If you’re planning a road trip with your rental car in the UK, one of the best places to start your tour is Western England and Wales. Beautiful countryside and historic cities await you at every turn, and this part of the world is ideally suited to the comfortable pace of exploration by car.
While most people who travel to England start their journey in London, we think you’ll be well served to fly into Liverpool, a thriving and beautiful city which offers charming eateries, historic architecture, and an enthusiastic sports and art culture.
In this Drive to Discover itinerary, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite cities and villages in this beautiful part of the UK, along with some of the most scenic drives that connect them in an effort to help you explore must-see, breathtaking locations in Wales and western England.
With a rental car in Liverpool and our route recommendations, you’re well on your way to enjoying an epic road trip that will introduce you to some of the best sites, scenery and landmarks in the western United Kingdom! Drive to discover everything that this beautiful part of the UK has to offer!
Read on to Drive to Discover the best places to visit in Wales and Western England!
After picking up your car rental at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool take a day or two to explore this iconic coastal city. From the history of The Beatles to exploring the old Victorian docks at Albert Dock, there’s plenty to see and do in this city. Whether you’re a sports fanatic dying to take in a soccer match, or you’re a history buff (visit the World Museum) or art aficionado (the Walker Art Gallery is for you!), it’s worth exploring the city of Liverpool before setting out on this leg of your drive.
1. Cadair Idris Mountain in Dolgellau
This beautiful mountain located at the southern end of Snowdonia National Park offers those that reach the summit sweeping views. The mountain top is notorious for temperamental weather, however, even if the mountains are veiled in clouds, driving through the surrounding landscape will not disappoint.
Next stop: 1 hour & 41 minutes
2. Abergwesyn Pass
Once you do depart Snowdonia National Park, you’ll enjoy a scenic drive south to Powys, Wales where you’ll be rewarded with a tricky, but exciting drive through Abergwesyn Pass (try saying that three times fast!). This scenic byway begins in Tregaron and offers stunning vistas, historic bridges, hairpin bends and crests and a winding road which takes you through some of the most beautiful Welsh countryside available. We highly recommend that you pause at Llyn Brianne reservoir while enjoying this 11 mile stretch of heaven. It’s the perfect spot to stretch your legs, snap some photos and enjoy the fresh air of the Welsh countryside.
Next stop: 1 hour 13 minutes
3. Black Mountain Pass in Brecon Beacons, Wales
Situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Black Mountain Pass has been rated one of the best roads in Wales. If you traverse this scenic road you’ll be treated to breathtaking views, exciting hairpin turns and flocks of roaming sheep dotting the stark Welsh countryside.
This road is 22 miles in length and connects Llandovery with Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, making it a convenient drive to enjoy while following this itinerary. Be sure to visit one of the parks spectacular waterfalls and include some outdoor fun in your itinerary as the park is a hot spot for adventure enthusiasts offering hiking, mountain biking, canoeing & camping.
Next stop: 2 hours & 13 minutes
4. Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, England
The next stop takes you back to England and beautiful Cheddar Gorge in Somerset, England. This scenic gorge, nestled in the heart of West Country is just 10 miles southwest of Bristol, England – making it a convenient stop if you’d like to break up the trip with a stay in Bristol.
Motorists typically marvel at the stunning views when navigating Cheddar Gorge. Expect twisting turns among iconic limestone cliffs – the earth appearing to have split open before you with views of the Weston-Super-Mare to the west. This 15-mile drive will reward those who navigate it with some of the best photo opportunities anywhere in England. It’s truly a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime drive.
Next stop: 2 hours & 31 minutes
5. Shropshire Hills, England
This tranquil destination is ranked as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and cannot be missed. The unique landscapes flush with dramatic rolling hills, moorland and blooming rapeseed fields in summer will surely take your breath away. The area is home to many grand castles including one in Darwin’s hometown of Shrewsbury, located just north of Shropshire.
Next stop: 2 hours & 19 minutes
6. Magnificent Manchester England
From the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), to the stunning architecture of John Rylands Library, there’s lots to do and see in the stunning city of Manchester, England. Soccer fans will enjoy a visit to the National Football Museum (a great stop if you’re traveling with kids), and if you’d like to enjoy a picnic lunch or a leisurely stroll in a charming green space, make time to visit the Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens.
A few other recommended sites in Manchester include:
Whitworth Art Gallery
Manchester Opera House
Next stop: back to the Manchester Airport
Looking for additional road trip itineraries for the UK? Check out our other Drive to Discover guides where we explore the best places to visit in the United Kingdom including sights in western Scotland, kid-friendly culture and must-see sights east of London
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From Cities to Scenic Drives: Discover Wales and Western England by Car!
After this incredible adventure, you can drop off your rental car at Manchester Airport and bring your memories, souvenirs, and photos home to share with family and friends!
For your next trip, think outside the box and discover some of the off-the-beaten path treasures only available when you explore the UK by rental car. Auto Europe’s experienced staff is ready to assist you in arranging your car, hotel and even airfare for your upcoming adventure.
If you’d like additional travel inspiration for your trip to the UK, check out our UK Road Trips, and if you’d like to see how much you can save on your next trip by bundling discounted airfare with your hotel reservation and car rental, give our travel specialists a call toll-free at 1-888-223-5555. We look forward to helping you plan the ultimate trip to western England, Wales, or wherever your travels take you.