destination

Discover Ferries’ research further reveals the average time UK holidaymakers look to travel to find lesser-known adventures –1 hour 31 minutes on public transport*** (e.g. train, ferry, bus or a combination of transport types) and 1 hour 40 minutes by car. However, the preferred way to explore a destination is on foot with UK travellers willing to walk on average just under an hour (59 minutes) to reach lesser-known experiences such as a spectacular waterfall, a fantastic restaurant, a local food market, a secluded beach or an important historical site or a museum. Furthermore, on average UK holidaymakers are willing to walk 29 minutes to find a secluded beach cove – no mean feat when wearing flip flops!

To help travellers find the hidden gems worth travelling off the beaten track for, Discover Ferries has compiled its ultimate guide, which is divided into destinations accessible by car, on foot or with public transport within 90 minutes from a ferry port. Of course, all of them are flight free!

What’s on the list? The singing sands on the Scottish Isle of Eigg, which “sing” with every step you take; taking tea with Benedictine monks on the Isle of Wight, flying an Aéroplume on France’s Contentin Peninsula – a helium contraption that looks straight out of a Jules Verne novel; and the chance to spot wild wallabies on the Isle of Man.

Penlington continues: “Within a short distance of even the most popular holiday destinations, there are plenty of opportunities to discover some of the best views, beaches and attractions away from the crowds. Whether it is a wildlife seafari to Les Ecréhous islands near Jersey, discovering prehistoric monuments on Cornwall’s Isles of Scilly or swapping Amsterdam for the city of Leiden, we want to show travellers how easy it is to enjoy places that not everyone has seen.”


Results based on a survey conducted for Discover Ferries. The research was conducted by Censuswide, among a sample of 2,002 nationally representative consumers across the UK (aged 18+). The data was collected between 21.06.2024 and 24.06.2024. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct and ESOMAR principles. Censuswide is also a member of the British Polling Council.

* ‘Quite important’ and ‘Very important’ answers combined.

**Excludes those who do not go on holidays.

*** Average time calculated from responses for travel by water (boat, ferry etc.), coach and bus, by train, tram or metro and a combination of public transport e.g. train then ferry, then bus.

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