The UK is a travel hotspot and full of iconic places to visit, and whichever direction you turn, there is a new route leading to an exciting tourist destination! But what about traveling the entire distance of the UK? How long does this take?
Traveling across the UK end-to-end between Land’s End (southwest) and John o’ Groats (northeast) has a distance of 870 miles (1400 km) and 14 hours 30 minutes drive time. Naturally, travel times will vary depending on location and the method used to travel, and you’re most likely going to need a few days to travel across the country.
Travel options include driving, trains, buses, coaches, and flying.
Methods of traveling across the UK
Let’s take a look at some methods of traveling across the UK to see which one best fits your needs.
If you’re considering a domestic flight throughout the UK, then there are over 40 airports spread throughout that you can travel from, and flights are available between England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
The longest travel distance via a flight in the UK is from London, Gatwick, to Inverness, Scotland, with a distance of 468 miles (753 km) and a flight time of 1 hour 40 minutes.
The shortest UK flight distance between two functioning airports is to fly from Glasgow, Scotland, to Belfast City, Ireland, with a distance of 103 miles (166 km) and a 45-minute travel time.
Flying between destinations is comfortably the fastest way of traveling across the UK. Therefore, technically it’s possible to travel across the UK in under two hours, but by doing so, you’d be missing out on the road trip of a lifetime!
If you’re planning to travel from city to city, then taking a train might be the best option for you, as rail networks are connected all around the country. For instance, it’s possible to travel from the City of London right into the heart of Scotland via train.
As an example, traveling via the London North Eastern Railway, you can travel from London Kings Cross to Glasgow Central, with 2 train changes, in 5 hours 50 minutes, and prices start as low as £60.
From extreme to extreme, you can travel from far south in Portsmouth & Southsea to far North of Inverness, Scotland, in 10 hours and 50 minutes, with 2 train changes, with prices starting from £105.
However, if you’re planning to visit rural areas in the UK, or to circle the border of the UK, then the train may or may not limit you.
Additionally, you won’t be able to visit the Isle of Wight or Northern Ireland via train, as these destinations are only available via flight or ferry routes.
Traveling across the UK from different ferry ports is possible, but only as a connection to outbound land. You can travel via ferry to Northern Ireland, and this is also your only option to travel to the Isle of Wight and get to experience as much of the UK as possible.
Ferry companies include P&O Ferries, Brittany Ferries, and Stena Line, to name a few, and ports are located in England, Wales, and Scotland in the UK.
Traveling across the UK by car
Here’s where things get interesting, as traveling the UK via car allows you the freedom to explore! Let’s run through some routes that you can travel across the UK.
Land’s End to John o’ Groats
The two longest-distance points from southwest and northeast of Lands End to John o’ Groats has a distance of 870 miles (1400 km) and 14 hours 30 minutes drive time.
The cycling record for this route is 43 hours, 25 minutes 13 seconds, but the average cyclist can expect to complete the journey in 80 hours!
Stone Bay to Porthgwarra Cove
One of the widest points in the UK is between Stone Bay to Porthgwarra Cove has a distance of 368 miles (592 km) and a travel time of 7 hours by car.
If you were planning to cycle this route, it would take you 37 hours to complete!
South Shields to Solway Coast
One of the narrowest land points in the UK is between Tynemouth, North Shields, and Solway Coast, Maryport, with a distance of 84 miles (135 km) and a journey time of 1 hour 57 minutes.
If you want to cycle this route, it’s going to take you 8 hours.
What is the fastest way to travel around the UK?
Depending on where you’re traveling to, different travel methods will be quicker. Of course, flying is the fastest way to travel from the top to the bottom of the UK, but for specific points, trains are going to be the fastest way of traveling.
The national rail serves many railway networks throughout the UK, offering principal routes, regional routes, airports, coaches, and ferry links.
Trains will be the fastest way to travel to the inner parts of the UK. They can dramatically cut down journey time when compared to using a car.
Regarding ticket prices, if you plan your trip and book them in advance, tickets are usually cheaper.
How long does it take to drive across London?
If you want to drive across the capital of the UK, London, it’s approximately 40 miles (64 km) from North to South and about 50 miles (80 km) from East to West.
However, if you’re planning to drive through the center of London, then think carefully, as, in many instances, public transport is going to be your lifeline. The city is difficult to navigate, full of narrow lanes, busy streets, and crossings, and it might not be a practical option to drive in the center if you aren’t used to it.
When considering how long it takes to drive across London, times greatly vary depending on your chosen route.
As an example, let’s take the North point of Crews Hill and the South point of Caterham. If driving in a straight line between the two destinations, then this involves tolls, excess traffic, and a 2+ hour driving time, but traveling via the M25 orbital motorway, this journey has no tolls and takes approximately 1 hour 28 minutes.
Continuing, the M25 is 117 miles (188 km) long; and takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to circle London at the speed limit of 70mph, although excess traffic during peak times can greatly increase this travel time.
The M25 runs through six counties, and there are multiple turn-off points at 31 junctions, allowing easy access to London’s landmarks.
The cheapest way of traveling across the UK
If you want to travel across the UK on a budget, then using a bus or coach service such as the Megabus coach is often the cheapest way to maneuver around.
This service covers over 90 UK destinations, including villages, towns, and cities throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. This makes them the most cost-effective method of travel when moving between smaller cities.
Ticket prices start from £1-£2, and you can find schedules and prices, and book tickets online.
Traveling around the UK (general tips)
If you’re driving across to the UK for the first time, here are some tips to help ensure a trouble-free experience.
- The colder months (December to February) are cold, wet, and sometimes icy, and for sightseeing, it’s best to travel during the Spring and Summer months.
- Keep plenty of cash on you. The UK is an expensive place, and you can expect to spend £100 per day while traveling, including petrol if using a car, overnight stays, food, and so on.
- Planning and booking your travel itinerary in advance of your UK trip can save both time and money.
- If you’re driving, remember to take notice of speed limits (mph). Also, there are speed cameras just about everywhere!
- If you’re driving, you’ll need to pay for tolls for tunnels and so on, and you can sometimes pre-pay for them online.
- You’ll be driving on the left-hand side of the road in the UK, and there are many roundabouts, and you’ll be entering in a clockwise direction.
- If you’re using an electric car, then there is a network of 20,000 charging points available throughout the UK.
Uk trip itinerary (different hotspots)
Depending on where you’re traveling across the UK, if you’re close by, then you won’t want to miss these landmarks. Here are some feature-packed places you can visit.
The Lake District
The Lake District is a region and national park in Cumbria, Northwest England. It’s England’s largest National Park, which is now a World Heritage Site. It’s home to Scafell Pike, which is England’s highest mountain at 978 meters.
Attractions include waterside walks, picnics, boat hire, or taking a boat cruise, and as it’s one of the darkest places the UK has to offer, stargazing is a joy to behold!
Explore the lovely towns
One thing to love about the UK is the sheer amount of charming little towns on offer as you drive across the country, making for perfect resting and recharging stops. This includes afternoon teas and cakes, walks down the country lanes, and taking countless memorable pictures.
Locations not to be missed include Clovelly in Devon, St. Ives in Cornwall, Warwick, Cambridge, and many more spread throughout the country.
Located in North East Somerset, if you’re interested in English history, then there’s no better place to visit in the UK than Bath.
There are many tourist attractions located here, such as fine historic sites, including the medieval Bath Abbey, and also the renowned Roman Baths, offering audio and guided tours of the baths, bringing Roman life back to life in front of your eyes!
Additionally, while in Bath, you can enjoy visiting one of the spas on offer and put your feet up for a relaxing end to your day!
The worldwide attraction of Loch Ness is located in the Scottish Highlands, southwest of Inverness. This is an amazing place to visit, even if you don’t believe in monsters!
Loch Ness has historic attractions such as Urquhart Castle, and you can also take a guided tour boat out onto the loch and see if you can spot a large, long-necked creature popping its head out of the water!
Located in Salisbury, Wiltshire, Stonehenge is an iconic, prehistoric monument dating back to roughly 5,000 years ago.
Guided tours are available, and aside from the stones, they have recently added a small historic village for you to walk around, too. Other than that, there’s a visitor center full of gifts to buy, a cafe, and lots of ice cream to enjoy!
How long it takes to travel across the UK varies depending on your starting location and method of travel. For instance, from its northmost to the southmost point takes roughly 2 hours via plane, 11 hours by train, and 14 hours by car.
The quickest way to cross the UK is via flight, the cheapest way is via coach or bus, the most practical is via train, and for the most freedom to travel the coastal lines and to smaller, rural locations, it’s best to drive.
One thing is for sure, whatever route across the UK you take, there are many iconic attractions for you to visit, so take the time to plan your trip, as there are some majestic memories to be made!