The top 10 most beautiful villages in the UK

Village life; bowls on the green, quaint pubs, red phone boxes and Morris dancing in the village hall. It’s the quintessential English stereotype of country living in the UK. But there’s way more going on in this chocolate-box towns.







Village life; bowls on the green, quaint pubs, red phone boxes and Morris dancing in the village hall. It’s the quintessential English stereotype of country living in the UK. But there’s way more going on in this chocolate-box towns.


All over the United Kingdom, lush green valleys give way to historic high streets strung with thatched cottages, while the coastline is marked by clusters of brightly painted fisherman’s houses. Winkle out the best of these diminutive settlements with our guide to the villages worth stopping for.


1. Tyneham, England


It’s still 1943 in Tyneham, where time stood still when the army told everyone to leave because they needed the surrounding hills for training. Most weekends and throughout the summer school holidays the village is open to the public and you can stroll along the main street, between the abandoned stone cottages and poke your head into the old schoolhouse and church. Look out for wild flowers, abundant here thanks to the army keeping the public out and unable to trample them. For more places to stroll amongst the blooms, check out this article on the most gorgeous gardens in the UK.


2. Avebury, England


How many villages are surrounded by their very own prehistoric stone circle? Not as many as you’d think – surprising huh? But Avebury is special – it sits in the centre of one of the UK’s most important ancient sites, open to all at all hours. Picnic among the stones at lunchtime or stroll through the circle at sunset. Make time to visit Silbury Hill, Europe’s largest manmade mound located just outside the village, and once you’ve worked up an appetite fall in to village pub the Red Lion for a pint of locally brewed Wadworth’s 6X. Read more about the UK’s most magical places and learn about their mystical pasts here.


3. Port Isaac, England


When the council builds a big car park just outside a village and encourages all visitors to explore on foot, you know it’s going to be a pretty unspoilt place. Port Isaac’s steep narrow lanes were not designed for cars, they were designed for fisherman, and this quaint Cornish village has long been devoted to all things lobster and crab. To fully understand their dedication and love the local sea crop yourself get down to Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, where the fishermen dictate the menu and the small plates are cooked to order. Expect to pay around £10 per dish.


4. Staithes, England


Staithes was once one of the largest fishing ports on the northeast coast: today it’s a far more laidback place, with higgledy piggledy cottages running down to the sea and a small beach perfect for hours of old fashioned rockpooling fun. Captain Cook spent some of his formative years here so there is, of course, a museum devoted to him on the high street. You can also eat in the eponymous Captain Cook Inn, or the Cleveland Corner Bistro, which endeavours to source as much of their fish as possible from the village itself.


5. Beddgelert, Wales


A stone humpbacked bridge crosses a burbling river, trees dip their branches into the water, hanging baskets bloom – Beddgelert would be scenic even if Snowdon weren’t lurking in the background. Don’t let it tempt you away too quickly, this is a beautiful place to linger, wandering from gallery to woodcraft shop, café to ice creamery. Don’t miss Glaslyn Ices, which everyone here will tell you makes the very best homemade ice cream in Britain.


6. Portmeirion, Wales


Nope, not Italy, this is still Wales - although you might not know it standing in central Portmeirion. Architect Clough Williams-Ellis wanted to create a village that enhanced rather than blended into its landscape, and this place certainly stands out from its surroundings. Start in the central Mediterranean piazza, with its loggias and porticoes, before wandering at random into nooks and crannies hiding with cherub statues and painted in pastels. Endangered buildings from across Britain and around the world were brought here piece and piece and reconstructed – look out for the Buddha.


7. Plockton, Scotland


A sheltered position on Loch Carron and the Gulf Stream means warm waters, sun traps employed as beer gardens and even palm trees. Idyllic Plockton tends to grab people and never let them go – one visit here is never enough. Take a woodland stroll around the bay, walking out across the endless flat sands if it’s low tide and return in time for lunch, of Plockton prawns (langoustines) at the small and friendly Plockton Shores.


8. Crail, Scotland


The East Neuk of Fife is strung with quaint fishing towns, but Crail probably wins in the cutest village stakes, a maze of cobbled streets winding down the hill to the miniature harbour. There’s a cracking tearoom here – the Crail Harbour Tearoom which has a sheltered sea-facing terrace and dressed crab from the village’s fishing fleet – as well as the lovely Crail Pottery and you can join the Fife Coastal Path, linking it to larger Anstruther.


9. Cushendun, Northern Ireland


We have Baron Cushendun’s wife to thank for this village’s Cornish charm – she was from Penzance and architect Clough William-Ellis (he was a popular guy) wanted to make her feel at home with his 1912 design. Whitewashed cottages abound and the village square is an idyllic craft shop and tearoom packed haven. The setting is pretty special too, on an elevated sandy beach at the outflow of the verdant Glendun and Glencorp valleys. Head to Mary McBride’s Bar come sundown and be prepared for an impromptu singalong - the original bar was once Ireland’s smallest.


10. Ardglass, Northern Ireland


Make time for a meal in Ardglass. This thriving fishing village on an inlet of the Irish Sea is the landing site of some of Ireland’s best seafood and is renowned for the quality of its herring. Look out for the atmospheric ruins around the village - there were once seven castles (fortified tower houses) here. The local golf club uses the remnants of one as their clubhouse – said to be the oldest clubhouse in the world, it dates from 1377.

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (0 posted)

total: | displaying:

Post your comment

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Underline
  • Quote

Please enter the code you see in the image:

Share this article
Rate this article