The Best Road Trips and Scenic Day Drives in the UK

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PAGE UPDATED: 22.01.2023

Planning an epic road trip for 2023? What about a shorter spectacular scenic day drive? We’ve put our best road trips in the UK into a neat ‘Top 10’ list for you.

These routes take in some of the best scenery in England, Scotland and Wales. Some can be easily done within a couple of hours whereas others should be enjoyed over several days, making up different sections of longer tours around the UK.

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best road trips in the UK

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The 10 Best UK Road Trips and Day Drives

The first 3 road trips in this list form part of our two-week honeymoon through Scotland. Each separate route makes for a spectacular drive in itself but if you’ve got the time link them together like we did.

Road trips #1 to #3 take you all the way from the A82 in Glencoe, past Ben Nevis, onto the Isle of Skye, before coming back onto the mainland with visits to Loch Ness and a drive over the highest road in the UK in the Cairngorms…

Road Trip #1: The A82 from Loch Lomond to Glencoe in Scotland

A beautiful drive whatever the weather, the mountains on either side are rocky and wild and there is a visitor centre at Glencoe with a great campsite right next door.

Our experience driving along the A82 was one of awe and embarrassment. The former was due to the amazing scenery, especially when the sun came out. The latter? Our old motorhome blew a hole in her exhaust. We sounded like a Sherman tank coming through the glen!

Read the full Glencoe road trip story and find out what to see and do in the area

best road trips in the UK: the A82 to Glencoe, Scotland
The A82 in Scotland, heading to Glencoe

Road Trip #2: From Ben Nevis to the Isle of Skye

After camping in Glencoe we headed to the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. We’d started out way too late to climb all the way to the top so decided instead to check out the road winding its way back down in the glen.

And from there, we headed all the way over to the Isle of Skye where we spent a couple of days before coming back onto the mainland and an overnight stop at Loch Ness.

Read the full story and find out what to see and do: from Ben Nevis to the Isle of Skye

the best road trips in the UK: a magical drive on the isle of Skye
A magical drive on the Isle of Skye

Road Trip #3: From Loch Ness through the Cairngorms to Scotland’s East Coast

“Let’s go on Britain’s highest road!” Gav announced, emphatically when we left Loch Ness. Trudi found it funny. Our VW Cree doesn’t do hills. However, Hobo Gav was not joking.

As we made our way over the Cairngorms we encountered the A93 – quoted as being ‘one of Scotland’s most dangerous roads’…

map of Scotland and roads with numbers of fatal accidents

The Cairngorm’s scenery might not be quite as dramatic as the Nevis range with the roads mostly going over the tops of the mountains rather than in between. However, our van managed it because, luckily for us, the long drag on this road trip was downhill. And we were even more lucky to find that the 33% gradient in one section had long been bypassed. Phew!

The header picture on our homepage shows where we wild-camped one night, right by the roadside, overlooking the Cairngorms mountain range before heading eastward the next morning.

Read the full story: Loch Ness to the Cairngorms

Best road trips in the UK: VW motorhome in the Cairngorms
Wild camping by the roadside in the Cairngorms

Road trips #4 and #5 could be combined (which is what we did on our second visit), going from Castleton in the Peak District, along the Snake Pass and then on into Wales.

In total, there are 3 passes on this road trip: Winnat’s Pass, Snake Pass, and the Horseshoe Pass, each of them spectacular drives…

Road Trip #4: The A57 Snake Pass in the Peak District, England

We’ve driven this on two occasions, both times heading north-west towards Glossop. It is an exhilarating trip with ‘snaky’ bends, gradients, some adverse cambers and stunning scenery. But be careful when you go as this road is notoriously dangerous in bad weather.

In late summer, the slopes are purple with heather. And on a clear day, beyond the blooms and wild, desolate moorland hills, you can see the metropolis that is Manchester encroaching on the horizon.

Read the full story: Snake Pass in the Peak District

best scenic days drives in the UK: Snake Pass, England, A57
Snake Pass, heading toward Glossop on the outskirts of Manchester

Road Trip #5: The Horseshoe Pass on the A542 in Wales

After our second drive along Snake Pass (above) we decided to carry on over the border and into Wales, heading south towards Llangollen. There are some wonderful bends along the route, revealing more of the stunning Welsh mountains at each turn.

It is one of those road trips where you are not sure which window to look out of. And there is a café at the top of Horseshoe Pass where you can enjoy the views with a lovely cuppa.

Read the full story: The Horseshoe Pass to Llangollen

Best UK road trips: Driving along the Horseshoe Pass, Wales
On the Horseshoe Pass in Wales

Road trips #6, #7, and #8 are all in Wales, starting south in the Brecon Beacons, going through Mid Wales, up the West Coast and onto the tranquillity of the Llyn Peninsula before driving through the spectacular Snowdon range.

And we mustn’t forget a drive around the Island of Anglesey – another place you must visit!

Road Trip #6: The A470 in Wales from Pen Y Fan to the Elan Valley

This road trip starts at Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons and takes you up the A470 into Mid Wales following the river Wye, before eventually arriving at the spectacular Elan Valley. And it’s here that things get really interesting as you negotiate tiny mountain roads, described by the AA as, “one of the best drives in the world.”

We’ve done the trip twice; firstly in our van and the second time in a car after we realised there were hills our old VW Cree wouldn’t get up!

Read the full road trip story: Brecon Beacons to the Elan Valley

best road trips in the UK: View from Claerwen Dam in the Elan Valley, Wales
View from Claerwen Dam in the Elan Valley, Wales

Road Trip #7: The West Coast of Wales, the Llyn Peninsula and Snowdonia

A stunning drive that took us two days, up the West Coast from Barmouth, onto the Llyn Peninsula for a night at a small campsite before ending up sleeping in the shadow of Snowdon on night two.

We’d started at Dolgellau on the southern edge of the Snowdonia National Park, and, once at the coast, enjoyed spectacular cliff-top views out to sea. On the Llyn Peninsula we passed through tiny hamlets of farms and cottages where seemingly nothing has changed for generations. 

Fantastic coastal and mountain scenery and places that take you back in time to when life was slower and simpler. Just how we like it.

Read the full road trip story: The West Coast of Wales, Llyn Peninsula and Snowdonia

best road trips in the UK: wild camping view in Snowdonia
Evening view from the Pen Y Pass car park in Snowdonia, with the mist rolling up the valley

Road Trip #8: The Island of Anglesey on the A4080 and A4545

You can’t go to Wales without visiting Anglesey! A drive around the island is like stepping back in time. The roads are quiet and the pace of life is much slower, ideal for a van like ours. We wild-camped the first night, overlooking the Menai Strait, as shown in the picture below.

Over the next couple of days we travelled all around the island and found two spectacular locations, one of which is a setting used in the TV programme, Dr Who. If you’re looking to get away from it all, Anglesey is the place to go.

Read our Anglesey Road Trip story and find out what to see and do

Menai Strait, looking towards Wales mainland and Snowdonia
Wild camp by the Menai Strait on Anglesey with Snowdonia across the water

Road Trip #9: The A169 across the North York Moors

Back in England, on paper the A169 looks like a fairly straight road which just gets you from York to Whitby. But off paper, it traverses mile after mile of wild moorland.

Recently voted the UK’s 3rd best road trip, the scenery is straight out of Heartbeat – a popular English TV series set in the 1960s.

It makes for a great day trip and it’s easy to see why it scores so highly in the UK’s best road trips and scenic drives.

Read the full story: from York to Whitby across the North York Moors

best road trips in the UK: North York Moors
The wonderful desolation of the North York Moors

Road Trip #10: The North Norfolk Coast

With the pandemic limiting travel options over the last couple of years we had to stay closer to home (in East Anglia).

This 90 mile road trip along the North Norfolk Coast starts at the Wash and follows the coastal road all the way around to Gt. Yarmouth, taking in some wonderful scenery, coastal erosion, and drives through little fishing villages and tourist towns.

It’s a beautiful part of the UK and you could easily spend a week or more exploring the whole coastline.

Read the full story of our road trip around the North Norfolk Coast

the crumbling coastline at Happisburgh, Norfolk
The eroding cliffs at Happisburgh on the North Norfolk Coast

Is your van ready for a road trip like these ones?

Check out our blog post on how to prep your RV.

If you haven’t yet got a van of your own and are thinking of hiring a motorhome make sure you read our advice before you hit the road.

motorhome rental: what you need to know before you hire an RV

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