1. FALMOUTH, CORNWALL
The Olympic Flame arrives... 19 May
On the radar A bustling port town, Falmouth is the place for a weekend on, in or around the water. It's surrounded by spectacular beaches: Castle Beach is great for rock pooling, while sandy Gyllyngvase is ideal for families. Right on the harbour, the National Maritime Museum (nmmc.co.uk) gives an insight into the town's seafaring past, as does Pendennis Castle (english-heritage.org.uk), built by Henry VIII to defend England against invasion.
Below the radar Tiny, quirky and utterly unexpected, Pea Souk (+44 (0)1326 317 583)
is a vegetarian restaurant specialising in Arab mezze. Don't miss the Om Ali (an Arabian
take on bread and butter pudding).
Check in, chill out Sixteen Falmouth (sixteenfalmouth.co.uk) has four chic bedrooms with handmade furniture and luxe toiletries. From £70 a night B&B.
2. ABERGAVENNY, MONMOUTHSHIRE
The Olympic Flame arrives... 25 May
On the radar Surrounded by the imposing peaks of the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons, Abergavenny has a lively market and one of the most interesting motte and bailey castles in Britain, as well as fab food shops such as Deli Delicious (deli-d.co.uk). Known as the Gateway to the Beacons, the town's Visitor Centre has plenty of ideas on how to make the most of the neighbouring national park. Many artists live around the town, and the Court Cupboard Craft Gallery at nearby Llantilio Pertholey is a collective, where local craftspeople can show their work.
Below the radar The nearby town of Usk
has its own ruined castle (uskcastle.com). Privately owned, the ruins are guarded by
a pair of geese and the place has a wonderfully atmospheric feel.
Check in, chill out The gorgeous Angel Hotel (angelabergavenny.com) is a Georgian coaching inn in the heart of town. Even if you don't stay, pop in for the award-winning afternoon tea. Doubles from £121 B&B.
3. CARRICKFERGUS, COUNTY ANTRIM
The Olympic Flame arrives... 3 June
On the radar Famous for the dramatic medieval castle that stands on the shores of the Belfast Lough, and the 16th-century walls that encircle the old town, Carrickfergus is steeped in history. Combine a stroll through the streets of the old town with a visit to the gleaming new marina. Pop in early evening for a cocktail or supper at the Windrose (thewindrose.co.uk), which has superb views over the water. The town makes a great base for a golf weekend, with several
clubs within an easy drive: Carrickfergus
Golf Club (carrickfergusgolfclub.co.uk) is a
challenging par-68 course, while Green Island (greenislandgolfclub.co.uk) is a nine-hole course that has been welcoming players for over a century.
Below the radar Pop into the Dobbin's Inn (dobbinsinnhotel.co.uk) for a spot of live music and a pint of the black stuff — and keep an eye out for Maud the ghost.
Check in, chill out The Keep Guesthouse (thekeepguesthousecarrickfergus.co.uk) is a chic B&B with spacious bedrooms in muted, pastel colours. Doubles from £50 B&B.