To reveal the most underrated places in the UK, Rough Guides have partnered with Reddit, the online community which revolves around passionate participants sharing their top tips on everything from short-haul travel to fitness. In this case, it’s the perfect partnership - the trusted voice of Redditors partnered with Rough Guides’ unmatched knowledge about not only the world’s most far-flung corners, but destinations closer to home.
On this occasion, we’ve joined forces with Reddit in order to highlight fantastic UK destinations which often slip under travellers’ radars. So why take this approach? Because we believe that the best insights into destinations come from the people who’ve been there and got the t-shirt and - in this case - are Redditors keen to share their passion for the often-overlooked corners of the UK they’ve discovered.
A largely rural county which often lies under the radar, Bedfordshire is a region filled with historic sites, museums and beautiful towns. The area has strong ties to the military, and the Shuttleworth Collection in Biggleswade has a large collection of military aircraft, including a Spitfire from 1942.
One of our other favourite Bedfordshire spots is Wrest Park, a nineteenth-century country house with chateau-inspired architecture which makes the Loire’s royal palaces look rather plain. We recommend going mid-week if you can – Wrest Park (thankfully) receives far fewer visitors than stately homes such as Blenheim Palace or Highclere Castle, although visitor numbers have increased by 12 per cent since 2019, and weekends are the busiest periods.
Other historic sites in Bedfordshire include the fully-restored Stevington windmill, which was built in the 1700s, and the Ridgmont Station Heritage Centre – an explosion of gothic opulence built in 1846 on the orders of the seventh Duke of Bedford.
Full disclosure – the Scottish Highlands might be one of the UK’s most popular destinations, but its sheer size (it covers two thirds of Scotland), means that there are still plenty of crowd-free areas to explore – as well as plenty of remote corners perfect for anyone seeking some alone time. One example is the Corrour Estate, which won recently won over this Redditor.
Love a castle? The highlands have more than their fair share, including one of the oldest ones in the UK. For sheer opulence, it’s got to be Dunrobin Castle, which is one of the UK’s oldest continuously inhabited castles, and which is famous for its twisting spires and sheer size. This spectacular country pile, which has 189 rooms, was designed by Sir Charles Barry, the architect behind London’s Houses of Parliament.
The Scottish Highlands also have some fantastic, crowd-free beaches. Finding space to lay out your beach towel won’t be a problem at places such as Lochinver Beach, which was recently the setting for a trip down memory lane by a Redditor who’d fallen in love with the beach as a child.
We’re also huge fans of Sandwood Bay, a golden stretch of sand in the northern Highlands, and the beaches on St Ninian’s – a Shetland Island which bears more than a passing resemblance to some of our favourite Caribbean destinations.
Love the great outdoors? Wild Camping is legal in Scotland – check out one Redditor’s account of her experience to find out why a spot of wild camping should be on your radar.
We’ve already covered the Scottish Highlands, but there’s another Scottish destination truly worthy of a spot on this list: the Orkney Islands, which recently bagged one of the top spots on Rough Guides’ list of the most beautiful places in Scotland.
Mainland Orkney has two main hubs – the historic port of Stromness and the town of Kirkwall, which is connected to several of the southern Orkney Islands by a causeway, which makes it wonderfully easy to explore further afield.
These southern islands are a great place to start if you’re visiting for the first time. South Ronaldsay has a gorgeous coastline and a large number of prehistoric sites (our favourite of which is the chambered tomb of Maes Howe), while Hoy is famous for its seabird-dotted cliffs (the highest in Scotland) and dramatically barren landscape.
All too often visitors to the Orkney Islands view destinations such as Kirkwall as mere arrival points, but do so and you’ll miss some of the region’s best bits. Kirkwall’s red sandstone St Magnus Cathedral dates back to the 1100s, for example, while Stromness is filled with quaint fishermen’s cottages.
For a fantastic first person account of a visit to the islands, check out this Redditor’s reflection on her week-long exploration of the region, as well as this Redditor’s explanation of why it’s a perfect destination for history buffs:
Pembrokeshire is a wonderfully diverse region which is known for its stunning coastline – a fabulously rugged strip of beaches, wind-bashed cliffs and coastal wildlife reserves. It’s a place which puts many of Europe’s most popular destinations to shame, but don’t take our word for it – read this Redditor’s account of her recent visit.
The popularity of Pembrokeshire’s larger beaches means that finding a deserted stretch of sand can be tricky during busier periods, which is precisely why we suggest seeking out Pembrokeshire’s smallest bays, some of which are only accessible on foot, or via twisting country lanes.
We guarantee it's worth the effort. Do so and you’ll discover places such as Penally, with its beautiful beach and tiny, sheltered coves, and St Govan’s chapel, which clings to a cliffside high above the thrashing waves.
Don’t overlook the town of Pembroke, either – there’s a beautiful castle to explore and it’s just a short drive from Lampley Bishop's Palace – the ruins of a former medieval retreat. Make sure you take the time to explore its towns. Tenby, which dates back to the thirteenth century, recently won over this Redditor.
A 30-kilometre finger of land carved from sandstone and limestone, Gower (or Gŵyr, as it’s written on many of the area’s signposts) has a wonderful remoteness which belies its easily accessible location, just to the west of Swansea – and it was an absolute hit with one particular Redditor, who fell for its food scene, easy access and fantastic walking trails.
It’s a place which combines the best of both worlds – tangles of wildflower-fringed country lanes weave between tiny villages, but you'll also find some of Wales’ best restaurants.
In recent years, the Gower has rightfully earned a reputation as Wales’ culinary capital, and one where you’ll find everything from gastropubs to fine dining restaurants. We suggest stopping by Oxwich’s Beach House, where the innovative menu pays tribute to local ingredients.
The abundance of fantastic restaurants, pubs and cafes is rather apt, considering how easy it is to work up an appetite here – explore the Gower’s sweeping bays and vertiginous coastal pathways and you’ll soon be craving some traditional Welsh grub.
Don’t be surprised to stumble on a prehistoric ruin or two either, whether it’s the foundations of a twelfth-century church or the ruins of a clifftop castle. However, there’s no denying that the beaches are the stars of the show here.
One of the peninsula’s most beautiful stretches of sand is Rhossili Bay, although it can quickly become crowded on warmer days. The good news? There’s no shortage of other stunning beaches, many of which are perfect for adrenaline junkies. One example is Three Cliffs Bay, which isn’t just a brilliant destination for a breezy coastal walk – it’s one of Wales’ most popular rock-climbing spots, too.
The UK’s largest county, Yorkshire has it all. Fabulously wild expanses of moorland, perfect for Jane Austen-style contemplative wanderings, along with historic villages carved out of local stone and market towns filled with independent cafes, galleries and boutiques.
It’s also one of the UK’s most dog-friendly counties (check out this Redditor’s account to find out why) which will come as great news for anyone travelling with their four-legged friend in tow.
Many of the attractions welcome dogs, too. This includes Roche Abbey, the ruins of a 12th century abbey wedged into a valley and surrounded by gardens designed by the legendary Capability Brown.
There are endless fascinating reminders of Yorkshire’s industrial heritage across the county, too – places like Barnsley Main Colliery, where a restoration project is being undertaken by passionate, local volunteers.
Love a waterfall? You’re in luck – Yorkshire has hundreds of them, which means plenty of opportunities to visit the most spectacular ones without dodging a selfie stick. Lumb Hole Falls, near Hebden Bridge, which comprises a series of falls of various sizes, is a brilliant example. We suggest combining it with a visit to Standedge Tunnel - the longest, highest, and deepest canal tunnel in Britain.
Known for its rich history and industrial heritage, Lancashire is a county famous for its cotton mill towns, but it’s also one which has so much more to offer. It’s a destination which is often overlooked, but which never fails to impress, as a Redditor, whose highlights included Rufford Old Hall and Formby, found out.
The Lancashire coastline is where you’ll find some of the largest towns, including Southport and Morecambe, but we recommend venturing inland, to places like the gorgeous Ribble Valley where you can chug along the Ribble Steam Railway on lovingly restored steam trains, or to Pendle Hill, where you can sign up to guided tours for a spooktastic insight into the infamous Pendle Witches.
That said, don’t overlook the county’s towns – just make sure you consider ones beyond the tourist magnets such as Blackpool. Visit Blackburn and you’ll be able to explore the marvellous 11th century Lancaster Castle as well as the Grade II listed Lancaster Cathedral, both of which are just a short drive from Morecambe Bay.
So there you have it - our guide to the most underrated places in the UK which are absolutely worthy of a place on your bucket list, but which you might not have considered before. So what are you waiting for? Go forth and discover the places other travellers often fail to reach - with a little help from our wanderlust-fuelled army of Redditors, of course.
Whether you fancy taking in the sea air in Pembrokeshire, getting lost in the Scottish Highlands or exploring forgotten corners of England, there's a Rough Guides guidebook or e-book to guide you.
To find more inspiration for your future trip to England read our guide about best things to do in England
Tamara is a former snowboard instructor who's been a freelance travel writer for 12 years. She loves snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking and scuba diving, and the regions she knows best are Asia, America and Africa. Europe-wise she knows Germany and France very well. In normal times she does two or three trips a month. Follow her on Twitter