This North Devon village is a positively lovely seaside resort, with a gorgeous beach on one side and lovely green landscape and the other. For a tiny town, it’s got a lot going on, making it the perfect escape for visitors who want to get away but love a little excitement. You’ll find plenty of swimming and surfing spots, great local shopping in the town centre, and an incredible aquarium, so you can enjoy the water even on a rainy day. For a fantastic local tea, check out the charming Tea Garden.
2. Hay-on-Wye, Wales
There’s truly no better village in the world to run away to than the Welsh border town of Hay-on-Wye. As the world’s largest centre for antique and second-hand books, it’s one of the most atmospheric places for book lovers that ever existed. There are bookshops everywhere, but if that’s not enough, it’s a pretty good foodie spot, too, so pack up and move there right now. Or at least check it out during the incredible Hay Festival.
3. Looe, England
This Cornwall coastal town offers a charming beach and stellar views from its hilltop, not to mention Looe is home to the largest fishing fleet in Cornwall, so fresh and delicious seafood is all but guaranteed. For the perfect seaside day, treat yourself to dinner at Squid Ink then take a stroll along the harbour.
4. Bakewell, England
This cute-as-a-button village is the only market town within the boundaries of the Peak District National Park and it’s also the loveliest. Dating back to the 17th century, the charming little village is full of natural and manmade delights, from the lovely and green river bed to the quaint cottages that sit alongside it. It’s also the birthplace of Bakewell pudding, so don’t miss trying one while you’re there! If it’s a full meal you’re after, check out Ricci’s adorable bistro.
5. Pittenweem, Scotland
This Scottish village on the coast of Fife is the perfect spot to sit and watch the tide roll in. The busy harbour village offers local foodie treats, arts, and historical buildings dating back to the 16th century. Don’t leave without a visit to the Pittenweem Chocolate Company.
6. Staithes, England
There’s no better getaway in Yorkshire than a trip to the quaint coastal town of Staithes, a picturesque fishing village just outside Whitby. Your trip must include a browse of local art at the Staithes Gallery and a yummy meal at the locally sourced Staithes Smokehouse.
7. Bibury, England
Nestled on the River Coln in the picturesque Cotswolds, this fairy-tale village is easily reached from the more connected Cirencester. Enjoy a lovely day of wandering through the town’s incredibly charming streets and stop by the Catherine Wheel for a pint or a meal.
8. Crovie, Scotland
The remote cliffside village of Crovie in Aberdeenshire dates back to the 18th century. Once a thriving fishing town, Crovie is now a quiet and perfectly secluded holiday spot. It’s built along the shore in such a way that motor vehicles are unable to access it, and the heart of the village is a purely pedestrian-only zone, creating an air of separation from the outside world. To eat and drink out, you’ll have to head back to your car and away from the village, so best to pack groceries in advance and enjoy a picnic at the beach’s edge.
9. Polperro, England
This dreamy gem on the coast of Cornwall is as relaxing as it is charming and an ideal weekend retreat. The resort village offers plenty of stunning local artwork, a rich history of pirates and smugglers to explore, and plenty of lovely coastal walking paths for finding the perfect view of the sea. For a bite, check out the Plantation Tea Rooms.
10. Finchingfield, England
Finchingfield is one of Britain’s oldest recorded villages, and certainly one of its most idyllic. The quaint and sleepy town was once a common stop on the horse-drawn coach route from London to Norwich, and is still a popular spot for weary travellers to take a relaxing break. It was also the home of beloved children’s author Dodie Smith. For a drink, you can’t miss the 16th-century local pub, the Fox Inn.
11. Portmeirion, Wales
If you’re looking for a truly unique escape from reality, book yourself a trip to the folly village of Portmeirion in Wales. The quiet spa town was constructed in the 1920s and is reminiscent of the Italian Riviera and Dorothy’s Oz, giving it an otherworldly quality that’s perfect for a getaway. For a really stunning experience, head to Portmeirion in September for the picturesque literary and music event Festival No. 6.
12. Bourton-on-the-Water, England
Bourton-on-the-Water rose up after the founding of a wooden church in the 8th century, and was developed into a full town by the Normans in the 12th century. Charming to a fault, the lovely village sits along the tranquil Windrush River, and is an ideal place to spend a quiet and thoughtful day away. For a drink, pop into the Mouse Trap Inn.
13. Plockton, Scotland
This National Trust site tucked along the edge of the Scottish Highlands makes for a perfect seaside retreat. The village is particularly notable for its wildlife: A mild climate allows cabbage palms to prosper, and Highland cows can be regularly spotted in the village. Duncraig Castle is just a quick trip across the bay, and don’t miss the chance to enjoy fresh seafood and a seaside view at the Plockton Shores restaurant.
14. Tenby, Wales
This vibrant town on the Welsh coast was once a medieval stronghold, and has since transformed into a lovely and relaxed resort village. Tenby’s sloping streets offer the perfect vantage points for ocean views, while the village’s array of art galleries and local shops make for great local shopping. When you’re ready to get out of the sun, pop into the positively charming Stowaway Coffee Company.
15. Lacock, England
You’ll probably recognise the 13th-century village of Lacock from any number of your favourite films, so it’s definitely worth a pilgrimage. The quaint Tudor-style cottages have appeared in films and programmes including several Harry Potter films and the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice. Explore the village and the abbey where the very first photograph negative was developed, then pop by the Red Lion for a pint in the garden.
16. Abbotsbury, England
Dating back to the Iron Age, the countryside village of Abbotsbury is surrounded by beautiful and timeless ruins. Today, the village is known for its local arts scene, featuring galleries and studios throughout the town. After a day spent admiring the history and creativity of the Dorset village, grab a pint at the Ilchester Arms.
17. Crail, Scotland
A day on the shores of this lovely Scottish fishing village is a real treat. The harbour village has been thriving since the 12th century, but maintains its small and cosy atmosphere. Finish off the day with a lovely a view and a drink at the Balcomie Hotel.
18. Beddgelert, Wales
Resting on the grounds of Snowdonia National Park, this truly lovely village is the perfect place to grab a bit of civilization while you hike through the gorgeous natural landscape. The village’s name originated from Welsh legend – the area is said to be the burial ground of Gelert, the loyal dog of medieval Welsh prince Llewelyn the Great. While in town, don’t miss the chance to grab a local ale from Caffi Gwynant.
19. Castle Combe, England
Once a Roman hillfort, Castle Combe has grown throughout the centuries into one of the most charming locations in the country. Just 12 miles from Bath, the peaceful town is a great place to spend the day, and you mustn’t miss out on exploring the surrounding countryside. For drinks and meals, the community favourite The White Hart is a must.
20. Cerne Abbas, England
Tucked into a valley along the River Cerne, this picturesque village developed around an abbey and boasts positively charming architecture, though it’s most famous for the mysterious, 180-metre-high naked chalk figure that dominates its countryside. Once you’ve seen the “Rude Giant”, pop in to the New Inn for a pint.
21. Blockley, England
Tucked into a valley in the Cotswolds, the former mill village is an ideal countryside escape, and a particularly special sight in the summer when the sun falls on the village’s golden brick houses and churches. For a drink, the vine-covered Great Western Arms is the obvious choice.
22. Lynton & Lynmouth, England
The twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth are pure gems of the Devon coast. The centuries-old towns are famous for their easy-going atmospheres, stellar views, and of course, the stunning cliff railway that connects them. For a proper pint or meal, check out Lynmouth’s positively lovely Village Inn Pub.
23. Port Sunlight, England
The romantic design of Port Sunlight in Wirral is the work of over 30 19th-century architects, and a walk through the charming (and charmingly named) village is a treat for anyone who appreciates a good landscape. While the town’s structure itself functions as a glimpse back in time, Port Sunlight is home to art, history, and nature museums, and its boutique hotel the Leverhulme is one of the most relaxing places in the whole country for a glass of wine.
24. Tobermory, Scotland
This lovely village on the Isle of Mull grew out of an 18th-century fishing port. Popular for everything from weddings to wildlife watching, Tobermory may be the isle’s largest town, but it’s never lost its colourful small-town charm.
Plan a visit in springtime to see white-tailed eagles, and eat like a local at the award-winning fish and chip van.