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Best UK Towns and Cities to visit by Car 2020

28 August 2020

We’ve waited months to leave the house so now we’re finally able to get out-and-about in the car it’s only natural that we’ll want to visit places that aren’t too busy, offer plenty of low-cost parking, electric car charging options, and are easy-to-navigate around.

With this in mind, we’ve conducted some new research to identify the top UK towns and cities to visit by car in 2020 (and beyond!)

We created a ranking system factoring in information on…

  • 2020 population figures (because less populous places feel a little safer right now)
  • Percentage of drivers already planning to visit in next six months
  • Difficulty of navigating town/city centre 
  • No. of central council run car parks
  • Avg. cost of parking per hour 
  • No. of static speed cameras  
  • No. of electric charging points 
  • No. of electric charging devices  
  • No. of petrol stations 

So where came out on top?

  1. Skegness, Lincolnshire, England

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDly2GMDC5W/

The iconic seaside town of Skegness came out on top scoring 242 points in our rankings research. Skegness scored highly thanks to its relatively low population, low parking costs (just £0.88 per hour on average) and navigational ease. However, just 3% of motorists said they plan to visit in the next six months, despite its beach, friendly locals, famous fish & chips and reported cleanliness.

  1. Southampton, Hampshire, England

https://www.instagram.com/p/BK4D2KCB1DR/

The southern port city of Southampton took the second spot with 231 points. While its population is bigger than Skegness and it was reported to be slightly tricky to navigate around, it still scored highly thanks to its volume of car parks, average cost for parking (£1.08 per hour), number of petrol stations and number of electric car charging points/locations. One in twenty (5.1%) motorists said they planned to visit in the next six months and Southampton offers many attractions including its Mayflower Theatre, art galleries and Westquay shopping centre for day-trippers to enjoy.

  1. Ryde, Isle of Wight, England

https://www.instagram.com/p/By0YZyhAi-4/

Another seaside town, Ryde on the Isle of Wight, came in third place with 221 points. This small town is not only considered easy to navigate around by car, and has a small population, but also offers low-cost parking (£1.03 per hour on average) and very few static speed cameras. Just 3% of motorists polled plan to visit, and yet there is plenty for day-trippers to enjoy, including the picturesque Appley beach, Ryde pier and trainline, boating lake and bus museum.

  1. Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDjbFCSg97Q/

The South Yorkshire ‘steel city’ of Sheffield took fourth place with 220 points. Sheffield’s numerous petrol stations, electric charging locations and relatively low-cost parking (£1.25 per hour on average) make it a tempting day-trip destination. The city also has central Peace and Winter gardens, many museums and art spaces and great shopping in both the city and Meadowhall centre.

  1. Lancaster, Lancashire, England

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4svuBTAogD/

The historic city of Lancaster took fifth place with 217 points. While Lancaster didn’t excel in any of our ranked categories, it did have a ‘good’ score across the board. Around one in twenty (4.5%) of the motorists we polled said they plan to visit, and with a thriving arts scene, castle, museums, 54-acre Williamson Park and great shopping – you can see why it’s well worth a visit!

  1. Stratford upon Avon, West Midlands, England

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_ghrX5lO_m/

(216 points – good for low parking costs)

  1. Weymouth, Dorset, England

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv_ThbpA_Tn/

215 points – voted easy-to-navigate

  1. Truro, Cornwall, England

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCdpl2MHZUi/

213 points – low population and easy-to-navigate

  1. Belfast, Northern Ireland

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_pNZ8ohPfY/

212 points – plenty of low-cost parking

  1. Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDI1Z_Vn9L-/

211 points – low population, quiet, cheap parking

 In positions 11-40 were…

  1. Windermere
  2. Scarborough
  3. Exeter
  4. Durham
  5. Newcastle
  6. Torquay
  7. Bournemouth
  8. York
  9. Hull
  10. Cambridge
  11. St Ives
  12. Bristol
  13. Norwich
  14. Glasgow
  15. Falmouth
  16. Nottingham
  17. Leeds
  18. Manchester
  19. Blackpool
  20. Whitby
  21. Brighton
  22. Cromer
  23. Liverpool
  24. Birmingham
  25. Brixham
  26. Cardiff
  27. London
  28. Bakewell
  29. Edinburgh
  30. Bath

Despite being the city that the most Brits plan to visit in the next six months, London (25%) came in 37th position in our rankings due to cost of parking, navigation, and population density.

Birmingham (14%), Manchester (13.6%), Bath (12.9%) and Liverpool (11.3%) were also places that a high percentage planned to visit but again, they didn’t make our top twenty list. Many points were lost here due to tricky-to-navigate city centres and ring roads.

For those planning their UK travels via electric vehicle, the UK’s capital, London, was found to be the frontrunner when it came to public electric charging devices available within the city, boasting 5,521 across the city. Manchester (236), Nottingham (217), Glasgow (191), and Leeds (168) made up the top 5 UK cities for the highest number of public electric charging devices per location.

If you are planning a daytrip then here are a few other things to consider….

  1. Give your car a check-over before departing - fuel, oil, tyres, screen wash, lights and brakes – at the minimum.
  2. Avoid travelling at peak hours as roads are likely to be busier.
  3. Try to suss out where you’ll park in advance (and have a backup). This will save you time driving around looking for a car park.
  4. If driving further afield, be advised that you should take a break every two hours.

Let us know if you’ve visiting any of the UK Towns and Cities recently on Twitter or Facebook.


Our sources of data

Method

We gathered all the data per town/city into one table and then applied rating scores from 1-40 for each of the nine criteria. We then totted up the total scores across all cities and ordered these to get our top forty list.

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