2020 has certainly been a tough one, and after this year, we are all in need of some serious R&R. Staycations are great of course, but if you’re dead-set on finding a relaxing place to detox and de-stress, it’s still possible close to home. The best rural places to visit in the UK offer both peace and (nature) adventures – plus points on being eco-friendly!
From idyllic country villages to beautiful coastal paths, check out our top picks for the most beautiful countryside in England, Wales and Scotland. We’ve chosen these stunning natural locations for two reasons. One, because they are IDEAL for getting away from the crowds. And two for their famous breath-taking scenery. We’ve chosen a combination of coast and country Vs small cities, all perfect for anyone looking to get away from the masses.
Psst! If you’re looking for amazing countryside near London, then you’ll want to discover the best 20 weekend trips from London.
The Best Rural Places to Visit in the UK: Countryside & Counties
#1 Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Located amongst the delightful Pembrokeshire countryside, Barafundle Bay has frequently been voted the best beach in Britain. Moreover, it is often the only UK beach to reach the world’s top ten list. This stunning east-facing unspoiled location is truly spectacular, with golden sands and crystal clear water.
The area is beautifully isolated but only reachable after a half-mile trek over the cliffs. As a result, it’s unfortunately not wheelchair or pushchair accessible due to the number of steps leading down to the coast.
#2 Isle of Skye, Scotland
The largest of the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Skye, is 50 miles long and home to dramatic scenery around every corner. The capital is Portree, and there are a number of quaint villages dotted across the island. As well as providing the opportunity to spot plenty of local wildlife, the Isle of Skye is a world-class destination for walkers and climbers. There’s something to suit every level and ability.
The Isle of Skye is currently open to visitors. However, strict restrictions are in place, and some businesses have remained closed. (October 2020)
From Padstow to Newquay, the region of Cornwall is one of the most unspoiled areas in the UK. With iconic English seaside scenery and a wealth of hiking trails, this is easily one of the best rural places to visit in the UK. If you enjoy hiking, stroll along the Cornwall Coast Path and check out the Camel Trail. Or have fun in and out of the water at the Fowey Estuary. There are miles upon miles of coastline, as well as gentle green hills, dense woodlands, and excellent country pubs.
If you’re in Cornwall than the view alone is worth the journey to Marazion. It’s a town with a miniature island called St Michael’s Mount, just off shore, ensuring a very picturesque view. If you do get a photo shot of a lifetime, try sending it as a printed postcard…
By the way, Cornwall also ranks at #37 on our 20+20 bucket list destinations to visit in 2020.
#4 Snowdonia, North Wales
Known as the outdoor adventure capital of North Wales, Snowdonia National Park is home to breath-taking rugged Welsh mountains. In fact, Snowdonia is home to the highest peak in Wales, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the Heritage Coast.
There is tons of accommodation to choose from amongst this spectacular setting, along with cute seaside towns and villages. Ride the train to the summit of the mountain for panoramic views of the surrounding Welsh countryside.
#5 The Lake District, Cumbria
One of the UK’s most famous rural getaways, the Lake District is not only one of the best rural places to visit in the UK, but it is also world-famous. This UNESCO world heritage site is home to England’s longest lake, Windermere, which is over ten miles long.
Cumbria is a predominantly rural county: It’s famous for containing some of England’s highest mountains and some of the biggest lakes. Situated in the far northwest corner of the country, the market town of Keswick is the most popular urban tourist destination.
#6 Brecon Beacons, South Wales
With miles upon miles of hills and rugged welsh landscapes, the Brecon Beacons consists of two national trails and a huge national park. It is one of the best rural places in the UK to get away from it all. People travel from all over the country and the world to climb to the top of Pen Y Fan for truly spectacular views. You may also want to check out the National Show Caves Centre for Wales; a huge cave complex, dinosaur park, and farm.
#7 The Peak District, Derbyshire
One of the UK’s most visited national parks, the Peak District spans 555 square miles amongst the Pennines’ southernmost hills and contains some of the most famous trails in the country.
The area is world-renowned for its beautiful landscapes and wide-open spaces. Visit the stately home Chatsworth House, stroll around the picturesque Ladybower Reservoir, or discover more about the history of the area at Haddon Hall; the former seat of the Dukes of Rutland.
The Best Rural Places to Visit in the UK: Cities and Towns
#8 Chester, Cheshire
Picturesque gardens, stately homes, and traditional country pubs make Cheshire one of the best rural places to visit in the UK. Take a stroll in Tegg’s Nose Country Park, clamber up Runcorn Hill, and check out the faux castle ruins at Mow Cop.
As an added bonus, kids will love meeting the furry residents at the world-famous Chester Zoo! The zoo is currently open, with social distancing measures in place (October 2020).
#9 Pendle, Lancashire
Famous for the witch trials of the 16th Century, Pendle is a beautiful Lancashire town set amongst the wild countryside. This untamed rural area is steeped with history and legend. Spirits are believed to roam the area. For those looking to enjoy a long-distance trek, the circular 43-mile Pendle Way takes you through some of the most famous witch-related locations and up to the top of the hill.
There are also a number of country inns and local pubs along the way to provide respite.
#10 Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk
With a combination of seascapes and countryside, Suffolk has been a popular tourist destination for centuries. With a picturesque 50-mile coastline, beautiful quaint villages, and Ancient Ruins, this East Anglican County offers an idyllic location for your rural getaway.
Bury St Edmonds is a popular place to stay, with its beautiful Abbey Gardens, museums, pubs, and 9th-century Cathedral. Alternately, travel to Southwold for sandy beachside fun, Aldeburgh for food, art, and culture, or Dunwich for walking in the countryside.
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