Toast of the town: Avebury comes out on top in Which? survey of the UK’s best towns and villages

The small village in the south-west of England has been named the UK’s best in a survey of the UK’s towns and villages, according to new research from Which?.

With the largest stone circle in the world and its unspoilt countryside views, Avebury has been named the best of the UK’s towns and villages. 

The village in Wiltshire, much of which is encircled by the prehistoric monument complex also known as Avebury, received a destination score of 90 per cent, and was given five stars for scenery and tourist attractions. It also received four stars for peace and quiet, attractiveness, and value for money.

Visitors were particularly enthusiastic about its stone circle, but along with its Neolithic sites, Avebury also offers visitors a 16th-century manor house and garden managed by the National Trust, the Alexander Keiller museum displaying many of the archaeological finds from the area, and a quaint village pub with a thatched roof.

All of the top three destinations in the survey are located in the south-west of England, with Castle Combe, also in Wiltshire, and Wells, Somerset, placing joint second in the rankings, with destination scores of 88 per cent. 

With its pretty houses and twisting lanes, complete with a babbling brook, the quintessentially English village of Castle Combe was given five stars for scenery and attractiveness. The village has appeared in a number of cinematic productions including Warhorse and Downton Abbey, and is revered as one of England’s prettiest villages.

Despite its size and charm, Wells is technically a city on account of its cathedral. It’s the smallest city in England though, and received five stars for its tourist attractions and four stars in every other category including scenery and attractiveness. Tourist attractions include the aforementioned cathedral, as well as the moated Bishop’s Palace and Vicars’ Close, a complete medieval street inhabited by vicars.

The Victorian model village of Saltaire, West Yorkshire, placed fourth, with a destination score of 87 per cent. The Unesco World Heritage Site was given four stars for tourist attractions, shopping, peace and quiet, and value for money, and three stars in every other category.

Salts Mill and the surrounding area were originally built to house the workers of the mill in the 19th century, as well as provide them with decent working and living conditions. Visitors were impressed by the history of the village, and spoke highly of the Mill which now houses a diner, galleries and a bookshop, as well as an array of paintings by David Hockney.

In joint fifth place was Castleton in Derbyshire, alongside Ironbridge in Shropshire, both with destination scores of 86 per cent. Castleton was given five stars for scenery while Ironbridge received five stars for tourist attractions, and both secured four stars for attractiveness.

The best scoring village in Wales was Hay-on-Wye in Powys, with a destination score of 84 per cent, while the best in Scotland was Aberfeldy in Perthshire, with a destination score of 82 per cent.

The small market town, on the border between England and Wales, received four stars for scenery, attractiveness, and peace and quiet. It’s often described as “the town of books”, with more than 20 bookshops and hosts the annual Hay Festival of Literature and Arts. It also boasts beautiful scenery and great walks, with the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons, the winding River Wye, and many surrounding lakes and forests for visitors to enjoy.

Aberfeldy, another small market town, was first made famous by Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns. Today though, it is better known for being Scotland’s first Fairtrade town, and for its many attractions including The Watermill, containing a book shop, gallery and café, and Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery. The town also received five stars for scenery and four stars for peace and quiet.

At the bottom of the table was Bodmin, in Cornwall, with a destination score of 55 per cent, followed by Matlock Bath in Derbyshire (65%) and Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire (66%).

Despite its low score, visitors were positive about Bodmin’s cycle trail and the surrounding areas, while others spoke highly of the local attractions including Bodmin Jail and Lanhydrock house & garden. 

Visitors to Matlock Bath reported enjoying the riverside walks and the Heights of Abraham, which can be reached by cable car, and while it placed near the bottom of the table, Ross-on-Wye was still given four stars for both its scenery and peace and quiet.


Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said:

“The UK is full of towns and villages bursting with character and history, many of which are relatively quiet and unspoilt making them perfect destinations for a day trip or a holiday. 

“Avebury topped the table in our survey on account of its unique history and quintessential English surroundings, while other high scorers impressed with their tourist attractions and excellent surroundings.

“Whether you’re looking for somewhere with peaceful walks and bracing scenery, or simply a selection of independent shops and cosy pubs to idle in, there are a wealth of brilliant towns and villages to explore across the country waiting to be explored.”


Notes to editors:

  1. Which? surveyed 2,710 members of its online panel who visited an inland town/village in the UK in the last two years (between April 2019 and April 2021). Fieldwork was conducted between 13th and 27th April 2021.”
  2. For seaside towns, visit:
  3. For the full table of results, please contact the Press Office on 07970 132 811


About Which?

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