The landscapes of the UK are dramatic and romantic.
With sprawling countryside, shimmering lakes, moody moorlands, captivating coastlines and historic towns and villages, the UK is a diverse destination. There are plenty of cultural and heritage hotspots to explore too. Whether you are roaming around England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, there is so much on offer no matter what your interests.
Renting a car in the UK is a wonderful way to see the attractions. It offers a greater sense of freedom than relying on public transport or group tours. You are in charge. You decide on the destination, and you dictate the pace.
With so much to see and do in the UK, you are spoilt for choice. Do you want to drive romantic roads through the English countryside or follow the rugged coastline of Northern Ireland? Do you want to explore the wilds of Scotland or visit the charming villages in Wales?
Need help deciding? We’ve got you covered. Here are some of the best road trips and driving routes in the UK. Start your engines!
While renting a car in the UK is pretty straightforward, there are definitely a few things you can do to ensure your rental process runs smoothly:
1. Planning on lots of city driving? Renting a compact car is a good idea as some city streets are narrow and have tight parking spaces.
2. If you are planning on covering a lot of miles, ask for a diesel-fuelled car as these will be slightly more economical than petrol models.
3. Check if you need to return the car with a full tank of gas. You don’t want to be charged extra for refuelling fees.
4. The number of emergency services in the UK is 999 or 112.
The Romantic Road is a quintessential English countryside drive. Located in the south-central and southwest of England, in an area known as The Cotswolds, this route has all the idyllic countryside stereotypes. You’ll pass rolling green hills, thatched medieval villages, charming churches and stately homes. Many of the buildings are made from local honey-coloured limestone, and it really adds to the postcard-perfect vibe of the place.
The Lake District National Park is a breathtaking area in the north-west of England. Within its boundary are 12 of England’s largest lakes and Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England.
One incredibly scenic road trip to take in the Lake District is the 37km Keswick Loop via Buttermere and Borrowdale. This route winds its way through the Newlands Valley with views of Dale Heads and Grizedale Pike. It rises up along Honister Pass and through the villages of Rosthwaite and Seatoller. Along the route are some lovely cafes and pubs where you can refuel and get to know the locals.
This 500-mile (805km) route is a bucket-list road trip along the rugged northern Scottish coastline. The route stretches from Inverness all the way to John O’Groats. As you drive, you are surrounded by jaw-dropping scenery peppered with sea caves, sea stacks and deserted beaches. Along this road are plenty of opportunities to explore historic castles and traditional distilleries and you can even do a spot of whale watching too. You can also take part in the local hobby of ‘Munro bagging’. This involves climbing mountains over 914 metres (3,000ft). There are 37 Munros along the North Coast 500 route. How many will you bag?
Linking Blairgowrie to Grantown-on-Spey, this 145km route crosses the highest public road in Britain. As you follow the road, it will take you through the beautiful landscape of the eastern Cairngorms. This mountain range in the eastern Highlands of Scotland is a haven for wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for mountain hares, snow buntings, golden eagles, ptarmigans, capercaillies and wildcats. There are plenty of places to stop for photo opportunities too. Hungry? In the communities of Braemar, Ballater and Tomintoul there are warm and welcoming cafes and restaurants where you can try some delicious local food.
The A4069 Black Mountain Road was featured on the tv programme ‘Top Gear’ in 2011. Since then, it has become a popular stretch of tarmac with motoring enthusiasts on both two and four wheels.
The 30km road snakes its way through the Brecon Beacons National Park linking the town of Llandovery with the village of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen.
If you tackle the road from south to north you get the best views of the Tywi Valley, one of the most spectacular river valleys in Wales. Keep watch for the historic castles dotted along the way.
A few years ago, this 299km route was crowned Britain’s favourite road, and with good reason too. The scenery along this road is breathtaking with endless dramatic panoramas. Stretching from south coast Cardiff to north coast Llandudno, this is the longest road in Wales. The road takes you through Snowdonia National Park and the Brecon Beacons where there is stunning scenery around every bend. This road is perfect for a leisurely drive and, of course, there are plenty of pretty villages where you can stop off for a pub-lunch.
Northern Ireland’s 212km Coastal Causeway Route winds its way from Belfast along the rugged coastline up to the north coast of County Derry. Fans of the TV show ‘Game of Thrones’ will love this road trip as the route features many locations used in the series. Stop off and visit the Cushendun Caves which were the background for The Stormlands. You’ll also see the Fairhead Cliffs, which appear in Season 7. Beautiful Murlough Bay, which appeared in many episodes, is also en route.
A stop at the Giant’s Causeway is a must-do. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to unique volcanic formations that look otherworldly. It is a dramatic seascape and plenty of myths and legends surround its formation. No wonder it is the most visited tourist site in Northern Ireland.