Tuscany is well famed for being one of the most romantic destinations on the planet. The combination of excellent Italian food and hospitality as well as the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside mean that it’s on a lot of people’s bucket list. But back to the UK, where the British alternative is often described as God’s Own Country. It’s the beautiful land of Yorkshire, where friendly people, inspiring landscapes, and charming old pubs make for one of the best holiday destinations in the country, and one of the least appreciated.
- Distance: 221 miles/357 kilometres
- Driving time: Approx. 6 hours
- Recommended holiday time: 10 days
Lucca is a great place to start off in Tuscany, so use it as your base to explore the surrounding area over the first few days of your trip. This medieval town is known for having 100 churches, and there’s plenty to see and do here – especially if the weather is good. Start by walking or cycling along the city’s walls.
About an hour and a half’s drive from Lucca is Florence, the capital of Tuscany. This beautiful city is internationally renowned for its contribution to Renaissance art and architecture, and it’s perhaps one of the most breath-taking cities in the world. Visit the Gates of Paradise and the beautiful Duomo di Firenze, and marvel at the beauty of Michelangelo’s David in the Florence Accademia Gallery. More than just the usual tourist traps though, Florence is a city that you can explore endlessly and find beauty anywhere. The Ponte Vecchio is a bridge filled with market stalls, perfect for browsing. After your walk across it, wander down to the banks of the river where you can get the perfect photo.
Siena is a beautiful hill town with a shell-shaped main square that has a sloping floor, making it a perfect space for open air theatre. Depending on how much time you have, you can use the city as a base for a few days, allowing you time to do wine-tasting in the nearby hills or explore the city itself. The red bricks of the city are a stunning sight in high summer, as they are perfectly contrasted with the often-clear blue sky.
Pienza was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of its incredible Renaissance architecture and design. The whole city was completely rejuvenated between the years of 1458 and 1462 to include a huge cathedral and palazzo. This historic town is also home to many incredible restaurants serving authentic Tuscan cuisine (no pizza or pasta) with local wine. Sette di Vino is one of them. For a friendly, family atmosphere, try Poderuccio, just outside of the village.
- Distance: 235 miles/378 kilometres
- Driving time: Approx. 7 hours
- Recommended holiday time: 10 days
If you haven’t visited Yorkshire yet, now’s your chance. England’s largest county, Yorkshire spans over 7396 miles squared, encompassing the Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales. Take 10 days to explore the area, starting at Hebden Bridge and then winding north, before heading to the coast and then back south towards York.
The walk from Hebden Bridge to the neighbouring village of Heptonstall is a popular route and a good morning excursion. It’s a steep climb on the way there, but the walk should only take you around half an hour along a designated path. Once in Heptonstall, visit the beautiful St Thomas a Becket Church which is around 800 years old.
Back at Hebden Bridge, browse through the shops and cafes at your leisure for the rest of the afternoon. There are plenty of beautiful walks through the village, such as the canal towpath, but attractions in Hebden Bridge are also worth travelling for. The Hebden Bridge Film Festival takes place in March, the Trades Club is a legendary gig venue, and Hebden Bridge Arts Festival takes place at the end of June.
Harrogate is a thriving spa town in the heart of Yorkshire, making it perfectly located for travelling around the county. Stay here overnight to enjoy the nearby Yorkshire Dales or pass through for a day. The beautiful Harlow Carr gardens are the perfect place to start your day, but don’t miss Ripley Castle or the Turkish Baths either – they’ve been established in Harrogate since 1897 and are Britain’s most historically complete example of a 19th century Turkish bath. In July, Harrogate plays host to thousands of people who travel from all over the country to visit the Great Yorkshire Show, one of the biggest agricultural events in the English calendar. It’s a great day out for the family, with excellent food and entertainment.
As you drive into the highest point in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, there’s plenty of local attractions to see on your journey. Follow narrow, winding roads up to the Tan Hill Inn, Britain’s highest pub, standing 1732ft above sea level, directly on the Pennine Way.
This part of the country is prone to extreme changes in weather, so be sure to check the forecast before setting out. Snow is common in late autumn, winter and early spring. The nearby hamlets of Keld, Hawes and Aysgarth are blessed with to the beautiful Kisdon Force and Keld Waterfalls – the perfect spot for a picnic or to join the Pennine Way.
To add some seaside stops to your Yorkshire road trip, stop at Staithes and Whitby. These old fishing towns have beautiful coastlines and are ideal for leisurely days spent walking the beach or browsing the many independent shops. When in Whitby, don’t miss Fortunes Kippers in the Old Town where the owners have been smoking kippers since 1872. Afterwards, climb the 199 steps to Whitby Abbey for a view across the bay, and browse the artisan shops and independent boutiques on your way back to the hotel.