We’ve lived in London for over 8 years now and we have a weakness for road trips – this dangerous combination has led us to make many a road trip in England 🙂 So far, we’ve written about a long weekend away in Devon, a road trip from London to Cornwall, and our favourite road trips around London.
But this summer we thought we’d tell you everything you need to know about planning an epic road trip in England – one that will take you through unending fields of flowers, quaint British villages, seaside towns, urban centres such as London, and UNESCO Heritage Sites. You can dine at English gastro pubs, try your hand at making English cheese, unwind at an English beach, marvel at intricate cathedrals, and hop on a pub crawl or food tour to taste the best that England has to offer.
Distance covered on this road trip in England : 800 miles
Time required : 2-3 weeks
I) Start in London (5 days)
Before you rent a car, get a taste of the capital by exploring it via tube.
Accommodation in London
When it comes to choosing accommodation in London, there is no dearth of hotels and apartments to suit all budgets. But if you’re travelling to London during summer months, you will struggle to get accommodation that is both affordable and central. It’s usually one or the other.
But we do have a great option for you if you are lucky enough to be travelling to London between 2 July and 23 September (exact dates vary each year). Did you know Imperial College opens its doors to guests every summer? We love their summer accommodation because of a couple of different reasons. It’s clean, well-equipped, spacious, and located in one of the nicest areas of London. It’s easy to spend your days walking around South Kensington’s alleyways but you will have a lot of London’s iconic sites at your doorstep too. This includes the V&A, Natural History Museum, The Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park! What’s more, all the other London landmarks are just a hop, skip, and jump away. This makes it our top choice for a short summer getaway in London
As for things to do, there’s nothing that hasn’t been said about London. On Bruised Passports alone, we’ve written a dozen articles on the ever-fascinating city. But allow us to rave a bit more 🙂 London has a bit for everyone. Of course you will want to check off primary attractions such as The Big Ben, The London Eye, or Westminster Abbey off your list. If you’re a keen shopper, you will want to hit the shopping mecca that is Oxford Street. But also make sure you experience luxurious afternoon tea in London , take an offbeat food tour, sample street art, and hit a few alternative bars in town. Check out our Guide To London for loads of offbeat and fun ideas of things to do in London.
Accommodation for the rest of the trip
There is no dearth of hotels and apartments to suit all budgets on this road trip in England. But we would suggest booking scenic cottages or quaint apartments on Air BnB for the rest of this trip for a truly English experience.
II) Drive to Cornwall (3 days)
It’s time to say goodbye to urbanity for a taste of the English countryside. Pick up your rental car and kick off your roadtrip. It’s only fair to start your road trip of England in a area laden with character. Cornwall is a stunning area at the south-western tip of England and the Cornish coastal road has repeatedly been adjudged as one of the most scenic drives in the world.
But first it’s time for a pit-stop or two along the way. Depending on the time you have at hand, spend a few hours or a couple of days in Bath and Stonehenge. Bath is a historic town, known for its historic buildings. Stonehenge, is one of the most famous pre-historic monuments in the entire world. It has a pagan air about it and is definitely worth a visit.
There is no shortage of things to do in Cornwall. You can spend your days indulging in archetypal English delights. Don’t leave without exploring the fishing village of Cadgwith, the bustling town of St. Ives, sampling Cornish pasties, walking along the coastal route at Lizard Peninsula, and watching a play at Minack Theatre (an open-air theater overlooking the sea)
II) Continue onto Devon and Dorset (3 days)
The charm turns up a notch in neighbouring Devon. Here thatched cottages, picturesque farms, and holiday homes dilly dally with gorgeous coastal drives and UNESCO Heritage Sites. Devon seems to be rimmed with a halo of magic and you are bound to love every bit of it.
Make sure you stay in a holiday cottage or a working farm. Spend your days picnicking amidst canola fields, going for long walks in the countryside, and admiring the sylvan landscape. Don’t come away without driving along the Jurassic Coast, a natural UNESCO Heritage site. It’s littered with pebbled beaches, hidden coves, fishing villages, and the famed Durdle Door – a natural limestone arch overlooking the sea. This drive is bound to be one of the highlights of your long road trip in England.
III) Experience Brighton (2-4 days)
After spending a week in the English countryside, you’re bound to crave the hustle-bustle of cities. Brighton is the perfect pit stop on your way to London. This small city is one of the most vibrant in all of England. There is no dearth of vintage boutiques, independent cafes and eateries, street art in Brighton and there’s something for everyone.
Brighton’s seafront offers all the charms of an English sea-side resort – there are ice-cream vendors, carousels, casinos, and dozens of fish-n-chip takeaways. Truly as English as it gets!!
IV) Fall in love with Canterbury
There are a few things only a road trip in England can offer – Canterbury is one of them. Time stands still in this cathedral city, made famous by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The idyllic city is straight out of the pages of a fairy-tale. Explore the Canterbury Cathedral and go for a river tour to acquaint yourself with the city. You will fall in love.
VI) Be awed by Oxford (1 day)
Oxford is just an hour’s drive away from London. It’s home to the one of the oldest and most famed universities in the world – University of Oxford. Explore the hallowed corridors of the colleges, listen to one of the college chapel choirs, or explore Bodleian Library (perfect for bookworms!).
Make sure you get a good night’s sleep in order to prepare yourself for the long drive the next day.
VII) Visit York and the surrounding moors (3-5 days)
A long drive will take you to the northern part of England. You could stop at a pick-your-own farm on the way. Pick your own fruit (choose from strawberries, raspberries, pears, and apples) farms lends a typical English edge to this road trip.
York, a quaint cathedral city, provides the perfect base to explore the area. The city itself is home to one of the prettiest cathedrals in England but the rugged countryside surrounding York acts as the proverbial cherry on top of the cake. The North York Moors national park includes wide expanses of moorland straight out of the pages of Wuthering Heights. The spa town of Harrogate is the getaway to the moors. We love the little known Ilkley Moors but there are a number of hikes and walks in the area.
If you love all things outdoorsy, you might want to consider camping in the neighbouring Peak District for 3-4 days. There are a variety of options – pitched tents, camping sites, caravans, and holiday homes – for keen campers.
VIII) Lake District National Park
We saved the best for the last – we truly did. The Lake District National Park is famous for being home to the Romantic poets, especially Wordsworth. It is said to have provided inspiration for a lot of his poetry – looking around, it’s easy to see why. The entire landscape is peppered with perfect cottages, fields full of daffodils, rolling mountains, and dazzling lakes. The panoramas in The Lake District National Park will leave you hankering for more. We won’t blame you if you stay on for a week (or two) 🙂
If you find yourself in London, the best way to explore the city is to get a London Pass (get 6% off passes using the code JULY6 at checkout)
Planning a road trip in England? Read all our articles on England, including detailed articles on Devon, Cornwall, and London here.