17 Easy Day Trips from London

An exhaustive and diverse list of day trips from London, including castles, seafront walks, quaint villages and exciting cities.

Rumour has it that one is never more than 60 miles from the beach in Britain; indeed, the island is quite compact but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is entirely homogeneous. Quite the contrary!

Quick note: if you plan on doing several independent day trips, a Brit Rail pass might be worth your while. Otherwise, I always book tickets with trainline.com. Happy travels!

The Best Day Trips From London: Cities

Brighton

day trips from London

Counter-culture and forward-thinking dispositions explain why Brighton is light-years away from the quaint fishing villages of coastal England. Here, you’ll find the UK’s biggest gay scene, the most shocking venues, and the Channel’s best clubbing, along with the myriad of hipster cafés and vintage shops in Brighton Lanes. The beach, however, with its chippy stands and its whimsical Brighton Pier, truly is for everyone.

Oxford

day trips from London

How do you summarise a city steeped in a thousand year of academic history? Oxford is indeed quite privileged, being home to the world’s most famous university, but also utterly elegant and charming. Tour the colleges, have a pint where  C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien used to hang out, geek out at the Harry Potter filming locations, explore the quiet cobbled lanes, go up the Radcliffe Camera, hire a punt, go further afield at Blenheim Palace, walk in the footsteps of Prime Ministers and poets… The possibilities, in lovely Oxford, really are endless. I cannot recommend a walking tour highly enough – only pro guides are familiar with the details and hidden stories of this town.

Liverpool

day trips from London

Liverpool has been working very hard to shed its reputation as a rough, rowdy, boring city, and I was pleased to see the result on my last visit. Albert Docks are quite lovely and the impressive cultural heritage is only enhanced by everything pertaining to the legendary Beatles.

York

day trips from london

An immaculate circuit of 13th-century walls encloses a medieval spider’s web of quaint pedestrian streets – at its heart lies the immense, awe-inspiring York Minster, one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in the world. The extraordinary historical wealth is prominently featured, as it should be, in the city’s plentiful pubs and cafés. York is amazing, and you really shouldn’t miss it.

Bath

day trips from London

Bath is best known for three things: being home to sophisticated 18th-century Georgian architecture, as demonstrated on the Royal Crescent; being home to one of the world’s best-preserved Roman bathhouses, as the town sits on top of natural hot springs; and, lastly, for being one of the prettiest and kindest cities in the heart of the rolling countryside of southwest England.

Stratford-upon-Avon

day trips from london

Not only is this market town Shakespeare’s birthplace, it’s also chock full of 800+-year-old buildings that would have been familiar to the Bard. It’s even possible to visit the very hall where he was first introduced to theatre!

Paris

day trips from london

Maybe not the most obvious choice for day trips from London, it’s actually an easy option. If it’s your first trip to Europe, why not kill two birds with one stone and add Paris to your visit? Thanks to Eurostar, central London and central Paris are now linked by a direct 2.5 hours train ride. Of course, there’s no need to list all the reasons why a day trip to Paris is a good idea!

The Best Day Trips From London: Villages & Countryside

Stonehenge

day trips from london

Stonehenge isn’t bad at all – the sheer fact that these rocks were probably hauled all the way from Wales back in 2000 B.C. is actually very impressive, to say the least. To this day, specialists still don’t agree with its vocation: was Stonehenge a healing temple, a  sun worshiping place, a burial site or a life-size calendar? No one knows for sure.

Note: I highly suggest getting either an early or a private entry to Stonehenge, as you’ll be able to get closer to the rocks that way. I did the regular tour and regretted it, as the stones are quite far.

Dover

day trips from london

Dover is a great discovery. Do walk the scenic North Downs Way, a trail that follows the famous white cliffs. If you want to see those cliffs from another angle, hop on the Dover-Calais ferry and enjoy the views (prices vary). Another jewel of Dover is its castle, one the most ancient Roman construction of Britain, built 2000 years ago. Known as the “Key to England” because of its military history, it was last used during the WWII (check out the Secret Wartime Tunnels part of the Castle). But don’t spend all your time indoors; get out and smell the fresh air!

Windsor

day trips from london

Visit the Queen’s favourite weekend home – the world’s oldest, largest inhabited castle! I don’t necessarily suggest an organised visit for this one as Windsor (unless you plan on doing a multi-destination day trip) is very easily reachable from London by train.

Cotswolds

day trips from london

Rolling gracefully across six counties, the Cotswolds are a delightful tangle of glorious villages, thatch-roofed cottages, rickety almshouses and ancient mansions of honey-coloured stone. These gentle yet dramatic hills are perfect for walking, cycling, and even horse riding, crisscrossed by the 102-mile Cotswold Way. My favourite villages are Bourton-on-the-Water, Castle Combe, Bibury, and Chipping Campden.

If you would rather have a guided tour, Viator has plenty of options departing from central London every day.

Downton Abbey

day trips from london

I wrote about my day trip experience at Highclere Castle (the castle’s actual name), which also included stops in Oxford and Bampton, which acted as Downton Village. If you’re a fan of the series this expedition is definitely a must-do!

Leeds Castle

day trips from London

 Is this Leeds Castle the prettiest in England? Quite possibly. Find out for yourself.

The Best Day Trips From London: Places I Haven’t Been To But Look Amazing

  • WhitstablePicture-perfect fishing hamlet on the north coast of Kent dotted with weatherboard houses and a pleasingly old-fashioned main street. Truly lovely.

  • LacockTake a step back in time! The village of Lacock, which dates from the 13th century and has many limewashed half-timbered and is remarkably free of modern development. It was used as a location in the TV and film productions of Pride and Prejudice and Emma. The Abbey also featured in the recent Harry Potter films. Can easily be combined with visits to Stonehenge, Avebury, and Bath.

  • RyePossibly Southern England’s quaintest town, Rye is a little nugget of the past, a medieval settlement that looks like it’s been left untouched on a shelf for all to admire. Expect cobbled lanes, inviting tea rooms, and crooked timbered Tudor buildings.

  • GloucesterCompact Gloucester (pronounced glos-ter – you’re welcome) is mostly known for its massive and beautiful cathedral, built to house the grave of Edward II in medieval times. This is still the main reason to visit today, along with the pretty historic centre and «market town» feel.

Things To Do In London: Get The Book

Like what you just read? Some of it are excerpts from my London city guide eBook, which I just published. You’ll find 200 more suggestions of things to see, do, eat, and drink in London in there, as well as photography pointers and loads of helpful tips.

london-city-guide

Get your copy now for just $9!

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An exhaustive and diverse list of day trips from #London, including castles, seafront walks, quaint villages and exciting cities.

12 Comments on 17 Easy Day Trips from London

  1. violette
    June 25, 2010 at 11:25 am (7 years ago)

    Oxford: Wow! All those bicycles and the architecture… a must!

    Bath and Stonehenge: Loved both of them. I would return anytime. For the visit, if you take an audioguide, I would recommand to allow yourself some time if you are the curious kind and want to listen to all the information available.

    Liverpool: Besides all the Beatles references (which are awesome), the city is pretty ordinary in my opinion.

    York: So beautiful! A must too, just for hanging out.

    What about Stratford-upon-Avon? Is it very far from London? It’s really touristic, but it’s so pretty! And the visit of Shakespeare’s house is nice too.

    Reply
    • Marie
      June 25, 2010 at 11:43 am (7 years ago)

      Thanks for your comment!
      I was thinking on doing another daytrip post, but more focused on countryside cities, like Stratford-upon-Avon. Thanks for suggesting it! :)

      I thought Liverpool was pretty boring actually, apart from the Beatles references. It’s the only reason I wanted to go there and I’m glad I didn’t get my hopes too high.

      Reply
      • Mary
        February 6, 2017 at 10:32 am (8 months ago)

        It would be nice if you included how to get to these places…if by train, which one from which station and how much it costs. Love your choices!

  2. Veronique
    January 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm (7 years ago)

    Oh! J’ai adoré certains de ces endroits: Oxford, Bath/Stonehenge, Brighton.

    J’aurais beaucoup aimé aller à York. On m’en dit de bonnes choses.

    J’ajouterais à ta liste Winchester! Une découverte et un coup de coeur pour moi. Chaque fois qu’on avait des visiteurs, on les emmenait là. La ville a gagné “best place to live in Britain” à quelques reprises, je crois.

    Si on aime Oxford, Cambridge est super aussi. C’est plus petit, mais tout aussi mignon et historique.

    Enfin, je prêche pour ma paroisse, mais Portsmouth vaut le détour, même si on pense ne pas aimer l’histoire navale. Le vieux Portsmouth et ses musées, ses vieux bateaux, ses pubs, etc. Ça vaut une journée. Et avec Mégatrain, on peut y aller pour 1 poud :-)

    Reply
    • Marie
      November 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm (6 years ago)

      York est effectivement un endroit superbe qui vaut largement le coup – je le recommende à tous !

      Reply
  3. Amanda
    December 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm (6 years ago)

    I really think I’m going to need to extend my time in London next summer just so I can take a lot of these day trips!

    I’m definitely already planning a Beatles tour in Liverpool, and a trip to Stonehenge. But now York and Oxford sound wonderful, too!

    Reply
  4. Sherry
    April 18, 2014 at 12:16 am (3 years ago)

    I’ve never considered Paris from London – that is a great idea that I will try the next time I’m there.

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      April 18, 2014 at 11:22 am (3 years ago)

      Definitely! And if you book soon enough, the Eurostar isn’t all that expensive.

      Reply
  5. Ailton M mendes
    December 17, 2016 at 11:02 am (9 months ago)

    Hi Marie
    This will be our first trip to London and Paris.
    I found your tips very good.
    How is it our first time to have some new guidance you can give us?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      December 20, 2016 at 5:59 pm (9 months ago)

      Hello Ailton, I think you’ll find plenty of info and guidance across the blog! Send me an email if you have specific questions.

      Reply
  6. Private Punting Tours
    April 25, 2017 at 6:36 pm (5 months ago)

    Wow, need to get to some of these places – they all look amazing! Love all that the UK has to offer and proud to call it home :)

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      April 26, 2017 at 4:32 pm (5 months ago)

      You are very lucky indeed!

      Reply

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