England may be a small country, but it packs a punch when it comes to beauty. With everything from lush green mountains and quaint villages to golden beaches and turquoise waters, England is one of the most stunning countries on earth. Whether you’re looking for charming villages in the countryside, dazzling cities filled with ancient history, or a dreamy coastal retreat, here are 15 of the prettiest places to visit in England.
1. Lake District
Rolling green mountains, sparkling lakes, incredible views… the Lake District has got to be one of the most beautiful places to visit in all of England. The region has inspired writers and poets for centuries, including some of the greats like Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth.
Whether you cruise across Lake Windermere, England’s largest and most spectacular lake, explore old fortresses like Wray Castle, or go rambling through the lush countryside, you’re sure to fall in love with the Lake District.
2. The Cotswolds
Designated as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, you know you’re in for a scenic treat when you visit the Cotswolds. The area spreads across six different counties from the Chipping Campden to the south of Bath. It’s jam-packed full of gorgeous villages, honey-coloured stone mansions, ancient churches, thatch-roofed cottages, traditional tea shops and rolling green fields.
It’s all so beautifully preserved, a visit to the Costwolds is like stepping back in time. One of our favourite spots is the charming village of Lacock, where the 15th-century inn has served as a backdrop for famous films and shows like ‘Downton Abbey’, ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Pride & Prejudice.
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3. Bath, Somerset
As a UNESCO-listed site, the city of Bath is renowned for its incredible history and architecture. You’ll admire the regal Georgian architecture, the stunning Pulteney Bridge and 15th-century Gothic Abbey, and of course, the roman baths from which the city takes its name.
Be sure to pack your swimsuit and enjoy a soak in the natural warm water bubbling beneath the city in the beautiful Thermae Bath Spa and The Roman Baths. It’s the only natural thermal spa in England!
Other scenic highlights in Bath include the Royal Crescent overlooking the Royal Victoria Park and the Prior Park Landscape Garden. We also love getting to know the city’s history at the Jane Austen Centre and the Fashion Museum.
4. South East Cornwall
When you think of England, you probably picture green fields and crumbling stone castles… But did you know the country is also home to turquoise waters and white sand beaches that look like they’ve been plucked straight from the Mediterranean?
South East Cornwall is an absolute dream, with pretty seaside villages like Polperro and Looe serving up cobbled streets, idyllic harbours and white sandy inlets tucked between lush cliff sides and dazzling blue ocean.
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5. Penwith Peninsula
The Mediterranean vibes just keep on rolling in the Penwith Area, with coastal retreats like St. Ives and Penzance dishing up dazzling blue waters, charming harbours and a dose of history. Be sure to check out St. Michael’s Mount with its 17-the century castle perched on top of the tidal island near Penzance.
You can also see Tintagel Castle, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur that overlooks the wild Atlantic Ocean. Venture down to Tintagel Beach and you’ll be rewarded with emerald waters and Merlin’s Cave, a hiding place for baby Arthur in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Idylls of the King”.
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With origins dating back to Roman times, the ancient cathedral city of York is one of the most beautiful places to visit in England. See the famous York Minster, one of the most impressive cathedrals in the world, Clifford’s Tower and the Yorkshire Museum and Gardens.
Walk along the Shambles, a charming old cobbled street with traditional timber-framed buildings dating back as far as the 14th century. You can also head to the City Walls, the longest medieval wall in England. Spanning 3.4 kilometres, this well-preserved fortification is now a stunning two-hour heritage trail around the city.
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7. Dartmoor National Park
A vast land of pristine wilderness, Dartmoor National Park is one of the most spectacular places in all of Britain. Located in the county of Devon, it’s chock-full of sweeping moorlands, rugged mountain peaks, deep river valleys and incredible wildflowers and wildlife, including herds of wild ponies, dozens of bird species and rare butterflies.
You can go walking or cycling along the many trails which will take you from oak woodlands to river valleys to Bronze Age stone circles, Neolithic tombs and other historical sites. There’s also several charming villages around the national park – the perfect place to stop for a traditional pub lunch.
This beautiful city is home to one of the world’s most famous universities, not to mention ancient buildings, charming cobbled streets, lush parklands and idyllic waterways.
Hit the streets to take in highlights like Radcliffe Square, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Christ Church College and Pitt Rivers Museum. Then take a stroll along the River Cherwell or hire a boat to glide through the city on the water.
Famed as the home of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon is a gorgeous town dotted with charming timber-framed Tudor houses. You can delve into the life of Shakespeare at his Birthplace and Visitor Centre, then see Anne Hathaway’s pretty thatched cottage and the twinkling waterways.
Located in southwest England, this whole county is postcard material! From the elegant capital of Exeter, with its medieval centre and 15th-century Exeter Cathedral, to seaside town of Brixham, with its pretty streets and Sir Francis Drake’s ship Golden Hind, there are endless treasures to explore in Devon.
Visit Lynmouth, a stunning village set on the rugged Exmoor coastline. Cruise around Plymouth, a historic naval port where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for America. Stop by beautiful Dartmouth overlooking the winding River Dart.
We’ll even take you to a beautiful Devonshire village to see cob walled houses with thatched roofs and a 700-year-old parish church. You can even meet the locals and enjoy a tasty pub dinner in a 700-year-old village pub.
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11. Hadrian’s Wall
Spanning 135 kilometres (or 80 Roman miles), Hadrian’s Wall is one of the most incredible UNESCO-listed places to visit in England. It was built to keep tribal warriors out of the northern frontier of the Roman Empire on the orders of Emperor Hadrian after his visit to Britain in AD 122.
The wall served for nearly 300 years. Today it’s an ancient historical site surrounded by lush green landscapes and beautiful mountain scenery.
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Canterbury is another stunning cathedral city in England. It was once a pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages and you can still see the ancient walls built by the Romans and the pretty medieval centre with cobbled streets and timber-framed houses.
It’s also renowned as the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the headquarters of the Church of England and Anglican Communion. You’ll be awed by the exquisite stone carvings and stained glass windows of the Canterbury Cathedral, founded in 597 AD. The city is also filled with gorgeous canals and you can take a boat ride to see all the stunning architecture and flower-lined waterways.
With rows of colourful houses overlooking the River Avon, this former port city is now an easygoing cultural hub. There are plenty of pretty streets and walking trails to explore, and you can also visit the historic Harbourside.
Stop by the 19th-century warehouses which are now home to shops, restaurants and galleries, and visit the M Shed museum to explore the local industrial heritage. Enjoy views of the striking Clifton Suspension Bridge and see Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the world’s first ocean-going luxury liner.
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14. Salisbury, Wiltshire
Salisbury is one of the prettiest places to visit in England, thanks to its medieval masterpiece, the Salisbury Cathedral. Built between 1220 and 1258, this spectacular cathedral has the oldest working clock in Europe. It also boasts the tallest spire in the UK, standing at 123 metres or 332 steps to the top of the tower.
The cathedral is also home to the 13th-century Magna Carta, the ancient document which inspired movements for freedom in Britain and the world. To top it all off, this gorgeous town is only 13 kilometres from Stonehenge, the mysterious prehistoric monument and one of the best-known World Heritage Sites on earth.
15. Alnwick, Northumberland
This medieval market town is home to the impressive Alnwick Castle, where the Percy Lion sits upon the Tenantry Column and watches over the town. This ancient castle is the second largest inhabited castle in the UK (home to the Duke of Northumberland) and dates back to the Norman Period.
Through almost 1,000 years of history, this beautiful castle has served as a military outpost, teaching college, refuge for evacuees, family home and a film set. You might recognise it as the Brancaster Castle in Downton Abbey or as the magnificent Hogwarts in Harry Potter.
If you want to keep the magic going in Alnwick, make a stop at Barter Books. This old train station was transformed into a literary wonderland in 1991, and there are all kinds of treasures to discover.
What are your favourite places to visit in England? Let us know in the comments below!