England is home to no end of idyllic villages dotted around the country’s rolling hills, valleys and coastlines in some of the most picturesque landscapes imaginable. Here’s our guide to the prettiest villages in England with an interactive map to help you plan your visit.
Which is your favourite English villages? And which are missing from our list?
Where are the prettiest villages in England?
By Katharina, A Life Beautifully Travelled
Staithes, near Whitby, was once one of the busiest fishing ports on the North East coast and was the home town of the famous Royal Navy captain and explorer, Captain James Cook. Now, it’s a sleepy fishing village and a very picturesque one to boot.
In order to get there though, you will need to leave your car in the car park at the top of the hill, and then make your way down a pretty steep road on foot. But the hike down (and back up again) is totally worth it. At the bottom, you will find a labyrinth of cobblestone streets lined with cottages and a small harbour with a couple of pubs.
The village is popular with artists and has several small independent art shops and galleries. If you are a photographer you will be delighted by the many photo opportunities in this village. While keen walkers will find plenty of scenic trails to follow. This stretch of coastline, known as the Dinosaur Coast, is great for fossil hunting.
Where to eat in Staithes
The Cob & Lobster is a fabulous pub on the bay overlooking the water.
61 High St, Staithes, Saltburn-by-the-Sea TS13 5BH
Call 01947 840330 to book
Excelsior Fisheries is an excellent fish n’ chips takeaway above the village just off the A174.
4 Staithes Ln, Staithes, Saltburn-by-the-Sea TS13 5AJ
Call 07478 735563 to pre-order
How to get to Staithes
The easiest way to get to Staithes is by car. From York, it’s about an hour and 20 minutes drive (56 miles) through the North York Moors National Park. Use the Staithes car park postcode TS13 5AD for your satnav.
Alternatively, you can take a train from York to Saltburn and then continue by bus, (about 2 1/2 hours). There is also a bus to Staithes from Whitby that takes around 30 minutes.
Where to stay in Staithes
Castleton, Peak District, Derbyshire
By Kitti Around the World
Once an important market and lead mining village, Castleton is one of the most picturesque villages in the Peak District in the north of England. Uniquely it is the only place in the world where the mineral, Blue John, is mined. If you love history, visit the museum or the ruins of Peveril Castle. For geology and adventure lovers, there are several unique cave systems open to the public. At Speedwell Cavern you can take a boat tour of the 18th-century lead-mining caverns 450m below ground on a huge subterranean lake. If you love the outdoors, hiking and walking then you must complete the iconic Winnats Pass and Mam Tor circular walk. And after a day of exploring, there are plenty of wonderful pubs and cafés to relax in.
Where to eat in Castleton
1530 The Restaurant is a cosy Italian restaurant in a stone cottage, perfect for a weekend lunch or evening meal.
Cruck Barn, Cross Street, Castleton, Hope Valley, S33 8WH
Call 0433 62187 to book or email [email protected]
Image above by Roshni, The Wanderlust Within
How to get to Castleton
Castleton lies in the Hope Valley about 16 miles west of Sheffield. The nearest train station is Hope from where it’s a 10-minute bus ride to the village. Busses also run from Bakewell or Sheffield taking about an hour.
Where to stay in Castleton
By Sheree, Winging the World
Mundesley is the perfect example of an idyllic English seaside village. Located along the North Norfolk coastline, it is smack bang in a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village is characterised by its medieval flint church, quaint cottages and family-run shops. It is also home to an incredible beach that has been awarded Blue Flag status, the gold standard for beaches. Colourful beach huts line the beach here which is backed by a lush green lawn leading up to the village.
There are two pubs in Mundesley, The Royal Hotel and The Ship Inn, although the latter is the more popular of the two. Although it is lesser-known than some of the area’s other coastal spots, it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful seaside villages in Norfolk.
Where to eat in Mundesley
How to get to Mundesley
The nearest train station is North Walsham, just 12 minutes away by car. Regular bus services run from Norwich to Mundesley and take around an hour and fifteen minutes. Norwich is also home to the closest airport. If travelling by car from London, the journey is just shy of three hours.
Where to stay in Mundesley
Broadway, Cotswolds, Worcestershire
In the gently rolling hills of Worcestershire, you will find the charming village of Broadway, also known as the ‘Jewel of the Cotswolds’. Famous artists like Claude Monet and Oscar Wilde have even taken inspiration from the stunning area.
Take a stroll through the historic village to discover eateries, galleries and boutique shops in the golden stone buildings. Enjoy lunch in the back garden of Broadway Deli and shop for vintage candies at Hamilton’s Sweet Shop.
Don’t miss walking up the hill to Broadway Tower, an iconic landmark built in 1798, to get marvellous panoramic views of the village below. It feels peaceful walking through the English countryside and watching sheep graze on the open meadows.
Where to eat in Broadway
31 High Street, Broadway WR12 7DP England
Russell’s of Broadway (closed Mondays & Tuesdays)
20 High Street The Green, Broadway WR12 7DT
Menu & opening times
How to get to Broadway
Broadway lies 9.8 miles northwest of Moreton-in-Marsh. By train, it’s a 1.5-hour ride from London Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh. From there it’s a 15-minute taxi to Broadway.
Where to stay in Broadway
Bourton-on-the-Water, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire
By Jiayi, The Diary of a Nomad
Bourton-on-the-Water is a vibrant little village in the Cotswolds characterized by beautiful stone cottages. The village straddles River Windrush and the many bridges and scenic river banks all add to the charm. Take a scenic stroll along the river and enjoy the laid-back vibe of the village. You’ll also find plenty of restaurants and cafes lining the banks. Be sure to stop by Bakery on the Water for a cosy afternoon tea, and enjoy a delicious meal at the Rose Tree Restaurant.
The village is also home to Birdland Park & Gardens, a beautiful woodland with many exotic birds, including flamingos and penguins!
Where to eat in Bourton-on-the-water
The Den, a cute little vegan-friendly cafe
Unit 4 High Street, Bourton-on-the-Water GL54 2AE England
How to get to Bourton-on-the-water
Bourton-on-the-Water lies just north off the A40 which links the Cotswold to London via the M40. It’s 87.5 miles northwest of London. By train, it’s 2 hours and 15 minutes from London Paddington, but you’ll need to get off the train at Moreton-in-Marsh and take the 801 bus to The Cotswold Academy bus stop in Bourton-on-the-Water.
Where to stay in Bourton-on-the-Water
Bibury, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire
By Kathryn, Travel With Kat
One of the prettiest and most popular villages in the Costwolds, Bibury lies on both sides of the River Coln. It’s worth getting up early to get here before the crowds, especially in the summer months. The cottages of Arlington Row (pictured above)are said to be the most photographed houses in the country. They were built n the late 14th century as a wool store and converted into weavers houses in the late 17th century.
Where to eat in Bibury
How to get to Bibury
Bibury is 7.5 miles northeast of Cirencester and 86 miles west of London. The nearest train station is in Kemble 14 miles away. A taxi from here costs around £25. Alternatively, take the train (or bus) to Cirencester from where there are regular bus services.
Minchinhampton, Cotswolds, Gloucestershire
By Larch, The Silver Nomad
Minchinhampton is a small town on top of a hill in the south of Gloucestershire. The town centres around the old Market Square with late 17th-Century Market House sits in the square with the original stone columns. Just off Market Square is Minchinhampton Parish Church, a beautiful light and airy church parts of which date back to the 14th Century. Its spire is interesting with a corona at the top instead of the traditional point.
If you walk up the lane behind the church, you come to Minchinhampton Common. Now owned by the National Trust it is a beautiful spot for walking.
Pop into The Crown for some great food including a selection of vegetarian and plant-based options.
Where to eat in Minchinhampton
7 High St, Minchinhampton, Stroud GL6 9BN
High St, Minchinhampton, Stroud GL6 9BN
Menus & Booking
How to get to Minchinhampton
Minchinhampton is on Windmill Road off the Cirencester Road, around 10 minutes (4.2 miles) south of Stroud. By train from London Paddington, the journey takes around 3 hours with the final 15 minutes by bus.
Where to stay in Minchinhampton
Castle Combe, Cotswolds, Wiltshire
By Kathryn, Travel With Kat
Walking through Castle Combe, which also lays claim to be the prettiest village in England, more than anywhere feels like you’ve slipped back through time not least because there are no visible telephone wires or TV aerials. They were all hidden away when the village was used for the filming of ‘Dr Dolittle’ in 1967. More recently some major Hollywood films have been shot here including Stardust (2008), The Wolfman (2010) and War Horse. (2010).
The village is built in Cotswold stone with honey-hued cottages that are so typical of the area. In the village, there’s a traditional pub, a luxury hotel with a golf course and a couple of restaurants. St Andrew’s Church which dates from the 13th century has a faceless clock, said to be one of the oldest working clocks in the country.
There are some lovely walks from the village. If you walk south along the main road ‘The Street’ across the bridge over the brook that runs through the village. Take the path on the left, signed Long Dean. There’s a stile to climb over from where you can follow the path as it weaves its way along and above the brook with some lovely views as you climb higher and head into woodlands.
The Castle Combe Race Circuit is less than a mile from the village.
Where to eat in Castle Combe
West St, Castle Combe, Chippenham SN14 7HX
How to get to Castle Combe
Castle Combe is just south of the M4 about 5 miles north-west of Chippenham, 20 miles east of Bristol and 100 miles west of London. Trains leave from London’s Paddington Station to Castle Combe with the journey taking between two to three hours.
Where to stay in Castle Combe
Lacock, Cotswolds, Wiltshire
By Laura, What’s Hot?
Lacock is a small English village that has famously retained its medieval architecture from centuries ago. One could be forgiven for thinking that they’d been transported back in time to a period drama or earlier as there are few overt signs of modern technology in the village. For this reason, it is commonly used in films and television programmes, the most famous being the Harry Potter films.
Where to eat in Lacock
Sign of the Angel
6 Church St, Lacock, Chippenham SN15 2LB
Menu & booking
How to get to Lacock
Lacock is a small village, just south of Chippenham in Wiltshire. By train, it’s just an hour and 40 minutes from London Paddington to Chippenham from where it’s a 20-minute bus ride to Lacock. By car it’s around a 2-hour journey from London along the M4 leaving the motorway at the turning for Chippenham and taking the A350 to Lacock.
Where to stay in Lacock
Lynmouth, North Devon
By Rachel, Average Lives
Where to eat in Lynmouth
Esplanade Fish Bar, fish n’ chips takeaway
The Esplanade, Lynmouth EX35 6EQ
The Rising Sun, a historic inn overlooking the harbour
Harbourside, Lynmouth EX35 6EG
How to get to Lynmouth
Lynmouth lies on the A39, 17 miles from Minehead and 19 miles from Barnstable on the North Devon coast. The nearest train stations are Barnstable and Taunton. From Barnstable, the 309/310 bus service takes around 55 minutes (not Sundays or Bank Holidays). In the summer, buses also run from the train station at Minehead. Bristol airport is 67 miles away.
Where to stay in Lynmouth
Another favourite location for films and television series, Chilham has appeared in Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’, Agatha Christie’s ‘Miss Marple’ and ‘Poirot’, ‘A Canterbury Tale’ and ‘Top Gear’. It’s a quintessential English village on the Pilgrim’s Way with a beautifully preserved Medieval village square and a magnificent castle
Where to eat in Chilham
The White Horse Inn
The Square, Chilham CT4 8BY England
How to get to Chilham
Chilham is 6.7 miles southwest of Canterbury. That’s about a 15-minute drive or a 20-minute train ride.
The M2 links London to Kent with the drive to Chilham taking around an hour and a half.
The train from London to Chilham leaves from St Pancras International with a change at Ashford International and takes around 2 hours.
Where to stay in Chilham
Amberley, South Downs National Park, West Sussex
By Kathryn, Travel With Kat
Amberley near Arundel has more than its fair share of picturesque thatched cottages yet it’s not as well known as many other pretty villages in England. IIn the village you’ll also find a castle (now a luxury hotel), two wonderful pubs, a couple of cafes and a fabulous open-air museum in a disused quarry, with its own little steam train.
Take the road that leads up to the 12th-century church and you’ll also stumble across a wonderful pottery workshop. Located in a valley in the South Downs National Park the River Arun flows nearby and there are some wonderful riverside walks. The long-distance walking route The South Downs Way also runs through the village. There is no end of footpaths and bridleways to explore in the area. For a real treat book an afternoon tea in Amberley Castle.
Where to eat in Amberley
Amberley Black Horse, excellent gastropub
High St, Amberley, Arundel BN18 9NL
Menu & bookings
How to get to Amberley
Amberley lies on the B2139, 5.6 miles north of Arundel. By train, it’s just an hour and 40 minutes from London’s Victoria Station. Gatwick Airport is just over 24 miles away (40 minutes by train).
Where to stay in Amberley
Beaulieu, New Forest, Hampshire
By Kathryn, Travel With Kat
The small red-brick village of Beaulieu lies on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire. Home to the National Motor Museum, Palace House and the ruins of Beaulieu Abbey, there’s plenty to do here for a great day out or a long weekend. Perched on the banks of the River Beaulieu it’s a beautiful little village with a couple of lovely cafes, a luxury hotel and a fabulous chocolate shop. To see the cars, gardens, house and abbey, you’ll need to buy a ticket for Beaulieu Motor Museum. There’s also a fun monorail there to take you around the grounds and plenty more things to see and do.
As you wander around Beaulieu, you’ll probably notice many signs bearing three red diamonds. These diamonds are taken from the Montagu Coat of Arms and mark the property of the Beaulieu Estate.
There are some lovely walks nearby including a 2 miles path that leads from Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard, a unique picturesque hamlet on the River Beaulieu with a small naval museum.
Where to eat in Beaulieu
The Terrace Restaurant, fine dining
Monty’s Inn, a traditional country pub
Details for both the above options:
Palace Lane, Montagu Arms Hotel, Beaulieu, New Forest, Brockenhurst SO42 7ZL
Montague Arms Hotel website
How to get to Beaulieu
By car from London, take the M3 to Southampton then follow the M27 and M271 to the Totton bypass. From here take A236 to Pooksgreen and follow the signs to Beaulieu. It’s about a 2-hour drive. Please drive with extra care through the New Forest National Park as ponies, donkeys, and cows roam free here and often on the roads.
Trains to the New forest leave London from Waterloo Station to Brockenhurst. from here you can catch a bus to Bunkers Hill, just a few minutes walk from Beaulieu.
Where to stay in Beaulieu
Shanklin, Isle of Wight
By Miriam, Miry Giramondo (who also took the featured image)
Old Shanklin on the Isle of Wight seems to have slipped back in time to an era when poets like Keats and Longfellow stayed here. It rightly earns its place as one of the prettiest villages in England. Charming winding streets are lined with pretty thatched cottages, small shops, restaurants, pubs and traditional tea rooms. Pictured above is the gift shop, Pencil Cottage, formerly The Shanklin Bazaar. It’s one of the oldest buildings in the village and no doubt Keats and Longfellow once shopped here.
Not far from the village is Shanklin Chine, the oldest attraction on the island. Walk along the picturesque gorge between sandstone cliffs and admire the views. In summer, you can even visit it at night in the glow of hundreds of lights. Even the golden beaches of Shanklin are among the best on the island, a great place to relax after visiting its attractions.
Where to eat in Shanklin
The Salix Beach Cafe (breakfast and lunches, Thursday to Sunday only)
The Esplanade Small Hope Beach, Shanklin PO37 6BG
Pendletons (evenings only, closed Monday)
85 High Street, Shanklin PO37 6NR England
How to get to Shanklin
The Isle of Wight is easily accessible by ferry via three mainland ports, Portsmouth, Southampton, and Lymington and also by hovercraft from Portsmouth. Once on the island, the bus service is excellent or you could take your car over on the ferry.
Where to stay in Shanklin
By Rich, RJ on Tour
Polperro is a beautiful fishing village on the South East Cornwall coast between the towns of Looe and Fowey. Set amongst some stunning scenery, the village is quaint, with many picturesque cottages and has a history of fishing and smuggling as highlighted in the local museum. The harbour is a great place to chill out and relax. You can also catch a boat from here for a trip along the coast.
The village has its own sandy beach to enjoy, as well as, Chapel Pool, a natural swimming pool just a 15-minute walk along the coastal path. For a longer hike, take the South West Coast Path which runs right through Polperro. It’s England’s longest waymarked footpath and a National Trail. It stretches for 630 miles, running west from Minehead in Somerset, along the North Devon coast and around Cornwall, before heading east along the south Devon Coast to Poole Harbour in Dorset.
Polperro is a great place to dine out, many of the local restaurants and pubs serve locally caught fish or seafood. The Three Pilchards is a lovely place, that has a seafood platter ideal for sharing.
Where to eat in Polperro
Michelle’s Restaurant (Wednesday to Saturday evenings, Sunday lunchtime)
Little Green, Polperro PL13 2RF England
The Three Pilchards, the oldest pub in the village
Quay Rd, Polperro PL13 2QZ
How to get to Polperro
Polperro is 26 miles west of Plymouth. To get there by car, take the M5 to Exeter then pick up the A38 road to Trerulefoot and the A387 via Looe to Polperro. Looe is the closest railway station to Polperro, from where you can catch the 72 or 73 bus direct to the village. Alternatively, visitors can also arrive by boat with services from Looe or Fowey.
Where to stay in Polperro
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