The Best Places to Drive in the UK
If you’re a car enthusiast and simply love notching up some miles behind the wheel, road trips are the perfect holiday or weekend treat. Whether it’s a particularly challenging drive, stunning scenery or great open road that you’re after, the UK has a veritable feast of road trips - some more popular than others - to get you off the ‘beaten track’ - and onto the tarmac!
What is the best driving road in the UK?
The UK is such a mixed bag for the driving enthusiast. Unlike America where you can often commit to days of straight road cruising, the UK’s best driving roads offer up a huge variety of conditions, with many of them offering more complex drives full of bends as you cruise up to amazing views and get exhilarating nose-to-tarmac drives down the other side.
Of course, when you’re looking for scenic drives in the UK, everybody’s preferences are different. But whether you prefer sea views or moorland, cityscapes or rolling green pastures, our list of our top 6 best drives in the UK will satisfy your every need for having the best time behind the wheel!
Where can I go on a road trip in the UK?
Whether you’re in it just for a drive, to see more of the country or to get from A to B for a holiday, the UK’s best driving roads are memorable. Below we’ve listed six of our favourites, short and long, and taking in the far reaches of the UK, as well as giving you the low-down on what makes them so special.
1. North Coast 500 - Scotland
Starting from the most Northern parts of the UK, no valuable list of road trip destinations in the UK could be complete without the North Coast 500. This 516-mile drive is a beautiful, scenic driving route right around Scotland’s northern coast. It begins and ends in Inverness, the last ‘city’ before the rural wilds begin - known as the capital of the Scottish Highlands.
There are plenty of UK road trip planner services that can help you navigate your needs (you can, for example, do shorter routes if you can’t take the time it takes to tackle the full 500 miles), and you can get more information by visiting Visit Scotland’s site.
2. Buttertubs Pass - Yorkshire
We stay Northern for the next suggestion too, as Buttertubs offers a spectacular driving experience. This is the closest thing you’ll get to an Alpine Pass this side of the Channel, and although it’s short, it’s a contender for the UK’s best driving road! Only 5.5 miles from Thwaite to Hawes across the Yorkshire Dales, Buttertubs Pass is the ideal drive if your driving companion loves beautiful British scenery - and you’re an adrenaline junkie! Think tight, steep climbing bends, sheer drops to the side and those views. This isn’t on the list for speed, but for the joy of the drive and the pure natural beauty you get to drive through en route.
3. Military Road - Isle of Wight
Hopping to the furthest extremes of the UK, next up on the list is the A3055, or military road, taking in the beautiful coastline of the Isle of Wight. Erosion is encroaching, so this drive is one to tackle sooner or later - whilst it’s still with us!
Read more: 10 Ways to Reduce Stress While Driving
The road formed a crucial part of the island’s military defences back in the mid-18th century when it was constructed - hence its name. The drive links St Catherine’s Point, near Chale, with Freshwater Bay in the west. Again, it’s not a long route at only 11 miles, but the amazing ocean views on offer here make it one to tick off the bucket list if you’re a passionate driver. There are a number of official stopping areas too where you can park up and enjoy the views (be aware that some parts of the route are no stopping allowed).
4. Tenby to St David’s - Wales
Heading for Wales, this road trip is the one to opt for if beach hopping your way through Pembrokeshire sounds like the perfect holiday for you. Pembrokeshire offers up some of the country’s best beaches - empty, beautiful and endless - and this road trip offers up one of the most scenic drives in Wales too, to boot.
Start in Tenby, enjoying this traditional seaside town - an attractive harbour town in southwest Wales, and head off west to scenic Barafundle Bay. Enjoy stopping off to dip your toes in the Irish Sea, or enjoy some beach-front picnics at great beaches such as Freshwater and Newgale. Eventually, you’ll end up in charming St David’s - the UK’s smallest city!
5. Penrith to Haydon Bridge - North England
For hairpin bends, stark moorland views and soaring climbs, tackle the route that cuts across the waist of the UK, from Cumbria’s Penrith to Haydon Bridge, via many parts of Hadrian’s Wall. As you reach the small village of Melmerby, prepare for the climb ahead, which scales up to heights of 1900 feet.
This A-road is much celebrated (and frequented by plenty of devoted bikers, too), though remains pretty traffic-free for today’s standards. Once you’ve scaled the summit from Melmerby, relax into a gentler descent as the road snakes down curving, pleasurable turns, for real drive experience. Plus there’s moorland the size of central London to cast an eye over as you go...
6. Causeway Coast - Northern Ireland
Heading across the sea, the Causeway Coast route is an unmissable drive. This 120-mile route, stretching from Belfast to Derry, provides that amazing Northern Irish scenery you’ve perhaps encountered in HBO’s Game of Thrones. Across Antrim’s coast, from the outstandingly beautiful and impactful Giant’s Causeway to the Dark Hedges, this is a stellar, dramatic drive. It’s relatively quiet despite its popularity, and there’s plenty of scope to get out of the car and explore your surroundings as you go. Along this route was actually voted 5th in the world’s most scenic views in 2006.
There we have it - our top six road trip destinations UK! Whether you drive for the joy of the road or for the journey to a destination, we hope our road trip destinations across the UK are food for thought - we have only scratched the surface of the many options for amazing, beautiful drives across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Drive on!
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The comments above do not necessarily reflect Rivervale's views unless clearly stated.