19 Top-Rated English Towns

19 Top-Rated English Towns

It’s not easy picking England’s greatest tiny towns. This lush countryside is bursting with charming settlements that tourists can’t pick between.

These charming tiny towns’ breathtaking settings have inspired innumerable paintings, poetry, and books, as well as filled many a phone’s photo storage.

From mediaeval seaside villages to Cotswold charm towns, England knows how to do quaint. Beautifully twisted houses, thatched roof dwellings, gurgling brooks, and gardens fashioned by fairies abound. No surprise England is a popular tourist destination.

Our list of England’s top tiny towns stretches from coast to coast. Your traveler’s appetite will be whetted by each gorgeous town. Maybe you’ll even see a fairy.

Discover England’s most charming tiny towns with our list.

1. Castle Combe

Visiting Castle Combe is like stepping back in time or into a book.

No one can deny it is “England’s finest town.” Castle Combe, with its honey-colored Cotswold stone homes and tiny flower-lined lanes, is one of the loveliest settlements in the Cotswolds.

This mediaeval town is full of beauty. A beautiful snapshot of the town’s antique water pump, stone market cross, or St. Andrew’s Church is never in short supply. The faceless mediaeval Castle Combe Clock is featured in the chapel.

Expect no big box stores, billboards, or tourist traps here. This absence of overt commercialism is part of what makes this one of England’s best little towns.

Visit the makeshift markets put up outside people’s houses for fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and baked items. Also, eat at one of the town’s eateries. The White Hart has been serving classic English meals since the 14th century. On a lovely day, eat outside at a picnic table.

Castle Combe’s sole flaw? Nothing to fear. This hidden gem has become a tourist hotspot due to its frequent use in movies and TV series (such as Steven Spielberg’s War Horse). If you want a calmer experience, come early or off-season.

2. Painswick (Gloucs

Ever wished to live in a story? Painswick. Even cynics will be amazed by the St. Mary’s churchyard. There are 99 magnificent yew trees on the grounds (tradition has it the 100th won’t grow). “Queen of the Cotswolds” for a reason.

Search the church tower for traces of the Civil War. The tombs date from the 1700s. Stay for the service; the villagers are kind and inviting, with wonderful stories (and perhaps tea and cakes) to tell.

Then get lost in the narrow streets surrounded with traditional English houses. Houses here, like Castle Combe, are Cotswold stone. Donkey doors on Bisley Street are relics of Painswick’s past as a wool town.

Aside from the lovely gardens, Rococo Gardens offers spectacular views of the countryside. It’s just outside of town, but more than worthy of a visit.

Bonus: If you’re prepared for a lengthy trek, Painswick is on the Costwold Way trail. Running from Chipping Camden to Bath, this famed walk covers 100 miles in length.

3. Rye, East Sussex

It’s impossible to get bored of wandering through cobblestone streets, especially when they’re dotted by wonderfully crooked buildings. An hour and a half west of the key tourist sites in Brighton, Rye is both calm and scenic.

This fortified hilltop village gives amazing landscape and river views to everyone who visit. It’s easy to understand why this lovely community topped our list of the greatest little towns in England.

Start your sightseeing trip on Mermaid Street, making care to take in the 15th-century timber-framed homes. Make a game out of finding the one with the most distinctive name-like “The House with Two Front Doors.”

Wander through one of many secret corridors before making your way to Simon the Pieman for the most exquisite scone (with cream and jam, of course) (with cream and jam, of course).

The Mermaid Inn is the street’s most renowned historic structure, and one of the oldest inns in England, not to mention one of the greatest hotels in Rye.

 Dating back 600 years, this unusual site was restored in 1420 and has a charming restaurant. Don’t worry, it’s also home to contemporary facilities.

Next, you’ll want to take in the stores. Peppered with a few chain businesses, Rye is best renowned for its vintage and eccentric shops selling anything from books to antiques.

Tip: The finest position to appreciate the view is St. Mary’s church tower. From here, you can properly appreciate the terra-cotta roofs of the buildings below.

4. Windsor, Berkshire

While it garnered increased prominence as the royal wedding location for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (and as the setting for their first photo with newborn Archie), Windsor has been a popular tourist destination for generations.

 The major reason people come to this best little town in England? Windsor Castle. The biggest inhabited castle in the world, this also serves as a weekend and vacation house for the Queen.

This royal house lies on a hill and is home to the historic St. George’s church. To get to there, you must stroll along a lovely, twisting street lined with stores. Delicious fudge may be obtained here, so delve inside the stores and sample a bite. Be prepared to wait in line when you approach the castle, since the security and check-in formalities take a long.

England is widely recognised for its gorgeous gardens (there has to be a positive to all that rain) (there has to be an upside to all that rain).

Windsor won’t disappoint. In addition to the wonderful castle grounds, the town features Windsor Great Park. Head south from the castle, and you’ll be rewarded by the Long Walk (2.65 miles and 5,000 acres) surrounded by woods.

Inside, you’ll find Saville Garden. Opened in 1951, the centrepiece is a rose garden best observed from an elevated promenade.

Things to do nearby include Legoland (a favourite location for ride-loving families) and the Ascot racetrack.

5. Clovelly, Devon

The beauty of this beautiful tiny village is beyond description. Cobbled, twisting pathways are surrounded with white homes covered with flowers.

They simply ooze charm. The settlement is situated into a 400-foot cliff in North Devon, the bottom of which finishes at a historic harbour. Built in the 14th century, the port is being utilised today.

The best part? Tourists don’t have to avoid automobiles when touring this heart-warming tiny English village, instead, they’ll have to make way for donkeys and sleds – no vehicles are permitted.

Staying the night in this serene, tranquil hideaway is a necessity for anyone wishing to unwind. Plus, if you stay in the town, your tiny admission charge is often waved.

The charge covers parking, a short video on the town’s history, two museums (Kingsley museum and Fisherman’s Cottage), and entry to the Clovelly Court Gardens.

Tip: The streets demand a steep climb, which might be unpleasant for some, but the view from the summit is worth the slightly laborious walk.

6. St. Ives, Cornwall

This lovely beach town was previously a fishing community. Over the years, though, it has grown famous as a popular beach resort.

With its perfect harbour and pristine, smooth, sandy beaches, St. Ives has garnered several honours -“Best Seaside Town,” “Best Family Holiday Destination,” and one of the “Top 10 European beaches.”

Narrow, meandering cobblestone alleyways add the charm quotient, as do the fishermen’s homes and eccentric businesses.

A fantastic site for water-lovers and sun-worshippers, this Cornwall hot spot has protected bays for convenient swimming. Grab a surfboard and ride the waves at Porthmeor beach, and hire a windsurfer or try your hand (or feet) at waterskiing.

Not a swimmer? Head out for a stroll along the shore. Make time to visit the Tate St. Ives, a stunning art gallery with views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Tip: St. Ives is a favourite holiday area for the Brits, so make sure to book a hotel well in advance, especially if you want to travel during the more popular summer months.

7. Warwick, Warwickshire

History abounds in this charming village beside the River Avon. Start with a visit to Charlecote Park, the grand Victorian mansion of the Lucy family. In addition to strolling the huge grounds, leave aside time to examine rooms that are available to the public – the library is a favourite.

Next, you’ll want to arrange time for Warwick Castle — an illustration of what might happen if Disney and the Knights of the Roundtable had a baby.

The castle has the exquisite charm of all English castles, with the addition of being exceedingly well kept.

Families will adore its links to the Horrible Histories franchise, which allows youngsters to navigate through a maze filled with interactive activities that help them journey through time – from the Vicious Vikings to the Vile Victorians.

Also located on these exciting grounds are, a princess tower, castle dungeon, and the ever famous Falconer’s Quest, a stunning birds of prey display.

Lord Leycester Hospital is another don’t-miss attraction. A living museum (the term is derived from “hospitality,” not “hospital”), this lovely edifice is home to ex-service personnel/brethren who function as guides. It’s less pricey than Warwick Castle and features a tearoom with excellent food.

Fun fact: Warwick Castle provides glamping on its grounds, with exclusive early castle access for its guests and “knight school” in the evening. You’ll sleep in a comfy bed within a huge canvas tent and feast in a mediaeval banqueting hall.

8. Lyndhurst, Hampshire

Nestled in the middle of England’s New Forest, Lyndhurst is definitely a hidden treasure, and unquestionably one of the nicest tiny towns in England.

It was founded as a royal hunting park by William the Conqueror in 1079. Today, it’s an excellent base for individuals who’d prefer to spend the night in The New Forest without having to do so in a tent.

Whether you’re a fan of biking, jogging, or strolling, Lyndhurst gives access to several routes through the forest. Look careful for the wild animals-cows, sheep, and horses wander free in this region.

In town, you’ll discover various tiny eateries and odd stores. Tasty Pastries offers fresh baked delicacies and Cornish pastries, while the quaint Peggy May’s café gives a genuine English experience.

The Forest Cream Tea, replete with two fresh scones, clotted cream, and a pot of tea, tops the list.

Don’t miss St. Michael and All Angels, Lyndhurst’s Parish Church. The stained-glass windows are lovely, but most tourists visit the churchyard in search of a grave.

 Alice Hargreaves, best known as the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, is buried here.

The Crown Manor House Hotel is one of the best hotels in Lyndhurst. Set in the centre of town, its location is ideal, but this 15th-century charmer is so tranquil and cosy, you’ll be happy you chose it for your romantic, countryside getaway.

9. Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

Home to the famous Henley Royal Regatta (a boat race in early July that brings in thousands of visitors), this beautiful spot was established as a market town in the 12th century. Walking the Thames Path National Trail is a must. It runs from Marsh Lock to Hambleden Lock.

Not a fan of walking? Rent a canoe instead and get out on Henley’s main attraction-the water. Henley’s River & Rowing Museum has been voted one of the world’s 50 best museums (by The Times) (by The Times). It focuses on the river and rowing as an international sport.

A visit to Grey’s Court is always enjoyable. Although small, this National Trust house is worth a look-see, especially in the spring, when the garden’s bluebells and wisteria are in bloom.

Make time for a respite at Chocolate Café, a local hot spot known for – you guessed it – chocolate treats. The hot chocolate, in particular, is a must-try. It’s best enjoyed sipped slowly while taking in the river view.

10. Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire

No trip to the Cotswolds is complete without a trip to its stellar small town, Bourton-on-the-Water. Peppered with low, arched stone bridges that cross the River Windrush, it has been dubbed the “Venice of the Cotswolds.”

The high street is packed with quirky shops selling everything from antiques to tea cups to sportswear. It’s also bursting with restaurants – Green & Pleasant has delectable sandwiches and lemon pie, plus gluten-free options.

The Cotswold Motoring Museum is a must for car lovers. Clever, simple, and funny descriptions make learning about classic automobiles a delight. It’s much bigger than it seems from the outside, so plan for at least an hour (or two) here.

The Dragonfly Maze is a fun way to spend an afternoon. Solve the clues (and get through the maze) to find the dragonfly – don’t worry, the lovely lady in charge will help when you get stuck.

Bird lovers, prepare yourselves for Birdland. Over 500 of our winged friends call this nine-acre gardens and woodlands home. Spend time getting to know the flamingoes over a “cuppa” at the Flamingo Point Café.

11. Avebury, Wiltshire

Many argue that Avebury’s henge and stone circles are more enjoyable to visit than the over-crowded (and roped-off) Stonehenge.

Built sometime between 2850 and 2200 BC, this henge encircles part of Avebury village. This National Trust site also contains the largest stone circle in Britain.

Wear appropriate footwear to get up close and personal with the impressive stones, as it is often muddy and slippery. There’s no real need to stay overnight, as the village is tiny and sits an hour from the larger Salisbury, best known for Salisbury Cathedral, which houses the Magna Carta.

While driving, watch out for the white, chalk horse on White Horse Hill near Uffington. Nearby Silbury Hill is also worth a stop if you’re travelling on the A4, but it can’t be climbed.

12. Dedham, Essex

This sweet town inspired the work of Britain’s greatest landscape artist, John Constable. Once you visit, you’ll understand why. Spotted with Georgian-fronted town homes, Dedham is idyllic. The surrounding countryside transports visitors to a place of calm and tranquilly.

Perhaps the most well-loved aspect of this area are the water meadows, which beckon to artists, photographers, walkers, and others who love to spend time outdoors.

Castle House is home to the Munnings Art Museum, featuring work from another local artist-horse painter Sir Alfred Munnings. He, too, appreciated the area’s beauty.

Take a boat trip along the River Stour to nearby Flatford Mill. While here, spend time at the John Contstable Exhibition in Bridge Cottage and walk in his footsteps through the local countryside.

13. Alfriston, East Sussex

Tourists flock to the South Downs National Park year-round. With over 1,600 kilometres of rolling hills, ancient woods, and picturesque landscapes, it’s easy to see why. The white cliffs of the Seven Sisters are another of the park’s main draws.

With so much land to cover, tourists often search for a place to find respite. Nearby Alfriston is the perfect spot. Bursting with quaint boutiques, cafés, and galleries, there’s something for everyone to love in this small town.

The Cathedral of the South Downs (a.k.a. St. Andrews Church) is not to be missed. Built in 1360, it sits on the edge of the village green (Tye) right by the river Cuckmere.

Built in the shape of a cross, it’s also home to the Alfriston Clergy House, a Wealden hall-house with a thatched roof and timber frame. It’s only open between March and December, so be sure to time your visit.

Tip: Don’t miss the old, and thankfully disarmed, Alfriston mine. It washed up at the River Cuckmere in 1943 and was placed on the green in hopes of inspiring visitors to “spare a coin in grateful thanks that Alfriston is not just another ruin, which would have been the case had the mine exploded.”

14. Whitstable, Kent

This small seaside town is a perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. You won’t need a whole day here, so book a hotel in nearby Canterbury, which is a mere five miles away.

Whitstable is best known for its colourful houses and fishermen’s shacks. Walking along the shore will bring you face to bow with a bevvy of boats awaiting their next catch.

You’ll love wandering through the lively Whitstable Harbour. On a warm, sunny day, it’s packed with bathing suit-clad tourists enjoying 99s (English soft-serve vanilla ice-cream) (English soft-serve vanilla ice-cream).

Colorful beach sheds line the harbour, selling everything from baby clothes to jams to inflatable rafts. Seafood is maybe the best reason to visit this seaside treasure. After all, it’s actually being served fresh off the boat.

Tankerton Slopes is a grassy area with a trail leading to Herne Bay. Tankerton Beach is a lovely shingled beach best experienced barefoot.

15.Burford, Oxon

Our favourite tiny towns in England are all Cotswold gems. This charming town is 30 km west of Oxford. There are Georgian mansions, thatched roof dwellings, and Cotswold stone cottages.

The town’s main street has unique boutiques, tearooms, inns, and restaurants. A beautiful view of the River Windrush may be had from here. Visit St. John the Baptist Church while in town. Over 100,000 people visit this sacred site erected between 1175 and 1500.

Visit the adjacent Costwold Wildlife Park & Gardens if you have kids, or even if you don’t. In the 160 acres of parkland, you may see giraffes, porcupines, and lions.

16. Bibury (Gloucs

Bibury, a 15-minute drive northeast of Cirencester, the “Capital of the Costwolds,” It’s easy to understand why this little hamlet has been labelled “the most beautiful village in England.”

Arlington Row is Bibury’s main tourist attraction. Beautiful 14th century weavers’ cottages have been photographed ad nauseam. This is one of England’s most famous streets. It’s even on the UK passport.

At Bibury Trout Farm, you can catch your own trout.

Visit early in the morning to avoid crowds. Bibury, one of the Cotswolds’ most popular villages, may grow crowded in the spring and summer.

17.Shaftesbury

Shaftesbury has thatched-roofed houses, lovely tea shops, and cobblestone alleyways, with a hilltop outlook of the beautiful Blackmore Vale.

While this charming English town requires some hill climbing to explore, the breathtaking views are worth the effort. You’ll be so taken by the charming stone cottages that you won’t notice the incline.

Shaftesbury’s most notable landmark is Gold Hill. An historic stone wall from Shaftesbury Abbey lines one side of this attractive cobbled roadway.

There are eight galleries distributed between two buildings, one of which was once the priest’s residence and the other a market trader’s lodge.

The Grosvenor Arms is Shaftesbury’s best hotel. This renovated inn elegantly blends old beauty with modern conveniences. With only 16 rooms, you can expect peace and quiet.

18. Lavenham

Lavenham’s vibrant streets can’t be disliked. This ancient wool town is now one of England’s loveliest little towns. Pastel-hued timber-framed cottages enliven a dismal English day in this charming hamlet.

A charming village with many old structures dating from the 15th century. The 1530 Guildhall (or Guildhall of Corpus Christi) is one of Lavensham’s finest attractions.

This 500-year-old timber-framed masterpiece oozes history. It has been a church, jail, and workhouse over the years. It is now a museum displaying artefacts from the town’s fascinating past.

19. Chipping Campden

Chipping Campden is a large and lively Cotswold hamlet. Even so, it’s a little town in England. Chipping Campden was once a thriving market town, and now its distinctive stone marketplace reminds everyone of its wool trade prowess.

Visitors may enjoy a leisurely stroll through the old streets that lead from the marketplace. A superb (and precisely warmed) cup of tea is available at both Badgers Hall and The Bantam Tea Rooms.

Top attraction in Chipping Campden: Court Barn Museum of Craft & Design. Visitors learn about the town’s history inside its walls. Robert Welch and David Mellor’s award-winning silverware designs in the late 1950s.

Visit the adjacent Hill Barn Farm, just outside of Snowshill. This enormous family farm is home to over 500,000 Cotswold Lavender plants. The greatest time to see (and smell) these beauties is mid-July.


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