United Kingdom

12 of Britain’s most beautiful hidden spots

23 July 2020 | Updated 20 June 20248 min read

Rocky coves at Seilebost on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland

Isle of Harris This remote Scottish isle rivals the Caribbean for its beaches.

The world is full of spectacular spots, and some of the most beautiful are right here in Britain. From magnificent coastlines and soaring peaks to ancient cities and historic hideaways, we pack an impressive punch for such a tiny island.

But if you’ve exhausted all of Britain’s big hitters and want to escape the masses, where do you go next?

Whether you like the sound of off-the-beaten-track Cornish countryside or want to discover London’s secret side, we round up twelve under-the-radar beauties in the UK.

1. Isle of Harris

For ‘tropical’ beaches

Luskentyre Sands (Losgaintir) on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides is a true showstopper. Utterly remote, the island is reachable via ferry from Ullapool in the north west of Scotland.

When you arrive at the beach, you’ll find something that could rival anything in the Caribbean – picture translucent turquoise seas gently lapping swathes of white sand.

Pitch up on the beach for a picnic, hit the water for kayaking and kite-surfing, or take in the sea views as you walk the Harris hills, keeping your eyes peeled for golden eagles.

2. Lindisfarne

For a plunge into history

Lindisfarne, or ‘Holy Island’, is drenched in history, stretching right back to 635 AD when Saint Aiden arrived from Iona to set up his monastery.

Immerse yourself in the ancient past at the atmospheric Lindisfarne Castle and priory – a centre of Christianity in Anglo Saxon times and still a place of pilgrimage today – and soak up unrivalled views of the Farne Islands and Northumbrian Coast.

The island is only reachable at low tide when the causeway is open, which only adds to its mystery. Make sure to check the crossing times when planning your visit.

3. Portmeirion

For a taste of la dolce vita

This purpose-built tourist village is wonderfully unexpected. Colourful, Italian-inspired buildings poke out from the greenery and, in town, a central piazza is packed with hidden whimsies in every nook and cranny.

Portmeirion’s 70 acres of subtropical woodland hides even more delights, from giant redwoods to unique rhododendrons bred right there in the village. In the evening, do like the Italians do and take a passeggiata (stroll) around the piazza.

While entry is ticketed if you're just visiting for a day, stay overnight at one of the four-star hotels or self-catering cottages, or book in for a spa treatment, and you can visit for free.

4. Pembrokeshire

For hidden lagoons and cliff jumping

Boasting the UK’s only coastal national park, Pembrokeshire is a favourite destination of holidaying Brits. And while it's hardly a secret, plenty of lesser-known spots abound.

For those in search of a little adventure, Abereiddy Beach boasts a stunning blue lagoon. Formerly an old quarry, the terrific colour comes from pounded grey slate and is a popular place for coasteering (coastal exploration through rock climbing, cliff jumping and cave swimming). If you fancy having a go, make sure you join an organised group.

Follow the Pembrokeshire Coast Path north from Abereiddy to admire more craggy coves and tucked-away bays.

5. London

For history reawakened

London may not scream ‘secret’ but it has countless hidden treasures – if you know where to look.

For example, Wilton’s Music Hall in East London is the world’s oldest surviving grand music hall and still hosts theatre, cabaret, comedy, cinema and music shows. Atmospheric and offering echoes of another era, it can be tracked down in Graces Alley, off Cable Street in Tower Hamlets.

In Walthamstow God's Own Junkyard is a shop-slash-gallery overflowing with vintage neon signs and other quirky finds, while at Guildhall Art Gallery you can discover the underground ruins of a Roman amphitheatre, brought back to life by interactive and educational exhibits.

6. North Cornwall

For barely trodden sandy stretches and incredible sunsets

The stuff of smugglers and pirates, Bossiney Bay in north Cornwall can only be reached by descending a towering cliff via several rocky steps. Completely submerged at high tide, venturing down at the right time of day reveals untouched sands, huge rocks to bask on and the clearest of water teeming with fish.

When you’re ready to re-enter civilisation, nearby Tintagel will immerse you in the myth and legend of King Arthur. Visit the romantic castle ruins from 1230 and Merlin’s Cave before stopping at one of the many cosy tea shops for a classic Cornish cream tea.

For evening magic, you’ll find mesmerising sunsets at Trebarwith Strand, reached by the South West Coast Path or via a long winding road (parking is limited).

7. Mull

For beaches off the beaten track

If you're travelling from the south of Britain, the Isle of Mull in Scotland may already feel remote – and its main beaches such as Fionnphort may seem wonderfully untouched.

But if you're able to go a little further, Traigh Ghael ('white beach' in Gaelic) has an almost castaway feel. A sweeping curve of sand is backed by hills, and the only sounds you’re likely to hear are the gentle lapping of waves on the shore and the rustle of seagrass in the wind.

You’ll have to be prepared to work to see it, though – it takes a three-hour hike through Tireragan Nature Reserve to get there.

8. Anglesey

For eerie deserted harbours and a time gone by

Gazing over to Porth Wen in Bull Bay on Anglesey will present you with the lonely remains of an eerie ruined harbour that was once a hive of activity and a thriving industrial brickworks. On a visit, you’ll see abandoned furnaces, chimney stacks and beehive kilns blanketed in greenery as it's slowly re-taken by nature.

Once the largest copper mine in the world, a trip to the Copper Kingdom centre in Amlwch will tell you the story of the Welsh Copper Rush, where miners came from all over Britain to dig for copper on Anglesey.

Or hop over to Llanddwyn Island to see the 16th-century ruins of St Dwynwen's Church.

9. Buckfastleigh

For a pint from the past

Time has stood still in the Valiant Soldier in Buckfastleigh, which has been left exactly as it was when last orders were called for the final time in the 1960s – even down to the money in the till.

Now a museum, this time capsule pub makes for an interesting visit and you can learn about times gone by through old-fashioned pub games and new video presentations.

History buffs will want to visit the spectacular Buckfast Abbey while here, too. It was first founded as a Saxon monastery in 1018 and remains the home of Roman Catholic Benedictine Monks.

10. The south Cotswolds

For dazzling natural beauty

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the intensely beautiful Cotswolds is famed for its quintessentially English landscape. And while visitors tend to flock to the north of the area, it's the south Cotswolds that has a few surprises up its sleeve – think breathtaking scenery, gorgeous villages, country houses and delightful parks. And the best part? You can enjoy it with fewer crowds.

Nailsworth, Tetbury and Corsham are just some of the pretty market towns to explore. Many flock to Painswick for the Rococo Garden, so swap for neighbouring Slad instead for peaceful walks in its lush valley. Or tee off for a game of golf among the sprawling grassy commons of Michenhampton.

Westonbirt Arboretum is a real highlight, home to a mesmerising display of over 2,500 different species of trees and plants from across the world.

11. North Wales

For mountaintop lakes

North Wales is peppered with secret sights, revealing themselves only to those prepared to venture and discover.

One such spot is Cregennan Lake in Dolgellau. Reachable only by a single track road, the uphill journey leads you through dramatic woodland and rolling farmland to reveal a shimmering picture postcard lake crowning the top.

With dramatic mountains serving as its backdrop, you’ll also be treated to views of the Mawddach Estuary and Barmouth. Head up to the hilltop fort of Pared-y-Cefn Hir to get the full panoramic picture.

12. The Lake District

For extraordinary mountain views

Flooded by visitors every year, the Lake District is no stranger to tourists. But base yourself away from hotspots such as Windermere and you can experience its wild peaks and lakes undisturbed.

The small village of Patterdale, for example, is surrounded by staggering scenery and allows easy access to the incredible Helvellyn Mountain and its surrounding peaks. Exquisite and dramatic in equal measure, the area is a walker’s paradise.

Drive a half hour north of popular Keswick and you’ll reach the remote village of Caldbeck – the gateway to the lesser-known Northern Fells. The hike up Carrock Fell or High Pike are well worth it for the striking mountain scenery that greets you at the top.

Need more holiday inspiration?

Let us know what you’re looking for and we’ll narrow down the best destinations and deals for your holiday!

Inspire me

You may also like...

Sign up and save on your next holiday

Be a savvy traveller and get top deals to your inbox, expert travel advice and the chance to win holidays

We won't pass your details on to anyone else. By clicking the sign up button you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.