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Road trips around the UK

Did someone say 'Road trip?' Count us in...

Think 'road trip' and you might think of the iconic Route 66 in America. But there's no need to go across the pond for great drives - there are plenty of fantastic driving routes close to home.

If you're planning a car journey around the UK, here are some of the best road trips for drivers from all over the UK.

Scroll on for highlights and full Route Planner directions.


45% of drivers we polled plan to go on a UK road trip this year. And a further 23% of drivers aren't road tripping this year, but they'd like to go on a driving holiday.*

It's clear that the road trip is still popular - and as we're spoiled for choice of great drives in the UK, it's not hard to see why.


The South West

Where: Devon and Cornwall
Route: Barnstaple to Newquay
Distance: 77 miles
Highlights: Beaches and cliffs

Check our Route Planner directions.


 

The Atlantic Highway offers breathtaking sea views as you drive from Barnstaple to Newquay. Clocking in at 77 miles, there’s plenty to see and do as you hug the coast on this route.

If the weather's on your side, park up when you get to Bude. Here, you can swap out the pedals for some sand under your toes at a Bude-iful beach. Bude, in Cornwall, is a surfing hotspot, but if you'd rather catch some rays than a wave, the golden beaches are perfect for sunbathing.

Fancy a detour? You can adjust your trip slightly to go via Dartmoor National Park, with its stunning mix of moorland, woodland, coast and rivers. Look out for the native ponies as you drive through the best of British natural beauty. This detour will add about two hours to your trip.

As this is an English road trip, you can’t always rely on the weather. If you’re caught on a rainy day, why not stop off at the village of Tintagel, the rumoured birthplace of King Arthur? 

You'll finish off at the pretty surfing town of Newquay. This is your chance to sit back and relax after the drive - there are plenty of tea shops overlooking the bay where you can enjoy a cuppa and watch the crashing, rolling waves of the Atlantic.


The South

Where: Dorset
Route: Swanage to Lyme Regis
Distance: 56 miles
Highlights: Culture and geology

Check our Route Planner directions.


 

Looking for stunning clifftop views? If you're in the South, we recommend that you drive the Jurassic Coast, which is a UN World Heritage Site. The whole site stretches 95 miles from East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, and fits in over 185 million years of geological history.

Take a trip to Chesil Beach – it's a place that's inspired several works of art. If you've read Ian McEwan's breathtaking novel, or seen the film version with Saoirse Ronan, you'll have an idea of how beautiful Chesil Beach is. If not, you'll soon understand why so many are in awe of the place as you make your way over the pebbles. But make sure you don’t take any as a keepsake – it’s a crime.

Running next to Chesil Beach is an 8-mile stretch of water known as the Fleet Lagoon. There are lots of marine animals and rare plants that call this lagoon home, including seahorses and seabirds.

Further along the trip, (if the weather's nice or you're feeling hardy), you can stop off at West Bay - where Broadchurch was filmed - for a paddle.


The East

Where: Norfolk
Route: Norwich to Hunstanton via Cromer
Distance: 63 miles
Highlights: City and seaside in one day, and delicious seafood

Check our Route Planner directions.


 

In Norfolk, you can enjoy stunning sea views along roads that are almost empty.

Norwich is a fine city to start in, where you'll be treated to plenty of history and architecture. There's enough to keep you busy for a whole day here. An 11th century cathedral stands in the middle of the city, the medieval Norwich Castle runs lots of workshops and events, and there's also a world-famous outdoor market.

No Norfolk road trip would be complete without a visit to Cromer, arguably one of Britain's best-loved seaside towns. Cromer Pier is full of character (and local characters) and its own unique charm. If you’re salivating over some seafood, Cromer is also famous for its crab.

Next, make your way along the coastal road until you reach the tranquil town of Hunstanton. This is one of the few places on the coast where you can see the sun setting over the sea. It's the perfect place to pause and watch a sunset.


The West


Where: North Wales
Route: Aberystwyth to Llandudno via Snowdonia
Distance: 85 miles
Highlights: Spectacular views and mountain climbing

Check our Route Planner directions.


 

If you get the chance, travel from Aberystwyth to Llandudno via Snowdonia in North Wales. Take the trip for the unbeatable mountain views, rivers and quiet villages.

Driving those winding roads will be worth it once you see what Snowdonia has to offer. It's hard to describe how magnificent Snowdonia is. Everywhere you look, there are sweeping valleys, majestic mountains, rolling peaks and historic, crumbling walls.

There’s so much beauty - but Snowdon stands head and shoulders above the lot. As the largest mountain in the country, climbing Snowdon is on many people’s bucket list. If you do decide to tackle the climb, set aside a whole day. The feeling of reaching the top makes it all worth it – whether you’re shrouded in cloud or have a clear view for miles.

Once you carry on your trip you'll make it into the crescent-moon bay of Llandudno. Reward yourself with some fish and chips on the pier or pop over to Conwy's medieval castle.


The North

Where: The Scottish Highlands
Route: North Coast 500 (a circular route starting and finishing in Inverness)
Distance: Approx. 500 miles
Highlights: Stunning scenery and opportunities for adventure

Check our Route Planner directions.


 

Finally, if you can get up to the Scottish Highlands, just about any driving route makes a great road trip. Why not take several days and do the legendary North Coast 500? It's a coastal drive starting and finishing in Inverness.

There are plenty of places to stop off for a break along the route. For example, Dornoch, on the east coast, is an ideal place to enjoy a seaside walk and a pub lunch.

Or why not be adventurous and track down Nessie? You can hop on a RIB speedboat and take a trip around the Loch Ness and Caledonian Canal. You might not spot the mysterious monster but you will spot gorgeous scenery, including Urqhuart Castle.

A helpful tip – the North Coast 500 is growing in popularity year-on-year. So you’d be better off reserving any accommodation in advance. It'll save you driving around tired looking for a place with spaces.


How to avoid road trip breakdowns

August Bank Holiday weekend is a particularly busy time on the roads with around 15 million drivers making leisure trips. At times like this we expect a breakdown every 10 seconds.

Breakdown generic

Whenever you go, there's a lot you can do to reduce the risk of a breakdown:

  • Top up your petrol whenever you can - even if you've only used half of the fuel in the tank. Don't wait for the fuel light to come on, especially if you're in an unfamiliar area.
  • If you're filling up at an unfamiliar petrol station, double check the pump nozzle before you pull the trigger as it's easy to make a mistake and use the wrong fuel.
  • Take extra care of your keys, especially when you're on the coast. Make sure you bring your spare key. You could ask someone else in your group to carry it, just in case you lose your own set.
  • Give your exterior lights a clean, and check them for cracks and breaks. Repair or replace them if you need to.
  • Make sure you check your oil level and top up your oil if you need to. You should also check your coolant and coolant fan.
  • If you've recently topped up your water and the level always seems low, check for leaks. Check your windscreen washer fluid as well. 
  • If you don’t make long journeys very often, your car battery won’t have had much chance to charge. Take the car out for a 30-minute drive the day before you leave to reduce the risk of a flat battery.
  • Check your tyre tread and pressure, and if you've got a spare wheel, make sure that it's in good condition and ready for use.


Use our Road Trip Planner

The ideas above are some of our favourites - but if you want to go your own way, there's nothing stopping you. Our Route Planner can help you plot the journey. You can even add stop off points to break the journey up, and find the routes with the least traffic.

Not sure yet where you’d like to go? Our Sat Nav Roulette will pick the perfect day trip destination for you! Just pop in your postcode, what type of trip you’re looking for and how far you’d like to travel, and we’ll do the rest. Plus, you’ll get full directions with our Route Planner.

Need some entertainment on the way? Our car games will keep you and your passengers happy for hours. Bon voyage!




*Source: AA Passenger Seat research from 2019

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