Car hire

7 of the UK's best road trips

11 November 20229 min read

View of a road running through the green rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales at sunset

Please note: this article is sponsored by our partners at Drivalia. The links on this page will take you directly to the Drivalia website.

The great open road, rolling countryside views, the freedom to travel off the beaten track and wander as you please… is there a better way to explore the UK than a road trip? From the rugged coast of Northern Ireland down to the windswept Sussex shore, there’s so much to be discovered on a driving holiday.

Whether you’re after day trip drives or planning to roam the roads on a multi-day adventure, we’ve tapped our partners at Drivalia for some of the UK’s best road trips. So, wind down the windows, turn up the music and get ready to hit the road!

1. The Argyll Coastal Route

Length: Approx 240 miles | Allow 4 days

Drivalia rental location: Glasgow City or Glasgow Airport

Combining the lively spirit of Glasgow with the wild lochs and mountains of the Scottish Highlands, this beautiful road trip along the Argyll Coast to Fort William is hard to beat.

Starting in edgy Glasgow (spend at least a day here), set off towards Loch Lomond in search of spectacular scenery and photo opportunities. Stop at picturesque Dumbarton Castle and discover the expansive Trossachs National Park, where the winding roads of Dukes Pass are a worthy detour. You’ll have ample opportunities for waterfall walks, views over Loch Katrine and rest stops at idyllic waterside pubs here.

Travel on to the historic village of Glencoe via the winding A816, where highlights include Connel Bridge and Castle Stalker. For a multi-day stay, consider hitting the hay in Oban. Here you can climb the iconic McCaig's Tower or sample single malts on a distillery tour.

Your final destination is Fort William, sitting on the shores of breathtaking Loch Linnhe and the gateway to Ben Nevis and the Northern Highlands.

2. London to the Cotswolds

Length: Approx 120 miles | Allow 2-5 days

Drivalia rental location: Heathrow Airport or Fulham Broadway

Swap skyscrapers for rolling countryside and chocolate box villages in this London to Cotswolds route, which stops in some of the most popular spots in this famed Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Take the M40 out of London and head for your first port of call, Chipping Norton. This lively market town is full of boutique shops, independent cafes and is home to Jeremy Clarkson’s Diddly Squat Farm Shop.

Weaving west, there are countless scenic stopovers to choose from. Some of the best include Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold and Bourton-on-the-Water, where Cotswold stone cottages, local markets, traditional tea rooms and river-side walks all come as standard.

Next, drive west to the spa town of Cheltenham for excellent shopping, fine dining restaurants and a trip to the Pittville Pump Rooms, then make your way down to the artsy market town of Stroud. Along the way, take your pick of fantastic country pubs or lace up your hiking boots for trails such as the 164km-long (102 miles) Cotswold Way.

End your trip in Cirencester, known as the capital of the Cotswolds. The charming town centre hosts a castle-esque church and is home to an array of brasseries, hotels and unique shops.

3. Causeway Coastal Route

Length: Approx 130 miles | Allow 3-5 days

Drivalia rental location: Belfast Int. Airport

Northern Ireland’s version of the North Coast 500, this 209km (130 miles) coastal circuit carves around cliffs and journeys past unrivalled Atlantic views on its route from Belfast to Londonderry (Derry). Before making tracks, allow some time to acquaint yourself with the Northern Irish capital - it’s a vibrant city that will quickly get under your skin.

Then, drive north to 12th-century town, Carrickfergus, to admire its castle; pause at The Gobbins to stretch your legs on an adventurous cliffside pathway; and detour to the Dark Hedges, a majestic avenue of twirling beeches made famous by Game of Thrones.

The highlight of the trip is up next: Northern Ireland’s most iconic natural attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway. Tip-toe over the 40,000 hexagonal stones and columns that map the coast’s edge and soak up enchanting seascape views. A stop at Old Bushmills Distillery is recommended for sips and souvenirs of Irish whiskey.

Complete the home stretch by driving on to Derry, a city known for its troubled history and home to a charismatic town centre. Still got some rev in your engine? The Wild Atlantic Way will lead you down Ireland’s coastline, taking you to Sligo, Galway and beyond.

4. Liverpool to the Lake District

Length: Approx 136 miles | Allow 2-4 days

Drivalia rental location: Liverpool or Liverpool Airport

This road trip follows the coast from Liverpool towards some of the UK’s best seaside towns and onwards to waterside Windermere.

Once you’ve had your fill of Liverpool’s shops, restaurants and museums, make your way to Crosby Beach. Here you’ll find Antony Gormley’s cast-iron ‘Another Place’ sculptures and can enjoy sea views across to the Wirral. Formby beach is also worth a visit for its spectacular sand dunes and ambling walks.

From here, head up and around Preston to reach much-loved Blackpool. Stroll the promenade with ice cream in hand (kiss me quick hat optional), visit Blackpool Tower and get your thrills on old-school roller coasters for the quintessential experience.

Your next stop is Silverdale, where you can enjoy fresh countryside air on a woodland walk, before you continue on to the historic town of Windermere in the Lake District National Park. Take a ferry ride, rent a rowing boat or hike the shores of the largest natural lake in England. The town itself is a great base for exploring the Lakes, with friendly inns, pretty gift shops, local art galleries and cosy pubs.

If time allows, extend your road trip further into the Lake District – journeying on to Ambleside, Scafell Pike and Keswick for a Cumbrian adventure.

5. Highland Tourist Route

Length: Approx 116 miles | Allow 2-3 days

Drivalia rental location: Aberdeen Airport

Drive back in time through ancient towns and across the Highlands on this road trip from Aberdeen to Inverness – perfect for history buffs and a dose of rural Scotland.

Leave the ‘Granite City’ of Aberdeen and head west into rolling hills. Stop at Gordon Highlanders Museum before making your way to Pitfichie, a haven for forest rambling and mountain biking.

Continue west to the Cairngorms National Park where magnificent mountains, abundant wildlife and scenic moorlands are standard. Sights worth visiting here include The Glenlivet Distillery for vintage whiskey and the Grantown Museum to delve into the origins of Clan Grant.

Before reaching Inverness, you must see Cawdor Castle, a romantic highland castle seeped in secrets, as well as the foreboding figure of Fort William and the silently stoic and beautiful battlefield of Culloden. On reaching Inverness, spend a day or two winding down from your road trip in the cultural capital of the Highlands.

6. Yorkshire Dales Circuit

Length: Approx 90 miles | Allow 2-3 days

Drivalia rental location: Leeds Bradford Airport

A country circuit that takes you through the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, you can expect plenty of winding roads, quintessential English villages and endless moorland views on this road trip.

Starting from Leeds, head north to the spa town of Harrogate, where stops at Bettys Tea Rooms and the Royal Pump Room Museum are a must. Continue over the Craven Moor, pausing at the pretty town of Pateley Bridge before driving into the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Recommended pit stops include the historic market town of Grassington and the valley village of Arncliffe.

Driving north into the heart of the Dales will bring you to Hawes, known as the centre of the Wensleydale region. Here you can refuel at one of the rustic county pubs, sample Wallace and Gromit’s favourite cheese at the Wensleydale Creamery or walk to the impressive Hardraw Force, England’s highest unbroken waterfall.

A road tripper's paradise comes when you leave Wensleydale, where the beautiful Buttertubs Pass leads you over 9km (6 miles) of meandering roads scribbled across undulating moorlands. Expect ancient crags, summits of over 500m (1,700ft) and of course, awe-inspiring Dales views.

A final stretch west brings you to Richmond, where idyllic stone cottages, Georgian market square and legendary castle make for a fitting end to this scenic Yorkshire circuit.

7. Sussex Circuit

Length: Approx 115 miles | Allow 2-3 days

Drivalia rental location: Gatwick Airportor Waterloo station

A snapshot of Sussex featuring lush woodland and chalk coastlines, this road trip takes you from south London through stunning South Hams and loops round to finish in the fashionable spa town of Royal Tunbridge Wells on the Kent border.

Setting off from Gatwick, head for the heart of the South Downs. The park itself is full of weaving valley roads, leading you to country pubs, waterfall hiking trails and photograph-worthy viewpoints. Drive to the area’s highest point, Black Down, for a scenic place to stretch your legs, then make tracks south to Chichester – a cathedral city dotted with Grade II-listed buildings and home to Roman baths.

Next stop is Brighton. Get there via the southern fringes of the South Downs, pausing at Arundel to see the almighty medieval castle, or detour through the bending valley roads of Devil’s Dyke. From Regency squares and historical landmarks to its famous pier and sea views, Brighton has long been a popular Sussex stopover.

For the last stretch, continue on to the country town of Lewes, where you can wander down the historic high street and visit Anne of Cleves House. Finish this Sussex circuit in Royal Tunbridge Wells. Here you can visit stately homes, countryside vineyards, stylish restaurants and local independent shops, or simply rest up in a quaint B&B before returning to London.

*All distances accurate according to Google Maps but may vary depending on stopovers and detours.

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