Top 10 National Trust places in the UK

Days out

Posted by Ruth King on 6th January 2023

Top 10 National Trust places in the UK

Since the National Trust's conception in 1895, its 125th birthday celebrations took place in 2020, it has extended its sphere of protection to cover over 500 places all across the UK, so if you're looking for a brilliant day out, there's bound to be somewhere to explore near you.

To help you narrow it down, we’ve picked out our 10 favourite National Trust places to visit in Great Britain – so whether you’re looking to walk around a picturesque garden or enjoy a family day out, we have some suggestions below. And if you're looking for a fabulous holiday home near National Trust sites, take a look at our full collection of cottages across the UK below. 

All cottages

Best National Trust garden

National Trust Studley Royal Water Garden at Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

National Trust Studley Royal Water Garden at Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

Recognised as a World Heritage Site, Studley Royal Water Garden at Fountains Abbey, near Ripon in North Yorkshire, is a must-visit National Trust garden destination for those whose idea of perfect day out is wandering round a beautiful landscape – and they don’t get much more beautiful than this! 

Enjoy a stroll around the gardens, spotting green lawns, status, moon-shaped ponds, the Serpentine Tunnel, follies and, of course, the flora and fauna. Whichever season you visit, this garden will delight and surprise each and every visitor. There are many National Trust properties in the North of England to visit on your holiday.

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Yorkshire cottages

Best National Trust property for accessibility

National Trust Lyme Park, Cheshire

National Trust Lyme Park, Cheshire

This impressive Regency house on the edge of the Peak District National Park has plenty to see and do, Lyme Park, near Buxton,  is one of the best National Trust places for accessibility in the UK. Whether you choose to explore inside the house, with its decadent interiors, or the 1,400-acre National Trust park which a herd of red deer call home, both have level access meaning it’s easy to get out and about.

Enjoy a peaceful afternoon in the landscaped gardens of this Peak District National Trust property, which you might recognise from the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, while kids can burn some energy in the playground. 

Good to know

  • Facilities: Food & drink, WCs, car park, shop, level access, shuttle bus service, dog-friendly, guided tours, book shop
  • Tickets: Entry price is free for NT members | Adults - £6 / Children - £3 - For more ticket information, visit the NT Lyme Park website.
  • Stay nearby: Trinity Mews | sleeps 4

Cheshire cottages

Best National Trust property for virtual tours

National Trust Hidcote, GloucestershireHidcote credit (R): Instagram @whimsy.larkin

National Trust Hidcote, Gloucestershire

If you can’t get to National Trust Hidcote's elaborately designed arts and crafts garden in Gloucestershire, you can enjoy the next best thing – a virtual tour. The series of 360-degree tours really bring the gardens to life and capture the tranquil and meditative atmosphere. Enjoy the Red Borders, ablaze with poppies, imagine the heat warming the plant house, filled with climbing flowers, or tour the flower beds in the old garden, abundant with cottage-style flora.

If you do get to visit this wonderful National Trust garden, Hidcote, you can find a quiet bench to sit and soak up the atmosphere, listening to the sound of birds in the trees. Or pack a picnic to enjoy in the Wilderness, a patch of tall trees giving shade from the summer sun. Situated close to Stratford-upon-Avon, you could also combine a visit to Hidcote with a trip around Shakespeare’s birthplace, a ramble on the Monarch’s Way path or enjoy one of the many other things to do in the Cotswolds.

Good to know

  • Facilities: Food & drink, WCs, car park, shop, assistance dogs only
  • Tickets: Entry price is free for NT members | Adults - £9 / Children - £4.50 - For more ticket information, visit the NT Hidcote website.
  • Stay nearby: Gable End | sleeps 6 + 2 dogs

Gloucestershire cottages

Best National Trust property for film and TV locations

National Trust Lacock, WiltshireLacock Abbey credit (R): Instagram @katiesuetennent

National Trust Lacock, Wiltshire

Many a National Trust property has been the star of the screen, whether on TV or film, but National Trust Lacock, near Chippenham in Wiltshire, has graced so many cinemas it should probably have its own star on the Hollywod Walk of Fame! The Abbey, its woodland grounds and the surrounding village, have lent themselves very well to the setting of period dramas, as they look like they could have stepped out of a history book. Most famously, it became Meryton for the filming of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice (the one starring Colin Firth), and you would also recognise it from Downton Abbey.

Harry Potter fans should put Lacock on top of their must-visit list as it has formed the setting for many iconic scenes in the series of films. The medieval cloisters became the classrooms and corridors of Hogwarts as well as featuring in Fantastic Beats: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Potterheads will also find Harry’s childhood home in The Philosopher’s Stone in the village, and the surrounding lanes became the setting for Budleigh Babberton, home of Horace Slughorn in The Half-Blood Prince. Find a portkey and travel to Wiltshire to see them all for yourself! There are plenty of National Trust places to visit on the South Coast of England, find out all about them in our guide.

Good to know

  • Facilities: Food & drink, WCs, car park, shop, level access, book and plant shop
  • Tickets: Entry price is free for NT members | For more ticket information, visit the NT Lacock website.
  • Stay nearby: Poplars Farm House | sleeps 8

South Coast cottages

Best National Trust property for history buffs

National Trust Knole, Kent

National Trust Knole, Kent

A must-visit for aficionados of times gone by, National Trust Knole near Royal Tunbridge Wells in Kent spans more than 600 years of history. One of the most impressive National Trust properties, this former archbishop’s palace was originally built in the mid-15th century and is in the top five England’s largest houses, meaning you’ll have plenty to explore! Walk around the deer park which was reputedly once used by Henry VIII to hunt, learn about the houses’ stories from the Civil War and discover how Knole and its inhabitants inspired Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando.

Art connoisseurs will also be in their element at Knole; the house contains work by Reynolds, Gainsborough and Van Dyck as well as many 17th-century tapestries. And who can fail to be impressed by the large park, home to 350 wild sika and fallow herd deer? It’s a serene place for a dog walk, but remember to steer clear of the wild animals and keep your dog on a lead at all times. 

  • Good to know

  • Facilities: Food & drink, WCs, car park, shop, level access, dog-friendly
  • Tickets: Entry price is free for NT members | Adults - £6 / Children - £3 - For more ticket information, visit the NT Knole website.
  • Stay nearby: The Coach House Tonbridge | sleeps 2

Kent cottages

Best National Trust property for food and drink

National Trust Stourhead, Wiltshire

National Trust Stourhead, Wiltshire

No visit to a National Trust place is complete without sampling the legendary tea and cake, and with 350 cafes across the UK to choose from, you're certainly spoilt for choice.  National Trust Stourhead, a Palladian house near Salisbury in Wiltshire, is one of the best National Trust places for foodies. Stoke your appetite with a walk around the world-famous landscape garden, complete with temples, grottoes and exotic trees, or explore further around the 2,650-acre estate before seeking some refreshment in the restaurant.

With provenance at its heart, the restaurant sources its produce locally and, where possible, uses vegetables grown within the estate’s own walled garden. As well as this, one of the tenant farmers supplies the eggs, so it’s a brilliant place to try some Wiltshire produce. And if you’re still peckish, make a beeline for the ice cream parlour or one of the two pubs nestled within the estate, both serving hearty food and local ales – Stourhead is a gastronome’s dream!

Good to know

  • Facilities: Food & drink, WCs, car park, shop, level access, pub, plant shop, book shop, function hire, restaurant
  • Tickets: Entry price is free for NT members | Adults - £19 / Children - £9.50 - For more ticket information, visit the NT Stourhead website.
  • Stay nearby: Home Barn | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Wiltshire cottages

Best National Trust property for a hands-on farm experience

National Trust Wimpole, CambridgeshireWimpole credit (R): Instagram @wimpole_estate_nt

National Trust Wimpole, Cambridgeshire

This majestic mansion’s Home Farm is a brilliant setting for a hands-on day out, full of new experiences for the whole family. National Trust Wimpole near Cambridge is home to one of the largest rare breed centres in the country, as well as a wide range of animals in its modern farmyard. On a visit, you can come face to face with these farm animals, such as goats, sheep, pigs and cattle, and learn about what it takes to look after them on a daily basis. Hands-on activities include donkey grooming, pig feeding and even milking a cow! 

Time your visit to coincide with the lambing season and you can see these super-cute babies up close. You can enjoy a ride in a Shire horse-drawn carriage, or, for an unforgettable experience, book in to learn how to drive these giant creatures! When you’re all worn out from a day of adventure and it’s time to go home, make sure you pop by the shop or restaurant to try some local produce.

Good to Know

  • Facilities: Food & drink, WCs, car park, shop, level access, EVPs, book and plant shop
  • Tickets: Entry price is free for NT members | Adults - £9 / Children - £4.50 - For more ticket information, visit the NT Wimpole website.
  • Stay nearby: Marans Lodge | sleeps 4

Cambridgeshire cottages

Best National Trust property for dog owners

National Trust Dunster Castle, SomersetDunster Castle credit (R): Instagram @noblelordgeorge 

National Trust Dunster Castle, Somerset

It may seem strange we are recommending National Trust Dunster Castle in Somerset for a dog-friendly day out when dogs aren’t actually allowed inside the castle, but bear with us! The sprawling estate surrounding this imposing National Trust castle in Dunster is sheer doggy heaven, with a wide variety of scents for your pup to sniff out; he can run wild through woodland, nose around the Mediterranean garden or take a refreshing dip in the River Anvil!

When you’re both a little parched, you’re both welcome to take a breather in the Water Mill tea room as dogs are welcome in the outdoor seating area, and both the shop and stables welcome four-legged visitors too. And as Dunster Castle is perched on the edge of Exmoor, there are miles upon miles of walks to sniff out in this wild and rugged national park if your dog still has a nose for adventure, making this one of the best National Trust dog-friendly days out!

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Somerset cottages

Best family-friendly National Trust property

National Trust Blickling Estate, NorfolkBlickling Hall credit (R): Instagram @blicklingnt

National Trust Blickling Estate, Norfolk

There is so much to do for kids at the National Trust's Blickling Estate near Cromer in Norfolk, making it a brilliant, family-friendly day out. As well as a stunning Jacobean mansion, the estate is blessed with 4,600 acres of land which is ripe for exploration! Inside, kids will be delighted by the family trails and living history performances that bring the place to life, but outside is where Blickling really comes into its own.

The parkland has many walking and cycling trails, a large area of woodland just perfect for den building, and lots of secret tunnels and hidden gardens to discover. There are plenty of buggy-friendly pathways through the parkland too, so even really little ones can join in the fun! Keep your eyes peeled for Blickling’s ever-changing programme of seasonal events too – from winter illuminations to summer outdoor concerts. Once you have visited NT Blickling discover even more National Trust estates in the East of England.

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Norfolk cottages

Best National Trust beach

National Trust Porthcurno Beach, CornwallPorthcurno credit (R): Instagram @lenkarowse

National Trust Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall

The National Trust manages over 780 miles of coastline – forming 20% of its total land – so there are many beaches across the country just waiting to be explored by you. However, for its picture-postcard scenery, we’d recommend NT Porthcurno Beach near Sennen in Cornwall for the best beach day out. The turquoise sea and white sands of this Cornish beach, combined with the balmy temperatures enjoyed at the tip of Great Britain, give a distinctly tropical atmosphere to this beach and have to be seen to be believed.

You can lie on the sands, comb the shore or take to the water for a spot of sea swimming or surfing – the choice is yours. However, the scenery is best enjoyed from a bird’s eye view which can be found at the top of the cliff via the South West Coast Path – look down on the tranquil coastal scene from jagged clifftops peppered with pink sea thrift. You can also combine a visit to Porthcurno with a trip to the open-air Minack Theatre which overlooks the beach if you fancy mixing culture with coastline. Discover some excellent National Trust properties in Cornwall in our helpful guide.

Good to know

  • Facilities: Car park
  • Tickets: Free (no tickets necessary)
  • Stay nearby: The Pottery | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs

Cornwall cottages

Stay at a self-catering holiday cottage near a National Trust property

Ready to explore the UK with the National Trust? Just like the conservation charity’s diverse range of 500 places, we also have a wide variety of holiday cottages across the UK, handpicked for their quality and character. From family-friendly homes for unforgettable holidays together, to dog-friendly properties where you can have a ball with your four-legged friend, our cottages offer the perfect setting for your next adventure. Take a look at our full range below.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.