I’ve had this dream before… cruising down country roads. Windows rolled down with the wind whipping through my hair. The smell of fresh-cut grass, nothing but blue skies and rolling hills in front of me. The only thing slowing me down is the occasional sheep crossing the road ahead. Passing thatched cottages and villages that I can’t pronounce the name of. Stopping for gas and the locals speaking to me with their heavy English accents. I’ve had that dream before… and that is why I decided to finally make it into a reality – a road trip through the UK.
I booked a plane ticket, made a car reservation, made endless plans, and showed up in the UK. I arrived ready to conquer my fear of A) solo travel, and B) driving on the opposite side of the road. I took my time through the quaint English countryside and panicked on the roads in Scotland. I spent 15 days exploring the ins and outs of what the country offers; eight days on the road. Below you will find a rough guide to navigating through the UK, what stops are worth your time in just a short week, and how I would plan my trip if I were to do it over again.
Fly into London
Arrive in London (Gatwick or Heathrow) and immediately catch a two-hour train going west to Bath. Renting a car from Bath is cheaper than if you were to rent from London. Plus the train tickets from London to Bath should only run you about $20. (If you have more time to spend it may be worthwhile to stay in London for a few nights, however, if you don’t I would recommend skipping London altogether).
Note: I rented my car from Enterprise, however they did screw up my reservation. For tips on renting a car, click here.
Days 1 & 2 – Bath, England
Spend two days in Bath learning the history of the Romans and their influence on this town. Highlights include free walking tour, touring the Roman Baths, and winding down at Corkage wine bar.
Note: Make sure to pick up your car when leaving Bath, not arriving. You won’t need a car there and this way you can save money.
For things to do in Bath, click here.
Days 3 & 4 – York, England
Hit the open road and head four-hours north to York. Highlights include grabbing coffee at the Perky Peacock and walking the ancient walls. Visiting York Minster, Shambles Street, eating street food at the Shambles Market, and sitting for high tea at Betty’s.
For a more comprehensive guide to 48 hours in York, click here.
Days 5 & 6 – Oban, Scotland
After 48-hours in the medieval town of York, head further north into Scotland. A six-hour drive northwest will bring you to the quaint and quiet town of Oban. While you can certainly see Oban in one-day, I recommend two so you can also visit the Inner Hebrides. Highlights include the Oban Distillery, Nori’s Fish and Chips, and a visit to Tobermory.
Note: Parking is extremely limited in Oban and chances are you will either get a ticket ($30) or have to continuously feed the meter while visiting.
For a more comprehensive guide to 48 hours in Oban, click here.
Day 7 – Edinburgh, Scotland
Your last day with the car will take you three-hours east to the hilly capital of Scotland – Edinburgh. Here you can drop the car off at the airport and spend a few days exploring what makes this capital so special. From graveyards to castles, everything about Edinburgh draws you in and leaves you wanting more. Highlights include free walking tour, a walk along Leith Water Walkway, a visit to The Dome, and views from Arthur’s Seat.
After spending time, I recommend three nights, in Edinburgh say goodbye to the UK! Catch a flight out of Edinburgh back home. Or if you’re like me, continue onwards to Tallinn!
Note: Once you drop your car off at the airport there is a quick and cheap metro that can take you into town.
For a complete guide to Edinburgh, click here.
Perks of Renting a Car Over Train Travel
You can take your time and move around as you please. Love Bath? Stay an extra day. Hate Bath? Leave early. It’s just you and your car! Let go of other people’s agendas for you and just do as you please!
Along the way, you’ll notice a ton of places to stop and stretch your legs. Signs dot the road claiming “best views!” “Best wine!” The list goes on! If you are in a car you can stop as you please.
Train travel throughout Europe is generally cheap. Train travel throughout the UK is quite expensive. Not only will you shell out a lot of dough to catch the train, but it also doesn’t seem to be a great route to travel. Going from Bath to York by train will run you approximately $100-$200 plus it won’t be a straight shot. Excluding gas, my car cost $300 for an eight-day trip.
Before venturing off on your road trip, make sure to read 6 Solo Road Trip Tips – How to Have An Epic Road Trip When You’re Alone