Road tripping through a foreign country is an incredibly immersive experience. There is something very satisfying about creating your own adventure. Do you want to stay an extra day in this location? No problem. Take a detour? Sure. Change direction completely? Yes! Below you will find my itinerary for a 9-day Great Britain road trip. On this route, I visited three countries (England, Scotland, and Wales), saw dozens of famous historical sites, and spent the night in several scenic locations. If that’s not enough to entice you, I did all of this on a tight budget!
9 Day Great Britain Road Trip – Itinerary
Fair warning, this Great Britain road trip itinerary covers 1600 miles. Along the journey, you will get an overview of the island, but you will also spend a lot of time in the car. Adjust this route to match your personal preferences.
Watch this video to visualize my Great Britain Road Trip:
Day 1 – Bristol to Lake District
For this road trip, I rented a campervan to save money on accommodations. The van was located in Bristol, so this dictated the start of my route. I took a train from London to Bristol, which took about 2 hours, and I immediately hit the road after picking up the van. My goal was to get as far north as I could, knowing that I had a lot of miles to cover. My first official stop was the iconic Lake District region of Northwestern England.
Day 2 – Lake District
I spent the day driving through the small towns in Lake District. The rolling hills and stone cottages were stunning, and this area was home to more than one famous writer, including Peter Rabbit author Beatrix Potter. The towns in Lake District are charming with boutique shops, tiny cafes, and family-owned eateries. Definitely worth a stroll.
As the sun started to set, I continued north and crossed into Scotland. I spent the night in Glasgow and enjoyed my first scotch at a small pub.
Day 3 – Loch Lomond
The farther north I traveled, the more mountainous and scenic the drive became. Scotland is sparse and enchanting, even in winter ( maybe even more so). I drove through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The word beautiful does not do this drive justice. I wanted to pull over every 30 minutes for a photograph!
*Tip: Stop at Ben Nevis for a unique scotch tasting at a small distillery.
After a long, cautious night of driving farther north (14 deer jumped in front of our van), we made it to the port town of Mallaig. I hear the drive is spectacular during the day, but since we were traveling during the winter, the sun had already set. We spent the evening parked in the Mallaig ferry parking lot, ready to catch a boat to the Isle of Skye the next morning.
*Tip: Book ahead for your ferry travel. The boat in Mallaig is very small and the spaces fill quickly. Alternatively, you can take another route and drive to the island via the Skye Bridge.
Day 4 – Isle of Skye
If you ask me, the Isle of Skye was the highlight of our road trip. This island in Northern Scotland is scattered with dark mountains, steep cliffs, and only a few inhabitants. It is outrageously gorgeous. The snow blanket that hugged the mountain peaks added an angelic element, as a million diamonds seemed to dance in the sunbeams. Sunset was my favorite time.
If you go one place on your road trip, make sure you visit the Isle of Skye!
Day 5 – Isle of Skye to Edinburgh
After a full day of adventuring through the Isle of Skye, it was time to turn south for the first time on our road trip. We crossed the Skye Bridge and headed towards Edinburgh, stopping for a tasting at Dalwhinnie Distillery and at a few scenic overlooks in Cairngorms National Park.
We arrived in Edinburgh by the early evening and decided to take a break from our campervan for the night. We splurged on a hotel near Princes Street, in the center of town. Edinburgh was a buzz! That night was New Years Eve (or Hogmanay), and the city has a reputation for putting on a big party. Several blocks are closed off to traffic, performance stages are set up, as well as a dozen different bars and food carts. Hundreds-of-thousands of people form a crowd and watch the magnificent firework display erupt over Edinburgh castle.
*Tip: Pick up your tickets early to avoid waiting in line to enter the Hogmanay celebration. Dress warm (it’s Scotland in winter) and be prepared to wait in line for toilets, food, and drinks.
Day 6 – Edinburgh to Northern England
After recovering from a late night of dancing in the streets, we slowly continued south. This day involved a lot of driving, as we were doubling back on a road we already took. We spent the evening in the parking lot of an English pub.
Day 7 – Liverpool
The next morning we drove into Liverpool and spent the afternoon walking around Albert Dock and visiting The Beatles Story – a small, but extensive museum dedicated to The Beatles. Worth a visit!
That evening we crossed the border into the third country on our road trip: Wales.
Day 8 – The Coast of Wales
Continuing west, Storm Eleanor blew gusty winds of up to 80mph at our van. I struggled to stand on the beach without falling over! The weather was a shame, but we made the best of it. We traveled down the coast of Wales, past bright cottages and huge waves. We parked on residential streets for the evening in our stealth camper.
Day 9 – St. Davids to Bristol
The highlight of Wales, for us, was the small city of St. Davids. The iconic cathedral featured intricately carved ceilings, ornate stained-glass windows, towering hallways, and several small chapels. I could have easily spent most of the day touring the cathedral, but we needed to head east, back to Bristol, to return the van the following day. My Great Britain road trip had come to an end.
Map of the Great Britain Road Trip Itinerary
What would I do differently on my Great Britain road trip?
All in all, this road trip gave me a great overview of the island. I saw a variety of landscapes, historical monuments, castles, distilleries, pubs, restaurants, and I stepped foot in three different countries! I call it a success. That being said, next time I would spend less time in the car, and more time exploring each location. I think this itinerary deserves 2-3 weeks (at least), especially in winter when the days are short and the driving conditions can be slow.