Welcome to my guide to the best UK hidden gems.
I’m from the UK. I’ve lived here most of my life, and have explored almost every corner of the country (bizarrely, except for Northern Ireland, which is very high up on my list of places to visit!).
And, if you’ve read any other posts on this blog, you’ll know that I’m passionate about helping people discover the best off-the-beaten-track destinations.
So, I thought it was well overdue that I write about my favourite UK hidden gems and other off-the-beaten-path destinations in Britain.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet getaway in the countryside, exciting outdoor activities, or a cultured city break, there’s something here for you.
My Top 44 UK Hidden Gems
Despite its relatively small size, the UK is packed full of natural beauty, historical sights, and vibrant culture. It’s an extremely diverse place too, both socially and geographically.
From the quaint countryside of southern England to the rugged wilderness of the Scottish Highlands, and everything in between, there are so many fantastic places to visit in the UK.
So, if you’re looking to discover somewhere a little different, you’ve come to the right place! These UK hidden gems are just waiting to be discovered.
Note: This list doesn’t include Northern Ireland, because (sadly) I haven’t yet been there. I’m hoping to change that soon though!
Hidden Gems in England: Unveiling Treasures Beyond the Obvious
Okay, before we start:
There are countless other blogs that talk about the best places to visit in England. Everybody knows that Stonehenge, Oxford, and Bath are worth seeing, so I wouldn’t really be adding much by talking about those places.
This guide is a little different. Here’s my pick of the best hidden gems in England, broken down by region.
You may not have heard of all of these places. But all of them are definitely worth visiting, I promise.
Hidden Gems in South East England
South East England is an amazing area to explore. There are so many incredible places to visit aside from the obvious spots like London, Brighton, Windsor, and the White Cliffs of Dover.
And with good public transport links, it’s generally very easy to get around with or without a car.
Dungeness Beach: A Unique Coastal Landscape
Dungeness is a surreal, otherworldly beach on the edge of the Romney Marsh wetlands in Kent. It’s situated at the tip of a long shingly promontory stretching out into the English Channel.
Dungeness is significant for its geographical location, having been a landing point for centuries, as well as its ecological importance.
It’s home to a range of plants and birdlife and has been designated a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest.
This unique coastal gem is a mesmerizing blend of desolation and beauty. The shingle beach stretches out towards the horizon and is dotted with the remnants of abandoned fishing boats, machinery, and weathered huts.
As the sound of the crashing waves fills the air and the iconic lighthouse stands sentinel against the vast expanse of the sea, you’ll find yourself immersed in a landscape that’s as haunting as it is beautiful.
If you’re interested in birdwatching, you can also visit the neighbouring Dungeness RSPB reserve.
Location: Romney Marsh TN29 9NB
Devil’s Dyke: Spectacular Views and Ancient Legends
Devil’s Dyke is a scenic valley in the South Downs, 5 miles northwest of Brighton.
The Dyke itself is an impressive natural spectacle. Formed by glacial erosion, it’s 400 metres wide, 100 metres deep, and a kilometer long.
With its panoramic views of the downs and numerous walking trails, it’s a popular local beauty spot. It also serves as a great starting point for exploring more of the South Downs National Park.
My friends who live in Brighton come here often, either for a walk, a picnic or to watch the sunset.
Not only is Devil’s Dyke beautiful but it’s steeped in history too. There are several Iron Age settlements nearby, and the site features quite prominently in local literature and folklore.
Getting here is also very easy. It’s just 20 minutes on the number 77 bus from the centre of Brighton. Plus, being so close to Brighton makes it easy to combine a trip to Devil’s Dyke with all that this vibrant city has to offer.
It’s also close to several excellent vineyards and wineries. Check out this post on the best Sussex wine-tasting tours.
Location: Devil’s Dyke Rd, Brighton BN1 8YJ
🤩 This is an excellent tour of the South Downs from Brighton (includes Devil’s Dyke)
Chilham: A Timeless English Village
Chilham is a small medieval village situated on the banks of the Great Stour River in Kent.
Despite its size, the village is known for its impressive 12th-century castle, ancient church, picturesque central square, and quaint half-timbered houses.
Chilham is located only 6 miles from Canterbury Cathedral, one of the most significant pilgrimage sites in Britain. It was an important stop on pilgrimage routes for hundreds of years, which helps to explain why there are so many historical buildings here.
The village feels like a window into a bygone era. Wander through its winding streets, soak up the peaceful atmosphere, then head to the superb White Horse Inn for a pint or two.
Location: Canterbury CT4 8BY
Rye: A Medieval Gem
Rye is an attractive and historical town in East Sussex. It’s very atmospheric, with its medieval cobblestone streets and well-preserved Tudor architecture.
The town is nestled on top of a hill and is surrounded by defensive walls. From the ramparts, you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the town’s jumbled rooftops.
Ypres Tower is one of Rye’s oldest buildings, built in the 14th century to protect the town from invaders. Other interesting sights include Camber Castle and St Mary’s Church, which dates back to 1020 AD.
Don’t miss the picturesque and timeless Mermaid Street. It’s lined with centuries-old houses that lean in close to one another and looks like something out of a storybook.
You can also visit Lamb House. This 18th-century red-brick house used to be the home of the American writer Henry James. It’s filled with period furniture and artwork and has an attractive walled garden.
The area surrounding Rye has some great walking and cycling trails through the gently rolling hills. It’s also only a few miles from the beautiful beach and dunes at Camber Sands.
Location: Rye TN31 7EU
Eynsford Castle: Vital Norman Fortress
Eynsford Castle is an impressive Norman motte-and-bailey castle in the town of Eynsford, Kent.
Due to its strategic location, Eynsford Castle played an important role in British history. It was built in 1088, during the reign of William II (son of William the Conqueror), and was a strategic fortress used by the Normans.
However, the origins of this as a defensive site are even older.
The castle is situated on a ridge that was originally fortified by the Romans (nearly 2,000 years ago) and later by the Saxons.
Throughout the 12th century, local politics saw Eynsford Castle change hands between powerful families multiple times.
Today, you can explore the ruins of the castle, picture yourself sitting in the grand hall, and climb up the motte for spectacular views over the Darent Valley.
Location: Eynsford DA4 0AA
Opening times: 10 am–6 pm, Mon–Sun
Hidden Gems in South West England
I was born in Devon and love going back to the West Country whenever I can. Here are some of my favourite hidden gems in South West England.
🤩 Short on time? This is a highly-reviewed 5-day tour of Devon & Cornwall
Dartmoor: Wild & Mystical
Dartmoor is a national park in Devon that covers over 365 square miles of moorland.
The area has a rich history spanning thousands of years, with evidence of early settlers in the form of prehistoric sites and burial mounds.
I used to visit Dartmoor quite often when I was growing up. It’s a mysterious place steeped in legends and folklore.
Locals tell stories of supernatural goings on, ghostly hounds, witchcraft, headless horsemen, pixies, and an enormous black dog that’s said to prowl the moors at night.
It’s also known for having inspired the works of legendary authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie.
A distinctive feature of Dartmoor is its “tors”. These are giant mounds made of granite that stick up above the surrounding ground. They’re great spots for rock climbing, offering something for all abilities.
Some of the best and most scenic tors to climb include Great Links Tor, Steeperton Tor, Great Staple Tor, Haytor Rocks, and Hound Tor. From the top of these tors, you get some incredible views.
The park is crisscrossed by an extensive network of footpaths, bridleways, and cycle trails. These are a great way to explore the beautiful wilderness.
From wild camping under starlit skies to exploring ancient ruins, Dartmoor has something that will capture your imagination. It’s an amazing place to visit and one of my favourite areas in southwest England.
Location: H3CH+QP Yelverton, Devon
Tintagel: Legends of King Arthur
On the dramatic north coast of Cornwall, Tintagel Castle has a spectacular setting. The ruined fortress is perched high up on top of vertical cliffs, with stunning views out to the Atlantic Ocean.
The castle itself dates back to the 13th century, but archaeologists believe that its foundations were built much earlier – as early as the 5th century AD.
According to legend, Tintagel was the birthplace of King Arthur Pendragon of Camelot. Make your way to the bottom of the cliffs at low tide and you’ll find Merlin’s Cave, named after the famous wizard.
Whether or not the legends are true, the whole place is incredibly atmospheric and captivating.
The ruins themselves are fairly – well – ruined, due to centuries of battering by North Atlantic storms. But if you use your imagination, you can picture what an impressive place this would’ve been.
If you fancy a longer walk, Tintagel lies on the South West Coast Path, a long-distance footpath that takes in some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in England.
I’ve hiked a few sections of this epic trail, including the section around Tintagel, and it’s really breathtaking. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as dolphins, seals, and otters.
Location: Castle Rd, Tintagel PL34 0HE
Opening times: 10 am–6 pm, Mon–Sun
🤩 Check out this 2-day tour of King Arthur’s Cornwall
St. Nectan’s Glen: A Magical Waterfall
A couple of miles inland from Tintagel lies the gorgeous St. Nectan’s Glen. Here you’ll find a cascading waterfall surrounded by lush ancient woodland.
It’s a really tranquil, special place and an amazing spot for connecting with nature. Explore the winding paths through the woods and you’ll discover hidden alcoves, sparkling streams, and a wonderful sense of calm.
The site was also supposedly once a sacred place of worship for Druid priests dating back to the Iron Ages.
Today, it has spiritual significance for many people who come to take part in rituals or simply to meditate on the beauty of nature. There’s even a hermitage and meditation room
Location: Trethevy, Tintagel PL34 0BE
Opening times: 9 am–6:30 pm, Mon–Sun
Montacute House: Tudor Elegance in Somerset
Montacute House is an enormous Elizabethan mansion located in Somerset. It’s been around since 1598 and is a beautiful example of architecture from the era.
The house features grand staircases, a collection of beautiful paintings and tapestries, and period furniture that all give a great insight into what life was like at the turn of the 16th century.
The estate also features beautifully landscaped gardens and parkland which are perfect for a stroll or picnic, as well as a cafe. For those who want to delve deeper into Tudor history, guided tours are available of the house and grounds.
Montacute House was also used in several films such as Sense & Sensibility and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Location: Montacute TA15 6XP
Opening times: 10 am–5 pm, Mon–Sun
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens: Exotic Oasis
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens is an amazing 20-acre botanical garden in Dorset.
The gardens have been open since 1765, making them one of the oldest public gardens in Britain. They are home to more than 5,000 rare and unusual plant species, including beautiful displays of Camellias and Magnolias.
Paths wind through the lush greenery, and there are several ponds, lakes, and secluded spots to relax and take in the views.
It’s also only a 10-minute walk from Chesil Beach, on the Jurassic Coast. 18 miles long, it’s the longest beach in Britain and is well worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Opening times: 10 am–5 pm, Mon–Sun
Dunster: A Castle-Crowned Village
Dunster is a pretty village on the edge of Exmoor National Park.
This timeless place is full of cobbled streets, old buildings with thatched roofs, and olde-worlde charm. It also has a very picturesque location, sandwiched between the moors and the sea.
The 12th-century Dunster Castle stands tall and proud above the village, a reminder of its wealthy past as a trading port. At St George’s Church, there are remains of a 900-year-old monastery.
Today, Dunster is home to several quaint old-fashioned shops, pubs, restaurants, and tea rooms.
There are some lovely walks in the area too that take you through woodlands, meadows, and along the coast of the Bristol Channel.
You can also visit the various beaches nearby, including Porlock, Bossington, Minehead, and Blue Anchor Beach.
Location: Minehead TA24 6NY
Hidden Gems in London
I’ve written a whole separate guide to London off the beaten path.
In very brief summary, the list includes:
- Eltham Palace
- Camden Passage
- The Parkland Walk
- Little Venice
- Leighton House Museum
- Kyoto Gardens
- The Faltering Fullback
- Hampstead Hill Garden & Pergola
- Leadenhall Market
- The Royal Exchange
- Leake Street Arches
- Crystal Palace Dinosaur Park
Hidden Gems in the Midlands
Often overlooked, the Midlands has a wealth of historical sights and offbeat experiences.
Ludlow: Gastronomic Delights and Medieval Charm
Ludlow is one of the best destinations for foodies in England. It’s a historic market town in Shropshire and is a real gastronomic capital, famous for its excellent food and drink.
There are some superb restaurants in Ludlow, such as Forelles, Mortimers, and Old Downton Lodge, which have all won various awards.
The town hosts a lively outdoor market several times per week, including a monthly farmers’ market and a local produce market every other Thursday. These markets have been held in Ludlow’s central square for more than 700 years.
There are also traditional bakeries, fishmongers, butchers, cheesemongers, greengrocers, and delis dotted around the town.
Beyond food, Ludlow is also great for general shopping, with lots of high-quality independent shops and boutiques.
Ludlow is very picturesque too. Perched on top of a hill above the River Teme, the town has a large number of Tudor, half-timbered, and Georgian buildings.
It has narrow, cobbled streets, an impressive Norman castle, and fantastic views over the surrounding countryside. It’s easy to see why the English poet John Betjeman described Ludlow as “the loveliest town in England”.
My Dad lives near Ludlow and I always enjoy coming here whenever I’m in the area.
My favourite pub in the town is the Charlton Arms. It has a beautiful setting, next to a medieval bridge over the river, with a great view of the town. They do superb beer too and even have a few rooms where you can stay the night.
Location: Ludlow, Shropshire
🤩 This is an excellent-value self-guided audio tour of Ludlow
The Malvern Hills: A Perfect Walking Spot
The Malvern Hills are a range of extinct volcanoes running along the border of Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
It’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), known for its picturesque landscapes, sweeping vistas, and diverse wildlife.
The best way to explore the Malvern Hills is on foot. There are many hiking trails crisscrossing the hills, including the fantastic 9-mile “End-to-End” route that runs the entire length of the chain and takes in each of its summits.
There are several other walks suitable for all levels of fitness and abilities, from short and easy strolls to more challenging mid-range hikes.
From the top of the Malvern Hills, you get 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding area. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Black Mountains in South Wales.
There’s an Iron Age hill fort at the British Camp. And the spa town of Great Malvern, located on the eastern slopes of the hills, is also quite picturesque.
I went walking in the Malvern Hills often when I was growing up. In earlier decades, JRR Tolkien and the composer Edward Elgar both enjoyed coming here too.
Location: Malvern, Worcestershire
Worcester: Civil War History
I went to school in Worcester and know the city like the back of my hand.
This small-ish city has been inhabited since at least the 5th century and was an important centre for trade throughout the Middle Ages due to its strategic position on the River Severn.
Worcester was also at the centre of the English Civil War between 1642–1651.
Both the first and last battle of the war was fought there. It was the site of Oliver Cromwell’s victory over King Charles II, a key point in the evolution of democracy.
During the war, Charles and his Royalist army had their headquarters at the Commandery (earning Worcester the nickname “The Faithful City”). Today, this beautiful old building houses a museum.
There are many other historical sites around Worcester that tell the story of this turbulent period in English history.
Impressive Worcester Cathedral is almost 1,000 years old and hosts the annual Three Choirs Festival, one of the oldest music festivals in Europe.
You can walk along the banks of the River Severn and take in some of the city’s most attractive spots. It’s a lovely place, especially when the sun’s shining.
Location: Worcester, Worcestershire
Church Stretton: Idyllic Shropshire Village
Church Stretton is an attractive little town in the Shropshire Hills. It’s sometimes known as “Little Switzerland” due to its wonderful scenery.
Rising above Church Stretton is the Long Mynd, a sprawling upland plateau composed of seven hills, with lush forests, grassy meadows, and undulating moorland.
This is one of the most accessible wilderness areas in England. In less than an hour of walking from the centre of Church Stretton, you can be surrounded by heather-covered moorlands, wooded valleys, and babbling streams.
Keep an eye out for colourful wildflowers, birds of prey, and wild horses as you explore the idyllic trails.
Church Stretton itself has a timeless allure, with traditional local shops, cafes, friendly old pubs, thatched houses, Tudor buildings, and cobbled streets.
The town also has several historical landmarks, such as St Laurence’s Church which dates back to the 13th century and is considered one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in England.
Location: Church Stretton, Shropshire
Hidden Gems in North West England
The North West of England boasts a rich blend of industrial heritage and natural beauty. Here’s my pick of hidden gems in North West England.
Buttermere: A Lake District Gem
The Lake District is one of the most famous beauty spots in England. It’s one of my favourite areas of the country. However, it can get quite busy, especially during the summer and at weekends.
To escape the crowds, head to my favourite lake: Buttermere. Located in the remote northwestern corner of the park, Buttermere feels a million miles away from the popular holiday spots of Windermere and Coniston.
Buttermere village is small but pleasant, with a couple of fantastic pubs and tea rooms to refuel after a long day of exploring.
The lake is surrounded by majestic peaks including Haystacks and Red Pike. It’s a perfect place for hiking, kayaking, or simply relaxing and admiring the fabulous views.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could climb the 660-metre-tall Haystacks. The trail is fairly steep and challenging in places but rewards you with panoramic views of the Lake District and the peaks of southern Scotland.
For a more relaxed walk, there’s also a wonderful 4.5-mile circular walking trail that runs all the way around the edge of Lake Buttermere.
I’ve often seen golden eagles soaring above the mountains here. If you listen carefully, you can sometimes hear their calls echoing through the valley.
It’s a really spectacular place, I love it.
Location: Cockermouth CA13 9XA
🤩 Want to see more of the Lake District? Check out this super full-day tour
Port Sunlight: A Visionary Village
Port Sunlight is an interesting and unique Victorian village near Liverpool. It was designed in 1888 by Lord Leverhulme, a wealthy industrialist, for his factory workers at the nearby soap factory.
Leverhulme created the village to provide much-needed housing for his workers. He also designed it to foster a sense of community with churches, schools, parks, and other amenities all provided.
The history of Port Sunlight is significant as it marks one of the first examples of an industrial model village. This model village inspired many others around the world and has been studied by urban planners and historians ever since.
The village is known for its meticulously planned streets and landscaped gardens, which are full of attractive architecture and greenery.
It’s remained largely unchanged since it was built and paints an interesting picture of “utopian” life in Victorian Britain.
Location: Birkenhead, Wirral CH62 4XN
Sizergh Castle: A Stately Surprise
Sizergh Castle is located near the town of Kendal in Cumbria. It was built in 1239 and was home to the Strickland family from 1350 until 1950.
It’s a beautiful example of a medieval fortified manor house, surrounded by immaculately landscaped gardens, 500-year-old stone walls, and acres of parkland.
You can explore the castle itself (with an optional guided tour), and take a leisurely stroll around its grounds.
Sizergh Castle is significant for many reasons, from its rich history as one of Britain’s oldest inhabited castles to its beautiful gardens which contain some rare plant species.
Location: Sizergh, Kendal LA8 8DZ
Opening times: 10 am–4 pm, Mon–Sun
Hidden Gems in North East England
From ruined castles and sweeping beaches to mysterious islands and ancient forests, North East England is full of hidden gems.
Check out some of these great places and discover a side of Britain that many people don’t get to see.
Dunstanburgh Castle: Atmospheric Coastal Fortress
Dunstanburgh Castle is a ruined 14th-century castle in the far northeast of England. It’s located near the small village of Craster, which is just a short drive from the popular town of Alnwick.
Perched dramatically on the windswept Northumberland Coast, Dunstanburgh Castle stands as a testament to medieval power and conflict.
It was built in 1313 to defend against Scottish raids and stands imposingly atop a rocky headland, backed by sand dunes and a sweeping beach. The castle has undergone significant damage over the centuries and is now a haunting yet impressive ruin.
You can wander around its weathered ruins, exploring its battlements and secret passageways. From the ramparts, you get fantastic panoramic views both along the coast and out to sea.
The views of the North Sea from here are stunning, with a seemingly never-ending horizon stretching out before you. It’s a very peaceful and atmospheric spot.
It’s quite common to spot grey seals here, and sometimes you can even see whales offshore.
I first visited Dunstanburgh Castle a couple of years ago and clearly remember being in awe. I think it’s one of the most striking places in England.
At the end of the day, as the fading sun paints the stones with a soft pink hue and the shadows grow longer, the castle is engulfed in an air of mystery. You can almost hear whispers in the wind.
If you close your eyes and listen carefully, it is easy to be transported back to a time of knights and sieges.
Opening times: 10 am–5 pm, Mon–Sun
🤩 If you’re a non-UK resident, this English Heritage pass gives you access to more than 100 sites (including Dunstanburgh Castle)
Runswick Bay: Picturesque Seaside Village
Runswick Bay is an attractive little village nestled on the North Yorkshire coast.
Once a working fishing village, today it’s a popular coastal retreat and holiday spot with locals from around the region. It offers a picturesque and timeless escape from the hustle of modern life.
The bay itself is beautiful, with a curving sandy beach backed by sheer limestone cliffs. And the village is full of colourful fishing cottages, pretty little gardens, and narrow winding lanes.
On the other side of the bay, the beach underneath the cliffs is an amazing place for fossil hunting.
Every time I’ve been there, I’ve lost track of the number of ammonites and other fossils I’ve seen. They’re littered around everywhere!
It’s also home to some of the best examples of Jurassic rock formations in Europe.
The walk up to Kettleness Point is a fairly easy climb but rewards you with spectacular views of the entire bay.
I also recommend the beautiful clifftop walk to the nearby town of Staithes, which takes about an hour each way. Keep an eye out for local wildlife, including seabirds, dolphins, and seals.
There are several other nearby attractions too, including Whitby Abbey and Robin Hood’s Bay which make great day trips.
Location: Saltburn-by-the-Sea TS13 5HU
Rievaulx Abbey: Ruins of Spiritual Grandeur
Rievaulx Abbey is a beautiful ruin in the North York Moors National Park. It was founded by monks in 1132 but was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538.
Today, it’s a mesmerising and atmospheric place surrounded by gorgeous Yorkshire countryside.
As you wander through the remnants of the abbey’s cloisters, chapels, and chapter house, try to picture the many generations of monks who once called this place home.
As well as the abbey itself, you can also explore the ruins of terraced gardens, follies, temples, and ponds that have been remarkably well preserved over time.
Enjoy the peaceful grounds which are full of wildflowers and ancient trees.
Opening times: 10 am–5 pm, Mon–Sun
North Pennines: England’s Last Wilderness
I think the North Pennines is one of England’s best-kept secrets.
It’s a large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, stretching from the Yorkshire Dales almost all the way north to the Scottish Borders.
The North Pennines is often known as “England’s last wilderness”. Here you’ll find an untouched landscape of sweeping heather moorland, rolling hills, dramatic peaks, hidden valleys, sparkling rivers, and deep gorges.
Dotted around the landscape are traces of old lead mines, ruined castles, prehistoric stone circles, and ancient stone-built villages that seem frozen in time.
There are hundreds of fantastic walks in the North Pennines, from strolls through enchanting forests to arduous multi-day hikes. You’ll also find plenty of opportunities for mountain biking and wild swimming.
One of my favourite things about the North Pennines is the peace and quiet. Despite being home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the country, whenever I’ve spent time there, I’ve hardly ever seen any other people.
Whether you’re drawn to the rugged terrain or the tranquil solitude of the moors, the North Pennines is a fantastic slice of untamed wilderness.
Location: North Pennines AONB
🤩 Check out this superb half-day tour of Hadrian’s Wall
Holy Island: Ethereal Beauty and Spiritual History
Holy Island, also known as Lindisfarne, is a small tidal island off the far northeast coast of England.
Steeped in history and legend, Holy Island was one of the first key places for early Christian missionary activity in Britain. It’s home to Lindisfarne Castle and Lindisfarne Priory which was founded by St Aidan in 635 AD.
As well as being an important place of pilgrimage, the island is also known for its mysterious, ethereal atmosphere, tranquility, and beautiful landscapes.
It’s hard to describe exactly how this place makes you feel when you’re there. I’m not a particularly spiritual person, but I definitely felt something special in the air here.
At low tide, it’s possible to walk across the sands from Beal to Holy Island. Once you arrive on the island, take some time to explore its ancient ruins and windswept sandy beaches.
You can also witness the mesmerizing spectacle of the tide sweeping in to isolate the island from the mainland.
Location: Holy Island, Berwick-upon-Tweed
Note: Safe crossing times vary depending on the tide. (See the website for the most up-to-date information before you visit.)
🤩 This highly-reviewed day tour from Edinburgh includes Holy Island & Alnwick Castle
Hidden Gems in Wales: Exploring Cymru’s Treasures
Wales is a unique and fascinating country packed full of incredible scenery, vibrant culture, and rich history. This corner of Britain is sure to capture your imagination.
I’ll shortly be writing a whole post dedicated to my favourite off-the-beaten-path places to visit in Wales. But here’s a summary:
Pistyll Rhaeadr: Wales’ Tallest Waterfall
Pistyll Rhaeadr is a dramatic waterfall in Powys, North Wales. It’s the tallest waterfall in Wales and cascades down 240 feet into a deep pool at its base, surrounded by lush green foliage.
There are walking trails around the falls allowing you to admire the views from various different angles.
Bodnant Garden: Floral Paradise in Conwy
Bodnant Garden is an incredible 80-acre garden located in the Conwy Valley. It’s one of the most beautiful gardens in Wales and is home to a variety of different plants and flowers, including rare species from around the world.
The gardens are particularly spectacular during spring when the rhododendrons, magnolias, and azaleas burst into bloom. Don’t miss the famous Laburnum Arch, one of the longest in Britain.
Llanddwyn Island: Island of Romance
Llanddwyn Island is a small island just off the coast of Anglesey. It’s a tranquil spot with rolling dunes, a picturesque lighthouse, and sweeping views over the bay and across to Snowdonia.
The island is also steeped in history and mythology and gets its name from the Welsh Saint Dwynwen, who lived here in the 5th century.
Llangollen: Riverside Beauty
The small market town of Llangollen is located in Denbighshire, North Wales, on the edge of the Clwydian Range & Dee Valley AONB.
Take a peaceful wander along the banks of the River Dee and enjoy views over the lush green countryside.
Raglan Castle: Majestic Ruins
Raglan Castle is one of the most impressive castles in Wales. It was built in the 15th century and is an incredible sight to behold, with its crumbling walls, gatehouses, turrets, and moat.
You can climb a few of the towers which give great views of the castle itself and across to the Black Mountains. There’s also a network of underground tunnels and chambers to explore.
🤩 Want to see more of North Wales? Check out this highly-reviewed day tour from Manchester
Laugharne: Inspirational Haven of Dylan Thomas
Laugharne is a small town on the coast of Carmarthenshire, South Wales. It has an impressive ruined castle overlooking the River Tâf estuary.
The poet Dylan Thomas was inspired by this romantic location and wrote some of his most famous works at the boathouse there. Take a wander down to the harbour and explore the town’s quaint tearooms and antique shops.
Big Pit National Coal Museum: Industrial Legacy
The Big Pit Museum is located on the site of an old coal mine and gives a fascinating insight into the rich industrial heritage of the area.
There are various interactive displays, and you can take a trip underground into the mine itself, guided by former miners. It’s a really fun, unique place to discover.
Three Cliffs Bay: Coastal Serenity
Three Cliffs Bay is a gorgeous stretch of golden sand surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs. It’s popular with local dogwalkers but is never crowded and still feels like a true hidden gem, despite its proximity to the city of Swansea.
Take a leisurely stroll along the beach and admire the landscape, embark on one of the excellent coastal hiking trails, or explore the area’s hidden coves and secret caves. You can surf here too.
Pendine Sands: Speed and Serenity
Pendine Sands is a seven-mile stretch of golden sand in Carmarthenshire. It’s a popular spot for windsurfing but also has an interesting history as the location of some of the world’s first land speed record attempts.
Take a stroll along the coast and enjoy the views out to sea. Keep an eye out for local wildlife including oystercatchers, greylags, and plovers.
Hidden Gems in Scotland: Discovering Unseen Treasures
Scotland’s epic landscapes and rich history reveal a tapestry of hidden treasures waiting to be explored.
Check out my review of the best luxury lodges in Scotland.
There are so many amazing off-the-beaten-path places to visit in Scotland, I’ll shortly be writing a whole post on them!
Here’s a summary:
Durness: Serene Northerly Escape
Durness is the most northwesterly village in mainland Britain. It enjoys a spectacular natural setting, surrounded by steep rocky cliffs, picture-perfect beaches, and the dramatic Cape Wrath peninsula.
Enjoy the scenery and tranquil atmosphere of this unique place. Also, check out the nearby Smoo Cave, a large sea cave with an underground waterfall – it’s very cool.
🤩 Ever fancied learning to surf? Take a look at this beginner’s surf lesson in Durness
Sandwood Bay: Remote Beach Beauty
Sandwood Bay is an incredible wild beach located in the far northwest of Scotland. Accessible only via a 4-mile hiking trail from the hamlet of Blairmore, it’s one of the most spectacular beaches in the UK.
This hidden gem has untouched white sands, towering pink dunes, and crystal-clear waters. It’s well worth the effort to get there, this place is very special.
Dr. Neil’s Garden: A Hidden Haven in Edinburgh
Dr. Neil’s Garden is a beautiful secret garden located in Edinburgh, just the other side of Holyrood Park from the city centre.
With its winding paths, serene ponds, and hidden alcoves, it’s a really lovely and tranquil spot.
The Hidden Lane: Glasgow’s Artistic Enclave
The Hidden Lane is a bustling enclave of artists and creatives tucked away in Finnieston, just west of the centre of Glasgow.
It’s home to some of the city’s best and most unique independent shops, galleries, cafes, and boutiques.
Knoydart: Awe-Inspiring Wilderness
The Knoydart Peninsula is a truly awe-inspiring wilderness and one of the most remote areas of the Highlands. If you’re looking for solitude and raw untapped beauty, you’ll find it here by the bucketful.
There are no roads connecting Knoydart to the rest of the country. The only way in and out is by ferry (or a challenging 3-day trek). It’s an awesome place, and perfect for wild camping.
Killiecrankie: Dramatic Gorge and Soldier’s Leap
Killiecrankie is a small village just north of Pitlochry in the Southern Highlands. It’s located in a dramatic gorge formed by the River Garry and is the site of one of the bloodiest battles in Scottish history.
Check out the iconic Soldier’s Leap. From September until November, you can often see salmon leaping up the falls and rapids here.
There are also a couple of bridges over the river that offer wonderful views of the Pass of Killiecrankie.
Grey Mare’s Tail: Waterfall Magic
The Grey Mare’s Tail is a magnificent waterfall located near the town of Moffat in Southern Scotland. There’s a viewpoint that’s an easy 5-minute walk from the car park and gives a great view of the falls.
Or, if you’re feeling more energetic, try the longer, steeper hike up the other side of the waterfall. This goes all the way up to Loch Skeen, a peaceful and serene mountain lake surrounded by craggy peaks.
Torridon: Spectacular Highland Scenery
Torridon is one of my favourite areas of the Highlands. It’s home to some of Scotland’s most awe-inspiring scenery, with jaw-dropping mountains, a vast sea loch, and several incredible hikes.
I’ve seen more stags, eagles, otters, and seals here than virtually anywhere else in the country. The drive into the Glen Torridon is also really spectacular. This magical spot will take your breath away.
🤩 Check out this excellent full-day tour of Torridon & Applecross (from Inverness)
Ben Hope: Most Northerly Monro
Ben Hope is the most northerly “Munro” (3,000+ feet high mountain) in Scotland. Located in the wild and remote Sutherland region, it’s a moderately challenging hike but offers some really breathtaking views.
From the summit, you can enjoy panoramic 360-degree views of a huge area of northern Scotland, including Cape Wrath, the vast wilderness of Assynt, and (on a clear day) all the way across to the Orkney Isles.
Oldshoremore Beach: Paradise White Sands
Oldshoremore Beach is another fantastic and secluded beach in the far northwest of Scotland.
With its fine sand and clear turquoise waters, this paradise beach looks more like the Caribbean than Northern Europe. I’ve camped here overnight and would definitely recommend it!
Duncansby Head: Giant Sea Stacks
Barely more than a couple of miles from John o’ Groats lies Duncansby Head, a rocky peninsula at the extreme northeastern corner of Great Britain.
From here, it’s an easy 20-minute walk south along the grassy clifftops to get to the enormous Duncansby Stacks.
These towering sea stacks rise vertically over 60 metres out of the sea – it’s a magnificent sight. As you admire the epic views, look out for seabirds (including puffins!) wheeling around below you.
Galloway Forest Park: Highlands of the Lowlands
In the southwest corner of Scotland, Galloway Forest Park is a beautiful expanse of wilderness. Its rolling hills, forests, and lochs make it an ideal spot for hiking, camping, enjoying nature, and a range of other outdoor activities.
And, the best bit: hardly anyone comes here. Whenever I’ve visited Galloway Park, it’s felt like I’ve had the whole place practically to myself – it’s a true UK hidden gem!
Hidden Gems in Northern Ireland: TBC!
This list doesn’t currently include Northern Ireland, because (sadly) I’ve never been there. I’ll try and fix that soon.
In the meantime, if anybody would like to write a guest post for me on hidden gems in Northern Ireland, please let me know!
Final Thoughts: Hidden Gems in the UK
There are so many beautiful, fascinating, and unique places to visit in the UK. To be honest, it was quite hard whittling this list down to less than 50 – there are so many other great places I could have mentioned.
These are some of my favourite UK hidden gems. What are yours? I’d love to hear in the comments below!