Road trips don’t have to be saved for the summer. With a reliable car and a good set of woollies, you can still enjoy winter road trips when temperatures drop. With so many incredible national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and countless hidden gems to discover, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to winter road trips in Britain.
Ready to hit the road? To get you inspired, we’ve rounded up the top 10 cosiest winter road trips in the UK. From cheeky weekend getaways to full-on adventures, there’s something for every mood.
1. Chase the Northern Lights in Scotland
Scotland is breathtaking at any time of year, but the country really shines in the winter. It’s one of the best places in the UK to see the Northern Lights, an atmospheric phenomenon that sees solar winds light up the night sky in a rainbow of colours. It’s truly magical and the further north you travel, the better your chances of seeing the lights.
The Dunnet Head peninsula in Caithness is a wonderful place to chase the Northern Lights. It’s an unmissable stop on the legendary North Coast 500 road trip, aka Scotland’s Route 66. The 516-mile route starts in Inverness and loops around the North Coast of Scotland, taking in some of the country’s most stunning scenery along the way.
As the northernmost point on mainland Scotland, Dunnet Head has very little light pollution and the high latitude needed to view Aurora Borealis. Pack a flask of hot chocolate, head to the lighthouse and enjoy the show. Pro tip: do like the Scots and add a splash of single malt whiskey to your drink for extra warming power! While you’re in the area, destinations like Thurso Bay and John O’Groats also promise world-class Northern Lights viewing.
2. A magical escape to North Yorkshire
If you’re looking for fun winter road trips, North Yorkshire is a crowd-pleasing destination. Well-maintained roads make it easy to explore the North Yorkshire Coast and its heather-strewn moorlands. Soak in the seaside charm in Scarborough and pencil in the picturesque fishing village of Robin Hoods Bay. From here, you’re a stone’s throw from Whitby, the Gothic town that inspired Dracula. Venture inland to tick off sights like Goathland Station, which you’ll recognise as Hogsmeade from the Harry Potter movies.
3. Fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic Coast is famous for bucket-and-spade fun. But did you know it’s also one of the best places for winter road trips? The rugged coastline looks all the more dramatic in the winter, when the winds are howling, and the sea is whipped up with white caps. Fossil hunt in Lyme Regis with zero crowds and warm up at cosy pubs in coastal towns like Swanage and Weymouth. There’s plenty to keep you entertained on rainy days, including attractions like the Tank Museum.
4. A shopping extravaganza in Brighton
Who says winter road trips have to be wet and wild? Head to Brighton and you can browse independent boutiques in The Lanes and pick up all kinds of treasures at stores selling antiques and vintage clothing. If you’re travelling with kids, attractions like Sea Life Brighton and the House of Illusions promise hours of entertainment.
5. Castle hopping in Wales
With hundreds of strongholds dotted across the country, it’s no wonder Wales is known as The Land of Castles. From postcard-worthy landmarks like Caernarfon and Conwy to kid-friendly fortresses like Beaumaris, there are Welsh castles for every occasion.
6. Beachbound on the Pembrokeshire Coast
The Pembrokeshire Coast may be synonymous with summer. But we’ll let you in on a secret – it’s gorgeous all year round. You might not be able to sunbathe but famous towns like Tenby, Saundersfoot and St Davids feel extra special without the summer crowds. Stretch your legs on the snow-dusted Wales Coast Path and warm up with a pint at a cosy country pub.
7. Christmas market crawl
Nothing captures the magic of winter quite like Christmas markets. You’ll find these enchanting events across the UK, making it easy to plan Christmas market winter road trips. The annual Oxford Christmas market pops up along Broad Street and looks like something from a festive fairy-tale. Shop for handmade gifts, listen to jolly Christmas carols and sip piping hot mugs of mulled wine.
Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market is bursting with festive charm. It’s one of the largest German-themed markets outside of Germany, which means there’s no shortage of sizzling bratwurst, sugar-dusted marzipan and spiced glühwein. Of course, no matter how chilly the weather, you’ll always see stalls selling ice-cold glasses of German wheat ale.
8. A creative escape to Lake District
Lake District has been mesmerising artists, writers and poets for centuries. Windermere is a great base for winter road trips to Lake District, with loads of adorable B&Bs, tea rooms and pubs to enjoy while overlooking the waterfront.
9. Over the sea to Skye
With the right rain gear, Skye is one of the most beautiful winter road trips. It’s moody and magical in the winter, with windswept hills, charcoal-coloured clouds and mist-shrouded beaches. If you’re willing to endure the cold temperatures and relentless rainfall, Skye is one of the best winter road trips. Even better, you’ll avoid the dreaded midges that can wreak havoc in the summer months.
10. UNESCO protected Giant’s Causeway
Zip across to Northern Ireland and discover the UNESCO protected Giant’s Causeway. It’s set at the foot of soaring basalt cliffs and features around 40,000 hexagon-shaped basalt columns. Pack your camera, it’s a spectacular sight in the water when the sea rages behind the enormous volcanic towers. The lively village of Bushmills is a great base for winter road trips to Giant’s Causeway. Local pubs have mastered the art of ‘Hot Bush’ tea made brown sugar, lemon, cloves and locally distilled Bushmills Whiskey. For something more indulgent, try a Hot Creamy Bush cocktail made with coffee, Irish cream and whiskey.
There are loads of destinations and experiences to choose from, so don’t hold back when it comes to planning winter road trips. Thinking about upgrading your car? Great idea! A reliable set of wheels will not only keep you cosy and comfortable on your trip, but it will also make your adventure as safe as possible. Use our car loan approval calculator to find out how much you can borrow.
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