Length: 45 miles (plus detours)
Time to drive: around 3 hours, but it depends how fast you drive
Suitable for: cars and motorbikes – caravans will be tested by the twists and turns of the route; avoid racing season, from late May to mid June
Listed as one of the Top 10 Drivers’ Drives by National Geographic, the Isle of Man’s TT racing circuit (with a few detours we’ve thrown in) skirts the peak of Snaefell, the tallest mountain on the island at 620m. But the key attraction for many is that some roads have no national speed limit.
Start at the Grandstand, about 10 minutes out of Douglas town, drive north along the A2 to Laxey, where you can see the world’s largest working water wheel or take a dip at the pebbly beach, should you feel the urge. From here, you can take the Snaefell Mountain Railway to the summit of the mountain. It’s worth a quick trip, too, to the beauty spot of Maughold Head and St Maughold church, founded in 450 AD.
Now turn towards Ramsey, the island’s second largest town, then on to Kirk Michael, where you can take a tour of the A.R.E. Motorcycle Museum (pre-booking required) and see a large collection of Manx Norse crosses at the parish church.
Go south along the coast roads, from where you can see the Mourne Mountains in Ulster on a clear day. Take time to chill at scenic Niarbyl Bay; don’t miss Magnetic Hill, between the Ronague and Round Table crossroads, where an optical illusion will fool you into thinking an uphill stretch is downhill and vice versa; and enjoy the fast stretch along the Ballamodha Straight as you head towards Port St Mary.
Still in the mood for culture? It’s worth stopping off at Cregneash, one of the last strongholds of the Manx language and customs, where you can see restored crofters’ dwellings, volunteers dressed in traditional costume and, among other animals, Manx cats. You’ll have dramatic views of the Calf of Man as you push on towards the pretty harbour town of Castletown to explore Castle Rushden, a former prison.
After that, it’s the home straight back to Douglas.