Ten of the best UK road trips for 2023
Each route features AA-rated places to stay and eat along the way
Take to the open road and discover the best landscapes in the UK
These 10 road trips are ideal for a weekend break, taking your time to stop over somewhere on the way. Whether you’re looking for an epic Scottish adventure through highlands and glens, a gentle wander along some of England’s beautiful coastlines, or a spectacular trip through Welsh mountains, you’ll find it here, among 10 of our best road trips in the United Kingdom. So hop in the car, and get going!
NORTHERN ENGLAND – Lancashire
Discover historic forests and the coast’s bright lights
Setting off from the charming former industrial town of Clitheroe, you’ll make your way into the enormous Forest of Bowland AONB, on to Ribchester, before moving across country, above Longridge to Blackpool, home of the famous illuminations. Moving up the coast you’ll then cross the River Wyre and travel through some beautiful Lancashire countryside on to the county town. The end of the route comes in Morecambe, great for shopping and entertainment, and there are plans afoot to build an ‘Eden Project North’ on the Morecambe seafront.
NORTHERN ENGLAND – North Yorkshire
Across the Yorkshire Moors to the county town of North Yorkshire
Starting in the village of Danby, this route takes you across some of England’s most dramatic moorland as you wind your way through the National Park. You’ll pass through several historic and charming towns and villages, including Rosedale Abbey, Hutton-le-Hole and Helmsley with its 12th-century ruins. Look out for the White Horse near Kilburn and enjoy the undulating Howardian Hills. York is a great place to spend time gazing at historic buildings. Get some shopping done in the Shambles and take a walk around the city walls.
WALES & THE MARCHES – Powys and Ceredigion
Explore the stunning landscapes of mid-Wales
Possibly the most breath-taking of all our routes, this one takes you across charming farmland, which leads to rolling hills and forests seemingly untouched by the passing of the centuries. The small towns of Tregaron, Pontrhydygroes and Llanwrtyd Wells are worth a visit, and check out the views around the Devil’s Staircase and the Abergwesyn Pass. Aberystwyth is great for a coastal break, with plenty of fine independent shops and places to eat. The mile-long promenade is the place to be, but there’s also a castle and the National Library of Wales to check out.
WALES & THE MARCHES – Gwynedd
Explore up the Conwy Valley to the northern coast
This road trip starts in a small town once a centre of slate production, the evidence of which is seen all around, not only in the old mines, but in the local houses and walls. The route generally follows the River Lledr and then the River Conwy, eventually reaching the coast and circling around through Colwyn Bay, Llandudno and Llandudno Junction before crossing back over the Conwy near its mouth then heading down the coast to Bangor. There’s plenty to look at in this university town, including a relatively small cathedral, a faux medieval castle and a fine Victorian pier.
SOUTH EAST ENGLAND – Kent
Discover three of the Cinque ports and some charming coastline
Starting in the small town of New Romney, this route takes you up the south-east coast and into the Kent Downs AONB. Heading through Hythe and running alongside the Military Canal you’ll soon be hugging the coast on your way to Folkestone. Then it’s inland, through some picturesque Kent countryside and then down into the ancient port of Dover. After you’ve been through Deal and Sandwich, you’ll reach Canterbury. This cathedral city has been an important settlement since prehistoric times and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s plenty to see, and great food and shopping to boot.
SOUTH EAST ENGLAND – Hampshire
Explore historic towns and charming countryside
While Hampshire may lack the drama of say, Cumbria or Wales, it certainly has its fair share of beautiful villages, leafy lanes and rolling farmland. This comforting trip is mainly set within the South Downs National Park, so it’s all pretty unspoiled. New Alresford is a great place to take a rest and enjoy its historic elegance, before ending up in Winchester, one of England’s best-preserved cathedral cities. The history of the place is seen at every turn, but you won’t go without modern comforts, including some very decent shopping and a vibrant café culture.
SCOTLAND – Highlands
Travel coast to coast across the Highlands
Another of our most spectacular road trips. This one carries you across some of Scotland’s most dramatic landscapes, starting on the shores of Loch Ewe, part of the Wester Ross Protected Marine Area, no less. The area’s called the Highlands for good reason, as there are plenty of impressive crags and peaks and the scenery is generally breath-taking, sometimes bleak, sometimes rich with greenery. After the sight of Loch Glascarnoch and Loch Garve you’ll reach Beauly Firth and Inverness. A relatively small city, there’s still plenty to see and the place is growing fast.
SOUTH WEST ENGLAND – Cornwall
A journey through the treasures of Cornwall
This trip meanders through some fascinating and dramatic landscapes. First head north to take the ferry across the River Fal and pass through the delightful Trelissick estate with its abundant gardens, then back south until you reach Falmouth. Turning east and then south you’ll see plenty, from the tidal inlet at Porthnavas Creek to the satellite dishes of Goonhilly, then the Lizard Natural Nature Reserve and The Lizard at the UK’s southernmost point. Penzance is a lovely place to spend a day or two, looking at the various historic buildings and enjoying the seafront and harbour attractions.
CENTRAL ENGLAND AND EAST ANGLIA – Norfolk
Explore Norfolk's diverse landscapes
Starting on the edge of the expanse of Thetford Forest, this trip takes you north through Norfolk market towns like Fakenham and Dereham before reaching the marsh-covered coast at Wells-next-the-Sea. If you’ve time it’s well worth spending some time here, and maybe taking a wander on Holkham Beach. Turning left you travel until the land stops at Hunstanton, then it’s south to the port and market town of King’s Lynn. Here you’ll find a town that’s really full of wonderful old buildings, not the least of which is the beautifully preserved 15th-century Trinity Guildhall.
CENTRAL ENGLAND AND EAST ANGLIA – Cambridgeshire and Suffolk
A trip through the gentle East Anglian landscape
Setting off from the famous university city, you head east past the equally famous Newmarket Racecourse, and then on down until you nearly pass from Suffolk into Essex. The landscape is mainly farmland and woodland, and of course, quite flat. After passing through all manner of sleepy villages you reach Ipswich, the county town of Suffolk, and the third largest settlement in East Anglia. The town is fast becoming a global tourist destination, partly due to its history, but also thanks to the two nearby AONBs.