What you need to know about holidaying in an AONB

Amy Fenton
Authored by Amy Fenton
Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2024 - 15:53

If you’re looking for some of the most beautiful scenery to enjoy on your holiday then you can’t go wrong with picking a destination that’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). These protected landscapes are home to breathtaking views, whether it’s rolling downs, ancient woodlands, or pristine beaches.

But, due to their special status, there are some extra considerations to take into account if you want to spend time holidaying in an AONB. So, before you book your holidays to Isle of Wight, Dorset or the Scottish Highlands read on for our quick rundown of the most important things to know about holidaying in a protected natural area.

  1. What does it mean to be an AONB?

AONBs – also called National Landscapes – are designated areas around the UK that have significant natural beauty and environmental value. Special protections are put in place for these areas to make sure that their beauty is conserved, with an emphasis on sustainable development.

At the time of writing, there are a total of 46 different AONBs in the UK, from Dorset’s Jurassic Coast to the valleys of the Cotswolds or the pretty Isles of Scilly. These landscapes range from downlands and woods to coastal stretches and wetlands. Many are also home to protected wildlife habitats.

If you’re looking for the best displays of the beauty of the British Isles and its diverse landscapes then AONBs are a great place to start.

  1. Respecting the natural landscape

The single most important thing to remember when visiting an AONB is to respect the landscape around you. Disturbing the natural environment and habitats that the local wildlife rely on is a serious no-no, so resist the urge to go off the beaten track in search of the perfect picture shot.

A good guideline is to follow the Leave No Trace principles, which outline the strategies for minimising your impact on the environments you visit.

Always stick to the designated trails and footpaths in the area to avoid causing damage to the surrounding plant life and contributing to soil erosion. If you’re taking your four-legged friend on holiday with you, keep your dogs on their lead when you’re out exploring to prevent disturbance to the local animals.

  1. Enjoying outdoor activities

While you need to be mindful of preventing damage to the natural environment, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy plenty of outdoor activities in AONBs. Between hiking, cycling, and wildlife watching there’s a wealth of ways to get out and about and enjoy your holiday destination to its fullest.

Coastal areas and lakes are the perfect location to explore by water, whether it's by kayak or paddleboard. Just remember to stick to the rules when you’re out there, and possibly invest in a guided experience to really get the best out of your time.

  1. Supporting sustainable tourism

A big part of what keeps AONBs special is an emphasis on sustainability. To conserve these special landscapes for future generations it’s crucial to make sure that tourism is managed sustainably.

Focus on supporting small businesses and local communities within these areas. Not only will you contribute to the preservation of the region but you’ll also get to enjoy artisanal products and excellent local produce. Eating at restaurants that place an emphasis on seasonal ingredients sourced locally gives you access to some of the best cuisine around.

Choosing to head to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty for a holiday is a great opportunity to explore some of the best sights the British countryside has to offer and reconnect with nature. As long as you understand the landscape and treat it with respect you could leave with holiday memories that you’ll treasure forever.