UK Self Drive Itinerary Covering England, Wales & Scotland, the entire Great Britain!

If you have  a group of 4 and you wanted to see more of UK, not just London, self drive on the road trip is a very good choice to explore the whole UK.  Driver seat is on the right hand side which is same as all the commonwealth countries.

Things to prepare before your trip:

  1. Book your air ticket during promotion to secure a cheaper deal
  2. Book your car from car rental online
  3. Plan your routes in UK
  4. Plan or book your hotel in or
  5. Bring Poncho and umbrella as in UK always rain
  6. Bring some instant noodles 🙂

UK Self Drive Routes 

As you can see my road trips cover whole UK, except Northern Ireland. My itinerary includes the whole Great Britain which is England, Scotland and Wales.

We touched town in London Heathrow Airport and immediately drive away from the city of London. Reason being we were not familiar with the road trip condition in UK as yet so it is better to drive away from the London city. In additional to that, we were also very tired from long hours of flights from Singapore. We will come back to London for our final stop before we fly back to Singapore. That way we can return the car first as driving in London is not feasible, just too many traffic and parking is a headache and expensive too. Instead we explore London with public transport such as tube/metro with few day London Pass. Recommended to do London for at least 2 full days. One day is not enough which is what we did.

My 12 days 9 nights itinerary will tell you :

  1. where we go
  2. where to park the car rental
  3. what we eat
  4. where we stay

Day 1 Itinerary  

  • Singapore – Heathrow Airport, London

Day 2 Itinerary – Salisbury, Stonehenge & Bath in England

1. Salisbury Cathedral

  • The Salisbury Cathedral was built from 1220 to 1258, only about 38 years, quite short I suppose as the stone building was extremely huge. It also has the oldest working clock  in Europe (1386).
  • Salisbury Cathedral is also tallest tower (404 feet) in England.

Salisbury Cathedral

2. Mysterious Stonehenge

  • From Salisbury to Stonehenge is only about 20 mins drive.
  • This is the most mysterious place in the world, the stones was laid out in concentric ring and horseshoe shapes on the Salisbury Plain. People believed the age of the stones are 4,000 years old.


3.  Roman Bath -2000 years old

  •  Place for public bathing but that was 2000 years ago.
  • Best preserved Roman remains in the world.

Bath Museum UK

Day 3 Itinerary – Cardiff in Wales

1. Cardiff Castle

  • Cardiff Castle is one of Wales’ leading heritage attraction of 2,000 years of history.
  • You need about 2 hours to explore the interior (Castle Apartment) and exterior of the castle.

Cardiff Castle UK

2. St Fagans Museum Cardiff

  • St Fagans Museum is located a bit outskirt of Cardiff city, about 15 mins drive. The museum is popular among the local tourists, especially for families with young kids and school excursion.
  • There are 40 buildings including some farmhouses, together with sheep and cows, barns, watermill, school, an 18th century Unitarian chapel and shops.

St Fagans Museum Cardiff

Day 4 Itinerary – Gloucester & Stratford in England

1. Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucester

  • The 1,300 years old Gloucester Cathedral is really grand as it is one of the shooting place for Harry Potter.  In fact two of Harry Potter films were filming here.

Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucester

2. Bourton on the Water 

  • Voted as one of the prettiest village in England. In summer you will see children go down the water and play which make  a great picture.
  • Thing not to be missed is sip some hot English tea in the small tea house in this small town.

Bourton on the Water

3. Shakespeare’s Stratford 

  • Hometown of Shakespeare – very beautiful old architecture such as library of Shakespeare use to go, theatre and his final resting place.
  • Book a Shakespeare show here and experience Shakespeare aspects of 16th- or 17th-century theatre practice in this old town.
  • If you are Shakespeare enthusiast, this is really a great place for you to explore and learn more about Shakespeare’s life.

Shakespeare's Stratford - Hometown of Shakespeare

Day 5 Itinerary – Liverpool & Windermere in England

1. Liverpool England

  • Beatles Hometown and if you are Beatles mania, please visit Beatles Story Museum.  People in Liverpool are so proud of Beatles that they made huge statues of Beatles near the waterfront Albert Dock.
  • Plenty of places to walk around near the waterfront in Liverpool eg; the Pump House, the Carousel in Albert Dock & Liverpool Museum.  There are also many restaurants for you to choose from to have your lunch with nice sea view.

Liverpool in England- Beatles Hometown

2. Windermere Lake District 

  • Largest Lake in England
  • Do a 45 mins cruise here and enjoy the stunning view, most importantly is to see how the rich live.  You will see old English stand alone bungalow houses which  has a built-in berth attached to their home so they could dock their yachts.

Windermere Lake District - Largest Lake in England

Day 6 Itinerary – Edinburgh in Scotland

1. Edinburgh Castle

  • Edinburgh Castle is very famous and considered an iconic landmark in Scotland!
  • The castle is located uphill at an impressive 700 million year old extinct volcano called Castle Rock.
  • The climb can be tiring so wear good walking shoes.
  • You need 2-3 hours to spend in the castle and the queue for the castle ticket can be quite long.  Best to purchase tickets online.

Edinburgh Castle

Day 7 Itinerary – Jedburgh in Scotland, Newcastle & York in England

Where to stay : Holiday Inn York – Booking

1. English-Scottish Border & Jedburgh in Scotland

  • Sitting at the border between Scotland and England has it downside, Jedburgh Abbey was partly destroyed because of the fight between these two borders in the early days.
  • This is an impromptu stop for us.  Not in our original plan, we saw some interesting signboard and make a turn in to check out what it is and turn out to be a hidden gem.

English Scottish Border

2. Newcastle in England

  • Newcastle is about 103 miles south of Edinburgh but 277 miles north of London. You can explore the city, the castle and the University.
  • I wanted to have a break in Newcastle simply because I wanted to know the difference between Newcastle Australia and Newcastle England as I have been living in Newcastle Australia for few years.  Huge difference!

Newcastle in England

3. York in England – York Minster

  • York is an old city with its cobbled streets and beautiful architecture, about 4 hours drive from London but we were coming from Newcastle.
  • York Minster is icon in York also the top 20 best Cathedral in UK.
  • You may want to do some shopping at The Shambles;  believed to be the oldest and most well-known shopping street in Europe.
  • York is also famous for its haunted pubs and ghost hunting tour.

York Minster in England

Day 8 Itinerary Lincoln & Cambridge in England

1. Lincoln 

  • 2000 years of history & heritage in England.
  • Lincoln is another impromptu stop as we did not plan in our itinerary.  Since we did an impromptu stop earlier, we wanted to try again.
  • A huge Cathedral waiting for you to discover; jaw dropping and incredibly stunning and the best thing is there are not many tourists and you can have as many photos shoot as possible without anyone to photo bomb your pictures.
  • See how small I am at the facade of Lincoln Cathedral. (below picture)
  • There is also a Lincoln Castle next to it.

Lincoln Cathedral in England

2. Cambridge University in England

  • This is the dream University and plenty of incredible old architecture, so make great photos from all angles.
  • There are several campus tour you can join but fees are needed.  You may want to choose few important one, such as Trinity College, King’s College or Queen’s College.
  • Punting is highly recommended since you are in Cambridge, how can you not?  While punting, think of the Chinese Poet Xu Zhimo/徐志摩 and hum his famous piece of poem – “Farewell, Cambridge/再别康橋”.  Pretend you are Xu Zhimo reading it to his lover, Lin Huiyin/林徽因. 🙂

Cambridge Trinity College

Day 9 Itinerary Oxford & Windsor in England

1. Oxford in England 

  •  If you did Cambridge, you cannot missed out Oxford so that you can compare the difference between these two prestigious University in UK.
  • Oxford is about 3 hours from Cambridge simply because there are too many roundabout. We made a lot of mistake turning to the wrong exit from the roundabout so wasted plenty of time to arrive Oxford.
  • The best way to explore Oxford is do a walking tour.
  • Oxford is as stunning as Cambridge and the only difference I can spot is the number of tourist in Oxford is lesser as compared to Cambridge, which is good. However I still prefer Cambridge, especially the punting activities in the Cam River.

Oxford University

2. Windsor Castle in England

  • Current home for Her Majesty, the Queen Elizabeth II
  • An hour away from London. We drove from Oxford.
  • All castles are built different and unique and Window Castle too, it has the iconic Round Tower.

St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

Day 10 Itinerary London in England

1. London Free & Easy – with London Pass

  • We have returned our car and explore London with London Pass and Oyster card ( bus and train).
  • It is best to have at least 2-3 days to explore London with London Pass. One day in London is not recommended and which is what we did (mistake) – simply too rush! Unless you like to experience some sort of “The Amazing Race – London Edition”, running from one attractions to another.  2-3 days in London is ideal.

Westminster Abbey London Free & Easy with London Pass

2. British Museum

  • British Museum is free entrance.  Plenty of interesting artifacts from all over the world.  British looted from the countries they colonized or conquered.  You don’t have to travel around the globe but you must visit British Museum if you are in London.
  • Follow my list to spot the top 15 artifacts in British Museum.  You would see world treasure in this museum.  Really bizarre.
  • British Museum is one of the best museum I have seen so far!

British Museum Free Admission

Day 11 itinerary – Heathrow Airport to Singapore 

Things to take note of when self drive in UK :

  1. Some roads have very limited space in UK eg city of Bath, especially with the parked cars at the side of the road.  What you can do is slow down and give hand signals or flash lights to communicate with the opposite side driver to give way.
  2. Roundabouts – As you know UK is the country of roundabouts.  It may be quite confusing and scary at first as some roundabouts are so huge and has many exits.  Rule of thumb is always stay in land and give way to vehicle on the right. It can be quite dizzy also 🙂
  3. Stay away from Bus lane – we got our fine ticket for driving in bus lane in Cardiff!!
  4. Parking – always standby plenty of coins to insert into the ticketing machines. Most parking in UK accepts only coins.  Remember to pay before you leave your car and put the ticket back to your front window!
  5. Parking in Hotel : Not all parking in hotel is free.  Remember to tell the front desk about your vehicle number when you check in.  Normally the front desk will ask you to input your vehicle number into a notepad/their system.  We had our lesson paid on the last day in UK, we parked into the hotel car park, thinking of just unloading our luggage as we have to return our car after we checked in the hotel.  Thinking it was just less than 15 mins, not overnight so we thought there is no need to inform the front desk of our vehicle number. When we reached home, we received the penalty!  Once the car vehicle entered the car park, there is a CCTV to track the car number plates.  Unlike car park in Singapore, once you entered,  there is a ticket given to you by the machine at the gantry. Without the ticket and the gantry it is very likely to forget especially when you are in the hurry!
  6. Best season to travel :  Summer is the best time to travel; May –  July onwards.  The advantage is you get longer day to play with, sunset happen pretty late, at around 8pm as compared to winter season sunset at 4pm onward. The disadvantages would be hotel booking can cost more due to peak season and expect more tourists.  When you travel outskirt of UK, this is not an issue at all.  You don’t see so many tourists like in London even in summer.
  7. Always reach your destination before sky turn dark.  This would mean finding your hotel before sky turn dark.  When the sky turn dark it is very hard to find your hotel and also dangerous since you are not familiar and also difficult to see properly at night.

Other Suggestion :

  • Add in an additional day in Scotland – My itinerary has only one night in Scotland but if you do one more night you can go up to Scotland Highlands.
  • Add in Manchester city – If you are a football fan, then you may like to add in Manchester city. My itinerary did not include Manchester.
  • London should be minimun 2-3 days – My London trip is only one day which is too short and too rush.  At lest 2 days to be ideal as there are plenty of sites to visit.  You can consider using London Pass but it is not cheap.  Most attractions in UK need tickets and aren’t cheap too.  Do consider to book online to save.
  • Watch Shakespeare’s Theatre show – at Stratford or at London

Total Cost for our 12 days 9 nights UK Self Drive Tour – SGD $8,500 for 3 pax 

  • Flight Taxes & Fees + Travel Protection – SGD$3,000 for 3 pax (MAS Airline)- You can get cheaper air ticket than this if you book earlier as we booked quite late, about 3 months before the departure.  I know people who book 6-9 months earlier can get cheaper deal.
  • Hotel – SGD $2,000 (Depending on your budget – you can book cheaper hotel or more expensive hotel depending on your needs and budget.  Our hotel cost about SGD $200 + per night.  Most of the nights we stayed is Holiday Inn throughout UK. Note : Most hotel breakfast need additional charges and the breakfast is exactly the same every morning and can be very boring after two days eating the same thing.  You may want to consider eating out, either at Mc D (which cost a lot cheaper than hotel breakfast) or prepare your own if you stay in airbnb.
  • Car Rental + Protection – SGD $1,000 – Depending on your budget and needs.  Our rental car is Mercedes-Benz for 8 days.  There are cheaper or more expensive cars available.
  • Other Expenses – SGD $2,500 (including SGD $300 traffic fines) 🙁  Expensive lesson learnt!
  • This is just a rough estimation guideline.  Depending on your personal needs, you can go higher or lower budget.  🙂

Appreciate different cultures, try new things, to be more curious and see beauty in every small things. I truly believe that world travel is the best education you can get. 

You may also like other self drive destination :

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33 Replies to “UK Self Drive Itinerary Covering England, Wales & Scotland, the entire Great Britain!”

  1. wow, you saw many beautiful buildings through the UK. Thanks for sharing this post and making my home country look great. Being from the UK, I always overlook the beauty. Thanks for reminding me that there are great places to visit there. Glad you had a wonderful time.

  2. You covered so much and I want to see it all too! I dream of visiting England and Scotland, so I hope to make it there soon. I love all the castles and I like the Beatles Statue. Definitely a roadtrip I would consider.

  3. I’m actually looking for something like this as I plan on visiting the UK next year. You’ve taken a whole lot of planning for me and your photos make me excited for my trip. So many wonderful places to visit in this part of the world, and I think you’ve covered all of the ones I want to see.

    1. Dear Kristine Eva,

      Really glad to hear that! Hope the itinerary can act as a little reference for your future travel in UK!

  4. Hi fellow Singaporean! 🙂 Nice to see that you did not just focus on the touristy region of London but rather incorporated other less known regions in the UK as well – comprehensive guide!

    1. Dear Nathan,

      Thank you for your kind comment. The UK round the Island trip has cover not just London and Edinburgh only but other small town as well. UK has so much to offer!

    1. Dear Dana,
      How lucky you have stayed in London and study there. It is such a beautiful place full of old architectures. Love every corner in London but my stay in London is too short.

  5. This is such a motivating post! Teh majestic castles and old school charm has definately lit a fire under me to get out to the UK and explore! I had no idea that Roman Baths made it all the way north to the UK…just fascinating! Thanks!! Xo Evelyn, Path of Presence

  6. This is such a great itinerary for seeing all that the UK has to offer! And thanks for sharing your tips on driving in the UK – super helpful!

  7. Wow what an amazing amount of the UK you covered in your time here! I have to admit I’ve never managed to make it to that many places in such a short time and I live here! Beautiful memories.

  8. Holy smokes I am dizzy just reading about how much is packed into each day – you must need a vacation from your vacation. But so many amazing places to see!

  9. What a wonderful trip! You explored so many great places and I like that you covered places to eat and to stay. I would love to book this trip right now!

  10. Sounds absolutely ahhhhmazing. This is a great ost, and a great guide for a trip like this. You have thought of everything.

  11. I have been living in the UK for over 5 years and I am still yet to do a proper road trip around the country. Fun fact, I actually had a coffee at that Tea House where you sit in front of the Salisbury Cathedral just a week or so ago. I have also stayed at Leonardo Hotel, in Heathrow, quite a few times when I had early flights. Such a coincidence! 🙂

    1. Dear Joanna,

      Thanks for your comment. Haha, great to learn that you also sit in front of Salisbury Cathedral and I really love the peace there and enjoying the sunshine. Not many tourists as compare to other places in London and the Cathedral is simply remarkable. Leanardo Hotel is quite nice to stay, pretty convinient if you are catching a morning flght. UK is one of my favorite countries to explore and most memorable one.

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