The United Kingdom is full of charming towns and idyllic hamlets for holidaymakers. As you venture out of the cities, you’ll quickly fall in love with the countryside’s natural beauty and serene atmosphere. Whether you’re travelling alone, with your furry friend, or your family, you’ll find plenty of things to do in the country. From the sweeping marshlands of Yorkshire to the dramatic coastline of Cornwall, you’ll find the perfect destination for your country retreat. Explore these hidden gems tucked in the UK for the ultimate holiday escape!

List of Lovely UK Towns That You Must Visit

Looking for your next holiday destination? The UK has an endless list of quaint market towns where you can spend your days under the summer sun. For quintessential English holidays, the county of Cornwall has plenty of coastal towns and seaside resorts with fantastic ocean views. If you’re craving the fresh air of the country, the regions of Yorkshire and Derbyshire can provide relaxing retreats. And for unique adventures, the neighbouring destination of Wales is just one hop across the border. So, for your next break, here are the top towns for your upcoming countryside getaway:

1. Ludlow, Shropshire

“Ludlow”, by rodtuk, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Ludlow is a market town located in the county of Shropshire in England. Tucked in between the rivers of Corve and Teme, this medieval town is famous for its ancient walls and impressive architecture. When you visit, you’ll find yourself admiring the Tudor-style houses and window shopping through quirky shops and antique stores. Despite being a bustling town, Ludlow also has plenty of green spaces including the iconic Millennium Park. As you venture out, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the Shropshire countryside and the woodlands of Mortimer Forest!

2. Dorchester, Dorset

“Dorchester”, by Peter Trimming, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Dorchester is a county town found at the heart of Dorset in England. The town is built upon the banks of the River Frome and faces the Dorset Downs which consists of sweeping grasslands and features the county’s natural beauty. Aside from its natural attractions, Dorchester is a historical town boasting prehistoric spots. One of the town’s many prized landmarks is its Roman walls with its dedicated museum proudly displaying ancient artefacts. When you visit, don’t forget to check out High Street – the town’s main area showcasing Dorchester’s medieval past!

3. Knaresborough, Yorkshire

“Knaresborough”, by Mtaylor848, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Knaresborough is a spa town found along the banks of the River Nidd in North Yorkshire. The town is often used as a pit stop for holidaymakers travelling to Harrogate and Leeds, but it’s also a lovely destination with its own countryside attractions. For one thing, the Knaresborough Viaduct is a sight to behold with its stone arches and riverside views. Families love holidaying in this town because of its picturesque homes and shops and rich medieval history. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can visit Mother Shipton’s cave for its interesting lore and gorgeous rock formations!

4. Holt, Norfolk

“Holt”, by David Dixon, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Holt is a market town on the northern edges of Norfolk in England. With a place deeply rooted in history, the town boasts Georgian homes and charming shops. As you move further north, you’ll be treated to sandy beaches, nature walks, and coastal views. If you’re visiting for the first time, you should check out Holt Hall, one of the town’s grand estates featuring acres of woodlands, lakes, and gardens. Holt Country Park and Holt Lowes are also must-visit attractions for guests who are fond of horseracing courses, hiking and wildlife trails, and sweeping views across beautiful heathlands!

5. Hay-on-Wye, Wales

“Hay-on-Wye”, by Philip Pankhurst, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hay-on-Wye is another lovely market town located between the border of England and Wales. Although the town has the classic English charm, it’s better known for its historical and literary associations. With plenty of bookshops scattered over its main square, Hay is aptly nicknamed the “town of books” and has the annual Hay Festival to celebrate its reading culture. Once you’ve finished exploring the town, feel free to spend your holiday in the neighbouring Brecon Beacons National Park. With its dramatic landscapes and stunning peaks, it’s the perfect countryside escape!

6. Faversham, Kent

“Faversham”, by Jim Osley, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Faversham is a market town tucked within the county of Kent in England, surrounded by Sittingbourne, Canterbury, and the city of London. The town’s origin is displayed through its name which means “the metal-worker’s village.” After becoming a prominent seaport, Faversham transformed into a holiday resort. It has many wonderful attractions including the Faversham Parish Church and the Maison Dieu. With its close access to many towns and cities, Faversham is easily the most popular choice for weekend getaways!

7. Helston, Cornwall

“Helston”, by Derek Voller, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Helston is a town hidden on the northern fringes of the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. Thanks to its unique location, the destination is bustling with holidaymakers during the summer. There are plenty of attractions to entertain visitors like the Helston Museum, St. Michael’s Churchyard, and the Grylls Monument. For extreme adventurers, Poldark Mine is only a stone’s throw away with its themed rides and underground exhibitions. You can also plan your visit around Flora Day, the town’s annual medieval festival with lots of singing and dancing!

8. Buxton, Derbyshire

“Buxton”, by Andrew Hill, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Buxton is a spa town located at the highest point of Derbyshire in England. Surrounded by the beauty of Peak District National Park, the town is a frequent holiday spot for locals and tourists. However, its most popular attraction is its collection of thermal springs found on the foothills of its mountains. Holidaymakers love visiting Poole’s Cavern and St. Ann’s Well, as well as the town’s many historical buildings such as the Buxton Crescent and Buxton Opera House. You’ll also enjoy exploring the town’s gorgeous estates namely Chatsworth House and the Victorian Pavilion Gardens!

9. Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

“Henley-on-Thames”, by, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Henley-on-Thames is a market town tucked within the county of Oxfordshire. Aside from its idyllic atmosphere, the town is a favourite weekend spot due to its close distance to places like Reading, Maidenhead, Oxford, and London. Henley takes pride in its many historical landmarks and attractions, capturing the interests of nature lovers and history buffs. Some popular hotspots include Henley Bridge, Fawley Court, and the Greenlands. When you visit, don’t forget to check out the Old Bell – the oldest building ever built in the town of Henley!

10. Keswick, Cumbria

“Keswick”, by Roger Cornfoot, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Keswick is a market town hidden within Lake District National Park in Cumbria. Due to its incredible location, the town is popular amongst holidaymakers for its exquisite landscapes, lakeside views, and wildlife sightings. Aside from the picturesque town square, you can venture out to its borders and enjoy the waters of Bassenthwaite Lake. There are tons to love within Keswick including Moot Hall and the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. If you get the chance to visit, remember to stop by and catch a show at the Theatre by the Lake!

11. Oswestry, Shropshire

“Oswestry”, by Edward Williams, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Oswestry is a market town and the biggest settlement in the county of Shropshire. Backed up by the woodlands of the Welsh border, the town is an ideal mix of natural beauty and modern attractions. History buffs will love the town’s preserved Iron Age hill forts and Tudor-style exteriors. If you’re a big fan of nature, don’t forget to carve time during your visit to check out the Oswestry Uplands. Whether you’re planning a quick weekend break or a week-long stay, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to explore Oswestry!

12. Market Harborough, Leicestershire

Market Harborough
“Market Harborough”, by Immanuel Giel, licensed under CC0 1.0

Market Harborough is a town within the county of Leicestershire and Northamptonshire. Unlike the other market towns on the list, Harborough used to be part of the Rockingham Forest. As the resting spot from the royal hunting forest, the town has lots of pubs, restaurants, and holiday homes. Harborough is also known for its historical landmarks like the St. Dionysius Church, Market Harborough Town Hall, and Abbey Street. There’s also the Harborough Museum where can you check out the local artefacts!

13. Newbury, Berkshire

“Newbury”, by Brian Robert Marshall, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Newbury is a market town located on the western side of Berkshire in England. Situated between the River Kennet and the Berkshire Downs, the town is the perfect countryside retreat with natural beauty and exciting attractions. Families and their pets in need of a fun holiday in the country will love exploring the grasslands and hills of the North Wessex Downs Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty. If that’s not enough, visitors can check out the ruins of Donnington Castle or the landscaped gardens near Highclere Castle. And when you miss the bustling spots of the city, the heart of Oxford is only minutes away!

14. Hitchin, Hertfordshire

“Hitchin”, by John Lucas, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hitchin is another pretty market town located within the county of Hertfordshire in England. Tucked in between the River Hiz and the Chiltern Hills, the town is built upon a stunning valley with a gorgeous countryside backdrop. Hitchin also takes pride in its medieval past, boasting preserved Tudor homes and ancient monasteries like Hitchin Priory. Another jewel in its crown is the magnificent lavender fields on the outskirts of town. Guests can admire the fields, take pictures, and even buy souvenirs for their trip. With its undeniable beauty and picturesque appeal, it’s no wonder that Hitchin is popular among locals and tourists!

15. Ledbury, Herefordshire

“Ledbury”, by Jonathan Billinger, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Ledbury is a market town found in the county of Herefordshire in England. The town is famous for its medieval roots, displaying its history through its Tudor-era houses and historical buildings. Visitors are free to see the outstanding architecture of Ledbury Market Hall or the church of St. Michael and its frescoes. You can spend hours roaming the halls and admiring the ancient events that transpired through these places. However, Ledbury isn’t just all about the past – the town boasts incredible countryside as well. With the Malvern Hills and the natural spots of Hereford, Ledbury is the go-to destination for holidaymakers!

16. Downham Market, Norfolk

Downham Market
“Downham Market”, by John Sutton, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Downham Market, simply known as Downham, is another market town in Norfolk. The town is famed for its idyllic atmosphere thanks to its nearby areas of the Fenlands and the River Great Ouse. Due to its fertile lands, Downham transformed into a busy agricultural centre best known for its weekly markets. Holidaymakers enjoy window shopping during the butter market and attending the numerous horse fairs. When you visit, remember to check the notable sites of St. Edmund and the Victorian clock tower. Both sites present great stories and artefacts for curious eyes and ears!

17. Clitheroe, Lancashire

“Clitheroe”, by Alexander P Kapp, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Clitheroe is a market town tucked within the county of Lancashire in England. It is situated right next to Ribble Valley and the Forest of Bowland, making it the perfect resting spot for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Aside from its historical past, Clitheroe also has a fascinating collection of folklore that will interest curious guests. For first-time visitors, it’s recommended to stop by Clitheroe Castle and explore its ancient halls. You can also bring your families to the town’s nature reserves and skate parks. No matter your plans, you’ll definitely enjoy the perks of staying in Clitheroe!

18. St. Andrews, Fife

St. Andrews
“St. Andrews”, by Peter Gordon, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

St. Andrews is a town nestled on the coast of Fife in Scotland. Compared to the other towns in this guide, this hamlet is found all the way across the English borders. Although it’s considered a university town, it can also be an ideal holiday destination because of its semi-remote location and beautiful landscapes. St. Andrews is the perfect spot for history lovers who will undoubtedly enjoy the location’s cathedral, castle ruins, and towers. With the town’s coast, you can also go on afternoon walks along the beach with your loved ones and pets!

Final Thoughts

The UK is filled with plenty of market towns and medieval hamlets for every type of holidaymaker. If you’re searching for a country spot where you can rest and relax, the towns of Ludlow, Dorchester, and Buxton are perfect picks. For historical buffs and nature lovers in need of country pursuits, the hamlets of Faversham and Henley-on-Thames should pique your interest. And when you’re dreaming of the coast, the towns of Cornwall aren’t too far behind. Whether you’re planning a rural retreat or seaside getaway, you’ll find a slice of haven within the UK!

Featured Image: “Helston”, by Derek Voller, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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