The arrival of winter doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what the UK has to offer. In fact, it’s possible to discover some of the best scenery and stunning locations when you choose to go on a road trip at this time of year.
While you’ll need to consider taking a few extra layers and making sure you plan for any less-than-ideal weather conditions, there’s no reason a road trip in the colder months shouldn’t be as epic as a summer holiday.
Stuck for winter UK road trip ideas? Fear not. From cosy country pubs and iconic landmarks to adventurous activities, our guide to some of the best will leave you reaching for your suitcase and sat nav.
There’s no better way to fully experience all that this region has to offer than by car. With endless views and striking landscapes, there’s plenty to discover all year round in this National Park. But the winter months could offer a quieter and calmer opportunity to explore the popular delights of the Lake District at a relaxed pace.
One of the best-loved road trip destinations in the UK, there are multiple routes to take around the area. But our suggested itinerary takes in spectacular scenery, a great selection of the region’s lakes and offers an array of activities along the way.
Grasmere to Coniston
Ideally, allow around five days to make the most of this route. Start your trip in Grasmere and take a hike around one of the Lake District’s most popular walking spots. Rydal Water offers some excellent trails, all with a beautiful backdrop. Rydal Cave is a must-visit as is Wordsworth’s Seat, named after the famous poet and known for its far-reaching views.
The main road to Windermere is an easy drive, but if you’re looking to stop off at one of the many small, family-run, cosy B&Bs, you might prefer to take the more scenic route. Upper Loughrigg runs parallel to the River Rothay and features a handful of accommodation off the beaten track.
Ambleside is the gateway to Lake Windermere, a popular destination for a UK road trip. Enjoy a country pub lunch before heading to Bowness, where you can really soak up the winter atmosphere on a boat trip around the lake. And if the weather conditions become a little too unfavourable, The World of Beatrix Potter offers a unique, indoor experience.
Take the A592 to the very south of Lake Windermere before heading north up to Esthwaite Water. For adventurous road trippers, Graythwaite offers a selection of activities including off-road driving and clay pigeon shooting.
Finish your UK winter road trip at Coniston Water and take advantage of the plethora of water sports activities including kayaking, paddleboarding and sailing.
If you want your UK winter road trip to feature snow-capped mountains and dramatic coastlines, Scotland could be the ideal destination.
You might have to brave the cooler conditions, but the iconic Highland towns, breathtaking scenery and unrivalled activities make up for the often chilly temperatures.
Inverness to Glasgow via the Argyll Coastal Route
The Argyll Coastal Route takes in pretty towns, picturesque lochs and offers some great opportunities for winter adventure in and around the Grampian Mountains. You’ll only need a few days or you could make this a part of a bigger Scottish road trip.
Begin your UK winter road trip in Inverness, taking in the sights and history of Loch Ness as you travel down to Fort William for your first stopover. Here, you’ll find Nevis Range Mountain Resort, home to an array of outdoor activities including winter sports and biking.
If skiing’s not your thing, Fort William is home to the West Highland Museum, detailing the fascinating history of the area, and the Ben Nevis Distillery.
Continue your coastal journey down to Oban and explore the culture of this seaside resort and harbour. Take your car on the ferry to the Isle of Mull and discover the views, food and community feel of this small island.
Make the most of the coastal scenery by taking the A816 and A83 roads to Glasgow. Make sure to schedule a stop at Loch Lomond and soak up the atmosphere with a gentle hike in this beautiful landscape.
Yorkshire moors and coast
Discover expansive moorland landscapes, market towns and pretty fishing villages when you choose North Yorkshire for your UK winter road trip. While you might not be as willing to sample the seaside ice creams, you’ll find some cosy pubs and great fish and chips to warm you up along the way!
York to Saltburn-by-the-Sea
This route features a great combination of city experiences, expansive moorland, pretty seaside towns and outdoor adventure.
Start in the historic city of York, soaking up the local attractions and landmarks, before heading out to the small village of Stamford Bridge and north towards Pickering via the A169. A stop-off in the market town of Malton offers delights for foodies with festivals, monthly markets and produce shops.
Make Pickering one of your stopovers and choose from one of the many B&Bs, guest houses or hotels. Immerse yourself in nature at Dalby Forest, which offers a selection of walking and cycling trails and play areas for the children.
Take in the dramatic moorland scenery as you continue your journey up to Robin Hood’s Bay, via Goathland. The viewpoint car park at Goathland offers some of the best views across the moors on this UK winter road trip, while the quirky seaside village of Robin Hood’s Bay features a small, picturesque beach and some unique shops and eateries.
Whitby is a must-visit with its gothic charm and famous fish and chips, but, if you prefer a quieter location, Sandsend is just three miles north and features a stunning stretch of golden, sandy beach, a beachside café and a cosy pub.
End your road trip in Saltburn-by-the-Sea and discover this Victorian seaside town out of season and away from the crowds. Brave the sea and enjoy the surf, take a ride on the funicular and visit the valley gardens.
Dorset and Devon
You might equate the south of England with long, warm days and seaside breaks. But there’s more to Devon and Dorset than summer holidays. Bags of history, culture, an eclectic mix of food and drink, and plenty to explore – these counties should be high on your list of best road trip destinations in the UK.
The Jurassic Coast offers plenty to explore on a road trip at any time of year. But as a winter road trip destination in the UK, this area of the country boasts a dramatic coastline like no other. And with vibrant cities also close by, there’s plenty to get stuck into.
Stretching just under 100 miles from Exmouth in Devon to Studland in Dorset, the starting point is up to you, but it’s a good idea to give yourself a few days to fit everything in. Begin in Exmouth and you can even sample the bustling city of Exeter before relaxing into your coastal journey.
The seaside heritage town of Sidmouth is the gateway to the Jurassic Coast and a great way to ease yourself into your road trip. From here, travel inland and explore the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, featuring nature trails, cycling, horse riding and some excellent accommodation options.
Continue to Bridport, taking time to discover the historic harbour town of Lyme Regis on the way. West Bay offers some fantastic coastal walks and views that stretch for miles across the English Channel.
Spend some time in Weymouth and soak up the history by visiting Sandsfoot Castle, Portland Castle and the landmarks of Nothe Fort and Breakwater Fort.
Complete your UK winter road trip by travelling to the iconic Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove before ending at Studland. Winter is the best time to discover dinosaur fossils here due to the rough seas and quieter beaches. And, if you wish to continue your road trip, the larger towns of Poole and Bournemouth have activities for all the family, whatever the weather.
Get prepared for your UK winter road trip
Wherever you choose for your winter UK road trip destination, it’s important to properly prepare.
With the possibility of unpredictable weather, make sure you carry a winter car kit with essentials such as an ice scraper, de-icer, shovel, hi-vis vest, torch and first aid kit. Ensure you check travel and road conditions before setting off and allow yourself plenty of time.
Crucially, you’ll need to make sure you’re fully insured on the vehicle you’re using for your trip. If you’re sharing the driving in a car or motorhome you don’t normally use, a temporary insurance policy can give you peace of mind for the duration of your road trip.
Here at Dayinsure, we provide temporary car insurance and temporary motorhome insurance for up to 30 days without it affecting the main annual policy. It’s easy to get a quote and you could be covered in just 15 minutes.
UK National Parks
Check out some of the best national parks in the UK with the RAC here
Planning a road trip this winter?
Make sure you know how to get your car started in the cold with the RAC’s guide