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Hadrian's Wall at sunset

Holidays in UK national parks are more popular than ever, with holidaymakers looking for staycations that benefit their wellbeing as well as showcase incredible natural scenery.

We’ve analysed booking patterns to find our most popular UK national parks for 2021, and have seen a 63.3% increase in bookings within national parks in comparison to 2019.

Working in partnership with the Pedal 4 Parks team, who have completed the world’s first cycle over land and sea to raise funds to support the National Parks Protectors Fund, we’re highlighting the best of the UK’s national parks and a few of the wonderful attractions they have to offer.

Read on to discover 7 of the best UK National Parks…

1. Pembrokeshire Coast

the Pembrokeshire coast

Taking the top spot, with over four times the number of people visiting in 2021 vs 2019, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park proved to be an extremely popular destination for a UK staycation. 

The only national park in the UK to be focused primarily along dramatic coastline, the Pembrokeshire Coast is a true marvel to behold. Home to beautiful beaches hosting watersports of all kinds, picturesque coastal walks such as the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail, imposing castles flaunting enticing history, Britain’s smallest city and so much more, there’s plenty to discover here.

Explore this wonderful national park for yourself and use our Wales Travel Guide for more inspiration.

2. Lake District

Lake Buttermere in the Lake District

Home to some of the darkest skies in the UK, the Lake District National Park makes the perfect place for stargazing and is a wonderful choice for those seeking a romantic escape, so it’s little wonder why this national park came in second on our list.

There are so many things to do in the Lake District, including a challenging hike up England’s tallest mountain and war memorial, Scafell Pike, where you will be rewarded with spectacular scenery from its peak, and you can find many more activities in our handy Lake District Travel Guide.

The fantastic team at Pedal 4 Parks ventured through the Lake District on their voyage to complete the world’s first JOGLE (John O’ Groats to Land’s End) and described the route as some of the hardest elevation of their entire trip, making it a great spot for seasoned cyclists to explore.

3. Northumberland

Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland

This year has been very busy for Northumberland, usually least populated and visited national park, with nearly double the number of stays in 2021 vs 2019! 

Advocating the importance of mental health with its Walk to Wellbeing programme, something close to the hearts of both Sykes and Pedal 4 Parks, Northumberland National Park provides the ultimate idyll.

Keep an eye out for spectacular nature on your travels here, with 32,758 hectares of priority habitats, recognised for their national and international environmental importance and wildlife, as well as 10,000 hectares of SSSI (sites of special scientific interest), making this a truly magnificent place to visit. 

Find out more about the many wonders of this national park with our Northumberland Travel Guide.

4. New Forest

New Forest

In fourth place is the New Forest National Park, which experienced a 50% increase in holidays in 2021 vs 2019.

Best known for its picture perfect heathland, frequented by native ponies, as well as enchanting forest trails, this UK national park hosts an abundance of beauty at any time of the year.

Uncover a plethora of scenic spots such as Telegraph Hill, with its free roaming animals; the serenity of Lepe Beach; and the famed Ancient Woodlands, just to name a few of its most favoured areas.

5. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

Views over Loch Lomond, Scotland

The history-rich Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park saw nearly a 50% increase in visiting holidaymakers in 2021 vs 2019.

This UK national park is popular with tourists looking to enjoy a scenic Scottish getaway; here you can relish in tranquillity and enjoy far-reaching views across the dazzling waters of its lochs, best enjoyed at the peak of one of the towering mountains that provides a dramatic backdrop to the area.

Find a diverse selection of things to do in this UK national park, from cycling over Duke’s Pass to fishing, paddle boarding or kayaking in one of the lochs to skiing and snowboarding at the magnificent Lochaber Geopark. Find more activities to keep you entertained with our Loch Lomond Travel Guide.

6. Norfolk Broads

Photograph of the Norfolk Broads

In 6th place and boasting over 125 miles of navigable lock-free waterways encompassed by miles of countryside, the Norfolk Broads offers you the very best of both.

Home to the largest variety of rare and unique wildlife of any of the national parks in the UK, it’s a must-see for wildlife enthusiasts. Be sure to keep your eye out for water voles, cuckoos, and European eels!

Create everlasting memories with your loved ones on an unforgettable boat trip across the Broads, amidst some of Britain’s rarest plants, with canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding available for those feeling more adventurous.

Discover a variety of things to do on your net visit with our Norfolk Broads Travel Guide.

7. Exmoor

View towards the Bristol Channel from Exmoor National Park

Last, but certainly not least, is the captivating Exmoor National Park. Home to 267 square miles of enchanting and diverse landscapes, there’s so much to be see and do here at any time of the year.

Uncover spectacular architecture, with ten out of the twenty Grade I listed buildings on Exmoor being churches. Be sure to make the most of the terrific stargazing opportunities here too; with Exmoor designated as Europe’s first Dark Sky Reserve, there’s no better way to spend a romantic evening with your loved one.

Discover the highest point on Exmoor, Dunkery Beacon or join a dark skies walk to discover more about the astrological wonders of the planet.

Use our Devon Travel Guide for more fascinating things to do nearby.

UK National Parks offer many benefits to our mental and physical health, alongside educating and informing how we can make the most of these spaces and contribute to them to make a positive change.

It’s important that we do our best to help preserve these precious parks, and that’s why we’re proud to be supporting National Parks UK for a fourth consecutive year, while the Pedal 4 Parks team has made an amazing contribution via their world-first JOGLE. Find out more about how you can support their amazing cause.

Be sure to check out our one-day guide to 15 National Parks to discover even more exciting adventures for your next remote escape.

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