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:
- Book your air ticket during the promotion to secure a cheaper deal
- Book your car from car rental online
- Plan your routes in UK
- Plan or book your hotel in Agoda.com or Booking.com
- Bring Poncho and umbrella as in UK always rain
- 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 :
- where we go
- where to park the car rental
- what we eat
- where we stay
Day 1 Itinerary
- Singapore – Heathrow Airport, London
Day 2 Itinerary – Salisbury, Stonehenge & Bath in England
- 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.
- 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.
- Place for public bathing but that was 2000 years ago.
- Best preserved Roman remains in the world.
- Arrival at Heathrow Airport in the morning 6 at am.
- Pick up car rental at Sixth Car rental
- Salisbury Cathedral
- Parking in Salisbury Cathedral: Old George Mall – Address: 6 New St, Salisbury SP1 2PH, UK
- Lunch at Salisbury: Fish & Chips & Chicken Burger
- 2000 Years Roman Bath
- Parking at Bath: Avon Street Car Park – Address: Off Avon Street, Bath, Bath, BA1 1UE
Day 3 Itinerary – Cardiff in Wales
- 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.
- 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.
- Cardiff Castle
- Take away lunch at Cardiff Indoor Market
- Cardiff Indoor Market Address: St Mary St, Cardiff CF10 1AU, UK
- ST Fagans Museum Cardiff
- Dinner : Chinese Sichuan Cuisine – Papa Panda
- Papa Panda Address : 112 St. Mary Street, Cardiff CF10 1DX, Wales
- Holiday Inn Cardiff City
Day 4 Itinerary – Gloucester & Stratford in England
- Where to stay – Holiday Inn Express Warwick – Booking
- 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 filmed here.
- 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 to sip some hot English tea in the small tea house in this small town.
- Hometown of Shakespeare – very beautiful old architecture such as the 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.
- Gloucester Cathedral in Gloucester – Flashback Harry Potter Scene.
- Parking at : Eastgate Shopping Centre, Gloucester
- Eastgate Shopping Centre Address : 22 Eastgate St, Gloucester GL1 1PA, UK
- Lunch : KFC
- Bourton on the Water-voted as one of the prettiest village in England.
- Tea break at English Tea House in Bourton-on-the-Water
- Shakespeare’s Stratford – Hometown of Shakespeare
- Park at: Windsor Street Shoppers Car Park
- Address at Windsor Street Car Park: 21 Windsor St, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6NL, UK
- Dinner: Harvester Warwick – Western Menu: Pork Ribs & Steaks
- Address at Harvester Warwick: Stratford Rd, Warwick CV34 6RB, UK
- Holiday Inn Express Warwick
Day 5 Itinerary – Liverpool & Windermere in 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 a nice sea view.
- 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.
- Liverpool in England- Beatles Hometown
- Cuban Lunch : Revolución de Cuba Liverpool
- Restaurant Address: Albert Dock, 22 Edward Pavilion, Waterfront,, Liverpool L3 4AF, United Kingdom
- Windermere Lake District – Largest Lake in England.
- Dinner at The China Boat – Cantonese Cuisine
- Castle Green Hotel in Kendal
Day 6 Itinerary – Edinburgh in Scotland
- Where to stay : Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh Waterfront
- 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
- Parking at NCP Car Park Edinburgh Castle Terrace
- Address: Castle Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 2EW, UK
- Lunch : Mexican Buritos
- Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh Waterfront
Day 7 Itinerary – Jedburgh in Scotland, Newcastle & York in England
Where to stay : Holiday Inn York – Booking
- 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.
- 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 a few years. Huge difference!
- 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 an icon in York also the top 20 best Cathedral in the 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.
- English-Scottish Border & Jedburgh in Scotland
- Newcastle in England
- Lunch at Korean Japanese noodle at Newcastle Haymarket
- York in England – York Minster
- Park at Qpark at Shambles
- Address Qpark at Shambles : Address : Garden Pl, York.
- Dinner at Wagamama – Japanese inspired Asian fusion food
- Address at Wagamama : 201 – 202, York Designer Outlet, St Nicholas Ave, York YO19 4TA, UK
- Holiday Inn York
Day 8 Itinerary Lincoln & Cambridge in England
- Where to stay : Holiday Inn Express Cambridge – Booking
- 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 photobomb your pictures.
- See how small I am at the facade of Lincoln Cathedral. (below picture)
- There is also a Lincoln Castle next to it.
- 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 a 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 the poem – “Farewell, Cambridge/再别康橋”. Pretend you are Xu Zhimo reading it to his lover, Lin Huiyin/林徽因. 🙂
- Lincoln -2000 years of history & heritage in England
- Cambridge University in England
- Lunch at Wasabi Cambridge
- Address Wasabi: 23 Petty Cury, Cambridge CB2 3NB, UK
- Dinner: Pho – Vietnamese cuisine
- Address: 1 Wheeler St, Cambridge CB2 3QB, UK
- Holiday Inn Express Cambridge
Day 9 Itinerary Oxford & Windsor in England
- Where to stay: Leonardo Hotel in Heathrow, England – Booking
- Leonardo Hotel in Heathrow – Hotel Review
- If you did Cambridge, you cannot miss out Oxford so that you can compare the difference between this two prestigious University in the 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.
- 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.
- Oxford in England – University Walking tour
- Lunch at Thaikun Oxford – Thai cuisine
- Address at Thaikun : 36 George St, Oxford OX1 2BJ, UK
- Windsor Castle in England
- Return rental car to Sixth Car Rental at Heathrow
- Leonardo Hotel in Heathrow, England
Day 10 Itinerary London in England
- 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 the 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.
- 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 the British Museum if you are in London.
- Follow my list to spot the top 15 artifacts in the 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!
- London Free & Easy – with London Pass
- British Museum
- Lunch at British Museum : Pizzeria in the British Museum
- Dinner at London China Town : Chinese Cuisine Young Cheng Restaurant
- Address of Yong Cheng : 22 Lisle St, London WC2H 7BY, UK
- Dessert : Bubblewrap Waffle – must try! Most popular!
- Address of Bubblewrap Waffle : 24 Wardour St, London W1D 6QJ, UK
- Leonardo Hotel in Heathrow, England
Day 11 itinerary – Heathrow Airport to Singapore
Things to take note of when self drive in the UK :
- 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 flashlights to communicate with the opposite side driver to give way.
- Roundabouts – As you know the 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 lane and give way to the vehicle on the right. It can be quite dizzy also 🙂
- Stay away from Bus lane – we got our fine ticket for driving in the bus lane in Cardiff!!
- Parking – always standby plenty of coins to insert into the ticketing machines. Most parking in the UK accepts only coins. Remember to pay before you leave your car and put the ticket back to your front window!
- Parking in Hotel : Not all parking in the 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 the 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!
- Best season to travel : Summer is the best time to travel; May – July onwards. The advantage is you get a 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.
- 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 least 2 days to be ideal as there are plenty of sites to visit. You can consider using the London Pass but it is not cheap. Most attractions in the 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 a cheaper deal.
- Hotel – SGD $2,000 (Depending on your budget – you can book a cheaper hotel or a more expensive hotel depending on your needs and budget. Our hotel cost about SGD $200 + per night. Most of the nights we stayed in Holiday Inn throughout the 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 :
- USA California – 16 Days 13 Nights
- Self Drive in Kyushu Island Japan (Fukuoka, Beppu, Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Miyazaki)
- Self Drive in Central Region Japan (Gifu, Takayama, Shirakawa-go,Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Matsumoto, Mt Fuji, Nagoya)
- Self Drive in Taiwan Round The Island
- Self Drive in Thailand (From Bangkok to Chiang Mai)
You may like to explore other parts of Europe :
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