With a wide range of new touring caravans available in the UK, it can be a daunting prospect deciding which is the best caravan for you and your family, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. So, too, if you’re an experienced caravanner looking to upgrade or downsize to something new. Where do you start?
Camping and caravanning is all about a love for the outdoors, the freedom that touring offers as you pitch up in wonderful locations and visit the best caravan sites up and down the country. Purchase a tourer that’s inappropriate for your needs and that enjoyment can turn sour, and be a costly mistake if you need to trade in and change to a different type of caravan all too soon.
So, we’ve done the hard work for you to help you find the caravan to meet your requirements.
This year, we ran the Practical Caravan Awards 2023, where our expert judging panel used our decades of industry experience to pick out the best caravans for the new season, covering a wide range of categories.
Couple this with our Owner Satisfaction Awards, where you, our readers, help the decisions of those looking to buy a tourer and we’ve a good basis from which to start selecting the vans that are just right for your needs.
For our most recent Owner Satisfaction Awards, run in conjunction with the Camping and Caravanning Club, we received 4,735 responses, an increase from the 3,449 we received the previous time we did them, giving us what we consider to be the most accurate results to date.
From all our sources, including our many tests and reviews, we’ve selected the standout models for sale so we can help you find the tourer that’s right for you.
You’ll find caravans from the biggest brands on our list, including Adria, Swift, and the winner of the best caravan manufacturer (new and pre-owned) at the Owner Satisfaction Awards 2023, Coachman, as we round up the best caravans on the market.
The best caravans: Mini reviews
Bailey Alicanto Grande Evora
- Price: £38,499
- Berths: 4
- MTPLM: 1855kg
- MiRO: 1694kg
- Payload: 160kg
- Interior length: 6.33m
- Shipping length: 7.86m
- Overall width: 2.45m
Reason to buy:
- Spacious washroom and bedroom
Reason to avoid:
- Table is tricky to access
The Evora is an impressive 8ft-wide twin-axle caravan that provides a great spec – as you may expect when you’re spending nearly £40,000.
Stepping inside presents you with an airy front lounge with room for at least six – light streams in, thanks to a huge central window. The inclusion of a small sideboard is also a great feature; it’s situated on the right hand side as you enter, and we think it provides a useful place for storing odds and ends such as keys.
We did have one complaint with the lounge though – the table. It can seat four at least, but when it’s not in use, it resides under the rear island bed. This means accessing it can be a struggle, as the base doesn’t stay up.
The kitchen will appeal to caravan chefs, with a four-burner dual-fuel hob, a separate oven and grill, a Dometic 700W microwave and a 153-litre two-way opening fridge all fitted. An Omnivent has been included this year too, while the round sink has a cover that doubles up as a chopping board.
We were very impressed by the end washroom too – we found ourselves reminded of a hotel after sliding open the door. Features include a spacious shower cubicle (complete with a large riser, a roof vent, a clothes rail and more), a generous basin and a big mirror.
The rear bedroom has good storage and we found it provided an airy feeling, thanks to a wardrobe in the far offside corner and a dresser on the nearside. We like how there’s plenty of room to move around the bed, even if it isn’t in daybed mode.
A huge double or two singles suitable for those under 6ft can be made up in the lounge too.
Verdict: We’re impressed by this Bailey; it provides a great spec, and we like how airy the rear bedroom feels – it’s easy to see how it was the winner of the best caravan over £30,000 category at the Practical Caravan Awards.
Full review: Bailey Alicanto Grande Evora
Adria Altea Dart
- Price: £27,175
- Berths; 4
- MTPLM: TBC
- MiRO: TBC
- Payload: TBC
- Shipping length: 8.26m
- Width: 2.30m
Reason to buy:
- Great storage, good spec, warm and welcoming interior
Reason to avoid:
- Basic shower
Our winner of the best 4 berth caravan is a smart van, coming with a stylish silver exterior and GRP sides.
The caravan layout hasn’t changed; it’s still a U-shaped lounge, central washroom and rear island bed. What is different is the appearance. The Dart now has a cosier vibe, with the settees upholstered all the way to the floor and pastel fabrics used. Then there’s the Symalite interior walls – these are made from recycled materials that, Adria say, are both lighter weight and provide better insulation.
A sunroof ensures light floods in too, while spotlights can be turned to in the evening.
We like the inclusion of felt pockets, which can go wherever you want, and offer useful storage. The fold-out shelf also offsets what could otherwise be an issue – the fact that the table is stored in the bedroom.
The main washroom is a decent enough area, with a well-lit mirror, a towel rail and an opaque window, although we think the nearside cubicle is fairly basic. In here, you only get a single plughole, and the wheel arch intrudes on the tray.
At the rear of the caravan, you’ll find a large Heki and windows create a well-lit rear bedroom. The island bed itself is comfortable, with more felt pockets providing further storage.
A front double is made with two metal rails, which we found require careful fitting along the top of the settees’ front panel. These support the slats that come out of the central chest.
Storage is good throughout too – this includes two narrow wardrobes in the bedroom, as well as a vertically opening bed base, and underseat areas in the lounge.
Verdict: It’s the same layout but a new look for the Dart, with the warm interior and great storage creating a welcoming interior.
Full review: Adria Altea Dart
Coachman Laser Xcel 855
- Price: £47,085
- Berths: 4
- MTPLM: 1950kg
- MiRO: 1790kg
- Payload: 160kg
- Shipping length: 7.90m
- Interior length: 6.27m
- Width: 2.44m
Reason to buy:
- Spacious, well-equipped throughout
Reason to avoid:
- Poky shower, most expensive option on the list
The Coachman Laser Xcel 855 is the most expensive option to make it onto our best caravan guide, but the twin-axle van has plenty of style and offers high levels of comfort. This isn’t surprising, considering Coachman’s dominating display at our recent Owner Satisfaction Awards, where they won the best overall manufacturer category.
There’s a sociable L-shaped lounge; a 32-inch TV sits on the nearside, yet while this means you get a trompe l’oeil window externally, it’s still a nicely lit space, thanks to a large sunroof and windows. We like how friendly the area feels, with the main settee facing the door, allowing you to welcome people in as they enter.
One thing we will point out – while the table may be able to seat four, there’s no extra seat for anyone who is facing away from the settees.
We found the kitchen to be very impressive, one that actually reminds us of what we’d expect to see in a motorhome. Much of it sits on the nearside, including an L-shaped unit with a circular sink, a four-burner dual-fuel hob, a separate oven and grill, and plenty of workspace to accompany the two sockets.
That’s not all though – across the way, there’s a two-way opening 153-litre fridge and freezer, a microwave, and two USBs.
The central washroom is a tale of two areas. We thought the nearside shower was a “touch disappointing”, with no roof vent and only a single light for a space that is wider than it is deep. The offside washroom offers more though, with features that include a salad-bowl-style basin and an opaque window which creates a well-lit area.
The rear island bed turns into a comfortable daybed, with fittings to hand for setting up a second TV. Shelves offer storage options, as does the corner dresser. The second double can be made up in the front lounge.
Verdict: With a good kitchen, comfortable lounge and relaxing rear bedroom, we think this is an excellent tourer to consider, particularly if you’re looking for a caravan for a seasonal pitch.
Full review: Coachman Laser Xcel 855
Swift Challenger 480 SE
- Price: £28,795
- Berth: 2
- MTPLM: 1435kg
- MiRO: 1308kg
- Payload: 127kg
- Shipping length: 6.66m
- Width: 2.28m
Reason to buy:
- Good kitchen, great storage, airy and comfortable lounge
Reason to avoid:
- No window in washroom, no vent in shower
We’re impressed by the revamp that the Challenger has had for 2023, making it a worthy addition to our best caravan guide.
We think it looks stunning, with the GRP front and moulded rear panels creating a stylish exterior. A 100W solar panel comes as standard, as does a Status TV aerial, an external mains, shower and barbecue points. In fact, our only quibble would be the lack of a stable-type door.
It’s a comfortable lounge; despite being a two berth caravan, there’s easily room for six to sit on the twin settees. Light floods in too, thanks to a large sunroof, and we like the new padded panels that have replaced the side curtains.
In the side kitchen, a four-burner dual-fuel hob can be found, as can a microwave, a large sink, a Dometic fridge/freezer, a separate oven and grill, and a decent sink. We’re pleased to see a large extension has been included too.
We also think it’s useful to have two options for how you use the berths; the settees can either be set up as twin singles, or alternatively, a double can be made up with slats. We think a pull-out section would feel sturdier and be easier to make up, but it’s a good size, and turning over the base cushions is a simple process.
We also really like the washroom; a Thetford toilet and a deep handbasin are all included, as is a large mirror. Lighting is a bit limited; this is due to the decision to replace a window with shelving, but a roof vent is provided. However, in the shower cubicle, you have to make do without a roof vent, which could mean ventilation becomes a challenge.
Storage is excellent for a two berth, with the rear washroom including a wardrobe and two built-in shelves. Easy to access underseat storage can be found in the lounge, while there’s plenty of room in the kitchen too.
Verdict: The rear washroom layout works really well in the tourer that won the best caravan under £30,000 at the Practical Caravan Awards. There’s a lot to be impressed by, from the spec to the amount of storage on offer.
Compass Camino 650
- Price: £39,899
- Berth: 4
- MTPLM: 1830kg
- MIRO: 1671kg
- Payload: 159kg
- Shipping length: 8.19m
- Width: 2.45m
Reason to buy:
- Comfortable lounge, clearly defined layout
Reason to avoid:
- L-shaped lounges don’t provide the most comfortable sleeping experience for guests
You could be wondering why the winner of the best caravan for couples category at the Practical Caravan Awards 2023 is a four berth caravan. This is, in part, because the tourer boasts a clearly defined layout which, we think, works very well for couples.
For the new season, the Camino 650 has been widened to 8ft, and this extra width is used to create a comfortable interior. Features includes a spacious rear island bed, which provides an excellent base for a good night’s sleep and can also be turned into a relaxing daybed.
The central washroom comes with a spacious shower cubicle and we like how there’s room to get dressed in too.
The L-shaped lounge itself is a great area for relaxing in we think. A touch we appreciate is that the kitchen faces the side part of the “L”, creating a sociable setting and ensuring the cook will not feel left out. There’s also a 32″ TV, which the sofa provides a clear view of.
This kitchen is a well-equipped space too; features include a Dometic series 10 fridge, a Thetford oven, an Omnivent, and an 800W microwave.
Verdict: The new and improved Camino 650 has a layout that we think it perfectly suited to couples on tour.
Weinsberg Cara One 400LK
- Price: £17,300
- Berth: 5
- MTPLM: 1100kg
- MiRO: 947kg
- Payload: 153kg
- Shipping length: 5.93m
- Interior length: 4.02m
- Width: 2.04m
Reason to buy:
- Family-friendly, budget option
Reason to avoid:
- Interior style is plain
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly, small caravan that can sleep up to five, our winner of the best caravan under £20,000 at the Practical Caravan Awards could be the option for you.
It’s surprising just how much Weinsberg has managed to fit into a tourer that is only 4.02m long. We think it’s well put together; built on an Al-Ko chassis, it has an AKS hitch stabiliser and alloy wheels, as well as heavy-duty corner steadies.
Despite its compact dimensions, you can easily seat four in the lounge, although the interior styling is a bit plain. The deep overhead lockers offer useful storage, but we’d note they could impede headroom for taller people.
It’s nicely lit too – the absence of a sunroof is offset by a midi-Heki, while LEDs provide night time lighting.
The kitchen also manages to squeeze a lot in, including a Dometic fridge, a three-burner gas hob, a combined oven/grill, and overhead lockers with LED lighting.
Then there’s the washroom; you don’t get a separate shower cubicle, but we still think it’s a decent area, with a large window providing good ventilation and natural light.
It’s the rear bunks that could make this such an attractive budget proposition for families though. They’re ideal for children, although it’s worth pointing out the headroom isn’t amazing in the middle bunk. A double bed can be made up in the front lounge.
Verdict: All-in-all, it’s an impressive caravan – in fact, when we reviewed it, we said it’s the exact “kind of family tourer that the UK market needs to see more of”, as it provides a budget-friendly and lightweight way of embarking on a tour.
Full review: Weinsberg Cara One 400 LK
Buying a caravan: what you need to know
How do I decide what the best caravan is for me?
Think about how frequently you plan to use your caravan; where you intend to venture in it; how many people will use it – often, and occasionally; whether it’s a family tourer with toddlers or teenagers soon to leave home, a young couple or empty nesters looking for a child-free zone (or enjoying the occasional company of grandchildren), or for adventurous solo travel.
Then write your list of must-haves and would-likes – they’re very different. If you’ve owned a caravan before, what didn’t you like about your previous van that you’d like to get right this time? What would make your tourer the best caravan for you?
It’s just a caravan I need to buy, right?
Well, possibly not. You may also need or like (which comes back to our first question) a host of extras such as an awning for additional space on rainy days or to accommodate occasional sleepers, a motor mover to assist with manoeuvring the van at a campsite, solar panels and extra batteries if you like touring off-grid, an outdoor shower to hose down the dog and so on.
Some of these may come as part of the caravan package you buy, but you’ll need to deduct the cost of these from the overall price of your caravan if they don’t.
How do I match a suitable caravan to a towcar?
While it’s not a legal requirement, experience has shown that the weight of a laden caravan is best not to exceed 85% of its tow car’s kerbweight (unladen weight). This provides a stable combination and good towing performance. Legally, the caravan must not exceed the weight of the tow car or its maximum towing limit (determined by the manufacturer).
Therefore, you’ll need to take the weight of the caravan you intend on purchasing into consideration in relation to your tow car.
Take a look at our best tow car guide to see our top picks currently on the market.
What caravan can I tow with my driving licence?
On December 16 2021, the rules on towing officially changed. Under the new laws, anyone who passed their driving test after 1 January 1997 can tow trailers up to 3,500kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) without taking the additional B+E test.
Previously, if you had passed your driving test on or after 1 January 1997, your tow car and caravan needed to have a combined MAM of less than 3500kg unless you passed an additional Category E driving test to attain a B+E licence. This allowed you to tow heavier combinations of tow car and caravan.
Drivers that passed their test prior to this date have been unaffected by the recent change in the rule, and may drive a car/caravan outfit with a combined weight up to 8250kg.
Can I keep a caravan in my driveway?
You should check any local byelaws in the area that you live to see whether you are prohibited from storing your caravan on a private driveway. In any case, it may be preferable, if only to maintain good neighbourly relations, to store your caravan in a secure storage compound when it is not in use; it could also help to reduce your insurance premium.
What does a new caravan cost?
Manufacturers design caravans aimed at specific markets, and purchasers with a particular budget in mind. Within our regularly updated Buyer’s Guide, which highlights the many models of caravans for sale, we categorise these markets as entry-level, mid-market, upmarket and luxury.
Entry-level, mid-market, upmarket and luxury
Entry-level caravans are great for first-time buyers and those with the most limited budget. Ranging anywhere between £15,000 and £20,000, these new caravans can be purchased for less than the price of a pre-owned van. Examples include the winner of the best caravan under £15,000 at the Practical Caravan Awards 2022, the Weinsberg Caracito 390QD, a four-berth caravan that, at £13,710, is one of the lowest priced new caravans for sale.
Mid-market tourers, ranging from £20 to £25k, is where the fiercest competition is among manufacturers, offering the most choice to customers looking to buy a caravan. All the largest UK manufacturers produce two- to six-berth caravans within this price range.
Upwards of this, you’ll find that caravans within the £25k to £29k price bracket reflect ever-more luxurious interiors, manufactured to a higher specification and, potentially, have a greater amount of gadgetry inside and out.
At the very top of the market are the most luxurious caravans, which retail between £30k and £35k for units from, for example, the Coachman Laser range or Buccaneer (from Erwin Hymer UK), and continental manufactured vans such as the Knaus Starclass or Eriba Nova. For an exclusive spec, you’ll be looking at British manufacturer Vanmaster, whose caravans range from £55k to £63k while the very pinnacle is the iconic American-inspired aluminium-riveted Airstream, now available in UK-tailored versions, which retail between £78k and £92k.
Our picks for the best caravans
How we review caravans
We are constantly testing and evaluating touring caravans of all sizes and budgets; since Practical Caravan magazine launched in 1967 we have reviewed thousands of caravans to build up an unrivalled knowledge of the models for sale; more than 400 of these caravan reviews are here on our website. Our reviews are unbiased and we’re not afraid to point out little niggles we think could be improved.
Initially, we take a ‘first look’ at new models and layouts that we believe warrant closer review and how they fare in relation to other caravans of similar size and price. Then we’ll run a full live-in test where we’ll head off for a weekend or an extended trip around the UK or overseas, just as you would. We’ll retain some vans for long-term tests over a period of six months.
We have an extensive team of testers who review all aspects of the caravan, from how it tows behind a tow car – including differing road conditions – to how practical and comfortable it is to stay in. We look at its build quality, its internal and external design, its layout and how well it functions.
Our team of testers are generally very experienced caravanners – and know what to look for in a good caravan, including from the perspective of a newcomer to camping and caravanning.
8 great benefits of buying a new caravan
1. Your own facilities
No need to share a campers’ kitchen, or traipse out to public amenities at night; you’ve your own on-board shower and toilet, and a kitchen you can call your own.
There’s no place like home, except your own brand new caravan, which also offers your own home comforts to come back to after a busy day of activities or sightseeing.
3. You know where it’s been
Or, better still, where it hasn’t. With a brand new caravan, you know that it hasn’t been dragged along – or through – inappropriate ‘road’ surfaces.
4. You know how it has been used
A brand new oven that has never been used to cook chips, soft furnishings you know haven’t had sticky marmalade dropped on them and a washroom that you know hasn’t been used to hose down the dog!
5. A place for a good night’s sleep
Everyone sleeps better in their own bed, at their preferred temperature. That includes the bed in your own caravan rather than the unknown, possibly lumpy, too hard or too soft mattress in an overly hot hotel room.
6. Take your holiday with you
Enjoy the freedom of touring; when you’ve been there and done that, move on – except you can take that comfortable accommodation with you to the next place.
7. Enjoy the view
All the new vans reviewed here include large panoramic windows and, often, sunroofs to enjoy your view of the sea, the lake, the mountains, the stars. It’s one of the best things about camping in a caravan.
8. Extra peace of mind
Construction technology has come a long way in recent years and caravans built today are less permeable than some of yesteryear. Most mainstream manufacturers now offer lengthy bodyshell or water ingress warranties.
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You'll find caravans from the biggest brands on our list, including Adria, Swift, and the winner of the best caravan manufacturer at the Owner Satisfaction Awards 2023, Coachman, as we round up the best caravans on the market.