A road trip from London through the South of England is filled with history, education, epic scenery, and much more.
There are many locations available to visit, which is why it can get confusing when thinking of the best places to tour while keeping within a timeframe.
Exploring the South of England is magical, and if you follow the routes below you’re in for an unforgettable experience, striking an even balance between action, adventure, and rest.
Along the way, you’ll gain a fuller sense of what it’s like to live in modern England, and also its history, traveling back in time to see what shaped the country into what it is today.
Assuming you’ve rented a car, driving a car from central London to Canterbury takes between 1.5-2 hours, or, if you plan on renting a car there, then it’s a 1-hour train ride. You can comfortably spend between half a day and a full day visiting Canterbury.
Located in the Southeastern county of Kent, Canterbury is known as a cathedral city, and a great place to start your road trip. It’s rich in history, architecture, and a fine opening experience of Southern English charm.
For places to visit, the most striking option to keep everyone busy is to visit the Canterbury Cathedral. You’ll see stunning, well-kept grounds and English architecture at its finest. It’s a great explorative and educational experience for children and will keep you busy too. Ticket prices are £15.50 for adults, and Children (under 17) enter free.
Other attractions include market stools and modern shopping spots, weekly local events, private sightseeing tours, and you can also view the Roman Museum, which is filled with artifacts, mosaics, and excavations from the past. For a quick detour, there’s also the option of exploring nearby towns.
Parking in Canterbury is fairly straightforward, with various parking lots spread in and around the city. For more information, visit Canterbury’s website.
From Canterbury, you’ll then travel 46.8 miles (1 hr 27 min) via the A28 and A259, to Hastings. You’ll want to spend a full morning or afternoon at Hastings.
Hastings is most famous for the Battle of Hastings, which occurred in 1066. It’s a seaside town on the South coast of England, overlooking stunning views of the English Channel. It’s a popular location for day trips, featuring 8 miles of coastline and walks through woodland areas.
If you’re a history buff, then Hastings is not to be missed, as you can visit the Shipwreck Museum which showcases shipwrecked artifacts dating back 100s of years. You can also visit Hastings castle, dating back to 1070; it’s located up a hill, so at the top, you can marvel at the pristine views of the ocean below.
Parking options include a multi-story car park, and road parking is readily available.
From Hastings, you’ll drive 37.8 miles (1 hr 10 min) via the A27, to Brighton. You can comfortably spend 1-2 days in Brighton before driving to your next location.
Brighton is located in the Southeastern county of Sussex and is widely celebrated for its seaside charm and upbeat, creative, youthful vibe. It’s full of life, and as you walk around, you’ll notice street art, plenty of cafes and pubs, shops, museums, art galleries, the world’s oldest sea life center named SEA LIFE Brighton, and much more.
Brighton beach is heaving during the Summer months, attracting visitors from all over the world. There’s also a large shopping center, and you can walk out onto the Brighton Palace Pier, which features amusements such as slot machines, fun-filled activities, and rides.
There’s parking in the town at various parking lots, and street parking is available on a first come, first served basis.
For more information on local attractions and events going on in the town, visit Brighton’s website.
Mayfield Lavender Farm & Oaks Park
From Brighton, you’ll travel 40.6 miles (57 min) via the M23 and A23, to Mayfield Lavender Farm & Oaks Park. You’ll want to spend a full morning or afternoon at this location.
Located in the Southeast town of Banstead in Surrey, this lavender farm thrives throughout the Spring and Summer months, with shades of purple in all directions! It’s a fantastic opportunity for some picture taking, and there’s also a gift shop filled with lavender essentials.
Opposite the farm, you’ll find the highly praised Oaks Park, which features serene walks around its boundaries, and it’s filled with hidden picnic spots. You can happily spend a full morning and lunch between the two locations, quietly recharging before moving on to your next location.
Entry to the farm is £4.50 per person (children under 5 are free), and free parking is available at the lavender farm and Oaks park.
For more information on all things lavender, visit the Mayfield Lavender website.
From Mayfield Lavender Farm & Oaks Park, you’ll drive 36.9 miles (52 min) via the M25, to Windsor Castle. The estimated visiting time for Windsor Castle and the surrounding area is half a day.
Located in the market town of Windsor, in the Southern county of Berkshire, Windsor Castle was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II. When you experience it in person, it’s easy to see why. It’s the oldest active castle the world has to offer, and also one of the largest, occupying 484,000 square feet with over 1,000 rooms.
Audio and self-guided tours of the castle are available, and for an unforgettable experience, you can take a private tour of the magical State Apartments, featuring ceremonial rooms that are presently used by the Royal Family, and other rooms constructed for a variety of monarchs throughout history.
Tickets start at £15.50 for children rising to £28.00 for adults. Parking in Windsor is readily available in one of the long-stay car parks.
Further information and bookings can be found on Windsor Castle’s website.
From Windsor Castle, you’ll travel 43.1 miles (59 min) via the M40, to Oxford. The estimated visiting time for Oxford is 1-2 days.
Oxford is located in the heart of Southern England. The town is best known for housing one of the world’s leading universities, alongside housing royalty and scholars throughout the years. The city center is heaving with English culture, shops, and life, and you can comfortably spend a day or two here walking around and enjoying what’s on offer.
When exploring the city, you’ll find a mixture of the old and the new, and something for everyone to enjoy. For instance, you can take the Oxford University Walking Tour, or a tour of the Oxford Castle & Prison, which is led by a fully costumed character.
There are also live theatre events that regularly take place by the Creation Theatre Company, and if you’re a fan of Harry Potter, then there’s a 2-hour tour that takes you around various spots connected to the movie franchise.
Parking in the city center can prove difficult. It’s recommended to use one of Oxford’s 5 Park and Ride areas. Visit the official Oxford City website for more information.
From Oxford, you’ll drive 69.8 miles (1 hr 17 min) via the A34 and A303, to Stonehenge. The estimated visiting time for Stonehenge is a half day.
Located on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, Southern England, the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge is a bit of a mystery.
The stones have been patiently sitting for roughly 5,000 years. Once you experience the self-guided audio tour or the guided tour that’s available, you’ll grow to understand the history surrounding them, such as their significance and purpose. After this, the stones become more of a monument to marvel at, and you’ll begin questioning “how” and “why.”
On the site, you’ll find a visitor center with a large gift shop, a cafe serving soups, hotpots, and hot drinks, and there are ice cream vans during the Summer months.
Entry to Stonehenge costs £13.20 for children and £22.00 for adults. Paid car parking is readily available on-site but fully refundable upon ticket purchases. There’s also an ancient village construction site to walk around near the entrance to the car park.
For more information and advanced ticket bookings, visit Stonehenge’s website.
From Stonehenge, you’ll travel for 33.6 miles (56 min) via the B390 and A36, to Bath. When visiting Bath, you can comfortably spend 1-2 full days.
Bath is located in Southwest England, in the county of Somerset, and is a place that can’t be missed on a road trip across the South. Its cultural and historical significance is obvious from the get-go, being packed with both modern and historical sites that can satisfy anyone’s day.
As we know, Bath is filled with things to do, but sitting at the top spot is a visit to the Roman Baths, which are not to be missed. They were Constructed in 70AD for both rich and poor citizens to socialize and immerse in the clear, warm waters, and to this day, there are still flowing waters throughout.
You’ll be able to enjoy a guided tour or audio tour of the Baths, alongside an interactive museum, transporting you back in time. Weekday ticket prices start at £18.00 for children, rising to £25.50 for adults.
The city also has a reputation for improving one’s well-being, being a great place for couples to recharge and let go, oozing a sense of excitement and mystery with a romantic allure. Walking through the city, you’ll find street entertainers performing, historic buildings, and creative art-filled spots.
There are also opportunities to bathe in natural hot springs, take a swim, visit a sauna, and more, to fully absorb what this vibrant city has to offer.
For more information on the City of Bath, and access to advanced ticket bookings, visit their website.
From Bath, you’ll drive 23 miles (45 mins) via the B3135 to Cheddar Gorge. Visiting the gorge can comfortably take a full morning or afternoon.
Cheddar Gorge is a natural high for British nature, located in the Southwestern county of Somerset. Once you arrive at the gorge, you’ll have different options available, including exploring the Gough’s and Cox’s caves, as well as the rich history of the gorge through audio tours.
There’s also the opportunity to climb the 274 steps of Jacobs ladder and then climb 48 more to the lookout tower for picturesque views of the British landscape. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not indulge in some instructed rock climbing?
In the village, you’ll find the Museum of Prehistory, which tells the story of 40,000 years of British prehistory, and the formation of the Gorge. There’s also a tour available with a viewing gallery where you can watch the cheese-making process and sample the famous cheddar cheese from Cheddar!
You’ll find paid or free street parking in and around the village. The main parking lot is fairly small, and to avoid issues, it’s best to arrive early in the morning.
For more information about the Gorge and the things on offer, visit Cheddar Gorge’s website.
Dartmoor National Park
From Cheddar Gorge, you’ll drive 85.1 miles (1 hr 27 min) via the M5 and Devon Expy/A38 to Dartmoor National Park. How long you spend visiting the park depends on what you want to do, ranging from a morning or afternoon visit to 2-3 days of adventure!
Located in the Southwest county of Devon, if you’re driving in the South of England, Dartmoor National Park isn’t to be missed. It’s one of the finest National Parks the UK has to offer and is regularly described as “simply amazing.”
The park is huge, and inside you’ll pass through a combination of ancient and manmade landscapes, including wetlands and high rock tors, and you’ll see plenty of wildlife, such as sheep, horses, deer, and more.
It’s also a great place for a few days of adventure. There are spots where you can fix a tent for some wild camping or hike one of the available trails, and there are also climbing and bouldering spots to explore. If you’re feeling peckish, then there are pubs serving traditional food, shops, and various other amenities on offer.
24/7 Parking is readily available at various spots located around the park.
For more information, visit the Dartmoor National Park website.
From Dartmoor National Park, you’ll drive 92.2 miles (2 hr 1 min) via the A30 to Lands End. You can view Landsend comfortably in a few hours, and it’s a great place to stop off for an overnight stay.
Located in the Southwest county of Cornwall, there’s no better place to end your road trip than the southwesternmost point of Landsend. It’s a regularly visited holiday destination and accommodating to tourists all year round.
You’ll find amusement arcades for the kids, a 4D film experience, dining spots, and shops to purchase some road trip memorabilia. Aside from this, it’s a great place to sit down and unwind from your long drive, take a deep breath, have a cold beverage, and look out over the endless ocean to reflect on your experiences. There is also accommodation for an overnight stay before returning to the roads.
Parking is available with a charge of £6 that allows all-day entry and free entry over the next seven days.
For further information on Landsend, visit their website.
The road trip detailed on this page has explored the South of England from London through 11 different locations, running from the Southeast to the Southwest, starting at the Southeastern point of Canterbury, all the way to the southwesternmost point of Landsend.
The trip covers a total distance of 508.9 miles (819 km) and takes 11 hours and 51 minutes of continuous driving to complete. Including stops at the listed locations and sites, you could comfortably spend 7-10 days completing the itinerary. After you’re done, you’ll be left with plenty of fond memories and a richer understanding of English heritage and modern life.