Top 5 Countryside Spots in the UK

When people think of visiting the UK, most will think of London, Oxford, maybe Edinburgh and Glasgow. Some will maybe think of Birmingham and Manchester as well. Point is, most people will think of the big cities. Not to say that the big cities aren’t worth visiting as they most certainly are, but I feel that the “countryside” spots are often overlooked.

I use the term “countryside” very loosely here. Basically, I use it to refer to anything that is not considered a major city. All the destinations that I have listed here have a resident population of under 150,000 people. They don’t have skyscrapers and all have areas that are very walkable, lending to that countryside feel for me.

Bman and I have done three, one to three week trips around the UK (England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland) on three separate occasions as well as numerous small day/weekend trips while we were both living there. We have a lot of great memories and favourite spots so it has been hard for me to narrow this list down to five. Regardless, without further ado, here are my top five countryside destinations in the UK:

5. Bath

Bath, UK.
Bath, UK.

My experience of Bath was quintessentially English – grey and dreary, raining the entire day I was there. Maybe that was what made it so memorable. It felt so English to me. This was the home of Jane Austen for a period of her life and it formed the backdrop for a couple of her novels. Historically, it was a spa resort town and it still retains much of that feel today. Albeit a bit touristy, I really enjoyed the small town feel, cobblestone streets, and old time architecture.

Travel tips:

  • Go to Sally Lunn’s and have the Sally Lunn bun while checking out the oldest house in Bath! It’s cool.
  • I never got a chance to see it (as it was closed when I was there), but the Jane Austen Centre seems to be a worthwhile visit in Bath.
  • Bring your swim suit if you want to use the spa (not the historical one pictured above – that’s a museum, they actually have a modern spa in another spot in the city)!

4. Harrogate

Harrogate, UK.
Harrogate, UK.

Another one of those places that I love because it feels so English. I’m probably starting to stereotype here, but… I like what I like, alright? Betty’s Tea Room is one of the better places I’ve been to for afternoon tea. But, I primarily came here to see the rows of cherry blossom trees. It was as amazing as it looks. 😀

Travel tips:

  • As per the note about cherry blossom trees above – come here during the springtime when they are blooming or are in full bloom!

3. Cambridge

Cambridge, UK
Cambridge, UK.

Probably the least “countryside” spot on this entire list, but it does have the small town vibe to me and is one of my favourite spots in the UK outside of the major cities. I guess the best way to describe the place is that of a college town. Cambridge University is one of the oldest universities in the UK. The campus is dotted with beautiful purple wisteria trees everywhere. I could sit by one of those trees in any one of the meticulously cared for garden squares and easily dream the day away.

Cambridge is the home of many famous English intellects – Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin and Alan Turing, just to name a few. You can even see the tree here that Newton sat under when he discovered his theory of gravity! It is just such a great place to wander about and ponder the fascinating world around us.

Travel tips:

  • Do the punting tour down the river. It’s very touristy, but you get to see the back of all the beautiful campus buildings – totally worthwhile in my opinion.
  • Do a guided walking tour or read up on the history of the university before coming here – it will make the visit that much more meaningful and intriguing.

2. Bibury

Bibury, UK.
Bibury, UK.

Bibury is a small village located in the Cotswold district in England, UK. The Cotswold is known for its idyllic English countryside landscapes. Bibury is my favourite of the few villages that we had visited in this area. Arlington row is supposedly one of the most photographed spots in the Cotswold and rightfully so. If I had never been to the English countryside, Bibury is what I would have imagined it to look like. I love this quaint village for its peaceful disposition and its ruling resident swans.

Travel tips:

  • If you are looking for touristy things to do here, you aren’t going to find much. Bman and I just really enjoyed walking around the quaint and quiet village and taking in its charming nature.
  • There is a tiny tea shop owned by some locals called the William Morris Tea Room that serves up really tasty, homemade treats and light meals. It is located right across the road from Arlington Row. I highly recommend it!

1. Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle!
Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle!

The Isle of Skye is a sparsely populated area in Northwest Scotland. Between all the places on this list, I think it is a tight competition between Isle of Skye and Bibury for the top spot. Isle of Skye refers to a broader geographical area than a particular town. There are various small towns and villages located throughout, but one of my favourite places in this area is the Eilean Donan Castle. Isle of Skye just makes me feel like I’m on the set of some fairytale. Rolling hills, low lying wispy clouds and grand castles, what else more does one need?

Travel tips:

  • It can be really difficult to find accommodations in this area due to the low resident population and the area being somewhat off the beaten track. So research, plan and book in advance where possible!
  • This is a great area to do some hikes and treks in, so if you’ve made it all the way up here, it would be worthwhile to set aside some time to explore the great outdoors!

Look out for more posts to come on the UK and Ireland as I round up some of my favourite destinations in that part of the world!

Tell us what you think!

%d bloggers like this: