Why South West England is THE place to visit this summer

Beautiful beaches and a whole lot more…

Promoted by Great Western Railway

With its spectacular, award-winning beaches, stunning lush countryside, vibrant cities like Bath and Bristol, picturesque villages plus a well-deserved reputation for fresh and delicious local food, the South West makes the perfect holiday destination. Best of all, there's no need for expensive flights, stressful airport check ins and long queues - take the train and your holiday starts the moment you settle into your seats, watching verdant views whizz by as you chat and relax.

Here are just some of the reasons why you should take a trip to the South West this summer.

The great outdoors

The South West is one of Britain's most beautiful areas to explore. Devon is home to two national parks, Exmoor with its contrasting wind-swept moors and wooded valleys and the more rugged tors of Dartmoor. The Cotswolds are home to pretty villages of honey-coloured stone, like Moreton-in-Marsh and Charlbury, while Wiltshire boasts Stonehenge, the awe-inspiring Neolithic stone circle created with bluestone and sandstone in a monumental feat of human engineering.

The coastlines offers something for everyone - surfing beaches and clifftop walks in North Devon and North Cornwall and the calmer South Devon coast famed for its sailing and the tranquil, temperate Cornish Riviera. Why not complete a leg of the South West Coast Path following the whole coastline? You could start from the fishing port of Looe or the seaside resort of Weymouth.

Gloucester cathedral across the rooftops.

Historic sites
Castles, National Trust manor houses, city streets famous for their imposing Georgian architecture, bustling market towns and picturesque villages, the South West has them all. Take a tour of Bath's famous Roman baths, gaze in awe at the medieval cloisters and stained glass windows of Gloucester Cathedral or visit the pretty Somerset town of Taunton.

Great food (and drink)
Yes, you'll find Cornish pasties, Devon cream teas and Somerset cider and cheeses, all equally scrumptious. But the South West offers so much more, from freshly caught fish and chips eaten piping hot on the beach to Michelin-starred fine dining.

And if you're going self-catering on your summer holiday, make sure to stock up on local produce from the region's many farm shops and markets. You won't be disappointed.

On the bank holiday weekend at the end of August, Kingham in the Cotswolds plays host to the Big Feastival (yes, you read that correctly). It is a feel-good festival of music and food for all the family, and takes place on the farm of Alex James, the Blur bassist turned cheese farmer. For three days at the end of September, Truro holds the Great Cornish Food Festival, dedicated to Cornwall's remarkable food and drink, while the Rock Oyster Festival in July offers mouth-watering local seafood with not a burger in sight.

Shopping galore

If you're looking for something a little bit different from the normal high street chains, then the South West is a must-visit. Independent art galleries and craft shops abound in St Ives, The Old Bank Antiques Centre in Bath is a treasure trove and fabulous boutiques offer unique wares in Bristol's Park Street, Devon's Totnes and Dartmouth and Falmouth in Cornwall.

Porthmeor Beach St Ives Cornwall

Music and arts
The world's biggest music festival, Glastonbury, attracts thousands to Somerset every summer. Indeed, there is a thriving arts and music scene throughout the South West and a host of other festivals through the summer months, like the Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall, Reading Festival and Wilderness.

Situated on Porthmeor Beach, Tate St Ives is a must-visit with spectacular views across the surfing beach and the best of international modern and contemporary art within.

Not forgetting those picture postcard beaches

For mile upon mile of glorious sandy beaches, the South West is unbeatable. Devon and Cornwall offers wide surfing beaches and picturesque coves - St Ives has both. The Jurassic Coast of Dorset offers spectacular cliffs – TV hit Broadchurch was filmed at Harbour Cliff in West Bay - and pebble beaches perfect for stride-out walks and fossil finds.

If beach lounging doesn't suffice, there are endless water activities to choose from like surfing, body boarding, paddle boarding, sailing and kayaking at beaches throughout the South West.

And if you're after a traditional beach holiday, complete with donkey rides and deckchairs, then head to Weston-Super-Mare, Torquay or Weymouth.

Adventures start here! Travel by train between 26th June and 19th July and get great deals with GWR's Summer Sale.