If you could do with a relaxing stay in a beautiful setting, a riverside holiday could be just what you’re looking for. The British Isles are criss-crossed with rivers and waterways, meandering their way through idyllic countryside and charming market towns. We’ve searched the length and breadth of the UK to find the 10 most highly-rated riverside locations for a holiday.
The UK’s best river holidays
And there’s no better way to take in all this natural beauty than from a rural holiday home. Spend your days enjoying all the scenery and riverside activities the water has to offer and your evenings relaxing in your rental. From cosy cottages to expansive manor houses, you’ll find so much choice on Holiday Lettings, with reviews from fellow travellers to rely on. Take a look at our top 10 riverside holidays and start planning your own escape.
#10 Newton Stewart
This small market town on the banks of the River Cree was named after its founder, William Stewart, son of the Earl of Galloway. Famous for its fantastic salmon and trout fishing, the town is ideal if you’re looking for a relaxing fishing break. It’s also a firm favourite for hill-walkers and mountain-bikers, as the nearby Galloway Forest Park has some of the most stunning scenery in the south of Scotland.
If you love wildlife, you’re in the right place! Red deer, red squirrels, woodpeckers, stoats and wild goats are just some of the amazing animals to encounter in Newton Stewart. Be sure to pack a camera as you won’t want to forget a moment of your riverside holiday in this scenic area.
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This elegant waterfront town boasts fantastic cultural events, arts festivals, live music and food and drink, all surrounded by beautiful Suffolk countryside. Take a romantic stroll along the water’s edge before enjoying an evening meal with a view of the harbour. Board one of Ipswich’s sailing barges and drift along the River Orwell or take in a show at the New Wolsey Theatre.
If you’re interested in Ipswich’s maritime history, spend the day at The Old Custom House and the Window Museum. Or if art gets your pulse racing, admire the finest collection of Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable paintings outside of London at Christchurch Mansion.
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Not only is this charming Welsh town a great base for enjoying the Brecon Beacons, it’s also fantastic if you’re looking for a riverside stay near romantic restaurants, quaint cafes and independent shops. The area is known for its outdoor activities, including mountain biking, fishing and walking. If you love wildlife, spend the day at the nearby Dinas RSPB Nature Reserve with its peaceful woodland, river area and boardwalk.
Other highlights include exploring the hilltop ruins of Llandovery Castle, taking a stroll along the River Bran, and joining in with the fun at the Llandovery Sheep Festival. This brilliantly baa-rmy event is held every September and you might even see sheep racing in the street!
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This small country town on the banks of the River Avon was once a centre for commerce and industry boasting many trades such as brickmaking, pottery and textiles. It was also noted for its smuggling and the infamous Captain Diamond, the `Smuggler King’, spent much of his time here. Today, Fordingbridge is known for its beautiful scenery and excellent walking and cycling routes.
There’s a raft of things to do here on a riverside holiday. Visit the Fordingbridge Museum to discover more about the history of the town, spend a leisurely day fishing at Riverside Park or enjoy a family day out at one of the many children’s play areas, secluded gardens and parks. At the end of a busy day, head back to your private rental where you can tuck into a relaxed family supper.
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The city is famous for its fine porcelain and spicy sauce, but there’s much more to Worcester that’s just waiting to be uncovered. The last battle of the English Civil War took place here, and you can find out more about the Cavaliers and the Roundheads at Worcester Civil War Museum. For more history, head to Worcester’s oldest street where you’ll find the Tudor House Museum – a 16th-century building where you can discover how the people of Worcester lived in days of yore.
Visit the Diglis Basin for a picturesque waterside walk, with its swans, ducks and other wildlife. And, of course, Worcester’s medieval Cathedral is a must-see. So, if you’re looking for a riverside stay in a charming cathedral city, Worcester is sure to float your boat.
Whisk yourself away to Worcester
If you’re planning on taking the train to reach your riverside rental in Huddersfield, you’re in for a treat. The station is a Grade I listed building and it was described by John Betjeman as, “the most splendid station façade in England”, and the state-of-the-art station at St George’s Square won the Europa Nostra award for European architecture. This is the theme for the rest of this town’s architecture: beautiful Victorian buildings sit happily alongside award-winning modern structures.
When you’re not simply strolling around and admiring the view, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained in Huddersfield. Hire a bike and cycle along riverside paths in the Calder Valley, board the Kirklees Light Railway for a scenic trip through the south Pennine foothills, admire some art at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and much, much more.
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The charming riverside town of Bridgnorth is split into Low Town, on the edge of the River Severn, and High Town, which is overlooked by the remains of Bridgnorth Castle. Both areas are connected by the Bridgnorth Cliff Railway (one of England’s oldest and steepest funiculars) which makes exploring easy and fun. Also in High Town you’ll find the beautiful Mary Magdalene church, the 17th-century Bridgnorth Town Hall and many other historic buildings, such as Bishop Percy’s House – all are well worth a visit!
Board a raft-cruise for a unique way to see Bridgnorth from the river, or pack up a picnic and take a walk through picturesque countryside to see Daniels Mill, the largest working water mill in England. After a stay in Bridgnorth, you’ll be looking for more river holidays as soon as you get home!
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Omagh in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, is a great choice if you’re looking for a river holiday in the Emerald Isle. Why not begin by finding out more about the history of the area? Visit Ulster Folk Park where you can learn how the journey for some of Ireland’s emigrants began and how their pioneering spirit led them to many parts of the world. Step aboard a full size sailing ship to discover how they travelled to the American frontier.
If you want to explore the great outdoors, Gortin Glen Forest Park has a wealth of flora and fauna to admire. And of course, a visit to Omagh wouldn’t be complete without a romantic stroll along the banks of the River Drumragh.
There’s a rich history to discover when you visit this Devonshire town. Visit the beautiful Tiverton Castle and the 11th-century Bickleigh Castle with moated gardens, explore the medieval interiors at the Gothic Revival house, Knightshayes Court, or spend the day at the award-winning Tiverton Museum of Mid Devon Life, with its 14 galleries of exhibits.
For a relaxing day out by the river, take a picnic to the banks of the Exe where you can spot wildlife, such as dragonflies, mallards and moorhens. If you enjoy canal boat holidays, the Grand Western Canal with its 24 bridges along an 11-mile stretch is just on the outskirts of the town.
With so much to do on and around the river, it’s no surprise that the pretty market town of Ross-on-Wye has come out on top. From canoeing and kayaking to raft-building and caving, messing about on the river has never been this much fun!
There’s no shortage of things to do on dry land, either. Immerse yourself in history at Goodrich Castle, try some craft beers at Hillside Brewery or, if you’re feeling competitive, challenge the family to a few rounds at Wye Valley Miniature Golf. With so much to see and do, Ross-on-Wye is likely to become a firm favourite for a riverside holiday.
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