28 Best Stops on a London to Edinburgh Drive

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by Maggie Turansky

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Though travellers could easily do the London to Edinburgh drive along the M6 or M1 in about seven to eight hours, all good travellers know that the best road trip adventures happen when you venture off the motorway and explore some of the amazing cities, towns, and historical sights along the way.

Driving from London to Scotland may seem like a long haul, but with so much to see along the way you are sure to be charmed and entertained your whole way to the Scottish capital.

From beautiful natural scenery to charming countryside towns to vibrant and dynamic cities, a London to Edinburgh road trip has so much for visitors looking to explore England and Scotland.

Planning a London to Edinburgh Road Trip

The distance on the drive from London to Edinburgh is approximately 400 miles (644 kilometres) and would take around 7.5 hours along the highway if you don’t stop anywhere in between. However, if you plan to make stops along the way you should expect the journey to take at least 2 nights.

While you could certainly spend a lifetime visiting everything in between these two cities, these 28 stops — chosen by some great travel writers — are all excellent choices if you’re embarking on a London to Scotland road trip.

If you’re looking for the best options for car rental on your London to Edinburgh road trip then I suggest browsing Booking.Com to find plenty of options. They aggregate results across many major companies ensuring you get great prices for your trip.

It’s also worth considering taking out an excess insurance policy with iCarHireInsurance to ensure you don’t need to pay any excess if making a claim!

Finally, have you considered taking out travel insurance before starting your drive? World Nomads offers flexible and simple travel insurance policies with coverage for more than 150 activities that you can buy or extend while on the road.

London to Edinburgh Drive Stops

1. Oxford

The city of Oxford is located an hour west of London and is a University city full of history.

Oxford University is the second oldest in the world and several movies have been filmed there such as the Harry Potter films. 

Christ Church College is one of the most famous colleges in Oxford and also the most popular Harry Potter film location. The Christ Church great hall is the filming location for the Hogwarts dining hall.  You will also notice that the Bodley Staircase that leads to the Great Hall is another film location when Harry first arrives at Hogwarts.  You can visit all these locations and more on this Harry Potter Film Locations Tour!

It’s also worth visiting the Christ Church picture gallery museum as it is one of the best museums in Oxford.

After walking around Oxford if you have time I highly recommend a visit to Highclere Castle about 30 minutes away.  This is one of the best castles near London (and so close to Oxford) to visit and it’s the castle used in Downton Abbey

Highclere was built in the 17th century and sits on a 5,000-acre park that is open to the public.  You can visit the Secret Garden, the Monk’s Garden, the White Border and woodlands on this beautiful estate.

— Nicole LaBarge, NicoleLaBarge.com

Oxford, Credit: Nicole LaBarge, NicoleLaBarge.Com

2. Cotswolds

One of the best places to visit is a charming area called the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds are located in the southwestern part of England. It is an area that is characteristically known for its hills, meadows and its stunning nature.

The Cotswolds area spans from the meadows in the upper Thames region to the Cotswolds Edge — situated above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. It covers roughly 787 square miles. In general, this is the place to go to for a relaxing retreat or a weekend getaway.

Though it is a slight detour from the general London to Edinburgh drive, you’ll be able to visit some of the most beautiful and charming towns in England.

First and foremost, if you ever plan to visit the Cotswolds, you should definitely stay at the Feathers Hotel in Woodstock. It is a 17th-century townhouse located at the heart of Woodstock, which is a town famous for its historic market. You’ll literally feel like you’ve travelled back in time.

As regards food, the Feathers Hotel also has a restaurant and a gin bar. They won’t serve you the run-of-the-mill gastropub stuff. Therefore, it’s also a great place to dine. Otherwise, afternoon tea at Blenheim Palace is never a bad idea!

— Michelle Minnaar, The Greedy Gourmet

The Cotswolds
Cotswolds, Credit: Michelle Minnaar, The Greedy Gourmet

3. Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is very close to London and the drive is around 2.5 hours, making it an excellent stop on your drive.

Obviously, Shakespeare is at the centre of everything in Stratford-upon-Avon. So take a moment to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, his mother Mary Arden’s farm, and the iconic Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.

The town itself is very walkable and you can see some fascinating and truly historic architecture from Tudor to Jacobean and Victorian homes.

The heart of Stratford is pedestrianized and it is easy to walk from one Shakespearean site to another and on the way you can marvel at some of the most beautifully preserved buildings in England.

You would expect Stratford-upon-Avon to possibly be a little bit of a tourist trap and although there are tens of thousands of visitors, it remains a remarkably quirky and interesting place to visit.

There are plenty of fabulous restaurants serving everything from the great British Afternoon Tea to vegan delights. One of my favourites is the Anne Hathaway Tea Rooms with a great selection of teas and some delicious breakfasts and lunches.

Try some quintessential British fish and chips at the place Gordon Ramsay swears is one of the best — Barnaby’s, which is a minute away from the Royal Shakespeare Company where you must go for a backstage tour and some amazing performances of Shakespeare’s great plays. 

Wander down by the canal and watch the beautifully decorated canal boats and take a punt out yourself to row on the river. Or how about a cruise down the waterway in an Edwardian electric launch? Stratford-upon-Avon is an absolute must-visit for anyone who loves both Shakespeare and British history.

— Faith Coates, XYU and Beyond

Stratford-upon-Avon, Credit: Faith Coates, XYU and Beyond

4. Worcestershire

Worcestershire sits right in the heart of England, just at the boundaries of the famous Cotswold region and Birmingham, the second-largest city in England. Known as the home of the famous Worcestershire Sauce, Malvern Hills and the Royal Porcelain, there are more things to do in Worcestershire than these.

Enjoy the countryside walks around the Lickey Hills and the Malvern Hills to get the best views of the county.  If you are interested in farming and gardening, the Three Counties Showgrounds in Malvern — where they showcase wonderful horticultural arrangements and livestock — is the place to be.  

One must not forget to visit the Worcester Cathedral, located right at the centre of the Royal faithful city of Worcester. The cathedral is known as the final resting place for King John I (the monarch who signed the Magna Carta) and Prince Albert — the firstborn of King Henry VII.  

If you want to go on a food trip, there are lots of various restaurants and pubs in the Worcester city centre. You can also enjoy classic food stalls at the Sunday markets. Every summer, the Digbeth Dining Club of Birmingham also comes and visits Bromsgrove, Worcestershire and that is an absolute mecca for all food lovers.

— Ryazan Tristram, Everything Zany

Worcestershire, Credit: Ryazan Tristram, Everything Zany

5. Cambridge

One of the most historic and well-known cities in England, Cambridge is a gem to visit and a place that must be included on any drive from London to the Scottish capital.  

Located about an hour drive north of London, the city has some of the most spectacular architecture to see, and the world-renowned colleges of Cambridge University.  The city has an array of amazing things to see and do and some fantastic places to eat as its huge university population gives the town a variety of great foods.

There are several popular things to do in Cambridge. Punting is a must when visiting Cambridge. It is a flat bottom boat that is used for recreation and moved across the water with the use of a pole.  It is one of the most popular activities in Cambridge along the River Cam and it’s a great way to see some of the colleges that way as well.  Along the way, you can visit the popular Bridge of Sighs.

Visiting the inside of King’s College Chapel is also a must-do when visiting Cambridge.  The immense size and sheer beauty of the interior vaulted ceilings is quite spectacular and visitors are always impressed with the beautiful carvings of the chapel.  

Cambridge University also has a fantastic Botanic Garden which is fee-based, but visitors can spend hours wandering the inside of the garden and popping in and out of the numerous greenhouses.  The gardens have one of the most extensive collections in all of Europe.

Be sure to try a few restaurants such as the Old Bike Shop or the Anchor Pub

— Diana, The Elusive Family


6. Birmingham

Birmingham, located in the Midlands, is just under two hours from London and an excellent place to stop when driving to Edinburgh. It is England’s second-largest city, which underwent a massive expansion during the industrial era of Victorian times.

One of the top things to do in Birmingham is to visit the Bull Ring, where since medieval times, a market has existed. Make sure to get a photo with the iconic Bull statue. 

Victoria Square, dominated by Queen Victoria’s statue, has exquisite 19th-century buildings and the 1.75m figure “The River” sitting in a flower fountain. But for the earlier history of Birmingham, The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery have an exhibit of the Staffordshire Hoard from a Viking raid.

But a highlight of Birmingham is the Victorian canals transformed from the 1980s with chic bars and restaurants. You can take a canal cruise, spend time at the National Sea Life Centre, or visit the moored longboats.

For places to dine, try The Malt House on the canal for traditional English food and craft beer. In the city centre, book a table at Bonehead if you love chicken or burgers with a twist.

However, the most iconic place to visit in Birmingham is Cadbury World to learn everything about chocolate. You’ll especially love the chocolate tasting, the best part of the tour.

For a place to stay, the Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham at Brindley Place is within easy walking distance to the city centre or the canals.

— Maura McKenna, Travel Kiwis

Birmingham is a two hour drive north from London on the way to Edinburgh
Birmingham, Credit: Maura McKenna, Travel Kiwis

7. Stamford

Want to enjoy a short trip to a historic stone town, perfectly preserved with cobbled streets and Georgian architecture? Stamford is the ideal destination, located in the Southwest part of Lincolnshire.

Visiting the most popular Burghley House is the most preferred choice among the visitors. It was built by William Cecil, Lord High Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth I in between 1555 and 1587.

There are numerous rooms, corridors and halls in the house which can be discovered better by a guided tour. Burghley House is also featured in several films including The Da Vinci Code and Pride and Prejudice. It is just 1 mile away from Stamford and it is open every day except Friday all year round from 11 am to 5 pm.

You can also enjoy a few hours exploring the centre of Stamford. You must visit St Mary’s Church which was built by the 12th century. You will be amazed by the gorgeous spires of this church. Most of the buildings of this historic town were built in the 17th and 18th centuries and have a uniform limestone architecture.

Spend some time in All Saint’s Church, built by the 13th century and then have a short tour around Browne’s Hospital before ending a short trip to Stamford.

The William Cecil is a perfectly located restaurant to enjoy the view of downtown as well as good food to eat. It is located just a few walks away from Stamford Railway Station.

— Trijit Mallick, Budget Travel Buff

Stamford, Credit: Trijit Mallick, Budget Travel Buff

8. Crowland

One of the most unique towns to visit on a London to Edinburgh road trip is Crowland, located in Lincolnshire near Peterborough. Crowland’s history dates back to the beginning of the 8th century when it was still just an island in the Fens. It was established as a place of piety by a hermit named Guthlac, and soon a small religious community began to grow.

Crowland is not a large town, and can easily be seen in a few hours. The two main points of interest are Crowland Abbey and the Trinity Bridge.

Crowland Abbey is a rather important religious building as it is believed to be the first in England – and one of the first in the world – to have a tuned peal (ringing bells). In 1925, the abbey’s bells were the first to ever be recorded on radio via the BBC. This caused protests as many of the townspeople believed it to be sacrilegious.

The abbey is beautiful and worth a stopover. If you’re able to do so, get a guided tour from one of the abbey’s incredibly knowledgeable volunteers.

In addition to the abbey, history buffs will be interested in checking out the Trinity Bridge in the town centre. Built in 1360 to span a tributary on the River Welland, it is one of only a handful of trinity bridges in the UK. Even more unique, due to the River Welland being rerouted, it now traverses nothing and remains only due to its historical significance.

Although it is a bit off the beaten path, Crowland is well worth the visit for anyone interested in religious sites, medieval sites, or English countryside charm.

— Dagney McKinney, Cultura Obscura

Crowland, Credit: Dagney McKinney, Cultura Obscura

9. Nottingham

If you’re looking for some great cities to visit on the Edinburgh to London drive, then make sure to visit Nottingham — the city of Robin Hood. Nottingham is a lovely vibrant student city with two huge universities, so it has a lot of places for going out and eating out (e.g. Hockley Arts Club or Mowgli). Nottingham also has some of England’s oldest pubs – The Bell’s Inn, Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem and Ye Olde Salutation Inn.

Another one of the top things to do in Nottingham is to attend the award-winning Robin Hood-themed tour of the city with Ezekial Bone, where you can learn a lot about Robin Hood, whether he was real and also learn quite a bit about the history of Nottingham and its textile (lace) industry.

Finally, you can visit Wollaton Park which also has a lot of cute deer living there. Nottingham is a very green city and has a lot of parks.

You can drive to the famous Sherwood Forest (you need to drive for about 50 minutes, as the forest is located between Sheffield and Nottingham).  

— Liza Skirpka, Tripsget

Nottingham, Credit: Liza Skirpka, Tripsget

10. Lincoln

Lincoln is a fabulous city to visit in the UK and a great stop to make on the drive from London. It is brimming with history and great things to do. Lincoln is in the heart of Lincolnshire in the northeast of England.

Highlights of this English city include Lincoln castle with its recently restored wall walk. It is also home to one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta and there is a prison that you can look around.

Opposite the castle, you will find Lincoln Cathedral. The cathedral is stunning and has been through many stages of construction since 1088. It is the third-largest cathedral in the UK and there is lots to see and explore. Kids can pick up an explorer backpack which will make their visit even more interesting.

Lincoln is also famous for Steep hill. This is a very steep and historical hill that takes you up to the Castle and the Cathedral. There are some lovely cafes and shops to pop in along the way. Lincoln also has a good choice of free museums including the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, The Collection and Usher Gallery.

Down at the bottom of Steep hill, you will find a great shopping district. A little further from here there is the River Witham where you can enjoy boat tours, visit the modern cinema or eat at one of the restaurants along the waterfront.

— Suzy McCullough, Where to Go With Kids

Lincoln, Credit: Suzy McCullough, Where to Go With Kids

11. Peak District

The Peak District is the perfect destination for outdoor lovers driving from London to Edinburgh. The area is great for hiking, mountain biking, scrambling and horse riding. Probably the most popular activity is hiking. There are several trails with different difficulties, which offer fantastic views.

The town of Edale is a great place to base yourself if you want to explore the national park on foot and places like Bamford Edge, Kinder Scout, Lose Hill, Ladybower Reservoir and Mam Tor are all within easy reach. Cycling enthusiasts can ride the Monsal Trail or if they want something more adventurous mountain biking is also an option.

The Peak District has many family-friendly attractions as well. Go Ape and Gulliver’s theme park are a guaranteed hit with every child! But going on a ride on the Rudyard Lake Steam Railway or the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway is another fun thing to do.

You can also walk alpacas at a farm, visit an underground wonderland at a cavern and hop on a cable car at the Heights of Abraham. You can easily reach the national park by car easily while on the Edinburgh to London drive.

— Enikő Krix, Travel Hacker Girl

Peak District
Peak District, Credit: Enikő Krix, Travel Hacker Girl

12. Sheffield

Known as the “Outdoor City”, the northern city of Sheffield is one of the greenest in England. It is the UK’s leading destination for outdoor adventure and also the only major city in the UK with a National Park within its boundary. Although the Peak District is on Sheffield’s doorstep, the city is still only about three hours away from London by car. 

Sheffield offers locals and visitors plenty of opportunities to get outside. If you love hiking then head to the summit of Bamford Edge. However, if you are looking for more of a thrill, then take to the skies on a paragliding adventure from the top of Mam Tor or try out rock climbing at Stanage Edge. 

If water is more your thing, then only 15 minutes walk from Sheffield station lies Victoria Quay. A quaint inner-city canal, surrounded by apartments and riverside eateries.

The canal is perfect for paddling boarding, kayaking or canoeing along and once you’ve built up an appetite you only have to walk a few meters to Dorothy Pax — a quirky waterfront cafe serving drinks, cakes and homemade vegan food.

— Roshni Patel, The Wanderlust Within


13. Chester

Almost halfway in between London and Edinburgh is the beautiful walled city of Chester. Chester is situated approximately 200 miles north of London and 240 miles south of Edinburgh on the Welsh border.

This ancient city is a truly breathtaking place to visit, and the history of Chester is all there for you to explore. Roman Legionnaires marched to war when Chester was a Roman fort, the Viking raiders wreaked havoc on the city and Norman invaders conquered Anglo-Saxons all within the walls of this very city.

Take the time to discover the history in Chester, which is considered to have the most complete and best-preserved city walls in Great Britain. The walls almost completely encircle the city and stand much like they did in medieval times and measure almost 2 miles long.

Chester is also home to the oldest racecourse and the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, plus a 1000-year-old Cathedral with Europe’s finest example of medieval carvings – and of course the one and only 700-year-old Rows galleries for double delight shopping. The Rows are unique in the world to Chester, and nobody is quite sure why they were built in this way.

Once you’ve explored the historic ancient city, situated just outside of Chester city centre is the famous Chester Zoo. Chester Zoo is one of the largest and most visited zoos in the UK and is a conservation and education charity committed to preventing extinction. There are over 27,000 animals and 125 acres of zoological gardens to explore at Chester Zoo which makes it a great day out for all ages when visiting Chester.

— Laura Clowes, Country Girl Explores

Chester, Credit: Laura Clowes, Country Girl Explores

14. Liverpool

Mention Liverpool and most people’s thoughts instantly turn to The Beatles and Liverpool Football Club. However, there is a lot more to the UK’s fifth biggest city with hip urban hangouts and some of the most well preserved and historic buildings in the country.

Several areas in the city centre have been granted World Heritage Status by UNESCO including the Royal Albert Dock Area and William Brown Street.

Other highlights in the city include the hipster area Baltic Triangle, officially known as the ‘Creative and Digital Quarter’. This is a historic area spread over several city blocks with outdoor bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as amazing murals and street art. Check out Cains Brewery Village and the Baltic Market for street food.  

Liverpool also has some amazing galleries — Tate Liverpool is one of the most-visited in the UK and is located in a Grade I listed building in the Albert Docks. Located on the city’s waterfront, the Museum of Liverpool is the first national museum in the world to be solely devoted to the history of a regional city (entry is free).

If you have a head for heights, a new observation deck has just opened at the Liver Building offering panoramic 360° views across Liverpool from the 15th-floor viewing platform.

— Caroline Keyzor, CK Travels

Liverpool, Credit: Caroline Keyzor, CK Travels

15. Manchester

Manchester is a favourite with many travellers to the UK and for good reason. The city-produced bands like The Smiths, Oasis and the Stone Roses is known for more than just rock and roll. With cultural sights, galleries, museums, shopping malls and an excellent eating scene, there’s plenty to keep you busy during a trip to Manchester. 

One of the best things to do in Manchester is to visit Affleck’s Palace. This multi-level emporium is home to jewellery, trinkets, craft stores and even a cereal cafe! Anyone with an alternative sense of style or penchant for colourful destinations will enjoy wondering the stores and seeking out a bargain.

Once you’ve shopped, you might want to visit Chinatown. Marked by an enormous red archway, this large area of Asian restaurants and cafes is the perfect place for an authentic lunch or dinner. In the evening it comes alive with karaoke bars.

Foodies will also enjoy their trip to Manchester. Federal Cafe is known as the best place to sip speciality coffee and tuck into a hearty hipster brunch. For decadent cakes and a cosy coffee shop vibe, take a trip to Teacup Cafe. Pizza lovers can’t do better than PLY which is known for its woodfire oven and affordable prices.

— Rose Munday, Where Goes Rose


16. Leeds

There are myriad things to do in Leeds that’ll keep you entertained from the moment you arrive until the moment you leave. Well known for its numerous theatres, music venues and galleries, Leeds is a modern but historic city located in the Northwest of England making it a logical stop.

The city actually has a little something for everyone. From its exciting Leeds museums to fascinating heritage and history, Leeds has got you covered.

Leeds is typically a 4 – 4.5-hour drive from London and it is about the same drive time to get to Edinburgh. If you love Victorian architecture, historic markets and vibrant nightlife, a trip to the “Motorway City of the Seventies” allows you to indulge in all three.

Leeds is a great destination for shopping and fashion enthusiasts. So it would be a mistake not to take advantage of that. Combine your shopping and sightseeing adventures near Headrow avenue. There are many extravagant stores located in lovely Victorian arcades. If shopping is your thing, be sure to pay a visit to Queens Arcade, The Grand Arcade, Thornton’s Arcade and Corn Exchange.

There’s also the Victoria Quarter, the luxury shopping centre located between Briggate, and Vicar Lane. The interior is so pretty that you kind of forget about all those shops you can’t afford to buy anything. Then there’s Trinity Leeds, which has over 120 shops and restaurants, and, of course, a cinema.

Be sure to visit a lovely Angelica bar on the sixth floor of the Trinity shopping centre. A perfect spot to have lunch and enjoy spectacular views of Leeds from a wraparound terrace.

No trip to Leeds is complete without paying a visit to Kirkgate Market. Having first opened in 1822, Kirkgate Market is now a must-see place in Leeds. There are hundreds of stalls inside selling every type of food imaginable, and there’s a really cool historic feel when you’re in there.

Even if you don’t buy anything, a walk around the market is a must-do if you’re in Leeds. Also, fun fact: Kirkgate Market is the birthplace of Marks & Spencer!

— Ivan Tannenberg, Mind The Travel

Leeds, Credit: Ivan Tannenberg, Mind The Travel

17. York

York is one of the biggest highlights on a trip from up to Edinburgh.

York is known as the medieval capital of Northern England and if you haven’t been before then you’re in for a treat! There is a lot of history here (there has been a city on the site of York for nearly 2,000 years now) and it is one of 12 cities in England that are so old they pre-date records.

The medieval walls surround the heart of the city, with all the key places to visit inside, meaning you can see most of them on foot.

On your ‘must-visit’ list while in the city should be The Shambles — an old street with timber-framed buildings that is reminiscent of Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter series, the huge Cathedral of Yorkminster, trainspotting (and afternoon tea in a restored carriage) at England’s biggest railway museum, a walk on the brilliantly preserved medieval walls, a ghost tour through what is claimed to be Europe’s most haunted city and learning about York’s Viking history at the Yorvik Centre. 

York is only about four hours from London about also four hours from Edinburgh by car, so it makes for an excellent spot to stop off. As with many medieval cities, the sites are close together, so you can easily see most of them in a short period of time.

— Ben Reeve, Reeves Roam

York, Credit: Ben Reeve, Reeves Roam

18. The Ribble Valley

The Ribble Valley in Lancashire is a beautiful part of England, and it makes for a perfect stop on the drive. The valley sits between Preston and Lancashire and it’s just over an hours drive from Manchester. 

For food lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, there’s a wealth of things to do. Food lovers should head to Clitheroe which is known as the gastro capital and book in for a meal at the Michelin-starred Northcote Manner. 

One of the star attractions in the centre of Clitheroe is Holmes Mill. Here you’ll find the Bowland food hall, a beer hall, an ice cream shop and a fantastic restaurant.

The produce on sale is from the surrounding farms within the Ribble Valley and you can taste specialities like crumbly Lancashire cheese, homemade pork pies and black pudding. There’s a wealth of delights for food lovers to enjoy, not to mention the locally brewed beer to accompany.

There are a plethora of walks and cycling trails to explore in the magnificent surrounding countryside, several of which are linked to history and literature.  To learn about the witches of Pendle, a visit to the Pendle visitors centre is well worth a trip. After your visit, take the time to climb to the top of Pendle Hill, a well known historical site. The trail begins in the small village of Barley. 

Another fabulous walk in the area is the Tolkien trail which starts in Hurst Green. The 9 km walk takes you around Stoneyhurst College and the other regions that inspired J.R.R Tolkien when he was writing the famous novel The Lord of the Rings.

The clear Skys of the Ribble Valley also make for a fantastic place to view the night stars. Take a visit to one of the sky discovery sites at Beacon Fell Country Park, Crook O’Lune Picnic Site, Slaidburn or Gisburn Forest. On a clear night, you can see spectacles such as the Milky Way and various constellations such as Orion, with your naked eye.

Whatever you choose to do in the Ribble Valley, its charming villages, stunning countryside and exquisite food are bound to leave you wanting to revisit.

— Fiona Berry, Passport and Piano

Ribble Valley
Ribble Valley, Credit: Fiona Berry, Passport and Piano

19. Yorkshire Dales

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of the best stops on a road trip to Edinburgh!

The county of Yorkshire is known as “God’s own country” due to its spectacular scenery. One of the best places to see the incredible landscape is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a place full of history, scenic spots, hidden waterfalls and epic hikes. Find sleepy abbeys such as Jervaulx Abbey and Bolton Abbey or the UNESCO-protected site of Fountains Abbey.

Discover secret waterfalls such as Catrigg Falls or see the remains of a gigantic ancient waterfall in Malham. Stroll across the wild, windy moors or if you fancy tackling a harder hike sign up for the Three Peaks Challenge. There are many wonderful things to do and see in the Yorkshire Dales National park.

Located in the North of England, many parts of the park are easy to reach by public transport. The famous Settle to Carlisle train goes through some of the most impressive parts of the Yorkshire Dales meaning you can easily hike onto the fells and enjoy a nice cider at a pub before hopping back on the train. There are also little volunteer buses running on certain days.

If you would like to see one of the prettiest villages in the Yorkshire Dales you can catch a train to Dent station then get the bus to the whitewashed village of Dent. Alternatively, a car offers you more freedom for getting around this beautiful place.

There are so many things to do and see in the Yorkshire Dales. Make sure you add this gorgeous national park to your places to visit between London and Edinburgh. 

— Anna Liddell, My Travel Scrapbook

Yorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales, Credit: Anna Liddell, My Travel Scrapbook

20. Scarborough

Scarborough is located in North Yorkshire on the North Sea Coast.  It is nearly halfway between London and Edinburgh, making it an excellent place to stop on the drive.  It is a typical resort town and has been a popular place for tourists to visit for over 400 years.

Many people visit here for their summer holidays and enjoy the many attractions that there is here, from building sandcastles on the beach (whether it is a sunny day or not), playing in the arcades that dominate the seafront, enjoying the rides in the amusement park, talking one the many boat trips or fishing trips offered and enjoying a walk around Peasholm Park.

Scarborough is dominated by the castle that overlooks the south bay and harbour and it’s a place you can see no matter where you are in Scarborough.  It’s a great city to explore, whether you want to look around the shops or get out into the fresh air and walk along the cliffs and coastline or just be lazy on the beach. 

It has something for everyone to enjoy and that’s why when finally there is a sunny day in Yorkshire, everyone jumps in their cars and makes a trip there.

Whilst visiting the only thing you can’t miss is a stop in one of the chippies along the front for fresh fish & chips.  Watch out, though, for the seagulls that will swoop down and try and steal them from you!

— Clare Colley, I Live 4 Travel

Scarborough, Credit: Clare Colley, I Live 4 Travel

21. Whitby

One of the most popular destinations along the coast of Yorkshire and a perfect stop on a scenic drive from London to Edinburgh is the pretty seaside town of Whitby. The town is overlooked by the ruins of Whitby Abbey, which was the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The abbey, now owned by English Heritage, is open daily between 10 am and 6 pm and is the most popular attraction in the town.

Climb the 199 steps to the medieval church of St Mary and spectacular views over the town and harbour. Pose underneath the whalebone arch a reminder of the town’s past as a whaling town. 

Whitby was the home of famous and controversial explorer Captain James Cook. The Captain Cook memorial museum holds lots of artefacts and interesting information about the man and his travel around the globe.

There are always lots of things to see and do in Whitby and throughout the year there are regular Goth and Steampunk festivals held in the town as well as a Folk Week and annual Regatta. The town is also the gateway to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and Goathland station is seen in a number of Harry Potter films.

Don’t miss fish and chips at the famous Magpie Cafe where the seafood is literally award-winning. Believe me, you will not have tasted fish anywhere in England as delicious as any you have in Whitby.

— Tracy McConnachie Collins, Tracy’s Travels in Time


22. Lake District

The Lake District is a mecca for hikers, climbers and all outdoor adventurers alike, making it one of the most popular rural escapes in the UK and a fantastic place to stop en route to Edinburgh. The national park is famed for its peaks as well as its namesake lakes, with stunning vistas at seemingly every turn.

The area is perfect for experienced and novice hikers alike, if you want a full day of hitting the hillsides or just a gentle stroll to work off your lunch, it’s a great spot for some fresh air. As well as walking around the epic landscapes, another great way to explore the Lake District is by taking to the water.

Join one of the cruises around the huge Lake Windermere or hire a little boat (motor or row available dependent on your energy levels) and explore on your own. Those a little more adventurous may even want to take a very bracing dip in the waters!

The Lake District isn’t all about the great outdoors, however. There are plenty of options for luxury escapism, foodies and sightseers alike! With some fabulous hotels like the Samling and the Gilpin, adjoined with spas to soak up your surroundings in, you can be sure to properly pamper yourself during your visit.

Alongside this, the area is quickly being recognised on the UK food scene, helped along by tremendous local produce you can find nearby. One of the first people to showcase this best was Simon Rogan, whose two-star Michelin restaurant L’Enclume has won its plaudits from across the world for authentic, beautiful British fare, with much of the menu sourced from their own farm!

Alternatively, The Forest Side is a stunning restaurant with rooms, set in an ancient manor house just outside Grasmere, the rooms, the setting and the food are all equally as delightful!

— Laura Caddick, The Travelling Stomach

Want a unique place to spend the night? Check out this romantic farmhouse with spectacular views!

Lake District
Lake District, Credit: Laura Caddick, The Travelling Stomach

23. Durham

The historic city of Durham in northern England is approximately five hours by car from London and three hours by car from Edinburgh. This position makes it an ideal stopover. Durham is a compact city and the principal sights can easily be visited on foot.

The first location to visit on a trip to Durham should be the stunning Durham Cathedral. This impressive 12th-century church — a UNESCO World Heritage site — holds the relics of two saints and is known for its highly decorated nave and ornate stained glass.

The nave is lined with huge, Norman-era carved stone pillars and curved Romanesque arches. Don’t miss the outdoor cloisters which were used as a backdrop for Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter films.

After visiting the Cathedral, a short stroll across the pretty Palace Green will bring you to the 11th-Century Durham Castle which is possible to visit on a pre-booked tour. Follow the pedestrianised cobbled lanes into Market Place, in the heart of Durham city.

Explore the shops or indoor market with its independent stalls or the imposing Victorian St Nicholas Church or Town Hall. Escape the bustle of the city by heading to the River Wear to enjoy a scenic riverside stroll.​

— Sinead Camplin, Map Made Memories

Durham, Credit: Sinead Camplin, Map Made Memories

24. Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Newcastle-upon-Tyne has a reputation for being one of Europe’s great party cities. Groups often make a weekend of visits to the city, whose resurgent Quayside is dotted with cocktail bars, traditional pubs and restaurants. The House of Tides, the city’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, occupies a restored 16th-century building close to the waterfront.

The city’s name is derived from the now-historic fortress that looks out over the River Tyne and the surrounding landscape. It’s possible to buy tickets to tour the castle to see the great hall and step out onto the roof.

During the Victorian era, the castle was almost pulled down to make way for the railway that connects London and Edinburgh. Some of the best surviving sections of the city wall can be seen by Newcastle’s compact Chinatown, close to St James’ Park stadium.

The Laing Art Gallery displays paintings giving insights into aspects of the city’s heritage. So too does the Discovery Museum, which provides background about the evolution of Newcastle and the surrounding region.

Once associated with heavy industries such as shipbuilding and coal mining, Newcastle was and still is a hub for technological innovation. The Turbinia, the world’s first ship to be powered by steam turbines, is displayed on the ground floor of the museum.

— Stuart Forster, Go Eat Do


25. Alnwick

Alnwick is a historic market town in Northumberland that is definitely worth stopping to explore more. It is best known for Alnwick Castle, home to the Percy family and the filming location of Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter movies.

There is a lot to see at Alnwick Castle. For Harry Potter fans, they offer broomstick lessons. Kids will love the Dragon’s Quest and the castle is also home to the Fusiliers Museum of Northumberland and the Duke’s Museum. You can tour the staterooms and see the Dungeon.

Once you have seen the castle, head over to Alnwick Gardens. The gardens are an attraction in their own right so try to leave a few hours to explore. Some of the highlights include the water features, the poison garden, treehouse, and bamboo labyrinth.

There is more to the town of Alnwick than just the castle and gardens. You can visit Barter Books, which originally opened in 1887. It’s the largest second-hand book shop in the UK located in a Victorian Railway station. The Bailiffgate Museum covers the history of Alnwick and surrounding villages. It has hands-on exhibits that are perfect for kids.

To get to Alnwick, make a detour on the A1 motorway while working your way north. It is about 2 hours south of Edinburgh.

— Anisa Alhilali, Two Travelling Texans

Alnwick, Credit: Anisa Alhilali, Two Travelling Texans

26. Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall is an ancient Roman wall built during the reign of, you guessed it, the Emperor Hadrian in the second century CE. It’s the most famous Roman site in Britain and should not be missed.

Given that the wall runs all along the length of northern England from east to west, it would be difficult not to visit it on a drive from London to Edinburgh, no matter which route you take.

If you’re taking the most direct route, which passes through Newcastle upon Tyne, then you may be content just to walk the first five miles of the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail. Heading east from Newcastle, this will take you to Wallsend, the aptly named town which is where the wall does, in fact, end.

Of course, with more time to spare, you could head west and explore some of the more famous sights along the wall, such as Chester’s Fort, Housesteads Fort and Milecastle 42. The small city of Hexham makes a good base for exploring this section, by taking the hiking path along Hadrian’s wall.

Near Milecastle 42, there’s a traditional English pub called the Milecastle Inn that’s a great place to stop for a drink or a pub meal. The friendly owners are happy to cater for vegan, gluten-free or other dietary requirements with advance notice.

— Wendy Werneth, The Nomadic Vegan

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall, Credit: Wendy Werneth, The Nomadic Vegan

27. The Scottish Borders Abbeys

Edinburgh is so near now, but it is time for a final stop before you reach the Scottish capital. The Scottish Borders are a region in the southeast of Scotland and the name hints rightly towards their turbulent history.

Historically, the Borders is one of the most interesting regions of the area as it was here where many battles between the English and Scottish armies were fought during the Independence Wars and later during the Jacobite uprisings. 

But the Borders were also a religious centre with numerous abbeys dotting the lands. Today, the magnificent Border Abbeys lie in ruins but are maintained by Historic Scotland. You can visit four abbeys in Melrose, Kelso, Dryburgh and Jedburgh and reimagine what these wonders of medieval architecture would have looked like.

The abbeys are very close to each other, but if you have a few days, consider going on a pilgrimage along the Border Abbeys Way — a 65-mile hiking trail through the area.

After a stop in the colourful village of Kelso, visit Melrose, a bustling village at the foot of the Eildon Hills. Robert the Bruce, the infamous Outlaw King of Scotland, loved Melrose so much, he wished for his heart to be buried here. A commemorative stone marks the site among the ruins of the abbey.

Before you continue to Edinburgh, stop by Abbotsford House, the former home of Sir Walter Scott — the Scottish historian and novelist, who invented the historical fiction genre and contributed significantly to the way we think about Scottish identity.

Abbotsford was his palace – a stunning Victorian villa that looks like a castle. The grounds offer walking trails along the River Tweed and a breathtaking walled garden filled with flowers. If you want to know why Scott made the Borders his home, take a quick drive up to Scott’s View and see the view he fell in love with.

— Kathi Kamleitner, Watch Me See

The Scottish Borders Abbeys
The Scottish Borders Abbeys, Credit: Kathi Kamleitner, Watch Me See

28. Kirkcudbrightshire

When you think of top places to visit in Scotland, Kirkcudbrightshire in the southwestern region of Dumfries and Galloway doesn’t often spring to mind. It is an underrated destination with long stretches of untouched coastline, beautiful forest walks, and traditional fishing villages and towns to discover.

If you are a keen hill-walker, you could venture into the Galloway Forest Park, and enjoy spectacular views from the Corbett Corserine.

For those of you that enjoy coastal trails, why not walk from one of my favourite coastal villages Rockcliffe to nearby Kippford?  If you are there in spring, you will be treated to huge blankets of bluebells along the way. Time it right and you can also walk out to Rough Island Nature Reserve from the village for some bird watching.

If you are looking for a bit more culture, don’t miss Kirkcudbright.  This historic port town is fast becoming an artistic cultural hub.  In the past, it has been home to several prominent artists and the theme continues now with plenty of galleries and exhibitions to peruse.

The town is a photographers delight, complete with castle ruins, great harbour views and lots of old, characterful and colourful buildings strewn along narrow cobbled lanes.

Head into the Garret Hotel for a warm welcome and some tasty local dishes to warm the cockles after a windy coastal jaunt.

— Gemma Johnstone, A Girl and Her Dog on the Road

Kirkcudbrightshire, Credit: Gemma Johnstone, A Girl and Her Dog on the Road

Where to Stay on a London to Edinburgh Drive

There are so many stops to take when on this road trip, however, there are a few places that make sense to spend the night in if you’re looking to break the trip up and see more on your drive.

If you’re planning on taking the route up the M6, then stopping for the night in Liverpool or Manchester makes sense. Alternatively, if you’re driving up the A1, then stopping over in the beautiful city of York is a great idea.

If you would rather not stay in a traditional hotel, hostel or B&B, then private rental can be a great option. There are numerous properties available throughout the stops, including this romantic farmhouse in the Lake District.

Where to Stay in London

Z Hotel Soho — A stylish boutique hotel located in the Soho neighbourhood in central London. They have a number of chic rooms available and it is located within easy walking distance of some of London’s top restaurants and cafes.

Sanderson Hotel — This luxury hotel is a great high-end option in London, centrally located only a couple of minutes walking from Oxford Street. There are a number of spacious and stylish rooms available and an excellent bar and restaurant on site, along with other amenities.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more London hotels!

Where to Stay in Liverpool

The Dolby Hotel — A great mid-range option overlooking the River Mersey, this hotel is centrally located, has a number of clean and comfortable rooms to choose from, and breakfast is included in the nightly rate.

Titanic Hotel Liverpool — A great luxury option that is centrally located close to all of Liverpool’s main attractions. Equipped with plush and comfortable rooms along with numerous other amenities, this makes for a great stay in Liverpool.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Liverpool hotels!

Where to Stay in Manchester

Motel One Manchester-Piccadilly — A great mid-range option in Manchester, they have a number of comfortable and clean rooms available, are centrally located, and a hearty breakfast included in the room rate.

Princess St. Hotel — A great option in Manchester for luxury travellers, this hotel is well-located close to the main attractions, has numerous plush rooms available and myriad other amenities to make your trip a great one.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Manchester hotels!

Where to Stay in York

Elmbank Hotel And Lodge — A great mid-range choice, this hotel is located within easy walking distance of York’s city centre, they have a range of spacious and comfortable rooms available, and there is an option to add a hearty breakfast to your nightly rate.

Principal York — This luxury hotel in the centre of York is a fantastic option for those on a high-end budget. There are numerous plush rooms available, it is located in a historic building, and there are lots of other luxe amenities available.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more York hotels!

Where to Stay in Edinburgh

Cityroomz Edinburgh — A great budget option, this hotel is centrally located in the Edinburgh New Town, close to chic Princes Street. There are a handful of hip room available and a breakfast option at an additional cost.

Apex Waterloo Place Hotel — This luxury option is great for those looking to enjoy their time in Edinburgh in style. Located in a central area close to Calton Hill, there are a number of great rooms available with the option to include breakfast in your nightly rate.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Edinburgh hotels!

Edinburgh Castle

Choosing where to stop on the drive from London to Edinburgh can be a daunting task with so many excellent options available. Whether you’re interested in cosmopolitan cities, hiking through stunning nature, or exploring historical sights, there is something for everyone.

Are you wondering where to stop on this road trip? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie


  1. This was a wonderful article outlining so many places! It would be impossible to stop in each place and give it justice. So we are planning a 3-4 week trip to England and Scotland and trying to figure out where to go and how many nights to spend in each area. I usually plan these trips myself but for some reason it seems daunting. We’re also trying to figure out the best time to tour. We are flexible, so we could plan our trip this year in early September or October. Or we could wait until next year and plan at anytime.

    • I understand how overwhelming it can be to plan a trip considering how much there is to see! I think planning a longer trip is a great idea – it will give you time to really prioritise what/where you want to visit and the ability to really enjoy those places! September and October are wonderful times to visit 🙂

  2. We have already booked our tickets from LAX to London with the plan to drive up into and around Scotland at the end of this June, 2022. The pessimism was intense on Trip Advisor that I was beginning to panic at what I’d done! Thank goodness for your article as I am renewed with enthusiasm. I am going to print out a map and use your guide to plan our trip. Thank you so very much! If anyone has any helpful tips, I’d love them! Our goal is to see the beautiful countryside that we’ve only seen in movies and read about in books : )

  3. Your guide is brilliant, thank you!
    Can you get off the train half way, stay overnight then hop back on the train the next day?

    • You will have to book separate train journeys, but there’s no reason you can’t do an overnight somewhere in between!

  4. Dear Maggie,
    I am planning to visit Scotland from this Monday 30th May
    The article is very helpful for me
    Thanks a lot.

  5. Thanks for this. Planning a trip in a couple months with my dog so need to stop frequently. Would be really handy to have a map with the locations pinned so I can calculate the times 😅

  6. Dear Maggie,

    Thanks for this article. We are planning a two week trip from London to Edinburgh. I would love to visit York and Manchester with an overnight stay. Based on the M6 or A1 route, do I need to choose one or the other or can I do both? Also, we are driving back from Edinburgh to London to fly home. Would you recommend staying at Stratford Upon Avon on the way from Edinburgh to London or vice versa. thank you.

    • Hi Cherryann – depending on how much time you have, there isn’t any reason why you can’t visit both York and Manchester if you’d like 🙂 But if you’re strapped for time, it’s probably best to choose one over the other. For instance, York is a lot smaller than Manchester so you can see a good portion of it in just one day. You would likely need more time to get a good feel for Manchester. Stratford-Upon-Avon can make a good stop, as well, if you have the time 🙂

  7. Know many of the cities on east and west side and your analysis is spot on. Congratulations. It was lovely to relive especially Liverpool, Chester and York . Thank you

  8. Dear Maggie,
    We are planning to visit this Summer Scotland and Ireland. After reading your article I realized that England had to be discovered next!
    Thank you so much,


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