Easter getaway: best and worst roads and times to travel

  • Peak traffic expected on Thursday 28th March and Good Friday
  • Thursday 28th March: traffic predicted to be busiest from 2pm to 7pm
  • Thursday 28th March: busiest route expected to be M25 between M23 to M1
  • Good Friday: traffic holdups most likely between 11am and 3pm
  • Good Friday: busiest roads – M5 from Bristol to Taunton; M3 from M25 to south coast

To make your Easter road trip as ‘eggscellent’ as possible, these tips on when the most popular roads will be at their busiest could save adding extra hours to your journey.

As the first Bank Holiday of 2024, Easter will be a popular time to getaway, but data from a study of motorists by the RAC and INRIX estimates that traffic will peak on Good Friday between 11am and 3pm when 2.6m cars could be on the UK’s roads. The best time to travel on that day is expected to be after 5pm, if you can, and the roads likely to be the busiest are the M5 southbound between Bristol and Taunton, and the M3 from the M25 to the south coast with journey times taking twice as long as usual.

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It won’t be much better the day before either as nearly two million cars are expected to try to beat the Good Friday rush by travelling on Thursday 28 March when the worst times for traffic congestion are expected to be between 2pm and 7pm. If possible, aim to be on the roads before or after those times. 

The busiest road on that Thursday before Easter is thought to be the M25 in both directions between the junctions with the M23 in Surrey and the M1 in Hertfordshire with delays predicted to add two hours to anyone travelling on this stretch. 

Easter Saturday and Sunday will, of course, also be busy with 2.3m cars likely to be out and about, with peak periods of 10am to 12pm and 11am to 1pm, respectively.

Ready for a family road trip this Easter? Plan your journey to avoid the busiest traffic

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Alice Simpson said: “Anyone who can delay leaving on Thursday 28 March until much later in the evening or set off as early as possible on Good Friday is likely to have a better journey than those who travel during the peak periods of the day. On every journey there are key pinch points where you can save yourself lots of valuable time if you can get through before everyone else. This will be especially true over the whole Easter holidays as our research shows two-thirds (64%) of drivers will be making a leisure journey on major roads at some point.”

With many taking a whole week’s holiday over Easter, traffic is predicted to peak again as people make their return journey on Friday 5 April. The M5 is expected to be a traffic hotspot at about 3pm that day with delays of up to 2.5 hours.

If your Easter trip is the first long distance your car has travelled for a while, to reduce the risk of any issues or breakdowns, check it is in as good condition as possible before you go.

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