The 8 Best Places to Road Trip in the UK
One of the best things about the UK is the diverse landscape that it has on display. Whether you are seeking rugged mountains or stunning coastline, you can find these and more in this wonderful country.
This extensive variety means that a road trip in the UK is the perfect way to appreciate it all in one go. Depending on the kind of trip you are seeking, there are plenty of routes on offer catering to different kinds of scenery and attractions, from seaside towns to remote, rural villages and historic cities.
The north of the UK is known to offer more greenery with lower temperatures and higher amounts of rain, whereas the south has more sandy beaches, bright yellow corn fields and sunshine during the summer months. However, you can also enjoy rugged coastlines in Scotland or moorland in Devon, so there’s no real divide when it comes to what’s on offer across the country.
If you are planning to embark on an automobile adventure and are looking for the best road trip destinations in the UK, we’ve made a list of some of the finest areas that are absolutely worth visiting.
North Coast 500, Scotland
When putting together a UK road trip plan, one route not to miss is the North Coast 500, which is situated throughout the Scottish Highlands. Also referred to as the NC 500, this is a popular road for many, with car enthusiasts travelling from all over the world to take on the windy and sometimes challenging roads.
With just over 500 miles to explore, the NC 500 will take you through the Highlands of Scotland, showcasing breathtaking mountains and coastal views along the way. Whilst on the road there is the option to take a safer route, which is better suited to larger vehicles like campervans. For thrill-seekers, there are some slightly more hair-raising roads to journey down, which take you along winding tracks, along cliff edges and provide some of the best views that Scotland has to offer.
The route for the NC 500 starts and ends in the city of Inverness, with many of Scotland’s highlights scattered throughout. If you decide that a road trip along the NC 500 is the one for you, it might be worth noting that there are also many great camping spots along the way, so you can spread your journey out over a few days or weeks.
The Lake District
The Lake District has been a popular holiday destination for many years, offering incredible lakes, mountains, great places to eat and plenty of beautiful villages. With all this in mind, it makes sense as to why so many tourists choose to road trip around here, as there is just so much to see.
One of the more popular routes to take when road tripping in the Lake District is the drive from Penrith to Whitehaven. The course is around 71.3 miles, with stops along the way at Ullswater, Keswick and Buttermere. There is plenty to see along this journey, which provides the perfect opportunity to spend three or four days exploring some of the most popular areas of the national parks.
If you have less time to spend in the Lake District then the drive from Ravenglass to Drigg might be a better option, which takes one to two days and is approximately 31.4 miles in length. There are stops at Eskdale Green, Dalegarth Station, Scafell Pike and Drigg Beach along the way, all of which are great stop-offs to explore the Lake Districts’ top attractions further.
Taking a road trip around the Lake District is a great way to explore this beautiful and popular part of the UK, with many more routes on offer that we haven’t touched upon. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, there are also plenty of incredible camping spots throughout the Lake District that you can include on your trip.
Yorkshire offers a stunning selection of rugged moorland, impressive peaks and beautiful coastlines. This diversity in the landscapes makes Yorkshire a great place for those seeking a scenic road trip in the UK.
If you plan on visiting North Yorkshire then many different roads will guide you through some of Yorkshire’s highlights. Places such as the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, Malham Cove, Pateley Bridge and Horton in Ribblesdale are all certainly worth a visit, putting on the best display of Yorkshire’s great outdoors.
For those looking for the best of Yorkshire’s coastline, then you will want to head to South Yorkshire. Here you will find places such as Filey, Whitby, Scarborough, Bridlington and Robin Hoods Bay. The mix of sandy beaches and UK seaside resorts make the south of Yorkshire a great place for those who want a road trip by the sea.
Alternatively, you could choose to travel from one end of Yorkshire to the other. Whatever route you choose, a road trip in this famous region will be sure to provide you with lots to see and plenty to do along your journey.
The Atlantic Highway, England
The drive along the Atlantic Highway is a popular route for those planning a UK road trip itinerary. With the road winding along the country’s South West Peninsula, there are plenty of opportunities for exceptional sightseeing.
Some of the highlights include Exmoor National Park, the surfer’s town of Newquay and Land’s End, which is the westernmost point of the UK.
This drive will take you along incredible coastlines, through thick forests and idyllic English villages. Counties such as Somerset, Devon and Cornwall are all worth stopping off at, especially during the summer months when the weather is warmer and provides a great atmosphere for outdoor activities.
Taking around 8 hours to complete and being approximately 245 miles in length, the Atlantic Highway is best enjoyed over a few days. This allows for time to stop off and take in all the incredible scenery that surrounds you along the way.
A road trip around the Norfolk Coast will deliver breathtaking seaside views, as well as a chance to spot some exciting wildlife such as the seals that bathe along the shorelines. There are many great places to visit in the region of Norfolk, but if you choose to visit the coast there are some spots that shouldn’t be missed.
Generally, those looking to explore Norfolk Coast tend to start at Norfolk Broads Country Park and end at Kings Lynn – or vice versa. The highlights along this route include places such as:
The drive along this region’s coastline is around 82 miles and takes approximately 3 hours. You could do the entire route in one day, but we would recommend spending a few days here, which will give you plenty of time to see the different coastal towns and other sightseeing spots in the area.
The Peak District
As the name describes, the Peak District is brimming with mountainous scenery. This makes it the perfect place to visit when planning a road trip in the UK, thanks to all of the incredible scenery along the route as well as offering many great places to stop off for a hike.
There are a few different routes that you can take when visiting the Peak District, all of which provide breathtaking views of the raw peaks and greenery. A particular favourite among road trippers is the Snake Pass, which is around 26.1 miles in length and consists of a road that threads through an impressive hill in the Peak District. True to its name, from a bird’s eye view the road looks like a snake twisting through the vale. The whole drive encompasses you in green valleys, with a river that follows alongside the route.
If you want your road trip to be full of rugged scenery and glistening waters, then a journey to Derwent Dams is a great choice. There are a couple of different reservoirs that the drive takes you past, Ladybower and Howden, which stretch for almost 8 miles along the route. With dense forests and vast amounts of water along the course, there is plenty to see along this drive that will be sure to impress.
Winnats Pass is another favoured road trip choice for many visitors to the Peak District, especially for those with little time as it only stretches for 5.8 miles. This is down to the fact that the route takes you through a limestone gorge, which is considered one of the highlights of the drive.
The trip starts at Chatsworth House and ends at Winnats Pass. There are plenty of spots to stop off along the way, offering a great opportunity to explore the area further.
The Jurassic Coast
Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is another popular destination for those seeking a UK road trip. The name comes from the landscape that is situated along the coast, where many fossil discoveries have been made and are still being found in the area today.
The drive starts at Swanage and ends at Lyme Regis, which is around 65 miles. There are some great options for staying overnight along the Jurassic coast which only help to extend your road trip further.
Some great highlights along the way are places like:
- Durlston Country Park
- Corfe Castle
- Kimmeridge Bay
- Lulworth Cove
- Durdle Door
- The Isle of Portland
- Abbotsbury Swannery
There are many different routes you could take to explore Cornwalls by car, but the coast is definitely the highlight of the region. Where you decide to go will help determine which course to take, or you could choose to spend a couple of weeks in Cornwall and see it all!
One favoured drive along Cornwall’s coast is the journey from Tintagel to Polperro. This can be done over the space of a few days and is about 200 miles. Certain areas that aren’t to be missed consist of:
- Port Isaac
- The Rumps
- Bedruthan Steps
- St Agnes
- St Ives
- Gurnards Head
- Botallack Mine
- St Micheal’s Mount
- Lizard Point
- Kynance Cove
The drive allows for a true Cornish experience, with incredible coastal views and some top spots for sightseeing throughout.
When deciding to embark on a road trip along Cornwall’s coast, it is probably best to make a note of the top sights that you want to see whilst in the county. This way you can plan your own route, making it easier to see everything in one trip.
If you want to visit any of the places listed above but don’t want to travel by car or don’t have access to an automobile there’s no need to worry. There are other options available to help you see all these great spots in the UK.
One of our top tips for experiencing the best road trip destinations in the UK is by coach. Some excellent companies offer coach journeys around many of the places above, which means you can still witness all these sights even if you choose not to do it by car!
The UK is home to some incredible scenery, making it a great spot for those seeking a road trip. No matter what route you choose to take, you will be impressed at every twist and turn.
With places like Cornwall offering breathtaking coastal views and warm sunny days throughout the summer months, and destinations like Scotland displaying the raw, rugged mountains at the northmost points of the country, there is something for everyone when looking for a road trip across the UK.