London is a fantastic city, no doubt about it. However, once you have been shopping for a few days straight on Oxford Street, you might be ready for a change of scenery. This is especially true on hot summer days where the cramped streets of the city can quickly feel a bit suffocating. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to escape! In this post, we have collected a wide range of day trips from London, some to other cities and towns, some to castles and monuments, and others to the beach. We promise there is something for everyone!
We’ve previously been living in London for a year, but we didn’t manage to try any and all of the possible day trips. However, thankfully, the travel blogging community stepped up and were happy to help. The 15 suggested day trips from London below are thus the top-recommended destinations from not just ourselves, but other passionate travel bloggers as well.
We all hope you enjoy the post!
Canterbury makes a great day trip from London. The city is to the east of London, about 1 hour and 30 minutes by either train or car. Canterbury is famous for the cathedral, which makes perfect sense since it is absolutely beautiful. It’s a must visit for anyone! The cathedral is shrouded in history, and you can easily spend an hour or two wandering inside and throughout the grounds.
Canterbury itself is a medieval, walled city. Being very small, it lends itself well to exploring on foot. Narrow cobbled streets are made for exploring, with quirky independent shops found down unassuming back alleys. A quaint river runs through the city, and in summer you will see small boats taking people on scenic rides downstream. Canterbury is famous for punting, so make sure you take one of these unique boat trips and soak up the atmosphere.
No trip to Canterbury is complete without a visit to Tiny Tim’s Tearoom; a gorgeous little outlet selling outrageously good scones. The wonky building is said to be haunted and is full of charm. Some times, a musician will even play the old piano in the corner as you indulge in tea and cake!
2. Bibury Village
The riverside village of Bibury makes one of the best day trips from London. It is often dubbed the most beautiful village in the Cotswolds and even regarded by many as the prettiest in England.
Bibury is famous for being home to Arlington Row, a small but picturesque row of houses that are so iconic that they even feature on the inside cover of the British passport. Owned by the National Trust, Arlington Row is beautiful from every angle, so make sure you walk the entire stretch.
The village of Bibury is also home to Bibury Trout Farm, made up of 15 acres of land. The trout farm is one of the oldest in England as the perfect place to learn how to catch your own dinner, as well as purchase deli products to take back to London. If you get peckish and trout isn’t for you, visit the one and only pub in the village, the Catherine Wheel, or the restaurant in the courtyard of the Swan Hotel.
Bibury can be visited on a day tour from London or by car in 2 – 2.5 hours. The best time of year to visit Bibury has to be during Spring or Summer when colourful flowers weave their way up the quaint cottages, and the sunny weather lends itself to an icecream or two!
If you want to discover another city during your trip to the UK, a day trip to Manchester will be perfect! This sizable city is located in the North West of England and is one of the most underrated cities in Europe. You can easily get there from London by train. Several trains run every hour from London Euston, and it only takes about 2 hours to get to Manchester Piccadilly.
Although Manchester is the third biggest city in the country, the city centre itself is quite small. This is perfect for visitors as it’s very easy to explore on foot. If you want to make the best out of your day in Manchester you should go on a walking tour. You will get to discover Piccadilly Gardens, Market Street, the Royal Exchange, Corn Exchange, Manchester Cathedral, St Peter Square, Midland Hotel, Gay Village and Town Hall.
You will end your visit in the Northern Quarter. This old industrial district is very representative of the Mancunian culture. You will find a lot of street art, cute restaurants and pubs with live music. It’s a great place to stop for a drink and a meal. If you are going on a Sunday, you can grab a delicious Sunday Roast at TROF, near Shudehill. Before you catch your train back to London, make sure you check out the Printworks too.
Manchester truly has it all and is less crowded than London. Perfect for people who want to discover what England is all about.
Want a break from London’s bustling city scene? Head to Stratford-upon-Avon for a beautiful day trip to the countryside. In less than 2.5 hours you can be rowing on the River Avon, exploring 16th and 17th-century half-timber architecture, or touring William Shakespeare’s birthplace. Multiple trains run from London to the Stratford-upon-Avon station. From there it’s an easy 10-minute walk to the town centre.
Lovers of literature and history alike enjoy walking the same steps as the playwright Shakespeare did when he grew up in this charming town. You can tour his home, Holy Trinity church where he attended and is buried, as well as his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage. Make time to see a performance at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. If you don’t have time to take in a show, tour the theatre and take a lift up to the Tower enjoying sweeping scenic views of Stratford.
While Stratford-upon-Avon draws many visitors interested in exploring Shakespeare’s birthplace, there are other reasons to travel to this picturesque town. Stratford’s Butterfly Farm offers a unique experience getting up close with a wide variety of beautiful butterflies. Experiencing Stratford from the river is another great option. Take a sightseeing canal tour or hire a rowboat by the hour to leisurely cruise down the River Avon at your own pace. Relax on the banks of the river, have a picnic, or take a stroll soaking up all the charm this idyllic town has to offer.
5. Bletchley Park
A day trip from London to Bletchley Park immerses you in the world of the Allied Codebreakers of World War II. This is where about 10,000 people carried out their vital work, intercepting and decoding German messages. Bletchley remained shrouded in secrecy for decades, but now the huts and Victorian mansion have been restored and are open to the public.
You’ll learn how the German messages were decoded using Enigma machines and early computers called “bombes.” Even though the bombes were destroyed after the war, one was rebuilt from existing plans. It was used in the movie about Bletchley Park, “The Imitation Game.” You can watch a demonstration of this bombe and get an idea of the complexity and noise of these computers.
Enter the spartan huts and trace the path of a message from interception to decoding. It’s especially fascinating to find out the role Bletchley played in the Allied success of D-Day.
You can easily spend an entire day at Bletchley Park and the neighbouring National Museum of Computing. From Euston station in London, take the train to Bletchley (about 50 minutes) and walk 2 blocks to the museum.
Historic Hastings is a stunning seaside resort on the English east coast that is only 90 minutes on the train to and from London. Boasting a beautiful beach and picture-perfect pier that stretches into the sea, Hastings is a classic coastal town that has all the traditional trappings including a cobbled high street, numerous old inns and pubs plus several rather delicious fish and chip shops to choose from.
There are many attractions in Hastings including the UK’s steepest cliff railway, which allows you to easily get to the top of the cliffs for stunning views looking down on the resort as well as the nearby protected coastal parks.
The seaside history of Hasting is most evident in the beachside area known as the Stade, Europe’s oldest fishing beach. Often used as a filming location in TV and movies (particularly for period dramas) the Stade consists of colourful fishing posts, old fishing huts and seafood stalls selling fish that have come out of the sea earlier that day. Can it get any fresher than that?
A world away from the hustle and bustle of busy London, this cute and charming English town has so much to enjoy, so hurry to Hastings now!
Stonehenge is on the bucket list of many travellers, and it can easily be visited on a day trip from London.
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument full of mystery, and the questions surrounding its existence have captivated travellers for ages. Believed to have been built during the Bronze Age, there are dozens of theories on the purpose of the stone circle.
The monument is located in Wiltshire, just 1 hour and 45 minutes away from London by car or 2 hours and 15 minutes by public transport. When you arrive at the Stonehenge Visitor Center, take some time to explore the exhibitions detailing the history of Stonehenge and what life was like during the years of its construction. After learning a bit about the monument’s history, hop on the complimentary shuttle bus to the Stone Circle. Before leaving, stop back in the visitor’s centre to find answers to questions you might have after viewing the stones, or to enjoy a lunch at the Stonehenge café. You could even have a picnic if you’d like!
To get to Stonehenge from London on public transportation, take the South Western Railway from Waterloo Station to Salisbury; from there, purchase a ticket on the Stonehenge Tour Bus to take you directly to the visitor centre. If you’re short on time, consider taking a guided tour of Stonehenge from London you could also add in stops at Bath or Windsor Castle!
Bath is one of the most charming cities in England. Even with only spending the day in Bath, there’s so much you can do! It’s not a big city but was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Tucked cosily in the hills of Somerset County, strolling through Bath is like visiting an open-air museum.
Bath is very easy to reach by train or bus from London. It only takes about an hour and a half to get there, and if you book a tour, some of them also stop at Stonehenge on the way!
Between the Roman Baths complex and Jane Austen Centre, Bath’s Georgian architecture brings history to life. If you only have one day in Bath, these ruins transport you through history and must be your first stop. They have excellent museum displays with plenty to learn about Roman society in England. However, since many tours stop here, it’s best to arrive early!
There are also numerous other places to visit. Bath is very walkable, so it is easy to see most of the city in a day. You can have afternoon tea and try a “Bath Bun” or follow the Skyline Walk for beautiful views of the city. Lovers of architecture will also appreciate the Bath Abbey, No. 1 Royal Crescent, The Circus, and Pulteney Bridge.
During December, Bath is also known for its lovely Christmas Markets. The city is so quaint and is perfect for anyone wanting to leave the crowds of London behind for the day.
9. Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace is a fun day trip from London for all ages, easily accessible by a roughly 40-minute train ride via the Waterloo station. Built in the early 1500s, the royal palace is best known for being one of King Henry VIII’s favorite residences. This tourist destination has something for everyone to enjoy in the modern-day, and there are restaurants on-site, making it easy to explore for a full day’s worth of adventure.
The 60 acres of formal gardens are a joy to walk through, along with finding one’s way out of the famous hedge maze. There is plenty of history and art on display within the building’s walls; visitors can follow the audio tours to learn more about the rooms as they explore. The information desk at the front has several pamphlets for self-guided tours and different interest tracks to hit the appropriate highlights.
Families will appreciate borrowing the loaner dress-up cloaks for little ones to wear while they explore and the children’s garden has open space to roam, towers to climb, and even water elements during summer. During summer and school holidays, there are often costumed staff performing and craft activities provided, making it a very family-friendly day trip. It’s safe to say that this is one of the best castles to visit with kids in all of the UK.
10. Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then the perfect day trip from London is to the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden. By car, the studio is only about 45 minutes away, though it can also be reached by public transportation in a little over an hour. If you choose the public transportation route, the last leg of your bus-hopping will be to take the Harry Potter Knight Bus, which is a really fun experience!
Tickets start at £47, but it can be really difficult to get them. Unfortunately, they only sell a certain amount of tickets for each time slot, so you definitely should try to purchase your tickets at least 2-3 weeks ahead!
It’s worth the effort, though, because the studio tour really brings the movies to life. As soon as you enter, you’re in a huge warehouse FILLED with Harry Potter props! To challenge yourself, try to find all 7 Horcruxes by the end of your tour. Keep in mind that this isn’t your average tour with a guide. You’re actually self-guiding yourself through everything.
Not only can you look through the prop warehouse, but you can also visit some of the actual sets from Harry Potter. The studio’s newest addition is Gringott’s Bank, which is really cool to see in person. There’s also Diagon Alley and the Knight Bus! Your tour can’t be complete without getting lost in the gift shop at the end. Be sure to purchase some chocolate frogs and see what wizard card you get.
Oxford is a beautiful and historic city and located just over an hour away, it’s the perfect city for a day trip from London. The city is a university town and home to the world-famous Oxford University. Most of the beautiful buildings in Oxford belong to the university and date back centuries, so there’s a lot of history to explore here.
Start the day in Radcliffe Square, where Oxford’s iconic round library can be found. If you’d like to go inside, you can book onto a tour of the Bodleian libraries which will include a number of the university’s key attractions. You can’t go to Oxford without visiting some of its colleges, and the most impressive include Christ Church, New College and Magdalen. The latter has its very own deer park inside the college! For Harry Potter fans, Christ Church is a must as many filming locations are based there.
Oxford also boasts a buzzing cafe and coffee culture, and there are plenty of independent eateries to visit on your Oxford day trip. The Missing Bean is somewhat of an Oxford institution for locals and students alike, and the Rickety Press is the place to go for burgers and pizza.
The best way to get to Oxford from London is either by train or Oxford tube (which is actually a bus!). Parking options are limited in Oxford, but you can leave your car at the ‘park and ride’ and then hop on a short bus to the centre.
Windsor is a small historic town just outside of London that was settled during the 11th century by William the Conqueror. It is one of the best-known towns in England due to being the favourite weekend home of the Queen of England and the location of many royal weddings. But aside from the strong royal connections, there are plenty of attractions to meet the needs of any visitor’s interests.
For those who enjoy history, check out Windsor Castle, built in 1070, St. John the Baptist Church, built in the 12th century, and Runnymede Meadow, where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215. Art and architecture enthusiasts will love all the historic buildings around town but will find particular interest in Cliveden House, a three-story Italianate mansion where the works of Sir Charles Barry reside.
Those who love the great outdoors will enjoy Great Windsor Park, a former private royal hunting ground, and Home Park, a private royal park that is open twice a year. Visitors who enjoy shopping on their travels will love all the boutique shops and quaint eateries in Windsor. In short, there’s something for everybody.
Getting to Windsor from London can be easily done via one of two train routes. The first option is the GWR and takes about 30-50 minutes, depending on the time of day. This train departs from London Paddington and arrives at Windsor Central Station after switching to a branch line at Slough. The second option departs from London Waterloo on the South Western Railway and arrives at Windsor Riverside Station without any stops and takes about 55 minutes.
A great day trip from London is to the city of Bristol. Located about 130 miles to the west of London, it’s an easy and relatively short trip from Paddington Train Station. It takes just about 1 hour and 45 minutes from there to Bristol Temple Meads.
Bristol is famous for loads of things, in particular, it’s the home of the street artist Banksy, Blackbeard (the pirate), and the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The city is famous for hot air balloons too, and each August plays host to the International Baloon fiesta.
Bristol has a rich maritime history. The book ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson is said to have been inspired by a pub in Bristol called the Hole In The Wall. In the book, Long John Silver drinks at a pub called the Spyglass, which was influenced by this. There are loads of walking tours going around the dockside which delve into the history of Bristol, and it’s pirate history such as Blackbeard.
Another maritime favourite of the city is the SS Great Britain. It was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel who was also the famous engineer that designed Temple Meads Station and the Clifton Suspension Bridge; two of Bristols most iconic structures.
Bristol is filled with street art and is home to Banksy. You’ll find his artwork dotted all over the place. One of the hubs for the Bristol street art scene is an area called Stokes Croft. Other notable things to do in the city are to walk around the beautiful Clifton village or visit the city museum.
Brighton is one of the most famous seaside resort towns in the UK. Talking as a foreigner, it’s about as British as a town can get, yet it’s a whole other experience than we’ve had anywhere else in Great Britain. The first time you lay eyes on it, it may seem a little run down and in need of a fresh layer of paint. However, soon you’ll realise it’s all part of the charm. Brighton Pier especially looks like something out of a different era, but it’s a refreshing change from increasingly modern vibe felt throughout London. In other words, a day trip from London to Brighton is perfect if you want to be transported back in time, as well as just chill and feel the fresh sea breeze.
We suggest you try out some local seafood when in the area, preferably at a food truck near the beach or in a local pub. During our own visit, we had fresh mussels and oysters on the beach, and it was divine. Make sure to head out to Brighton Pier as well, eat an icecream and spend some time with the arcade machines. It doesn’t get much more retro than that.
To reach Brighton, Southern Railway trains depart from London Victoria going direct. The ride takes just an hour, so there are no excuses: Pack your swimsuit and get ready for a shot of nostalgia!
Famous for its beautiful waterfront, and the history associated with the city during the war, Portsmouth has become a very popular destination for tourists across the UK.
With an array of different activities to keep you busy, Portsmouth is great for a family day out. Some of the most popular destinations include the recently opened Emirate Spinnaker Tower, the famous dockyard, and a popular art and history museum. Since 2001, the waterfront area has also been home to one of the UK’s largest premium shopping outlets, Gunwharf Quays. With some of the worlds most luxurious brand names, and often having huge sales, you may need to prepare yourself for a very long day of shopping!
Although Portsmouth isn’t exactly located close to London, it is entirely possible to visit on a day trip. There are multiple trains departing every hour from Waterloo Station, and you can expect to be in Portsmouth in under 2 hours. The route passes through some very popular towns for professional commuters, so early booking is recommended.
For those of you planning to spend the day making the most of the designer sales, then travelling by car would be best suited. Just don’t forget to empty your boot! From London, it will take about 90 minutes before you are in the heart of Portsmouth. The city has ample parking, so there is no need to stress about this.
That’s all the day trips from London we have for you today. Hope you found something you liked. If you try out one of the trips, or if you have another suggestion for us, please throw a comment below. We’d love to hear from you. You are, of course, also very welcome to reach out on social media!