The Best Road Trips and Scenic Day Drives in the UK

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Wondering about the best road trips in the UK? What about a shorter spectacular scenic day drive? On this page we’ve put our best road trips 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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3 epic road trips in the UK: image of Winnat's Pass in the Peak District
Original Image: Grant Ritchie

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 in Scotland from Loch Lomond to Glencoe

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’…

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. 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: From Loch Ness through the Cairngorms to Scotland’s east coast

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 west 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: From the Brecon Beacons to the Elan Valley

This road trip starts at Pen Y Fan – the highest point in Southern Wales in the Brecon Beacons and explores some of the best places to visit in and around the Beacons.

It takes in the spectacular 4 Waterfalls Walk, the National Show Caves of Wales, and a spectacular drive along the Top Gear road. Then we head up the A470 into Mid Wales following the river Wye, before eventually arriving at the awe-inspiring Elan Valley.

We’ve done the trip several times now but as there is so much to see and do in both the Brecon Beacons and the Elan Valley we’re sure to return again and again.

Read the full road trip story: From the 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. On our first visit we wild-camped the first night, overlooking the Menai Strait, as shown in the picture below.

This road trip story takes us all over the island exploring ancient sites, walking up mountains – including one used in the TV programme, Dr Who – and a meeting with the Red Arrows! Yes, Anglesey has got the lot.

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 drive and it’s easy to see why it scores so highly in the UK’s best road trips and scenic drives. And Whitby is stunning.

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

When the pandemic was limiting travel options 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. And we picked up some hitch-hikers!

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?

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
Original Image: Spaceships Rentals

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