One of 2023’s biggest viral trends now has 1.4 billion views on TikTok and Google searches have also skyrocketed, with ‘Roman Empire tik tok’ increasing 2,373% in the past month. Google searches for ‘Roman fort near me’ have also increased 137% in the last month in the UK, hinting at people searching for real-life Roman relics across the country.
The UK is home to hundreds of ancient Roman sites, including forts, palaces, public baths and historical roads. Most people live near a landmark but keen travellers can reach some of the UK’s most famous Roman attractions with a two or three hour drive.
Our experts here at Uswitch Temporary Car Insurance have mapped out the UK’s ultimate Roman road trip for those who want to immerse themselves in all things Roman Empire. The map highlights ten of the best Roman landmarks to visit and also follows 2,000-year-old Roman roads around the country, taking explorers back through the millennia to a different time.
*Although it's not always possible to travel exclusively on Roman roads, you can include segments of ancient routes into your trip, following the general direction they would have taken.
Day I: Kent to London (following Watling Street)
Starting in the town of Sandwich, visit Richborough Roman Fort’s triumphal arch before driving into Westminster in London, heading for Vine Street. There you’ll be able to see the Capital City’s Roman Wall, built to protect the ancient city of Londinium from attack.
Stops: Richborough Roman Fort and London's Roman Wall
Cost: £7.70 (Richborough), free of charge (City Wall at Vine Street)
Distance: 69 miles
Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Day II: London to West Sussex (following Stane Street)
Make tracks south out of London towards Bignor, where you can visit the village’s Roman Villa, originally believed to have been spread across 65 rooms. Then continue on to Chichester and Fishbourne Roman Palace, the largest known Roman residential building in Britain, to look at beautiful mosaics and gardens.
Stops: Bignor Roman Villa and Fishbourne Roman Palace
Cost: £10 (Bignor), £13 (Fishbourne)
Distance: 79 miles
Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
Day III: West Sussex to Somerset
Head west towards Somerset and arrive in Bath. Pay a visit to the ancient Roman Baths, which attract 1 million visitors every year. It is one of the 33 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK, but the water is untreated, making it unsafe to touch, never mind bathe in.
Stops: Roman Baths
Distance: 109 miles
Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Day IV: Somerset to Gloucestershire (following Fosse Way)
After leaving Bath, drive towards Gloucestershire, following the path of the Roman road known as the Fosse Way. Make another stop at Chedworth Roman Villa in the Cotswolds, which was built in the 3rd century and occupied for over 300 years. Its features include a temple and mosaic floor.
Stops: Chedworth Roman Villa
Cost: £12 (for National Trust non-members)
Distance: 47 miles
Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Day V: Gloucestershire to Shropshire (following Fosse Way)
You’ll be able to carry on following the Fosse Way, thought to be 220 miles long, as you head for Wroxeter Roman City near Shrewsbury. Take in all the reconstructed ancient city has to offer, including a basilica and forum.
Stops: Wroxeter Roman City
Distance: 102 miles
Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Day VI: Shropshire to Cheshire (following Watling Street)
At this point, you’ll rejoin what was known as Watling Street (on its general route) to get to Chester. There lies the UK’s largest known Roman amphitheatre, used for gladiatorial contests and other public events. The amphitheatre is thought to have housed around 10,000 spectators at one time.
Stops: Chester Roman Amphitheatre
Distance: 49 miles
Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Day VII: Cheshire to Cumbria
Heading North up the modern-day M6, you’ll be traversing routes the Romans would have used. In Bowness-on-Solway you’ll find the start of Hadrian’s Wall on the West Coast, which has racked up 11.6m views on Tiktok and 49,000 Google searches in the last month. The full 73-mile wall is no longer fully intact, but you can walk it via Hadrian's Wall Path which follows the route for its entire length and takes 6-7 days to complete.
Stops: Hadrian’s Wall
Distance: 161 miles
Time: 2 hours 55 minutes
Day VIII: Cumbria to Northumberland (following Stanegate)
The final leg of your journey will follow the ancient Roman road Stanegate, which predates Hadrian’s Wall and goes via Vindolanda. The fort now has a modern museum, hosting various Roman artefacts including the Vindolanda tablets. These delicate pieces of wood have writing that offers a glimpse of Roman life- previously voted as Britain's top treasure by experts. Make a final stop in Wallsend, where Hadrian’s Wall originally ended.
Distance: 79 miles
Time: 2 hours
Total journey distance: 695 miles
Total journey time: 16 hours
How to plan your Roman road trip
Day trips to Hadrian’s Wall or the Roman Baths are best suited to most casual fans of the Roman Empire, but this adventure stretches over 600 miles and stops at ten different sites, so it’s important to check your car before embarking on any long-distance journeys for the more extreme explorers.
Not owning a car shouldn't stop you from exploring, but if you need to borrow a friend or family member's vehicle for your trip, ensuring you have the correct temporary car insurance is vital.
Our temporary car insurance can give you a quote in under 30 seconds, ensuring your adventure won’t face any delays (or nulla morra as the Romans would say), and can cover you for a few hours, days, or weeks.
There are a number of essential checks to complete before you start a long car journey, but if you’re unsure what to do, then check in with your local garage who can more than likely help.
Carry out all necessary checks before a long journey (test your windscreen wipers and screenwash, all lights and indicators, oil levels, engine coolant, brake fluid, tyre tread depth, pressure, and fuel supplies)
Plan ahead and designate two drivers if you are travelling longer distances (three hours or more)
Make sure you are well-rested and able to maintain your concentration
Don’t drink before driving and if you're unsure whether you're safe to drive, don't risk it
Ensure your driving licence and insurance is in date and offers adequate cover for your trip.
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