Trip Ideas sky outdoor water grass Coast cliff rock Sea shore Ocean horizon terrain vacation landscape cape tower Nature rocky bay stack geology hillside
Trip Ideas

8 Under-the-Radar Destinations to Visit in the UK

There's no question the United Kingdom—England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—is a gorgeous place to visit. Its brooding moors, glassy lochs, and pastoral hillsides have inspired writers for centuries (this, after all, the birthplace of Shakespeare, Dickens, and the Brontë sisters), while its crumbling castles and grand estates offer glimpses of a kingdom once on top of the world. If you've already checked off London and Edinburgh, these 8 under-the-radar destinations in the UK offer just as much history and natural beauty.

Senior Editor, Jetsetter | @lindseytravels |

See recent posts by Lindsey Olander

Trip Ideas indoor room wall Living floor estate property chair window dining room living room mansion palace home interior design Fireplace real estate ceiling Lobby furniture Villa Resort several
Trip Ideas grass tree outdoor park estate green house stately home château lawn home mansion Garden manor house rural area sunlight autumn backyard old grassy plant castle lush
Trip Ideas wall indoor floor man made object room bathtub bathroom sink plumbing fixture bidet stone tub Bath water basin tan
Trip Ideas sky outdoor water River landmark waterway vacation tourism cityscape bridge Canal Sea Coast day
Trip Ideas outdoor sky mountainous landforms Nature mountain landform atmospheric phenomenon geographical feature horizon wilderness hill sunrise cloud rocky morning dawn ridge mountain range Sea rock landscape plateau Coast sunlight summit Sunset dusk overlooking clouds hillside distance highland
National Parks Trip Ideas sky outdoor mountainous landforms reflection Nature mountain landform wilderness Lake water mountain range loch snow morning Winter season landscape River sunlight dawn evening reservoir sunrise autumn alps dusk valley Sea shore

Top three photos courtesy of Palé Hall Hotel, others courtesy of Visit Wales


Snowdonia, Wales

It’s safe to say that most of Wales is under the radar—at least for most Americans. But England’s next-door neighbor deserves a closer look. Sure, it might have similar windswept coastlines, historic castles, and sheep-roamed countryside, but its mountains to the north are something else entirely. Much of Welsh folklore feeds off the dreamy snowscapes of Snowdonia National Park, the rumored location of King Arthur’s long-lost sword, Excalibur. After poking around Conwy, a medieval waterfront village home to a 13th-century castle (and a gateway to the park), it’s time to head inland. Hike the miles of trails, which pass by rushing waterfalls and through thick forests, or scale the summit of Mount Snowdon by train—then bed down in Palé Hall, a restored 1871 Victorian mansion turned hotel with beautiful rooms (think chrome tubs, antique four-poster beds, and views of Dee Valley) and an even better restaurant. More fun trivia: it once hosted Winston Churchill and Queen Victoria.

RELATED: What to Do in Wales: Your Ultimate 7-Day Itinerary

Trip Ideas food plate dish wooden meal cuisine asian food fish produce wood sliced
Trip Ideas table food Drink plant produce strawberry cocktail fruit strawberries land plant wooden beverage vegetable flowering plant orange fruit drink
Trip Ideas marketplace floristry City public space flower arranging market retail human settlement flower floral design vegetable meal fresh
Trip Ideas chair floor indoor window Dining room restaurant estate interior design palace function hall chapel furniture

Photos courtesy of The Goods Shed


Canterbury, England

A pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket, located at the heart of Canterbury Cathedral, was the framework for Chaucer’s 14th-century Canterbury Tales, what would become one of the most preeminent works of English literature. The town it was inspired by still rests on these laurels—helped, in part, by its other relics of history including a wall built in Roman times and the ruins of St. Augustine’s Abbey, where Christianity was first introduced to southern England. Together with St. Martin’s Church, the cathedral and abbey form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can catch old and new acts (everything from Shakespeare’s The Tempest to Mamma Mia! and War Horse) in the acclaimed Marlowe Theatre. Be sure to stop by The Goods Shed, a working market built in an old railway shed that retains its exposed brick walls and floor-to-ceiling Victorian windows, for a pre- or post-show meal (lamb chops with barley and mint; terrine with homemade chutney; rose hip and crab apple sorbet). The best part? It’s all under an hour away by train from London.

Book Hotels in England
Trip Ideas sky outdoor building grass rock landmark horizon hill plant monument megalith Ruins morning landscape Coast mountain Sea ancient history monolith arch flower
Trip Ideas Bird animal outdoor Nature beak vertebrate puffin Wildlife fauna colorful charadriiformes falcon seabird orange colored
Trip Ideas sky outdoor water grass Coast cliff rock Sea shore Ocean horizon terrain vacation landscape cape tower Nature rocky bay stack geology hillside

Orkney Islands, Scotland

The Orkney Islands aren’t your typical tropical paradise. No, what you’ll find instead is a chilly 70-island archipelago off Scotland’s north coast ringed by red sandstone cliffs teeming with seabird colonies—and not much else. Two thirds of the islands are unpopulated, all worn by time and battering winds, which have helped shape incredible natural landmarks like Pentland Firth, a dangerous waterway riddled with ship graveyards, and gravity-defying “sea stacks.” Even greater points of interest: a stone circle that predates Stonehenge, Viking-era cathedrals, and prehistoric villages built during the Stone Age.

RELATED: What to Do in Scotland: Your Perfect 8-Day Itinerary

Book Hotels in Scotland
Trip Ideas outdoor neighbourhood urban area Architecture building house residential area home estate facade Downtown professional stone
Trip Ideas person table color blue art Design
Trip Ideas indoor building urban area Architecture place of worship cathedral mounted facade estate symmetry dome palace window Church
Trip Ideas building outdoor way scene road City Town street neighbourhood public space human settlement urban area shopping people tourism retail Downtown sidewalk infrastructure shopping mall plaza pedestrian travel

Leeds, England

This is not the Leeds of a decade ago. A working-class city once predominantly known for manufacturing is now a vision of 21st-century urbanism, with canal-side apartment complexes, a sleek financial center, and one Victorian shopping arcade after another. There are also incredible landmarks to visit like Millennium Square, home to fashionable shops and excellent restaurants like Thai Edge, and the Royal Armouries, which houses military artifacts from the 17th to 20th centuries. (Like all UK museums, it’s free to enter.) After lightening your wallet in Thornton's Arcade, escape the city chaos with an afternoon stroll in Park Square, then do like the locals do and pop into a pub. We love the Northern Monk Refectory for its signature drafts and on-site brewery.

Book Hotels in Yorkshire
Trip Ideas grass sky outdoor building house home shed shack outdoor structure facade cottage barn stone
Trip Ideas indoor wall floor room dining room interior design Design living room furniture
Trip Ideas outdoor mountain Nature sky highland water rock mountainous landforms wilderness landform geographical feature body of water reflection loch valley Lake River landscape water feature mountain range Waterfall autumn stream fjord canyon pond national park hillside
Honeymoon Hotels Luxury Travel Romance Trip Ideas outdoor mountain sky rock grass highland mountainous landforms Nature geographical feature mountain range landform hill wilderness rocky hillside fell valley landscape cliff alps plateau ridge badlands terrain mountain pass meadow Lake national park grassy overlooking lush

Inner Hebrides, Scotland

The Hebrides is home to some of the best makers of Scotland's best export—scotch. Islay, where nearly a quarter of its residents still speak Scottish Gaelic, has eight active distilleries (including world-famous Lagavulin and Ardbeg) that produce some of the world’s strongest- and smokiest-flavored whiskies due to their barley’s high peating levels. Most islands in the Inner Hebrides are characterized by brooding landscapes—basalt crags, pink granite mountaintops, sweeping valleys, glittering bays—and peaceful harbor towns with spectacular seafood restaurants. The Three Chimneys Restaurant and Inn, in a crofter’s cottage on the Isle of Skye, is a standout for its Nordic takes on local produce. After exploring Skye’s Cuillin hills and folkloric fairy pools, tuck into Scottish flavors like Shetland salmon with beetroot or venison tartare with mushroom.

Trip Ideas outdoor building road street transport landmark way Town City scene Architecture plaza tourism Downtown town square public transport outdoor structure sidewalk
Trip Ideas cake table food indoor dessert buttercream chocolate cake icing torte dish baked goods cake decorating meal cuisine wedding cake baking flavor sweetness breakfast produce
Romance Trip Ideas Weekend Getaways grass sky outdoor highland mountainous landforms field building Nature wall agriculture mountain pasture green hill tree rock rural area meadow mountain range landscape Lake valley plateau grassy Farm flower Village Ruins plantation overlooking megalith
Trip Ideas building outdoor scene road Town way neighbourhood people City street urban area human settlement sidewalk walking tourism Downtown infrastructure pedestrian shopping travel town square

Harrogate, England

After Bath, Harrogate might be the most beautiful spa town in Britain. Its Victorian days are long gone, but you can still get a Turkish bath in the Royal Baths and shop for antiques between strolls along its residential lanes, lined with Georgian townhouses and, in the spring, rows of daffodils. The pace is slow here—all the better to extend your afternoon visit to Bettys Tea Room, in business since 1919, where pastries (delivered by cake trolley) are served on doilies and your choice is either a Yorkshire Tea brew or Taylors of Harrogate Coffee. Beauty notwithstanding, Harrogate is also a gateway to Yorkshire Dales National Park, home to some of the country’s most scenic walks.

RELATED: 6 Best Day Trips from London

See All Hotels in Yorkshire
Trip Ideas plate food table dish piece slice produce cuisine vegetable meal breakfast italian food dessert chocolate vegetarian food dairy product
Trip Ideas building outdoor urban area Architecture facade interior design tourist attraction way sidewalk
Trip Ideas graffiti outdoor art urban area street art abstract mural painted painting
Trip Ideas person color outdoor blue street temple
Hotels Trip Ideas building palace place of worship basilica chapel Church ballroom synagogue shrine altar
Trip Ideas indoor wall floor Living room property living room estate ceiling home real estate condominium furniture Suite interior design green Villa cottage Design apartment mansion
Trip Ideas sky outdoor cityscape City reflection atmospheric phenomenon skyline horizon night urban area human settlement dusk evening skyscraper morning Sunset dawn Downtown waterway marina dock

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Despite Northern Ireland’s turbulent past, Belfast has managed to find its creative groove. You can’t turn down a street without running into edgy street art, much of which documents the city’s struggles with politics, religion, and identity. Then there's the blooming culinary scene, led by the Muddlers Club, a cool 52-seat bistro whose open kitchen serves mouthwatering plates like scallops with Jerusalem artichoke purée and smoked monkfish over squid-ink risotto. On the design front, local hospitality giant Beannchor leads the charge. The brand has followed up the success of its five-star Merchant Hotel with a destination bar, a pizzeria chain, a café, and the Bullitt Hotel, modeled after the 1968 Steve McQueen film of the same name. No detail here was overlooked, from the muraled ceilings to the cute “2B or not 2B” inscription on desktop pencils to the ski-themed lounge.

grass Trip Ideas outdoor tree sheep mammal animal field pasture grazing sheeps fauna herd grassland green Farm rural area meadow grassy lush
Trip Ideas grass tree outdoor green walkway wall Garden estate rural area landscape château lawn waterway reservoir stone
Trip Ideas grass sky outdoor building historic site landmark field château stately home palace fortification estate ancient history castle government building day

Peak District, England

We've all heard of England’s Lake District. The lakes, forests, and fells of Cumbria have lured holiday-goers for centuries, including some of Britain’s most famous wordsmiths like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Beatrix Potter. While the Peak District may not have those same shimmering lakes or literary heritage, its topography is just as stunning—exposed limestone emerging from blankets of green moss, caves carved from glacier meltwaters, heather moorland snaked by narrow rivers. Buxton, a spa town modeled after Bath with its own geothermal spring, is worth exploring, as is Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, which stood in as the stately residence for Mr. Darcy in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. Just a 30 minutes’ drive northwest brings you to Peveril Castle, an 11th-century Norman stronghold founded by William the Conqueror's favorite knight.

Want more?



All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Jetsetter may earn an affiliate commission.