A van parked at the side of a stunning backdrop of mountains and a river
Hit the open road with these 5 stunning locales, image credit: Adobe stock

Seeking some awe-inspiring, cheap and van safe locations to spend the night? We’ve curated a list of the top five UK places that are a must stop spot this year, for everyone from the humble beginner to the expert van life adventurer.

Blue John, Peak District

Blue John Cavern from the surrounding landscape
The landscape surrounding the Blue John Cavern, image credit: Ella Craig

Just a small drive from the beautiful town of Castleton lies Blue John cavern in the Peak District. Blue John tops the list for its alluring, surrounding landscape and intriguing history. It’s a popular destination for seasoned traveller Teena Oakley, 53.

“I love this area because of its amazing scenery!” says Teena, who spent several years touring the open roads in her van. Although not a typical stopping ground for those wanting a campground to lay for the evening, Blue John offers a range of available parking spaces along the street near the lighted limestone cave, which are free to use and provide impressive views of the valley, along with a small, quaint café to sit back in after a long drive.

And if the rolling hills, history-rich rock-faces and surrounding areas aren’t enough, adventurers can additionally embark on an exploration within the cavern for £18 per person. “You can also climb Mam Tor, visit Castleton and explore so many walking paths for free,” adds Teena.

So, whether seeking silence or thirsting for adventure, a night at the Blue John Cavern promises a very memorable experience for van-lifers this year.

Rhosneigr, Wales

Rhosneigr in Anglesey white sand beach, image credit: Amy Smalley
Rhosneigr in Anglesey white sand beach, image credit: Amy Smalley

If the quiet serenity of the Peak District is not quite captivating enough, next on the list of must-stay locations this year is Rhosneigr: a village in the southwest of Anglesey, North Wales.

Rhosneigr is home to two sandy beaches, Traeth Crigyll and Traeth Llydan, which are both ideal for water activities and relaxation. While some car parking facilities throughout Rhosneigr provide overnight accessibility perfect for parking a van, Bodfan farm is a caravan park offering three miles of sandy beach right at its doorstep for £15 a night.

This includes amenities such as public toilets, electricity and waste disposal. This means that any van life adventurer can-find stress free time for windsurfing and paddle-boarding, all of which Amy Smalley, 35, from Hucknall in Nottinghamshire has participated in on her van journey.

“Rhosneigr is amazing because it offers a little bit of everything. The sunset, the beach, the activities. You just feel like you’re in the Caribbean, it’s all just pure white sands, it’s beautiful and so peaceful.”

Carbis Bay, St Ives, Cornwall

Carbis Bay St Ives in the summer, image credit: Adobe Stock
Take the van to Carbis Bay St Ives in the summer, image credit: Adobe Stock

Concentrating further south, next on the list is Carbis Bay, two miles from the charming town of St Ives in Cornwall. Similar to Rhosneigr, Carbis Bay offers the perfect destination for a relaxing evening at the beach surrounded by stunning cliffsides.

Sheltered from the wind, Carbis Bay’s golden beach is ideal for any van lifer to spend a night: you could partake in a late evening swim, lie back on the beach or just enjoy the view from the warmth of a cosy van.

Though overnight car-parking rules for vans are strictly regulated in Cornwall, Mount Douglas farm campsite, situated less than a 20-minute walk from the heart of Carbis Bay, provides an ideal stopping destination for all vans for a reasonable cost of £15 per night. With the addition of electricity, private showers and laundry facilities, it is a perfect place for closeness, comfort and peace of mind.

From watching the sunset over the still waters to strolling along sandy shores, Carbis Bay promises a ideal getaway for van lifers seeking a coastal escape.

New Forest National Park, England

New Forest National Park at the heart of Southern England, image credit: Adobe Stock
A perfect van location at the New Forest National Park at the heart of Southern England, image credit: Adobe Stock

If quiet coastal beaches aren’t enough, then next on the list is The New Forest, in both Hampshire and Wiltshire. Situated in the heart of southern England, this national park is the perfect spot for any van traveller seeking an ultimate, overnight woodland retreat.

Surrounded by nature, the New Forest is home to stunning glades and wild horses. It offers visitors the opportunity explore award-winning gardens, breath-taking hikes, farms, museums and delicious food and drink venues.

A perfect van safe location to settle down for the evening is the Setthorns campsite nestled in a secluded location of the National Park. The campsite offers, for the small cost of £15 per night, the advantage of the park’s quiet atmosphere, portable toilets, wild deer sightings and the joy of being able to bring along a pet.

Fiskerton, Newark-On-Trent

Fiskerton view from the River Trent
Van park-up in Fiskerton, on the west bank of the river Trent, image credit: Kerry Pitts

The last, and most surprising stop for van travellers this year is at the small village of Fiskerton, on the west bank of the River Trent, near Newark, Nottinghamshire.

This spot is a particular favourite for those wanting a peaceful evening without the cost of your typical campground spot, such as 45-year-old Kerry Pitts from Nottinghamshire. “It can be a little busy in the day, but evenings are always so quiet and relaxing,” says Kerry, who has been a regular in the van life community for years and cherishes her regular getaways from reality.

Whilst relatively low on amenities, Fiskerton does offer a charming pub, The Bromley, just a five-minute walk from the free overnight carpark spacing. Fiskerton’s back-to-nature basics and friendly environment is the ideal spot for any avid boat lover to sit and watch the world roll by from across the River Trent.

“People on their boats always wave at us as they go past!” adds Kerry. So, whether seeking a stroll along the riverbanks or just a moment of serenity by the water’s edge, Fiskerton provides the ideal setting for travel enthusiasts to take their vans.

From nights by the seaside to cosy evenings in a quaint village, these stops invite anyone to embrace the freedom of van life travel. So, pack the essentials, hit the road and create memories that will last a lifetime by discovering these locales.