The UK is home to some of the most varied, interesting and beautiful landscapes in the world. Whether you’re searching for romantic parks, wild and rugged wildernesses or an idyllic tranquil backwater, Great Britain seems to have it all. So if you’re planning a staycation or if you’re from overseas and want to explore the very best of this beautiful country, here is my choice for 25 of the most beautiful places to visit in the United Kingdom (in no particular order and updated February 2020)…
Polperro, Cornwall – often cited as one of the prettiest villages in the UK
The southwest counties are especially popular with holidaymakers, but tourism still hasn’t managed to spoil the chocolate-box pretty villages that reside here. Polperro (located in South East Cornwall) is just gorgeous, sheltered from time and tide in a cliff ravine, it has a feel of a beautiful traditional fishing village that time forgot. With its narrow winding streets, tiny traditional taverns and cottages perched on steep slopes overlooking a tiny harbor Polperro is everyone’s idea of a picturesque Cornish fishing village. In fact it’s often cited as the prettiest village in Cornwall – which given the competition is quite an accolade! When in Cornwall make sure you explore the many other beautiful areas including Newquay, The Lizard, St.Ives, Looe, Fowey Harbour and Charlestown (where Poldark was filmed).
Check out our road trip to Cornwall and Dartmoor in Devon (with drone footage)…
Richmond Park and Richmond-on-Thames – the former medieval hunting ground turned London’s beloved green space
Believe it or not, London is filled with a huge amount of beautiful open spaces and Regents Park, St. James Park, Hampstead Heath and Holland Park rank as some of the most picturesque. Although I may be a little biased as it’s is close to my home, but Richmond Park is my true happy place, a 2,500-acre site of historical and special scientific interest located in arguably the most picturesque part of London, the elegant and leafy South West. Originally established by Charles I in 1637 as a hunting area the park today, with its ornamental gardens, ancient oaks and 600 red and fallow deer roaming freely, still manages to retain a faint medieval air.
It’s a very popular spot, especially in summer, for both locals and out-of-towners, come here for picnics, quiet walks, lazy scenic drives and of course, the obligatory deer-watching. Also while you’re here make sure you pay a visit to Richmond-on-Thames itself, the quintessentially English and very elegant London Borough which resides right on the river Thames.
The Cotswolds – stunning countryside, thatch-roofed cottages and ancient mansions of honey-coloured stone
Perfectly preserved and beautifully presented, the area known as the Cotswolds is chock full of images of an England that time forgot. A large place which has been designated an ‘Area of Outstanding Beauty’ it actually spreads across six different counties – all the way from the Chipping Campden to the south of Bath, but the majority is located in scenic Gloucestershire. The chocolate-box pretty Cotwolds villages and truly stunning unspoilt countryside are practically spilling over with honey-colored stone mansions, gorgeous thatched cottages, ancient churches and tradtional tea shops galore.
- Check out our Boutique 48 hours in the Cotswolds
- We also have a post on the Top 15 Dog-friendly hotels in the Cotswolds
Dartmoor National Park, Devon – a vast and craggy moorland home to wild ponies, rivers and forests
A place that has to be seen to be believed, Dartmoor National Park is a vast area of pristine natural wilderness located in the county of Devon, southwest England. It is a spectacular location with deep river valleys, expansive moorlands, craggy mountain tops, and an incredible abundance of wildlife.
There are many stunning locations to explore including Hembury Woods, an oak woodland that is home to dozens of bird species, and Teign Gorge, a wooded river valley filled with birds, rare butterflies and colourful wildflowers.
There are also dozens of cycle routes and walking trails throughout the park which take visitors past Bronze Age stone circles, Neolithic tombs, and a variety of other interesting historical sites. There are also several gorgeous and quaint villages surrounding the park, which are the perfect place to stop for some shopping or a delicious pub lunch. A truly stunning and unspoilt location in the UK that is well worth visiting!
- Our visit to beautiful Dartmoor National Park (with video and drone footage)
- Our Top 15 Dog-friendly hotels in Devon
Brighton, East Sussex – the beautiful eclectic and creative seaside city
One of the UK’s best-loved seaside cities, Brighton is quite an extraordinary place. While it may not have the traditional beauty of the coastal towns in say Devon and Cornwall it’s has a kitschy beauty all of its own. Outside London, it also serves as an incredible creative and artistic hub with a bohemian atmosphere, a unique vibe and a collection of colourful and talented residents. Often dubbed ‘London by the sea’, it’s nestled on a South Coast shingle beach and backed by amusement arcades and Regency-era buildings, Brighton has always been a place that’s played by its own rules, and that’s what I’ve always loved about it. Visit for the fresh salty air, the award-winning restaurants, the excellent independent shopping (head for both the North and South Laines), it’s thriving art and alternative scene, lively nightlife and all the seaside clichés of a pier, fairground rides and candyfloss!
Check out our video on my Funky Weekend Away in Brighton (with drone footage)
The New Forest, Hampshire – the stunning forest and heathland which is home to trails and native ponies
New Forest is a large area of pristine wilderness located in southern England. It is a wild and romantic place that includes the New Forest National Park, which is famed for its vast open heathland, ancient woodlands, moors, and picturesque forest glades.
The cute (and sometimes very inquisitive!) native ponies that live in the area are a major drawcard for many visitors to New Forest. They are gorgeous animals that are frequently seen around Beachern Wood (near Brockenhurst). Keen animal lovers can even go on one of the many horse riding tours, which are a great way to explore the open heathlands.
There are a huge variety of walks available, including wildlife walks, town and village walks, family walks, and guided walking tours. Cycling is a popular activity in New Forest, with several long-distance cycling tracks that will take you through the best parts of the area.
New Farm is also a popular destination for families, thanks to the wide variety of attractions in the area. They include museums, wildlife and farm attractions, theme parks, historic houses, festivals, and art galleries.
- Check out our dog-friendly trip to the New Forest
- We also have a post on the Top 15 Dog-friendly hotels in the New Forest
Bath, Somerset – the elegant and vibrant city which is Roman-built baths
One of my favourite cities in the UK, this place has a youthful and energetic vibe set against a background of stunning architecture and a large number of excellent independent restaurants and shops. Of course, sightseeing is a popular activity in Bath because of the many historic buildings and beautiful gardens throughout the city. History buffs would enjoy visit the various Roman baths in Bath, from which the city obtains its name. The Thermae Bath Spa and The Roman Baths in the Abbey Churchyard are two of the largest and feature incredible architecture.
There are many other gorgeous and interesting locations to visit including the Prior Park Landscape Garden, the Fashion Museum, the Jane Austen Centre, and Royal Victoria Park. There are so many wonderful locations to visit, you might end up extending your stay!
Glen Nevis, Scotland – a special place in the Highlands where a beautiful glen stretches out before your eyes
Arguably one of the country’s most dramatic landscapes, Glen Nevis is an exceptionally beautiful part of the United Kingdom. The stretch of ancient unspoilt scenery, overlooked by Ben Nevis (Britain’s highest mountain), is perfect for peaceful walking and truly getting away from it all. This area is also great for wildlife watching and film location visiting – many key scenes from Braveheart, Rob Roy and Harry Potter were shot here. In fact, all of the Scottish Highlands are outstandingly beautiful and if you can you should take your time to explore its crystal clear lochs, ancient castles and unspolit coastline.
- Our post on the Top 15 most beautiful places to visit in Scotland
- Our post on the Top 15 Dog-friendly hotels in Scotland
Oxford and Oxfordshire County – the stunning city home to one of the world’s most famous universities
With its many historical buildings, inviting cobbled laneways, well-manicured parklands, and beautiful waterways, Oxford is one of the most picturesque cities in the UK. There are dozens of wonderful sites to visit in the city or you could just wander the streets, discovering unique places of interest on your own.
If you enjoy architecture, you will really be spoiled for choice. Radcliffe Square is one of the best locations to visit as it is home to several amazing buildings including the Church of St Mary, the Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera. Other beautiful locations include the Bridge of Sighs, (Hertford Bridge), Christ Church College, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and Pitt Rivers Museum.
Once you have finished marvelling at the incredible buildings, take a stroll along The River Cherwell or even go on a Harry Potter tour! This river runs through the city and is an important part of the Oxford University. There are boats for hire if you want to explore the city from the water, which is a truly memorable experience.
The Lake District, North West England – the UK’s most popular national park
The Lake District is a mountainous region in North West England and a very popular holiday destination for nature lovers. Most visitors flock to the tourist hubs of Keswick, Windermere and Kendal but also consider but the deepest lake in England – Wastwater. It has the most remote location of all the lakes but many believe it’s easily worth the extra effort to get to. Once voted Britain’s ‘favourite view’ Wastwater is hemmed in by some of the highest peaks in England and surrounded by some of the Lake District’s most beautiful scenery.
- We also have a post on Top 15 Dog-friendly hotels in the Lake District
Little Venice, London – a tranquil canal area, home to waterside cafes and pubs and charming boats
The affluent district of South Maida Vale is interspersed with a series of picturesque waterways and the area where the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals meet is affectionately known as Little Venice – if you visit you’ll find out why. The London backwater idyll is dotted with colourful houseboats, waterside pubs and some superb restaurants – a peaceful oasis in an otherwise very busy city. Take a walk along the towpath, picnic along the banks or charter a narrowboat for a perfect afternoon out.
Hope Valley, The Peak District – home to some of the best views and most picturesque villages in the country
The Peak District is the second most visited national park in the world characterised by wild rugged landscapes, pretty villages, grand historic houses and dark caverns. Hope Valley takes up a large area in the centre of the national park and offers unusual, dramatic landscapes and some of the most beautiful scenery in England. In the pretty village of Castleton – also known as the ‘Gem of the Peak’ – you will find traditional stone cottages, a beautiful mountain, show caves and an attractive ruined Norman castle. The nearby ancient village of Hathersage has associations with both the legend of Robin Hood and Charlotte Bronte’s famous novel Jane Eyre and also makes for an interesting stop.
- Check out our Top 15 Dog-friendly hotels in the Peak District
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire – the famous university town home to exquisite architecture and punting on the river
The university town of Cambridge epitomises quintessential Englishness and here punting on the river and sipping Pimms on the perfectly manicured lawn is an enduring local summer pastime. The beautiful buildings are well preserved and the timeless city seems straight out of the scene form the 1950s – the preppy look seems de rigueur and most people travel everywhere by bicycle. Try the omnipresent punting on the River Cam as one of the most romantic ways to see the town’s main highlights.
The Jurassic Coast, East Devon to Dorset – the UNESCO listed coastal route which offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK
This world heritage site which can be found on the southern coast of England is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in the UK. The 140 million-year-old Jurassic coast – voted the 5th greatest natural wonder in Britain – stretches over a distance of 96 miles starting from Orcombe Point near Exmouth in East Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in East Dorset. The scenic area is home to popular beauty spots such as the natural limestone arch of Durdle Door (the coast’s most photographed landmark) and Lulworth Cove – one of the finest coves in England. The Jurassic coast is also used for many film scenes including the big-screen adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’, ‘Wilde’ starring Stephen Fry and the much-loved TV crime drama Broadchurch.
- Our post on the Top 15 Dog-friendly hotels in Dorest
York and the Yorkshire Moors- the elegant historic city and it’s neighbouring rugged wilderness
If you are interested in beautiful architecture and historical sites, spend a few days in York. It is a historic walled city located just to the northeast of London which is dotted with remarkable historic buildings.
Walking through the winding cobbled streets of York is a wonderful experience that feels like stepping back in time. There are many beautiful locations within the city including the Yorkshire Museum and Gardens, York Minster, and Clifford’s Tower.
You can also head up to the City Walls to enjoy sweeping views across the city. This is a particularly rewarding experience early in the mornings and the afternoon as the sunrises and sunsets are spectacular.
Next head to the nearby Yorkshire Moors which is located just to the northeast of York. It has one of the largest expanses of heather moorland in the UK which makes it a truly spectacular location to visit. It also has large areas of awe-inspiring pastoral lands, moorland, and woodlands.
The area is steeped in history with dozens of historic and archaeological sites dating back to the Mesolithic period. You can still see archaeological remains from the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman Empire, and Vikings throughout the moors.
There are also dozens of outdoor activities to enjoy, including hiking, cycling, trail running, wildlife watching, and adventure activities. Once you have exhausted yourself outdoors, turn your attention to the many charming village markets, pubs, and restaurants in the region.
Scotney Castle, Kent – a fairytale castle surrounded by stunning landscapes
Scotney Castle is possibly the prettiest country house in the UK. Although it is modest in size compared to other historic buildings, it features some unique architecture and is located in a spectacular part of Kent, in the valley of River Bewl.
Construction of the original castle began sometime around 1380, but it was continually added to over the next 300 years. The resulting building is a beautiful mix of architectural styles. Although most of this structure is in ruin, it is well-tended and a wonderful place to visit.
The “new” castle was completed around 1843. It was designed by Anthony Salvin in the Tudor Revival Architectural style. Although it doesn’t have quite the romance of the old castle, it is still a spectacular sight that looks like it’s been lifted straight out of a fairytale.
The Chiltern Hills – an underrated range of hills which is home to some of the finest landscapes in the country
Located to the northwest of London is the spectacular and vastly underrated Chiltern Hills. Formed from a long chalk escarpment, the hills cross parts of Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and Buckinghamshire.
Covering a total of 830 square kilometres and stretching over 72 kilometres, the hills were declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1965. It is easy to see why this area has received this designation, the beautiful rolling hills are topped with lush greenery and there are spectacular views around every corner.
Visitors can explore the hills by foot, bicycles, buggies, or boats. There is also a large network of paths and National Trails to explore, which take you through the best parts of the Chilterns.
One of the best times to visit the Chiltern Hills is in May when the annual Walking Festival takes place. The event involves dozens of organised group walks in the park. This year, some of the event’s walks include The Butterflies of Dunstable Downs, Trees and plants – a guided tour of the Risborough hills, and Panoramic views & Prime Ministers’ Haunts. The Visit Chilterns site shares more details of this year’s walks.
Hampton Court Palace – King Henry’s favourite royal hangout
Another one of my local happy places especially during the summer! Hampton Court is situated 19 kilometres southwest of London in the historic borough of Richmond upon Thames. It is a 500-year-old palace which has been transformed into one of the city’s major tourist attractions.
It is a beautiful palace that is mostly designed in Tudor and Baroque architectural styles. The palace contains some extraordinary spaces including the vast Great Hall, which was the court of Henry VIII. The walls are covered with magnificent tapestries that share the history of the royals.
The palace is surrounded by the Hampton Court Gardens. It is one of the most impressive gardens in the UK, with over 60 acres of formal gardens and 750 acres of parklands.
Visitors have plenty of activities and events to enjoy at Hampton Court Palace. They include garden history tours, kid’s adventure tours, cooking lessons, floral workshops, book clubs, and poetry readings.
Northumberland – a beautiful rugged county home to England’s cleanest rivers, clearest air and the darkest skies
Situated in the northeast of England, just below the Scottish border, is one of the most spectacular parts of the UK — Northumberland. It is a vast region filled with beautiful locations including ancient castles, lush gardens, and high peaks offering amazing views. IT’s also one of the most unspoiled and unpolluted place in the whole of England with the cleanest rivers, clearest air and the darkest skies.
If you enjoy beaches, make sure you visit the Northumberland coast. It includes 30 miles of pristine beaches with remarkable views over the ocean. You can spend time exploring the many seaside towns, eating fish and chips, shopping, and enjoying a refreshing beverage at the many excellent pubs.
Northumberland also contains dozens of significant historical sites. It has seen many Roman and Viking invasions over the centuries, which is the reason for the many daunting castles and forts. Hadrian’s Wall is a major drawcard for history buffs and you’ll have dozens of museums, stately homes, and battlefields to visit. A truly beautiful and interesting part of the UK.
Canterbury and Whitstable – the gorgeous cathedral city made famous by Chaucer and the nearby upscale seaside town
Whitstable (is a seaside town on the north coast of Kent in south-east England) and Canterbury (a cathedral city 5 miles away) are excellent places to visit in the UK throughout the year. Whitstable’s illustrious coastline is a beauty to behold during winter and best of all, you will not be fighting the crowds during the offseason. This is the ideal time to take in one of the many historic sites of Canterbury and Whitstable. Cathedrals and historic buildings seem to be around every corner in this area and even during the offseason, locals keep the electric atmosphere buzzing.
The South Downs – the lung of the South East home to rolling hills, chalk cliffs and stunning views
The South Downs is a stretch of chalk hills which winds its way along the southeast coast of England. It is a peaceful location that offers visitors stunning views, a huge variety of walking trails to explore, and numerous outdoor activities.
Many people come to South Downs to walk or ride along South Downs Way. It is a 160 kilometre path which follows South Downs. Historians believe humans have used this path for several thousand years and it is a great way to immerse yourself in the natural environment.
There are various other trails that interest with South Downs Way, which makes it easy for travellers to explore the entire region Visitors can also combine their love of walking with cultural and historically significant sights by following the Jane Austin Trail, Edward Thomas Literary Trail, or William Cobbett Literary Walk.
Once you have had your fill of exploring the countryside, you can visit some of the many breweries, restaurants, cafes, wineries, and pubs in the area. There are also a huge variety of festivals and celebrations held in South Downs each year.
Castle Combe, Wiltshire – one of the most beautiful towns in England
This gorgeous Wiltshire gem is often mentioned as being the prettiest village in the UK. The fairytale village dates from 1600 and has seemingly been frozen in time ever since. Home to honey-hued Cotswold stone cottages divided by a babbling brook, lush woodland walks, gorgeous valley views and charming traditional pubs, it’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon or to stop off for a walk and a pub lunch. Also, check out the stunning Manor House hotel (which also has an onsite Michelin-starred restaurant) and Castle Combe Circuit where you can take a supercar for a spin!
- We also have a post on 10 of the prettiest villages in England
Norfolk Broads – home to dramatic watery landscapes and a beautiful unique light
The Broads network of mostly navigable stunning rivers and lakes which span the scenic English counties of both Norfolk and Suffolk. A popular spot for holidaymakers with a fondness for narrowboats. there are over 125 miles of stunning waterways and diverse wildlife to discover and explore. A place where time seemingly stands still, here you can expect dreamy landscapes, plenty of history and a unique quality of light – this where endless bright skies meet stunning horizons!
Llanberis Pass, North Wales – a stunningly scenic road route in Snowdonia National Park
Pretty llanberis village can be found in the popular Snowdonia National Park in Wales. Nearby, twin lakes cut through a vast mountain range creating the magnificent ‘Llanberis Pass’. The Lllanberis Pass is a truly impressive place noted for its wild and rugged beauty and well as its extraordinary tranquillity. The unique glaciated valley and world-class climbing spot attracts drivers, ambitious rock climbers and the odd photographer or two.
- Check out our dog-friendly weekend in Wales
- We also have a post on the Top 15 Dog-friendly hotels in Wales
Edinburgh, Scotland – the proud and beautiful city brimming with culture and history
Edinburgh is a vibrant city with a rich history, amazing architecture, and beautiful green spaces. It is a photographer’s dream thanks to its many amazing buildings and beautiful cityscape.
There are many picturesque locations in the city, including Edinburgh Castle, Water of Leith Walkway, The Meadows, The Royal Mile, Holyrood Park, Cramond, and Duddingston. From ancient castles and medieval homes through to wide-open spaces, beautiful and elegant Edinburgh has it all.
Enjoy your beautiful UK stay!