Road trips are always an incredible way to see a country, especially if you want a good balance of nature escapes and living in unique parts/ outskirts of the city that are less accessible and convenient by public transport.
I have taken quite a number of road trips in the past 3 years, from driving through Spain to taking a 50-day road trip through 15 countries in the Balkans region. But for this time, we will be sharing about our 2-week road trip in UK during winter, more specifically in England.
UK and England’s transportation isn’t the cheapest as well, and sometimes driving and booking your parking in advance at a fixed price in the city can be cheaper than taking Uber or getting about by public transport/ transfers (between trains and buses).
Furthermore, by having your own car, you have the freedom to go on the most scenic of drives and encounter the most unique of experiences (eg. seeing the most bizarre animals on the go).
So here’s sharing some best ideas for that perfect UK Road Trip for a week or two:
Visiting the UK in the Winter Season
If you are considering visiting UK ( England and Wales ) in the months of November – February in the year, most people would discourage you due to the less-than-ideal weather expected in Winter. However, that is highly objective. While it will definitely be colder, more cloudy/ rainy days, the cities and sights throughout England are still immensely exciting and our over 1 week in England has been truly rewarding.
We collected our car from the airport at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool and started our adventure from there. The process was very smooth and everything was booked in advance with RhinoCars.
So after settling in well and getting accustomed to the car, we kickstarted our UK road trip, Here’s sharing a few of the best sights and things to do in each key city or destination:
We came over to Liverpool for a week after Birmingham (which we will share more about it later).
Walk the city
Liverpool is an incredible city to visit all year round, the cityscape is very pretty, clean streets, tremendous trendy cafes and Asian food options for every palette. We walked around through the parks, huge shopping malls and even swung by some Asian supermarkets to stock up on supplies.
Some of the places to check out are the Royal Albert Dock, Liverpool Cathedral, St George’s Hall and more. Walk along River Mersey as well to listen to buskers singing to different renditions of The Beatles songs.
Try the cuisine
In terms of food to eat in England, we had to try the incredible English Cream Tea ( Homemade scones with clotted cream and English breakfast tea). British fish and chips with vinegar are my next favourite, which the style it is made and prepared is unique to England.
The famous Beatles Bar
Following which we ended the night chilling at The Cavern Liverpool, which was the dingy but super cool underground bar that the Beatles first started from and got famous. The entire set up and atmosphere reminded me of some of the Irish bars I visited in Dublin.
Liverpool has an incredible amount of world class museums, and the best part is – they are all free. You should check them out in the order below, as these are what we heard are the best:
- Merseyside Maritime Museum
- World Museum
- International Slavery Museum
- Walker Art Museum
- The Beatles Story Museum
- Museum of Liverpool
- and the list goes on
Liverpool football club fans
For soccer fans, you can also check out the Anfield Stadium (Liverpool Football Club) and another one called Everton Club. It was honestly not our kind of interest, but we definitely know of people who are crazy about it.
2. Cumbria for Lake District
Lake District is a UNESCO World Heritage site that I have always wanted to visit. Given it was quite far out from London and Edinburgh, the past 3 times I was in UK, I didn’t get to visit it.
But I finally managed to in this recent trip, and it was so worth it! Despite warnings that the weather is very unpredictable and rainy in the month of January, we were so blessed with incredible weather that day.
How long to spend in the Lake District
One can spend a good 3-4 days in Lake District exploring their 100s of stunning day walking trails of varying difficulties, and enjoying the stunning beauty of the countryside. Its a pity we only managed to make a day trip there. But at least better than not!
The next hiking destination not too far off that I am eyeing is none other than Peak District. According to my friends who have been there, it is also an absolutely stunning location for family hikes, picnics and a good nature fix.
Whether you are a beginner hiker looking for short Peak District walks or aiming for something more challenging, both Peak District and Lake District has such a wide variety of routes and trail options for your selection. Just remember in view of the changing weather in UK, always check the weather forecast in advance and make sure you are packed and dressed for the hike.
Oxford is a lovely and grand town that is made famous by The Oxford Universities and world-renown Oxford dictionary. This, or Cambridge, are incredible towns not to be missed when you are over here in England.
Its the 2nd time I was there, but it brought back incredible memories walking in the meadow next to Magdalene University. Oxford and Cambridge are places I wish I got the chance to study at in my university days. The little canals, cobbled paths, grand libraries and old grand museums, all added to the Harry-Potter touch.
Yes museums again, please check them out in order of priority:
- Oxford University Museum of Natural History
- Pitt Rivers Museum
- History of Science Museum
With regards to driving, you are recommended to do a Park and Ride, which is not too costly at 6.50 pounds for 2 pax to park outside Oxford area and take a public bus in
We have heard a lot about Oxford, what about the city of Preston? Check out what Nicola has to say after visiting it.
As mentioned earlier, we spend a good amount of time here in Birmingham, over new year’s eve in fact with some family. We also visited nearby small towns like Walsall and Wolverhampton, which is the birthplace of the soccer team The Wolves.
This city might not be as impressive and glitzy like London, Liverpool and Oxford, but it does have its charm. We enjoyed walking through the main street in Birmingham which still had its pretty post-Christmas light up, stopping by for a hot chocolate at Tim Hortons ( Oops, that’s a Canadian brand!) before walking everywhere and ended up at Chinatown. There are also very impressive canals structures throughout Birmingham and England, mega shopping malls and even a lovely ice-skating rink/ large swing over the festive season.
2 Sights in Birmingham to Visit
- Cadbury Chocolate Factory – If you are a chocolate fan and enjoyed charlie and the chocolate factory, maybe this place might bring out the child in you!
- Black County Museum – We have heard great things about this place that it is a MUST VISIT when you are in Birmingham.
Last but not least, we cannot rule out London, the heartbeat of England. I have been there twice in the past 5 years, and its just a city full of energy and life. London definitely has more than just London Bridge and Big Ben, go explore Convent Garden and all their stunning parks. Make sure you book accommodation with free parking so that you can save on the costly parking charges in this city.
Musicals and Markets
From their endless musicals and plays to the markets ( Yes, the awesome markets like Brick Land, Portobello, Borough, Camden market), there is always something interesting for you.
From foodies to shopaholics to art lovers who can appreciate the graffiti, this place has so much character in this city for every individual and family, so its a great pitstop to make if you are in the South of England. Here below are a few other awesome suggestions of what to do:
- Visit Harry Potters Studio
- Go crazy at Thorpe Themepark, one of the best theme parks in UK
- Rock climbing in The Castle ( previously a real castle!!)
- Day road trip to Warwick Castle
If you intend to do a lot of sightseeing in London, best to get a day pass or an Oyster card to make trips instead of driving around the city. If you have a car, its best to also stay in Zone 2-4 onwards outside the busiest and most expensive area.
All in all, if you are planning to do a fun road trip to UK in the winter period and are not sure if it’s a good idea, don’t worry! It is still a great season for outdoor hikes with plenty of good cloudless days. In the cities, there’s the nice magical Christmas lightings all the way into mid-January. So its worth it!
Just a word of caution, in view of the COVID19 pandemic, should you choose to still embark on your road trip, make sure you take the necessary precautions before you head off.