Find the best attractions within the UK’s National Parks, according to Google reviews. Understand why they’re so popular and how they create a special experience for those who visit.
There are over 15 National Parks in the UK spread across England, Wales and Scotland. National Parks are protected landscapes based on their unique qualities.
In the late 19th century, campaigns began to build for public access to the countryside. After World War II, the 1945 white paper was produced and the post-war Labour government set up a committee to prepare for legislation in 1949, establishing new National Parks. In 2000, Scotland joined in with the fun, outlining two of its own parks.
What makes National Parks so special?
Aside from the decades of activism to inaugurate National Parks originally, they are significant places in the UK landscape.
Connect with nature
The initial premise for National Parks was to allow the public an opportunity to be in nature without enraging farmers working to keep their livelihood safe.
National Parks offer everyone an opportunity to understand and enjoy the spectacular landscapes afforded to us.
Every National Park has lawful purposes that are driven by their core values; conservation, enhancement, sustainability and enjoyment.
In England, Wales and Scotland the primary goal is to ‘conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage’.
Across all the National Parks there are thousands of miles of public rights of way. More than 800 miles of this is suitable for anyone who might have accessibility issues.
Creating safe ways for everyone regardless of their ability to be able to enjoy our National Parks is critical and something that authorities are constantly trying to improve upon.
Which are the most popular attractions?
Coast & Country Hotel Collection have compiled data from Google reviews to identify the most popular attractions, historic landmarks, hikes/walks and scenic spots in each of the National Parks.
The two National Parks in Scotland cover 7.2% of the country’s land area.
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs national Park
Dedicated to tackling the global climate emergency and nature challenge, this National Park is located in Alexandria. A great location to do water sports, go fishing or hike the fault line between the highlands and lowlands.
The most popular attractions are;
- Sea Life Center (4.1 rating)
- The Devil’s Pulpit (4.7 rating)
- Sweeney’s Cruise Company (4.6 rating)
- Conic Hill (4.8 rating)
- Loch Lomond Faerie Trail (4.5 rating)
Cairngorms National Park
Situated in north east Scotland, Cairngorms covers an area of 2813 square miles. 17,000 people live within the borders of the park and there are 1.5 million visitors per year. Highlights include multiple hiking trails, historical landmarks and a few castles!
The must-sees include;
- Glenmore Forest (4.7 rating)
- Highland Wildlife Park (4.7 rating)
- Balmoral Castle (4.3 rating)
- Landmark Forest Adventure Park (4.6 rating)
- Clava Cairns (4.6 rating)
Yorkshire & North East
There are 3 National Parks in Yorkshire and the North East alone covering a total area of 2896 miles squared between them and attracting 18 million visitors per year.
Northumberland has the most attractions (with 10+ reviews), with 70 attractions overall. This National Park is home to 424 ancient monuments including 1 World Heritage Site. Known for its remote footpaths, this park is a great choice for guided walks, mountain biking, stargazing and wild goat viewing. If you enjoy a good castle, this is the place for you.
- Bamburgh Castle (4.7 rating)
- Alnwick Castle (4.5 rating)
- The Alnwick Garden (4.6 rating)
- Northumberland Coast (AONB) (4.8 rating)
- Cragside National Trust (4.8 rating)
North York Moors
Whether you’re a seasoned rambler or looking to experience the moors on horseback, this park is looking forward to welcoming you. The North York Moors was designated in 1952 and is home to over 23 thousand residents.
Where to stop;
- Castle Howard (4.6 rating)
- Eden Camp Modern History Museum (4.7 rating)
- 199 Steps (4.7 rating)
- Beningbrough Hall National Trust (4.6 rating)
- Helmsley Castle (4.6 rating)
The Yorkshire Dales is infamous for its luscious rolling countryside. Heaven for walkers. There are careful considerations for walks for all abilities including ‘miles without stiles walks’ and shorter walk options.
Other things to look out for include;
- Ingleton Waterfalls Trail (4.7 rating)
- Brimham Rocks National Trust (4.8 rating)
- Malham Cove (4.9 rating)
- Aysgarth Falls (4.7 rating)
- The Forbidden Corner (4.7 rating)
The three National Parks in Wales make up 19.9% of the land area with 2573 miles squared of landscape plus 260 miles of coastline. There are 627 ancient monuments spread out across Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons as well.
Caernarfon Castle in Snowdonia is the most rated attraction in all the National Parks, with 9,955 reviews so it’s no surprise that this comes out on top. Snowdonia is also known for its mountains made mostly of volcanic rich and defined by valleys.
Make time to stop by the following points of interest;
- Caernarfon Castle (4.6 rating)
- Snowdon Peak (4.8 rating)
- Rhaeadr Ewynnol Swallow Falls Waterfall (4.5 rating)
- Penrhyn Castle National Trust (4.7 rating)
- Llanberis Lake Railway (4.5 rating)
This National Park welcomes just over 4 million visitors per year and has 11 conservation areas. Designated in 1957, Brecon Beacons is best known for the rolling hills and the steam train that takes you right to the center of this beautiful park.
The favourite attractions include;
- National Showcaves Centre for Wales (4.6 rating)
- Henrhyd Falls (4.7 rating)
- Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfall (4.9 rating)
- Brecon Mountain Railway (4.4 rating)
- Sgwd Clun-Gwyn Waterfall (4.8 rating)
260 miles of protected coastline since 1952. This National Park has quickly become one of the most popular in the UK because of its dramatic coastal scenes and seaside villages. The only coastal National Park in Britain, it’s well worth spending some time here to truly appreciate the natural beauty on offer.
Top 5 things to do here;
- Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo (4.8 rating)
- Pembroke Castle (4.7 rating)
- Manor Wildlife Park (4.6 rating)
- Blue Lagoon (4.6 rating)
- Cenarth Falls (4.7 rating)
The North West is home to over 1400 square miles of Lake District National Park. Home to Peter Rabbit and one of the most highly rated attractions; South Lakes Safari Zoo. The Lake District is the top National Park alongside the Peak District with 10 4.9 reviews.
Besides the lakes, this National Park is famous for forests and fells. The Lake District also has strong cultural ties with poets such as William Wordsworth and of course with Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin.
With so many great attractions, where should you start?
- South Lakes Safari Zoo (4.3 rating)
- Aira Force Waterfall (4.7 rating)
- Castlerigg Stone Circle (4.6 rating)
- Wray Castle National Trust (4.1 rating)
- Lowther Castle & Gardens (4.6 rating)
Midlands & East Anglia
Spanning across 1081 miles squared of land, the Broads and Peak District National Parks boast an impressive 127 conservation areas between them. The Broads have no attractions with a 4.9 rating but this is made up for by the sheer beauty of the National Park.
The Norfolk and Suffolk Broads
The Broads are made up of previous peat digs. The pits filled with water and were abandoned to later become an idyllic habitat for wildlife and boaters. This National Park is the largest protected wetland in Britain which makes it an exceptional hub for conservation.
What to see in The Broads?
- Wroxham Barns (4.1 rating)
- Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery (4.4 rating)
- Whitlingham Country Park (4.6 rating)
- Bure Valley Railway (4.7 rating)
- Fairhaven Woodland & Water Garden (4.5 rating)
Alongside the Lake District, the Peak District is the most highly rated National Park with 10 reviews of a rating of 4.9. Well known for having the purest mineral water in the world thanks to the natural filtration through hundreds of metres of porous rock.
Top sights in the Peak District include;
- Froggatt Edge (5 rating)
- Baslow Edge (5 rating)
- Mam Tor (4.9 rating)
- Bamford Edge (4.9 rating)
- Back Tor (4.9 rating)
South Coast & Cornwall
Two National Trust Parks are the top rated attractions: ‘Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters’ in South Downs and ‘Dunster Castle and Watermill’ in Exmoor. These 4 National Parks are spread out over 2386 miles squared and collect £652 million pounds in visitor spend per annum.
The New Forest is known for its free roaming animals, in particular the wild ponies and the scenic forest trails as well as the quiet 42 mile long coastline. Infamous for being William the Conqueror’s hunting forest and where King William II was killed by Sir Walter Tyrrell in 1100 AD.
- Moors Valley Country Park & Forest (4.6 rating)
- Lepe Country Park (4.5 rating)
- New Forest Wildlife Park (4.5 rating)
- Longdown Activity Farm (4.6 rating)
- Hurst Castle (4.4 rating)
South Downs Way is the famous 100 mile trek from Winchester to Eastbourne offering over 2000 miles of footpaths waiting to be explored. Also the most populated National Park with 117,000 living within its borders.
The best places to see are;
- Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters (4.7 rating)
- Seven Sisters Country Park (4.8 rating)
- Queen Elizabeth Country Park (4.6 rating)
- Hilton Ampner National Trust (4.5 rating)
- Southwater Country Park (4.5 rating)
At the heart of Dartmoor National Park is the largest open moor in England. Home to 34,000 people and 1058 monuments, this National Park is renowned for its rich history and rare wildlife.
Dartmoor welcomes 2.4 million visitors every year, where do they think the best places to see are?
- Dartmoor (4.4 rating)
- Kents Cavern Prehistoric Caves (4.7 rating)
- Canonteign Falls (4.7 rating)
- Haytor Rocks Dartmoor (4.8 rating)
- Becky Falls Ancient Woodland Park (4.5 rating)
Notorious for its wild deer and ponies, dramatic coastline and heather moorland. Exmoor National Park is believed to be the most extensive broadleaved coastal woods in Britain. A top choice for walkers especially, this National Park has loads to show off about.
Top 5 attractions;
- Dunster Castle & Watermill (4.7 rating)
- Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway (4.7)
- Exmoor Zoological and Conservation Centre (4.5 rating)
- Valley of Rocks (4.9 rating)
- Arlington Court National Trust (4.6 rating)
36.4% of Britain is National Parks working towards conserving the environment and offering us all an escape back to nature. Each with its unique characteristics and attractions, there is something for everyone when you visit a National Park.
Which one will you visit next?