Financial capability and learning

‘40 Before 40’ - the Greatest British travel experiences revealed

New research from NatWest found 84% of the nation admitted there are many places they have ‘yet to explore’ in the UK, with 56% keen to rectify this before they reach the big 4-0.

New research has revealed the 40 UK travel experiences to try before you turn 40 – including a night under Northumbria’s International Dark Sky Park, a road trip along Scotland’s North Coast 500 and a punt under Cambridge’s Bridge of Sighs – as shortlisted by travel experts and voted on by Brits. Climbing the basalt steps of the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, a trip to the Cornish Isles of Scilly and watching the headliner at Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, also appear on the must-do list.

The research, commissioned by NatWest to launch its new Buy Now Pay Later product, found 84% of the nation admitted there are many places they have ‘yet to explore’ in the UK, with 56% keen to rectify this before they reach the big 4-0.

Other experiences include walking round the picturesque village of Portmeirion, Wales, and visiting Devon and Dorset’s stunning Jurassic Coast to discover prehistoric fossils.



Infographic of the 15 Top Travel Experiences in the UK available to download here: The UK's greatest travel experiences (PDF 1.5MB)

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 Methyr 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

The shortlist of experiences was compiled by a group of travel experts including Cassam Looch from Culture Trip; Pat Riddell, editor of National Geographic; Darren Burn, founder of OutOfOfficeCom; travel wellness consultant Dr Noreen Nguru and travel journalist Lisa Francesca Nand, before being put to a public poll of 2,000 Brits aged 18-40.


Travel expert and journalist Lisa Nand said:

“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. With the endless wonderful adventures to be had across the UK, NatWest’s new Buy Now Pay Later product is a brilliant way of spreading the cost to help you try more of the experiences you want.”


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

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

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

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

It also emerged 53% of those polled via OnePoll feel they have missed out on travel experiences due to financial problems.


Martin Wise, Managing Director for NatWest Buy Now, Pay Later, which commissioned the research to mark the launch of its new product, said:

“We understand our customers are really keen to make the most of this summer and we hope this list along with our new Buy Now, Pay Later service can provide some inspiration as well as help to spread the cost of a great summer experience.

“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.

“With adults preferring to spread their travel payments over a period of time, NatWest’s Buy Now, Pay Later service could help you with a structured way to spread the cost of your purchases to help invest in buying better for those moments that matter”


NatWest’s new Buy Now, Pay Later service, the first of its kind for a UK high street bank, will allow customers to split purchases for no extra cost across four interest-free payments – spreading the cost of their purchases and allowing them to invest in buying better and the moments that matter.  

Customers can apply for the new feature via the bank’s mobile app, which offers the service through the flexibility of a virtual card, enabling customers to make a purchase almost anywhere that accepts Mastercard.

Customers are provided with a level of reassurance through an application process which includes an affordability assessment, and purchases made through the product may be supported by the fraud protections offered by NatWest – a regulated bank


Find out more about Dr Noreen Nguru at https://www.whatthedoctorrecommends.com


This is for media use and not a financial promotion.

Buy Now Pay Later can be used for eligible purchases over £50 (maximum credit limit £1,000). 

Buy Now Pay Later is a credit product.  Subject to status and a full credit assessment. To apply you must be 18+, earn at least £10k per year, be a UK resident, a NatWest current account holder and must not already have NatWest Buy Now Pay Later.  Late fees apply.  Mobile app required and available with compatible iOS and Android devices and a UK mobile number.

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