From London to Land’s End, Edinburgh to Essex, Cambridge to Cardiff, there’s so much to see on the island we call Great Britain. While it’s true that towns in the UK are not that far apart compared to other much larger countries, seeing all the UK has to offer means travelling – and plenty of it.
By car, you can cover the entirety of the United Kingdom within a matter of days, with the length of the country a mere 874 miles – roughly the distance between New York and Chicago. However, given our complex setup of A roads, motorways and dual carriageways, this may not be your favoured mode of transport. Likewise, our train network is often the source of much frustration due to delays and regular, lengthy maintenance work.
From luxury travel to budget adventures, our guide to the best ways to travel around Britain may just inspire you to spend your next holiday on a staycation.
The best ways to travel around Britain on a budget
If you are on a budget, one of the best ways to travel around Britain is by car.
Travel by car
If you don’t own your own car, you should be able to rent a vehicle for between £200 – £600 per week, depending which model you choose.
You’ll then have complete freedom to travel wherever and whenever you wish, without having to rely on trains, buses or taxis.
As a point of reference, Oxford, Bath, Bristol, Birmingham, Cambridge, Brighton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth are all less than three hours’ drive from London – traffic allowing of course! – whereas the north of England lies around five hours away. Driving up to Scotland from London can also be done in a day, with the UK’s most northerly point, John O’ Groats, reachable in around twelve hours.
What’s more, some of Britain’s motorways can be serenely picturesque places on which to drive, with the M6 snaking up through the bucolic Midlands, the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.
Travel by train
If you cannot drive or you prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery as you travel, consider travelling around Britain by train. With no additional costs such as parking and additional fuel, the train is a budget-friendly choice, in as much as you can pre-determine the cost.
However, there is a downside to train travel in Britain, as we are renowned for having some of the most expensive rail fares in all of Europe. A ticket from London to Bristol might set you back around £100 during peak travel hours, for example. However, if you book well in advance and are flexible in when you travel, you should be able to find a ticket that doesn’t cost a small fortune.
If you plan on seeing a lot of the UK by train, it’s worth investing in a rail pass, which will soon pay for itself.
Travel by bike
If you like to travel under your own steam, why not explore the UK by bike? While we’re not suggesting you cycle onto the M25, a scenic tour around some of Britain’s most famous landmarks and landscapes is a unique way to explore our island.
The best ways to travel around Britain in luxury
If money is no object or you want to blow the budget for a special occasion, why not travel around Britain in luxury?
Travel by canal boat
If you are looking for a truly unique experience, choose to travel across the country on a canal boat. This mode of transport has seen an increase in popularity over the last few years and considering Britain’s abundance of picturesque canals, are a surprisingly efficient way to get around, if not a little slow.
A quintessentially English pastime, canal boating is a charming way to discover a quieter side of the country, albeit a fairly costly one.
Travel by helicopter
If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, consider a private helicopter tour. What better way to see the UK than from the sky? The unique perspective afforded by a flight in a helicopter means that you get an experience like none other, as well as knowing that you can squeeze in maximum visits into shorter timeframes. Why not take a helicopter ride around Surrey or explore the beautifully scenic south coast.
London from the air, for example, is unparalleled, as you take in Big Ben, The London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and more from above.