Wanting to get out on the road and looking for some UK road trip ideas? Well, you’ve come to the right place! There are so many scenic drives in the UK covering the mountains, the coast and everything in between, so there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy. From the North Coast 500 in Scotland to the Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland, here are the best scenic drives in the UK!
1. North Coast 500
Of course we’ve got to kickstart this article with our favourite scenic drive in the UK: the North Coast 500. Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the North Coast 500 is popular for good reason. At just over 500 miles, the drive takes in some of Scotland’s most stunning coastal scenery passing everything from fairytale castles to white-sand beaches. Must-see sights you cannot miss along the way include Torridon, Beinn Eighe, Corrieshalloch Gorge, Stac Pollaidh, Ardvreck Castle, Duncansby Sea Stacks and Dunrobin Castle.
While you can drive the whole loop in 2-3 days, we’d recommend doing it in a week to slow down and experience the road trip to the fullest. You should also drive the North Coast 500 clockwise, starting and finishing in Inverness, so you’re not driving against the grain which can be annoying on single track roads.
2. Snake Pass
Snaking its way through the Peak District, Snake Pass is an iconic hill pass that crosses the Pennines between Glossop and Ladybower Reservoir. The pass is situated 510m above sea level among some of the Peak District’s most beautiful scenery, offering drivers amazing views as far as Manchester on a clear day.
Snake Pass is one of the top driving roads in the country, mainly due to its difficulty. For this reason, it is also well-loved by cyclists who love its sharp incline followed by the long, very scenic descent. There are plenty of tricky bends and blind summits for driving enthusiasts to tackle too. If you’re looking to get out of your car to see the views up close and personal we’d also recommend a hike up the nearby Kinder Scout or a gentle walk up Bamford Edge to see some amazing views across Ladybower Reservoir.
3. Wrynose and Hardknott Pass
The Lake District is home to some of the best scenic drives in the UK. Everywhere you turn, there is a new amazing sight to see! But two of the Lake District’s best passes are Wrynose and Hardknott Pass which lead on from one other. Not for the faint-hearted, this single track road travels right through the middle of the Lake District and like Snake Pass is very steep and twisting, but great fun for those who love driving. Hardknott Pass even has a 33% gradient at one point!
The unusual name of ‘Wrynose’ comes from the phrase ‘pass of the stallion’, referring to the fact that only a well-muscled horse could make it up the steep pass. These two mountain passes take you through Eskdale, the Duddon Valley, the Langdale Valley, and on to Ambleside. It’s safe to say the views are worth the tough drive!
4. The Causeway Coastal Route
If you haven’t considered visiting before, make sure you put the Causeway Coast to the top of your UK road trip bucket list. One of the most scenic drives in the UK, the Causeway Coastal Route runs for amost 200 miles along the coast all the way from Belfast to Londonderry. You can easily drive the whole route in under a day; however, we’d advise setting aside two full days to do the route so you can enjoy all the attractions along the way.
The route takes in some of Northern Ireland’s best sights, from the iconic Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge to Dunluce Castle and the Dark Hedges, which were used as Game of Thrones filming locations!
5. Village hopping in the Cotswolds
If you want to step back in time into a world of cute little cottages full of charm and character, the Cotswolds is the UK road trip for you. While there isn’t one set route, most of the villages, towns and hotspots are in really close proximity to each other.
We’d recommend visiting the following places in this order: Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower and Upper Slaughter, Stow-on-the-Wold, Snowshill, Broadway, Chipping Campden. Castle Combe is also to the south of the Cotswolds, further away from the other villages, but it is definitely worth the visit if you want to extend your road trip. However, anywhere you drive around the Cotswolds is bound to deliver on amazing views and even cuter cottages. It is an Area of Natural Beauty for good reason, after all.
6. Norfolk Coast
Often overlooked, the Norfolk Coast is easily one of the most scenic drives in the UK. Driving along the A149 from King’s Lynn to Mundesley, you’ll be rewarded with some stunning views of some of the UK’s best coastline and nature reserves. It is one of the best because it is protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Spanning nearly 280 miles of coastline, this drive can easily be done in a few hours but if you really want to soak up the scenery, we’d advise leaving a lot more time. You’ll see all sorts along the way from long stretches of golden beach to mudflats and salt marsh, shingle and pebbles. Be sure not to miss the hotspots of Hunstanton, Holme-next-the-Sea, Holkham, Wells-next-the-Sea, Blakeney and Cromer.
7. The Dragon’s Spine
You may not have heard of the Dragon’s Spine but the animal in its name is a good clue as to its location! Yep, you guessed it, it’s in Wales. Taking you through bustling cities and two national parks across almost 200 miles, the Dragon’s Spine is a great way to see some of Wales’ best beauty spots!
The Dragon’s Spine starts off in Cardiff in the south heading up to Conwy in the north via the A470. Taking you through the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia National Park, this road trip is best done in four days minimum so you’ve got time to see all the sights. Hiking enthusiasts will love this road trip as there are so many mountains along the way. We’d recommend Pen y Fan and Llyn y Fan Fach in the Brecon Beacons, and Cadair Idris, Crib Goch and any of the Ogwen Valley hikes in Snowdonia.
8. Best of the Moors
You can easily drive through the North York Moors and see lots of sights in one day making it a great UK road trip for those with less time on their hands. While the drive from Helmsley to Staithes is short, it certainly packs a punch – and you can also detour to see other sights too. From the tallest waterfall in the Moors in Goathland to the scenic Dalby Forest, there is plenty to see along the way.
If the coast has your heart, make sure you visit the charming coastal towns of Staithes, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay, that not only look the part but also play host to some great pubs too!
9. Atlantic Highway
Last but by no meant least, if you’re a lover of the coast, the Atlantic Highway is the UK road trip for you. While there are so many beautiful spots across Devon and Cornwall, the Atlantic Highway takes you along a stretch of the A39 from Barnstaple in Devon to Newquay in Cornwall. The road itself doesn’t take you along the coast but you can easily venture off course to visit some of Britain’s best beaches. We’d recommend stopping off at Bideford, Boscastle, Tintagel and Bredruthan Steps!
This is a popular part of the UK for staycations so if you want to avoid bad traffic and crowds, we’d recommend driving the Atlantic Highway in low season.
Where does Jaunt come in?
No matter which scenic drive in the UK you want to embark on, Jaunt can help you on your way. Whether you’re borrowing a mate’s car or using Jaunt to split the driving with your friends, we’ll help you have a more relaxed road trip experience.
With Jaunt, the cover is comprehensive and flexible, and if you were to have an accident, the Jaunt policy won’t affect the no claims discount of you or the car owner. Win, win. For more information, read our ultimate guide to temporary car insurance or head over to our handy Help page where we answer your FAQ.