As winter blankets the city in a crisp chill, it can be a great opportunity to get out of the city and explore some other areas on the open road. Embarking on winter road trips from London opens up a lot of options. In the UK we’re blessed with everything from charming countryside villages to epic coastal spots. Join us as we explore the top five winter destinations that promise an unforgettable journey from the heart of London.
Need to hire a car for the journey? CitiRental provides flexible, affordable car rental services, straight from our premises in Swiss Cottage, North London. Learn more here.
Our 5 Picks for a UK winter road trip from London
1. Oxford: A Scholarly Winter Haven
Nestled just northwest of London, Oxford transforms into a bit of a winter haven during the colder months. The historical streets and rich history make for charming walks around the city. If you take a short winter road trip from London to Oxford, then one thing that you must do is check out the charming colleges, each with its unique character. The Bodleian Library and the Radcliffe Camera take on a different allure against the winter backdrop.
Tip: Plan your visit during the Oxford Christmas Market for a festive touch to your winter adventure.
2. The Cotswolds: Classic Countryside Winter Charm
Escape the urban chaos of London and take your car northwest to the Cotswolds, where honey-coloured cottages and rolling hills await! The Cotswolds are full of picturesque villages like Bourton-on-the-Water and Bibury, offering the quintessential charm of a winter retreat. The Cotswolds, being only a couple of hours from London, is well equipped to deal with tourists throughout the year. You’ll find no shortage of traditional pubs, restaurants and entertainment options.
Tip: Visit the city of Bath and take in a tour of the Roman Baths
3. The Lake District: Rolling hills & Walking Trials
Head north from London to the Lake District, where winter can (if you’re lucky) change the already serene landscapes into a bit of white snowy haven.
Being the UK, snow is never guaranteed unfortunately. However, head to the lakes during the Winter months and there is a fair chance you’ll come across some snow capped mountains. A winter road trip from London to the Lake District allows you to really ‘get away from it all’. Yes it will be cold, but it’s a beautiful part of the country and a great place to escape to.
Tip: Take a scenic drive along Lake Windermere and visit Ambleside for a taste of Lakeland charm.
4. Edinburgh: Scotland’s Capital
Edinburgh, just north of the Scottish border, is a bit further than the other options on this list of winter road trip destinations. That said, it’s more than worthy of it’s place here.
The Scottish capital, with its historic charm and stunning architecture, is one of the best places to go in Winter for several reasons. Firstly, the Castle, the Christmas Markets and the surroundings create a really cosy, festive atmosphere. Secondly, if you are a keen adventurer, you can take your hire car only a short drive from the city and you’ll be in the highlands, where you can really ‘get lost’.
One other idea would be to take a walk up to Arthur’s Seat. Choose a clear, crisp winters day and you’ll be rewarded at the top with fantastic, long reaching views of the city and it’s surroundings.
Tip: Don’t miss the Edinburgh Christmas Market for festive treats and handmade crafts.
5. Snowdonia National Park: A Classic Winter Road Trip from London!
When it comes to ‘adventure’, Snowdonia National Park probably wins out.
North West from London, you’ll be driving for a good 4 or 5 hours to get here, so ideally you’ll want to plan a winter road trip from London that lasts for at least a few nights. Once you’re there, you’ll be in arguably the UK’s best adventure destination.
Snowdonia has been well adapted to tourism, particularly from road users, for a long time now. The most popular mountains to climb (such as Snowdon) all have clearly marked trials, tourist buses and dedicated hotels & hostels. Check out Visit Snowdonia for up to date information on the area.
When you’re in the car, you’ll find some of the best driving roads in the country. Long, sweeping bends through valleys and over mountains (just be careful in the snow)!
Tip: Consider a winter hike or take the Snowdon Mountain Railway for panoramic views.
From the historic charm of Oxford to the winter adventures of Snowdonia, these five destinations give you a good foundation for planning your next winter road trip from London. So, fuel up, pack your winter essentials, and set out on a journey that combines the thrill of the open road with the magic of the winter season.
Safe travels on your winter road adventures!