Scenic Drives near London United Kingdom: 8 Grand Detours

Going to or coming from the capital? Each of these scenic drives near London, United Kingdom, will surely make for a grand entrance (or exit)!

Woman exploring the Scottish Highlands.

Scenic drives near London, United Kingdom, have been featured countless times in blockbuster films, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010), Die Another Day (2002), Cloud Atlas (2012), and World War Z (2013). These scenic routes make for dramatic wide shots, but they’ll also make for an even more dramatic road trip. 

Time to fill your tanks and see these spots for yourself:

1. The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds, with its charming villages, rolling hills, and stone cottages, offers a picturesque escape from the city. This scenic drive takes you through enchanting locations like Warwick Castle and Sudeley Castle, both ideal for if you want a break from London’s hustle and bustle but still want a taste of history!

2. The White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover, located in Kent, provide stunning chalk cliffs that overlook the English Channel. Driving along the coast to reach these cliffs offers breathtaking views and a serene atmosphere that will make you feel as if you’ve driven straight into the silver screen. With so many movies and shows that have featured shots of these iconic chalk cliffs, this is absolutely one of the scenic drives near London, United Kingdom, that will delight any film buff’s heart.

3. The Lake District

Heading north to the Lake District treats the eyes to stunning lakes, mountains, and picturesque villages. If you time your arrival right, which takes about five hours by car and roughly four hours by train, you’ll get to witness stunning sunsets against the Cumbrian mountains. See for yourself why this place has literary associations with famous poets and writers like Beatrix Potter!

The White Cliffs of Dover.

4. The Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Dorset and East Devon, offers a coastal drive with views of rugged cliffs, beaches, and fossil-rich landscapes. This is one of the several scenic drives near London, United Kingdom, that’s perfect for when you’re with young kids. Durdle Door, one of the most frequently photographed rock formations around the world, likewise ignites the imagination with its interesting shape. 

5. The Scottish Highlands

Any Outlander fans here? For those willing to venture further, the Scottish Highlands offer dramatic landscapes, lochs, and castles. Key filming locations you should not miss include the Glencoe Valley (for the opening credits), Kinlock Rannoch (the pivotal standing stones where Claire travels back in time), and Culloden Battlefield (where Claire and Jamie say goodbye). Relive your favorite historical ‘roman-tasy’ in this and other scenic drives near London, United Kingdom.

6. The New Forest

On the other hand, the New Forest National Park offers a picturesque scenic drive from London, showcasing ancient woodlands, charming villages, and diverse wildlife. The drive from London to the New Forest takes approximately two to two and a half hours, depending on your starting point. Along the way, you can stop at historic sites like Beaulieu, home to an ornate 13th century manor house, or Brockenhurst for an afternoon of wine-tasting. The drive continues to the coastal town of Bournemouth, known for its sandy beaches and the Oceanarium, perfect for a little romantic escape from the city!

Historic English residences.

7. The Welsh Borders

The Welsh Borders offer a picturesque drive from London, showcasing the diverse landscapes and historic sites along the ancient border between England and Wales. Starting in the ancient walled city of Chester, the drive winds through small market towns like Hay-on-Wye, home to the famous Hay Festival. En route, you’ll encounter the striking Wye Valley, with its ruined abbeys, fortified bridges, and charming villages

So if you’re in the city and feel like you need to get away, this is one of the scenic drives near London, United Kingdom, that demands at least three days for a full, enjoyable exploration.

8. The Isle of Wight

Travel times from London to the Isle of Wight vary depending on the mode of transportation, with ferry options available from locations like Lymington to Yarmouth. Notable sights along the drives include Newport to Freshwater via Middle Road, East Cowes to Ryde, The Needles to Blackgang Chine via Military Road, Yarmouth to The Needles, and Bembridge to Sandown. 

Each route offers unique landscapes, beautiful beaches, and charming attractions to explore, making the Isle of Wight a delightful addition to any London-based itinerary.

Find Your Way To More Scenic Drives Near London, United Kingdom With ThisCityKnows

When the buzz of the capital gets too much, you can always fill up your tanks and step on the gas. These scenic drives near London, United Kingdom, hold delightful surprises that make you want to properly venture farther on your next visit to the UK.

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll always find what you need for a memorable escape with ThisCityKnows. Browse through our growing collection of travel guides to the most gorgeous locales around the globe! Plan your road trips with ThisCityKnows today!

Patty O.
Author: Patty O.

A city girl through and through, Patty has always planned her adventures in and around urban areas. Through her travel writing, she aims to make a compelling case for the global city as a place of endless discovery and satisfaction. Her goal is to detail how urban exploration can fulfill the desires of anyone and everyone, from cultural and culinary adventurers to historical and supernatural enthusiasts.

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