Stunning British countryside that surrounds cities

Tuesday 01 September 2020
Clifton Suspension Bridge with hot air balloons

Providing the opportunity for visitors to discover cultural gems in the morning, before strolling across rolling hills and through rich autumnal woodland in the afternoon, Britain offers a delightful combination of urban and outdoor spaces. Arriving at many of the main flight hubs allows visitors to mix the hustle and bustle of city life with the peace and tranquillity of Britain’s rolling hills and striking outdoor landscapes too, meaning they can plan their trip as their mood takes them.

For those looking to do more than simply wander Britain’s magical city streets and delve into its heritage and history, all of these easily accessible lush green countryside spaces provide an awe-inspiring alternative…


London and beyond

A buzzing capital city, London is bursting with world-famous landmarks and bucket-list worthy things to do. Visitors can book to explore unmissable attractions such as the London Eye and the Tower of London, or uncover Royal hotspots and world-famous galleries before indulging in the capital’s stylish shopping streets.

Those wanting to mix up their city break with a taste of the countryside can visit the nearby Colne Valley Regional Park, full of bluebell trails, vast woodland, babbling rivers and tranquil lakes – and all just a stone’s throw from Uxbridge, west London.

Alternatively, nature-loving visitors can take a 40-minute train ride from central London to soak up the rolling countryside scenery, traditional local pubs and ancient villages of the Chiltern Hills. Meanwhile the charms of the 4,800 acre Windsor Great Park are less than an hour by train from the city centre. Awash with woodland and forests that glow red and golden through the autumn months, the park is home to horticultural gems, historic monuments and The Savill Garden, a stunning ornamental garden built in the 1930s.


Oxford’s extras

With charming architecture and a rich scholarly history to boot, Oxford is a city full of unforgettable moments. Known as the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’, visitors can marvel at the majestic university buildings and wander under the famous Bridge of Sighs, with other nearby gems including the World Heritage Site at Blenheim Palace and shoppers’ paradise, Bicester Village.

A short distance from the bustle of the city centre, visitors can find grass-scented serenity within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Full of lush green countryside, the region is peppered with windmills, forests and canals, as well as historic sites including Highclere Castle, better known as Downton Abbey!

Alternatively, to the west of Oxford is the Cotswolds, home to some of the quaintest traditional villages in Britain. This picturesque region packed with honey-coloured stone houses and market towns covers more than 800 square miles, and provides a rich array food and drink come the autumn.


Close to Cambridge

A city of architecture, history and romance, Cambridge offers visitors the chance to discover the medieval university grounds, the perfectly punt-able River Cam and curiosity-inducing Fitzwilliam Museum.

Under an hour by car or train from the Hogwarts-esque university city, those wanting to soak up some of Britain’s quieter, yet similarly charming, gems can visit Bury St Edmunds. From the historic Abbey ruins and St Edmundsbury Cathedral to Britain’s smallest pub, this hidden gem offers a slice of heritage away from the crowds.

Alternatively, travel just a few miles north of Cambridge and visitors can enjoy the woodland, lakes and delightful cycle paths at Milton Country Park, an outdoor haven that glows golden red come autumn.


Brighton's coastal delights

Moving down to the coastal charm and quirky individualism of the south coast, the city of Brighton boasts a plethora of outstanding attractions – from the dizzy heights of the British Airways i360 and the panoramic sea views on offer to the iconic pier and quirky shopping district known as The Lanes.

Those wanting to mix up their city break with a taste of refreshing countryside can hop over to Devil’s Dyke, nestled along the South Downs Way, just five miles from the city centre. As the largest dry valley in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, visitors can soak up the rolling hills and resplendent beauty of this part of the South Downs National Park.

Alternatively, venture just over an hour’s drive from Brighton’s coast to get to the heart of High Weald, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is home to stunning countryside, as well as numerous vineyards that are harvested in October and November.


Bristol to bluebells

A vibrant hub of creative energy, visitors to the south-western city of Bristol can soak up the atmosphere of its cobbled streets, music-filled pubs and marine-side eateries. Must-see experiences include taking in views from the Clifton Suspension Bridge, seeing real Banksy artworks, wandering the decks of the historic SS Great Britain and exploring the M Shed, a museum chock-full of local history.

But a taste of the countryside can be found a stone’s throw from these must-sees – including the tempting green space of Leigh Woods National Nature Reserve, easily spied from the top of the famous suspension bridge. Mixing city views with bluebell carpets and rich woodland nestled above the dramatic Avon gorge, this expansive green space transforms to an unforgettable golden hue each autumn, and offers a slice of tranquillity in the heart of the city.

Skip to the east and nature-hungry visitors can explore the stunning south Cotswolds area – home to the bountiful botanical collection at Westonbirt Arboretum. Alternatively, travel less than 20 miles south of the buzzing city to discover the dramatic natural beauty of Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip Hills. An awe-inspiring 400 feet deep and three miles long, the expansive Cheddar Gorge showcases Britain’s outstanding natural beauty while taking visitors on an unforgettable scenic journey.


Soak up Edinburgh

Those wanting to plan a Scottish escape mixing both city and countryside can start in the capital city of Edinburgh. After booking tickets to the unmissable Edinburgh Castle, walking through the historic Royal Mile and sparking their curiosity at the National Museum of Scotland, visitors can feel their everyday stresses melt away as they discover the nearby natural beauty spots.

One such outdoor gem is the short, sharp walk up to the dizzy heights of Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, where vista-chasers can experience expansive, dazzling views over the city from more than 250 metres above sea level.

Just a few miles from Edinburgh’s city lights, visitors can lose themselves while exploring the epic 24,000-acre Pentland Hills Regional Park, complete with 100km of walking paths and an abundance of wildlife. Four family-friendly short circular hiking trails guide visitors through the captivating hills, while there are plenty of unmarked trails for those keen to explore at their own pace.


Different attractions will have varied measures in place. Visitors are encouraged to check all location, attraction and event websites before travelling, so they can explore Britain with confidence.

For more information contact:

VisitBritain Media Team

Assets to download

Download images in this article

Visit website

Download DOC version of this article