The spring bank holiday in the UK is a time to get out and about and explore beautiful England, Scotland and Wales as they come to green life again. It is always observed on the last Monday in May, and although the United Kingdom never promises good weather, it does bring a certain thawing and sense of refreshment after a long winter. The spring bank holiday CAN promise a three-day weekend, the perfect amount of time for a quick road trip to clear the head and get rid of cabin fever once and for all.
We have put together a few suggestions for mini-break road trips from the major centres in England, Wales and Scotland. Just pick up a UK Airport car rental
and hit the road!
Spring bank holiday road trips from London
Whether you live there or are flying in to begin your fabulous road trip, London is a good starting point. Located towards the south of England, it benefits from some of the country’s best weather - or at least it is close to the regions which do. There are plenty of fabulous destinations within a short drive, and it is positioned like the centre of a wheel with major highway spokes fanning out in all directions to get you wherever you want to go. These are just a few of the top options that are on the horizon when you pick up a London car rental.
The most southerly region of the UK enjoys some of the best weather. Don’t expect any balmy tropical temperatures, especially not in May, but you have a good chance of sunshine and around 10-14 degrees, a comfortable clime for road tripping.
The drive from London right out to Truro takes only 5-6 hours, so you’ll have plenty of time for a thorough exploration over three days. The highlight of the far reaches of the Cornwall peninsula are of course the coastlines. “Heritage Coasts” and “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty” abound, so take your pick. Some top-rated beaches include charming Sennen Cove, cave-dotted Nanjizal Bay and stunning Porthcurno right at the tip of the peninsula past Penzance.
Heading back towards the capital, there are plenty more things to do and places to stop, be it for the night or just a little nosy. Get rid of that lingering winter chill with a dip in the waters at Bath, or stop by Southampton
to absorb some maritime history. Of course, you shouldn’t go back without a visit to the famous Stonehenge.
Day 1: London to Plymouth
via Southampton and Torquay
Day 2: Plymouth to Bristol via Truro and the beaches near Penzance
Day 3: Bristol to London via Bath and Stonehenge
This one requires a lot of driving, but the lovely landscapes of Devon and Cornwall make time spent in the car enjoyable. If you’d like a more leisurely schedule, sneak in a few more days of holiday - or make Plymouth as far as you go.
Lakes, Dales and Peaks
This road trip from London is one for the nature-lovers. From London, head north to visit three of England’s most spectacular national parks: The Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.
Each of these three fabulous areas of wilderness has their own appeal, so you can choose one or two, or visit all three. The Peak District and its high, windswept moors are perfect for hiking; a great way to clear the head. The Dales is a land of rivers, valleys and hills, chocka block with castles and heritage sites for the historically-minded. The Lake District is a magical land of lakes and mountains, dotted with picturesque pastoral towns which make perfect places to spend a night and wake up to the crisp spring air.
If you’re a fan of this road trip, you’ll likely want to skip the big cities - but we do recommend one spot on the way home which requires a bit of a detour. Cooper’s Hill just outside of Gloucester is the official site of the cheese-rolling tradition which takes place each year on the spring bank holiday. This somewhat silly activity is a fun way to celebrate the season!
Day 1: London to Peak District (pick a village to stay in)
Day 2: Exploring Yorkshire Dales or Lake District, or both
If you’d like to have some more exploring time, tack on a few more days or pick your favourite national park to focus on.
Spring bank holiday trips from Cardiff
If the idea of spring is giving you a hankering for a lot of green countryside, Wales is the place to be. The small size of this country means you can fit a lot into a three-day weekend, and it’s a peaceful place which allows travellers to take a deep breath and relax. Pick up a Cardiff car rental
and let the good times roll!
Head to Pembrokeshire
The easternmost county in Wales, Pembrokeshire makes a handy destination for a short road trip from Cardiff. It offers fantastic coastal scenery and the choice between action and total relaxation - something for any taste!
The county’s southern coast is a wonderland of sandy beaches, so take some time to follow the coastal roads and stop for a romantic walk. There is also a lot of history to be discovered here, dating right back to the Iron Age. This can be seen in the hill forts scattered around the landscape. On your way east, be sure to visit the picturesque ruins of Llansteffan Castle.
North Pembrokeshire is also no slouch in the history department, or the coastal scenery department. Don’t miss the magnificent Garn Fawr hillfort near Goodwick, and spending some time in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Keen hikers will enjoy the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, which twists and turns through 186 miles of coastal goodness. Twelve days is the usual time it takes to walk the entire thing - but you can opt to complete a small section!
Day 1: Cardiff to Tenby via Llansteffan Castle
Day 2: Explore Pembrokeshire
Day 3: Tenby to Cardiff via Swansea
This itinerary has plenty of room for add-ons. If you want to see more of Wales, you could combine it with our other suggested Wales itinerary.
Driving from Cardiff up into the northerly reaches of Wales is a journey of less than five hours, and provides an opportunity to gaze upon the green, rolling countryside - take the A470 rather than the fastest route which goes through England.
Llandudno is a good place to start, a lovely seaside resort - in fact, the biggest in Wales. It is situated on a low-lying peninsula, and graced with sandy beaches on two sides. The island of Anglesey is another highlight, ringed with lovely coastlines and equally lovely small villages - a real dream for those who like all things picturesque and pastoral.
Looking at a map of North Wales, you can’t help but notice the sizeable patch of green that is Snowdonia National Park. It’s easy to spend a whole day in this natural treasure, exploring hiking trails, gazing upon waterfalls, trying your hand at some adventurous outdoor recreation activities or visiting the historic sites.
Day 1: Cardiff to Llandudno
Day 2: Llandudno to Barmouth (Snowdonia coast), via Anglesey
Day 3: Barmouth to Cardiff via Snowdonia
This itinerary leaves plenty of time to become acquainted with the region. If you are looking for a quick whirlwind tour of Wales, take an extra day or two and combine it with the Pembrokeshire itinerary for a good overview!
Spring bank holiday trips from Edinburgh
Although not the biggest city in Scotland, Edinburgh is the capital and a lovely place to begin a mini-break in this northern nation. There are plenty of flights there from London and other European hubs, and the city centre - both the old town and new town areas - are captivating. Get your Edinburgh car rental
and begin a Scottish quest.
is a short 3.5-hour drive from Edinburgh, but there are plenty of things to see and do along the way to pad this out into a long weekend road trip. It’s a great mix of natural and manmade attractions - although in Scotland, many of the buildings and houses are so old and so beautifully constructed from stone that they seem to be a part of the natural lie of the land!
Between Edinburgh and Inverness, travellers will pass through Perth (the original Scottish version) and come across the lovely small town of Pitlochry just before entering Cairngorms National Park. Often considered the gateway to the Highlands, the town is a jumping-off point for many outdoor activities. It is also home to Edradour, Scotland’s smallest traditional distillery and well worth a visit.
The national park itself is quite breathtaking, a spectacular example of highland landscapes. It is prime for hiking, mountain climbing, wildlife spotting and all kinds of adventure. It is also dotted with quaint towns and castles for the history lovers - and that means plenty of places to get some hearty pub meals or a full Scottish breakfast.
Inverness sits on both banks of the River Ness, near the famous Loch Ness. Be sure to visit this beloved lake, try to spot Nessie and get a photo with the picturesque ruined Urquhart Castle. The city has some great restaurants and heritage architecture.
Day 1: Edinburgh to Pitlochry, explore Cairngorms
Day 2: Pitlochry to Inverness via Loch Ness
Day 3: Inverness to Edinburgh
You’ll have plenty of time to see it all with this itinerary!
Glasgow, Skye and the Highlands
This trip is a little more ambitious, but covers some amazing scenery on the western side of Scotland. Head from Edinburgh straight across to Glasgow
. This big, bustling city is very much down to earth but does have some great Victorian buildings to look at and buzzing dining and shopping scenes.
The route north from Glasgow includes a drive through Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, a gorgeous area with a wide variety of things to see and do including boat cruises on Loch Lomond, water sports, hiking and “munro bagging,” a favourite Scottish pastime which essentially means climbing any mountain higher than 3,000 feet.
The beautiful coastal highland towns of Fort William and Kyle of Lochalsh feature along the road that leads to the isle of Skye - Kyle is situated at the mainland side of the Skye Bridge which connects the island to the rest of Scotland. Skye itself is a place of soaring mountains and shining lochs, and offers many a picture-perfect Scottish moment, be it in the wilderness or tucked up in a cosy pub. The three main centres for tourism are Portree, Dunvegan and Trotternish.
To make it a loop, you can take a different route back to Edinburgh and pass through Pitlochry and Cairngorms National Park, both mentioned in the Inverness itinerary above.
Day 1: Edinburgh to Fort William via Glasgow and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs
Day 2: Fort William to Portree, explore Skye