License to thrill – incredible ways to see Britain by car


Picture yourself in a supercar racing round a Formula 1 track; or how about a vintage open-top car leisurely pottering around classic English villages? Whether you’ve got 24 hours, a weekend or longer in Britain there are coastal drives, city routes and road trips to discover behind the wheels of some awesome motors. Even better…the Brits drive on the same side of the road as us. 

1. Only have 24 hours?

Move over Lewis Hamilton…you’re the new motor-racing legend in town. Dreams aside, if racing fast cars is on your bucket list, visit the legendary Silverstone, two hours north of London, and drive on the UK’s only Formula 1 track. Rev up the engine and test your driving skills in Ferrari supercars, single-seater racing cars or, Silverstone’s new, exclusive experience, in an Aston Martin Vantage. This is also the place to find out all you ever wanted to know about your motor-racing heroes and the history of the sport – book ahead for the fantastic new interactive visitor attraction the Silverstone Heritage Experience launching on 1 June 2019. 

If you’re passionate about cars, you’ll love the Goodwood Festival of Speed. A huge celebration of motorsport and car culture, the 2019 festival (4 – 7 July) will once again be packed with supercar debuts, F1 cars, rallying and speed records being beaten…all on the grounds of English stately home Goodwood House near Chichester, two hours south of London. 

Looking for skills over speed? Head off-road at the Land Rover Driving Experience, spending a half or full-day developing your driving skills and confronting challenging terrains. It’s available in nine locations in the UK so you can choose which environment you tackle – will it be the undulating Scottish hills, around a country estate near London, or taking on Yorkshire’s rugged landscapes? 

Whizz around London in one of Britain’s most iconic vehicles – the Mini Cooper. Small Car Big City shows off the capital on its guided tours, which range from one hour with a private guide to an entire day, all from the comfort of this classic car. Check out its specific tours such as the Banksy & Street Art tour (you’ll even try your hand at creating your own street art), or the ‘Orrible Murder Tour that tells the story of London’s grizzly history.

Alnwick Castle | Historic sites in Alnwick | Visit Northumberland

Hiring a car in Britain means you can see a variety of destinations in a short space of time. Just one example is the 30-minute drive between two of north-east England’s exceptional castles. Start your drive at the mighty fortress of Bamburgh Castle (after visiting of course), that proudly stands high above the sweeping expanse of Bamburgh Beach and head through the gorgeous Northumberland countryside to Alnwick Castle, the second-largest inhabited castle in England that you might just recognise as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. 

2. Got 2 days? Check out these touring routes

The 25th Bond film is due out in early 2020 so why not be the star of your own road-trip movie and imagine you’re the smooth-talking secret agent. Be the envy of all your friends as you get behind the wheel of an Aston Martin and take a road trip to some of the most iconic Bond film locations in Scotland. McKinlay Kidd offers a road trip through locations featured in From Russia with Love, The Spy Who Loved Me and the jaw-dropping beautiful scenery of Glencoe as seen in Skyfall. 

The Cotswolds in south-west England are a draw for lovers of all things vintage with a bit of contemporary cool thrown in, an excellent location in which to hire a vintage car and take in those gorgeous picture-perfect villages, past antique fairs, into Regency towns such as Cheltenham or medieval towns such as Tewkesbury. 

3. 3+ days? Explore in-depth

© VisitScotland / Kenny Lam, all rights reservedMake sure your phone is fully charged because you’ll be stopping regularly to take photos on Scotland’s ‘Snow Roads’ in the Cairngorms National Park, north Scotland. This 90-mile road trip takes you through some of the most spectacular landscapes you’ll ever see (you’ll also be travelling along Britain’s highest public road). These are slow roads, but you’ll want to take your time driving along the views and villages along the way. 

Llanddwyn Island - One of the Most Beautiful Places in Wales - DELVE INTO  EUROPE

If you’ve got the time to delve into the heart of a destination, The Wales Way is a new family of three national routes. The Coastal Way travels the west coast, a 180-mile (290km) road trip between the sea and mountains; the Cambrian Way is a north-to-south journey along the mountainous spine of Wales for 185 miles (300km); and the North Wales Way leads 75 miles (120km) past mighty castles to the island of Anglesey.