[Top 15] Skyrim Best Settlement Mods For More Fun

Presenting the settlements of Skyrim, but bigger, more cluttered and possibly believable

Ask any Elder Scrolls player what the top two delights in the game are, and the answer will always be the same. Exploring the city, and exploring the wilderness. Bethesda has created a masterfully crafted world with beautiful architecture, lots of NPCs and enough diversity. But there is always room for improvement.

You might feel like the settlements of Skyrim are too small. Or they might just not look unique enough for you. Or maybe it doesn’t seem that believable because there aren’t enough details. The mods I cover in this list will go over plenty of options. 

Keep in mind, when installing settlement mods, always check the compatibility section. Obviously two mods altering the same city will usually be incompatible. It gets trickier when the mod alters interior cells as well. At best, you’ll have broken AI or floating objects. At worst, you can expect missing NPCs or items.


15. Dawn of Skyrim

This little mod makes changes to all the major cities of Skyrim. So Whiterun, Solitude, Markarth, Riften and Windhelm are covered. Even though this mod has been out since 2014, I recommend this one for several reasons.

Even though it tries to make the world more lived-in by adding clutter, it doesn’t overdo it. Even on my old potato computer, I didn’t run into performance issues often. It adds several NPCs and stalls to diversify the merchants, like a baker and bookstore in Solitude, or other vendors in the streets of Whiterun. It also makes other noticeable changes, like adding statues, archways and grates that pop out.

There are two versions of this mod. I personally recommend the Original Collection, which is only available for Legendary. For Special Edition users, I’ll link the Director’s Cut. Though, in my opinion, it adds far too much.


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


14. JK's Skyrim

This pretty much does the same thing as the last one, but on steroids. Seriously, the amount of details that are added is mindblowing. While it might be a little too much, it does make the world feel more lived-in, imperfect and believable. The end result is a beautiful overhaul for all nine cities, and then some.

Besides adding on to the major cities, it expands the minor cities too. It keeps with the original themes of the cities and adds new buildings and NPCs without going too far. Unfortunately, the price of all this is a huge hit to performance. So unless you have a very beefy PC, or you’re doing a lightly modded playthrough, you might want to go with other options.


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


13. Dunpar Wall

I didn’t plan to include any mods that add new settlements, because they’re often just a bunch of buildings and NPCs with AI packages. But I had to make an exception for this mod. Is it really better than any of the others that add a town in the middle of nowhere? Objectively, I can’t say. But it's a one-of-a-kind town.

Imagine a hole-in-the-wall town. That's exactly what it adds. This mod adds a little town that’s somehow on a ruined nordic wall. You’ll find this town in the Pale, and strangely enough, it just works. It’s worth adding to the game just for its strangeness. And trust me, it doesn’t take away from the immersion.


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


12. Old Hroldan Ruins

While I don’t want to look like I’m trying to tell Bethesda how to do their jobs, but every now and then there are some lore to world discrepancies. Take Old Hroldan, for instance. According to the lore books and the dialogues of the locals, there should have been a fort here where a legendary battle took place. But in-game, all you see is an inn.

The mod author comes through by changing the town. It adds fort walls around the inns, a player home, an extra vendor and guards for this monumental location. The guard faction will also change, depending on civil war outcomes. There’s a bunch of little things the mod author has placed for exploration. The most exciting addition is the Undercroft, a dungeon full of forsworn ghosts who will give you a challenge. 


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


11. SKY CITY - Markarth Rising

Every now and then, we find some mods that seem to make little changes. But these minor edits can often have huge impacts. Sky City is one of these mods, and it makes Markarth feel like a bigger and older city without getting in your way.

The only changes this mod makes is to the upper levels. You might be thinking that it’s pointless, you can’t even get to the upper levels! But the good thing about that is it adds to the history of the place. Because these changes are up there, this mod is compatible with other Markarth mods. And the performance hit is negligible!


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


10. Winterhold - Expanded Ruins

Every time I walk through Winterhold, I feel the cold air alongside the bitter chill of disappointment. We keep hearing that Winterhold was wiped out by the Great Collapse. But all we can see is a little village with some damaged buildings. Looks more like negligence than a disaster.

This mod builds on the concept of the Great Collapse. First, it expands the ruins of the city along the cliff and  further down. Standing in Winterhold, now you’ll feel a different kind of chill as you wonder how so much of history and lives have just been wiped out.

It also adds some notes for immersion, and a dungeon. It’s a maze in an underground cavern. Naturally, as with most mods, make sure you’re a high level character before heading into this challenge. And because it doesn’t add much else other than these, it’s great in terms of compatibility.


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


9. Cities of the North - Morthal


So… I’m not weird or anything, but I kinda love Morthal. A rundown swamp town in the middle of nowhere, with terrific secrets. It just gets me, and I’ve spent quite a lot of time roleplaying here. So naturally, I’d like to show some love.

There’s a bunch of mods that add unique architecture like the Cities of the North series. One of the reasons why I love this mod is it makes the town distinct, but keeps the shabby vibe. The new architecture definitely makes the town stand out, but you can still tell that it’s a town in the boonies. The interiors have been changed, so make sure to check for compatibility and patches.


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


8. The Great Town of Ivarstead

I honestly think Ivarstead is fine as it is. It’s a small village in the Rift, nothing special about it. But we can't forget that this is the town at the foot of the Throat of the World, a popular destination for pilgrims. So showing it a little more love doesn’t hurt.

First, the mod replaces the farmhouse architecture with its own, unique pieces. It also adds a Hall of Kyne, a nordic goddess. The priests here follow the old ways, so points for immersion! A word of warning, the mod changes the interior of the inn, so it might have compatibility issues.


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


7. Rodryk's Dragon Bridge

Dragon Bridge is another village that should have been much more. Or at least, it deserved to be different. Clearly, it’s not just another village. It literally has the Penitus Oculatus Outpost, which also looks like a farm.

The mod author had similar thoughts in mind when they created this mod. Given that the town is so close to Solitude, they thought it should look more like an opulent city. All the farms have been replaced with brick and stone houses, making it look much more imperial. While it doesn’t affect the wealth of the people living there, it now fits the Haafingar vibe. The interior cells have been changed, so make sure to check for patches. 


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


6. The Great City Of Dawnstar

Dawnstar is another city that got left in the mud. It’s clearly a port, so it’s important for trade. But it looks like any other village. I don’t know about you, but a few wooden houses doesn’t seem like a center of trade to me. And the mod author and I happen to think along the same lines.

The mod author’s vision of city mods usually looks a little grand, and in this case it’s appropriate. Dawnstar now has walls and fortifications fit for a place of importance. The architecture is mostly the same, so it looks like a well-defended village. The only change is the Jarl’s longhouse, both inside and outside. I haven’t personally run into any incompatibilities, and there are a handful of patches for some mods.


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


5. The Great City Of Winterhold

As Jarl Korir puts it, Winterhold was once a seat of power that contended for the Throne of the High King. Which is kinda hard to believe when you’re walking through this town that wouldn’t even qualify for a hamlet. We’re told that a lot of history has been lost to the Great Collapse, but there’s not much for us to experience.

It’s hard to not be impressed by this mod. First, it changes the architecture from farm to towering stone walls. Yeah, the kind you’d expect from an age-old city! It also expands the ruins, filling the cliffside with destroyed buildings. If the Expanded Ruins mod was eerie, this is breathtaking and painful at the same time. 

The Legendary Edition, unfortunately, does not have the new architecture, using Windhelm walls instead. Still, it too is impressive and worth having. As with all mods that change interiors, make sure to check for compatibility. 


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


4. Capital Windhelm Expansion

Windhelm, the City of Kings. Also called Ysgramor’s city. Based on the names, it’s obviously quite the important city. And to be honest, vanilla Skyrim does not disappoint. The high walls, muted colors and white ice on dark stone combine to give us the feeling of the ancient heritage. So it’s truly a compliment when a mod manages to make it even better.

Capital Windhelm expands the interior of the city by adding new areas. It separates the city into more districts that add new buildings and NPCs. The Grey Quarters also get some verticality, a word us gamers love, adding more buildings and areas on top of the ones that already exist. Finally, it massively expands the docks to make it worthy of being a major port of Skyrim.


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


3. Capital Whiterun Expansion

Whiterun is supposed to be the trade city of Skyrim. Its central location and Civil war neutrality means a reasonably good relationship with everyone. And the city’s architecture, high walls and elevated districts make it a picturesque city. But of course, we can do better.

Taking inspiration from the concept art, the mod changes the stone pathway with wooden ones. It might look strange at first, but I personally see a unique charm in it. It expands the city’s districts, making the trade capital look worthy of its title. There are some interior additions as well, and some quests to make your exploration interesting.


Download Mod: LegendarySpecial


2. Cities of the North - Falkreath

According to the lore, Falkreath was once part of Cyrodiil and its history is strongly intertwined with Colovia. Yet we see no influence in the game except for some Imperial walls around the town. I mean, even Riverwood has walls. Coupled with how Falkreath looks in Elder Scrolls Online, it’s a disappointment that we just got yet another village. 

Like all mods in the Cities series, this one modifies Falkreath to fit a vision. In the case of Falkreath, it’s a restoration of the 2nd era aesthetics. Tall watchtowers give a feel of security. The wooden buildings with high roofs also add to the aesthetic of the village. And finally, the Jarl has been relocated to a castle overlooking the town, a fitting place for a ruler. 


Download Mod: Legendary | Special


1. JK's Riverwood

As far as villages go, Riverwood is the most memorable one. Regardless of what I roleplay as, I always find myself here. Maybe it’s the forested environment, maybe it’s the mill. It could just be the people, or perhaps it’s just me. It’s iconic for many reasons.

Riverwood is a quaint, mill and fishing village. Right off the bat, the town feels a lot more real because of the added details and clutter.  Faendal now has archery targets to practice on, there will be more fishing rods, more dockways around the water. The result is a very picturesque little town where you kick back your legs and relax.


Download Mod: Legendary | Special

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A prolific and published author with a fervor for gaming, I have decided to dedicate myself to these two bring in a way that inspire passion and desires to learn and explore in others.
Gamer Since: 2000
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Dishonored
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dragonborn, Assassin's Creed 2 , Dishonored

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