Before we get started, let’s just establish a key detail: driving gives you options, taking public transport is…fine, but also kind of self-sabotage.
We’ve got nothing against lapping up the scenery from the window of a train, in fact, we encourage that kind of behaviour.
But never forget: you can get similar pleasure from a car window WITHOUT spending an hour at the other end lugging suitcases around, frantically seeking out your accommodation.
So, embrace the comfort of a vehicle you know will get you to your exact destination, remind yourself that you control the soundtrack to your weekend, you’re not forced to listen to Clive and Bonny in the seats in front of you and you can say or sing whatever you want without fear of reproach.
Now that’s out of the way, here’s the important stuff.
The north-east. Dramatic coastal views, leafy woodland, national parks and two football-mad cities. And then there’s Durham right in the middle of everything, without an established football team, stood alone.
Fortunately there’s a ludicrous amount to do if you set your base of operations here, from the cathedral looming over the city, to the quaint cobbled streets of Beamish Museum, a living, breathing village recreating life in the 1820s, 1910s and 1940s.
Beyond the immediate attractions, an hour and a half drive north brings you to the mighty Bamburgh Castle, while a little trickle further up the coast takes you to Holy Island, home to spectacular views and Lindisfarne Castle.
No matter the approach you take to Glasgow, a car ride offers bountiful stop-off options along the way. From south of the border you can drop in on York or spend time exploring the Lake District.
From the north, you have Loch Lomond, a beautiful national park undulating over miles of the Scottish Highlands.
Casting all of this aside, you’ve then actually got the entirety of Glasgow to explore as well, and that’s a treat in itself.
Special consideration should be given to trekking up to the University – it offers unparalleled views of the city, as well as streets of excellent restaurants on the way down.
One of the oldest cities in the UK, Lincoln is predictably rich in history. Considered one of Britain’s best walking cities, you won’t be able to miss Steep Hill, the street that connects upper and lower Lincoln and the boutiques and cafes that adorn it.
If you’re after a change of scenery it’s not much of a car’s journey to the Lincolnshire Wolds – a range of hills designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, while you also have North Kesteven, known as the Heart of Lincolnshire, to the south.
Hire a boat, walk the canals and waterways, Gloucester has a charm to it, and also a massive cathedral right in the city’s heart.
But that’s far from all you have at your fingertips.
With the Welsh border to your west you can explore the valleys or head to the Forest of Dean, where an eerie place called Puzzlewood comes highly recommended. If you recognise it, that’s because it featured in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Elsewhere, Gloucester is home to the International Centre for Birds of Prey as well as numerous historical sites all worth your time.
On one hand you’ve got the pier, the unashamedly tatty landmark jutting into the sea, the other the extravagant Royal Pavilion, both must-sees in their own right. Brighton is keen to emphasise its quirky side, from its buzzing nightlife to wide range of artistic endeavours.
Perhaps their most proud achievement though, was the construction of British Airways i360 in 2016, the world’s tallest moving observatory. You won’t get a better view of Brighton, or the UK’s south coast from the summit.
Now we’re talking. Chester is one of the UK’s most historical cities, originally founded in AD 79, and miraculously retains much of its Roman roots. Britain’s largest Amphitheatre resides here, while the city walls remain the most complete in the UK, only briefly breaking the ring around the medieval city.
You could seek out Eastgate Clock – the second most photographed clock in Britain – or head to the racecourse – the oldest in the UK – for the thrill of the race. Take a river tour, check out the canals, head into Wales… Chester is rightfully one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
Before we even mention the street art, let’s tempt you in with this nugget: Bristol is home to the longest road of independent shops in the UK. Now if that doesn’t make the heart flutter, are you really alive?
So sure, maybe you didn’t want to disappear for a weekend to go shopping, maybe you wanted to get a feel for the soul of your new surroundings? Well, Bristol is notorious (hello, Banksy!) for its graffiti and you’d be remiss to ignore it. In fact we’d be pretty darn impressed if you managed to avoid it.
Perhaps understated, Bristol is also full of beauty – no more so than down by the docks where boat services operate for 364 days a year.
The super smart among you will have made plans to head to Edinburgh in August for the Fringe Festival but say for one minute you’re not as savvy as you thought you were. Say you were going to Edinburgh in May – what then?
Well, Arthur had a seat – it’s about a mile to the east of the city centre and boasts some wonderful hiking paths. Fancy rock climbing? Then just head to the spur known as the Salisbury Crags and have your way with those rocks.
Planning to experience Edinburgh in deepest darkest winter? Time it just right and join in the world-famous Hogmany celebrations at New Year. The city issues upwards of 100,000 tickets for the four-day festival. Join them. Or head to the magnificent castle. Your choice.
You might be thinking: if I go to Wales it’s certainly not going to be to some place I’ve never heard of. Well, you’d be making a mistake and you’d be labelled a fool.
Trust us instead and head to St David’s – the UK’s smallest city – but start off in Haverfordwest or Swansea and trace your way around St Brides Bay.
As attractive as it might be, you might feel restricted to only visiting the cathedral and taking in the coastal scenery, but never fear, St David’s is also just down the road from Pembrokeshire National Park so go forth and be one with nature.
Or if you’re keen to check out the wildlife, nip to Porthclais Harbour and join one of many local boat tours. Get lucky and you will see dolphins.
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