10 Best National Parks To Visit in the UK
May Bank holidays are just around the corner! If you’re still wondering what to do, a short getaway to the beautiful outdoors is all you need. In addition, after months spent inside our homes, there’s nothing better than spending some time in the nature. That’s why we’ve prepared this handy guide featuring our take on the 10 best national parks to visit in the UK. You’ll find the top places for stunning scenic views, adventurous hikes, wildlife exploration, stargazing and more.
1. Lake District – best for boat rides & lake views
The Lake District is undoubtedly one of UK’s most loved national parks and there’s no wonder why that is. It’s situated in Cumbria, England and it boasts stunning lake views, beautiful mountain ranges, picturesque villages, and numerous walking paths. The park is officially part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and it’s known to have inspired several writers over the years. The best places to hire a boat are on Windermere, Coniston, Ullswater and Derwent Water. Also, we recommend trying the famous Alfred Wainwright Memorial Walk. This is an excellent way to enjoy the great diversity of the region.
2. Peak District – best for hiking
Conveniently situated between Manchester and Sheffield, the Peak District is England’s oldest national park. If you’re an experienced hiker, give the Dark Peak a try. It’s stunning range with dramatic edges in the north, perfect for adventure junkies. On the other hand, if you prefer a gentler walk, we recommend the green and lovely south of the White Peak. If you’re looking for a hidden gem, visit the legendary Mermaid’s Pool on Kinder Scout in Derbyshire. According to the story, the mermaid shows her face just one time per year – at midnight at Easter.
3. Snowdonia – best for stunning mountain views & adventure lovers
Snowdonia National Park is named after the biggest mountain in Wales, Snowdon. It is an iconic area loved by many kings and princes through the centuries. It’s definitely one of the best national parks in the country and it’s among the most visited ones. Here you’ll find the perfect contrast between majestic mountains, lively villages, steep river gorges and beautiful waterfalls. If you want to truly soak in the spectacular views, we recommend the Zip Line at Llechwedd Slate Caverns.
4. Pembrokeshire Coast – best for sea views & picturesque towns
Pembrokeshire coast is one of Wales’ best keep secrets! Marvel at the gorgeous coastline views or spend the day exploring small historical villages and picturesque towns. Don’t forget to take your comfy walking shoes as the Pembrokeshire Coast Path stretches for the jaw-dropping 186 miles. Take a boat ride to some of its small islands and explore the region’s rich wildlife – playful grey seals and cute puffins. A visit to the 1000-year old Pembroke Castle is a must!
5. Brecon Beacons – best for water sports & stargazing
Brecon Beacons is situated on the west coast of the country. It offers a perfect blend of gorgeous natural scenery, fun water sports and delicious food. The area is also ideal for stargazing and the best place to do this is at the International Dark Sky Reserve. Plus, after a long day in the outdoors, there’s nothing better than enjoying a pint of local ale at some of the independent breweries in the region. If you’re looking for a cultural gem, we recommend exploring the iconic 13th-century Llanthony Prior.
6. Norfolk Broads – best for river cruising & birdwatching
Norfolk Broads, situated in Eastern England, is often referred to as the British Venice. This is due to its dense river network featuring 60 broads. Also, it’s UK’s largest protected wetlands. There are a total of 125 miles of waterways waiting to be explored. Moreover, the park is also and home to some marvellous wildlife – Britain’s largest butterfly as well us hawker dragonflies. This park is also perfect for birdwatching. Soak in the peaceful countryside views on a river boat or by walking its numerus footpaths.
7. Yorkshire Dales – best for idyllic scenery & cheese tasting
If you’re looking for endless views of idyllic villages and scenic greenery, you should visit Yorkshire Dales in northern England. One of the must-do things in the region is a visit to the Wensleydale Creamery. It’s home to the nation-favourite Wensleydale Cheese, first made by monks over a thousand years ago. In addition, a site which made our bucket list is the engineering miracle from the Victorian era – Ribblehead Viaduct. If you prefer something a bit more adventurous, climb the top of the Malham Cove, a dramatic 70-metre-high cliff.
8. New Forest – best for families & horse-riding
Did you know New Forest National Park is nearly 1,000 years old? It was the favourite hunting ground of William the Conqueror. It is one of the best national parks for families with young children. The terrain is quite gentle and easily accessible. The best part is you’ll be able to spot numerous free-roaming ponies and wild horses. New Forest is a popular place for horse-riding and it’s just about an hour and a half away from London.
9. Northumberland National Park – best for history buffs & stargazing
Northumberland is famous for its 2nd century AD Roman-built Hadrian’s Wall. It served as a frontier against the brave-hearts of Scotland in the north. In this park you’ll find various historical trails and you’ll be able to learn more about the ancient sites of the region. Plus, at the same time you’ll also be able to enjoy stunning scenic views. Additionally, you could visit big parts of UK’s largest International Dark Sky Park, one of the best places in the country for stargazing.
10. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park – best for cycling
Visit UK’s largest lake – Loch Lomond, situated between the gorgeous Scottish Highlands and the peaceful Lowlands. The view is breath-taking – on one side you have majestic snow-capped peaks and on the other – lush meadows. Loch Lomond and Trossachs boasts 22 large lochs and 21 Munros in total. That makes it a dreamy destination for stunning lake views and boat rides. One of the best ways to explore the national park is by cycling. In addition to easy cycling routes suitable for families, here you’ll also find challenging biking routes for experienced cyclers.
Recommended Travel providers for exploring UK’s best national parks:
- Accommodation – Travelodge, Premier Inn and Hotels.com are our top choices when it comes to finding affordable lodging facilities.
- Holiday Cottages – Sykes Cottages has a collection of over 4,000 charming cottages across the UK and is our go-to destination for dog-friendly holiday cottages.
- Spa experiences – Spa Breaks is the perfect place to find all spa deals, arguably the best way to relax after an eventful day in the outdoors.
- Transport – Europcar is our favourite provider when it comes to car rentals and transportation within the UK.