The best UK cities to drive in

The UK has a number of incredible cities with vibrant cultures and interesting history. However, with transport links expensive and often unreliable, it can be difficult to get to visit everywhere on your travel bucket list. Travelling around the country, you will get to see some incredible sights, and there is no better way to do so than in the comfort of your own vehicle.

Salisbury

A man driving in Salisbury

The city of Salisbury is the perfect road trip location. With its breathtaking cathedral, featuring the impressive 123-metre-tall spire and its proximity to Stonehenge, it makes a great day out. There are a number of great transport links too, with the A30, A36 and A338 all reaching the city, and London an accessible 2-hour journey away. Parking in the city is fantastic, with many sites across Salisbury. For those travelling to view the cathedral, there is a fixed cost of £7 for spaces which are situated in walking distance.

Bournemouth

Bournemouth beach at sunset

When it comes to driving safety in Bournemouth, the city has a plethora of initiatives. With CCTV cameras installed outside of schools in addition to school crossing patrols, and free young driver training sessions for 17-25-year-olds to increase their awareness, Bournemouth is encouraging drivers to pay close attention, working to limit the number of accidents that happen across the city.

For those who are planning a trip, there is so much to see and do in Bournemouth, which is why it is a great place to visit by car! Not only does the city have an array of parking, making planning day trips here easy, but there is also a number of beautiful routes that you can take if you’re planning on travelling further afield, such as to nearby Poole where you can visit Poole Quay or even hop on board the Sandbanks Chain Ferry to Swanage.

Edinburgh 

Colourful houses in Edinburgh

Driving in Edinburgh is like going on a sightseeing tour. The city centre is an open-air museum of historic monuments and buildings”, Alejandro from Auto Europe shares. “It is relatively simple, as long as you are not looking for a place to park your car or drive during rush hours. But don’t give up on driving, with several things in mind it can be done in a very easy manner.”

“With many one-way streets in the city centre, driving in the Old Town may sometimes be challenging. There are quite a few multi-storey car parks scattered around the city centre. If you want to visit Edinburgh Castle, for example, leave your car in one of the car parks and walk along the Royal Mile towards the castle.”

“Be wary of bus lanes – they can only be used by buses and coaches at certain times during the day. You can only drive on them outside of peak hours, which is 7:30 to 9:30 am and from 4:00 to 6:30 pm Monday to Friday. Edinburgh isn’t different from any other big city, with a little practice and keeping your eyes open to what is going on the road, driving in Scotland’s capital is pretty easy.”

Gilbert from the award-winning website Must See Scotland agrees: “Like all cities, the first-timer’s experience will be different from the resident using local knowledge. The ‘must do’ drive for first timers is the high road through Holyrood Park. It circles Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh’s own mini-mountain, and there are parking places with superb views over the city and the Firth of Forth.

Edinburgh is pretty straightforward, but the time of day - not surprisingly - is important. In short, avoid the grid of streets that centre on George Street at rush hour. Likewise, avoid the Royal Mile during the main Edinburgh Festival - you’ll have to as most of it is temporarily pedestrianised!”

“First-time drivers in the city can expect a great deal of tolerance and a measure of politeness over any minor ‘transgressions’ – for example, having to change lanes. Why? Because the city is a major tourist destination and most folks realise there will be plenty of motorists new to the city. In that sense, it’s a case of ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be fine’”.

Manchester

A busy road in Manchester

Despite being Britain’s third largest city, the hustle and bustle of Manchester won’t be a distraction for you whilst navigating the roads. In an analysis by Witter, a tow bar specialist, Manchester was revealed to be their safest city to drive in. Their survey found that the city had the lowest rate of accidents, with 1 in 3527 drivers experiencing a crash. The statistic, which found that there were 723 crashes in a population of 2,550,000 in 2016, also found that there is a low number of drunk driving incidents in the North West, with one accident caused by a drunk driver in every 11,194.

There is a variety of fantastic routes around Manchester, and you can travel around the city with ease thanks to the M60 ring road, and onto destinations further afield, such as Liverpool, on the M62. Once in the city, there is a number of different car parks situated in close proximity to some of Manchester’s points of interest, including the Old Trafford, Castlefield and the Northern Quarter. In a study by Oponeo, Manchester also came in as the third cheapest city for fuel by litres per gallon, at 56.9p/litre.

Leeds

A birds eye view of Leeds

There are many reasons why Leeds is a great city to drive in; from the array of road trips that you can undertake across the Yorkshire countryside, witnessing the beautiful scenery to the accessible city with great days out. One of the major drawbacks of cities across the UK is the rate of traffic. However, in Leeds, it has the highest rate of free-flowing traffic according to Oponeo. This is a contrast to the rest of the country, which has experienced a drop in the speed of travel by almost 20%, creating longer traffic jams, extended journey times and more delays, a study by In-car Cleverness found.

Sheffield

A roundabout in Sheffield

With diesel in Sheffield the cheapest out of all the major UK cities, it is a great place to travel to in your new Ford car. Additionally, with cheap parking, you’ll be able to enjoy fantastic days out in the city without having to pay a premium. Sheffield has a number of different excursions and days out for you to enjoy without leaving the city centre. However, travel a little further afield and the Peak District is just on your doorstep. With sweeping views, undulating hills and quiet roads, drivers will love navigating the relaxing roads on their journey out of the city.