The UK is full of beautiful locations to explore, some of which lie in such secluded places that not so many people know about them.
So if you’re tired of popular sites that are packed full of tourists, now could be the perfect time to unearth some of the UK’s noteworthy, yet lesser known sites.
From clifftop theatres and underground grottos to hilltop parks and quarry caves, here are 13 hidden gems to explore in the UK.
1. Minack Theatre, Porthcurno
Not far off Land’s End, perched on the side of the Cornish cliffs, is the spectacular open-air Minack Theatre.
To anyone who visits, it’s immediately clear why The Minack has its title as one of the world’s most spectacular theatres.
Every year, the outdoor theatre welcomes over 80,000 people to watch a variety of performances – from musicals and concerts, to plays and storytelling.
But for those simply wanting to enjoy a glimpse of the magnificent architecture and beautiful coastline that surrounds, The Minack attracts nearly double that figure.
The Minack is open daily, though visiting hours may vary depending on the performance schedule.
2. Swyd Henryd (Henrhyd Falls), South Wales
Tucked away on the western edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park is Henrhyd Falls – the highest waterfall in South Wales.
While many prefer to flock to the nearby Waterfall Country (Vale of Neath), Henrhyd Falls is equally breathtaking and a great alternative if you want to escape the crowds.
Spilling 90ft into a wooden gorge, Henrhyd Falls is one of the only waterfalls in the UK that you can walk behind. And for those who fancy taking a dip, the falls are also a spectacular wild swimming spot.
Film buffs may also recognise Henrhyd Falls as a filming location for The Dark Knight Rises.
3. The Shell Grotto, Kent
Margate in Kent is best known for being a popular seaside destination. However, if you look beyond the usual tourist attractions, you’ll find the mysterious Shell Grotto that lies beneath the town’s streets.
The grotto’s ornate passageway of 70ft tunnels, rooms, and hallways are covered almost entirely with a mosaic of over 4.6 million seashells. Up close, you’ll spot everything from mussel, cockle, limpet, whelk, scallop, and oyster shells.
The Shell Grotto is an exciting place to explore something a bit different.
4. Kyoto Gardens, London
We all know that London isn’t short of famous places to visit. But if you’d like to wander a bit further afield from the capital’s main attractions, Kyoto Gardens are a hidden gems and ideal place to enjoy some quiet reflection and relaxation.
Named one of the most beautiful gardens in London, Kyoto Gardens boast a unique, Japanese-style 22-hectare landscape that surround the ruins of Holland House in Kensington’s Holland Park.
Holland House has served as the home of diplomats and powerful families since it was built in 1605, before its destruction during the Blitz in 1940.
5. The Heights of Abraham, Derbyshire
Often overlooked in favour of attractions like the nearby Chatsworth House, the Heights of Abraham is a picturesque hilltop park in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire.
Once the site of historic lead mines dating back to Roman times, the Heights were also the location of England’s first ever mountain cable car facility. And the same service still runs today, transporting passengers from Derwent Valley to the top of Masson Hill or the Heights of Abraham.
On the way up, visitors can enjoy stunning views of the Derwent river valley before getting off to explore 60 acres of breathtaking grounds.
Whether you decide to take a guided tour through the two on-site caves, learn something about the Heights’ history at an exhibition, or explore one of the many winding trails, there’s plenty of activities to choose from here.
6. Hunstanton, West Norfolk
Hunstanton is a little-known Victorian seaside resort town situated in Norfolk and the home of one of the UK’s most beautiful beaches.
After taking a short stroll along the beach, you’ll find yourself at the cliff of Old Hunstanton, which boasts various different shades of red and orange. They’re extremely captivating.
Another reason that gives Hunstanton its hidden gem label is that, unlike other locations in East Anglia, it’s actually west-facing, so you can watch the sunset from the cliffs.
Last but not least, the nearby Norfolk lavender field is a must-visit while you’re here. England is home to some of the most stunning lavender fields in the world and one of them happens to be just a few minutes drive away from Hunstanton.
7. Duncansby Head, Scotland
Duncansby Head is the most northeastern point of mainland Britain.
While the nearby John O’Groats has become a tourist hotspot, Duncansby Head remains largely untouched and offers an excellent viewpoint for unrivalled seascape views.
When visiting, make sure you don’t just enjoy the scenery from the comfort of the car park, as here you’ll miss the stunningly unique rock formations which are located just a short walk away.
This includes the stunning ‘Duncansby Stacks’ which guard the cliff face. Believed to have stood in the same position for the last 6,000 years, the Duncansby Stacks have been named one of the best wild and undiscovered gems in the UK countryside.
8. Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire
We’ve all heard of Stonehenge – the world-famous prehistoric monument in Wiltshire. However, it’s so well-known that travellers come from far and wide to visit, so it can become easily crowded.
But what many people don’t know is that Stonehenge has a lesser-known relative siutated just 40 minutes down the road. In fact, Avebury Stone Cricle is actually the world’s largest prehistoric stone circle.
Not only is Avebury larger and often less crowded than Stonehenge, but visitors are also free to explore and touch the stones here free of charge (whereas at Stonehenge, a distance must be kept).
To enhance your visit to this hidden gem, why not also explore Avebury Manor and Gardens and the on site museum?
9. High Bridge Quarter, Newcastle
If you’re looking for a more urban experience, then High Bridge Quarter in Newcastle is a well-kept secret worth exploring.
Tucked away between the city’s townhouses, the cobblestone streets of High Bridge are full of vintage stores and quirky gift shops that many could happily spend an entire day exploring.
However, if shopping isn’t your thing, High Bridge Quarter also offers a world of delicious cuisines, a gin house with an impressive array of options, a contemporary art centre, and a stand up comedy club.
When you’ve finished exploring, you might like to finish your day with a drink in Newcastle’s oldest pub, The Old George. Dating back to the 16th century, Charles I is believed to have been a regular here.
10. Tyneham, South Dorset
Tyneham is known as the place where time stopped in 1943. Before Christmas that year, Tyneham and the surrounding area was evacuated to allow Allied forces to prepare for D-Day landings.
But despite Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s promises, Tyneham was never re-populated and as a result, still has a population of zero today.
The remains of the now crumbling village are open to the public as a unique walking route – with footpaths that wind around the eerie and abandoned buildings.
To find out more about Tyneham’s fascinating history, both the school buildings and church have been restored to feature exhibits that tell its story.
About a one mile walk away, you’ll also find Worbarrow Bay, which is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Due to its remote location, Worbarrow Bay can only be accessed via Tyneham which makes it an ideal location to enjoy a secluded picnic.
11. Cathedral Quarry, Cumbria
Far off the beaten track somewhere in the Lake District lies Cathedral Quarry. Shaped out of rock during a search for slate, Cathedral Quarry is a man-made cave that dates back to the 16th century.
While it’s not particularly well sign-posted, the spectacular views that await are well worth the hunt. The quarry’s main chamber (often referred to as Cathedral Cave) is 40ft tall and pretty remarkable. It features a window-like opening that allows light in to illuminate the cave.
There are also various tunnels to explore inside. Though, remember to bring a torch on your visit – one tunnel is around 400ft long with no lighting!
With no parking at the quarry itself, Cathedral Quarry can only be accessed by foot. And, since it’s open to guests to explore as freely as they like, Cathedral Quarry has no entrance fee, gift shop, cafe, or safety railings.
12. St Martin’s Vineyard, Isles of Scilly
The Isles of Scilly are an untouched, unspoilt archipelago off the Cornish coast in southwest England. Covered in heathland and sandy beaches, the Isles are popularily described as being like nowhere else in England.
With spectacular coastal paths and nature trails, keen walkers are naturally drawn here. One lesser-known attraction of the Isles is St Martin’s Vineyard, which is just a stone’s throw from the sea. Here, five different varieties of wine are produced, and visitors are free to enjoy tours and tasting sessions.
There’s also a woodland walk nearby where you can immerse yourself in the stunning scenery and wildlife.
While the Isles of Scilly are a beautiful place to stay, day trips are also available, which you can find out more about on the Isles of Scilly website.
13. Blakeney Point, Norfolk
Blakeney Point is a National Nature Reserve on the North Norfolk Coast and a must-see hidden gem for any nature or animal lovers.
Offering stunning views of Norfolk’s coastline, Blakeney Point’s four-mile-long stretch protects Blakeney Harbour and the surrounding saltmarches. It’s the ideal environment for many animal species. In the summer the area enjoys displays of terns, and in the winter, crowds of grey seals gather.
To experience Blakeney Point, simply hop on a ferry at Morston Quay and see which animals you can spot!
Along with the classic UK landmarks which thousands of tourists flock to every year to enjoy, there are also plenty of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.
Some of these places are so magical and unique that you’re often left wondering how they could belong on our little island at all.
For further ideas and inspiration about where to go on your next adventure, head over to the travel section of our website. Here you’ll find everything from staycations ideas to long-haul holidays.