5 Best Scenic Drives To Experience In The UK (2024)

When you hear the words ‘road trip’, you could be forgiven for automatically thinking of America’s Route 66, or Australia’s East coast. However, we shouldn’t forget the amazing offerings on our own shores.

So, with the music on and windows down — or the roof if you can and the weather permits — here are some of the best road trips the UK has to offer:

1. Scotland’s North Coast

Scotland’s North Coast is a circular route that takes you on a 500-mile journey through some of Scotland’s most beautiful countryside.

The route starts in Inverness and takes you towards Bealach na Bà, one of the highest roads in the UK, with stunning views of rugged fairways, castles, ruins, and beaches along the way. This isolated route offers an amazing escape from urban life and traffic congestion, allowing you to immerse yourself in the stunning scenery of Scotland’s North Coast.

You’ll pass through charming towns and villages, including Ullapool, Thurso, and Durness, where you can stop for a bite to eat or to explore the local attractions. The route takes you through some of Scotland’s most remote and wild landscapes, where you’ll see an array of wildlife, including eagles, deer, and otters.

However, be warned that accommodation options are sparse, so it’s essential to plan your pit stops accordingly.

2. Northern Ireland’s Coastal Route

Northern Ireland’s coastal route is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves stunning scenery. This route takes you through bustling towns, peaceful lakelands, forests, and cliffs, offering a diverse range of landscapes to explore.

As part of a five-day adventure, be sure to take the Causeway coastal route for exquisite views over the Mull of Kintyre. The Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge is another highlight, hanging tentatively over an 80ft chasm. Bushmills, home to the world’s oldest licensed distillery, is also along the route, before you head towards one of nature’s wonders—the Giant’s Causeway.

Other hotspots worth visiting include the Ulster American Folk Park just outside of Omagh, which details why two million people left Ulster for America in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the ruins of medieval Dunluce Castle, which teeters on the edge of the ocean. You’ll also pass through quaint fishing villages, such as Portballintrae and Portrush, where you can enjoy fresh seafood and stunning views of the coast.

3. Black Mountain Pass, Wales

The Black Mountain Pass in Wales is a short but sweet 22-mile journey that takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Brecon Beacons.

This road is known as the “Top Gear road” thanks to Jeremy Clarkson’s journeys on the route. The winding roads allow you to test your driving skills as you sweep through the twists and turns down in the valleys. The views of the Tywi Valley are unrivalled, and you’ll be likely to spot rustic farmhouses, farmers, and the odd sheep along the way.

The route is best tackled from north to south, starting in Llandovery and finishing in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, as this way you’ll experience the full force of the dramatic landscape. The pass is also surrounded by a number of hiking trails, including the Black Mountain Ridge Walk, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Be sure to stop at the Llyn-y-Fan Fach reservoir, where you can take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters or enjoy a picnic on the banks.

4. The Atlantic Highway

The Atlantic Highway on the North Cornwall coast is a 76-mile stretch that takes in some of the UK’s most beautiful coastlines. The route starts in Barnstaple and finishes up in Newquay, taking you through picturesque fishing villages and stunning beaches. Constantine Bay and Bedruthan Steps are both visible along the route, giving any budding photographers an opportunity to capture the perfect snap.

The route is also home to the picturesque clifftop castle at Tintagel, which is steeped in Arthurian legend. You can also visit the charming village of Boscastle, which is famous for its quaint harbour and the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. The route is best enjoyed during the summer months when the sun is shining and the sea is calm, allowing you to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters.

5. The Lake District

The Lake District is undoubtedly one of the most scenic locations in the UK, and there are as many as 15 wonderful driving routes to take in all it has to offer. Home of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth, the North West’s idyllic location offers up an array of stunning landscapes, mountains, and pretty towns in which to have a pit stop.

One of the highlights of the Lake District is the quintessential scenery on show around Keswick, Borrowdale, and Buttermere. No matter the weather, you’ll be sure to fall in love with the area. It’s also worth taking in Lake Windermere for a play about on the water and Coniston Water, where Donald Campbell set many of his water speed records.

The Lake District is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, with a plethora of hiking trails, water sports, and other outdoor activities on offer. But it’s also a great place to relax and unwind, with charming towns and villages, cozy pubs, and stunning views around every corner.

No matter which driving route you choose, you’re sure to be blown away by the natural beauty of the Lake District. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in one of the UK’s most stunning locations.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a seasoned road tripper or a first-time adventurer, these routes offer something for everyone. From stunning coastal views to rugged mountain passes, there’s no shortage of breathtaking scenery to take in. Each route also offers plenty of opportunities to explore charming towns and villages, sample local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the local culture.

One of the best things about these road trips is the flexibility they offer. You can take your time and explore at your own pace, stopping whenever and wherever you like. Whether you want to spend a day hiking in the mountains, lounging on the beach, or exploring historic castles and ruins, there’s no shortage of things to see and do.

Of course, no road trip is complete without a great soundtrack. So, be sure to load up your favorite tunes and hit the road. With so much to see and do, these road trips are sure to be an unforgettable experience that you’ll cherish for years to come.

Before you go…

Looking for great locations to visit in the east of England or some of the best experiences to book during your holiday? check out my other articles.