I could easily rave about London all day, every day, but even I can see that sometimes the hustle and bustle of the city gets a little too much and you need a breather. Without taking too much time away from your stay in the capital, here are my top 8 day trips from London, with a sneaky 2 rounding our list to 10 that I cannot wait to go on one day!
The 8 best day trips I’ve been on from London..
Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside! Honestly, Brighton was so eclectic and fun, even with the roaring waves threatening to beat down the pier! My family and I had the best time popping in and out of antique stores, artisan pie shops and spending all our loose change in the arcade games on the famous Brighton Pier. Not to mention the gorgeous outlook onto the old pier and the views from nearby Hove against the backdrop of the colourful beach huts. Oh! There’s the new British Airways i360 to while away the day, too, which I have yet to try!
How to get here: train from London Victoria (52 minutes direct), or 90 minute drive (A23)
Ahhhh, Cambridge. I honestly feel so connected to Cambridge and there really is nothing like being punted around the historic University town, though I’d love to try my hand at actually doing the punting myself (and trying not to fall in! God, that water would be cold!) From King’s College to sneaking in the backs of cloisters, Cambridge impresses with the absolute magic of the town.
How to get here: 90 minute drive (M11) or train from King’s Cross (1 hour)
We’ve talked about Cambridge, but it wouldn’t be fair to talk about my favourite day trips from London without due chit chat about its opponent, Oxford. I had the privilege of spending quite a number of days in Oxford and so know the city a little better than Cambridge. To fill your day, there’s nothing like taking in the majesty (and being a Harry Potter nerd) in Christchurch Cathedral, as well as practicing your pronunciation of Alohamora in between the arcs that define every cloister and college. The Bridge of Sighs is a must on your travels – and gives you just that little bit of extra motivation to get your butt over to Venice to see it’s sister bridge.
How to get here: 1 hour 23 minute drive (A40 and M40) or else 70 minute train (Paddington Station)
4. Stonehenge (and throwing in Salisbury here too)
Some people love Stonehenge, some find it a bit meh but personally I found it captivating. We happened upon Stonehenge twice in a week, because the first time was so flooded with rain we could hardly look up past the rims of our umbrellas to see the thing, but the second time was much clearer and they had opened another path which took us to a unique viewing area. You can choose to either walk up from the visitor centre or else catch a little shuttle and get there in a moment. Whilst there, consider joining English Heritage to get access to 400 other historical sites around England. All that sightseeing sure does spike the appetite though, and considering we had a car, we drove through to nearby Salisbury, with its canals and church spires sure to take your breath away.
How to get here: 1 hour 40 minute drive (A3 and M303) or 2.5 hours train/bus (Waterloo Station, then bus from Salisbury)
I’ll never forget the moment when, right after my umbrella completely blew inside out without hope of repairing (courtesy of the infamous Bath winds), I looked around the The Royal Crescent with its yellowing Georgian architecture and felt completely in awe. From the height of the street we could look down upon the entirety of Bath, with the actual baths way down by the markets and the River Avon. From little cobbled lanes to the impressive historic baths, Bath is an absolutely must-see destination in England. I spent a few hours wandering the streets, but would absolutely love to have stayed a night in a BnB.
How to get here: 2 hour drive (M4) or 2.5 hour train (Paddington Station then changing at Bristol)
Windsor is much closer to London than I ever imagined it to be, and it really is something special to go and see Windsor Castle, the Queen’s official residence for the majority of the year. While my parents popped off to see the actual town itself, I spent the few hours we had there exploring the limits of the Castle, from the grand interiors to the high protective walls and St George’s Chapel, which was a real highlight in my view. Make sure to pop down to the canal where there are plenty of swans fluffing about.
How to get here: 43 minute drive (M4) or 50 minute train (from Paddington Station)
What brought me to Henley-on-Thames is an undying love of all things Beatles, and considering this small town boasts the infamous Friar Park (home to late-Beatle, George Harrison, and currently still home to his wife Olivia Harrison), it was only right that I visited with my equally-if-not-more-so-fanatic dad. Funny story – as we drove up to Friar Park, a George Harrison song I had never heard on the radio before just suddenly started playing, and you can bet I got goosebumps! Apart from the Beatles-connection, there really is every reason to visit Henley-on-Thames, if historic graveyards, an outlook across the Thames, and delicious artisan pub food are on your radar. We popped to Henley-on-Thames after stopping at Windsor, so if you want to kill two birds with one stone, I’d recommend these.
How to get here: 1 hour drive (M4) or 1 hour 10 mins via train (from Paddington Station, changing at Twyford)
Ahhh, To Go or Not To Go, that is the question. Stratford-Upon-Avon is most notably the birthplace (and burial site) of William Shakespeare, and there are a myriad of odes to the legend across the entire medieval market town, from souvenir stores and tours around Shakespeare’s birthplace, to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and gardens. Don’t miss entering Church of the Holy Trinity to marvel at the intricacy of Shakespeare’s burial place, and certainly pop into all the antique stores dotted around the absolutely delightful town – Tudor-style buildings line the historic streets, and the River Avon against the parks and theatres really do make Stratford-Upon-Avon something special.
How to get here: 1 hour 50 minute drive (M40) or 1 hour 50 minute train (from Marylebone Station, changing at Leamington Spa Station)
And two that I’ve not had the pleasure of going on…yet
As an avid Vicar of Dibley lover there’s nowhere I’d rather visit in England than the picturesque village of Bibury, nestled in the absolutely stunning cluster of villages making up the Cotswolds. From sandstone and cobbles to honey-suckle homes and churches, The Cotswolds really do look the exact picture of quaintness you’d associate with Britain.
How to get here: 2 hours drive (M4) or 90 minute train (from Paddington Station)
Photo taken from https://www.cotswoldcharm.com/the-cotswolds/
Depicted as a “cathedral city”, Canterbury reminds me a little of York (from what I can tell from photos) with the same sort of ancient wall surrounding it and Roman architecture stealing the show. I can’t wait to one day see St Augustine’s Chapel standing out amongst the otherwise cosmopolitan vibe that this student town seems to emanate.
How to get here: 1.5 hour drive (A2 and M2) or 1 hour 8 minute train (from St Pancras International)
Picture taken from http://www.euroradialyouth2016.com/canterbury_england/