Popular Destinations

The best Popular destinations for camper van travel

Whether you’re cruising in a chrome-plated RV or sputtering along in a vintage VW, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of hitting the road in a camper van, where you’re beholden to no timetable and limited only by your ambitions.

Most travellers set their satnavs for the smooth highways of the old dependables – North America, Australia and New Zealand – and with good reason (not least the savings offered on pricey accommodation), but those willing to navigate the potholes of roads less travelled may find richer rewards elsewhere.

Whatever your preference, there are open-road adventures to be had in these eight destinations perfect for a camper van trip.

For all-weather campers: Scotland

It was billed as Scotland’s Route 66, but the North Coast 500 is of course nothing like its US counterpart. Cutting a course through sodden carpets of heather in the bleakly beautiful Highlands, the 516-mile route joins the dots between crumbling castles, weather-beaten fishing towns and middle-of-nowhere distilleries.

Lined with campsites, the road itself incorporates the meandering mountain pass of Bealach na Bà – the highest highway in Scotland – and swings by John o’ Groats, the most northerly point in mainland Britain. Bring your bathers in case the weather behaves: there are some surprisingly beautiful beaches up here.

Most campers start and end their trip in Inverness – the largest city in the Highlands – whose cosy pubs, 19th-century cathedral and lofty castle bookend the journey nicely.

  • Where to hire: Local rental companies include Highland Coastal Campers, Loch Ness Motorhomes and Inverness Campervans
  • Rental costs: Campers from around £90 per day

Man stands next to a campervan with surf boards on San Onofre State Beach, California There’s no better way to explore California’s coastline than in a camper van 

For wannabe starlets: California, USA

Romanticised by beat writers and Hollywood film directors, the American road trip is practically a subgenre of its own. From Grapes of Wrath to Vanishing PointThelma & Louise to Sideways, the nation’s highways are littered with great plots.

Given the profusion of road movies that have come out of Hollywood, California is an apt place to (wheel) spin your own 4WD narrative. The Golden State offers a handful of iconic itineraries, from Highway 101 to the dirt tracks of Death Valley, but if you only drive one road, make it the Big Sur section of Route 1.

Lined with campsites, this feted highway hugs the rugged Californian coast for 143km between San Simeon and the Carmel Highlands. All plunging cliffs and wave-lashed beaches, it is the longest stretch of undeveloped shoreline in the US.

  • Where to hire: Local rental companies include Escape Camper Vans, Outdoorsy and Jurnii
  • Rental costs: From around USD$65 (£50) per day

Cityscape image of Sydney, Australia with Harbour Bridge and Sydney skyline during sunsetSydney is a great spot to snag a deal on second-hand camper vans 

For the hedonists: East Coast Australia

Like koala bears to eucalyptus trees, road trippers have long been drawn to Australia’s East Coast, where hedonistic surf towns, colourful coral reefs and paradisiacal beaches provide the pretext for camper van capers.

Buckle up in Sydney, where the booming market in used camper vans should produce a reliable set of wheels for those looking to buy. As the Opera House disappears in the rear-view, the East Coast unfurls to reveal impressive national parks, offbeat islands and hard-partying cities such as Brisbane, Cairns and Surfers Paradise.

It’s not all boisterous beach jamborees, though. Quiet camping grounds can be found along the East Coast, including many free sites, which often include public barbecues for the obligatory shrimp tossing.

  • Where to hire: Local rental companies include Wicked Campers, Hippie Camper and Travellers Autobarn.
  • Rental costs: From around AUD$22 (£12) per day

A jeep follows an elephant in Etosha National Park, Namibia Hire a camper van in Namibia and you might end up sharing the road with an elephant or two 

For wildlife lovers: Namibia

You’ll need a 4WD to tackle the otherworldly landscapes of Namibia, where buzzing cities, stark desert scenes and wildlife-rich national parks are amongst the highlights.

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