Hidden Gems in England, Scotland and Wales waiting to be discovered

By Discover More UK


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With many people are choosing to have a holiday in the UK, a lot of us are on the search for hidden gems in England and the rest of the UK. We are now more open to the idea of exploring the country we live in and discovering destinations on our doorstep.

We really are so fortunate to live in a place that has incredible countryside, rugged terrain, amazing cities and towns, and breathtaking beaches. However, not everyone wants to head to popular locations. If you’re on the search for hidden gems in the UK, this list shares 10 non-touristy spots you need to add to your UK bucket list.

There are some incredible hidden gems in England, Scotland and Wales which are non-touristy hot spots in the UK waiting to be discovered by you.

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Hidden Gems UK: Scotland, England and Wales

The Bays, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

The first of our alternative places to visit in the UK takes us to Scotland and the Isle of Harris.

The Bays get its name because of the way this part of the east coast on the Isle of Harris in the outer Hebrides presents itself. From an aerial view, it looks like there are different bays and the water cascades between them. It is a stunning location.

Being one of the Scotland hidden gems, you won’t find that it is too busy with tourists, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the area while you are there. It is perfect for any walking enthusiasts who want to explore new places. There are great trails and circular routes that you can do that will give you the ideal opportunity to take in the beauty and rugged scenery this location has to offer. 

The Cotswolds Canals 

girl standing on a low stone bridge in the Cotswolds
Bourton on the Water

You would usually associate a trip to The Cotswolds with the rural countryside, rolling English green hills, and quaint villages that look as if they were taken right from a postcard. But you wouldn’t usually associate non touristy places in England with the Cotswolds!

But actually, The Cotswolds has two canals that merge together at Stroud, which have been fondly named The Cotswolds canals and they are really worth exploring. They link up the Thames and the Severn as well as the Stroudwater Navigation. There are some great walks and lovely things to see by walking along them, and it can be something a little different to experience if you are in the area. 

It’s also a great addition to Cotswold holidays if you’re looking for something different from the usual route among the villages in the Cotswolds for something off the beaten path England has to offer.

Orkneys Stone Age Sites, Rousay Island 

Hidden gems for UK holidays might be few and far between, but the Orkney Islands are truly an off the beaten track UK destination.

The few groups of tourists would usually flock to Skara Brae, but Rousay Island sits north and is often unnoticed, making it the perfect non-touristy spot in the UK waiting to be discovered by you. 

It boasts more than 100 archaeological sites. There are some incredible sites that date back to the Stone Age. There are a lot of interesting places to discover here, as well as unspoilt beaches and things to see. So it is definitely worth adding to your UK bucket list

Chee Dale, Peak District, England

If you are a lover of walking and finding beautiful and interesting places, then the Peak District and specifically Chee Dale is one of England’s hidden gems that is stunning. 

A fantastic riverside walk that will take you through woodland and rugged countryside. There are limestone cliffs that drop straight into the water, epic viaducts that are high above you, and wetlands of wildflowers that are pretty at any time of the year. The perfect place for a scenic walk without the worry of too many tourists and visitors. 

Countryside lane surrounded by trees and a stone wall in the Peak District
Peak District countryside

Flamborough Head, Yorkshire, England

Could you name a place that has the most Northern chalk cliffs, the oldest lighthouse, and the largest seabird colony recorded? Flamborough Head in Yorkshire is the place to be for all of those things, and so much more. 

There is also a rich Viking history here, so not only do you have some of the best sights and views, but you will also find that there is more to it than the stunning coast. It’s one of the best hidden gems north east England has to offer.

A definite place to consider and a location that isn’t usually too busy with tourists.

Open road driving through the Yorkshire countryside
Road trip through Yorkshire

Hunstanton, Norfolk, England

If you’re looking for hidden holiday gems in the UK, the Victorian resort of Hunstanton is a little-known hidden gem in Norfolk with one of the most beautiful beaches. 

A short stroll along the beach will have you reaching the cliffs of Old Hunstanton, which are epic in their own right. A bit of a difference with this location compared to others in East Anglia, it is actually west facing. So on the beach, you will be able to catch a rare sight of the sun setting amongst the cliffs.

This is a quiet location, but with the area of Hunstanton waiting to be explored, and the lovely beach to enjoy, you won’t be disappointed. 

Lundy Island, Devon, England

One of the best Devon hidden gems is the little island of Lundy.

Lundy is marooned in the middle of the Bristol channel, and can sometimes be cut off for days because of bad weather on the coast, but it is one location that is certainly a hidden gem for the UK.

There is a tiny resident community, but there is no traffic at all. There is even a castle and a lighthouse to explore. It is such a rare place to be able to go to an island and see what might feel like a different world. Definitely, one to add to your list. 

 Find out more here about North Devon things to do.

Puzzlewood, Forest of Dean

This magical forest is a real hidden gem that can be found in the Forest of Dean.

Explore winding pathways below thick tree canopies, moss covered rock faces and wooden staircases all within the forest.

It’s like entering into a fantasy land, so it’s no wonder that Puzzlewood has been used as a filming location for movies and TV shows such as Merlin, Star Wars: Force Awakens, Doctor Who, The Huntsman: Winter’s War to name a few.

Shell Island, Wales 

If you are wanting a place to go, perfect for camping, but will feel a little more secluded than some of the other campsites and locations you may visit in Wales, Shell Island is a great place to experience and one of the true hidden gems North Wales has to offer.

There is a vast area of open space, but the island is landlocked twice a day because of the tide, truly making it one of the hidden places in UK countries. Just make sure you check the tide times before you attempt to cross!

However, while you are on the island you can walk along the beautiful beach, enjoy pastimes like fishing and even crabbing. A little more of a laid-back place to enjoy disconnecting and enjoying nature.

It is one of those places that once you discover it you will likely want to go back again and again when you plan things to do in North Wales.  

Shell Island is only accessible at low tide

Sandwood Bay, Northern Highlands, Scotland 

Another Scotland option for off the beaten track holidays in the UK is this area of the Northern Highlands.

This is a hidden bay but is well worth the effort to get to, and once you are there you will see why. It is a mile-long stretch of golden sands, with the most stunning backdrop of fascinating and epic cliffs.

Behind the sand dunes, you will also find Sandwood Loch, so the area itself is a fabulous place to visit, especially if you love hiking and walking. A great location and one to enjoy without the worry of too many people. 

Rutland Water, Rutland, England

Rutland is the smallest county in England but it’s home to the biggest man-made lake in the UK and one of the largest in Europe so a holiday here really packs a punch for interesting Rutland activities, especially watersports.

Whether you’re a watersports fan or not, Rutland offers miles of countryside walks, waterside walks and activities, beautiful villages to visit, plenty of shops and restaurants in its main town of Oakham and miles of countryside to enjoy.

Quaint villages like Exton, Cottesmore and Braunston make great places to stay and relax after a day of walking or perhaps windsurfing on Rutland Water!

Summary: UK Hidden Gems

Hopefully, that has given you plenty of hidden places to discover and enjoy in the UK where there won’t be many tourists. 

There’s a lot of satisfaction in discovering these lesser known places in the UK and hidden gems in England, Scotland or Wales. Let’s respect them and enjoy them while they’re still an off the beaten path destination!

Pin this for later to help you plan your future trip!

Pinnable image made up of four smaller images of a sunset, wooden steps through a gorge at puzzlewood, a view of green fields and a view of a river running past a cottage. Text Overlay reads Hidden Gems: United Kingdom

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