International tourists most often associate England with its urban destinations. Many people who are not from the UK think of London as the main destination on the British Isles. While London is certainly a great destination and one of the world’s most interesting metropolises for tourists to visit, there is a lot more to England than its largest city. In fact, travelers who venture beyond London will find that the most charming and attractive parts of the country are found in the rural counties England. In the small towns and natural landscapes of the countryside, tourists can find culture, history, and natural beauty as well as a welcoming quaintness that is mostly absent in the UK’s big-city destinations.

Here are the best rural destinations in England.

Lake District National Park

Lake District National Park

Photo: Leshaines123 / Flickr

The Lake District National Park is located in the northwestern corner England, in the county of Cumbria. This is a well-known destination for British outdoor enthusiasts, who come here to hike, climb, and appreciate nature. A mountain range and a number of lakes characterize the geography of the National Park. For most people, a vacation here involves hiking on regional trails, climbing the low-lying mountains, or paddling on the park’s namesake lakes. It is also possible to see the scenery without having to hike by taking a ride on one of the two classic steam trains that still run on local railroads.

Yorkshire

Yorkshire

Photo: Paul Stevenson / Flickr

Many people imagine the English countryside as it appears in the many works of classic literature that have been set in rural England. These often-imagined landscapes can be found in Yorkshire, a large county in the eastern portion of England. The moorlands and dales located in this region draw tourists in search of idyllic countryside landscapes. The rolling hills, flat moors, forests, and gentle valleys are great for hikers and scenery seekers. It is possible to stay in one of the small villages in this area so that you can completely immerse yourself in the rural quaintness. Yorkshire’s moorlands and dales are actually surprisingly easy to reach, since they is located not far from the eastern hub city of Leeds.

Cotswolds

Cotswolds

Photo: Sue Hasker / Flickr

This is another classic countryside area, located in the southern part of inland England. The Cotswolds earned the title of Area of Outstanding National Beauty, a distinction the region certainly deserves because of its rolling hills, woodlands, fields, cottage-filled towns, and scenic byways. Many people cruise between towns in a rented car, stopping to explore when they come across an especially attractive village or an impressive panorama. However, it is also possible to get out into the open air and hike between certain towns. For those who can handle the hilly terrain, bicycling is another non-car option.

Northumberland

Northumberland

Photo: Renaud Camus / Flickr

This rural county is located in far northeastern England, where it sits against the border of Scotland. This is certainly one of the most remote-feeling places in England. The seashore is an attractive part of the landscape here, with miles and miles of beaches that are almost completely deserted most of the time. Some people simply wander the seashore or explore the villages nestled between forests and farmlands. This is also an interesting place for history buffs as well. A number of castles still stand in the countryside and the remnants of the famous Hadrian’s Wall, which divided England from Scotland during Roman times, can be visited in Northumbria.

Cornwall

Cornwall

Photo: Nanagyei / Flickr

This attractive county in England’s far south has its own unique rural vibe. Small seaside villages, forests, farmlands, and spectacular coastal panoramas make this one of the most beautiful destinations in rural England. The area is relatively compact, so tourists can enjoy the welcoming vibe of a seaside fishing village and then explore inland forests and hills in the very same day. Visitors could find an inn in a Cornish fishing village or they could enjoy a vacation in the many attractive Cornwall cottages that are for rent in some of the region’s most attractive areas.

Have you had the chance to enjoy the English countryside? Use the comments section to tell us what you think the best rural destinations in England are.

Josh Lew
Josh Lew
Josh Lew has traveled widely in Asia and the Americas. He has contributed to popular travel sites like Gadling and Brave New Traveler and currently writes a weekly travel column for MNN. His work has also appeared on the websites of CNN and Forbes Magazine.

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