Scenic drives Near London | Time & Leisure

A guide to the best scenic drives near London

A guide to the best scenic drives near London

Anyone who enjoys driving will, on occasion, feel the need to get behind the wheel and ‘just drive’. You don’t necessarily want to go anywhere; you simply want to enjoy a day trip on the open road – so here are the best scenic drives near London.

If you’re looking to get out on the open road and go for a nice drive near you, without actually heading to a specific destination, then follow this guide to the best scenic drives near London. This guide to five drives near London, means you can enjoy leaving the city, traffic and public transport behind for the day, and take to the road on a nice long stretch of tarmac. Enjoying tootling along to some incredible views and outstanding natural beauty…

Scenic Drives Near London

If you live in a city, the need to go at a speed greater than 30mph and do so for more than five minutes can be even greater. There can be no doubt that the biggest city in the UK is London. With over six million residents, roads blocked with traffic jams and the congestion charge, driving around the city is hardly a fun road trip.

For the purposes of compiling this list we have assumed that London is anything inside the M25 and the starting point of the journey taken from a location near the M25 – in other words, if you were journeying north our starting point would be junction 1 of the M1 in outer London, rather than Hyde Park in central London, so you will need to factor in these start points to your overall journey. We’re also ignoring motorways and have tried to pick routes that would make a Sat-nav cry, because it’s all about the journey rather than the destination.

Note: All distances and times are approximate and are for the whole journey – either the circuit given or to get to the end point and back again.


Sevenoaks to Hastings

You can simply use the A21 (76 miles, approx. 2 hours, there and back). Or for a more roundabout route:

  • From Sevenoaks, use the A21 towards the town of Tonbridge, then use the A26 to Royal Tunbridge Wells.
  • Next, take the A267 down to the A22
  • Follow the A22 to the A27 and head towards Pevensy and on to the A259
  • Follow this road through Bexhill and into the historic town of Hastings, driving along the coast enjoying the stunning views.
  • Keep following A259 out of Hastings and eastwards to Rye and then head northwards on A268
  • Drive along the A268, passing through Sandhurst and into the village of Hawkhurst.
  • Head north up the A229 all the way through Staplehurst and into Maidstone town.
  • Come off the A229 and onto the A20 (London Road)until it becomes the A25
  • Keep driving until you get to the A225 and back into Sevenoaks.

This circular route near London will take 115 miles, approx. 3.5 hours, and goes through countryside, along the beautiful coastline, passes several small towns and picturesque villages and uses a mixture of dual carriage ways, B-roads and country lanes.



Dartford to Dover

For this scenic drive near London, simply motor east along the A2. The journey is 115 miles, and takes approx. 3:40.

Why not take a picnic and sit upon the white cliffs – the perfect place to watch the ferries and ships move in and out of one of Britain’s busiest ports?


Brentwood to Norwich

Just use the A12 and the A140. Nearly 189 miles and will take approx. 4 hours.

Take a fast road through the countryside and past various small towns and villages for a great scenic drive near London. Feel free to depart at any point and take a short drive down some country roads for a more sedate run should you feel the need.

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Use the A40 to get to the Cotswolds and then simply pick a road and explore. It is 65 miles to Burford (approx. 1:45).

Or, for a planned trip with some incredible views, you could head to Cheltenham (87 miles on A40, approx. 2:15 hours) and do one of The Romantic Road routes.

Route 1 – Starting in Cheltenham head northwards for Winchcombe, then Stanway, Stanton, Broadway, Chipping Camden, Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold, Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter, Cheltenham. The journey is approx. 75 miles and will provide stunning views of the countryside and wonderful little villages with cobbled streets.

Route 2 – Start in Cheltenham and head south-east to Northleach, then Burford, Lechlade-on-Thames, Fairford, Bibury, Cirencester, Painswick, Cheltenham. This journey is a little longer at 90 miles and takes in other villages and towns that have made the Cotswolds famous as a tourist destination.

Check out our review of a great hotel in the Cotswolds, Cowley Manor.


Surrey Hills area

The Surrey Hills are picturesque and an area of outstanding natural beauty, so motorists could probably make a great day trip of it every weekend for a year and never see the same place twice and never be bored or disappointed. But for a scenic drive near London that takes you through southern England on a long Sunday afternoon, try the following:

  • Start by Leatherhead and use A24 to get to the town of Horsham.
  • From there head to Five Oaks hamlet and on to Petersfield town.
  • Then drive through country lanes to Chichester.
  • From Chichester head to Brighton via the A27 OR
  • Use B roads by heading to Bognor Regis, on to Littlehampton, Worthing, Brighton.
  • Then back up to Leatherhead via A23 and A24.

This journey is 143 miles, and will take 4 hours.

Rob Powell works for, the car insurance comparison website.