When thinking of moving – maybe to retire somewhere new or because you just fancy a change of scenery – most of us would prefer to go somewhere beautiful. Few things can rival the feeling of waking up every morning and feeling grateful that we live where we do.

Luckily, the UK is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world – from snow-capped mountains to white sand beaches, and ancient woodlands to rolling hills. But you might be wondering which places specifically, are the most inspiring to call home?

From the beaches of Cornwall to the remote isles of Scotland, here are eight of the most gorgeous (and unique) places to settle down in the UK.

1. Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire beach

Wales has some of the most dramatically beautiful countryside in the UK. And while the mountains and lakes of Snowdonia are undeniably breathtaking, Pembrokeshire’s spectacular coastline might give it a slight advantage – particularly if you’re someone who’s drawn more to the ocean and beaches than peaks and valleys.

Boasting rugged hills of volcanic rock, narrow inlets carved by glaciers, and limestone cliffs that soar above pristine white sand beaches, Pembrokeshire’s beauty draws visitors from all over the world.

If you’re into hiking you’ll be in your element here: the 190 mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path is one of the most beautiful walking trails on the planet, and having it on your doorstep is a major plus.

Walking along the coastal path is one of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of this county, and if you’re looking for some lovely villages to relocate to, then Amroth and St Dogmaels are the perfect examples of how charming and welcoming Pembrokeshire villages are. The beaches along the trail are all gorgeous – though Barafundle Bay, Whitesands, and Broad Haven are especially impressive.

But, it isn’t just the natural beauty that sets Pembrokeshire apart from other pretty places; it’s also its unique history and culture. This is a county that’s jam-packed with impressive buildings and mysterious ancient sites – so if you live here, you certainly won’t be short of historical attractions to visit! The mini-city of St David’s is famous for its fabulous cathedral, there are dozens of Celtic sites to explore, and if you want to get away from it all, the rugged cliffs of Ramsey Island beckon.

2. The Lake District

The Lake District, Cumbria

Of all the English countries, Cumbria might be most famous for its beauty. The Lake District is known around the world for its mesmerising beauty. Those who have visited will also know that this is no exaggeration! Home to glistening, mirror-like lakes, lush green valleys, and ancient woodlands: if you’re looking to live in a place that consistently inspires you, it’s hard to think of a better spot.

For particularly sociable individuals, a lively village rather than a more remote spot might be preferred (and you’ll be spoiled for choice here!). Though Grasmere is best known for being the former home of William Wordsworth, this lovely village is surrounded by breathtaking countryside that’s a haven for hikers – from the beautiful woods of Coffin Route to the waterfalls and pools of Easedale Tarn.

If you love living near the water, you also won’t be short of options. At five miles long and a mile wide, and surrounded by rugged fells, Coniston Water is remarkably beautiful, and Coniston village has plenty to offer as well. Or perhaps you’re more drawn to the glacial blue Lake Windermere, which is the largest natural lake in England. The nearby village of Ambleside is one of the prettiest towns in the Lake District and is full of charming stone houses, cosy cafes, and independent shops.

Though Lake Windermere is very popular with tourists, locals can still find solitude in the surrounding hills. Plus, if you’re into sailing, living here means you can take advantage of all the marinas and sailing and windsurfing centres along the lake. If you like the idea of living right on the water, the bustling villages of Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere provide a warm sense of community.

3. Cornwall

Cornwall

You can’t list the most beautiful places to live in the UK and not mention Cornwall. As the most popular holiday spot in the country, Cornwall’s beauty is no secret. And though this county might be most celebrated for its stunning beaches and shimmering turquoise waters, it’s incredibly diverse and has so much more to offer.

If you prefer rugged, dramatic landscapes, West Cornwall might be the place for you. The windswept beaches, wild moorlands, and rocky outcrops provide locals with peace and solitude – and thanks to the narrowness of this strip of land, you’re only ever a couple of miles from the coast. For people who like living in towns and villages, St Ives, Penzance and St Just have all the amenities you need, while still providing the benefits of being surrounded by tranquil countryside.

If you’ve ever watched shows like Doc Martin or Poldark and dreamed of moving to these idyllic places, North Cornwall might be more suited to you. This part of Cornwall is home to picture-perfect fishing villages, whitewashed cottages, rolling hills, and azure waters. Port Isaac is known as the filming location for Doc Martin, and Tintagel, Boscastle and Bude are just as pretty. If you’d like to live in a larger town, Padstow is a great choice – and with its excellent restaurants, is perfect for foodies.

South Cornwall is best known for the Lizard Peninsula, which is the most south-westerly point of the UK mainland and an incredibly picturesque place, with dramatic cliffs and lovely beaches like Kennack Sands, Coverack Beach, and Kynance Cove. The village of Helford, in the Northeast corner of the Lizard, is the epitome of bucolic beauty; with thatched cottages, ancient oak forests, and secret creeks tucked away along the unspoiled Helford River.

4. Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

If you yearn for a simpler, quieter life, far away from the hustle and bustle of fast-paced cities, then the Isle of Skye might be the ideal place to relocate. Famous for its strikingly beautiful natural scenery, Skye is the largest of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides and is home to some of the country’s most iconic, mystical, and breathtaking landscapes.

At 50 miles long, Skye’s deeply indented coastline boasts many impressive geological features, such as the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, and the Cuillin ridge. The jagged peaks of Cuillin dominate the skyline, and when the famous mist closes in (the Vikings called Skye ‘cloud island’!), you’ll get a sense of why so many people are drawn to this dramatic, historic, and remote island.

The diverse wildlife of Skye makes it an even more attractive place to live, and locals have excellent chances of spotting eagles, otters, seals, whales, dolphins, and red deer. The mountains, velvety moors, sparkling lochs, and miles of towering cliffs mean there are excellent hiking trails here too – and if you want plenty of adventure in your life (as well as peace and tranquillity), you’ll find that here.

The capital of Skye is Portree; a lovely fishing village that overlooks a sheltered bay. This large village has all the pubs, shops, and restaurants you need to stay busy. Though, if you fancy getting away from it all, just head to the surrounding hills – Ben Tianavaig to the South and Fingal’s Seat to the West. If you prefer smaller villages, Dunvegan, Edinbane, and Staffin in the North, and Broadford, Armadale, and Elgol in the South, are all situated in truly breathtaking surroundings.

5. Northumberland

Northumberland

While some of the places featured in this article, like Cornwall and the Lake District, are celebrated all around the world for their beauty, other places aren’t quite as recognised. A prime example of this would be Northumberland, which is home to the least populated national park in the country.

Known as “England’s last great wilderness”, Northumberland boasts miles of dramatic coastline, vast valleys, and wild moorland. So if you’re drawn to peaceful places away from the crowds, it certainly ticks the box. There are many lovely places to live here, from the pretty fishing village of Seahouses to the village of Ingram in the gorgeous Breamish Valley – and, of course, the beautiful market town of Morpeth.

If you’re a history buff, living in Northumberland has another bonus: it’s home to more castles than anywhere else in England, meaning there’s plenty to see and do here! Plus, it’s also a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts; Northumberland’s Farne Islands have the honour of being Sir David Attenborough’s favourite place in the country and are home to 23 different types of seabirds, seals, and dolphins.

But the Farne Islands are by no means Northumberland’s only enchanting island range, and if you love visiting remote places – or even living in them – the Holy Island of Lindisfarne will surely be calling your name. Though there’s a thriving community here, with shops, pubs, and cafes, Lindisfarne is known for its spectacular nature reserve, where you can admire sweeping sand dunes, marshes and mudflats, and striking sea views.

6. The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds

Another region of England that’s widely celebrated for its beauty is the Cotswolds. Encompassing six counties and hundreds of picture-perfect villages, not for nothing is the Cotswolds one of the UK’s most visited areas. If you love village life and enjoy being part of a community while still being surrounded by pristine countryside, it’s hard to think of a more idyllic spot.

There are so many beautiful and historic Cotswold villages that it’s difficult to select the loveliest – but Gloucestershire’s Bourton-on-the-Water is often voted one of the prettiest villages in England. Nicknamed the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, it’s home to honey-coloured cottages, quaint tea rooms, gorgeous gardens, and elegant stone bridges that arch over the photogenic River Windrush.

Vying for Bourton-on-the-Water’s ‘prettiest village in England’ crown is Wiltshire’s Castle Combe. The beauty of Castle Combe is no secret (it’s been featured in Hollywood movies Stardust and War Horse) and its winding streets can often get crowded with wide-eyed tourists. But the surrounding woods are peaceful and pristine, and the Bybrook River is popular with locals enjoying a quiet stroll.

For some, the touristy nature of the Cotswolds can sometimes be a bit off-putting; especially if you prefer a quiet life. And, while places like Stow-on-the-Wold and Burford do get busy, there are plenty of other quintessential Cotswolds villages that are just as beautiful. The twin villages of Upper and Lower Slaughter might be small, but they’re home to the most romantic street in the country – and the unspoilt countryside and landscaped gardens that enclose them will take your breath away.

7. County Antrim

County Antrim

Another place that’s just as beautiful – though perhaps more ruggedly so – is Northern Ireland’s County Antrim. This is a land of dramatic coastline, towering cliffs, sandy beaches, and awe-inspiring rock formations that will have you feeling as though you’ve fallen into a fantasy novel. Antrim is steeped in history, myths, and legends, and its spectacular scenery is like nowhere else in the world.

If you love hiking, you’ll be glad to know that Antrim is home to some of the most unique hiking scenery in the country. On the Gobbins Cliff Walk, you can explore secret sea caves, scale ancient stairways carved into the rock face, and test your nerves on the precipitous Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge – which hangs 100ft above the churning North Atlantic Ocean! Antrim is home to many mysterious sea caves, including the ancient and alluring Cushendun Caves, which were featured in Game of Thrones.

But it’s the beauty of Giant’s Causeway that Antrim is most famous for – an area of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that was formed 60 million years ago when a volcano erupted. If you enjoy watching the sunset, this is easily one of the most stunning places to do it.

Another example of Antrim’s unique natural phenomena is the Dark Hedges; a twisted line of beech trees that looks like it’s straight out of Lord of the Rings.

Antrim’s villages are just as charming as its natural beauty, and if you love pretty seaside villages where you can take advantage of the gorgeous coastline then Ballycastle, Glenarm, Portrush, and Portstewart are all wonderful places to live. The latter two have some of the most beautiful beaches in Northern Ireland, as well as the best golf courses.

8. North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire

And finally, there’s North Yorkshire. While all of Yorkshire is undeniably beautiful – and the rolling Yorkshire Dales are arguably more famous – North Yorkshire is home to some of the wildest and most wonderful scenery in the UK. And if you’re looking to move here, you’ll get to choose from an astonishingly diverse range of locations and landscapes.

The windswept, heather-clad moorland of the North York Moors National Park is a paradise for hikers, and these trails take you to some of the most jaw-dropping scenes in England. The vertical inland cliff of Sutton Bank was formed in the Ice Age. From the top, you can admire a view that’s been called “the finest in England”, and gaze out over the Vale of Mowbray, Hood Hill, and Gormire Lake.

But North Yorkshire has much to offer than its moors and valleys; its coastline is just as beautiful. The atmospheric coastal town of Whitby is famous for its magnificent 7th-century gothic abbey, Georgian old town, and soaring cliffs. The historic seaside resort of Scarborough is another lovely place to live, particularly if you love ancient castles, sandy beaches, and gorgeous gardens.

The vast countryside of North Yorks is home to countless villages and towns. So if you prefer being near forests, moors, and valleys than the sea, you’ll be spoilt for choice. From the pretty village of Goathland to the market town of Helmsley, and lovely Thornton-le-Dale to historic Rievaulx (with its ruined Cistercian abbey), there are hundreds of pretty places to relocate to. Choosing one may be hard, but you can rest assured that all are surrounded by charming countryside.

Final thoughts…

The UK is home to so many pretty places that choosing the most beautiful will always be difficult. But the places on this list aren’t only stunning, they’re also incredibly varied and wonderfully unique.

From the geographical wonders of Country Antrim to Cumbria’s gleaming lakes, and the dramatic mountains of the Isle of Skye to Pembrokeshire’s picturesque coastline, these parts of the country all offer something different.

So whether you’re seriously thinking about moving somewhere new or just enjoy visiting new places and daydreaming about making a move, we hope these places have inspired you – and perhaps helped you gain a new appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the UK.

Are you lucky enough to live in any of these lovely places? Or do you have your own ideas about the UK’s most beautiful places to live? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave us a comment below or join the conversation on the Rest Less community forum.

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