One of the famous ‘Shire’ counties that resides in leafy South East of England and the county that I was lucky enough to grow up in, I believe is woefully underrated as a visitor’s destination but then that’s what also keeps it so charming. It’s usually known as commuter belt territory filled with country boltholes mostly owned by people looking to escape the frantic pace of the city. Although it’s also home to many pockets of extraordinary beauty with tranquil sweeping valleys, forested hills, fine stately homes, and sleepy historic villages so immaculately preserved and picturesque they have served as inspiration and a backdrop for the popular TV series Midsummer Murders. It’s been used in a number of films from Bond to Bridget Jones and Harry Potter to Four Wedding and a Funeral, so if some of the scenery seems familiar you’ll know why! Chosen from my many years growing up and exploring this wonderful county, here are my favourite best and most beautiful places to visit in Buckinghamshire, England…
1. Chiltern Hills – the most stunning area to explore in Buckinghamshire
Easily one of the best places to visit in Buckinghamshire, the chalk hills are designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty and for good reason, nestled amongst them are numerous stunning village houses, pretty streams, tranquil woodlands, and very scenic walks.
The large and sprawling escarpment actually stretches across many counties such as Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, and Bedfordshire. To explore some of the best spots in Buckinghamshire I would recommend walks starting in Ley Hill and Chartridge in Chesham, the Princes Risborough Ridgeway Circular Walk, Great Missenden, Seer Green-Beaconsfield Chilterns Country walk, Penn and Turville (also mentioned on this list).
As well as gorgeous landscapes and pretty villages, there’s plenty of nature, wildlife, and birds around, and is one of the few areas in the UK where you might spot a Red Kite which has a distinctive ‘V’ shaped tail.
2. Waddesdon Manor – the gorgeous former estate of Baron de Rothschild
Part country house, part gallery, part museum, and part wow-factor. If you want your head to be ablaze with decadent opulence, culture, and finery then Waddesdon Manor is the place for you. The manor was purpose-built by the Rothschild family in the 19th century to showcase fine works of art.
With love, care, and attention given ever since, it’s like an antique shop without the dust and damage. There are literal collections of rare and unique treasures, displays of fine art, and little interesting pieces dotted throughout the house. Guided tours are available if you need to brush up on your knowledge. Failing all of that, the house and its grounds are simply lovely and very picturesque!
3. Ivinghoe Beacon – the famous Buckinghamshire beauty spot which offers truly incredible views
Some things are just worth it and this is particularly true of Ivinghoe Beacon which is both a prominent hill and a locally famous landmark in Buckinghamshire. Whilst it might be a bit of a walk to get there, this is one of the most picturesque sights not just on the Ashridge Estate, but actually the entire county.
The land around the beacon, which is actually a hillock located about 760 feet above sea level, affords gorgeous windswept views of several counties. Further to the views, if you turn your attention closer to where you are stood, you can see the remains of an Iron Age fort, earthworks, and evidence of thousands of years of human comings and goings.
4. Marlow-on-Thames – the affluent Bucks town which is one of the loveliest locations along the Thames
Haute cuisine, river walks, and genuine pleasantness. That is always my experience when I go to Marlow. As a place to base yourself and stay, you’ll find plenty of gorgeous upscale hotels in Marlow, allowing you to explore the surrounding countryside during the day before retiring for an evening treat.
Boasting restaurants founded by Michelin starred chefs (both Heston Blumenthal and Tom Kerridge), you’ll be able to tickle your tastebuds. The town is also jam-packed with boutique-style shops, cafes, and bars and if dining and shopping isn’t your thing (really?) then there is the opportunity for many rather pleasant walks and picnics along the River Thames located on your doorstep.
5. Old Amersham – the charming Buckinghamshire town that is full of character made famous by Four Weddings and a Funeral
Old Amersham is the very easy-on-the-eye historic part of the town of Amersham, which is nestled in the foot of the Chiltern Hills and steeped in history. Whilst picturesque and quaint it has religious significance, there is even a street devoted to several people who were burned at the stake in this location in the 16th century. Getting away from gruesomeness, the village is full of character and is one of the best places to visit in Buckinghamshire. The famous romantic hotel scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral was filmed in The Crown Inn in Old Amersham (Room 101 to be precise).
For the geographically knowledgeable, you’ll notice it is pretty much on a straight line from London to the north of England. For this reason, it is packed with historical coach houses, originally created for weary merchants and travellers to stop for a respite before continuing their journey, they now provide everything from a good pint of beer to somewhere to stay for the night.
6. West Wycombe – a beautiful place to visit in Buckinghamshire which has a very intriguing history
Okay I’m going to be very honest here, High Wycombe isn’t known for being particularly beautiful (at all sadly!) but West Wycombe is just wonderful! It also has a very interesting history as this is Francis Dashwood’s (the controversial 18th-century baron and politician), former home and stomping ground. It stretches over a vast area and there are many things to see or do here so make you allow plenty of time on your visit.
Firstly, West Wycombe village is a particularly pretty place to visit in Buckinghamshire which is now mostly owned by the National Trust. It was once an important coaching stop and today it still displays its perfectly preserved 16th – 18th-century buildings and pubs as well as some traditional shops and cafes.
Explore a little further afield and you’ll find West Wycombe Park and Hill (an amazing place for walks, stunning views, and picnics) where St Lawrence’s Church which has a tower with a mysterious Golden Ball Spire sits at the top. Also in the area is West Wycombe House set in 45 acres of beautifully landscaped park, which was the home for the Dashwood family for over 300 years, the Mausoleum which sits imposingly on top of West Wycombe Hill, and the creepy West Wycombe Caves which were said to house the notorious Hellfire Club – yep Sir Francis was quite the character!
7. Turville – one of the prettiest villages in Buckinghamshire which has appeared in many TV shows and films
Turville is an impossibly pretty village with a timeless and 16th-century brick cottages charm located in the beautiful Chilterns area which has become quite the star in recent years. For starters, Turville has appeared in the BBC sitcom The Vicar of Dibley which stars Dawn French.
Furthermore – because it seems to be everyone’s idea of quintessential English village and a very idyllic one at that – it’s also provided the backdrop for Midsomer Murders, Jonathan Creek, Miss Marple, and The Day of the Triffids, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Father Came Too, Goodnight Mr. Tom – so quite a list! Don’t leave without visiting the local church which doubled as St Barnabus in ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ and also pack your walking boots as from here you can easily explore the stunning landscapes of the Chiltern Hills.
8. Hughenden Manor – one of the finest stately homes to explore in Buckinghamshire
How often can you visit a building whose gardens were designed by a Prime Minster’s wife? Whilst we aren’t too sure about the politics back in the day, what we can say is Mrs. Disraeli did a cracking job. The garden isn’t huge, but that’s nice as it offers a bit of serenity without being overwhelming or giving you the feeling that you are missing anything.
Located near High Wycombe, and owned by the National Trust, the 19th century Hughenden Manor is set against the beautiful backdrop of a delightful 18th-century country house, which has a substantial collection of historical artifacts, you will be transported into a more refined and cultured age! Definitely one of the best places to visit in Buckinghamshire.
9. Stowe National Trust – a grade I listed country house set in truly stunning Buckinghamshire landscapes
Do you like a walk? Do you like gardens? Well, Stowe – owned by the National Trust and located in the beautiful Aylesbury Vale – offers this and more in abundance. Think of arched bridges spanning lakes, walls of perfect geometric hedgerows, hidden monuments, statues, and temples. You’ll probably need more than one day if you really want to see it all.
If you want to go for a proper grown-up day out then Stowe is the place. Exploring here is part of the fun, no sooner do you think you’ve reached the end of a path than there will be some hidden track or trail leading you to the next wonder. It’s not just a summer destination either, go in autumn for the burnished bronze leaves or even brave a winter frost to be transported to a crystalline wonder.
10. Latimer – a quintessentially English village surrounded by an area of outstanding beauty
This idyllic beauty spot is located just around the corner from where I grew up and if you’re looking for more perfect examples of quintessential English village prettiness then this is another gorgeous place to visit in Buckinghamshire. It’s a hamlet buried deep in a criss-cross network of gorgeous country lanes so don’t expect lots of things to do here but this is the ‘Shire’ counties at it’s tranquil finest.
The real draw is the stunning surroundings, it looks out over the beautiful Chess Valley and The Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there are numerous walks and cycling paths here. Also located nearby is the Latimer House turned upscale DeVere hotel, restaurant, and spa (which enjoys a particular scenic and elevated position), Chenies Manor – a wonderful Tudor Manor House and gardens, and Little Chalfont Nature Park.
11. Bletchley Park – an English country house which was the code-breaking during World War Two
This is a fine and beautifully preserved English country house and estate located in Milton Keynes. The twist is though it also has a very interesting and important history – during World War Two it was the principal centre of Allied code-breaking. Today Bletchley Park an important heritage attraction with an excellent museum offering tours that give an insight into the vital work that took place here.
The intelligence that took place here ensured the success of the Normandy landings and then they continued to carry more excellent work. A must see in Buckinghamshire for families and history lovers!
12. Warburg Nature Reserve – a gorgeous protected area to explore which is rich in rare plants and animals
This is a stunning protected, tranquil, and remote area located deep in the heart of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. As well as beautiful scenery such as lovely valleys, flower-dotted grasslands, and large areas of unspoiled woodlands it’s also a haven for wildlife and wildflowers, some of which are quite rare and endangered – over 450 species of plants have been recorded, including 15 species of orchid.
A great family or thinking couple’s day out highlights include (depending on the time of year) spectacular bluebells, the narrow-lipped helleborine, the aromatic wild marjoram, the varied species of fungus, and the Red Kites. A visitor centre, bird hides, and a picnic area is also located onsite.
13. Black Park Country Park – 500 acres of woodland, heathland and open space
Black Park offers over 500 acres of woodland and paths for you to enjoy. Featuring numerous designated paths or ‘drives’ it is easily navigated as maps are available online. There are several car parks dotted around the site, so you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy the surroundings.
There are amenities and even the odd cafe or two. For the more adventurous or those who perhaps feel that navigating 500 acres doesn’t use enough energy, there is a grown up’s adventure playground where you can climb swing and jump to your heart’s content.
14. Olney – a beautiful market town to visit in Buckinghamshire made famous by a historic pancake race
This is a quiet and quaint historic market town located in Milton Keynes which was once a centre of lace-making. It’s a proud town with a strong community spirit that has a tradition of winning Britain in Bloom and the Bucks’ Best Kept Village competition but it’s arguably most famous for its annual Pancake Race which started in 1445.
It also hosts a few other fun events such a raft and duck races in early July on the River Ouse, as well as a weekly Farmer’s Market. If visiting I would also take time to explore the side alleys and walkways which are lined with a fine and interesting collection of shops, restaurants, and pubs.
15. Beaconsfield Old Town – an affluent Buckinghamshire town with a very pretty historic area
A picture-perfect village on one side, with a modern town and all you can need on the other. Lovely Beaconsfield, which was the birthplace of Enid Blyton and Sir Terry Pratchett has a bit of history hidden within. Apparently King Charles I stayed in the oldest free house in the UK during the 16th century (apparently he asked for his beer with a head-on). You’ll be able to have a little wander and find something pleasing, there are plenty of gorgeous traditional pubs, restaurants, and interesting shops to explore here.
A bustling market also takes place on Tuesday and for us was quite reminiscent of what the town would have been like, back in the past. The town is also very near the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the architecture here is mostly Georgian, neo-Georgian, and Tudor revival high street architecture. Also don’t miss the locally famous nearby Bekonscot which is the oldest original model village in the world.
16. Wendover Woods – an unspoilt and beautiful place to visit in Buckinghamshire
The Chilterns are packed with open spaces and beautiful woods and Wendover Woods is one of the best places to visit in Buckinghamshire. With absolutely loads of activities, you’ll be well and truly spoiled for choice. Go for a walk or bike ride amongst numerous trails, or even spend an afternoon at GoApe which is also located here. There are numerous trails and tracks through the leafy green avenues for you to explore. For the less energetic there are designated areas for picnics and even barbecues.
17. Coombe Hill – one of the best places in Buckinghamshire for panoramic scenic views
Located next to the pretty hamlet of Dunsmore, which overlooks Aylesbury Vale, Coombe Hill is visible for miles around and is identifiable by the prominent obelisk erected to commemorate the lives of those lost during the lesser-known Boer War. Whilst the monument is touching and impressive in its own right, what really is amazing is what it looks out onto.
The views are seriously beautiful here. It’s a bit of a walk to the top and parking can be pretty hectic when it’s busy, but pack some sturdy footwear and something to drink and you’ll be the beneficiary of arguably one of the greatest views in the UK.
18. Hambleden Valley – a beautiful valley set in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
The epitome of Englishness, Hambleden Valley located in the Wycombe district, encompasses so many stereotypes we were amazed when we were told it wasn’t a purpose-built filming area for a Hugh Grant rom-com. Whether you want to take afternoon tea, take a peek in a medieval church or want to sit with crackling logs and sleeping dogs in a cosy village pub, the valley is home to numerous villages all with a touch of character.
To give you a flavour of what I mean, Hambleden village, located right in the heart of the valley is often used as a filming location for Midsomer Murders. It even has the UK’s oldest model village. The village makes an ideal place to stay if you are looking for somewhere a little bit less hectic within striking distance of the Chilterns. A stunning area to explore in beautiful Buckinghamshire.
19. The Grand Union Canal – a wonderful and historic part of England
Part of the British canal system which starts in London and ends in Birmingham (and has over 166 locks), also meanders its way through parts of Buckinghamshire. It’s a very picturesque canal that crosses through some gorgeous countryside and unsurprisingly offers some lovely walks alongside it.
The Aylesbury and Wendover Arm is a lovely and peaceful stretch of the canal and here you can explore the multiple mile network of pretty locks, towpaths, and scenic trails or even charter a barge and discover just how blissful boating can be!
20. Hartwell House – a beautiful 17th-century manor turned upscale hotel
Have you ever woken up one morning and felt like royalty? No? Well, that’s because you haven’t visited Hartwell House. We are talking four-poster beds, clanking tea sets hand and perfectly triangular sandwiches hand-delivered by a polite gentleman who will call you ‘madame’ without a trace of irony!
The rooms at this hotel and spa are like something from a Jacobean period drama, which is handy as French royalty stayed here at the start of the 19th century. With a luxurious Georgian element thrown in for good measure, pick a winged back chair, have a look at which spa treatment you are going to go for in the afternoon, and just… relax.
21. Emberton Park – a popular and scenic place to explore in North Buckinghamshire
This a beautiful and popular place to visit in North Buckinghamshire especially for family days out. It’s a 200-acre protected area filled with lush green and unspoiled landscapes, numerous trails, lakes, and ponds as well as play areas and even camping facilities.
It’s located near the village of Olney (also mentioned on this list), in Milton Keynes and offers a tranquil and scenic respite away from the hassles of the city.