The UK is a great country for a road trip, though on a bank holiday you may want to stay put to avoid the traffic jams. There’s nothing like jumping into the car with some friends or family though and heading off for a day or a weekend exploring somewhere new.
Whether you are a thrill seeker, a history fanatic or maybe looking for a night out or a shopping trip there is a lot to do both in the UK’s big cities and in smaller towns and villages and unspoilt rural spots.
With a couple of exceptions you don’t even need to book any of these road trip destinations in advance so take your pick, fire up your engine and go.
The Cornish Coast
Whether you like surfing or just love life on the beach Cornwall is a great place to head to and with its long and thin shape you can easily travel from the north to the south coast of the county to explore a good range of different beaches.
Cornwall has it surfing beaches like Newquay, Bude and Perranporth and also has beautiful seaside towns and villages to visit in the north Boscastle and Clovelly, which is a perfectly preserved old village with no motorized vehicles allowed, and Falmouth and Penzance in the south.
Cornwall has some of the UK’s best weather so if its set to rain for the weekend where you are take a look at the weather for Cornwall and if it looks good its well worth jumping in the car. If you just fancy sunning yourself on a sandy beach Harbour Cove, near Padstow and Harlyn Bay are just two of Cornwall’s many wide sandy beaches, which are both family friendly with lifeguards in summer and car parks and facilities by the beach.
Then there’s the town of Newquay itself, a big party town and a great place to head for some nights out in summer when the place is packed with revellers with plenty of bars and clubs to visit.
Snowdonia National Park isn’t just rugged mountains, there are unspoilt villages, ancient Forests and lush valleys: all of these are of course best enjoyed on foot though if there are particular places you want to visit you my want to use a car to get around as Snowdonia covers a massive 823 square miles.
Snowdon is the largest mountain in Wales and this is where most people choose to walk with many walking all the way to the top. You can also get almost all the way to the top of Snowdon by train athough nd then simply walk the last part to the café at the top.
If the crowds and development on Snowdon puts you off then there are many other beautiful mountains in Snowdonia. Aran Fawddwy is to the south of the national park and the area is much less popular with tourists so even in summer you can feel you have got away from it all: which is a good reason for a road trip in the first place.
The UK’s biggest and best theme park is conveniently located right in the middle of England, really not a good place to get away from it all the crowds in summer make it a better road trip for the Spring or Autumn and certainly not during school holidays.
Alton Towers is a great day out for adults only or families with kids of different ages, two or more days though might be better if you want a chance to see and do everything in the park. The Theme Park has two of its own hotels if you do want to stay overnight.
There are 12 main areas at Alton Towers Theme Park including gardens to explore or enjoy lunch in when it all gets too much. Some of the headline rides include Th13teen, Nemesis, Air and Oblivion with areas including Storybook land and Old MacDonald’s Farmyard great fun for younger children.
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle hasn’t got a great reputation but is actually a fascinating city and a great place for a night out. If you fancy a road trip for a great night out then you can’t go far wrong with this northern city, not least if you’re a fan of Newcastle Brown Ale.
Geordies (the name for natives of Newcastle) are known for being tough but also friendly and welcoming; in top tens of the best nightlife in Europe Newcastle is often among the top three if not top, in part because of the welcome you’ll get but also due to the massive range of venues including bars, pubs, Comedy Clubs and Live music Venues. The quayside area is especially pleasant where you can sit out in summer to drink al fresco by the Tyne and Collingwood Street is known for its high end bars and clubs.
Capital of Scotland and home of the Scottish Parliament Edinburgh has a lot to see and do, especially for those who are history fans.
The castle, Royal Mile and old town are well worth exploring and you will find that much of the medieval city is still in tact and the layout little changed. From the castle you will get great views of the city then walk down the royal mile down hill taking in the narrow streets leading off it.
The Old Trafford area of Manchester is a sporting Mecca for Cricket and Soccer fans and if you and your friends can be counted amongst them then a road trip to Old Trafford is a must. The Soccer and Cricket seasons overlap at the beginning and end of the summer and you may even be able to fit in both on your trip. While the atmosphere watching Manchester United at the football ground is electric watching Lancashire at the Cricket ground is more sedate but no less entertaining.
The Lake District
For those in London and the South the Lake District is going to be more of a weekend road trip, or longer, as its located right up in the Northwest of England but it is worth the drive.
To the north of the national park is Carlisle and Hadrian’s wall, once the Roman frontier, to the west you have some beautiful unspoilt sandy beaches but it is the lakes and mountains that are still the main attraction.
Great trails take in majestic mountains including Scafell Pike before heading down to the lakes with Coniston and Windermere being the most famous with the popular Grizdale Forest between them.
One of Britain’s key industrial cities and a port that in times past exported British goods all over the world. Liverpool has had to reinvent itself to some extent but is now transformed into a city well worth a day or weekend’s road trip too whether you’re a Beatles fan or not.
Unsurprisingly the childhood homes of the Beatles, the Cavern Club and the Beatles Museums are among Liverpool’s most popular attractions but the Albert Dock, Liver building and other industrial heritage buildings, which make up the World Heritage site, are also popular as is a boat trip on the Mersey itself.
The Welsh Capital is also Wale’s most popular visitor destination with a wide variety of attractions and things to do on offer. Many come for sporting events at the Millennium Stadium, home of the Welsh national Ruby Union team, others come to the city centre to shop or to visit Cardiff Castle, originally a Roman Fort.
The home of British Motorsport, Silverstone is the venue for the Formula one British Grand Prix and Moto GP British Grand Prix but there are lower formula and club events on most weekends during the summer which are a great day out and Silverstone is only a short distance from London, Birmingham and most of the Midlands. For a midweek road trip experience days including track days are held here on week days and are a great chance to drive the famous track yourselves and compete with friends to set the fastest lap time.
While some of these destinations are close to motorways and population centres those a little further out are well worth the extra drive and don’t forget to allow time to stop off to photograph that vista or explore a quaint village for the true road trip experience where the journey is as important as the destination.