From Windsor to Westeros: Six Themed UK Road Trip Ideas for a Summer Staycation

With costs of holiday car rentals seeing significant increases in the UK and abroad, many Brits may be on the lookout for a holiday that doesn’t come with the added expense of a rental car.  

Road trips around the UK offer the perfect compromise, allowing you to take your own car whilst visiting areas of the country which you may not have travelled to before. What’s more, you can also tailor them to meet your own interests. 

To help provide some inspiration and tips for summer staycations, here are six themes for road trips to explore this summer, from Harry Potter to Premier League football.  

  1. Harry Potter  

Route: London, Oxford, York, Edinburgh – 449 miles 

For fans of the Harry Potter series, there are a huge number of locations you can visit in the UK. Start in the centre of London, where you can visit platform nine and three quarters at Kings Cross station. Before leaving the capital, you can also stop at the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studios.  

From here, you will drive to Oxford, admiring Christchurch College and Bodleian Library, which is featured as the Hogwarts’ great hall and library. You’ll then drive north to York, where you’ll find a number of Harry Potter shops, as well as The Shambles, the inspiration behind Diagon Alley. 

From York you’ll drive further north to finish your journey in the enchanting city of Edinburgh. Here you will experience the city that gave J.K. Rowling her inspiration for the series, as well as hunting for Harry Potter easter eggs, such as the grave of Tom Riddle.  

  1. Period Dramas   

Route: Greenwich, Hampshire, Frome, Cheshire, Bakewell – 404 miles 

This route is perfect for fans of history and period dramas, taking in stunning country houses that have featured in some of the nation’s favourite films and TV shows. Begin your route in Greenwich, London, where you can find the home of the Bridgerton family, Ranger’s House.

From here, leave the capital and drive west towards Newbury, Hampshire, where you will find the impressive Highclere Castle, which is featured in the world-famous series, Downton Abbey. Then continue your journey towards Frome, Somerset, to visit Orchardleigh House, which was a filming location for the 2006 BBC series, Tess of the D’Urbervilles.  

Now head north to Cheshire, where you’ll find the beautiful home and gardens of Arley Hall, the residence of Thomas Shelby from Peaky Blinders. Your final stop is the renowned Chatsworth House, near Bakewell, Derbyshire, which has been the site of films such as Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre.  

  1. Literary Locations 

Route: Whitby, Haworth, Stratford Upon Avon, Oxford, Easy Sussex – 401 miles

 Start your journey on the beautiful Yorkshire coast, in the town of Whitby, famous for where Bram Stoker’s Dracula first landed in England in the gothic horror classic. Then travel across the moors and dales of Yorkshire to Haworth. This small town is famous for being the home of the Brontë sisters, where you can discover the bleak backdrop that provided the setting for Wuthering Heights, and visit their family home. 

Journey down into the Midlands from here to the Tudor town of Stratford Upon Avon, world-famous for being the home of the most famous English playwright of all time, William Shakespeare. Heading further south, your next stop is the wonderful city of Oxford. The spires and colleges of Oxford have inspired countless authors, including Phillip Pullman, J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien. 

Your final stop can be found in the county of East Sussex. Here you can visit Ashdown Forest, the inspiration for the Hundred Acre Wood from A.A. Milne’s classic, Winnie the Pooh.  

  1. Royal Palaces 

Route: London, Windsor, Sandringham – 160 miles 

This historical tour begins in London, with a huge number of current and former royal residences to visit. Begin at The Tower of London, one of the oldest royal castles in the country, and the location of the Crown Jewels, before heading west to see the most famous royal palace in the UK, Buckingham Palace.  

Next, stroll through Hyde Park to visit Kensington Palace, the birthplace of Queen Victoria and the current home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Your final stop in the capital is Hampton Court, near Kingston Upon Thames, the home of Henry VIII.  

Next, leave London to visit the nearby town of Windsor, the location of another impressive residence of the Queen, Windsor Castle. Your final stop requires you to journey to Sandringham in Norfolk, the site of the Royal Family’s Sandringham Estate, where they spend Christmas. 

  1. Premier League stadiums  

Route: Norwich, London, Watford, Brighton, Southampton, Leicester, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Liverpool, Manchester, Burnley, Leeds, Newcastle – 800 miles 

Sports fans can create the ultimate football road trip by visiting all 20 of the 2021/22 Premier League stadiums before the start of the new season. 

Start in Norwich at Carrow Road, before travelling to London to visit the grounds of all the clubs based in the capital – Arsenal, Brentford, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham – then travel up to Watford. 

From there, head down to the south coast to stop off at Brighton, then travel over to Southampton to visit St Marys stadium. Next stop – the Midlands. Visit Leicester first, then travel across to Birmingham to the home of Aston Villa, then up to Molineux, where Wolverhampton Wanderers play their games.  

The next stage of your journey is to travel up to Liverpool, making stops at Anfield and Goodison Park, before travelling across to the rival city of Manchester, the home of Manchester Utd and Manchester City. From here, travel north to Burnley, before crossing the Pennines to Leeds, and finally travelling to Tyneside to Newcastle, ending your journey at St James Park.  

  1. Game of Thrones 

Route: Belfast, Larne, Ballymena, The Dark Hedges, Ballintoy, Binevenagh – 105 miles 

Start in Belfast and then head out along the beautiful Northern Ireland coastline to Larne – your first destination from Westeros. Visit the stunning Sallagh Braes, which you’ll recognise from the scene where The Hound tried to find peace after being left for dead by Arya Stark.  

You’ll then head along the coast towards Ballymena, where you’ll visit the Cushendun Caves, the spot where Melisandre gave birth to the shadow that killed Renly Baratheon. From there you can visit the spectacular Dark Hedges, which appeared in the series as The Kings Road.  

From here, head back to the coast to visit Ballintoy. Ballintoy harbour is the spot where Theon returned to the Iron Islands for the first time, whilst the nearby Larrybane Quarry is the site of the tournament where Brienne of Tarth is first introduced. Finally, head to Binevenagh, where Daenerys is taken after she is rescued by her dragon, Drogon.  

Road trips are such a great way to see large areas of the country, and are a great holiday option for individuals and families who want to see and do a little more during their summer breaks.  

We hope that these themed tours offer some inspiration for anyone, no matter what your interest. Whether you do the trip in a couple of days, or a couple of weeks, they’re sure to keep you interested and engaged.

Rachel Bartee

Rachel Bartee is a blogger and freelance writer dreaming of a tour round the world to write a story of her greatest life adventure. For the time being, she feels inspired by her daily yoga sessions and studies Interpersonal Relationships.