At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks

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London is a wonderful place to visit for an unforgettable holiday in one of Europe’s top destinations. But as the capital, the city’s constant hustle and bustle can easily become overwhelming. That’s where day trips from London come in!

England boasts many picturesque coastal towns, medieval villages, and famous landmarks, most of which are just a few hours away from London. This makes the English capital the perfect home base for taking day trips.

London is also one of the cheapest places to fly into Europe, so you’ll have a little more to spend on train tickets and tours. But with so many great options, what are the best day trips from London, you may ask?

This guide unpacks everything you need for an epic day trip from London. 

Windsor Castle, UK

1. Windsor Castle

Famously known as the world’s oldest and largest working royal palace, Windsor Castle is a treasured gem among historians and Royal Family enthusiasts. The castle has been a residence for numerous British kings and queens for over a thousand years.

There’s plenty to see and do at Windsor Castle. Explore the gilded State Apartments, which are still used today by the Royal Family. Marvel at the grand interiors of St. George’s Chapel, and don’t miss out on connecting with your inner child at Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House.

How to get there:

Take a GWR train from London’s Paddington Station to Windsor Castle. It stops in Slough, where you’ll catch another train to Windsor & Eton Central Station. This day trip takes about one hour of train travel from London to Windsor Castle.

2. Cambridge

Nestled along the River Cam, this university city is one of the most renowned across the globe. Boasting jaw-dropping Gothic architecture, bridges, and cobbled streets lined with independent shops and restaurants, Cambridge offers a superb day trip from London.

King’s College Chapel is among the top things to see in Cambridge because of its unique expression of Gothic architecture. Take a guided punting tour along the River Cam, passing under the Backs and the Bridge of Sighs. Or opt for a walking tour around Cambridge.

How to get there:

Take the Thameslink train from St Pancras International Station in London to Cambridge. The direct train makes eight stops before arriving at Cambridge Station. This day trip requires about one hour and 10 minutes of travel time.

3. Bath

Named after its historic Roman-built baths, this English city boasts an incredible array of Georgian architecture, museums, theaters, and remnants of Roman history on every corner. Bath provides an ideal day trip from London for history buffs.

While here, stroll through the ancient Roman Baths, marvel at the Gothic exteriors and interiors of Bath Abbey, and walk along the lush gardens of the Royal Crescent. A walking tour of Bath is also a great option to see city highlights and attractions. 

How to get there:

Catch a direct train from London Paddington Station to Bath. The GWR train arrives at Bath Spa Station after about one hour and 30 minutes on the tracks.

Stonehenge, UK

4. Stonehenge

Over the centuries, Stonehenge has captured the curiosity of scholars and mystics. The prehistoric stone circle is the most architecturally sophisticated monument of that time. And many allude to the circles being a sacred place where ancestral connections are often made.

Visit Stonehenge and uncover the mystery and myths behind the ancient stone circle. Start at the visitor center, where an exhibition displays a 5,500-year-old man. Then, stroll around a Neolithic village and learn how to move a Sarsen stone. Afterward, head to the iconic Stone Circle for an up-close look and a photo-op.

How to get there:

You can visit Stonehenge via a train ride from London’s Waterloo Station. The SWR train goes to Salisbury Rail Station, where you’ll get off. From here, walk to Mill Stream Approach to catch a bus to the Stonehenge visitor center. You’ll spend about two hours and twenty minutes traveling via train.

5. Stratford-upon-Avon

Famous for being the birthplace of world-renowned writer and poet William Shakespeare, this market town in the West Midlands radiates medieval flair. The unique timber-beamed houses, museums, theaters, and streetside cafes bring in thousands of annual visitors.

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On your day trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, check out Shakespeare’s Birthplace. The 16th-century house, now a museum, is believed to be where the writer was born and spent his childhood years. Also, stop at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, where Shakespeare’s wife lived as a child. Wrap up by attending a show at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

How to get there:

Take a train from the Harrow & Wealdstone Station in London to Marylebone Station. From here, you’ll catch another train to Warwick, where you’ll onboard your last train to Stratford-upon-Avon. This train trip will take you just over two hours and 45 minutes.

Oxford, UK

6. Oxford

Known as the “City of Dreaming Spires”, Oxford is a quintessential English city where almost everything revolves around the prestigious university of the same name. The city is famous for its book-laden libraries, which draw historians and researchers worldwide.

There’s plenty to see in Oxford besides the 38 university colleges. Take a walking tour of the city and explore top attractions like Bodleian Library, the university’s main research library, and one of the oldest libraries in Europe.

How to get there:

From London Paddington Station, you can take one of the direct trains to Oxford Station. The duration of your train ride will be approximately one hour.

7. Brighton

Colorful and quirky Brighton is a seaside town that allures tourists with its pretty pebble beach, bustling North Laine Bazaar, and thriving art and music scene. The city boasts a welcoming and diverse array of people and a large LGBTIA+ community.

Don’t miss out on 360-degree views of the city, the South Downs, and the South Coast from the glass observation pod, Brighton i360. Head to the Brighton Palace Pier to enjoy some seafood. And stroll around The Lanes, exploring its pubs, restaurants, and quaint tea rooms.

How to get there:

Take a train from the London Bridge Station to Preston Park Station. From here, you’ll catch a bus to Saunders Hill on Loder Road, within walking distance from the station. Your travel time via train and bus from London to Brighton typically takes less than two hours.

8. Canterbury

Canterbury is characterized by its Romanesque-Gothic cathedral, medieval streets lined with timber-framed houses, and ancient city walls. It offers an excellent day trip from London. The cathedral city has plenty of museums, art theaters, and lush gardens.

You’ll find awesome things to see and do in Canterbury. Take a guided walking tour around the city to learn about its history. Visit Canterbury Cathedral and marvel at some of the world’s oldest stained-glass windows. Lastly, walk the grounds of St. Augustine’s Abbey.

How to get there:

Catch a train to Canterbury at the St Pancras International Station in London. The southeastern train heads to Canterbury West Station. This train ride takes about one hour.

Cliffs of Dover, UK

9. Dover

Located along the English Channel, Dover is a Kent coastal town that’s played a significant role in the country’s history. The city boasts many incredible sights, including Dover Castle, the idyllic Samphire Hoe Nature Reserve, and the magnificent White Cliffs of Dover.

There are lots of things you can easily spend time doing in Dover. Learn about the city’s World War 2 past via a guided tour through the Secret Wartime Tunnels. And don’t forget to take a sea safari boat tour to get a closer look at the White Cliffs.

How to get there:

Take a Southeastern train from London’s St Pancras International Station to Dover. The train arrives in Dover Priory, and from here, you can catch a cab to the city center. This train ride takes a little over one hour from London to Dover.

10. Greenwich

Sitting along the banks of the River Thames in southeast London, Greenwich is a historical borough famous for maritime history and naming the 0° longitude, the Greenwich Meridian. The area has a royal history as many Tudors like Elizabeth I and Henry VIII were born here.

Greenwich is less than one hour from Central London so you can explore the two neighborhoods on the same day. Spend your day scouring the Cutty Sark Maritime Museum in Greenwich, climbing the roof at The O2 Arena, or seeing the Greenwich Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory.

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How to get there:

Take a train to Greenwich at the London Bridge Station. The train arrives in Westcombe Park, where you’ll disembark and take a taxi or e-haul to central Greenwich. This train ride takes about 35 minutes.

Hogwarts Letter

11. Harry Potter Studios

Are you a Potterhead or someone who appreciates the workings of a magical world? Then, a day trip to the Warner Bros. Studio should be on your itinerary. A guided tour of the making of Harry Potter takes you through sets and gives behind-the-scenes insights.

You’ll marvel at the original sets and props from all eight Harry Potter movies, see the inside of Dumbledore’s office, and wander along the famed cobbled street of Diagon Alley.

How to get there:

Take the West Midlands Railway train to Ashfield from London’s Euston Station. Get off the train at Watford Junction, then walk to Watford Junction Railway Station, where you’ll catch a bus to Ashfield. You can walk or get a cab to the Warner Bros. Studio from here.

12. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the best day trips from London for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The glass-covered outdoor gardens are full of colorful, exotic flowers and trees worldwide, making them a major draw for international tourists.

The Royal Botanic Gardens were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007; since then, they have dazzled many visitors. Stroll through The Palm House and walk the Treetop Walkway for aerial views.

Before heading back to London, take some time to spot some deer at Richmond Park.

How to get there:

Take a South Western Railway train to Richmond from London’s Waterloo Station. Disembark at the Richmond Station and get a taxi to the Kew Gardens. This train ride takes less than one hour, it’s about 45 minutes long.

13. Hampton Court Palace

Overlooking the north banks of the River Thames, Hampton Court Palace is a Grade 1 listed royal palace, and it’s not hard to see why. The palace’s exorbitant Baroque-style exteriors, regal interiors, and sheer size are just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s plenty more to discover about Hampton Court Palace. During the 1530s the court had transformed into a palace, a hotel, and a theater for the notorious Henry VIII. A tour of Hampton Court Palace lets you into the Great Hall, the Tudor Kitchens, and its gardens.

How to get there:

Take the South Western Railway train from London’s Waterloo to Surbiton Station. From here, catch another train to Hampton Court, then take a walk or taxi to the palace.

14. Epping Forest

Boasting over 5,900 acres of ancient woodland, Epping Forest is one of England’s most tranquil places. It is the largest open space in the country and a haven for avid hikers, wildlife enthusiasts, and outdoor lovers.

If you thought trees and dirt were all to see in Epping Forest, think again. High Beach is a village within the forest. It boasts a visitor center with natural history displays and a bookshop where you can get maps and souvenirs.

On the edge of Epping Forest, you’ll find Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge, now a museum, where you can learn about Tudor food and fashion and how the lodge was built.

How to get there:

Catch a northbound train from Liverpool Street Station to Stratford, where you’ll disembark and get on a second train to Loughton Station. From here, you’ll get a cab to Epping Forest.

Weymouth, UK

15. Weymouth

If you’re up for a relaxing day trip along England’s South Coast, look no further than Weymouth. This picture-perfect seaside town boasts a sandy beach characterized by colorful beach huts and backdrops of stunning Georgian architecture.

Weymouth offers loads of fun activities. From slow-paced beach days and strolls along the Jurassic Coast to marveling at Nothe Fort and exploring the Isle of Portland. 

How to get there:

This day trip is one of the longest you can take from London, but getting there is fairly easy. Take the South Western Railway train from Waterloo to Weymouth Train Station. This train ride will take you a few hours, about three hours.

16. Box Hill

Located in Surrey, Box Hill is a summit situated along the North Downs. The lush park is suitable for hiking and picnicking.

Numerous trails traversing the woodlands, and stepping stones leading you across rivers. Head to the Box Hill viewpoint and savor panoramic views of Surrey Hills and the North Downs.

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How to get there:

Take the Southern train from London’s Victoria Station to Box Hill & Westhumble. From here, you can walk to Box Hill, passing local pubs, lodges, and tour operators along the way. This day trip takes about one hour and 10 minutes from London to Box Hill.

Warwick Castle, UK

17. Warwick Castle

Step back in time by taking a day trip to this well-preserved medieval castle. Often referred to as the ultimate British castle, Warwick has a history spanning over a thousand years.

The castle’s facade was refortified during the Hundred Year’s War, resulting in an unmatched display of 14th-century military architecture. Warwick Castle offers plenty to do and see, from hair-raising dungeons to an over-the-top Great Hall and the Princess Tower.

Tip: Check the official website to avoid missing out on live reenactments and other events.

How to get there:

Take a train from London Paddington Station to Reading, where you’ll catch a CrossCountry train to Leamington Spa Station. From here, get on the final train to Warwick, then get a cab to the castle. This day trip takes a little over two hours from London.

18. The Cotswolds

Defined by honey-colored stone houses, winding streets, and lush surroundings, The Cotswolds are one of the most magical places to go on a day trip from London.

It boasts picturesque villages like Stow-on-the-Wold, with a huge Market Square suitable for retail therapy. The village also has charming tree-trunk hobbit-like doorways.

Another charming village with much to see is Bourton-on-the-Water. It’s known as the “Venice of the Cotswold,” thanks to elegant 18th-century bridges that cross the River Windrush.

How to get there:

This is one of the longest day trips you can take from London, and the logistics can get quite complex. You’ll board a train from Paddington to Swindon Station. Catch a bus to Bridge Close, then walk to Beeches Car Park, where you’ll get on another bus to The Cotswolds. This day trip takes just under two hours from London.

19. Margate

Margate is another Kent coastal town with a magical beach, views of white cliffs, and an Old Town with colorful buildings. The town offers plenty of fun and relaxing activities you’ll love.

Dreamland Amusement Park is a wonderful place for fun in the sun while strolling through the Turner Contemporary Gallery is an indoor activity you won’t want to miss. If you want something mind-blowing, visit the Shell Grotto to marvel at extraordinary mosaics made from seashells.

How to get there:

Take the Southeastern train from St Pancras International to Margate. The train makes eight stops along the way while heading to Margate Station. This day trip from London takes between one hour and 30 minutes and two hours.

Blenheim Palace, UK

20. Blenheim Palace

Sitting in the lush countryside of Woodstock, Blenheim Palace is often called Britain’s greatest palace. In addition to being the birthplace of famous British statesman Sir Winston Churchill, the palace is the only non-royal and non-Christian country house in England.

There is plenty to explore in Blenheim Palace, from the intricate Winston Churchill Exhibition and the majestic Great Hall to the extravagant Formal Gardens. If you have some time to spare, visit the nearby town of Woodstock for some afternoon tea or a walking tour.

How to get there:

Catch a train from Paddington in London to Hanborough Station. Take a bus to Woodstock from here, then get a taxi to Blenheim Palace. This day trip from London takes about one hour and 35 minutes.

Best Day Trips from London | Wrapped Up

London is one of the most visited cities in Europe, which is not surprising. But taking a day trip from London is one of the best ways to leave the hustle and bustle of the capital behind and savor the fresh air in nearby towns and coastal cities.

Whether you’re looking for a seaside outing or a medieval town with pubs serving cream tea and gourmet scotch eggs, these day trips from London have all that and more. You’ll explore these destinations at your own pace with the help of readily available public transport.

So don’t wait too long to book your ticket to the English capital, as many exciting day trips from London await!

20 Best Day Trips from London, UK
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