Planning an England road trip? Here are some of the best itinerary ideas for all schedules, including London to Cornwall, the Cotswolds and Kent in southern England, National Parks like the Lake District or Peak District, Northern England and all the way up to the Scottish border.
Whatever your cup of tea, there’s a UK road trip idea here for you. We’ve also provided a helpful map so you can visualise your route.
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UK Road Trips- How to Plan
Planning a UK road trip to England or elsewhere can be tough.
There are SO MANY places, ideas, options and reviews- how on earth are you supposed to choose the best way or most scenic drives?
Then, you have to factor in how long you have for your UK road trip (remembering that much of rural UK has smaller, slower roads, so it takes a lot longer to get there than you might expect.
So, if you’re planning a road trip around England (and the UK) and feeling overwhelmed, here are some of our favourite road trips and itinerary ideas to help you. We’ll discuss the best bits of each area, why and when you should visit, how far it is from London and where you should allow extra time to explore.
England Road Trip Ideas- Where to Start
The first thing to decide is where you want to visit on your road trip. Also, remember that England is only one section of the UK- there are several other countries to explore (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland make up the United Kingdom).
So, if you want to do a full UK road trip, you’ll need more time than if you were just doing an England road trip.
Our biggest tip is not to overface yourself. Whether you only have a long weekend for a quick trip from London or a week to get out on the open road and tour, make sure you leave time to actually get out of your vehicle and explore the places you’re visiting- you’ll find plenty of historic sites, sandy beaches and incredible routes to enjoy.
Roughly speaking, you can split England in half- the South of England and the North (the line roughly goes through Birmingham) or even further into quarters if you only have time for a one-week road trip.
Again, how far you can travel will depend on how much time you have, as well as how you are travelling (rental car, motorhome or public transport), but to do each half ‘properly’ we would recommend at least 2-3 weeks- especially if it’s your first time in England.
Having said that, you can see some of the best sights in less time than that- here’s our one week in England road trip itinerary.
Where to stay during your England road trip
If you’re in a car or motorbike, there are PLENTY of hotels and BnBs to use en route. If you’re travelling in summer we recommend booking at least the first stop in advance- if you use Booking.com for all your accommodation you’ll find you can get a great deal and save a lot of money.
England Road Trip Map
I know how hard it can be to visualise places if you don’t know the country well, so here’s a map of England with several of the road trip destinations shown on it.
Out of interest, if you did this route, it’s about 1056 miles (1700km) long. You could technically do it in a week, but you’d barely have time to get out of the car!
Common England Road Trip Questions
How long does it take to drive the whole of England?
Many people wonder “How long does it take to drive the whole of England?” That’s a tough question, as there are so many places to go and depends a lot on your starting point.
Most people allow 2-3 weeks to drive through as much of England as they can, but that will involve a LOT of driving. Of course, you can take a look at the road trip itinerary ideas below and see which scenic route or quaint villages most appeal to you- and then plan your trip around that.
One common UK road trip idea is to drive from Land’s End in Cornwall all the way up to John o’Groats in Scotland, which is about 838miles (1350km). Obviously, this is a road trip which involves England AND Scotland, and that brings me to another important point.
Want to rent a vehicle for your road trip?
These might help:
Can we go to England by road?
This is a common question for anyone who doesn’t live in the UK- and the short answer is yes, you can drive to England from mainland Europe.
Whether you’re enjoying a European road trip (here are some ideas for you), or want to combine a trip to England with another country, you can drive to England from Europe via either the Eurotunnel or taking one of several car ferries (they also take motorhomes/ campervans on most of the ferry routes.)
And if you’re going the other way and will be driving in Europe, make sure you are aware of the new rules for driving in Europe after BREXIT.
If you’re like more help planning your trip, this post about how to plan an epic UK road trip will help.
Is England the UK or Great Britain?
Neither. And part of both 🙂
It’s common for people to confuse an England road trip with a UK road trip. England is just one country within the UK, along with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you want to extend your trip and see more of those countries, you might enjoy our post on the best UK road trips and scenic drive ideas.
The UK is short for ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’.
Great Britain is the LANDMASS of the largest island in the British Isles (the one which makes up England, Wales and Scotland). Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not included in this.
And, to make things even more odd, the British Isles includes ALL the islands, including the whole of Ireland, which isn’t part of the UK at all.
Thoroughly confused? Ok, let’s just stick to England road trip ideas! 🙂
South England Road Trip Ideas
If you’re visiting London and want to explore part of the country for a few days, southern England is a good place to start. Of course, there are a HUGE number of places to explore in ‘South England’ (which is roughly classed as anywhere below Birmingham), so I’m just going to pick a few highlights to inspire you.
Cornwall- South West England
Cornwall is one of my favourite places to road trip in England. I spent 2 years living there whilst I was in the Navy, and have been back many times since. There are plenty of things to do in Cornwall, but there are some important tips you need to know before you arrive!
Why is Cornwall one of the best England road trips?
If you want cute villages, incredible beaches and more history than you can shake a stick at, Cornwall is perfect. Also, they have some of the best ice cream IN THE WORLD (no kidding) and it’s perfectly acceptable to eat a scone with jam and clotted cream EVERY day and no one will judge you.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There is intense rivalry between Devon and Cornwall over whether jam or cream should go first on a scone. In Cornwall, they do jam and THEN cream, which is apparently the way the Queen preferred her scones.
(Don’t worry, they’re used to tourists and won’t stone you if you get it wrong. But be warned if you want to live there…!)
In Devon, they do it the other way. I’ve tried both, and I’m a jam first girl (because you can then put more cream on!)
When should you visit Cornwall?
Cornwall is best anytime between Easter and mid-October.
TOP TIP: Avoid July and August if you possibly can. The schools are on holiday and it feels like EVERYONE in England has travelled to the same small Cornish village as you.
Beaches are overcrowded, parking becomes a struggle and there’s a very real chance of shops running out of ice cream. Don’t do that to yourself. You deserve that ice cream.
Also, many businesses and attractions close after mid-October for the winter, so you might find you can’t do everything you want to outside the season.
Having said that, we find Cornwall one of the best places to enjoy Autumn in Europe– the weather is still warm, but everywhere is quieter and easier to get to.
How long should you spend roadtripping Cornwall?
How long is a piece of string!! But, as you can see on our Cornish road trip itinerary, we recommend 7-10 days minimum to see all the best places.
Where are the best places to visit in Cornwall on a road trip?
Did I mention that I used to live here? I have SO many recommendations for places to visit we could be here all week!!! Some of my absolute favourites (and this is like choosing my favourite child… or chocolate bar) include:
- Tintagel Castle (the home of Arthur and the round table)
- Minack Theatre (built onto the side of a cliff)
- St Michael’s Mount
- Boscastle (where one of the best witchcraft museums in the world is!)
- Newquay beach (and bars!)
Recommended by Ben at Driftwood Journals
Famed for its endless rolling hills, craggy coastlines and clotted cream delights, Devon is unsurprisingly one of the most popular destinations in the UK – and a dream for rural road-trippers! With wild moors galore, cutesy towns and villages, and bountiful beaches, you don’t have to drive far in Devon to stumble upon scenes of unparalleled beauty.
Highlights and best places to visit in Devon
- Dartmouth- one of the best towns in the county (and home of the Royal Naval Officer training. I spent a year here…running up those bl***y hills!) Hire a boat and explore the river.
- Paignton- the beach with the red sand and is also known as the English Riviera.
- Dartmoor National Park
- Exmoor National Park
- Exmouth with its beautiful painted houses
- Salcombe Harbour – a holiday hotspot for all generations.
- Dulverton- head to the Copper Kettle tearoom; you won’t regret it!
Devon road trip ideas
Pack up your motorhome/ camper (or car with tent) and find a site with views across the Devonshire cow-grazed hillsides of the Lyn Valley, or out over Dartmoor. You can wild camp in Devon, but not on the moors. Find out more about motorhome wild camping in the UK.
For a coastal trip, explore sea towns like Salcombe and Dartmouth (where you can take a boat up to Greenway, Agatha Christie’s summer home) and round to Exmouth, before heading north to Woolacombe, Dawlish and the fishing boat bobbing harbour of Ilfracombe. Enjoy the bustle and culture in the capital of Exeter or discover the notorious prison of Dartmoor.
Alternatively, head to North Devon and enjoy the wilder seas and views of the north coast. This is a great area for surfing and watersports.
If you have more time (and fuel) to burn, take to the A386 between Appledore and Plymouth, traversing through forested valleys to picture-perfect towns like Great Torrington and Tavistock, where you can tour the tearooms and plan the rest of your trip in the park while dangling your toes in the River Tavy.
But the true beauty of road tripping in Devon is that you don’t really need to plan too extensively. You’ll never be far from a cream tea pitstop, and the verdant country roads will offer up some of the most perfect picnic spots you’ll ever see. All you need is is a full tank, and a little patience when stuck behind tractor after tractor!
When is the best time to visit Devon on a road trip?
As with Cornwall, the best time to visit Devon is Spring to Autumn, but avoid the high summer months if you can, especially if you’re on a UK motorhome holiday.
Can you visit Devon on a day trip from London?
You can, but it’s quite a long drive. I’d say you’d need at least 2 or 3 days to really be able to explore anything.
Dorset- One of England’s Best Road Trips
Recommended by Paul | Anywhere We Roam
The Jurassic Coast stretches 95 miles across Dorset in southern England. With an iconic coastline of towering white cliffs, it’s an excellent destination for a classic road trip. Stunning scenery, historical sites and local breweries make the Jurassic Coast one of the best places to experience the beautiful English countryside.
Dorset road trip- best places to visit?
The main highlight of a road trip to Dorset in the area has to be Old Harry Rocks – a collection of white stone monoliths that have been carved out along the coast. It’s one of the most impressive stretches of scenery in the UK with dazzling chalk stacks assembled like a jigsaw puzzle waiting to be completed. If you get time, be sure to enjoy one of the many fabulous Dorset walks- you won’t regret it.
A thirty-minute drive away, Corfe Castle stands as a reminder of England’s 11th-Century past. It was one of the earliest Norman castles built and today it glows in its dilapidated glory overlooking the Dorset hills. It’s a stunning, photogenic inclusion on a UK road trip.
For another natural phenomenon, Durdle Door is possibly one of the most recognisable symbols of the Jurassic Coast. Over time, crashing waves have eroded limestone stacks in the sea leaving a glorious natural arch.
It’s a beautiful stretch of beach, ideal for a long summer stroll. It’s also next to the famous Lulworth Cove, which is a wonderful place to enjoy an ice cream!
Editors note: (I (Kat) actually jumped off the top of Durdle Door on my hen party!)
After soaking up the stunning scenery, head west to Lyme Regis, a quaint town with a vibrant independent retail scene. The historic Cobb Harbour set against moody cliffs is well-preserved and houses some of the best coffee in the area.
When is the best time to visit Dorset on an England road trip?
The best time to visit the Jurassic Coast on a road trip is from May to early July when the surrounding countryside will be verdant green and covered in wildflowers, but there’s not too much traffic!
Hampshire road trip
Hampshire is another county in England we know well, having lived here for 14+ years. There’s plenty to enjoy on a road trip to Hampshire, from beautiful cities to picturesque country houses.
Highlights of a Hampshire road trip
Some of our favourite places to visit in Hampshire include:
- Winchester- be sure to visit the Cathedral where Jane Austen is buried and you can see one of the oldest Bibles in the world. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in December, don’t miss the famous Winchester Christmas Market, held in the Cathedral grounds each December.
- Highclere Castle (or Downton Abbey, as you might know it!)
- Lymington – for the oldest open sea water baths in the UK – and the New Forest (check out the Wildlife park there and make sure to take some memorable photos).
- Hinton Ampner- 18th century famous manor house known for its gardens.
- Portsmouth (you MUST go to the Mary Rose museum and HMS Victory)
- Isle of Wight (see below)
Isle of Wight road trip
Recommended by Darek | DarekandGosia
The Isle of Wight, famous for its beautiful views, is an island on the south coast of England, just below Southampton. Technically, it’s part of Hampshire, but feels like a different world.
With a motorhome or car, you can reach the island by ferry from either Southampton or Portsmouth – book in advance during summer. There are also a couple of foot passenger ferries and a hovercraft from Southsea.
Why is it one of England’s best road trips?
The Isle of Wight is like going back in time. It’s worth a road trip here for even a weekend, to escape the hustle and bustle of normal life, ride bikes and take a walk on the cliffs.
Also, there are some wonderful places to stay. If you’re on a road trip, check out these amazing Isle of Wight campsites– some with stunning sea views!
What is there to do?
You can start exploring the island in Shanklin – one of the coastal villages famous for its beautiful beaches. On the promenade along the sea you will find many restaurants and hotels – most of the Island is typically tourist-oriented.
From Shanklin drive to the western part of the island. The most characteristic point is The Needles – three chalk rocks emerging from the sea with a small lighthouse built at the end of one of the columns. You can get to Needles by car and then follow the path on foot to the cliff slope. It’s a fabulous place for a picnic.
Next to Needles is Old Battery, a military fortification dating from the nineteenth century. There you can find World War II memorabilia or visit one of the various exhibitions are also taking place.
While driving around the island make sure you get to Carisbrooke Castle near Newport. Its construction began in the 12th century. It is worth taking a moment to walk around the castle, relax in the Edwardian-style garden.
One of my favourite places on the Island is Osborne House- Queen Victoria’s summer home. You can walk around the gardens and the house and even enjoy an ice cream on her private beach. Osborne House is run by English Heritage.
When is the best time to visit the Isle of Wight?
The Isle of Wight is a must-see for anyone who wants to admire the British climate and above all fantastic views. It is worth going here all year round – it’s actually one of the best places to visit in Europe in October, when there are fewer tourists and you can enjoy the views & roads!
Recommended by Mandi | Big Family, Little Adventures
Sometimes you want nothing more than to escape the hustle and the bustle of everyday life, the noise, the bright lights, the never-ending pace of life. If you want to get away, the Norfolk Broads is pure escapism; big skies, plenty of peace and quiet and an abundance of wildlife.
Best places to visit in Norfolk on a road trip
- The Old Roman Fort at Burgh Castle with an elevated position and commanding views over the marshes – perfect for a walk in both winter morning frost or a hot and hazy mid-summer evening
- If you prefer a bit of activity, Wroxham is a bustling Broads village- home to Roy’s of Wroxham, possibly the largest village shop you have ever seen
- Plenty of riverside pubs and restaurants in Wroxham and all around the Broads- the perfect places to stop for a bite to eat
- St Benet’s Abbey – an 11th century monastery defying time, standing in a stunning green valley.
- If you are an animal lover, you will enjoy a visit to Wroxham Barns to feed the lambs or spot the grey seals on the Norfolk beaches
Norfolk Road Trip- when is the best time to visit?
You can explore Norfolk all year. In summer, if you would like to explore the best Norfolk beaches or Broads up close, why not hire a dayboat; these can be hired at various boatyards throughout the Broads. Waveney River Centre is another stunning place to stop and admire the view, either by boat or car.
The challenge is (as always in England!) the weather. In dry conditions, most paths are excellent, but it can get a bit more challenging in wet weather.
However, over the years, an increasing number of boardwalks have been developed, increasing safe access to the Broads whatever the weather. Also, seeing the windmills and rivers on a crisp winter morning is unforgettable.
Time does not stop in Norfolk, but it really does feel like it slows down. To be able to watch the sunset across the broads any time of year is a magical experience and the perfect place to enjoy a chilled road trip.
Sussex, Kent and Surrey
Ahhh, the picturesque south-east corner of England, which includes the Garden of England (that’s the other name for Kent). This area is lush, green and has some many historic buildings and castles you’ll find it impossible to avoid them.
It’s also home to plenty of gorgeous sandy beaches, white cliffs (such as Dover and Beachy Head) and some truly wonderful parks to walk in.
Even better, it’s all easily reached from London by car and train, so it’s easy to get away from the city for a few days if you’d like a countryside break or a trip to the beach.
Best Places to visit in Sussex include:
Sussex is actually split into East and West Sussex, but to make things easy on your road trip I’ve made one list for you. They’re not that far apart from each other!
- Brighton: A vibrant seaside city famous for its pebble beach, iconic pier, and the Royal Pavilion with its distinctive architecture. Explore the Lanes for unique shops and enjoy the city’s lively arts and music scene. See below for more ideas
- Arundel: Home to Arundel Castle, a medieval and Victorian castle that overlooks the River Arun. The town itself is picturesque with cobbled streets and antique shops.
- Chichester: A historic cathedral city with Roman origins, Chichester offers a mix of history, culture, and shopping. The Chichester Cathedral and Pallant House Gallery are notable attractions.
- Lewes: Known for its medieval architecture, Lewes Castle, and historic streets. The Lewes Bonfire Night is a famous annual event.
- Eastbourne: A traditional seaside town with a Victorian pier, beautiful seafront, and the iconic Beachy Head cliffs nearby.
- Rye: A charming medieval town with cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, and views of the surrounding marshland.
- Battle: Famous for the Battle of Hastings in 1066, this town is home to Battle Abbey and the Battlefield. Explore the historic sites and learn about this pivotal event in English history.
- Petworth House and Park: A stately mansion with an impressive art collection set in a vast deer park. The gardens are also worth exploring.
- Seven Sisters Country Park: A stunning coastal area with dramatic chalk cliffs and rolling hills, perfect for hiking and enjoying breathtaking views.
- Bodiam Castle: A 14th-century moated castle surrounded by water and picturesque landscapes.
- Sheffield Park and Garden: A National Trust property known for its stunning gardens, lakes, and vibrant displays of plants.
- Birling Gap and Beachy Head: More stunning chalk cliffs and coastal views, with the added beauty of the natural arch at Birling Gap.
- Glyndebourne Opera House: Known for its world-class opera productions, the opera house is set in beautiful countryside and offers a unique cultural experience.
Best places to visit in Kent include:
- Canterbury– home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Canterbury Cathedral
- Dover: Known for the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, this coastal town is home to Dover Castle, which boasts a complex history and offers panoramic views of the English Channel.
- Rochester: A charming town with a medieval castle and cathedral. It’s also the birthplace of Charles Dickens, and you can visit the Dickens World theme park.
- Whitstable: This coastal town is famous for its oysters and seafood. Enjoy the quaint streets, beach huts, and seafood restaurants along the coast.
- Margate: A seaside town with a revived artistic scene, featuring the Turner Contemporary art gallery and the scenic Margate Sands.
- Leeds Castle: Often referred to as the “loveliest castle in the world,” Leeds Castle is set on an island in a lake and surrounded by beautiful gardens.
- Hever Castle: The childhood home of Anne Boleyn, with historic architecture, gardens, and a maze.
- Chatham Historic Dockyard: A maritime museum where you can explore historic warships, submarines, and learn about Britain’s naval history.
- Biddenden Vineyards: If you’re a wine enthusiast, Kent has several vineyards. Biddenden is one of the oldest and most well-known.
- Canterbury Tales Visitor Attraction: An interactive museum where you can step back in time to experience Chaucer’s famous tales.
- St. Augustine’s Abbey: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this abbey in Canterbury dates back to the 6th century and is a significant historical site.
- Chartwell House: The former home of Winston Churchill, now a museum showcasing his life and legacy.
These are just a few highlights of what Kent has to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or culture, you’re likely to find something appealing in this diverse and beautiful county.
Best Places to Visit in Surrey
- Box Hill: A National Trust site known for its stunning views and walking trails. It’s a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts and offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding countryside.
- Polesden Lacey: A grand Edwardian estate with beautiful gardens, Polesden Lacey is a National Trust property that offers a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy in the early 20th century.
- Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village: Located in Compton, this unique attraction is dedicated to the works of Victorian artist George Frederic Watts and his wife Mary Watts. The village includes a gallery, chapel, and artist studios.
- Hampton Court Palace: While part of the palace is in Greater London, the stunning Hampton Court Palace is right on the border of Surrey. It’s famous for its Tudor history, grand architecture, and beautiful gardens.
- RHS Garden Wisley: A flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society, Wisley offers a wide variety of plants, landscapes, and garden designs to explore.
- Brooklands Museum: A museum dedicated to motorsport and aviation history, located on the site of the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit.
- Loseley Park: A grand Elizabethan manor house surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland, open to the public during certain times of the year.
- Denbies Wine Estate: England’s largest vineyard, Denbies offers tours, wine tasting, and beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
- Newlands Corner: Another viewpoint offering breathtaking views of the Surrey Hills, perfect for picnics and outdoor activities.
- Epsom Downs: Known for Epsom Downs Racecourse and the famous Epsom Derby, this area offers open spaces and walking trails.
- Virginia Water: Part of Windsor Great Park, Virginia Water features a lake, ornamental cascades, and woodland walks.
Surrey’s mix of historic sites, natural beauty, and cultural attractions make it a delightful destination for a variety of interests. Whether you’re into history, outdoor activities, or simply enjoying scenic landscapes, Surrey has something to offer.
Brighton – East Sussex
I’ve given Brighton it’s own section because it’s one of my favourite cities in England and you should try to add it to your England road trip itinerary, especially if you’re heading toward East Sussex.
Brighton is a city renowned for its diverse communities and innovation, the quirky shopping areas, its music and art scene, and its large LGBT population. Read more about Brighton in Autum.
Why is Brighton one of the best England road trips?
Brighton is less than an hour away from London (76 km) and on a direct train line. It offers plenty of fun and exciting activities to enjoy (more than just fish and chips at a pier!)
Brighton has been famous as a cultural centre for over a century. It’s home to the world’s oldest operating aquarium (which opened in 1872- now called ‘’Brighton Sea Life’’), and you can even ride the world’s oldest operating electric railway, the Volks Railway, built in 1883.
Other Brighton Highlights include:
- See the Palace Pier
- Catch the latest release in the Duke of York Picturehouse, Britain’s oldest cinema.
- Have a stroll down the North Lane- home to over 400 independent shops
- Discover the Victorian innovations still in operation in the city.
How long should you spend in Brighton?
You will want to spend at least two days in Brighton to truly take in the city, but you can easily make a week of your itinerary if you want to explore more places in Sussex, Kent and Surrey.
What is the best month to visit Brighton?
The sunniest (and therefore warmest!) time of the year in Brighton is from May to September. July and August are peak tourist season, with hotel prices skyrocketing, so be aware of that and plan your stay accordingly.
Cambridgeshire & Cambridge
Cambridgeshire is a county in the East of England with plenty to do. The jewel of the county is Cambridge, with a historical, 800-year-old centre you should definitely not skip.
Why should you include Cambridge on your England road trip?
Only 1 hour and 30 minutes away from London via M11, Cambridge offers so much: a rich history of English heritage, a buzzing local community, and a picturesque setting. You’ll even find a gift Henry VIII gave to Anne Boleyn!
- See the King’s College Chapel
- Enjoy breakfast at Fitzbillies
- Go punting in the River Cam
- Have a picnic by the river.
- Enjoy walking the historic streets
Cambridge Trip Itinerary idea
Leaving London, head up to Cambridge via the M11.
Start the day with drinks and a meal in one of the many deli and brunch places in Market Square before setting off to explore the city. I highly recommend the famous Fitzbillies- the food is delicious.
From there, you can choose from a variety of activities: visiting King’s Chapel, punting in the River Cam (pass under the Bridge of Sighs), hiking on the Cam Towpath (lots of hidden gems if you know how to look for trails!), or taking in the city views from St. Mary’s Tower.
If you’re staying overnight, end the day by attending the Evensong at the King’s College Chapel (select days only)
When is the best (and worst) time to visit Cambridge?
Cambridge is beautiful all year round. However, the worst time to visit would be spring – the university students sit their finals between April and June, which means many of the college sites are closed to visitors.
What are some of the best places to visit in Cambridge?
The King’s College Chapel in the University of Cambridge is the third-oldest university in operation and the most iconic and instantly-recognisable building in the county.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to drink at the Eagle, a historic pub in the heart of Cambridge’s city centre famously linked to Watson and Crick’s discovery of DNA.
If you are feeling adventurous and are ready to brave the British winter, visit Cambridge in December. It’s off-peak season and features one of the best UK Christmas markets you should visit. Read all about the Cambridge Christmas market here.
How long should you spend in Cambridge?
One day in Cambridge is usually enough time to visit the majority of the main sights, especially if you are visiting during the summer. You’ll need tickets for most of the chapels and university buildings, so go first to buy those.
Wiltshire & Cotswolds Road Trip – 3 day trip from London
Recommended by Ann | The road is life
The Cotswolds is the largest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England and Wales. If you look at a map of England, find Bristol (west coast, just below the indent of southern Wales) and the Cotswolds is the area north-east of Bristol.
There is so much beauty and fascinating history to discover around the Cotswolds region and luckily you don’t have to travel far from London to get there! You can reach Bath or Bristol easily in a day from London, but we recommend at least 3 days to really explore the area by car/ motorhome, plus explore Stonehenge and Salisbury on the way back to London. If you’re travelling with children, don’t worry- there’s plenty of things to do in the Cotswolds with kids.
Highlights & Best Places to Visit in the Cotswolds and Surrounding Area
- Explore the charming stone villages of the Cotswolds
- visit the historic city of Bath
- marvel at the mysterious ancient stones of Stonehenge
- Indulge in some shopping at Daylesford farm
- stop at the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral.
When is the best time for a Cotswolds road trip?
Although the Cotswolds can be visited all year, this road trip is best completed in the spring or summer months to ensure warmer and sunnier sightseeing weather.
The days are also longer- allowing you to see more each day. However, unlike Cornwall and Devon, most places to NOT shut during winter, so feel free to explore whenever suits you!
Wiltshire & Cotswolds road trip itinerary from London
- Departing London, drive out to the Cotswolds. This is where you should spend 3-4 days exploring as many lovely little towns and villages as you wish to.
- A few of the prettiest Cotswolds villages include Bibury, Stow-on-the-Wold, Lower Slaughter, Bourton-on-the-Water, Castle Combe and so many more! The beauty of the Cotswolds region is that the villages are all located in close proximity with minimal driving time in between them.
- Once you have seen your share of lovely English villages, carry on to Bath which is only a 30-minute drive from the village of Castle Combe- well worth a visit.
- Spend a full day and night in Bath visiting the Roman baths.
- From there continue to Stonehenge. A visit to this incredible ancient site can easily take half a day. We camped overnight at Stonehenge and saw the most INCREDIBLE sunrise we’ve EVER seen. (Seriously, watch the video. It’s breathtaking)
- From Stonehenge, it’s only a short 20-minute drive to the medieval town of Salisbury which brings you to the final stop of this road trip.
- The highlight of Salisbury is the stunning Salisbury Cathedral which has the tallest spire in all of Britain! Spend one night in Salisbury before making the final 2-hour road trip back to London.
- Another option is to return to London via the historic city of Oxford. Don’t miss a meal in Sticks and Sushi- one of the best restaurants in Oxford and with incredible views over the city.
North England Road Trips- Why You Should Visit
It’s easy when planning an England road trip to get sucked into famous places like Cornwall, Devon or the Cotswolds- and those are all AMAZING places to visit.
However, I strongly encourage you to visit the north of England as well if you have time. You’ll find villages just as pretty, delicious food (chips, pie and gravy is the best thing in the world) and incredible history.
Again, we were lucky to live up here for 4 years- here are some of our absolute favourite places to road trip, although there are of course many more we have yet to discover! I hope they give you some ideas and inspiration for your next trip.
Don’t forget to Grab your ULTIMATE road trip planner here– it has everything you need to help you pack for your road trip.
Peak District National Park
The Peak District is a huge and stunning area in Derbyshire, just to the east of Manchester. It’s a perfect place for a road trip because there are so many things to see!
A car or motorhome makes it easy to travel between the sites and there are plenty of campsites or hotels to use as you explore.
There are a multitude of hikes, walks and tors to climb and the area is famous for its caves, which people still lived in as recently as 1910!
The Peak District was the UK’s first National Park and is also considered the real ale capital of the world! If you’re exploring the Peak District with kids, there are steam trains, tramways, cycle paths and even a cable car taking you up to see some stunning views! There’s also Alton Towers theme park – one of the best in the UK.
Best places to explore in the Peak District
Some of the highlights include:
- Chatsworth House
- Ladybower reservoir
- Alton Towers theme park
- Heights of Abraham cable car
Lake District road trip
Recommended by Fiona/ Passport & Piano
The Lake District National Park is a UNESCO heritage site that makes for the perfect road trip. Walking around the lakes and fells to see the magnificent scenery is one of the many pleasures of the area.
Quintessential villages are plentiful as are traditional English pubs with real ale and hearty food. Don’t just rush by on your way from England to Scotland; take a few days and enjoy all that the lakes have to offer.
Best places to visit on a Lake District Road Trip
Most people arrive from the south via Windermere, but to explore the areas hidden gems its worth spending at least three days here. The Lake District has some of the worlds best scenic drives and a trip along the Honister Pass and Kirkstone Pass are a must.
In the South Lakes, I’d highly recommend a visit to Grasmere. Here you can visit several homes of the famous poet William Wordsworth and enjoy Sarah Nelson’s delightful gingerbread.
If you love Beatrix Potter, you can follow in her footsteps at Beatrix Potter World in Bowness- on- Windermere. Her home near Hawkshead is open to visitors, and Wray Castle is a beautiful spot where she enjoyed her family holidays.
In the North Lakes, the towns of Keswick and Cockermouth have plenty to explore. The Castlerigg stone circle, with its stunning views across the fells, is worth stopping at, and the “Surprise View” across Derwent Water is spectacular.
If you’re not exploring in a motorhome or campervan, accommodation throughout the area is plentiful. There are boat rides and water-based activities to enjoy on most of the lakes and a plethora of outdoor pursuit centres for the more adventurous.
When is the best time for a Lake District road trip?
In the summer months, the National Park can be rather busy particularly on the main A66 road which runs through the centre. Hence if you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting in the spring or autumn.
While you’re not guaranteed sunshine at any time of the year, the weather is probably at its best between April and September.
England Road Trip- Yorkshire & The Dales
Recommended by Sinead | Map Made Memories
England’s largest county, Yorkshire, is a perfect destination for a road trip. There are so many diverse attractions to see within a relatively short drive of each other.
Highlights and some best places in Yorkshire to visit
- Hardraw Force–England’s highest single-drop waterfall
- White Scar–The longest show cave in England
- Visit the ‘Best Street in Britain’
- Visit the cobbled Shambles, named ‘the Best Street in Britain’.
- Marvel at the Ribblehead Viaduct, the 24 arches that span the Yorkshire Dales, a true masterpiece of Victorian engineering.
- Castles and ruins all over the place
- Stand on Hogsmeade station (or at least the station which played it in Harry Potter!)
Yorkshire Road Trip Itinerary
Start your road trip in the rolling hills and river valleys of the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Visit the 11th century Skipton Castle or descend underground to marvel at the formations in White Scar Caves, the longest show cave in England.
Clamber over Brimham Rocks or hike the stunning landscape around Malham Cove. Browse the independent shops in the Victorian spa town of Harrogate.
Places to visit on the Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales are packed with attractive waterfalls. Choose between the plunging falls around Ingleton, popular Aysgarth Falls or, my favourite waterfall, Hardraw Force which is England’s highest single drop waterfall. Before leaving the Dales, visit the impressive monastic ruins and landscaped gardens of Fountains Abbey.
Continue your road trip by exploring the historic city of York. This compact city is easily navigated on foot and is an ideal location for history buffs. You can visit Viking, Roman, Georgian and Victorian sites all in one day!
See the iconic York Minster, walk the city’s medieval city walls and stroll along the cobbled Shambles, which has been voted the ‘Best Street in Britain’ and was the inspiration behind Diagon Alley from the movie adaptation of the Harry Potter series!
Road trip over the Yorkshire Moors
End your Yorkshire road trip with a drive across the wild Yorkshire Moors. Take a scenic trip on a steam train across the Moors to visit charming Goathland train station which doubled as Hogsmeade station in the Harry Potter movies. Alternatively, your legs with a hike at the Hole of Horcum, a huge ancient natural amphitheatre.
How long should you spend exploring Yorkshire on a road trip?
You could ‘cover’ Yorkshire in a couple of days but to truly appreciate all it has to offer I would recommend at least one full week.
When is the best time to road trip to Yorkshire?
Yorkshire can be explored all year around- and expect rain at any time! But Spring is incredible on the moors- with the wildflowers blooming and the days getting longer, it’s a perfect time to visit. Autumn also offers spectacular views with the leaves turning colour, providing an incredible backdrop.
England Road Trip Idea – North East Coast
Northern England’s east coast is full of charming towns and villages, and is the perfect destination for a road trip.
Best places to visit on a North East coast England road trip
- Saltburn-by-the-Sea (to search for fossils)
- Lemon top ice-cream – Its legacy goes back over 100 years!)
- Staithes- picturesque fishing village
- Whitby Abbey – the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Robin Hood’s Bay (where smuggling was commonplace
- Scarborough Castle
North East England road trip itinerary
Start in Saltburn-by-the-sea. Be sure to search for fossils throughout your visit. I actually found one in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, but you can get lucky in any of the places on this list! Saltburn-by-the-Sea is home to the historic Saltburn Cliff Tramway and affords beautiful views from the bluffs above town.
You can walk along The Cleveland Way, a historic trail that runs through each of the 5 locations mentioned. I’d also recommend trying Lemon Top Ice Cream, or vanilla ice cream with a dollop of lemon sorbet on top.
Staithes is a quaint fishing village laden with narrow pathways and quirky cottages.
The Whitby Abbey towers above the town, giving it an eerie feeling – it’s even credited as the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula!
Robin Hood’s Bay has a long history with smugglers, and its red rooftops and crowded buildings conceal hidden routes. In Scarborough, you can enjoy rides at the Luna Park amusement park or visit the historic Scarborough Castle!
When is the best time to road trip England’s north-east coast?
Although you can visit this area all year round, I’d suggest visiting in the summer or fall. It rains much of the year in this region of England, but there’s a higher likelihood of sunshine from July through October.
How long to spend on this England Road trip?
You can complete this road trip in less than 2 hours, but I’d suggest spending at least a few days exploring the region. Each Yorkshire coastal town has its own charm and activities to offer, so you certainly don’t want to rush!
How far is it from the North east coast to London?
Scarborough to London takes about 5 hours by car. Avoid travelling Friday afternoons or Monday morning- those are the peak road traffic times.
Don’t miss Durham
We spent a lovely couple of days exploring the city of Durham. There are so many wonderful places to explore, but one of the highlights for us was Durham Cathedral. This incredible building was built in the 11th Century and is the largest surviving stone vaulted ceiling of its size.
However, if I’m honest, I was more excited by the fact that several scenes in Harry Potter were filmed here, including in the cloisters and many of the covered walkways.
It was also in Durham Cathedral that Harry, Ron and Hermione encounter ‘Fluffy’- the forbidden corridor was also part of the cathedral.
Other fantastic things to see in or near Durham include:
- Durham Castle
- High Force Waterfall (one of the best waterfalls in Europe)
- Finchale Priory
Recommended by Tracy | Travels in Time
The Northumberland Coastal route stretches for over 35 miles from Alnmouth in the south to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in the north.
The drive takes you through an area of outstanding natural beauty with many beautiful villages and places of interest to visit along the way.
How long to spend on a Northumberland coast road trip
This itinerary covers a day trip but you could spend a few days exploring the area or even walk the Northumberland Coastal Path along the same route if you are feeling up to it!
Northumberland road trip itinerary
The first village to visit is Craster – famous for its kippers and overlooked by Dunstanburgh Castle. If you’re looking for impressive castles in England, Northumberland is the place to go- there are more castles here than any other county in England!
After exploring Craster and the castle, head to Seahouses. A popular seaside town for families with lots of arcades and fish and chip shops this is the place to stop for a bite to eat.
If the weather is good why not hop on a boat over to the Farme Islands? With large colonies of seals and puffins the islands are popular with nature lovers.
Bamburgh Castle dominates the horizon and is worth exploring. It was once the home to the Royal Seat of the Kings of Northumbria and also has a ghost or two!
After Bamburgh head to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. Make sure you check the tides before you go- the island is tidal and is only accessible during certain times.
Once on the island take a stroll up to the castle. Don’t miss exploring the ruins of Lindisfarne Priory. This is the place famous as the home of Christianity in England until Viking raids eventually led to the abandonment of the priory.
When is the best time for a Northumberland road trip?
The best time to visit Northumberland and places in North East England is in the summer – the days are long and the sun will hopefully be shining! Be aware that on occasions during the summer a sea fret (mist) can hang over the coast and cool temperatures and decrease visibility. Make sure to check the weather forecast before you travel.
Wow- anyone else want to jump in their motorhome/ camper/ car/ bike and head off to start exploring? What a fantastic list of England road trip destinations!
As you can see, it really doesn’t matter where you go or how long you have to explore England- you’ll have plenty of places to enjoy. And who knows- next time we set off for Norfolk, we might even make it there without swinging by Cornwall first!! 🙂
Planning an England road trip? You might find these posts useful:
- How to plan an epic UK road trip
- How to create a road trip itinerary with Google Maps
- 100 best road trip driving songs
- How to plan a motorhome trip to UK or Europe
Kat never planned to buy a motorhome. She also never planned to quit her job as an air traffic controller, go touring around Europe in said motorhome, start one of the UK’s largest motorhome travel websites… or get a cocker spaniel.
If you’d like to connect with Kat, send her an email or follow her adventures on social media.