In my heart of hearts, I am a cottagecore girl. While my career as a travel writer often involves jet-setting to bustling cities and relaxing beach towns, I frequently daydream about the prospect of settling down in a quaint countryside cottage, where I could bake fresh bread daily and keep bees. The English countryside, with its charming villages and serene landscapes, embodies this dream for many, myself included. Whether you’re visiting England and want to find a spot to explore outside of busy London, or just like to dream of a cottagecore life, the English countryside is the perfect escape.
Is Visiting the English Countryside a Better Experience Than Exploring London?
I love lively London. The rich history, mix of cultures, and constant activities always make for an enriching visit. Still, while London may be a vibrant metropolis teeming with culture and history, the English countryside offers a different, more tranquil experience. It provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle, allowing travelers to immerse themselves in the idyllic beauty of rural life. The countryside invites you to breathe in the fresh, crisp air, appreciate the stunning landscapes, and embrace the simplicity of life in charming villages.
When Is the Best Time to Visit the English Countryside?
I have traveled to England in every season and I find the best time to visit the English countryside is during the spring and summer months. During these months the landscape comes alive with lush greenery and vibrant blooms. The mild weather and longer daylight hours make it perfect for exploring the picturesque towns and enjoying outdoor activities. However, autumn and even winter can offer their own unique charms with cozy fireside evenings and frost-covered landscapes.
✈️ Pro Tip: Hop on the Eurostar to travel from London to Paris and use this guide on How To Spend 48 Hours In Paris.
These are the Best English Countryside Towns You Must Visit
If you're ready for a peaceful escape to the English countryside, look no further than the following quaint towns.
Nestled in the breathtaking Peak District, Derbyshire is known for its striking scenic beauty, including rolling hills and limestone caves. Its most iconic landmark is the historic Peveril Castle, perched atop a hill, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
If you’re like me and rely on the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film to get you through any slight inconvenience, you’ll be thrilled to discover that Derbyshire served as a filming location for Mr. Darcy's house in Pride and Prejudice, making it a must-visit for literature and film enthusiasts alike. Many believe Jane Austen based her idea of Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley Estate in Derbyshire's Chatsworth House. Because of this, the 2005 used it as a filming location for all the scenes at his estate and you can visit it during your time in the English countryside!
Nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds, Bibury is renowned for its quintessential English charm. The picturesque Arlington Row, a row of honey-colored Cotswold stone cottages, is a postcard-perfect sight. As you wander through this idyllic village, you'll feel like you've stepped into a fairy tale. Take some time to stroll through the quaint streets and don’t forget to pack a good book to read beside the gentle burbling of the River Coln, where you can watch swans glide gracefully.
Bath is a city with a rich history that dates back to Roman times. Its ancient Roman-built baths are a testament to its historical significance. The city is a masterpiece of Georgian architecture, featuring elegant buildings and the stunning Bath Abbey. Bath's natural hot springs offer a unique opportunity to unwind and relax in the Thermae Bath Spa. This city's cultural significance is further underlined by its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you’re just looking to visit Bath for a day, there are many bus tour options that leave from London that will take you to both Stonehenge and Bath in one day. I booked this tour and absolutely loved it. I had plenty of free time to explore on my own, but also really enjoyed my tour guide who gave great insight.
Oxford is a city steeped in academia, renowned for the prestigious University of Oxford. The city's beautiful architecture, with its historic colleges, bridges, and libraries, offers a picturesque backdrop for exploration. Its rich literary history, from Lewis Carroll to J.R.R. Tolkien, adds to its charm. Strolling along the cobbled streets and visiting the Bodleian Library and Christ Church College, where parts of Harry Potter were filmed, made me feel like I was part of a literary legacy.
Stow-on-the-Wold is a historic market town, distinguished by its central square adorned with ancient buildings. This charming town provides mesmerizing vistas of the surrounding Cotswold countryside. Visitors will find themselves enchanted by the lively atmosphere of the market square, and quaint tea rooms invite you to relish traditional English tea.
For the best English tea experience, book a table for high tea at The Old Bakery Tearoom. I found this spot absolutely delightful! It offered a wide selection of teas but also served delectable scones, cakes, and sandwiches. The staff was also very kind and accommodating to me visiting solo.
Lavenham is akin to a living history museum, celebrated for its impeccably preserved medieval buildings and delightful timber-framed cottages. This picturesque village exudes an ageless ambiance, evoking the essence of old-world England. A visit to Lavenham is like stepping back in time, as you wander through its crooked houses and meandering streets.
Rye, East Sussex
Rye, a medieval town, showcases cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and a rich maritime history. Strolling through its historic streets feels like a journey to a bygone era. The Ypres Tower, now a museum, and the Mermaid Inn, a renowned 600-year-old pub, stand out as prominent highlights, recounting the captivating history of this coastal town.
Lacock is a village renowned for its remarkably preserved historic architecture. This village serves as a portal to the past and has been featured in various film and television productions, including iconic titles like Harry Potter and Downton Abbey. A visit to Lacock transports you to a different era as you marvel at the enchanting streets and experience the rich history that permeates every corner.
✈️ Pro Tip: Want to stay in a hostel while exploring England? Use the Jessi’s Journey guide on How To Find The Perfect Hostel.
Start Planning Your Visit To The English Countryside
The English countryside, with its timeless beauty and charming towns, offers a unique opportunity to step into a different world. These destinations are not just places to visit; they are gateways to authentic rural life. Definitely visit London during your English adventure, but also add time to escape to the English countryside for some unforgettable experiences that will leave you with lasting memories and a profound appreciation for the serene beauty of rural life. Safe travels!
Which English countryside town would you like to visit first? Let me know in the comments!