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?
- Skegness, Lincolnshire, England
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.
- Southampton, Hampshire, England
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.
- Ryde, Isle of Wight, England
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.
- Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England
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.
- Lancaster, Lancashire, England
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!
- Stratford upon Avon, West Midlands, England
(216 points – good for low parking costs)
- Weymouth, Dorset, England
215 points – voted easy-to-navigate
- Truro, Cornwall, England
213 points – low population and easy-to-navigate
- Belfast, Northern Ireland
212 points – plenty of low-cost parking
- Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland
211 points – low population, quiet, cheap parking
In positions 11-40 were…
- St Ives
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….
- Give your car a check-over before departing - fuel, oil, tyres, screen wash, lights and brakes – at the minimum.
- Avoid travelling at peak hours as roads are likely to be busier.
- 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.
- If driving further afield, be advised that you should take a break every two hours.
Our sources of data
- 2020 population figures - https://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/cities/united-kingdom
- Percentage of drivers already planning to visit in next six months (from a new survey we ran)
- Difficulty of navigating town/city centre (from a new survey we ran)
- No. of central council run car parks (from an FOI with local authorities)
- Avg. cost of parking per hour (via desk research on council car park websites)
- No. of static speed cameras - https://www.speedcamerasuk.com/database/YOR/yor001.htm
- No. of electric charging points - https://www.zap-map.com
- No. of electric charging devices - https://www.zap-map.com
- No. of petrol stations - https://petrolmap.co.uk/
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.