Named ‘Britain’s Best Coastal Destination’ in a 2019 Which survey, Bamburgh is one of the most well-loved villages in Northumberland thanks to its famous castle and beautiful beach. But is Bamburgh the prettiest village in Northumberland?
England’s historic northernmost county is filled with idyllic rural villages and picturesque coastal coves, so we think there is some very strong competition for the title.
Here are just some of the contenders that we think are worthy to be crowned Northumberland’s prettiest village. Take a look and head to our Facebook page to let us know which pretty village you think should take the crown!
Seahouses is best known as the gateway to the Farne Islands but there is more to this Northumberland village than simply seabirds and puffins. The bustling harbour at Seahouses is full of colour and there’s a good selection of shops, cafes and restaurants to browse. You’ll find an assortment of boat trips if you fancy taking to the sea (where you may well spot otters and dolphins) and a couple of good fish and chip shops where you can sample the fisherman’s freshly caught wares.
Our top pick: Grab a seat in the beer garden at the Bamburgh Castle Inn and make the most of the views out to the Farne Islands.
Where to stay: Little Cottage in Seahouses
Craster is nestled under the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and the shoreline walk to this National Trust site is absolutely gorgeous. The harbour at Craster is very picturesque and there are some great foodie choices in the village including The Jolly Fisherman pub which looks out over the sea.
Craster attracts a variety of seabirds that you can spot in and around the harbour and you can’t pay a visit to Craster without sampling a traditional Craster Kipper. This local delicacy has been smoked in the same way for more than 130 years.
Our top pick: Call into the Mick Oxley Gallery and browse arts and crafts that have been inspired by the stunning Craster coastline.
Where to stay: Harbour View Cottage, Craster
With a pretty main street that’s filled with independent shops and the River Coquet looping around the village, Warkworth is a honeypot Northumberland spot that’s always a popular choice with visitors. Warkworth Castle, the ancestral home of the Percy family, is known for its cross-shaped keep and looks out over the village from a lovely hilltop position. Explore the well-preserved towers then take an idyllic trip across the river to the nearby Hermitage - this medieval building was carved out of rock and is only accessible by boat.
Our top pick: Take a gentle stroll along the River Coquet then hire a paddle boat to take to the water. To round off the perfect day, head to village pub The Masons Arms for a pint (or two).
Where to stay: 1 Coquet Lodge in Warkworth
Corbridge is another Northumberland village with a rich history. The site on Hadrian’s Wall was once a Roman garrison town and visitors can still explore the fascinating stone remains and walk along ancient streets to learn more about life in the 5th century.
The village of Corbridge today is a haven for shoppers as the pretty main street is filled with independent designer boutiques, vintage emporiums, gift shops, artisan makers and craft galleries. The handsome market square also has a great selection of food and drink options and there is a myriad of hidden alleys, secret streets and pretty courtyards to uncover.
Each June the village hosts the family-friendly Corbridge Festival with an array of live music over three different stages.
Our top pick: Pay a visit to the Pele Tower in Corbridge. This Grade I listed medieval tower is now home to a pub and microbrewery.
Where to stay: Courtyard Cottage, Riding Mill
Alnmouth is a picture-postcard pretty Northumberland village featuring colourful cottages, the historic St Cuthbert’s Cross and a golden sandy beach that’s perfect for building sandcastles - especially on a sunny day.
The Alnmouth salt marsh and dunes are protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and are the natural habitat for a variety of plants so it’s well worth going exploring - you may well spot some wading birds along the way.
Alnmouth is also home to England’s oldest golf course if you fancy teeing off for a round of 18 and there’s a great selection of places to eat and drink including Beaches restaurant which is a top choice for local fish and seafood.
Our top pick: Pay a visit to England’s smallest museum, The Ferryman’s Hut to learn more about the history of Alnmouth.
Where to stay: Tidal Sands Penthouse in Alnmouth
Elsdon is located within the boundaries of the Northumberland National Park and has all the trappings of a picture-postcard worthy English village. You’ll find a parish church, traditional village green, historic castle remains and a tea room that’s been converted from the old school house.
Along with nearby Otterburn (another pretty village that’s nestled on the banks of the River Rede), Elsdon makes a great base for exploring the Otterburn Ranges which cover a quarter of the Northumberland National Park and are a haven for spotting wildlife including the rare black grouse.
Our top pick: Nearby Otterburn Mills is a shopper’s paradise with brands including Joules, Barbour and Weird Fish all housed in an original textile mill.
Where to stay: Weavers Cottage, Otterburn
Belsay is a small Northumberland village that is home to one of the area’s top visitor attractions - Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens. The 30 acres of Grade I listed gardens include a collection of exotic plants that grow in their own microclimate and a beautiful display of rhododendrons that’s one of the largest in the country.
There’s also a village shop in Belsay which stocks a range of gorgeous gifts including candles, handmade chocolates, beautiful flower displays and locally produced Hotspur Gin (it’s distilled in nearby Alnwick).
Our top pick: Climb up the spiral staircase at the 14th century Belsay Castle for one of the finest views around.
Where to stay: Archway Cottage, Medburn
Beautiful Beadnell is best known for a wide swathe of sandy beach that’s sheltered by large sand dunes - the pretty bay is a top pick for a range of watersports including windsurfing and paddleboarding.
You’ll find charming cottages, historic lime kilns, a 13th-century village chapel and a good choice of pubs, cafes and restaurants to call in for refreshments. The Craster Arms is particularly good and has a beer garden that’s a real sun trap.
In the summer months, Beadnell Bay is home to pairs of nesting arctic terns and there are special viewing points where you can watch these rare protected birds.
Our top pick: Get a surfing lesson from Northside Surf School and take advantage of the great waves here.
Where to stay: 1 Smuggler’s Cove in Beadnell
#09 Ford & Etal
Ford & Etal are a couple of pretty Northumberland villages that come as a pair. The estate villages are located in the heart of the Northumberland Cheviots and home to a myriad of attractions including pretty thatched houses, a corn mill, medieval castles, a steam railway and an ancient Flodden battlefield.
You’ll find plenty of walking trails around these lovely estate villages and some delicious cakes at the 19th century Heatherslaw Cornmill.
Make sure to call in at Lady Waterford Hall during your visit. The building was commissioned in 1860 by Lady Waterford (the owner of Ford Estate) and is filled with her stunning murals.
Our top pick: Pay a visit to the mysterious Duddo Standing Stones near Etal which are Northumberland’s equivalent of Stonehenge and date back more than 4,000 years.
Where to stay: 2 Kypie Farm Cottages in nearby Howtel
Last but not least is the village that was the inspiration for this list - Bamburgh!
Bamburgh is best known for its famous castle that looks out over the village from atop a beachside crag. The largest inhabited castle in the country, Bamburgh is filled with historic treasures and tales of daring-do from a dramatic and turbulent past.
The other main draw of Bamburgh is a wide expanse of unspoilt sandy beach which is sheltered by sand dunes and stretches out for miles. The waves here make Bamburgh a top pick for surfing but it’s also great for walking, playing or simply relaxing on a deck chair.
Bamburgh’s pretty main street is framed by the castle and includes everything you would expect from a pretty village including a traditional tea room, gift shop, delicatessen and a couple of good pubs.
Our top pick: Take a walk along the beach to Bamburgh lighthouse. The rocks around here feature a white painted stag and are a prime spot for rock pooling.
Where to stay: Quarry Mews, Bamburgh
Plan your visit to Northumberland
Have you been inspired to visit Northumberland and seek out some of the region’s prettiest villages? Whether you prefer coast, country or a bit of both during a short break or holiday we have a selection of cottages in some of the loveliest locations around.
Dogs are always very welcome in Northumberland’s towns and villages so four-legged friends can come along too. Browse our range of dog-friendly holiday cottages and read our guide to dog-friendly Northumberland to find out more.