Please sign in to post.

alternatives to driving in England

Are there good options to driving in England, Ireland, and Scotland? We enjoyed public transportation in Italy and wanted to know if that is an option in England, Ireland, and Scotland.

Posted by
5654 posts

Yes. We've used train travel for longer distances (e.g. London - Lake District, London - Edinburgh), coaches for shorter town to town (London - Oxford, Edinburgh - Glasgow) and local bus service to get from one part of town to another. And of course, at time the last kilometer or mile could be on foot.

The UK is very travel with out car friendly. GB travel planner:

For London use the travel planner:

Scotland travel planner:

And there's the Google Maps planner:

Posted by
25723 posts

Many of my friends in England don't have a driving license, and even more who do have one don't own a car.

Particularly for urban and suburban areas, and inter-urban travel, the bus, train and tube are the way to go.

The public transportation network is dense and frequent in London and the southeast, and in the major cities. Much less so in rural areas, and less as you go north and west.

Where there are fewer people there are fewer buses.

As said by the other poster, tell us where you want to go and then a more personalized answer can be found.

Posted by
560 posts

We had a great time in England using mostly trains. We took the bus from Heathrow to Bath and it was a great introduction to the beautiful countryside. Then we were on trains from Bath to York, to Durham, to Harrogate, to Cambridge and finally London. It was stress-free for both my husband and me!

Posted by
4866 posts

We have visited London, which of course where you find a car to be a liabality.
After a British Isles cruise in 2013, we rented a car for three days and managed well driving, except when we encountered the M25 parking lot.
For North Americans, I suggest renting a car with an automatic since it reduces the number of things to think about when driving on the opposite side of the road.
The one disadvantage to renting a car is having to pay high parking prices in some cities. Therefore, we are planning our drive tour of Wales and England next year but booking hotels or B&Bs that offer parking.
We found driving in the English countryside to be fantastic. The scenery is just majestic and not to be missed. I don't think you can enjoy it via the train.

Posted by
25723 posts

Bruce, are you still out there? Did you get what you wanted?

Posted by
110 posts

I can only answer for England, but yes.

We spent two weeks there and didn't think twice about driving (in part because the roads are terrifyingly narrow). Got everywhere we needed to go via trains and buses without the heart attacks or white knuckles.

Posted by
3 posts

You can use the public transport for the bigger cities. Cities like London are very crowded, this will make driving an unpleasant experience. If you are used to drive on the other side of the road (like the rest of Europe) it will take some time to get used to it.

Posted by
31289 posts


The answer will depend on where you want to go in England. While you can get to most places either by train or Bus (National Express), that will require a lot more work and coordination to plan. In some cases, having a hire car is the easiest and most direct option, especially if the places you'll be visiting are a bit more "off the beaten path". For example, the Cotswolds is best explored by car.

For example, I find that while travelling in North Yorkshire can be done by public transit, it's much easier by car.

Posted by
31 posts

Bruce, like you we're England bound this year. We're renting a car for the first week and relying on public transportation for the second. This tip is from an English friend. Even if you have a private auto look for a Park and Ride when you enter a city. Some of the hotels and B&Bs warn parking is limited and direct you to a lot nearby.

Posted by
3532 posts

Inter-city buses are an option worth considering:
Coach versus train -- each has advantages. The long-distance coaches are often very tall or double-deckers so the rider can get good views of the countryside. Trains often run though cuts in hills or surrounded by hedgerows and fences that reduce the sight-lines. Trains are more comfortable; you can move around. But you can end up sitting backwards. Less worries about traffic congestion on a train, especially entering cities. Coach fares can be much lower than the train system. With either set of wheels, the rider loses the independence of a private car and must settle for glimpses of the scenery hurrying by. Bon voyage.