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Road Tax & Roadside Assistance Included
FREE & Fast Delivery

The Most Popular UK Historical Road-Trip Destinations

A staycation has become the way to holiday over the past few years. It was already gaining in popularity anyway, and then along came a global pandemic that forced us all to rethink our free time as it was no longer possible to jet off to all corners of the world. Happily, visiting new places in your home country is a great adventure and our fantastic island has some fascinating history.

Planning a road trip to see some of the UK’s iconic destinations is a great starting point for your next holiday and if you add an electric vehicle (EV) to the mix, you have a perfect, eco-friendly way to see the sights.

Vanarama has picked out 6 of the best historical road-trip destinations in the UK to get you started. In some cases, you may need to make stopovers on the way, but with so much to see you can easily make it a road trip to remember by taking advantage of every stop to do some more exploring and learn about the UK’s rich history. 

1.Rutland Water

Historical-Roadtrips-Rutland-Water

Why Visit?

A recent discovery has made Rutland Water a must-visit destination for anyone interested in fossils. Late last year, the conservation team responsible for Rutland Water, the largest reservoir in England, decided to drain some of the water to make it easier for birds to set up homes and thrive there.

In doing so, they made a 180-million-year-old discovery. The entire skeleton of an Ichthyosaur, nicknamed the ‘Sea Dragon’, was uncovered in a fantastic find. The skull alone weighed a tonne and the beast is more than 10 metres (32 feet) in length. It is incredibly rare to find fossils in this complete and near-perfect state. The area will be overrun with the public hoping to get a look, as well as many amateur fossil hunters hoping to find even more history lurking beneath the ground.

Visitors Per Year:

1.2 million but set to climb rapidly!

Best Time To See:

The reservoir is open to the public all year round, and has some gorgeous walks and vistas to enjoy. However, leisurely strolls can turn cold and inhospitable during the winter months, so the best time to visit depends on how hardy you are!

Driving Distance:

Journey

 

Distance

Time

London to Bath

114.7 miles

2 hours 26 minutes

Manchester to Bath

180.2 miles

3 hours 32 minutes

Glasgow to Bath

383.5 miles

6 hours 26 minutes

2. Bath

Historical-Roadtrips-Bath

Why Visit?

There is so much history in this UK city. The Roman Bath House has been carefully preserved and, for lovers of architecture, the medieval Bath Abbey is a must-see destination. Bath is also known for the sweeping crescents of terraced houses that date back to Georgian times.

Walking around the city is the best way to enjoy Bath and see many of its historical sites, but beware – there are some pretty steep streets to navigate. However, you can reward your hard work with lunch at the various restaurants and cafes dotted around the city, and you can visit the famous thermal spa as an end of day treat.

Visitors Per Year:

6.25 million

Best Time To See:

To avoid the crowds, head to Bath between March and May. However, the popular Christmas markets are a December attraction that is most visitors’ number 1 stop-off point! To warm up, you can take a dip in the Thermae Bath Spa, a rooftop, open-air pool that is heated geothermally.

Driving Distance:

Journey

 

Distance

Time

London to Bath

114.7 miles

2 hours 26 minutes

Manchester to Bath

180.2 miles

3 hours 32 minutes

Glasgow to Bath

383.5 miles

6 hours 26 minutes

3. Stonehenge (and take in Salisbury while you’re there)

Historical-Roadtrips-Stone-Henge

Why Visit?

The Stonehenge stone circle is one of the most iconic historical sites in the UK. Take the time to marvel at this magical monument, said to have mystical healing powers. Thousands make the pilgrimage to Stonehenge every year to stand in the shadow of the giant stones.

When you head to Salisbury, you will find the grandeur of Salisbury Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture dating back to the 13th century. The city itself still retains medieval city walls, mansions from Georgian times and gorgeous Tudor houses, so there is plenty to see.

Visitors Per Year:

800,000

Best Time to See:

One of the most popular times to head to Stonehenge is for the summer solstice in June. Like other tourist attractions in the UK, Stonehenge will be busiest during the summer months, so it just depends on if you want to avoid the crowds in exchange for visiting when it’s a little colder.

Driving Distance:

Journey

 

Distance

Time

London to Stonehenge

88.3 miles

1 hour 53 minutes

Manchester to Stonehenge

199.2 miles

3 hours 59 minutes

Glasgow to Stonehenge

402.5 miles

1 hour 53 minutes

4. Oxford

Historical-Roadtrips-Oxford

Why Visit?

Famous for its university and popular TV detective show – Inspector Morse, in case you’re wondering – Oxford boasts a backdrop of architecture steeped in history. Harry Potter fans will recognise the stunning dining hall of Christ Church College, the focus of many scenes in the franchise. The numerous colleges that form part of the university open their doors to tourists during the holidays.

Christ Church itself has stood since 1525, Merton College was built in 1264 and Magdalen College features a tower from the 15th century. If you take a road trip to Oxford, you will also be ideally placed to visit Blenheim Palace, the home of every Duke and Duchess of Marlborough since it was built in the early part of the 18th century.

Visitors Per Year:

7 million

Best Time to See:

If you are interested in the architecture of the college buildings, then head to Oxford during the summer months when the students have gone home. Access is restricted to ensure proper conditions for studying during term time.

In the winter, there are Christmas markets and other festive delights, so it depends on what you’re into. A boat ride along the river is another must-do activity that is infinitely better in good weather; you can try your hand at steering the punt yourself or sit back and let the gondolier do the work for you – and yes, you can punt in Oxford, just as much as you can in that other university city that begins with a ‘C’…

Driving Distance:

Journey

 

Distance

Time

London to Oxford

56.1 miles

1 hour 27 minutes

Manchester to Oxford

160.8 miles

3 hours 14 minutes

Glasgow to Oxford

364 miles

5 hours 46 minutes

5. Hadrian’s Wall

Historical-Roadtrips-Hadrians-Wall

Why Visit?

Hadrian’s Wall was built by the Roman Empire as a border wall to protect the North of England from the invading Picts of Scotland. It is an amazingly well-preserved structure with the purpose of keeping the barbarians of the Highlands away from those who inhabited the south. Not only do you have the wall to see but some Roman fort remains also, so it’s a great place to go and immerse yourself in UK history.

Be sure to add Housesteads Fort to your itinerary, as this was the base camp for an army of 800 soldiers tasked with walking the border to ensure it wasn’t crossed.

Visitors Per Year:

100,000

Best Time to See:

Rugged outdoor terrain suggests that the best time to visit Hadrian’s Wall is during the summer months, although of course it can rain at any time in the UK. Warm and wet is probably better than the depths of winter, unless you are using it to practise before you scale Ben Nevis.

Driving Distance:

Journey

 

Distance

Time

London to Hadrian’s Wall

332.6 miles

6 hours 2 minutes

Manchester to Hadrian’s Wall

132.3 miles

2 hours 26 minutes

6. Edinburgh

Historical-Roadtrips-Edinburgh

Why Visit?

Heading further north from Hadrian’s Wall, our next stop is the fantastic city of Edinburgh, which – to be fair – will take longer than a day to explore, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time when you head here.

There’s a great deal of impressive architecture to see, not least the iconic Edinburgh Castle, which sits on Castle Rock. If you enjoy national heritage buildings, you will be happy to spend many hours exploring the castle and grounds. There are also plenty of alleyways, cobbled streets and terraced houses from the Georgian era. If you are looking for the best view over the city, you need to head to Arthur’s Seat at the top of Holyrood Park, and you will not be disappointed.

Visitors Per Year:

3.69 million

Best Time to See:

Edinburgh is a glorious city no matter what time of year you plan to visit. It can be a lot colder in winter than in the summer months; however, there can be something magical about seeing the city in the snow or rain.

Driving Distance:

Journey

 

Distance

Time

London to Edinburgh

403 miles

7 hours 29 minutes

Manchester to Edinburgh

219 miles

4 hours 12 minutes

Glasgow to Edinburgh

47.2 miles

1 hour 11 minutes

Find the perfect car for your summer staycation by visiting our car leasing page. Once you make your choice, best sure to carry out our top 8 pre-holiday car checks before setting off on your staycation.

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