Whether you’re planning your next vacation or just need a quick hit of some gorgeous scenery, these landscapes and cities make anyone’s list of England’s most beautiful places.
1. St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall
This island fortress rises from the turquoise sea off England’s southeast coast like something out of a fantasy novel. At low tide, visitors can cross a causeway to explore the island, which boasts sub-tropical gardens, a tiny village, and the medieval castle and church at its heights. If you arrive at high tide, no worries — boat service is provided from the landside town of Marazion.
2. The Cotswolds
This countryside charmer has all the stone cottages, half-timbered towns and willows weeping over babbling brooks you could ever want. Plus, some pretty magnificent historic estates and the extraordinary grandeur of the medieval-era “Wool Churches,” some of England’s finest and most elaborate churches, built with the riches that wool merchants amassed from farming this fertile land. The Cotswolds make a perfect day trip or weekend stay from London, located just a few hours west of the city by rail, car or motor coach.
3. South Downs National Park
The chalk hills of Sussex, south of London, create beautiful, ancient undulations of green — until they end on the coast with dramatic white cliffs. Come for the countryside, stay for the The Seven Sisters — a series of incredible chalk cliffs rising out of the striking blue water of the English Channel. The rural character and natural erosion of the Seven Sisters makes them a frequent stand-in for the White Cliffs of Dover in film and television, since Dover’s cliffs have quite a bit of green overgrowth in sections.
The city of Bath was built over warm mineral springs, and today you can still visit the ancient Roman spa. But Bath’s rebirth as a spa resort in the 18th century is what gave the city its graceful architecture, some of the most beautiful in England. The Georgian terraces and elegant facades of the Royal Crescent will bring peace to anyone in search of symmetry; Bath’s famous weir on the River Avon adds another gorgeous touch as the water flows from under the 18th-century Pulteney Bridge.
This university city was named one of the world’s most beautiful cities by Forbes, and it’s easy to see why once you start exploring. The grand colleges here open onto magnificent parades and quadrangles, the city is filled with green space, and punting on the River Cam provides a rare opportunity to see hidden corners of the city from a quiet boat — no motor required! This city of narrow medieval lanes, historic architecture and arching bridges is easily one of the most beautiful places in England.
6. The Lake District
The Lake District’s particular mix of tall, bald mountaintops and tranquil blue lakes has been enchanting poets, artists and travelers for centuries. Located in England’s northwest region of Cumbria, the Lake District National Park is home to many quaint market towns such as Keswick, which serve as home base for tourist drives, hikes and cruises through the area’s incredible natural beauty.
7. The Peak District
Central England’s Peak District has the honor of being England’s very first national park, designated in 1951. By then it had already become a popular tourism spot, easily accessible by rail from cities like Manchester and Liverpool. Within the Peak District you’ll find lonesome peaks and beautiful historic towns, estates and farms–this beautiful land has been inhabited since prehistoric times.
8. North York Moors
Chances are you’ve read a novel with some description of the wind blowing over the wild Yorkshire moors. But did you ever imagine they were this gorgeous? Sutton Bank National Park Center, located inside North York Moors National Park, offers an incredible view across the Vale of Mowbray and the Vale of York. The historic city of York is just a few hours by train from London, so it’s an incredible addition to your London stay.
From grand castles to the Roman stones of Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland is a worthy stopping point on your way to Scotland. Historic sites like Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick Castle offer journeys back in time, and inland, the countryside is world-class. It’s so classically English, the Northumberland countryside near Alnwick made the cut as background for The Hobbit movie posters, even after New Zealand was made the famous stand-in for the Shire.
10. Stratford-upon-Avon & Warwickshire
Half-timbered houses, blooming English gardens, estates and castles dating back to Norman times: beauty and history are intertwined here in central England’s Warwickshire district. Whether you’re looking for beautiful architecture, landscapes, or words and culture, you’re sure to find them here.