We are big fans of a road trip and have traversed our fair share of meandering miles. Be it the twists and turns of England’s south and west coasts, or the ruler-straight highways slicing through Australia’s desert outback, there is nothing quite like the freedom of the road. Not needing to be anywhere for anyone at any time is the best way to spend your free days.
England has around 190,000 miles of roads. Just 2% are motorways. The rest are small country lanes, back roads, side roads and local thoroughfares waiting to be explored. Taking a road trip through our green and pleasant land is one of the best ways to discover something amazing you never suspected was there. These four English road trips are ones you’ll remember forever.
England’s Jurassic Coast Road Trip
Starting in Bournemouth and finishing at Exmouth, this road trip should take you no less than three days.
The Jurassic Coast covers 95 miles of England’s south coast. In 2001 the area was given World Heritage status by UNESCO for the outstanding beauty and value of the geology found there. If you’ve ever dreamed of finding your own fossil, this is the place to go!
Whether you’re starting the journey from the London end at Bournemouth, or the west side beginning at Exmouth, you’ll delight in the views, villages and photo opportunities along the way.
Your route should begin (or end) with a ferry crossing over Poole Harbour to Studland. Here you can stop to visit Old Harry Rocks, the chalk stacks that mark the eastern edge of the Jurassic Coast.
Head out of Studland on the B3351 to Corfe Castle, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. After stopping for refreshments, wind your way along the A and B roads to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. These two picturesque beaches are connected with a cliff path that promises blustery views.
From Durdle Door, head to Weymouth. This colourful seaside town with a fishing harbour is a perfect place to explore. After Weymouth, head to Lyme Regis for a spot of fossil hunting.
Next head west to the tiny village of Beer. Here you’ll find an excellent pub for lunches that’s close to the chalk cliffs of the small beach.
Between Beer and Exmouth are a number of small typically English seaside villages for visiting on the final leg of your South coast road trip.
Northumberland’s Coastal Route
Stretching along 59 miles of England’s northeast, the Northumberland coast route is a breathtaking delight. This should take no less than three days but can be stretched to five for a really lazy wander.
This road trip features beautiful castles, a tidal island that was the original home of the Lindisfarne Gospels and ends with Europe’s biggest second-hand bookshop!
Take the coast road out of Alnmouth, heading to Craster and Embleton, two sweet seaside villages that are perfect for your first night away. You’ll get a freshly caught fish dinner and a beautiful beach view for your effort.
On day two, continue to meander north, through Beadnell, Seahouses and Bamburgh, being sure to stop at Bamburgh castle. Make time to explore the ruined priory on Holy Island. This is a tidal island, so make sure you check the tides before heading over!
Wind your way back south towards Alnwick and stop in at Alnwick Castle which was a filming location for scenes in the Harry Potter movies. After sightseeing at the castle browse Europe’s biggest second-hand bookstore for a story to get lost in.
This final gem, Barter Books, is found in an old Victoria railway station and is open from 9am ‘til 7pm every day except Christmas Day.
Chocolate Box England – The Cotswolds
If you fancy driving through a Victorian picture book, this Cotswold’s road trip is just the thing. Covering 100 miles in total, you’ll take in quaint villages, six different counties and countless photo opportunities. You should allow a minimum of three days to explore this route.
Beginning at Gloucester, set your sat nav to take you through Bourton-on-the-Water, Morton-in Marsh, Broadway, Stow-on-the-Wol, Lower Slaughter, Bibury, Painswick, Castle Combe and Cirencester.
Each of these villages offers plenty to do from country walks to antique shopping and much more. To really explore each, you’ll need to allow one day per four villages. To take a more relaxed pace, aim to cover just three villages each day and soak up the unique ambiance of the Cotswolds area.
The most famous of all the villages on this route is Bourton-on-the-Water. It’s full of typical English charm and there are a bunch of things to do there too. Check out the Cotswolds Motoring Museum and Toy Collection, experience life as a giant in The Old New Inn’s Model Village, or get lost in the Dragonfly Maze near Birdland.
The trundling A and B roads of the Cotswolds insist you take a slower pace for your road trip. You should expect to be held up by a tractor or a herd of sheep at least once along your journey.
Travel the Atlantic Highway
Starting in the beautiful town of Bath and finishing on Cornwall’s coast at Newquay, this southwest road trip covers 200 miles of English roads. This road trip should be taken at a leisurely pace taking no less than five days.
Bath city is a place worth taking the time to explore. Not only will you find the roman baths of interest, you can also start your road trip with some pampering at the Thermae Bath Spa.
From Bath, head to Barnstaple where the Atlantic Highway starts. You can take a circuitous route that crosses the Quantocks and winds around Exmoor’s coast, or be a little more direct and choose the M5. The former is far prettier and worth the effort. However, if you’re strapped for time, the M5 isn’t a bad option.
The section of the A39 between Barnstaple and Newquay is often boasted as one of the world’s most scenic drives. Expect rich forests, pretty seaside villages and rugged coastline.
Make time to stop at Clovelly – a steep seaside village that became the ‘most instagramable British Village’ in 2020. The little fishing village was once owned by the Queen of England and is now privately owned. You’ll need to leave your car at the top of the 400 ft cliff to wander down — no cars are allowed on the cobbled streets.
Stop to dip your toes in the sea along the way, make time for a gander around the castle at Tintagel and be sure to have room for photos on your phone at picturesque Padstow. If you love the sea, this stretch of England’s coastline is perfect for swimming, surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and nearly all other water sports. In 2022 it was designated the world’s 12th surfing reserve.
These four English road trips are some of the very best on offer. If you prefer heading further afield for a road trip, take a look at our suggestions for a Lille road trip!