1. Little Venice – Maida Vale in London
Where you’ll think you are: If you didn’t know any better, you might think that you’re looking at photos of the canals in Amsterdam or Venice.
Where it actually is: What you’re actually seeing is a residential district in London called Maida Vale. The area features a series of canals that host the Canalway Cavalcade every year. Over 160 boats flock to the canals annually for a series of events, parades, and for shopping and eating.
2. Tolsta Beach – Isle of Lewis in Scotland
Where you’ll think you are: Pretty much any place but Scotland.
Where it actually is: Scotland! Can you believe it? The Outer Hebrides especially has some lovely beaches that can be pleasant, as long as the weather holds up.
3. The tropical rainforest inside the Eden Project of Cornwall
Where you’ll think you are: A tropical rainforest in South America.
Where it actually is: A tropical rainforest in Cornwall. Yep, Southwest England. The Eden Project contains two separate biomes: the Tropical Biome and the Mediterranean Biome. The Tropical Biome especially feels very out of place in the British Isles, despite the fact that it is in the warmest, most temperate spot in England.
4. Ben Nevis – In the Grampian Mountains in the Scottish Highlands
Where you’ll think you are: The Andes or Himalayas.
Where it actually is: The highest mountain in the British Isles, called Ben Nevis. It’s part of the Grampian Mountain range in the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands, close to the town of Fort William. Ben Nevis is actually the highest point in 400 miles. The next higher point is clear over in the Scandinavian Mountains in Norway.
5. The sunken path to Clovelly in Devon
Where you’ll think you are: Inside the works of Lewis Carroll.
Where it actually is: A small village called Clovelly in the district of Devon. The village is actually most inaccessible by automobile, so small forest paths like the one above are one of the the most pleasant ways in.
6. The Needles on the Isle of Wight
Where you’ll think you are: A research base in Antarctica.
Where it actually is: A three hour car ride from London. The Isle of Wight is just off the southern coast of England, near the city of Portsmouth. They may look like frigid, glacial peaks, but The Needles are actually stacks of chalk.
7. Minack Theatre in Cornwall
Where you’ll think you are: An ancient Greek amphitheater overlooking the Ionian sea.
Where it actually is: In Cornwall, overlooking the Celtic Sea. The theater was built in the 1930s to host an annual outdoor Shakespeare festival. The original owner of the property, Rowena Cade, thought the sea would make an excellent backdrop for performances of The Tempest.
8. Cockington village in Devon
Where you’ll think you are: A delightful village in the South of France.
Where it actually is: A delightful village in the South of England. You don’t often see thatched roofs in England, what with all the rain, but Cockington is down in Devon county, where the gulf stream keeps things surprisingly nice.
9. Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
Where you’ll think you are: Nowhere on this planet.
Where it actually is: On the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, near the town of Bushmills. The pillar-like basalt columns were formed during an intense period of volcanic activity over 50 million years ago.
10. Norfolk Lavender Fields near Heacham, England
Where you’ll think you are: The hills of Provence in France.
Where it actually is: Eastern England, near the town of Heacham in Norfolk county. There are actually similar lavender fields all over England, so you’ll never need to cross the channel again!
11. Achmelvich Bay in Scotland
Where you’ll think you are: Southern California.
Where it actually is: Almost as far north in Scotland as you can get. The name “Achmelvich” actually comes from the Gaelic term for sandy dunes. You’re obviously at the mercy of the elements when you’re that far north, so maybe pack a sweater in addition to your bathing suit.
12. The Jurassic Coast in Devon
Where you’ll think you are: Ha Long Bay in Vietnam.
Where it actually is: The English Channel. The cliffs, rocks, and spires of the Jurassic Coast aren’t quite as impressive as the limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay, but they’re still impressive nevertheless.
13. Porthmeor Beach in St Ives, Cornwall
Where you’ll think you are: The sunny beaches of Australia.
Where it actually is: The sunny beaches of Southwest England! The beaches in St Ives have sun and surfing, and the added benefit of a functioning ozone layer. Plus, it’s just a few hours from London on the train, rather than several hours on a plane.
14. Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, Egland
Where you’ll think you are: The winding canyon roads in the Colorado Rockies.
Where it actually is: Just southwest of Bristol. The Cheddar Gorge is a limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills, and is home to Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, affectionatly called “Cheddar Man.” Under the Cheddar Gorge you’ll find Gough’s Cave, which is nearly 100m deep, and over 2km long.
15. The Isle of Skye in Scotland
Where you’ll think you are: The hills of New Zealand.
Where it actually is: Highland Scotland. Looking out over the green fields and craggy mountains of the Isle of Skye, you might think for a moment that you were in Gondor from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, but you’d be wrong. Turns out you can get a little slice of Middle Earth right here in the United Kingdom.
16. The Fairy Pools of Scotland
Where you’ll think you are: The volcanic plains of Iceland.
Where it actually is: Still in Highland Scotland! It is only about 700 miles from Iceland, so it’s really not that much of a surprise that the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands resembles the island nation a bit.