Congratulations, you’ve finally gotten your driving license and now the UK is your oyster. With so many places to choose from, where do you go first? Perhaps you fancy a saunter through the Cornish countryside, or maybe you prefer an adventure in the rugged Scottish Highlands? Let miDrive whet your appetite with a few of the best UK road trips for new drivers.
Our routes are mainly broken up into shorter journeys, allowing you the freedom to make lots of smaller stops, or stay longer in more places at your leisure.
UK road trips 1: Plymouth to Penzance
With its sandy beaches, dramatic coastline, historic villages and abundance of pasties, Cornwall has been a favourite with British holidaymakers since the Victorian times, so where better to take your first UK road trip. This particular trip might not be the longest, but keep to the coast and see what this beautiful peninsula has to offer.
1. Start your UK road trip in Plymouth where you can take a boat ride on in of the world’s most impressive natural harbours.
2. Drive along the A38 to the quaint old town of Looe. Browse in the many little craft shops and don’t forget to pay Clive’s Cats a visit.
3. Next follow the B3359 past Bodmin to the beautiful fishing town of St. Austell where you can see King Arthur’s Castle and the impressive St. Michael’s Mount. Whilst you’re in town visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a massive botanical gardens dating back to the 18th century.
4. Continue onto the A390 and you’ll come to Truro, Cornwall’s only city. Famed for its markets, Victoria Gardens, which stretches alongside the railway track and National Cycle Route 3, which connects Truro with Newquay, England’s surfing haven.
5. Follow the A390 south towards the university town of Falmouth. Soak up the nightlife, discover shipwrecks beneath the sea or marine life on dry land at the Falmouth Aquarium.
6. Finish your UK road trip by taking the A3924 from Falmouth to Penzance. Whilst you’re here enjoy the UK’s only outdoor tropical garden, take a trip to the Isles of Scilly and search for pirates and fossils in secluded coves.
UK road trips 2: Cirencester to Alton Towers
The Cotswolds is nestled between the cities of Oxford, Cheltenham, Gloucester and Swindon, meaning that there are loads of routes for a UK road trip. Our route takes you though charming villages, the party city of Birmingham and to top it off, Alton Towers, now home to the world’s only roller coaster with 14 inversions — The Smiler.
Base your road trip in the grand market town of Cirencester where there’s a weekly farmer’s market selling loads of delicious local treats, an impressive Roman amphitheatre and the Cirencester Outdoor Pool containing naturally heated spring water (seasonal).
Drive from Cirencester along the B4425 to the village of Bibury, where lines of sandstone homes and shops are dotted along a ankle-deep river. Have a try at river football, a version of football played in the river by locals.
Bourton-on-the-Water is located north of Bibury along the A429. Admire the rolling hills, extravagant gardens and don’t forget to try some fresh trout at the local trout farm.
Continue north along the A429 and you’ll hit Blockley. This Cotswolds gem is different to other villages because it’s very much shaped by an industrial past of mills and silk. It’s also where the motorcycle used in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was built.
Cruise along the A429 and you eventually reach the charming village of Castle Combe, a place which you’ll recognise from many period dramas.
For the final leg of your Cotswolds adventure head north along the M5 towards Birmingham. England’s second largest city is home of the Thinktank Science Museum, BBC Birmingham’s Public Space where you can try reading the news and Cadburys Chocolate.
The last part of your journey takes you along the M4 northbound towards the best stop and the end of your trip — Alton Towers. Take on The Smiler’s 14 loops, meet your Nemesis, shoot through the creepy forest on TH13TEEN and more.
UK road trips 3: Lossiemouth to the Isle of Skye
Scotland is a wild land full of dramatic mountain landscapes and rugged coastline, meaning it’s a must for any UK road trip. Follow our route along the Scottish coast, but also feel free to wander and hike through the untamed countryside of this Celtic nation.
Begin your Scottish road trip in the small fishing village of Lossiemouth, a mecca for both surfers and golfers where you can enjoy walks along golden, unspoilt beaches.
Drive west down the A96 towards the city of Inverness. This is a modern city situated in the shadows of an impressive castle high on the hillside. Whilst you’re in town, you just have to make a side-trip south along the A82 to the famous Loch Ness where a monster is rumoured to be hiding.
Cross the country west from Inverness along the A835 towards the tiny village of Lochcarron and you’ll enjoy an exciting drive through untamed mountains. Lochcarron is your last stop on the mainland. Whilst in town, you can’t pass up the chance to visit a tartan factory.
Just less than an hour’s drive down the A87 will take you to Broadford, the second-largest town on the Isle of Skye. Once you’ve arrived here, you can’t go wrong. Complete your UK road trip by driving off the radar and discovering every nook and cranny of Scotland’s largest island.
UK road trips 4: Cardiff to the UK’s biggest shopping centre, Newcastle
Stock up your wallet and take a UK road trip to some of the biggest shopping centres in the UK, ending at the biggest, the Metrocentre, Tyne and Wear which boasts a whopping 340 shops.
Start your UK road trip in Cardiff where you can shop until you drop in St. David’s centre, now the 11th largest shopping centre in the UK. There are also many more shops and restaurants in the compact city centre, as well as a thriving night-life Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Follow the M4 out of Wales before turning off on the M32 towards Bristol where you’ll find the Bristol Shopping Quarter in the heart of the city centre, home to hundreds of shops including the bustling Cabot Circus.
From Bristol, take a long drive north along the M24 to Liverpool, home to The Beatles, impressive docks and Liverpool One, a shopping district with over 160 shops, including many high street names.
After checking out the Fab Four, jump back in your car drive along the M57, straight onto the M52 towards Manchester. The Trafford centre, formerly the largest shopping centre in the UK, is a shopping haven with 280 shops, 35 restaurants and a cinema.
Newcastle is the final destination on your UK road trip. Reach the Metrocentre in Tyne and Wear, the UK’s largest shopping centre, by cruising east along the M52 before following the A1 (M) northbound. Enjoy 194,000m² of shops and restaurants on two levels, if you’ve got any money left.
Where do your favourite UK road trips take you? Tell us in the comments below, or get in touch via Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
Image via Tim at Geograph.
Last modified: 14th January 2016