Yes I know what you’re thinking… “Best road trips in the UK? 10 of them? Surely not.”
But trust me…
There are roads right across the UK that are arguably good enough to compete with Australia’s Pacific Highway, Norway’s Atlantic Road Norway and America’s iconic Route 66.
And no, I’m not taking the mick.
Below is a mix of short and long road trips that stretch all the way across the UK that should (should…) blow your mind on your next drive.
Let’s go for a spin…
10. Norfolk Coast, England
The Norfolk Coast road trip is first up on my list of 10 best UK road trips.
Starting your journey in Kings Lynn, it’ll take you around 2.5 hours to drive along the coastline to your final destination in Mundesley (plus an extra 15 minutes to Happisburgh Lighthouse – more on that below).
As it’s on the coast you’ll of course be spoilt with endless sea views as you drive, but you’ll also get to see things like:
- Golden beaches, lighthouses and piers
- Quaint seaside villages
- Historical architecture (there are over 600 churches in Norfolk, the largest concentration of churches in the world)
- Seals (no joke, there are seals off the coast of Norfolk)
- Walking trails (in abundance)
You can opt to do the full route in one go, but I wouldn’t recommend it because you’ll be too rushed trying to see it all (especially if you’ve driven from another part of the UK).
Instead I’d recommend doing this route as a weekend break with a 1 night rest minimum.
Recommended Duration: 2-3 days.
Distance: 65 miles / 105 km (2.5 hours total driving time).
Best Highlight: Happisburgh Lighthouse – The lighthouse is a short 15 minute detour from Mundesley, but it’s definitely worth a visit so you can grab an iconic photo for the ‘Gram and show off your trip to your followers.
Route: Norfolk Coast Road Trip (hit link for full route on Google Maps).
9. Black Mountain Pass, Wales
The first of three short road trips on this list, Black Mountain Pass sits in ninth position for the best road trip in the UK.
Also known as Top Gear Road after its feature on the BBC’s Top Gear in 2011, Black Mountain Pass is recognised for its twisting hairpins, sudden drops and its views that stretch for miles upon miles across Brecon Beacons and the surrounding Welsh Countryside.
You’ll also get to see some sheep too (it is Wales after all…).
If you fancy a longer road trip that includes Black Mountain Pass, you could very easily combine this route into a drive further north into the heart of Wales, but just be careful you don’t accidentally skip it and drive along another route because you’ll be missing out big time.
Location: South Wales.
Recommended Duration: Couple of hours.
Distance: 15 miles / 24 km (45 minutes total driving time).
Best Highlight: Brecon Beacons National Park – Needless to say that the best thing you can do on your way to Black Mountain Pass is take a trip to visit Brecon Beacons National Park and experience more amazing views on foot.
Route: Black Mountain Pass (hit link for full route on Google Maps).
8. Yorkshire Moors Circular, England
Next up is the Yorkshire Moors; a national park that stretches well over 500 miles on the East coast of Yorkshire.
Now I should mention that the Yorkshire Moors hasn’t got a dedicated driving route, so it’s completely up to you how you plan your route and what sights you see…
There is plenty for you to see and explore, however:
- Steam railways
- Market towns
You can also extend your road trip around the Moors and travel West into the Yorkshire Dales (Yorkshire’s second of three national park) and see even more of sunny Yorkshire.
Recommended Duration: 1-2 days.
Distance: 77 miles / 125 km (2.5 hours total driving time).
Best Highlight: Rievaulx Abbey – One of the largest and best preserved abbey’s in the UK (just a short 5 minute drive from Helmsley, the start of the route).
Route: Yorkshire Moors Circular (hit the link for full route on Google Maps).
7. Heart 200, Scotland
The Heart 200 is a brand new driving route that launched in 2019.
The 200 mile circular route takes you around the heart of Scotland, visiting lesser-known and less tourist-infested Scottish towns like Stirling, Perth and then up towards the Scottish Highlands.
During your drive you’ll get to see:
- Dozens of idyllic Scottish castles
- Enormous lochs
- Scotland’s two national parks (Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and Cairngorms National Park)
The fact it’s a brand new route is great news for me and you because it means you’ll find far fewer cars on the road with people doing the same route, making the drive much easier than some others on this list.
Location: Central Scotland.
Recommended Duration: 3-5 days.
Distance: 200 miles / 320km (5 hours total driving time).
Best Highlight: Both of the national parks are worth a full day exploration because they offer a chance to escape the mayhem of the cities.
Route: Heart 200 (hit link for full route from the official website).
6. The Coastal Way, Wales
The Coastal Way is a 175 mile road trip that takes you up the entire coast of Wales from St Davids in the South to Aberdaron in the North and it’s my personal favourite of Wales’ 5 best road trips.
For your troubles you’ll get to see Welsh castles, get the chance to climb Mt Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and you’ll also get to visit dozens of small seaside towns like Aberaeron, Aberystwyth and Barmouth.
With it being Wales, I’d recommend avoiding driving this route during the Winter time because roads can get flooded, but definitely try it during the summer and especially September time because the roads are normally quiet and the weather is fairly calm.
Location: West Wales.
Recommended Duration: 3-5 days.
Distance: 175 miles / 280 km (5 hour total driving time).
Best Highlight: Aberystwyth – I went to uni here so I had no other choice, but in all seriousness I’d recommend a nights stop in Aberystwyth so you can see one of the best seaside towns in the UK.
Route: The Coastal Way (hit link for full route on Google Maps).
5. Cheddar Gorge, England
Cheddar Gorge is an incredible limestone gorge that intercepts the Mendip Hills.
With the road sitting directly at the base of the gorge, it gives drivers an amazing view of humongous limestone cliffs on either side as you pass through.
The good news is that there are multiple stopping points along the road that’ll allow you time to get out and take the full extent of the gorge in and get some shots for the ‘Gram.
As the route is so short it might be worth including this one into a longer, unofficial road trip further down south, maybe to Weston super-Mare or down even further into Cornwall.
Or just keep it easy and enjoy a day at Mendip Hills.
Recommended Duration: Couple of hours.
Distance: 10 miles / 16 km (20 minutes total driving time).
Best Highlight: Cheddar Gorge Caves – there are a couple of open access caves that are definitely worth a visit if you’re going planning on travelling this route.
Route: Cheddar Gorge (hit link for full route on Google Maps).
4. Snake Pass, England
Sitting just South East of Manchester, the Snake Pass road trip ventures straight through the Peak District, one of the UK’s most popular national parks (and in fact the first of its kind, officially opening as the first UK national park in 1951 – little bit of national park trivia for you there).
The route itself offers road trippers a spectacular journey on twisting, forest-infested roads and a chance to drive both high up (over 500 metres above sea level in parts) and alongside the magnificent Ladybower Reservoir (as shown above).
The nearby sights and the available walking routes and caves are definitely worth a visit and when you do visit, they’ll help explain why Snake Pass appears so high up on this list!
Location: Peak District.
Recommended Duration: Couple of hours – 1 day stop in the Peak District.
Distance: 40 miles / 65 km (1 hour total driving time).
Best Highlight: Mam tor – If you’re planning on driving Snake Pass, it makes sense to pay Mam Tor a visit as it’s one of the highest peaks in the region and gives awesome views across the entire Peak District.
Route: Snake Pass (hit link for full route on Google Maps).
3. Causeway Coastal Route, Northern Ireland
You can’t forget about Northern Ireland when it comes to the UK’s best road trips and you certainly can’t forget about the Causeway Coastal Route, which makes it into the top 3 of my best UK road trips.
Not only will you get to explore Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast, along the route, you’ll also get to explore:
- Northern Ireland’s many sandy beaches
- Giant’s Causeway (which myths state was a causeway built by giants of the past)
- Cliff edge walks
- Forest parks
Oh and if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you might be excited to hear that the series’ producers used Northern Ireland to film certain parts of the show, like the use of Cushendun Caves for the filming of Melisandre giving birth to the shadow creature (if you know, you know).
Location: Northern Ireland.
Recommended Duration: 3-4 days (3.5 hours total driving time).
Distance: 130 miles / 210 km.
Best Highlight: Rathlin Island – if you fancy catching a ferry, it’s worth a visit to Rathlin Island so you can do some trekking and see some puffins.
Route: Causeway Coastal Route (hit link for full route on Google Maps).
2. Atlantic Highway, England
The Atlantic Highway comes in at a close second for the best road trip in the UK.
The route will take you from Barnstaple in North Devon all the way down the A39 to Newquay in Cornwall.
The roads are relatively small, offering intermitting sea views along the Cornish coast and the Cornish countryside as the road dips and climbs for miles on end.
The sights along the route making it even more enjoyable:
- Crackington Haven beach
- Museum of witchcraft and magic
- Port Quin
- Land’s end (if you venture a little further South).
Location: South West England.
Recommended Duration: 2-3 days.
Distance: 75 miles / 120 km (2 hours total driving time).
Best Highlight: Land’s end – If you fancy extending your road trip out a little further, it’s definitely worth you visiting Land’s end so you can see the most western point of England.
Route: Atlantic Highway (hit link for full route on Google Maps).
1. North Coast 500, Scotland
Last but certainly not least and from one end of the UK in South England all the way to the other in the Scottish Highlands; the best road trip in the UK is… (drum roll 🥁) The North Coast 500.
Now let me just say one thing before I get into it…
The fact I’ve only included two road trips from Scotland is a bit of a joke (sorry Scotland) because you could easily make a list of 100 road trips in Scotland and still have 100’s leftover, but hopefully this one makes up for it…
The North Coast 500 is earmarked as Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66.
The route boasts some of the world’s most spectacular sights with everything from mountaintops to caves to tiny villages to waterfalls to ginormous lochs to castles to Highland Coos to WW2 structures to James Bond roads to the Northern Lights.
You name it – the North Coast 500 has got it.
In terms of time, I wouldn’t recommend anything less than 5 days because it’ll be too rushed and you’ll end up missing out on everything that the route has to offer and trust me, there’s a lot on offer.
However, the fact of the matter remains that if you can only do one road trip on this list, make sure it’s the North Coast 500.
Location: Scottish Highlands.
Recommended Duration: 5-7 days, but you could easily spend 7-10 days seeing all of the highlights.
Distance: 500 miles / 800 km (13 hours total driving time).
Best highlight: It’s honestly too hard to pick a single highlight from the North Coast 500 because there is just so much to do. My advice is that you go and drive it yourself and decide on your own highlight.
Route: North Coast 500 (hit link for full route on Google Maps).