The prettiest villages in the UK

Roshina Jowaheer, Alex McFadyen
·8-min read
Photo credit: Tetbury, Cotswolds. Andrea Pistolesi - Getty Images
Photo credit: Tetbury, Cotswolds. Andrea Pistolesi - Getty Images

From Prima

The countryside is filled with pretty little villages in the UK, often nestled in some of our most scenic landscapes.

Their quiet streets, with stone cottages, nostalgic shops and charming pubs provide the perfect place for a relaxing short break, when we're allowed to travel again.

Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

They also provide an easy and more eco-friendly escape, with the option to travel by rail or road instead of flying.

A visit to one of Britain's most beautiful villages is perfect for stepping back in time, soaking up the laidback atmosphere and getting to know a picturesque side of the UK.

Here’s our pick of the prettiest villages in the UK and some wonderful ways to visit them on holiday when it's safe to travel again.

Covid-19: Check the latest guidance for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, including local restrictions and alert levels, before travelling.

Portree, Isle of Skye

Scotland's colourful main village is one of the most breathtaking you'll find in the country. Portree is surrounded by the hills of Ben Tianavaig and Fingal’s Seat, which provide the perfect backdrop for its pastel-hued houses. The harbour is still used by fishing boats and its name comes from the Gaelic term for 'port on the slope'.

Photo credit: Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann - Getty Images

There are banks, churches, cafes and restaurants, as well as a swimming pool and gift shops. The pretty village is also a superb base for exploring the rest of the Isle of Skye.

Try this: Discover picturesque Portree while staying at a hotel with views overlooking the bay.

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Broadway, Cotswolds

Dominated by its wide main street, this Cotswold beauty spot is an excellent place to check out restaurants, antique shops and independent boutiques. The Lygon Arms is Broadway's most famous hotel and has hosted royalty, including King Charles I.

Photo credit: Stephen Dorey - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stephen Dorey - Getty Images

The picture-postcard village that lies at the heart of the Cotswolds is as quaint and peaceful as you'd expect. It's surrounded by the rolling wolds and has the honey-coloured period buildings the Cotswolds are known for.

Try this: Check into a cosy lodge, country house or cute inn in Broadway to make the most of this picturesque village.

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Portmeirion, Gwynedd

With the romantic green hills of the Welsh countryside rolling in the distance, this colourful village in the UK nestled inside a thick forest is straight from a fairytale book. Portmeirion's unique design is based on an Italian fishing village and its charming cottages and turrets have turned it into one of Wales’ most popular tourist attractions.

Photo credit: Edward Haylan - Getty Images
Photo credit: Edward Haylan - Getty Images

Portmeirion has also had plenty of celeb fans over the years, from Jools Holland to Paul McCartney – and fellow member of the Fab Four, George Harrison, celebrated his 50th birthday there in the '90s.

Try this: Check into a holiday cottage nearby, where you make the most of the superb coast and countryside for a few days. You could have a dog-friendly escape, stay in a cottage with a hot tub or make it a big family break.

BROWSE PORTMEIRION COTTAGES

Sissinghurst, Kent

This tiny village in Kent is most famous for its magnificent National Trust property, Sissinghurst Castle. The castle's garden is one of the most beautiful in Britain and was designed by poet Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson from 1930.

Photo credit: stocknshares - Getty Images
Photo credit: stocknshares - Getty Images

There's a bright Cottage Garden, the amazing White Garden and the delightful South Cottage Garden to explore, with colourful displays laid out in a unique way. Around the village of Sissinghurst, there's a church, school, pub and pretty white clapboard cottages. It's a splendid spot to while away a few hours and perhaps stop for afternoon tea.

Try this: Prima's exclusive gardens of Kent and Sussex tour with Sarah Raven includes an evening at Sissinhurst Castle Gardens where you'll enjoy dinner and drinks after hours.

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Horning, Norfolk

This classic village in the UK has everything you’d expect from rural Norfolk: half-timbered old pubs, pretty thatched cottages and the River Bure flowing gently through it. In the sunshine, the popular sailing village is the ideal place to soak up the rays and relax as little boats glide by, with Norfolk’s iconic windmills on the horizon.

Photo credit: Deejpilot - Getty Images
Photo credit: Deejpilot - Getty Images

Try this: Visit Horning on a steam tour of Norfolk, from where you’ll take a Mississippi Paddle Cruiser down the river. You’ll also tour the Queen’s country retreat at Sandringham and hear all about the royal family from former royal correspondent Jennie Bond.

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Luss, Loch Lomond

A village that will really take your breath away is conservation spot Luss, which sits on the western shore of Loch Lomond. It dates back to medieval times but what you see today was created in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Photo credit: Stephen Dorey - Getty Images
Photo credit: Stephen Dorey - Getty Images

The neat row of cottages show off bright floral displays on all sides in the spring and summer, and there's a narrow, pebbly strand to check out too. One of Luss' best sites is the 19th century parish church for its peaceful ambience and ceiling made from Scots pine rafters.

Try this: Take in the magic of Loch Lomond during Prima's four-day tour of Scotland's beautiful mountains and villages. You'll stay at a historic coaching in right by Loch Lomond.

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Itchenor, West Sussex

Sweeping coastal views and beach walks on your doorstep make Itchenor a gorgeous visit, on the edge of the Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The nature reserve is a protected home for wild birds and a seal colony lives there too. Its tiny population makes it an absolute haven of peace and quiet, and the charming old Ship Inn serves up delicious seafood a short stroll from the seafront.

Photo credit: Drew Post - Getty Images
Photo credit: Drew Post - Getty Images

Try this: On a scenic tour of Sussex’s grand stately homes and gardens you’ll take a boat trip from Itchenor for a relaxed cruise around the beautiful harbour area. You’ll also ride on the Bluebell Railway, recently voted England’s best steam train.

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Tetbury, Cotswolds

With its eccentric antiques traders and delicious foodie shops, including Prince Charles’ own Highgrove deli, there’s a lot to love about Tetbury in Gloucestershire. As well as being a nice place for a relaxing afternoon mooching around and enjoying an afternoon tea, the UK village is a garden-lovers hotspot and has won a string of Gold awards in England in Bloom competitions.

Photo credit: Andrea Pistolesi - Getty Images
Photo credit: Andrea Pistolesi - Getty Images

In fact, as well as his deli in Tetbury, Prince Charles is probably the area’s most famous resident and gardener.

Try this: You can visit his country home Highgrove on Prima's tour of the Cotswolds’ most idyllic English gardens, when The One Show’s resident green-fingered expert will give an exclusive talk and Q&A.

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Mallaig, Highlands

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, then this picture-perfect harbour in Scotland’s romantic Highlands is the place to do it. A traditional fishing village in the UK, its unspoiled scenery has barely changed for decades, and you’re promised the absolute freshest catch at the local chippy.

Photo credit: By Eve Livesey - Getty Images
Photo credit: By Eve Livesey - Getty Images

It’s also the final stop for the real-life Hogwarts Express, the Jacobite steam train, which passes by peaceful lochs, breathtaking mountain landscapes, and over the famous 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct on its way to the Atlantic.

Try this: Take this magical journey with Prima on a four-day Scottish Highlands tour.

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Warehorne, Kent

Warehorne is truly tiny, but it’s a slice of classic English countryside bliss that hits the spot perfectly. There’s not much besides an ancient church, a charming village green and the excellent Woolpack Inn pub, but it sits right by Kent’s famous Romney Marsh.

Photo credit: Booking
Photo credit: Booking

This incredible wetland nature reserve is home to sheep that provide some of the UK’s most delicious lamb, as well as eye-catching birds like the Great Crested Grebes, and graceful swans. The area’s even got a secret history as smugglers’ paradise during the 16 and 1700s, with goods flowing back and forth across the flat land and back and forth to Europe by boat.

Try this: Feast on sharing platters, wood-fired pizzas and tasty pub classics at the Woolpack Inn, enjoy a pint out on its deck and then have a well-earned rest in one of the pubs brilliantly quirky rooms.

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Afriston, East Sussex

Tucked away in the stunning South Downs, Afriston’s streets are lined with traditional half-timbered houses, tea rooms and pubs – an ideal introduction to life in an English village. Its surrounded by some of the best country walks you’ll find in the south east, and is also home to the National Trust’s Afriston Clergy House.

Photo credit: Booking
Photo credit: Booking

This medieval thatched cottage is Grade II listed, so has been beautifully maintained, and also has pretty gardens where you can sit and enjoy some afternoon sunshine, surrounded by colourful flowers, listening to nothing but the quiet hum of nature.

Try this: Stay in style at Wingrove House, an elegant country house hotel that’s had a modern refurb inside, with bags of original features, landscapes gardens and delicious seasonal menus in the restaurant.

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