London is such a beautiful city with so many things to offer its tourists. However, if you really want to discover what England is all about, you must take some of the numerous day trips from London by train, to the countryside. The good news is that the capital is so well connected by train to pretty much all the corners of the country, touristy or off the beaten path. A day trip from London by train can be a nice escape in the nature, a way to discover the English history and culture, a foodie adventure and, why not, a great way to take a break and just relax. So, where will you be going to?
By Chrysoula from Historic European Castles
If you’re visiting London for an extended trip and would like to add in some additional destinations to your itinerary, considering taking a day trip to the historic city of Oxford which lies just over 50 miles west of the capital.
Of course, the most famous thing that draws travelers to Oxford from around the world is the famous university known for its breath-taking buildings, many of which have been used as filming locations for films and TV series including Harry Potter. Oxford University is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and visitors can walk around the site or opt to take a guided tour.
Other sites and attractions in Oxford include Oxford Castle, the Bridge of Sighs, the Bodleian Library, and the Museum of History of Science (which houses one of Einstein’s blackboards), as well as Blenheim Palace which lies just outside the city.
After visiting some of these top sights you’ll be in need of some refreshments, so head to The Turf Tavern (one of the oldest pubs in Oxford) or visit The Grand Café for a deluxe Afternoon Tea!
Travelers can easily take a train from the center of London to Oxford, with regular routes running from Marylebone and Paddington Stations. Trains take just over an hour from London to Oxford (leaving approx. every 30 minutes from Paddington) so you can easily set out from the capital in the morning and enjoy a full day out in this impressive university city.
By Anisa from Two Traveling Texans
Only an hour train ride away from London’s Kings Cross Station you will find the picturesque University city of Cambridge. Many of the city’s attractions are within walking distance of the train station so it’s ideal for a day excursion on public transportation.
Cambridge University is the second oldest university in the English-speaking world. It is made up of 31 colleges. Most colleges allow visitors, although access may be limited during the school term. If you can, visit King’s College and see its famous chapel started by Henry VII.
Additionally, the University has eight museums that are open to the public. You should definitely visit the Fitzwilliam and the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, which are always free.
For your lunch break, why not pop into the historic Eagle Pub. Originally opened in 1667, it’s best known as the place where Francis Crick announced that he and James Watson had “discovered the secret of life” after they developed their proposal for the structure of DNA in 1953. Don’t miss the ceiling in the room in the back. It is full of graffiti from men that fought in World War II.
If it’s nice weather during your day trip to Cambridge, you must try punting on the Cam River. Punting uses a boat that is similar to a gondola, but you use a pole instead of an oar. You can try to punt yourself or hire someone else to do the punting. It’s the best way to explore the lovely area known as The Backs where you can see some of Cambridge’s most prestigious colleges.
By Hadas from Luxury Voyager
Located at Hertfordshire, the heart of the British countryside, is a cute little town named Saint Albans. Saint Albans is great escape from the hassle and bustle of London. It is easily reachable from London via the Thameslink trains and the journey takes about 20 minutes from St Pancras station.
A must-visit in St Albans is the beautiful Cathedral- an impressive building with a blend of architectural styles. A short walk away from the cathedral is Verulamium Park if you fancy a walk. The beautiful park spans across 100-acre of green and features a lake, cafe and even museum. The town also doesn’t have shortage of food options with various cute brunch spots, cafes and restaurants. Waffle House is a favourite of mine when the weather is good. At the heart of town is St Albans Clock Tower. The medieval tower that has survived over 600 years is almost a constant reminder of the town’s rich history. Indeed, St Albans has something to offer to everyone. For shopping lovers, for example, there are a few shopping streets with high street brands and as well as small boutiques.
Overall, St Albans is a great day-trip from London being relatively close and having so much to offer.
By Annabel from Smudged Postcard
Just over an hour by train from London but feeling much further is the lovely old town of Rye in East Sussex. The charming town has timber framed houses, enticing independent shops and restaurants along with some characterful inns. Ensure you stay long enough for darkness to descend, the streets are incredibly atmospheric, particularly on a foggy winter evening.
The George Inn Rye has an excellent restaurant for a leisurely lunch. For those visiting with children, Simply Italian has a lovely informal atmosphere. The Mermaid Inn, meanwhile, is essential for anyone after a pint in a proper old English pub. There’s even a café dedicated to hot chocolate, Knoops.
If you’re visiting Rye in the summer, it’s a short bus journey down to the sea where you’ll find the vast expanse of the beach at Camber Sands. Alternatively, for history buffs, the museum at Ypres Tower (dating back to the 13th century) is well worth exploring.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly escape from London, Rye is perfect. With a castle, smuggling tales and an excellent old fashioned sweet shop, Rye is definitely one of the most fun destinations to visit in East Sussex with kids.
Rye can be reached from London St Pancras via a quick change at Ashford International.
Warner Brothers Studios
By Dan from Cabin Critic
Located just outside London is the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, an essential day trip for any Harry Potter fan. To arrive, take the train to the Watford Junction. From the station, you can see signs letting you know you are in the right place before getting off. Outside the station, there are shuttle buses that will take you to the studio which you must pay for with £2.50 cash.
The website says the tour should take around 3 and a half hours, but to really take in as much as possible it can take 4 to 5 hours easily. If you can get an earlier arrival time that will ensure you will have the time you need to see and experience everything. Arriving at the studio you will wait in line to get in. Next the adventure will begin as you go to The Great Hall. From here you can go at your own pace looking at all the details you want including costumes, props, full sets, and photo ops.
Halfway through you will come to the Backlot Cafe serving sandwiches, salads, and hot entrees like hamburgers and macaroni and cheese. The real star here is the butterbeer and related treated. While a simple butterbeer is great, ice cream or frozen butterbeer are crowd favorites.
The White Cliffs of Dover
By Sophie from We Dream of Travel
The White Cliffs of Dover, one of the most spectacular places in Kent, make for the perfect day trip to London by train. The impressive cliffs tower an enormous 350ft above sea level and stretch for 16 miles along the coast.
There are a number of trails from Dover that you can take to explore these giants. However, the South Foreland Lighthouse trail is the most popular route. This easy 2-mile walk traverses the chalk grassland atop the cliffs. From here you can appreciate the immense scale of the cliffs, while meandering through colourful wildflowers. Throughout the walk you will be rewarded with sweeping vistas over the azure waters of the English Channel. On a clear day, you may even be able to spot France in the distance. Pack a picnic or stop at Mrs Knott’s tea room at the South Foreland Lighthouse for a quick lunch.
Located just over an hour by train from St Pancras, it’s easy to reach the White Cliffs of Dover from London. From Dover Priory station you will need to walk 40 minutes (with a 285ft elevation gain!) or take a 5-10 minute taxi (around £6) to the information centre where the Dover Cliffs walk starts.
Beyond the natural beauty of the area, one of Dover’s main draws is its extensive history. Dover has long been considered the key to England and has witnessed several notable historical events, including Stone Age settlers, Roman invasions, and the return of soldiers from Dunkirk during World War 2.
The city is also home to England’s largest castle, Dover Castle. This 11th century castle has survived several invasions over the years. It is sat impressively atop the cliffs, watching over the city and oceans below. Be sure to set aside some time to visit this impressive castle while visiting Dover.
By Jacquie from UK Family Travel
Tring is a pretty little market town in Hertfordshire on the edge of the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is characterised by its picturesque mock Tudor buildings but it’s most famous for being home to the Tring Natural History Museum.
The museum was built by Walter Rothschild in 1889 and housed his private zoological collection. He died in 1937 and donated everything to the Natural History Museum. In many ways it is just like its London relative but on a much smaller scale. If you’re a fan of the original museum in London and can’t imagine how anything can compare, don’t let that put you off visiting. The collection here is extensive and while it doesn’t include dinosaurs (save for an impressive giant sloth), it offers a much more intimate experience.
There is a little café at the museum where you can grab a quick sandwich (or there are picnic tables) but if you have time, Lussmanns on the high street is fabulous. It’s an independent chain and always has excellent quality food with a great value lunchtime menu.
If you feel like walking off your lunch, right next door to the museum is Tring Park which offers some lovely scenic walks through ancient woodlands. You can leave your car in the free car park of the museum and head off into the park. Look out for the stunning architecture of Tring Park Mansion, designed by Sir Christopher Wren who also designed one of London’s most iconic sights, St Paul’s Cathedral.
Tring is located about 40 miles north west of London and it’s a very easy 40-minute journey on West Midlands Trains out of Euston Station making it perfect for a day trip from London.
By Kat from Wandering Bird
Winchester is a wonderful day trip from London- especially by train.
This historic city is one of the oldest in the UK and has much recommend it- cute houses, quaint streets and one of the most famous cathedrals in the country.
You can get to Winchester easily by train. Services are regular and the journey takes about an hour. The train station is around a 5 minute walk to the town centre. (Downhill on the way there- uphill on the way back!)
Some of the best things to do in Winchester include visiting Winchester Cathedral. Some very famous people are buried here- including Jane Austen. You can also see one of the oldest bibles in the world. Mizmaze is also worth a visit if you have time; it’s a very old turf maze which you can try and navigate- lots of fun for the kids. shopping.
Of course, don’t forget about shopping at the many high-end boutiques and unique shops, as well as enjoying the MANY award-winning pubs, bars and restaurants in the city. And, of course, if you’re lucky enough to be visiting in November or December, you NEED to head to the Winchester Christmas Market– one of the best in the country. There are hundreds of stalls and even an ice rink!
By Liliane from My Toronto My World
A day trip to Windsor from London is one of the easiest day trips from London by train. The journey takes between 30 minutes and approximately 1 hour depending on the route that is chosen. Arrival in Windsor is at either Windsor Central Station or Windsor Riverside Station. The most direct journey is from Waterloo Station in London. This journey takes about 1 hour and will arrive at the Riverside Station which is approximately 5 minutes from Windsor Castle. There’s an option to also depart from Paddington Station in London. This is a quicker journey (approximately 30-50 minutes) but involves a change in Slough. Arrival with this route is to Windsor and Eton Central Station.
The town of Windsor is mainly known for Windsor Castle which is one of Queen Elizabeth’s main residences. Sight-seeing the castle also includes the well known St. George’s Chapel. While you definitely should dedicate at least a few hours of the day to the castle, it’s not the only thing to do in Windsor. The main core of the town consists of many nice shopping streets with restaurants and cafes you can pop into for a quick meal. There’s also plenty of royal landmarks around town like the Diamond Jubilee Fountain and the Queen Victoria Statue. Make sure to explore Alexandra Gardens and walk down the Great Walk for a great view of the castle.
Windsor makes for an excellent day trip because it’s so compact and so close to London. While Windsor Castle is the biggest draw, even the biggest royal fan most likely wouldn’t spend more than half a day there which still leaves half a day to explore the rest of the town.
By Laura from What’s Hot?
Bristol is just 1.5 hours away on the train from London Paddington making it a great option for a day trip. The city is a wonderful mix of old and new with some parts home to beautiful classic architecture and others sporting the trendiest brunch joints and shops in town. It’s a city that’s big enough to fill a day and more but small enough that you can walk to most places.
As soon as you hop off the train, you should head straight for brunch in a yurt. That’s right, a yurt. Right by the train station is Yurt Lush, a beautiful space where you can enjoy one of the best breakfasts in Bristol in a unique setting. After that, you should be Clifton Suspension Bridge where you can enjoy great views over the city and have a nice outdoor walk. Then you can visit Clifton Arcade, which is lined with small, independent stores, for some vintage shopping.
For art and culture, head to Bristol’s Museum and Art Gallery, which is completely free! From dinosaurs to Egyptian mummies and art, there’s more than enough for one afternoon in here. There’s art all over the city’s walls too so look out for street art by the infamous Banksy as you wander around. For a mid-afternoon snack after all that exploring, stop off at Pinkmans Bakery for a sour doughnut. They’re doughnuts made from sourdough and oozing with flavour be it chocolate or fruit.
Towards the end of the day, head to Bristol’s Harbourside and enjoy a pint at one of the pubs near the water or bring your own drinks and sit around the Harbour. This can get very busy on a nice sunny day so come early if you want a spot right by the water’s edge!
By Samantha from The Wandering Wanderluster
Often referred to as London by the sea, Brighton is one of the top seaside resorts on the English Channel and a popular day trip option for city-goers in search of a laid-back beach vibe, hedonistic nightlife and a plethora of boutique and vintage shopping. Just under 1 hour from London Victoria or London Bridge by train, Brighton is known for its pebble beaches, its hedonistic and bohemian vibe but most of all, the neon-lit Brighton Pier that extends 524 metres out into the sea.
Brighton has much to offer its visitors, with an abundance of top attractions easily visited in a single day. Day-trippers can explore its Victorian heritage with a stroll along the beachfront and along Brighton’s Palace Pier, a major landmark for the city and a big hit for families. Save up your pennies and coppers for hours of fun on the arcades, ride on one of the thrilling roller coasters or enjoy traditional fish and chips, served in paper cones with wooden forks while looking out to sea. For a bird’s eye view, take a ride on the British Airways i360 observation tower, installed on Brighton’s seafront in 2016, adding a modern attraction to this historic seaside resort. There is also the Sealife Centre, known as the world’s oldest operating aquarium, home to over 3500 sea creatures and fish.
Shoppers will want to head to the pedestrianised and warren of streets called The Lanes, a lively and quirky neighbourhood located close to another of Brighton’s landmarks, the Royal Pavilion. These small narrow lanes are awash with vintage antique shops, quaint cafes, boutiques and jewellery shops; a shopper’s paradise as well as being the perfect place to stop for a fish lunch in Brighton.
The nearby village of Rottingdean is worth adding to your day trip itinerary, if you love smugglers tales and are a fan of Rudyiar Kippling’s books.
By Larch from The Silver Nomad
Swindon is not normally on lists of places to visit from London, but it is surprising what you can do on a day trip to Swindon.
Leaving London from Paddington Station, the train takes around an hour to get to Swindon.
The town has a long association with the railways and the Great Western Railway. GWR opened the Swindon Railway Works in 1843 and STEAM Museum, 10-minutes’ walk from the station follows the history of GWR and its chief engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Next to the STEAM Museum is the Outlet Centre if you fancy a bit of discount shopping. There is also a food court offering a range of different foods.
If you are visiting on a Sunday, don’t miss the Farmers Market outside the Outlet Centre from 10 – 4 for beautiful fresh produce.
Swindon is home to the Museum of Computing, which was the first in the UK. Track the history of computers through the years with interactive exhibits and see how far computing has come.
For people partial to hand crafted beers and ales, Arkells Brewery has been brewing beer in Swindon since 1843. Many of the pubs in Swindon serve it. If you prefer gin, Tickle Gin, is distilled in Swindon. Try their Signature Gin, or Raspberry Bakewell
On sunny days, head for one of the large parks in Swindon. Visit Coate Water where you can stroll around the lakes, Lydiard Country Park and enjoy a walk round the 260 acres or have a look around the Palladian Country House.
By Sarah from A Social Nomad
England’s oldest recorded town, Colchester in Essex, is an easy day excursion from London by train. Take a regular train from Liverpool Street Station for 1.5 hours to Colchester North Station, just 15 minutes’ walk from the town centre.
Spend a day in Colchester by starting at Colchester Castle. While the dungeons in the castle contain foundations from a Roman temple, the particularly impressive castle keep is Norman and dates from 1076. The museum at the Castle contains a Roman treasure hoard that was discovered during renovations of a high street department store. Explore the most intact Roman walls in England and be sure to find the pub – named the Hole in the Wall – which is built into the walls. You’ll want to also visit Colchester’s Roman circus, which is the only one in the country. It’s easy to explore Colchester on foot and there are several walking tours – mostly free, some including audio tours, that goes through the history and key locations of the town. Make sure, too, to visit St Botolphs, the 11th century Augustin priory which is home to glorious architecture.
You won’t want for places to stop for lunch in Colchester, but particularly recommended is the Tiptree Jam Tea Room. Tiptree Jam is world-famous and hails from the nearby town of Tiptree, the tearoom here has a lovely garden and is an excellent lunch stop.
By Sydney from A World in Reach
Stonehenge is one of the most famous landmarks in England, and it can be easily visited on a day trip from London. This prehistoric monument is surrounded in mystery and is a top attraction for tourists visiting the United Kingdom.
Getting to Stonehenge from London is simple. Take the South Western Railway line from Waterloo Station in London to Salisbury. From there, you’ll need to buy a ticket on the Stonehenge Tour Bus (this bus is the only way to get to Stonehenge via public transportation). Tickets for the bus are £16 for adults; however, you can also opt for more expensive tickets that include admission into Stonehenge and other area attractions. The Stonehenge Tour Bus will take you directly to the prehistoric monument’s visitor center.
When you arrive at the visitor center, spend some time exploring the exhibitions – they will provide you with a bit more information on the history of Stonehenge as well as what life was like during the years of its construction.
After learning more about the monument, grab a lunch from the café at the visitor center and hop on the complimentary shuttle to the Stone Circle. When you get there, pick the perfect spot to have a picnic and enjoy your lunch. After eating, you can get a bit closer to admire Stonehenge and all of its mystery.
Stonehenge is only about 2 hours from London, making it ideal for a day trip. If you’re short on time and would like to explore more of England on your day trip, consider taking a guided tour of Stonehenge and Bath from London.
By Paul from Anywhere We Roam
Hurley Lock is a small island in the middle of the Thames, surrounded by a wooded space with large patches of green grass. It’s the ideal day excursion from London to recharge in a beautiful natural environment within close proximity to the charming village of Hurley.
The most atmospheric way to get to Hurley is to catch the train to Marlow (50 minutes from London), then walk the 2-mile flat Thames footpath along the river. It’s a lovely easy stroll which will take around one hour, plus additional time to stop on the banks of the Thames and admire the beautiful scenery.
At Hurley Lock, a shallow shelving beach with almost no current makes Hurley Lock an excellent place for wild swimming in the Thames for families with kids of all ages. A little further towards the middle of the river, the water gradually deepens providing the opportunity to get some exercise in as well. The island surrounding the lock has patches with both sun and shade, and a few picnic tables dotted about.
The village of Hurley dates to 1135. The Old Bell Inn – an excellent place to stop for lunch – claims to be the oldest hotel in the UK with a chequered history of famous occupants. Today, however, it’s most well regarded for the innovative menu of locally source ingredients.
By Caroline from CK Travels
Historic Hastings is a quaint seaside resort on Sussex’s 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 things to do 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. Plus check out some contemporary art exhibitions at the Jerwood Gallery on the Old Town’s fishing beach.
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 candy coloured fishing posts, old fishing huts and seafood stalls selling cockles and fish that have come out of the sea earlier that day – can you 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!
By Paula from Truly Expat
Saffron Walden is a beautiful little village full of quaint boutique style shops, and lovely cafes and restaurants was once a market town. You can catch the train from Liverpool St Station to Audley End in approximately 1.5 hours.
Saffron Walden has always been one of my favourites because there are many things to do when you arrive. This includes The Bridge End Garden, which is one of the many highlights of this quaint little town. You can’t go by without checking out the beautiful gardens and getting lost in the maze.
The town is small enough to fill an entire day with activities but not large enough to get lost! Perfect for an outing from London. Once you arrive in Saffron Walden and you have a little look around the village (especially the markets on the weekend) head over to the The Saffron Walden Museum as it is a great place to explore (with or without children)
If you are stopping for lunch or dinner, then you cannot not go by The Eight Bells. Each dish is well thought out and beautifully arranged. The meal is a memorable one from start to finish as each dish is as delicious as the next. This cosy country style restaurant’s ambience makes you feel right at home from the get-go.
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