The UK’s Loveliest Towns

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We might only be a small nation, but we’re home to a frankly wonderful amount of characterful towns and pretty villages. Here, we’ve rounded up some that are quite unusual and very lovely. You might have heard of some, but we doubt you’ve been to all!


Just over an hour away from London by train is a seaside sanctuary, brimming with fresh seafood and artsy corners. Whitstable has long been a popular day trip destination in Kent, and it’s clear to see why – cute pastel-hued shops line the streets, while on the shingle beachfront, you can devour salty oysters or fish and chips wrapped in paper while overlooking the sunset and the meditative waves.

Port Sunlight


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The village of Port Sunlight in Merseyside was originally built for the factory workers employed by Lord Lever. The model village is still home to around 2000 residents, however it is also a fascinating tourist destination. The definition of idyllic, each block of charming cottages was designed by a different architect, which makes for an interesting mishmash of design, and there’s even an art gallery filled with impressive treasures. Look out for other fairytale features, from elegant bridges to lush gardens.

Robin Hood’s Bay

While Whitby consistently takes the crown for most popular seaside town in North Yorkshire, nearby Robin Hood’s Bay is often overlooked. The small fishing village makes for a more secluded break, and is blessed with a striking stretch of coastline and cosy, cobbled nooks and crannies. Once a notorious smuggling spot, its dramatic, moody cliffs hide all kinds of mysterious caves and ghost stories too. You may even find an ancient souvenir at Boggle Hole – a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) due to its abundance of fossils.


The serene south west of Scotland, in the vicinity of the Solway Firth, is home to many quaint towns. One in particular has come to be known as ‘The Artist’s Town’. Kirkcudbright might be another fishing port (we can’t help it, they’re just so pretty!), however the real magic lies behind the ice cream coloured facades of the town’s wide streets. A dedicated Arts and Crafts Trail takes visitors to galleries, gardens and studios all over the town, where they’re sure to find something precious to take home.



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Ireland’s very own Holywood (pronounced the same way as the famous LA neighbourhood) is no stranger to awards either – it was voted the best place to live in Northern Ireland in 2021 by The Sunday Times. Not far from bustling Belfast, Holywood boasts a shimmering stretch of beach as well as a sylvan expanse of woodland in Redburn Country Park. It also welcomes music lovers to its renowned jazz and blues festival each year and is the home of Ireland’s only surviving maypole!



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There’s nothing quite as dreamy as a secondhand bookstore piled high with old tombs and filled with endless possibilities. In Hay-on-Wye in Wales, located at the edge of the stunning Brecon Beacons, books are the beating heart of the town. There are honesty bookshops on the pavements that surround the romantic 12th-century castle, and the Hay Festival attracts major names in literature each year. When you’re not scanning the shelves of secondhand and speciality bookshops (including true crime experts Murder and Mayhem), you could canoe along the River Wye.


I mean, the clue is in the name of this UK gem! Vehicles have been banned in Clovelly, a hillside coastal village in Devonshire, since the 1920s, so donkeys were once used to help transport cargo up and down the cobbles. The animals have now retired but still live there, so you can meet them and say hello! Picture-perfect scenes can be found around every corner, from the harbour – where dolphins can be spotted frolicking – to the flower-adorned houses.