Road trips are most popular in the US or Australia where both locals and tourists can cross the country with a big van or even a simple car to see as much as they can in a short time. In Europe because of cheap flights and good railway systems, road trips aren’t that popular.
However, in the UK where trains are pricy, renting a car from is an excellent alternative for those who want to spend smartly and discover a bit of the British countryside.
The UK offers endless possibilities for where to go on a road trip. The majority of people go away for a week or two, which doesn’t really allow you to see the whole country, but you can still see a decent amount of places. My recommendation for your first time road tripping in the UK would be to explore the southern part of the country instead of heading to Scotland as many people do.
My proposed itinerary for a road trip in the UK for 15 days starting and finishing in London:
London –> Oxford – Bristol – Darmoor National Park – Exeter – Salisbury – Portsmouth – Brighton – Dover – Canterbury –> London
What can you see in each destination?
Oxford is a nice little town, home to one of the oldest universities in Europe. Visitors should see the university library, visit one of the old pubs, and take a stroll around the river. You should also check out the Covered Market with a lot of food stalls offering free tasting samples. I particularly recommend the French cheese monger stall.
Bristol has a lot to offer like any other big city, but my favorite part is the suspension bridge that you can cross for free as a pedestrian. A nice and cheap option for a flavour of Bristol’s maritime past and present is a boat trip around the harbour, along the Avon to Brunel’s suspension bridge or further afield. Jumping on to one of the commuter services that flit around the floating harbour is an excellent way to get around the waters.
Dartmoor National Park
Dartmoor is one of the must see parks in the UK, even if you’re not a nature person. Driving around gives you great opportunities to enjoy the country roads. Hike up some hills without hundreds of tourists around and enjoy the breath of fresh air. When driving to Dartmoor there are many country restaurants serving delicious local English food.
This small university town is a nice place to enjoy the day as it’s absolutely beautiful. The part of town near the river is an especially great place to have an afternoon tea and a romantic walk. When visiting Exeter, visitors shouldn’t forget to see the famous Cathedral which definitely leaves an impression. What to eat? Even if Exeter is not technically in Cornwall, you can still get a tasty Cornish Pastry!
Portsmouth is a university town, but you might not feel like it is while visiting. It has a great beach, an amazing port, and should be explored when visiting this part of the country.
Brighton probably doesn’t need much of an introduction. This beach town is a popular holiday destination for both Brits and foreigners who come to enjoy the summer. Brighton has an amazing nightlife and nice (for England) beaches to enjoy while resting after a good night out.
Dover is the first port of entry when crossing in to the UK through Calais in France. The white cliffs are amazing to see as the wind blows right in your face! It’s one of those places that can only be explored by car.
Fans of British history should definitely not skip Canterbury as this is where it all began. The city has amazing Cathedrals, museums, and traditional restaurants.It’s a great place to finish your road trip before returning to your busy life in London or elsewhere if you’re just visiting the UK.