The Best Road Trips in the United Kingdom

The 10 Best Road Trips in the UK

From soaring mountain passes to epic coastal roads, the United Kingdom is home to some of the best road trips in the world. You won’t be short of UK road trip ideas when you’re planning your next trip, and from Scotland to Cornwall, you’re spoiled for choice. 

Drive the famous North Coast 500 to see the best of northern Scotland, or hit the lesser-known Argyll Coastal Route to explore the western isles, and maybe even climb Ben Nevis at the end. In Wales, the Horseshoe Pass rises to staggering heights as it cuts through the mountains, while Cheddar Gorge in England delights with its dramatic scenery and excellent cheese. 

With so many great driving routes, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the best road trips in the UK for you. Try these epic UK road trip recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’re going to have an incredible time exploring this beautiful part of the world!

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The 10 Best Road Trips Across the UK

1. North Coast 500

Best Road Trips in UK: North Coast 500

Few UK road trips are as famous as the North Coast 500. This stunning route takes drivers through 500 miles of incredible highland and coastal scenery in the far north of mainland Scotland. 

The North Coast 500 (there are 516 miles if you want to be precise) starts and ends in Inverness, the most northerly city in the United Kingdom. Driving westwards, you’ll explore the western coast of northern Scotland, visiting the rugged Applecross Peninsula, tackling the fearsome single-track mountain road named Bealach na Ba, and continuing to picturesque Ullapool.

Stop at the Castle of Mey as you move onto the far northern coast, visit Thurso’s Wolfburn Distillery, and then stand proudly on the cliffs of John O’Groats, the most northerly point in mainland Britain. You’ll continue back to Inverness by following the east coast, where there are castles, beaches, and lochs to explore. 


2. South West 660

UK Road Trip Destinations: South West 660

The South West 660 is southwest Britain’s answer to Scotland’s North Coast 500. Covering an incredible 660 miles of coastline, this epic UK road trip takes you past some of the country’s greatest coastal scenery.

You’ll start (or end) in Poole, Dorset, where you’ll follow the Jurassic Coast and its red, sandstone cliffs west into Devon. Cross the Exe Estuary, stop in the English Riviera, and if you fancy, detour inland to explore Dartmoor National Park. You’ll pass through Plymouth, England’s great maritime city, on your way into Cornwall, where miles of granite cliffs and quaint fishing villages mark the route to Land’s End.

Stop at mainland Britain’s most southwesterly point (Land’s End is the furthest possible point you can be from John O’Groats in Scotland), then follow the Atlantic Highway along Cornwall’s northern coast. You’ll eventually reach Devon’s north coast, where you can surf or hike before ending, 660 miles later, in Watchet, Somerset. 


3. Cheddar Gorge

Road Trip through UK: Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge is one of the best driving roads in the UK. Take the Cliff Road (the B3135), and you’ll be driving under the dramatic limestone cliffs of one of the nation’s most impressive gorges. The twisting, winding turns will cause you to naturally slow down and admire the scenery as you’re engulfed by soaring peaks on your way into Cheddar.

This one’s short but sweet, as Cliff Road, which cuts through the middle of the gorge, is just a few miles long. But you’ll also love driving through the surrounding gorges and across the rolling Somerset countryside in southwest England. 

Stop in Cheddar, and you can follow hiking paths to viewpoints above the gorge, or you can call into the cheese factory to learn about the origins of one of the world’s greatest cheeses. 


4. Causeway Coastal Route

Best Road Trips in UK: Causeway Coastal Route

Cross the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland (you can take a car ferry or hire a car when you land in Belfast), and you can tackle one of the best road trips in the UK. The Causeway Coastal Route is 195 miles of pure joy to drive, stretching from Belfast, the Northern Irish capital, along the northern coast to Derry. 

Delve into Northern Irish history at Carrickfergus Castle before being awed by The Gobbins Cliff Path. You’ll see the glorious Glens of Antrim, you can stop at “Game of Thrones” filming locations like the King’s Highway, and you can hop on a boat to Rathlin Island. 

Heading west, the best sight of the entire road trip is the Giant’s Causeway, where 40,000 basalt columns reach into the sea. From here, it’s a short drive to Derry (or Londonderry, as it’s also known), where the Causeway Coastal Route officially ends.


5. The Argyll Coastal Route

UK Road Trip Destinations: Argyll Coastal Route

Escape the crowds of Scotland’s North Coast 500 with a tour along the lesser-known Argyll Coastal Route. Traversing 129 miles of west coast beauty, this awesome UK road trip takes you from the banks of Loch Lomond north to Fort William.

After exploring Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, you’ll follow the shore of Loch Fyne to Inveraray, where you’ll find sublime seafood and stunning views. You can detour to Tarbert and Campbeltown on the Kintyre Peninsula and take ferries from Oban to Scottish isles, including Mull, Eigg, and Rum, before ending in the shadow of Ben Nevis, the UK’s tallest mountain peak, as you pull into Fort William.


6. The Coastal Way

Road Trip through UK: The Coastal Way

See the best of the Welsh coast when you drive The Coastal Way, a 180-mile route that’s packed with great beaches, seafood, and scenery. This beautiful journey follows Cardigan Bay from St. David’s, Britain’s smallest city, north to Aberdaron on the Llyn Peninsula. 

After seeing St. David’s Cathedral, the spiritual home of Welsh Christianity, you’ll follow the Pembrokeshire Coast to Cardigan, which is home to one of Wales’ many medieval castles. Visit the glorious beach at Mwnt, call into the Cardigan Bay Wildlife Centre, and explore the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. 

More beaches, cliffs, and coastal scenes await you as Cardigan Bay curves around to Portmeirion, where you’ll find a curious seaside town that a British eccentric modeled on the Italian Riviera. End on the Llyn Peninsula, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that juts out into the Irish Sea and marks the end of Cardigan Bay. 


7. Horseshoe Pass to Llangollen

Road Trip through UK: Horseshoe Pass to Llangollen

Rising to a height of 417 meters, the Horseshoe Pass is one of the UK’s loftiest roads to drive. Named for the horseshoe-like bends created as the road traverses Denbighshire’s mountains in northern Wales, this UK road trip offers blistering views of the valleys below as you brave this high mountain pass. 

Horseshoe Pass is on the A542, and while you’re driving the mountain road, you can also road trip through the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Driving south, Horseshoe Pass will bring you out near Llangollen, where you can then see the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on the Llangollen Canal. 


8. Hadrian’s Wall

UK Road Trip Destinations: Hadrian’s Wall

One of the most famous walls in history, the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall cut across the north of England, providing an excellent opportunity for a road trip. Built on the orders of Roman Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, the massive fortification stretches for 73 miles from the east to west coast of England.

Starting in Newcastle upon Tyne (or ending), the modern A69 road follows much of the route of this ancient monument to Carlisle. Along the way, you can stop off at the remains of Roman forts, including the excellent Vindolanda, which is now a museum. 

You can hike sections of the Hadrian’s Wall Path, visit Carlisle Castle, and then finish your journey on the Solway Coast, which divides England from Scotland.


9. The Saxon Shore Way

Road Trip through UK: The Saxon Shore Way

One of the most interesting UK road trips for history fans, the Saxon Shore Way is a lesser-known Roman relic that lines the southeastern coast of England. Starting in Herne Bay, on the north coast of Kent, you’ll follow the remnants and ruins of old Roman forts and watchtowers to the English Channel. 

Roman highlights include Richborough Roman Fort, which is where the Romans made their first base in England before their conquest. You’ll see the White Cliffs of Dover, stop in quirky towns like Sandwich and Rye, and see the artsy side of seaside destinations like Folekstone. 

More than this, the Kent and Sussex coastlines are packed with medieval history, too, including sights like Dover Castle and Battle Abbey near Hastings, which marks the site of William the Conqueror’s victory in 1066. 


10. Yorkshire 600

Best Road Trips in UK: Yorkshire 600

The Yorkshire 600 is one of the newest but one of the best UK road trips. Inspired by the success of Scotland’s North Coast 500 and the Southwest 660, the Yorkshire 600 is a spectacular circular trip through “God’s Own Country” (as the locals call Yorkshire).

The route takes in Yorkshire’s east coast, including seaside towns like Whitby, which is famous for its fish and chips and its connections to “Dracula.” You’ll traverse the epic scenery of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, visit cheese-making towns like Wensleydale, and cross incredible viaducts and mountain passes on your way through Yorkshire. 

There you have it! The best road trips in the UK. What’s your favorite UK road trip? Let us know in the comments below.


Author

  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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