Are you planning a little trip away from London? We don’t blame you – the capital of the United Kingdom is a great city, but it would be a shame not to explore more of England. There are plenty of beautiful places to visit. Idyllic seaside escapes, city breaks or romantic countryside are perfect for short breaks or weekend getaways from London. So if you want a change of scenery, here are the best day trips from London to inspire your wanderlust!
The best day trips from London
These are 17 of the very best day trips from London – all close enough to London to get you there and back in one day. We have set our radar to within three hours journey from London.
The best day trips from London for peace and relaxation
It is no secret that Rye is one of the prettiest towns in southeast England. This quaint town in East Sussex has not only a historic charm but is also very pretty. But it is not only beautiful, though. Over the centuries, Rye was a port that played a major part in the defence of the English coast. Rye was also a famous pirate town.
Today, the hilltop Rye attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. It’s because Rye feels like a tiny slice of the Cotswolds on the coast.
It is easy to see why Rye is one of the best day trips from London for a peace and relaxation. It is easy to visit, it is beautiful, and it is also one of the best weekend getaways from London.
Once here, wander through the cobbled lanes and see beautiful Georgian and medieval houses. You will find tea houses, vintage shops, independent bookstores and up-cycled furniture shops scattered throughout the town.
Follow your nose, and you will discover Mermaid Street with chocolate-box houses. It is one of the prettiest and most photographed streets in England. Some say that it is one of the prettiest streets in Britain.
Afterwards, visit the nearby Ypres Tower, which King Henry II built to help to defend the country against the French.
If sunny, take a short bus drive or drive to Camber Sands – it is one of the best beaches in the UK. This white sandy beach with the dunes has shallow waters, which are perfect for a swim during the summer. If you are not brave enough to swim, take a kite for a spin or just relax on the towel.
Rye is just a stone’s throw from one of the best beaches in England – Camber Sands.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Driving to Rye takes two hours from Central London. Otherwise, you can get there by train from London St Pancras International. Journey time is 1 hour and 10 minutes, and you will need one change at Ashford.
The city of Canterbury is one of the unique weekend getaways from London.
Just over an hour and a half drive from London is Canterbury, a beautiful cathedral city nestled in Kent. Canterbury is one of the best day trips from London because this city has thousands of years of history. What’s more, it is one of the most beautiful and historic cities in England.
You might not know it, but the Romans originally built the ancient walls around the town. This iconic medieval city was even a pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages.
Today, Canterbury is famous for its beautiful cathedral – it is a UNESCO Heritage Site. It is the home of the Church of England and a top attraction in the city. You can find the cathedral in the heart of Canterbury.
Canterbury – a cathedral city in southeast England is also famous for its boat tours.
Another place you need to visit is the ruins of the Abbey of St Augustine, which was one of the most important monasteries in medieval England. The ruins are also part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site.
If possible, take time to visit the Roman Museum, where you can learn more about life in Roman Britain.
Those looking for a relaxing activity should certainly take a boat tour. The River Stour flows through the heart of the historic city and is an excellent escape from the busy streets. There are two tours to choose from. A river tour where you can see the famous timber-framed houses or a more peaceful tour near Westgate Gardens.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Trains from London to Canterbury depart from London Victoria and also St Pancras International station.
The average journey duration is one hour from St Pancras and 1 hour and a half from London Victoria.
3. The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds: there is no reason not to visit the English countryside.
Those looking for a romantic escape won’t find themselves bored in the Cotswolds. Whether you are visiting the Cotswolds for relaxing or you would like to take in some culture, it is a travel destination you will not want to leave.
Rolling hills, castles and honey stone cottages in sleepy villages in the Cotswolds are the kind of England you find on the postcards. The Cotswolds is not only breath-taking but also perfect for relaxation. Therefore, visiting the Cotswolds is one of the best romantic weekend getaways from London if you’re looking for peace and relaxation.
Keep your camera ready when exploring the Cotswolds
Some of the most charming places are Castle Combe, Bibury and Bourton on Water (also called “Venice of the Cotswolds”). If possible, visit Sudeley Castle – the only private castle in England with a queen buried within its grounds.
GOOD TO KNOW:
You will need a car if you would like to see more villages. The average driving time from London is about two hours. Alternatively, join a day tour from London to the Cotswolds.
The best day trips from London for castle lovers
4. Bodiam Castle
If you are looking for some romantic escape in the English countryside, then you should consider visiting Bodiam Castle. You can find this moated castle in East Sussex. Perhaps you do not know it, but 4th century Bodiam Castle is one of the most photographed castles in Britain. Therefore, it is one of the best day trips from London if you pair it with a visit to nearby Rye.
Back in the past, Bodiam Castle was built for defence against French invasion during the Hundred Year’s War. Today you can explore the ruins of the castle and enjoy a picnic in its beautiful gardens.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Those who would like to visit Bodiam Castle from London can do that only if they have a car. The journey from London takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
It is hard to think of a lovelier place than Windsor. A historic market town near Heathrow is well-known as one of the best day trips from London by train.
Windsor is not too far from the capital, and, therefore, is one of the most popular weekend getaways from London. The big draw here is undoubtedly Windsor Castle – it is one of the most famous castles in England. Windsor Castle is the royal residence of Queen Elizabeth II and the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.
Windsor Castle – the Queen’s favourite residence where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot.
But there is more to this charming riverside town. Windsor has beautiful parks, a Victorian train station, the shortest street in England and the oldest tea house in England. It even has the famous Royal Mile walk, which starts just behind the castle – make sure you do not miss that.
Afterwards, go boating along the Thames. Also, visit the nearby Eton, where you can see Eton College. It is one of the most famous education institutions in the world.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Trains from London to Windsor depart from London Waterloo and also Paddington Station. A direct train from London Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside with South Western Railway will take you about 60 minutes.
If travelling by car, approximately 45 minutes.
If for your next trip you are looking for a castle, look no further than Warwick. This market town in the county of Warwickshire is the most famous for its iconic castle. Warwick Castle is one of the most visited castles in England and for good reasons. It has almost a thousand years of history and beautifully landscaped gardens which are perfect for a picnic. It is home to the most powerful catapult in the world and has one of the largest armouries besides the Tower of London. Warwick Castle has also a dungeon and special effects that will send chills down your spine. It has a rich history and plenty of attractions to keep you occupied for half a day.
Therefore, spending a day in Warwick is one of the best day trips from London for castle lovers.
Medieval Warwick Castle is a popular destination for families.
After exploring the castle, take a stroll in the old town and see beautiful old buildings. Stop at St Mary’s Church, which you can find in the centre of the town. It is a grade I listed building, and it offers beautiful views from its tower.
If you are feeling adventurous, hire a kayak, a rowboat or swan pedalos to see the castle from the river. Warwick also has plenty of parks and gardens to explore – do not miss the Mill Garden.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The average journey time from London to Warwick by train is about two hours. It will take you about 15 minutes to walk from the train station to the castle. If you decide to arrive by car, it will take you at least two hours from London.
Beautiful Arundel Castle – a top attraction in West Sussex.
Arundel is undoubtedly one of the finest historic towns in southern England. In fact, it’s also one of the best day trips from London for castle lovers.
Arundel Castle is probably at the top of everyone’s must-see list and the main reason to visit this town. Restored and remodelled Arundel Castle has iconic views. It is overlooking the River Arun and also the South Downs National Park.
Moreover, Arundel Castle is one of England’s largest inhabited and complete castles. In the past, Arundel Castle has seen sieges and battles. Today it is home to the Duke of Norfolk. It is also one of the best castles in England.
Other attractions you cannot miss are Arundel Cathedral and Swanbourne Lake, where you can hire a rowing boat. If you like to watch wildlife, then go to WWT Arundel Wetlands. It is a nature reserve on the banks of the River Arun with beautiful walkways.
GOOD TO KNOW:
A journey from London to Arundel takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes by train. You will need to change in Barnham or Horsham sometimes. If travelling by car, you will reach Arundel in about two hours.
The best day trips for a seaside escape
Brighton nicknamed ‘London-on-the-Sea’.
Looking to escape the heat of the city during the summer? Then, Brighton might be what you are looking for. This seaside resort on the coast of England is one of the best beach destinations in England. It is perfect for topping up your Vitamin Sea levels, and it has a lot of attractions to keep you busy during the day. Therefore, visiting Brighton is one of the best day trips from London by train for a seaside escape.
Once here, start at the seafront. Walk along the famous Brighton Pier, which is popular for beautiful views, arcade games and fairground rides. It also has pier snack stands, a pub and a restaurant.
Planning on visiting a beach in Brighton? If so, you should know the beach is pebbly but worth a visit. Stroll along the beach and see Victorian-era seafront hotels, the Old Pier and Upside-down house. Next, go to the British Airways i360 observation tower, which provides the best views of Brighton. If you would like to try paddleboarding, windsurfing or kayaking, you can rent it for an hour or a day.
Other must-visit attractions are the postcard-perfect promenade, the beautifully preserved Royal Pavilion and the world’s oldest aquarium. Do not miss the Lanes – narrow pedestrianized alleys in the historic part of the city. It is where you will find cafes, restaurants, independent clothes stores, art shops and bars.
Most of the famous attractions are within a 15-minute walk of each other, so you can easily explore the city on foot.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The train from London Victoria to Brighton takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. If you decide to travel by car, it takes about two hours to get there.
The best day trips from London for culture lovers
It is impossible not to fall in love with Bath.
It is easy to see why the city of Bath is one of the best day trips from London for culture lovers. The largest city in Somerset is, in fact, one of the most famous cities in England – and for good reasons. It is the only destination in the United Kingdom, where the entire town is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. But that is not all, though.
Bath also has a second inscription on a UNESCO World Heritage list. It is one of the ‘Great Spas of Europe’.
The Roman city of Bath – a historic spa town based around mineral springs
What else makes this Georgian spa town unique? Besides the fact that the planet Uranus was discovered here, Bath is famous for its Roman-built baths. Yes, that is right, Bath has mineral-rich hot springs, which attracted the Romans almost 2,000 years ago. And you can still see them in the city.
Walk around the steaming pools of the Roman Baths and admire the Roman architecture. Explore the Royal Crescent, one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the UK. Walk beautiful honey-hued streets and learn more about Jane Austen, one of the most famous residents in the city. Do not forget to visit galleries, museums – there are many to choose from. Also, see the famous Pulteney Bridge and visit the Bath Abbey – make sure you go inside.
Afterwards, chill out in the rooftop pool of Bath’s thermal spa and see the city from the top.
For these reasons, Bath is one of the best weekend getaways from London. Make sure you visit this beautiful city with Roman remains – you will not regret it.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Direct trains run from London Paddington twice an hour. The journey time to Bath is under an hour and a half. Driving to Bath will take an extra hour on top of that.
If you want to experience something a little different, head to Stonehenge towards Salisbury. This iconic site in England is the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the top attractions in the UK. Therefore, exploring Stonehenge is one of the best day trips from London for culture lovers. The mysterious Stonehenge is thousands of years old, and nobody knows for sure what it was used for.
You might be surprised to hear that you can see Stonehenge only from the distance – you cannot enter the stone circle. Booking a guided tour is the best option because you can learn more about this unique monument.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The journey from London to Stonehenge takes about two hours by car. Travelling by train from London Waterloo Station to Salisbury and taking the Stonehenge tour bus takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
You will need about two hours to explore Stonehenge. Afterwards, in Salisbury to see its beautiful cathedral.
If you want to learn more about Roman Britain, then your next day trip from London should be to Colchester. Why is this historic market town in the county of Essex in the East of England so important? Well, Colchester has a long history that dates back over 2000 years. It is the oldest recorded town in Britain and the first capital of Roman Britain. And you can see traces of that heritage all over Colchester.
The best place to start is Colchester Castle, which is the largest Norman keep in Europe. What makes this castle unique is that the Normans built this castle over the ruined Temple of Claudius. The Temple of Claudius was the largest temple of its kind in Roman Britain.
Today you can learn more about Roman Britain when you visit Colchester Castle. Inside you will find various Roman artefacts and mosaics – there are some of the best in Britain.
Other important landmarks in the city are the remains of the Roman wall, Castle Park and a zoo. Also, do not miss the remains of the amphitheatre and ruins of the only Roman circus in the country.
GOOD TO KNOW:
If travelling by car, it will take you about one hour and a half from London to Colchester. You can also take a train from London Liverpool Street to Colchester. The journey time is about one hour, and it will take you about 15 minutes to walk from the station to the old Roman town.
Cambridge – English Venice.
It does not come as a surprise to hear that visiting Cambridge is one of the best day trips from London by train. Cambridge is one of England’s most famous cities, and therefore, it is one of the popular weekend getaways from London. It has beautiful scenery, a lot of attractions and plenty to keep you entertained all day long.
Cambridge might be slightly smaller than Oxford, but the competition between the two is alive to this day.
World-famous universities and colleges are, of course, the big draw here – Sir Isaac Newton is one of those who once studied here.
Visit the impressive Trinity College and King’s College before heading inside King’s College Chapel. It is one of the most iconic buildings in Cambridge. King’s College Chapel is one of the greatest examples of late Gothic English architecture. It even has the world’s largest fan vault.
After wandering around the colleges, go punting along the River Cam and see Cambridge from the water. It is one of the best ways to see the city and college greens. Hire a boat of your own or get a tour in a traditional wooden boat with a tour guide. Guides are very educated, and they will tell you more about this famous city – you will not regret it.
Punting on the River Cam
Later, explore the town’s narrow lanes, ancient bookstores and shops that make Cambridge such a special place. Do not forget to visit Great St Mary’s – it is the University Church overlooking the marketplace in the centre of Cambridge. The tower has breath-taking panoramic views of the city.
Other famous landmarks are the Botanic Garden with rare plant species and museums – the Fitzwilliam Museum is one of them. It is one of the best museums in Britain, and it is free to enter. The museum has an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures, even ancient artefacts from Egypt, Rome and Greece. Once you have explored the city, enjoy a cocktail in one of the bars in the city centre.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Trains to Cambridge depart from London King’s Cross and also Liverpool Street. The average journey duration is about 45 minutes from King’s Cross and 1 hour and 10 minutes from London Liverpool Street.
If you want to travel by car, the average journey time is about an hour and a half.
Universities and architecture are major draws in Oxford.
If you are looking for a traditional slice of British culture, exploring Oxford is one of the best day trips from London by train. It is slightly larger than Cambridge, but still has a lot of famous attractions within easy walking distance.
Oxford is a university city with beautiful honey-coloured buildings. It is famous for its medieval colleges, museums and filming locations in the Harry Potter movies. Oxford is easily accessible, and therefore, it is one of the epic weekend getaways from London.
Exploring universities is high up on many visitors wish lists, but not all colleges are free to visit. If you can visit only one, make sure it is Christ Church College. It is one of the oldest and largest colleges within the University of Oxford. You might not know it, but King Henry VIII founded it. The Christ Church College has a stunning cathedral and also Harry Potter connections.
Other must-visit attractions are the iconic Radcliffe Camera, the 1000 years old Oxford Castle and Prison and also the Bridge of Sighs. For the best views, climb the tower of St. Mary’s the Virgin.
If you are looking for a relaxing activity, punting along the river is a good idea. Do not forget to visit the Ashmolean Museum, which has the world’s greatest collection of Raphael drawings. If you still have spare time, see the Bodleian Library – it is one of the oldest libraries in Europe.
GOOD TO KNOW:
If you decide to drive to Oxford from London, it takes about two hours. But it is only a short 60 minute trip by train from Paddington Station. It takes around an hour and 15 minutes by train from Marylebone station.
Stratford-upon-Avon surely deserves its reputation as one of the best weekend getaways from London. This sweet little town in West Midlands has plenty of attractions to keep you occupied. The biggest draw is William Shakespeare who was the most famous resident here.
You can visit five Shakespeare family homes in Stratford. Don’t miss Shakespeare’s house, his school and also Holy Trinity Church, where he was baptised and is buried. If you have spare time, stop at Anne Hathaway’s cottage where his daughter used to live.
Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of the greatest English writer.
But Stratford-upon-Avon is more than just a Shakespeare Disneyland, we promise. This lovely market town, located along River Avon, has beautiful Tudor architecture and a Christmas shop open all year round.
After sightseeing, take a boat tour along the canal and learn more about the waterways. A sightseeing tour also offers beautiful views of the countryside.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The easiest way how to get to Stratford is by car. It will take you about two hours, depending on traffic. The train from London Marylebone will bring you to Stratford in about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
15. Blenheim Palace
Another gorgeous place to visit is Blenheim Palace. Why you should visit? Well, Blenheim Palace is, in fact, a national treasure. It is a World Heritage Site with over 300 years of history, even the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. But that is not all, of course. Blenheim Palace has a fascinating history, romantic gardens and engaging tours and exhibitions. Harry Potter fans can also find the Harry Potter Tree by the lake in front of the palace. Therefore, exploring Blenheim Palace is one of the best day trips from London for culture lovers and fans of Harry Potter.
Today, Blenheim Palace is the home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. Take a tour of the palace and see the Palace State Rooms with a beautiful collection of tapestries and furniture. See Sir Winston Churchill’s birth room, the Churchill exhibition and other rooms.
GOOD TO KNOW:
If travelling by train, you will need to get to Oxford first. From there, it will take you about 20 minutes by bus. If travelling by car, you will get to Blenheim Palace from London in about one hour and a half.
If possible, plan your weekend getaway from London to Oxford and visit also Blenheim Palace. The palace is only a twenty-minute journey from Oxford.
If you do not mind driving a little longer than two and a half hours, then Norwich is another gorgeous city to visit. The medieval city, located in Norfolk, is not only a getaway to the iconic Broads. It has a lot of historic landmarks too. The most famous of them all is certainly Norwich Cathedral – it is one of the Norwich 12 heritage sites. It has stunning architecture, history and is also free to enter.
Not too far away is 12th century Norwich Castle and one of the largest open-air markets in the UK. Norwich is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the country. Don’t miss Tombland Alley at the heart of the historic city. Also, stop at medieval Elm Hill – it is one of the most photogenic streets in the city.
GOOD TO KNOW:
It is easy to see why Norwich is one of the best day trips from London by train. The average time on the Greater Anglia train from London Liverpool Street to Norwich is about two hours.
Last, but not least is Wells -it is an ancient cathedral city in the heart of Somerset. What makes Wells one of the best day trips from London is that this city isn’t just beautiful, but it’s also has a Roman past. Yes, that is right, the history of the smallest city in England goes all the way back to Roman times.
The main attraction is, of course, its magnificent cathedral, which is now Grade I listed building. Gothic style Wells Cathedral is often called the ‘most poetic’ cathedral in England. It is the tallest building in the city, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
Just a short walk from the cathedral you will find historic Vicars’ Close. It is a must-see place in the city because it is believed that it is the only complete medieval street in England.
Other attractions are Bishop’s Palace and Gardens (home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells) and also St Cuthbert’s Church.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The easiest way to get to Wells from London is by car (3 hours). It is a good idea to pair a trip to Wells with exploring the Cotswolds or the city of Bath. Whichever option you go for, you will be sure to have a lot of fun. Therefore, exploring Wells is one of the best weekend getaways from London if you love history.
With so many beautiful places, England has far more to offer. These are some of our favourite best day trips from London. To make the most of your experience, try to leave London early in the morning. Perhaps you will discover your new favourite destination on one of the weekend getaways from London.
Best day trips from London by train:
- next, Bath
- and also Rye
- and also Arundel
- last, but not least, Colchester
Where would you like to go on a day trip from London? Let us know in the comments below 🙂
Pin best day trips from London for later!
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY: