The best road trips near Birmingham give you an opportunity to escape the city's slick modern skyline and fast-paced attractions for a while. As fun as they may be, it's always good to have a break from time to time. That's easy with the huge range of beautiful towns and breathtaking scenery just a short drive from central Birmingham. In most cases, the journey is part of the charm, giving you time to appreciate the fertile landscape of the West Midlands.

    The UK region has a long history of prosperous trade, resulting in soaring medieval cathedrals and swanky spa towns. To the west, the landscapes climb into a series of steep hills and plunging valleys made for getting back to nature. Hop in your car and get ready for an adventure with some of the best road trips near Birmingham.



    A quintessential English landscape

    The Cotswolds is one of the prettiest areas in England, full of chocolate-box villages and winding country lanes. The shortest journey from Birmingham is around 1.5 hours, but take the slightly slower route along the A38 and you'll pass through historic market towns and lush green meadows. You'll know you've arrived when you spot the Costwolds’ iconic honey-coloured buildings and rolling hills.

    Visit imposing stately homes like Sudeley Castle and Snowshill Manor, amble around colourful displays at Painswick Rococo Garden, or explore the area's numerous medieval churches. Burn off some energy hiking the Cotswold Way or trying kayaking and archery at Cotswold Water Park. End the day with a stop at a riverside pub to sample gourmet food and local ales.


    Royal Leamington Spa

    Elegant spa town steeped in history

    Royal Leamington Spa is a picturesque town on the River Avon, full of tasteful Regency architecture and blooming ornamental gardens. The town is little over 40 minutes by car from Birmingham, but it feels like stepping to a whole different century. During the 18th century, visitors flocked to the Pump Rooms for its 'healing waters', but today you'll find a welcoming museum and art gallery here instead.

    Amble along riverside paths in the Pump Room Garden and admire its historic bandstand, see tropical plants and goldfish in the Victorian glasshouse at Jephson Gardens, or take a peaceful leafy walk through Foundry Wood. Shopping in Royal Leamington Spa is a good mix of independent boutiques and familiar brands, and the town does a good line in snug gastropubs.


    Malvern Hills

    Breathtaking views across rolling fields and woodland

    Malvern Hills offers panoramic views of dramatic peaks and ancient woodland just over 1 hour's drive from one of England's biggest cities, firmly securing its place among the best road trips near Birmingham. In addition to cycle paths and more than 100 miles of walking trails, you can go horse riding, fish in the ponds and rivers, go rock climbing in the quarries, or have a go at paragliding.

    Hike the soaring peak of the Worcester Beacon, or take the more sedate walking trails along the gentle curves of North Hill. Great Malvern is a great place to enjoy a restorative ice cream or cup of coffee. Finish your visit at one of the town’s nearby spas, which use the local spring water in their baths.


    Shropshire Hills AONB

    Craggy hills and moorland dotted with quaint villages

    The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a patchwork landscape of lofty ridges, verdant lowlands, meandering rivers and shaded woodland. Perched on the edge of the border between England and Wales, it takes just over an hour to drive out here from Birmingham, but your reward is a true rural idyll of fresh air and invigorating hiking trails.

    Climb across the rugged hilltops for panoramic views and the possibility of spotting red grouse, amble through lowland woodland and wildflower meadows for skylarks and butterflies, or spot adorable otters in small rivers and streams. A long history of border skirmishes means there's no shortage of hillforts and castles, not to mention the famous fortifications at Offa's Dyke.


    Ironbridge Gorge

    An icon of British industry

    Ironbridge Gorge contains the world's first cast-iron bridge, which was built in 1789, at the start of the Industrial Revolution. The bridge, along with the dramatic landscape of the gorge, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Getting here is one of the best road trips near Birmingham, the 40-minute journey cutting through Britain's industrial heartlands before following the River Severn along leafy roads lined with old red-brick warehouses.

    Once you've taken a selfie in front of the bridge's graceful arches, learn more about its construction in the Museum of the Gorge, or follow walking trails along wooded paths. Other places to visit include Coalport China Museum and the remains of 12th-century Buildwas Abbey. Stop for a cuppa at Eighty-Six'd or have a pint at the historic Golden Ball Inn.



    England's best-preserved medieval architecture

    The medieval market town of Tewkesbury is a delightful collection of half-timbered houses, authentic old pubs and an awe-inspiring Norman abbey. The 1-hour journey to get here is one of the best road trips near Birmingham as it takes you through some of the most beautiful Worcestershire countryside, past patchwork fields and mist-filled valleys. It also passes by the city of Worcester, a great stop for yet more gorgeous historic buildings.

    Among the nearly 400 beautiful listed buildings in Tewkesbury, the abbey is unparalleled but the Old Baptist Chapel and the 17th-century building that houses Tewkesbury Town Museum are also worth visiting, and scenic river walks abound thanks to the confluence of 2 rivers. Come during the Medieval Festival in July for sword-fighting knights, musicians, jesters, and lots of delicious medieval snacks.


    Moseley Bog

    Wild, moss-covered forest that inspired ‘The Lord of the Rings’

    Moseley Bog is a flourishing nature reserve that supports an incredible diversity of plants and animals. Even more amazing, spectacles like great spotted woodpeckers and pipistrelle bats are only a 20-minute journey from Birmingham. Come in the spring to see a carpet of bluebells popping up around the knotted old trees.

    Other features include ornamental ponds, the ruins of an Edwardian garden, and several Bronze Age burnt mounds dating back around 3,000 years. It's no surprise that JRR Tolkien's childhood explorations of the bog inspired his creation of Middle Earth. A few minutes' walk away is Sarehole Mill, a restored 18th-century mill with exhibits on Tolkien's work.

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    Kingsbury Water Park

    Wildlife watching on tranquil lakes

    Kingsbury Water Park covers 600 acres of lakes, gardens, wetlands and winding pathways. You'll find that getting here is one of the best road trips near Birmingham as the convenient 20-minute drive is a scenic journey that crosses the River Tarn and passes small farms and grassy meadows. Once you reach the park, swap 4 wheels for 2 and follow the endless cycle paths or get out on the water via paddleboat.

    Fishing is popular here and anglers can fish for pike, carp and bream in the landscaped lakes. The birdwatching is also excellent, with everything from ospreys and kingfishers to Canada geese. If you don't feel like walking across all 600 acres, hop on the miniature Echills Wood Railway for a fun tour of the lakes and woodland.



    Intriguing museums and a towering cathedral

    Lichfield is a striking historic town a little over 30 minutes' drive north of Birmingham. It's a place steeped in history, from its earliest Roman fortifications to terraces of Georgian houses and a stunning medieval cathedral. Admire the building's magnificent stained-glass windows and check out the scratches in the wall where Civil War soldiers sharpened their swords.

    There are the remains of a Roman settlement to explore, and the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, charting the work of the famous dictionary writer, which is accompanied by a fabulous bookshop. Lichfield Museum, housed in a former church, has an assortment of ancient treasures, an art gallery, and expansive city views from the top of the tower's 120 steps.


    Cannock Chase AONB

    Former Royal forest rich in wildlife

    In Cannock Chase AONB, ancient history and exhilarating wildlife encounters are as abundant as beautiful scenery and miles of walking trails. Around 40 minutes from Birmingham by car, it's a popular day trip for hikers and nature lovers. The landscape is made up of mature woodland and traditional farmsteads, with miles of heathland covered in vivid purple heather.

    Take the Cannock Chase Circular Walk, which takes you past winding rivers and magnificent pools, or climb to the Iron Age hillfort at Castle Ring. The area is known for its wild herds of fallow deer and red deer, but you might also see foxes, badgers or voles. An activity centre has Segways, zip-wires and a tree-top ropes course.

    Victoria Hughes | Contributing Writer

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