Hay Tor Dartmoor

Best National Parks to Visit in 2023

From the Highlands of Scotland to the wilds of Wales and sweeping moorland across England, each National Park has a landscape that makes it unique.

But which are the best to visit? Here are our picks of the top National Parks to visit in the UK in 2023.


Best National Parks To Visit In 2023

Most of the UK’s National Parks are in England, but there are some in Wales and Scotland too that offer incredible scenery, rare glimpses of wildlife, and miles of unspoiled countryside. Start exploring the UK’s National Parks yourself, starting with the best 10 to visit in 2023.


1. Peak District

Offering real diversity in its natural scenery, the Peak District provides walkers, cyclists, rock climbers and hikers with refreshing variety. Tackle the limestone of the White Peak or explore the sandstone and peat environment of the Dark Peak’s moorland.

Either way, your visit will be filled with wildlife and wildflower spotting potential, a number of majestic stately homes and manor houses, cavern tours, gorges and reservoirs, nature reserves and the famous scenery from atop Mam Tor. Stretching across Derbyshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, and South and West Yorkshire, this National Park has an abundance of scenery.


2. Lake District

As the largest National Park in England, the Lake District, is famous for one thing – its 16 lakes, meres or tarns. Each beautiful body of water has its own draw or unique selling point, meaning there’ll be a choice for every kind of traveller. You can head off the beaten path and pick a peaceful spot for a swim and a picnic, aim to cycle around the largest lakes and walk around the smallest, or enjoy afternoon tea and a boat ride at the most popular places.

Lakes aren’t all there is to this beloved destination in Cumbria, however, as you can also scale the famous Scafell Pike, wander along rivers and streams, visit the poet William Wordsworth’s former home and enjoy a vibrant local scene full of independent shops and restaurants.

Kielder National Park in Northumberland

3. Northumberland

The North East of England is enjoying a surge of popularity as a getaway destination and it’s not difficult to see why. Northumberland National Park is the jewel in the county’s crown and encompasses the rolling hills that lay between England and Scotland, as well as beautiful and untouched moorland, forests, waterfalls and, of course, part of the historic Hadrian’s Wall.

Northumberland is also a great place to look up at night and try to spot the stars, thanks to its status as a Dark Sky Park. This may have something to do with Northumberland being one of the least populated parks, and its peacefulness is part of the appeal.

Llyn Llydaw and Mount Snowdon

4. Snowdonia

Snowdonia National Park is one of the best things to see while in Wales. As well as the chance to climb the towering and iconic Mount Snowdon itself, a trip to this National Park will include the opportunity to visit castles, lesser known mountain summits, pristine lakes, verdant forest, a number of waterfalls, and even a beach.

When you’d like a break from all the hiking and cycling, there’s even a railway with a vintage steam train that sails through the scenery, and plenty of local towns to provide a slice of Welsh culture.

River in Cairngorms, Scotland

5. Cairngorms

Scotland is home to the Cairngorms – which just happens to be the largest National Park in the whole of the UK. This means you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to scenery and things to do. At its heart is, of course, the sprawling mountain range of the same name, as well as a number of other hill ranges that will thrill walkers and even skiers and snowboarders in the winter.

For something a little bit different, you can also visit the Highland Wildlife Park, a folk museum, whisky distilleries, and – yes – the Caringorms is also home to Balmoral Castle, a very royal residence.

Yorkshire Dales

6. Yorkshire Dales

The first of two National Parks in Yorkshirethe Dales is part of the central Pennines and best known for its deep valleys, rolling green hills and distinctive dry stone walls. You’ll also find many a welcoming town or village full of markets, fresh produce and tearooms, to explore.

Whatever types of activities you enjoy, you’re sure to find plenty to keep you occupied here. From the spectacular Ingleton Waterfalls Trail and Aysgarth Falls to the unique rock formation of Malham Cove and the mysterious Forbidden Corner gardens, the Yorkshire Dales are full of intriguing walking trails and scenic spots.

View over the hills in North York Moors

7. North York Moors

The second of Yorkshire’s prized national parks is the North York Moors. From the name alone, you’ll know to expect a large expanse of moody but memorable moorland. However, what’s surprising is that visitors can also enjoy dense forest, memorable archaeological sites, an Iron Age fort, and traditional seaside spots as part of their trip to this national park.

Once you’ve had your fill of walking the peaks and the parks, hop on a heritage steam train to view the moors from a different perspective. When you’re ready to break out the bikes, choose the trails in Dalby Forest, before hitting the coastline for walks along the cliffs and some beach time in Whitby – where you’ll also see the ruins of Whitby Abbey, made famous by a certain literary vampire.

A windmill in Norfolk Broads

8. The Broads

A National Park with a difference, The Broads is Britain’s largest protected wetland. Stretching across Suffolk and Norfolk, the area is filled with rivers, lakes, marshes and fens, which makes it an aquatic habit for rare flora, fauna and wildlife. You can choose to stay close to any of its six rivers and, unsurprisingly, take to the waters yourself via a rented boat, canoe or kayak.

If sailing isn’t your style, you canals opt for birdwatching or walks through the carefully preserved nature reserves – and there are plenty of trails of all kinds for hikers and cyclists, too.

Seven Sisters chalk cliffs by the sea

9. South Downs

Fairly new, as National Parks go, the South Downs is a collection of mainly chalk and sandstone hills with around 120 million years of heritage, as well as 165 conservation areas. Located across East Sussex, West Sussex and Hampshire, the park includes a variety of forest, hill and clifftop landscapes.

The bright white chalk of the Seven Sisters cliffs, the twisted and ancient trees of the Kingley Vale forest and grassland, and the wilderness walking trails of Blackdown Hill, are great places to start your journey.

Hay Tor Dartmoor

10. Dartmoor

Almost half of Devon’s Dartmoor is moorland, but there are also forests, rivers and wetlands aplenty too. A mix of woodland, parkland, moorland and waterfalls makes this a magical destination and one all the family will enjoy. The South West may be best known for its beaches, but this National Park is well worth the visit.

Among the famous sites to see are the Tors – craggy rock outcrops that attract walkers seeking the best views, as well as the wild Dartmoor ponies. A number of quaint and cosy towns also dot the landscape, ready and welcoming to visitors with local cream teas and shopping opportunities, to help you refuel after all the walking.

What Is A National Park?

In the UK a National Park is a protected area of the countryside. They are government-funded to help conserve our natural landscape and wildlife, all while allowing the public to enjoy green and open spaces.

How Many National Parks Are There In The UK?

In total, there are 15 National Parks in the UK. 10 in England, 3 in Wales, and 2 in Scotland.

England – Broads, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, South Downs, and Yorkshire Dales
Wales – Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast, and Snowdonia
Scotland – Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs

How Big Are The UK’s National Parks?

National parks cover around 1400km, which equates to around 10% of England, 20% of Wales, and 8% of Scotland. Visit National Parks UK to start exploring.

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