If you’re planning a trip to London, then you’ve probably wondered about the best day trips from London. Afterall, a few London day trips can add to the quality of your overall UK vacation. Don’t get us wrong – London is an amazing city to visit and anyone who’s been to London will tell you just how magnificent the “Big Smoke” is – nicknamed due to the great clouds of smoke that hung around the cities in the mid-20th century.
While there might be so much to see and do in London, you can really get a flavor for the city after a couple of days. So what do you do when you feel like you’ve truly checked London off your travel bucket list and want to explore other areas outside of London in the limited time you have left in England?
Well, here are 20 of the best day trips from London that are only a short train ride away.
1. Bath, Somerset
Beautiful Bath may be 90 minutes away from London’s City Center, but it sure is worth the journey to do a day trip from London to Bath, or even a day trip from Bath to London! With its natural hot springs, museums, and 18th century Georgian buildings – including the famous Royal Crescent – there are plenty of attractions to see. This is one of our favorite day tours from London.
Do you like your literature? Bath is is also home to the Jane Austen Centre, which celebrates the life of the city’s most famous resident. Make that trip to Bath from London and enjoy a day immersed in culture, arts, and history.
This beautiful market town located in Berkshire is highly popular amongst tourists. Most of these tourists are drawn by the fabulous Windsor Castle, which is an official residence of the British royal family.
It can make for the perfect day trip from London, and is easily accessible by car or taxi, but perhaps the best option is by train, so you can save yourself from finding a parking space. The visit to Windsor Castle may take more than a couple of hours, as there are official tours with headsets if you want to know more about the castle. Other fun activities to do in the city include a visit to the Eton brewery, or perhaps indulge in some shopping in some of the extensive malls, such as King Edward Court. You could visit Windsor as part of a London day tour as we think it’s a great day trip from London by train.
3. Stonehenge, Wiltshire
The famous pre-historic Stonehenge monument is located two miles west of Amesbury and eight miles north of Salisbury in Wiltshire. It might be a bit of a trek from London at two hours and 30 minutes on the train, but this wonder of the world is not to be missed. It is still one of the best great trips from London, England and we hope you add it to your list of places to visit when you vacation in London.
The first monument was built 5,000 years ago, with the unique stone circle erected in about 2500 BC, and is championed all around the globe. As well as the monument itself, there is an extensive exhibition that delves deep into everyday Neolithic life and Neolithic Houses that you can walk through and explore.
If you are looking for somewhere to really appreciate English charm and natural beauty, then this may be the perfect London day-trip for you. Cotswold is a rural village, with one of the most picturesque settings amongst all of the British Isles. Should you come to Cotswold in your day out, you simply must visit the Sudeley Castle. This work of art is a historical gem that will leave you with a striking fascination for British history. Not to mention the lovely little cafe at the Castle, offering afternoon tea with a stunning view of the gardens. You can get here easily get on a London to Cotswold train route as this charming town is easily accessible.
5. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Classy Cambridge has the look and feel of Bath in terms of its size and architecture. The city is situated on the River Cam in the east of England, and has boats called Punts that you can take down the river. It’s like England’s very own version of Venice!
Punting takes a couple of hours and makes for a rather pleasant afternoon, especially if the sun is shining. Make sure you also stop off at the prestigious University of Cambridge, which dates back to 1209, as this is a must see for history lovers. This is a popular day trip from London that you must do if you’re looking for amazing places and things to do near London.
6. Lake District
The Lake District is another location that you should certainly consider if you are looking for an inexpensive day trip from the London. This breathtaking mountain range is highly popular amongst nature enthusiasts, renowned for its famous lakes and mountains. This is one of the locations that you can reach by train from London. It takes up over 2,000 kilometers squared, and can be explored by bus, bike or even foot.
Several hiking trails are available to give panoramic views across the District. If you are a nature lover, then this is surely the best day trip for you, and you can be assured that the sweeping valleys, mountainsides and lakes will have a lasting impression on you. So add this to your list of day trips from London by train and have fun.
7. Harry Potter Set Tour, Watford
The Warner Bros Studio tour in Leavesden is a treat for any self-respecting Harry Potter fan. Located 30 minutes away from the center of London by train, there is simply no excuse for not getting lost in the wizarding world – at least for just one day or part of your London day trip.
Featuring props and sets that were actually used and built for all eight Harry Potter movies, the studios are sure to awe and impress, making you question why you had to be born a Muggle. Not to worry, your Hogwarts letter must have got lost in the mail, or the owl got misdirected. (If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll get it, and for the rest of us, taking a tour of the Harry Porter Set is a great way to spend one day in London, or part of a weekend in London.)
8. Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle is possibly amongst some of the very best day trips that you could have wished for from London. This legendary castle is set over 500 acres of green land, making it the perfect spot for a picnic or long walks through the natural beauty. Not to mention the dazzling castle’s interiors. The banqueting Hall, library and dining room are lined with a fabulous display of antique tapestries and paintings. If you want to get a deeper understanding of the castle’s history, you can take the audio guide tour for a comprehensive understanding of the culture and history behind this fabulous setting. Leeds Castle is a popular tourist attraction and a visit here is one of the best day trips from London.
9. Brighton, Sussex
The lovely seaside resort town of Brighton is just over 60 minutes on the train south from London. With its quaint pebble beach, colorful buildings and charming backstreets, the town is loved by tourists and locals alike.
Brighton is renowned for its nightlife, shopping and the arts, and of course the famous Brighton Pier, and is a popular London day-trip destination for both the people who live in England and visitors.
The gorgeous city of Paris is, rather surprisingly, a hugely popular day trip from London. The magical city of light can be reached by the Eurostar train. It is a fabulous city that attract millions of visitors every single year, and for good reason, too. The Romanesque architecture, the stunning food and warm ambiance always encourages visitors to come back to this wonderful city. A day trip from London will give you the opportunity to visit the world famous Eiffel Tower, as well as the infamous Arc de Triomphe, Sacré Cœur and other world renowned cultural landmarks. If you’re going to be in London and have some time, planning day trips from London to Paris should be on your vacation to-do list. And if you can spend a few nights in Paris, then make it one of the best weekend trips from London!
11. Oxford, Oxfordshire
Much like Cambridge, Oxford is a city in the Southeast of England known for its prestigious university. The university was established in the 12th century, and was the muse for the nickname given to Oxford by poet Matthew Arnold. The “City of Dreaming Spires” as it was named, refers to the university’s breathtaking architecture, as well as the city’s culture and history.
The Botanic Gardens at the edge of River Cherwell are a delight, especially in the summer. Oxford also has some interesting museums including the Ashmolean, and the Covered Market is worth a look if you like to shop! This is one of the best day trips from London by train that you can do in just about 55 minutes.
Eastbourne is another fabulous little town situated by the seaside. It hosts a Victorian pier, lovely pebble beach and a widely popular bandstand. If you are a fan of art, you could spend the day taking in some of the thriving art galleries, with many opportunities for refueling along some of the lovely coffee shops in the town. But if you have come here looking to see some nature, then the outdoor scenery at Beachy Head May be the best spot for you. If you’re up to it, you can walk up to the neighboring town of Seaford, or along some of the hidden beaches tucked at the foot of your cliffs. This is one of the daytrips from London that’s worth making.
13. St Albans, Hertfordshire
St Albans is a cute English Cathedral City only 20 minutes from London’s City Center. Like Bath, Cambridge, and Oxford, St Albans features mesmerising medieval architecture. It contains adorable little cafes, where you can indulge in afternoon tea, as well as an abundance of restaurants and bars.
St Albans is home to Verulamium Park, which is situated in the very heart of the city and which has gorgeous stretches of greenery that make the most pleasant walk during the sunshine-filled days of summer. No doubt this is a great place to go near London, or somewhere to visit on day tours from London.
14. Lewes, Sussex
A list of London day tours must have Lewes on it. This market town in South Downs lies upon a backdrop of green peaks and chalk hills. The narrow cobble streets combined with the hand-painted signs offer a historically elegant atmosphere, with deep roots in English heritage. Not to mention the slower, laid-back rhythm offers a nice change compared to the bustle of the capital. There are plenty of little shops which offer everything from historic books to hand-crafted jewelry. While you are by the vintage shops, you could even throw a penny into the well for good luck!
15. Bristol, Somerset
Bristol is a little further afield than some other day trips on this list; it takes up to one hour and 45 minutes to get there on the train from London. However, with all its charm and diversity, Bristol will certainly make it worth your while if you’re looking for a day trip out of London.
It straddles the River Avon with a range of restaurants, shops and nightlife spots–including Harbourside on the edge of the river which used to be a port. It is very popular with English people as a place to visit, which means it is often swarming with crowds, making the city buzz with electricity and excitement. This is a perfect London day trip if you want to experience that British excitement without the crowding you often see in London.
16. Ashdown Forest
This wonderful landscape can be found just about an hour from London Victoria station. If you are familiar with the infamous Winnie the Pooh series, you would be glad to know that this is the site where AA Milne famously wrote the stories of the series here. Aside from that, it is a charming spot to stretch your legs a little and enjoy the open landscape that the forest has to offer. Not to mention the diversity of wildlife that can be seen in the area. And if you get hungry, you can stop by one of the locals cafe or lunch spots, which caters to almost every dietary requirements.
17. Colchester, Essex
There are a few potential spots in Essex county that would make for very delightful day trips from London but Colchester comes highly recommended, as it is one of the largest, most historic towns in the county.
Along with Colchester Castle and Castle Park, Colchester has some wonderful art museums and galleries, including The Minories. For a family-friendly London day out, and as a way of gaining popularity with your kids, you can visit the Colchester Zoo. The fact that it only takes 65 minutes to get to on the train is also a bonus.
This particular destination is very easy to reach, thanks to its close proximity to London. The journey to Surrey from London Waterloo takes just 50 minutes and so makes for a perfect day trip from London. Once you arrive here, you will never be stuck for things to do. You can have a look around the famous historic palace, and if you are coming in the winter, you may wish to make the most of the huge ice rink set out against the backdrop of the palace. If you are coming to Surrey, you may wish to spend a night here, to soak up the peaceful atmosphere before returning to the bustle of the city. Maybe visit the Grayshott Health Spa considered one of Englands best wellness destination.
19. Canterbury, Kent
Canterbury is a city also famous for its history. It is a 90 minute train ride away from London, and home to one of the most famous cathedrals in England. This cathedral contains the famous sword sculpture dedicated to archbishop – Thomast Becket – who was murdered there in 1170. This sculpture, combined with the cathedral’s beautiful stained glass windows, makes it definitely worth a visit. The city itself also has great shopping–from high street stores to market stalls–and some pretty parks to get lost in for the afternoon. This place makes for one of the best day trips from London.
20. Margate, Kent
In recent years, this small little town by the seaside has become rather hipster in recent years. It all started after the contemporary gallery opened in 2011, and then was spurred on by a wave of Londoners who moved down to the coast of Kent. There is an entire range of artwork that you can enjoy, spanning long before the 16th century till present. When you have had enough, you can stop by some famous cafes along the cobble streets.
And if you want something a little more adrenaline-inducing, a couple of hours in the famous Dreamland Park should do the trick. Nothing like fast rollercoasters and fabulous musical gigs in the evening to make this one of the London day tour you’d ever take.
Undoubtedly, England is a country with so much choice to offer; therefore, it’s easy to struggle to decide where to go and what to do with your time! Even if you decide to do one, some, or all of these day trips, each of these places are the epitome of England, so be assured you will have experienced the essence of what the captivating country is all about.