15 day trips from London

by Jan
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London has a diverse range of attractions for its many visitors and there is something to suit everyone’s tastes.  However, if you need an escape from the capital, there are many fantastic day trips from London.

If you want a change of scene or slower pace for the day, this travel guide will show you some of the best alternatives to London.   It will give you suggestions of places to visit and ideas on how to get there, so that you can plan your day out from London.

Historic cities, castles, seaside towns and trips to the countryside all make great day trips from London. Even better, you don’t need a car to get there.

Read on for some of the best day trips from London:-

I have only included day trips from London that are accessible by train.  I have given an indication of how long it would take, but London train times vary depending on the time of day and day of the week, so you would need to check using The Train Line.

The royal town of Windsor is probably one of the closest day trips from London.  Windsor has a rich mixture of history and culture and should be high on the the list of priorities for anyone visiting England.  Its greatest attraction is Windsor Castle, the weekend home of the Queen.

Across the bridge from Windsor is the historic village of Eton, famed for its public school, Eton College.

Queen Victoria Statue, Windsor

For more information on things to do in Windsor, read:

Best things to do in Windsor

A Christmas trip to Windsor Castle, England

How to get from London to Windsor:

By train:  From London Paddington Station to Windsor & Eton Central (approx. 35 minutes)

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is another of Britain’s magnificent royal historic houses.  This palace was a favourite of King Henry VIII.  You can go in the palace to discover what Tudor life would have been like in his day or just explore the spectacular gardens.

After that, you could cross the road from Hampton Court Palace to Bushy Park.

Bushy Park is one of London’s 8 royal parks.  Here you can enjoy waterways, gardens, a playground and roaming deer.

Hampton Court Palace, Surrey, UK

How to get from London to Hampton Court Palace:

By train:  From London Waterloo to Hampton Court (approx. 30 mins)

Cambridge

Bridge of Sighs, Cambridge, UK

Cambridge is a beautiful, historical city located in the South East of England. The presence of the world-famous Cambridge University dominates the city.  Everywhere you look, you will be able to admire the stunning architecture of the different colleges.

I recommend taking a punt on the River Cam, so you can find out some of the history of these famous colleges.

For more information on the best things to do in Cambridge, read:

A visit to Cambridge, UK

How to get from London to Cambridge:

By train:  From London Kings Cross (approx. 54 mins) or London Liverpool Street (approx. 1 hr 23)

Oxford

Another historic city, renowned for its prestigious, ancient university and fine architecture is Oxford.  You can wander the old streets admiring the colleges or looking for film locations for the Harry Potter films.  You could go punting here too, or visit the botanical garden.

How to get from London to Oxford:

By train:  From Paddington station to Oxford (approx. 50 mins)

Bath

Bath is a beautiful, historic city in the county of Somerset and is renowned for its Roman Baths and other historic attractions.  It became a World Heritage Site in 1987.  It’s easy to wander around, or you could take a trip on an open-top bus.

There are many things to do in Bath, but the must-see attraction is the Roman Baths.  It consists of the remains of the ancient spas used by the Romans in days gone by.

The Roman Baths, Bath

For more information on a visit to Bath, read:

Things to do in Bath

How to get from London to Bath:

By train:  From London Paddington to Bath Spa (approx. 1 hr 20)

Brighton

If you are looking for something more modern, head for the seaside city of Brighton.  The beach is stony, but Brighton makes up for this with its lively atmosphere and unique character.

Brighton has a famous pier, an 18th Century Royal Pavilion and lots of quirky shops and eateries in The Lanes.  If you have got time to stay over, the nightlife in Brighton is buzzing.

How to get from London to Brighton:

By train: From London Victoria to Brighton (approx. 53 mins)

Portsmouth

View looking up at Spinakker tower, Portsmouth framed in blue sky

Another waterfront city on the South coast is Portsmouth.  You can visit the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to find out about Portsmouth’s maritime heritage.  In Portsmouth you can see the warship HMS Victory and the ancient Tudor ship, the Mary Rose.

If you head into Portsmouth city centre you can go 170 metres up The Emirates Spinnaker Tower to get 350 degrees panoramas of the city and ocean.  Alternatively, you could head to the popular Gunwharf Quays designer shopping outlet shopping.

How to get from London to Portsmouth:

By train:  From London Waterloo to Portsmouth & Southsea (approx. 1hr 32)

Hever Castle & Gardens

Another magnificent English castle is Hever Castle, which is located near Edenbridge in the South-East of London. Hever Castle is the childhood home of Ann Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.

Hever castle is fairly small, but well-maintained.  In addition, it has lovely gardens, with mazes and a couple of adventure playgrounds for children.

Image of Hever Castle, Kent, UK

How to get from London to Hever Castle:

By train:  From London Bridge to Edenbridge Town (approx. 38 mins) You will then need to take a taxi to Hever Castle.

For more information on Hever Castle, read:

A visit to Hever Castle & Gardens

Canterbury

Canterbury is known as the pilgrimage site of the Middle Ages.  It is a historical, cathedral city and UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most visited cities in England.  Canterbury is still rich with history and heritage and offers a range of attractions for visitors.

How to get from London to Canterbury:

By train:  London St Pancras to Canterbury West (approx. 54 mins)

Salisbury

Salisbury is a medieval cathedral city in Wiltshire. The magnificent gothic Salisbury Cathedral, boasts England’s  tallest spire and holds the best-preserved copy of the Magna Carta.  It is near to the historic site of Old Sarema, which was the original site of Salisbury.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, UK

Just outside Salisbury is the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge.  This unique stone circle is probably the most famous pre-historic monuments in the world and is well worth a day trip from London..  It has a very good Visitors’ Centre and replica Neolithic houses to experience life in former days.

How to get from London to Salisbury & Stonehenge:

By train:  From London Waterloo to Salisbury (approx.1h 3o) You can then take the Stonehenge tour bus to the Visitor Centre.

Stratford-upon-Avon

Although Stratford-upon-Avon is one of the furthest of the day trips from London, it is still a very popular trip.  It is a must-see visit for those who love literature and drama, as it is the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

Of course, on a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon, you can find out more about the life of this world’s most famous playwright, by visiting where he was born and spent his early years.   You can also attend a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

How to get from London to Stratford-upon-Avon:

By train: from London Marylebone to Stratford up Avon (approx. 2hr 12)

The Cotswolds

View of quaint Cotswold village, stone houses nestled amongst trees

If you are looking for a change from the hustle of London, an escape to the rolling hills of the Cotswolds is one of the best days out from London.

The Cotswolds covers almost 800 square miles of beautiful English countryside.  It is home to a collection of picture-box villages with quaint stone cottages and grand stately homes, such as Blenheim Palace and Sudeley Castle.  If you enjoy hiking, you can take on the challenge of the Cotswold Way.

For more information on how to spend 3 days in the Cotswolds (visiting Upper & Lower Slaughter and Bourton on the Water), read:-

3 days in the Cotswolds

How to get from London to the Cotswolds:

By train:  From London Paddington to Gloucester – 1h4 45 (change in Swindon) or to Moreton-in-Marsh – 1hr 30

Surrey Hills (Box Hill)

Another day trip from London to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is the Surrey Hills in the South of England .  This is an area with some of the most stunning countryside in South East England.

Surrey Hills offers plenty of opportunities for hiking and enjoying the wildlife and nature.  There are also impressive period houses, such as Polesdon Lacey and Loseley Park.  There are many charming villages, where you can stop for food and drink.

How do you get from London to the Surrey Hills:

By train:  from London Victoria to Dorking (approx. 55 mins)

The New Forest

If you want to spend some quiet time in the great oudoors,  take a day trip from London to the New Forest.  This area of natural beauty in the South East is one of the largest areas of unspoilt woodland and heathland in Southern England.

William the Conquerer proclaimed it a royal forest and it has since become one of England’s National Parks.  Watch out for the delightful wild ponies, who roam freely across the park.

The New Forest England, trees with pink Heather

How to get from London to the New Forest:

By train:  There are 8 different stations in the New Forest.  A popular route is London Waterloo to Brockenhurst (approx 1h 29)

Thank you for reading.

We hope that you enjoyed this post and that it has inspired you to try some of the wonderful day trips from London.  Please feel free to comment below.

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