UK Holidays – Visiting 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom

Sgwd yr Eira, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, UK
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The United Kingdom boasts countless of interesting places. Your UK Holidays could start with a visit to London, or another popular city but the country has a lot of natural attractions as well. There is a total of 15 National Parks in the UK, 411 nature reserves, thousands of lakes, 100 waterfalls, caves as well as mountains with the highest one reaching the height of 1,344 meters (Ben Nevis).

There are national parks all over the UK where you will not only be able to take in exceptional beauty, but also get to spend time with some of the local people who live in the area and will make you feel right at home. There are lots of different activities that you can do, and you can also bring along pets to most national parks as well, as long as they are looked after properly.

Helvellyn, Lake District National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Helvellyn, Lake District National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Diliff

Here is a list of all 15 National Parks including their best places to visit in the UK. They are spread around the whole country, 10 of which are in England, 3 in Wales and 2 in Scotland and cover 9% of the UK area.

National Parks in the UK – Visiting 10 National Parks in England

1. Lake District National Park

Lake District National Park is situated in the northwest of England in the county of Cumbria. It is considered the most beautiful place in the whole country offering some of the most beautiful scenery. It is not surprising that this area annually attracts more than 18 million people.

The mountainous landscape is home to about sixty larger or smaller lakes, after which it is named. Established in 1951, Lake District National Park is with its area of 2292 square kilometers the 2nd largest national park in the UK and the largest one in England. The area around Derwentwater and Buttermere lakes are definitely the most beautiful here.

Buttermere lake,  Lake District National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Buttermere lake, Lake District National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Les Haines

The Lake District is a massive national park which has lots of things for you and the family to do and enjoy when you visit. Throughout the year, there are lots of different events and shows on throughout the area where you can visit and also join in.

From the walking festivals to the various agricultural shows throughout the summer, there is something to keep everyone interested. You can even take your bicycles with you and go out for a ride with the whole family.

Great Gable from Scafell Pike, Lake District National Park, UK Holidays
Great Gable from Scafell Pike, Lake District National Park, UK Holidays by SteveMi

There are also various hiking trails that you can follow as well. There is a wide range of accommodation available from Self Catering Chalets, B&B’s to static Caravan parks as well.

And once here do not miss also Wastwater lake, Derwentwater lake, Neolithic Castlerigg Stone Circle, stone houses in Ambleside and Grasmere villages, the challenging highest peak of England – Scafell Pike (978m / 3,209ft).

Derwentwater lake, Lake District, National parks in the UK
Derwentwater lake, Lake District, National parks in the UK by Diliff

Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Lake District National Park Hotels, UK holidays

Stay in a unique hotel!

Somewhere in the middle of the Lake District National Park is a wonderful place to stay – Gilpin Hotel & Lake House. Staying here is an adventure itself so if you are looking for a superb accommodation within a superb location while exploring Lake District look no further!

2. Peak District National Park

Peak District National Park is truly exceptional natural phenomenon. You will hardly find nature like this in any other European country. It was founded in 1951 and protects the area of 1437 square kilometers.

Cycling, hiking, or horse riding are very popular activities in this national park and you are recommended to try camping in one of many campsites in the area. 55 kilometers of trails are a guarantee of well spent and active UK holidays.

Derwent Valley from Curbar Edge, Peak District National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Derwent Valley from Curbar Edge, Peak District National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by David Guyler

You will be amazed by the beautiful scenery, clean rivers and streams, varied flora, varied fauna including rare orchids, heather moorland, limestone plateaus, stalactite caves and infinite numbers of sheep.

In addition to the hilly evergreen scenery, there are also lots of History Museums and magnificent palaces such as Buxton and Chatsworth House.

Black Clough Waterfall, Peak District National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Black Clough Waterfall, Peak District National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Stephen Bowler

3. Dartmoor National Park

If you are looking to try and get the best weather when you go away, you may wish to think about Dartmoor National Park. Being located in Devon, so being quite far south, you are more likely to get better weather than some of the other national parks around.

There are plenty of things to do just the same as other national parks, so plenty of walking, cycling, and animal watching as well as local events and festivals. A famous landmark is White Horse Hill in Uffington which is a prehistoric white figure in the hillside and is about 110 meters long.

Old Bridge in Postbridge, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, England, National Parks in the UK
Old Bridge in Postbridge, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, England, National Parks in the UK by Michal Stehlík

Dartmoor National Park is characterized by rugged landscape covered with heaths, bogs, and granite rocks. Granite plain covers an area of about 1200 square kilometers and rises to an altitude of 500-600 meters.

In the middle of this amazing landscape, you can find granite rocks known as Dartmoor tors, which look like statues from afar. Park was established in 1951 and its highest point is that of High Willhays (621 m). Once here you have to visit Lydford Gorge and Becky Falls.

The White Lady waterfall at Lydford Gorge, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, England, National Parks in the UK
The White Lady waterfall at Lydford Gorge, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, England, National Parks in the UK by john spivey

Being so far south you do tend to see a lot more people visiting in the summer months so you may need to book accommodation in advance, even if you are just pitching your tent or pulling your caravan up.

4. Exmoor National Park

Dartmoor, as well as Exmoor National Parks, are both located in the county of Devon, situated on the southwestern edge of the country. While Dartmoor is inland, Exmoor National Park boasts the longest coastline of all national parks in England.

Lynton and Lynmouth are the most popular villages in the park thanks to their Cliff Railway. The area of 694 km2 has been designated a National Park back in 1954.

Valley of Rocks near Lynton in Exmoor National Park, Devon, England, National Parks in the UK
Valley of Rocks near Lynton in Exmoor National Park, Devon, England, National Parks in the UK by Nilfanion

Tarr Steps, Exmoor National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Tarr Steps, Exmoor National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Stefan Kühn

5. North York Moors National Park

Situated in the eastern – central part of the country, North York Moors National Park is one of nine UK National Parks that are located at the coastline. It was established in 1952 and its main features are Heather moorland or impressive coastline.

It has something to offer for the whole family, including charming villages, forests, rugged coastline, but even sights, such as abbeys, castles and much more. There are lots of hiking and walking trails around the park. However, you can explore the park from the train as well.

North York Moors National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
North York Moors National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Welcome to Yorkshire

Thomason Foss, North York Moors National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Thomason Foss, North York Moors National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Mick Garratt

6. Yorkshire Dales National Park

Yorkshire Dales National Park is a popular destination for hikers, cyclists as well as those who love horseback riding. It is a land full of amazing valleys, beautiful towns and villages, caves, gorges, waterfalls, UNESCO sights and other attractions you cannot miss on your UK holidays.

Yorkshire Dales National Park has been established back in 1954 and with its area of 1769 square kilometers, it is the 3rd largest national park in England. Visiting White Scar Caves, Ribblehead Viaduct, Crackpot Hall or Catrigg Force waterfall is a must!

Blakethwaite Lead Mine, Yorkshire Dales National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Blakethwaite Lead Mine, Yorkshire Dales National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Andrew Bowden

Catrigg Force, Yorkshire Dales National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Catrigg Force, Yorkshire Dales National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Cat Burston

7. Northumberland National Park

If you go more to the north of England you will find Northumberland National Park. This park is the least populated as well as least visited among all national parks in the country. Its highest peak is Cheviot reaching 815 meters and is mainly known for the Hadrian’s Wall which is UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You will want to take a walk on the part of 135 kilometers long Hadrian’s Wall Path but there are lots of other trails which take you through this national park.

Upper Coquetdale in the Cheviots, Northumberland National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Upper Coquetdale in the Cheviots, Northumberland National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Peer Lawther

Alwinton, Northumberland National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Alwinton, Northumberland National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Mike Sowden

8. The Broads National Park

If water is something you prefer, then you must pay a visit to the largest protected wetland in the UK. This waterland is protected by The Broads National Park and its footpaths, cycling trails, waterways, birds, railways or wildlife gardens attract around 8 million visitors every single year.

The Broads National Park is just 303 square kilometers large, making it the smallest national park in the UK. Established only in January 2015 it is also the youngest national park in the country.

The Broads National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
The Broads National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Roger Green

River Ant at Hunsett Windmill, The Broads National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
River Ant at Hunsett Windmill, The Broads National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Acme, Cristobal Palma Photography

9. New Forest National Park

The 2nd smallest national park is that of New Forest National Park covering an area of only 570 km2. The park is stretched along the southern coastline.

It is full of wildlife which is why it is also called A world capital for wildlife. The park was founded in 2005 and protects forests, pastures, and heathlands.

New Forest National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
New Forest National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Jim Champion

Beech Forest in New Forest National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
Beech Forest in New Forest National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Jim Champion

10. South Downs National Park

South Downs National Park is located on the south coast of England, on the gently undulating lowlands consisting of chalk subsoil. South Downs National Park is not significantly large, but it offers a network of well-maintained and marked hiking trails, of which the most famous one is South Downs Way, which crosses the whole park from west to east.

On your trip to this national park, you will be pleased with plenty of impressive scenery and views. One of the main park’s attractions are chalk cliffs at the southern coastline known as Seven Sisters. This national park was established in 2011 on an area of 1624 km2.

The cape of Beachy Head, South Downs National Park, England, National Parks in the UK
The cape of Beachy Head, South Downs National Park, England, National Parks in the UK by Captain Roger Fenton

National Parks in the UK – 3 National Parks in Wales

11. Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park is known among mountaineers for its beautiful rolling hills, beautiful nature, and a rugged coastline. In its picturesque valleys, you will find small villages with typical houses, cozy pubs, and sheep.

If you like hiking, climbing or mountain biking, Snowdonia National Park is the place to go. It is the largest of three national parks in Wales, established in 1951 as the 3rd national park in the UK. Its area is 2176 km2. Lakes of Llydaw, Glaslyn, Dinas or Aber falls are just a few of many places you have to visit here.

Llydaw and Glaslyn Lakes, Snowdonia National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK
Llydaw and Glaslyn Lakes, Snowdonia National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK by Hefin Owen

Aber falls, Snowdonia National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK
Aber falls, Snowdonia National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK by Stuart Madden

12. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park protects, as the name implies, 418 kilometers of the western coastline of Wales. Breathtaking coastal scenery, amazing views, hidden beaches, unique fauna and flora, rugged cliffs, secluded rocky coves and islands are just a few of the reasons why you should choose this part for your UK holidays.

Established in 1952, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park covers an area of 621 square kilometers and offers around 200 walking routes.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK by David Evans

Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK by Sarah and Iain

13. Brecon Beacons National Park

There is no better place for watching stars in the UK then Brecon Beacons National Park which is one of the darkest areas in the world.

The park has a lot to offer. Its highest peak is Pen y Fan (886m) which is its most popular place. You shouldn’t miss amazing waterfall known here as Sgwd yr Eira, or another one Sgwd y Pannwr. Park was established in 1957 covering an area of 1344 km2.

Llyn y Fan Fach, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK
Llyn y Fan Fach, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK by Angel Ganev

Sgwd yr Eira, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK
Sgwd yr Eira, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK by Phil Dolby

Sgwd y Pannwr, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK
Sgwd y Pannwr, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, National Parks in the UK by Phil Dolby

National Parks in the UK – 2 National Parks in Scotland

14. Cairngorms National Park

Scotland has only two national parks but Cairngorms National Park is with its area of 4,528 square kilometers definitely the UK’s largest national park. It also boasts a mountain called Ben Macdui (1309m) which is the highest mountain protected by national parks in the UK.

Established in 2003, the park now offers great hiking and mountain biking opportunities. It is home to wildcats, Red Squirrel or amazing birds, such as Golden Eagle and boasts unique rare fauna.

Ryvoan Bothy, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, National Parks in the UK
Ryvoan Bothy, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, National Parks in the UK by Rockside17

Balmoral Castle in Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, National Parks in the UK
Balmoral Castle in Cairngorms National Park, Scotland, National Parks in the UK by Nick Bramhall

15. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park

And the last one is Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park established in 2002 on an area of 1865 square kilometers.

The majority of the tourists head to the mountains of Ben Lomond (974 m) or The Cobbler (884 m) while its highest mountain is that of Ben More (1174 m). If you are in a good form you can try 155 kilometers long West Highland Way that takes you through the best places of this park.

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland, National Parks in the UK
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland, National Parks in the UK by Daniel Stockman

Loch Lomond is a beautiful location in Scotland, boasting the largest inland stretch of water in the UK. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy such as hiking, cycling, and kayaking as well.

Windsurfing, water skiing and also fishing are on offer as well as the more traditional swimming. There is a lot of different types of accommodation available within the area, and you will be amazed at some of the jaw-dropping natural beauty available in Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland, National Parks in the UK
Loch Lomond, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland, National Parks in the UK by Mark

Done! These were all the 15 national parks in the UK. One thing is for sure that when you visit out national parks in Britain, you will be able to appreciate the natural beauty of the area and also explore some of Britain’s history as well. You may just have your best holiday yet and want to come back again!

Have you already visited some of these national parks during your UK holidays? If yes, please let us know which of the places you liked the most. Please comment on below and inspire other travelers looking for amazing places in the UK.

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Julius

I am someone who left his open-spaced cubicle after spending there 8 years of his life. Someone who started to live more outside! :) I am in travel blogging since 2010 and with Traveltipy I am going to conquer the world :)

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27 Responses

  1. Marjorie says:

    15 national parks? That’s a lot! I am so envious, every park that you featured here looks absolutely stunning. I can’t even pick a favorite. I hope I get to see all of them in the near future. I’d probably cry when I see these beauties in person.

  2. I may sound very stupid but I never thought such places actually exist in UK. I feel so dumb now! Everytime I scroll down and the photo attracts my eyes I’m like “Oh Lord of The Rings!” and then I start to feel like an idiot for not knowing all of these places existence. Thanks for opening my eyes!

  3. christine says:

    Love this!! Most people don’t think to visit anything besides London. I want to go back to the UK and explore these areas.

  4. Alexis says:

    These are wonderful suggestions, some I had never heard of! I stayed in a haunted hostel in the Lake District as a teenager, I’ll never forget it!

  5. Crizzy Kiss says:

    Amazing scenery and photos! Great to know more of UK other than London. I will definitely visit some of those places when I visit UK next year. Thanks!

  6. Wauw, some stunning pics in here! Definitely a lot of variation to choose from 😀

  7. Natasha says:

    I have never been to any of these places. They are now on my radar next time I am in the UK

  8. Natasha says:

    Well I can add all these to my must see list! What beautiful scenes and photos! I’m a lover of hiking and seeing natural sights more then cities so this is the perfect list for me.

  9. I’ve only been to 4 , I need to get going organising my trips to this beautiful part of U.K

  10. Ynah.CA says:

    Wow – the place is just so amazing! I would love to hike there someday.

  11. Awesome post. As climbers and adventurers living in Manchester we have been to lots of these parks. We absolutely love the lake district and did Helvellyn this year as well as the peak district for climbing. Would love to get down to Pembroke to climb the cliffs.

  12. dannielle says:

    Feeling very ashamed as I’ve only been to two of these so far – Lake District and Cairngorms! I had a pint in the highest pub in Scotland, which was pretty cool. Need to work my way through these!

  13. Heather Cole says:

    Thanks for showing that the UK isn’t all about London! I live in the Lake District and can confirm it’s the most beautiful place in the country to visit, and grew up in the Peak District which is a close second.

  14. Jade says:

    Beautiful pictures! I’m ashamed to say that despite being from the UK I have only visited a couple of these. I can certainly vouch for Beachy Head though!

  15. Elizabeth says:

    I think the UK has some of the best long distance walking anywhere on earth and much of it runs through these national parks. Nice post I love the pictures. I am pinning it for future reference.

  16. Maria says:

    I LOVE the peak district, I may be cheating as I am from Sheffield and so grew up next to it but I just think it’s utterly gorgeous with so much to see and do. After this post though I may have to expand my horizons a tad 🙂

  17. Sarah says:

    Wow Sgwd y Pannwr, Brecon Beacons National Park looks amazing!!! I had no idea about any of these national parks! Thanks for all the insight!

  18. Eloise says:

    Wow! Now you really make me want to go back to the UK!! I lived there for over a year and didn’t explore the National Parks……….!

  19. Wow, these pictures! I never think of England as somewhere to travel to admire beautiful scenery but now I see that I was definitely mistaken. But the maybe more important question is, how much does it cost to travel around rural parts of the UK? With the comparative strength of the pound, it has always been an expensive place to travel.

  20. The UK is so awe inspiring, especially when the weather cooperates. I love exploring closer to home whenever I get the chance as we take so much for granted when its right on our doorstep. You list some great options for visitors from all countries.

  21. Sher says:

    i love hiking! will be sure to bookmark these for the next time i visit the UK

    Sher

  22. Alana says:

    We love hiking and have been enjoying so many national parks on our trip. The Lake District is high our list as it has been recommended to us a ton recently!

    • Julius Szabo says:

      Lake District is perhaps the most popular one of all national parks in the UK. I liked Miss Potter with Renée Zellwegger, a movie that was set in this national park. Very nice indeed!

  23. Claudia says:

    I love hiking and there is something very special about National Parks in the UK. My favourite, for a number of reasons, has to be the Lake District. I would love to go back again. And add the rest of the parks!

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