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The Wheels are Turning: Self Driving Holidays in the UK and Ireland

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Scotland UK
England Europe
West Coast of Ireland Self Drive

The Wheels are Turning: Self Driving Holidays in the UK and Ireland

story by: House of Travel

Cast your mind to mile upon mile of hills of green and gold, to vast stretches of untamed coastline and to the bright lights of city streets. These are the kinds of visions you'll get to discover on a self-driving holiday through the UK and Ireland.

Here's why a self-drive holiday in this part of the world is such a good idea, and some of the dreamy destinations you can explore when you're travelling by car. 

The benefits of self-driving
Have you ever been on a holiday and wished you were more in control of your own itinerary? By putting your own hands behind the wheel, you get to decide when and where you stop, granting you flexibility you just don't have when you're on another kind of tour.

If you're nervous about hitting the road in a foreign country, don't be. The UK and Ireland drive on the same side of the road as we do here in New Zealand, so you won't find the conditions too challenging or unfamiliar. As long as you have a good map or GPS system handy, you'll likely be just fine, and the biggest different you come across will probably be measuring distances in miles instead of kilometres.

What's more, hiring a car is a simple process. There are a number of different hiring operators to choose from and you'll simply need to provide details about your licence, as well as any potential other drivers or passengers. You'll also need to have some kind of insurance, too, whether this is included in your overall trip insurance or purchased through the hiring operator. 

Behind the wheel in Ireland
Ireland is a fantastic destination to explore by car. There's something beautiful to discover north, south, east or west, so choose a compass point and get going!

Why not start your journey in Belfast, where in just over an hour you can see the awe-inspiring Giant's Causeway, a stunning collection of basalt columns clustered around the coast. You can take your time exploring the local trails, then head on to the dramatic ruins of Dunluce Castle. Not only will you be blown away by the scale of the stony castle and its mysterious aura, you'll also get to see jaw-dropping views of the North Antrim coast. 

You might also opt to start your self-drive tour from the hustle and bustle of Dublin. Make sure you check out some of its historic attractions, such as the Dublin Castle built in 1204. Here, you can explore the 44,000 square metre site, with its museums, government buildings, state apartments, chapel, library, gardens and more. 

Less than an hour's drive from Dublin city, you can visit Ardgillan Castle and park, with 194 acres of woodland, gardens, wildlife and views of the Mourne Mountains and the Irish Sea. A little further afield and you can enjoy the Wicklow Mountain National Park located along the east coast, with tall, rounded peaks surrounded by contrasting bog and heath-covered landscape. There are many walking trails within the park grounds such as the Wicklow Way and the pilgrim route St. Kevin's Way. 

Hit the road in England
History buffs can head out of London and soak in the mystical atmosphere of Stonehenge, which is less than two hours' drive from the central city. Then there's the glorious World Heritage-listed town of Bath, which features ancient Roman bathing complexes that date as far back as 70 AD.
You could also jump in the car and visit Oxford, perhaps strolling the colleges and stopping by charming cafes before heading on to destinations such as Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, and the ancient Roman Hadrian's Wall. 

On the move in Scotland
By the time you've made it to Hadrian's Wall, you're just a hop, skip and a jump from Scotland. Edinburgh is its capital and boasts plenty to see, such as the Edinburgh Castle, which is part of the city's World Heritage-listed Old and New Towns site. The castle's oldest section is the St Margaret's Chapel, which was constructed in the 12th century. You can visit this, and other highlights, such as the Great Hall, Royal Palace, Scottish National War Memorial and Prisons of War. 

Eager to discover the Loch Ness Monster for yourself? Jump in the car and take the three and a half hour drive north to see the country's largest lake and try to spot Nessie. While you're there, visit the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre, which delves into alleged sightings, folklore and tales of this mystical beast. 

Cruising the streets of Wales
The possibilities are similarly endless and exciting in Wales, where a whole world of natural splendour opens up to you with the convenience of a car. From the peaks and troughs of the verdant South Wales Valleys to the raw and rugged coastline of Snowdonia in the country's north, you can see a range of different landscapes in a single day by car.

Cardiff, Wales' capital city in the south, for example, is just a four hour drive from Colwyn Bay, which is located right in the north of the nation. While that's a relatively short drive, it would take you right through the centre of Wales and allow you to see everything from empty and unspoiled beaches to thick forest and soaring mountains.

There's so much to see around the UK, but hiring a car and driving makes it a whole lot easier. Where will you zoom off to first? 

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