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London Day Trips You Don’t Want to Miss

There are plenty of things to do in London, but what if you have more than a few days and want to explore outside the city? You are in luck, as there are dozens of places to visit that are an easy day trip from London. Here are some of our favorite London day trips to add to your itinerary.

Cotswolds Village Day Trip from London-Kids Are A Trip

Best Day Trips from London

Amersham

One of the most fantastic, and at the same time most underestimated features of London is the chance to escape to the countryside by the Underground! London is a very large city but the widespread transport connections makes traveling a doddle. From central London, for example, in less than an hour you can reach beautiful Old Amersham.

Old Amersham is a small village that you would expect to find isolated in the middle of England instead of just a few kilometers from central London. The day will slip away incredibly fast as you entertain yourself in the antique market, and visit the small independent shops, lovely gardens, or the small museum.

Obviously, you can’t miss a visit to one of the pubs along the main road, where you can leave behind the cares of the city as you sit in the back gardens with a cool drink in your hand.

Amersham UK-Kids Are A Trip
Photo: Clotilde of A Princess Travelling with Twins

If you are a foodie, to round off your day before heading back into the thrum of city life, you should not forget to book a table at Artichoke which has just received its first Michelin star…now Old Amersham has it all!!!

From Baker Street you can take the Metropolitan line up to the terminus, or from the small station of Marylebone a train every half an hour.

But be careful not to get confused: when you exit the station do not follow the one that looks like the main road directly in front of you (that would lead you to the new part of the town) take instead the road that descends gently to the left.

Just past the overpass take the small road on the right between the overpass and the buildings, and after a while you will arrive in a small wood where it is easy enough to follow the main direction to the left. The grove soon opens towards a lovely wheat field that in summer is Instagram perfect. Continuing for another 15 minutes you arrive in Old Amersham…Enjoy it! (A Princess Travelling with Twins)

Bath

Bath is a small city in the southwest of England but is easily reached in a day from London. It is just over 100 miles from London and by road it is an easy drive straight down the M4 taking just under 3 hours. The train from London Paddington to Bath Spa is usually about 1 hour and 30 minutes with three or four trains each hour. The train station is just a few minutes walk from the main attractions of the City.

Bath is an UNESCO World Heritage site with the Roman Baths being one of the main attractions. These are right next to the Abbey and have a fantastic museum which tells the story of the city. There is also a more recent side to Bath with beautiful Georgian buildings. The most impressive are the Royal Crescent, a semi-circular road of large buildings and The Circus, a circle of houses around a small green.

Nearby is Pultney Bridge, which was built in 1774, and has small shops running the full length. From the shop fronts you would not realize there is a river below.

Bath has a number of places to eat but if you want the true Bath Experience then afternoon tea at the Pump Room Restaurant is not to be missed. (Suzanne from Meandering Wild)

Bath UK

Bexhill-on-Sea

Bexhill-On-Sea is a great seaside town for a day out from London. Apart from its beautiful beaches, the town has the De La Warr Pavilion and a unique atmosphere. The Pavilion had its origins in 1935 as a centre for accessible culture and entertainment. After ups and downs, the Pavilion reopened in 2005. Its crisp modernist architecture is still visually stunning today. It now has two art galleries, the original auditorium, a shop and a cafe bar. So, as well as being a gorgeous sight there is a lot to do there too! 

If you walk down to the East Parade, you will come to a cosy cafe. Rock band Keane have made the eatery famous in their song, Sovereign Light Cafe. The song and its video give a sense of the character of this seaside town. There is a lot going on in Bexhill. When visiting you can often come across great community events like the Festival of the Sea. 

There is a good range of cafes and restaurants in Bexhill, with several great Italian restaurants. We particularly enjoyed The Italian Way on the seafront near the Pavilion.

The train from London Victoria takes an hour and 50 minutes. And it’s a two-hour drive from London to Bexhill via the A21. (Angela from readinginspiration.com)

De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill On Sea
De La Warr Pavilion Photo: Angela of Reading Inspiration

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Birmingham

Birmingham is just under two hours from London by car or the fast train. And what may surprise you is it is England’s second-largest city, yet often overlooked as a day trip from London.

What makes Birmingham popular, especially for families, is Cadbury World. If you love chocolate, take the self-guided tour of interactive displays to learn everything about chocolate. And make sure to try the variety of Cadbury bars.

You also have the beautiful historic canals to explore, redeveloped with the National Sea Life Centre. The ocean tunnel will get you up close to sharks and stingrays, but you can also see seals and penguins.

And for refreshments, you can stop by the Canal House or The Malt House for a traditional English menu and craft beer. 

If you love shopping, check out the famous Bull Ring with two shopping malls, a fresh produce market, and a general market. The area is pedestrian-friendly, and look for the iconic Bull statue.

If you decide to take the train from London, you’ll arrive at New Street Station in the heart of Birmingham city. It’s easy to navigate with cafes, shops and restaurants and within walking distance of the canals and the Bullring. (TravelKiwis)

UK Birmingham
Photo: TravelKiwis

Brighton

An easy hour and a half by train, a trip to Brighton will take you to the shores of the English Channel. The city is known for its Royal Pavilion, commissioned in 1783 by George, Prince of Wales. After a tour, head to the shore and take a walk along the beach (bring shoes, it’s not sand it’s pebbles), before checking out the amusement park known as Paradise Pier. Take a ride on the Brighton Eye ferris wheel or the British Airways i360 for fabulous views of the town and the water.

There are plenty of food stands along the beach, try one of the treats here as there is something for everyone to enjoy. Several direct trains to Brighton from London (from Victoria, London Bridge, and St. Pancras) leave throughout the day and take about an hour.

Brighton Beach Boardwalk UK

Cambridge

Although there are plenty of attractions in London, it is quite easy to reach Cambridge in just under an hour by train or around two hours by car. This makes Cambridge an easy and worthwhile day trip from London. The University town is packed full of interesting medieval buildings and a lot of green spaces, so you can easily spend the whole day wandering the city’s winding streets. You can join a guided sightseeing tour or explore the city on our own. 

Some of the popular things to see are the magnificent King’s College, the Old Schools, the Senate House, the Bridge of Sighs at St John’s College, the Wren Library at Trinity College, the Mathematical Bridge at Queens’ College, the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. And don’t forget to go punting. The River Cam runs right through Cambridge and punting is a great way to experience some of the city’s famous attractions.

All this sightseeing is sure to whet your appetite and Cambridge has a number of pubs, cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes. Two places that I recommend are Fitzbillies (for their famous Chelsea Buns and a great selection of cakes) and Navadhanya (for a fantastic Indian fine dining experience).

Visiting Cambridge is like traveling back in time and while you can’t enjoy everything that it has to offer in a day, a day trip will give you a great introduction to the city. (The Globetrotter)

Cambridge Day Trip from London

The Cotswolds

To experience some quintessential British countryside, there are few places that can rival the Cotswolds.

If you only have a day out of London, go to the picturesque village of Broadway. Spend your morning browsing the fantastic boutiques with everything from homeware to fashion that line the main street. Don’t miss the Broadway Deli for lots of goodies you didn’t know you needed, and know that it also has an excellent tea room with a garden at the back if the weather is nice.

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For lunch, try the cosy Broadway Hotel with open fires and a delicious pub menu, or for a more elegant affair, go to the stylish Lygon Bar & Grill, which also has a rather lovely wine bar next door. 

Walk off your lunch with a climb up to Broadway Tower where you will find a small museum and amazing views across the Cotswolds countryside. For a more leisurely afternoon, explore Snowshill Manor and Garden, a National Trust property with a model village, English country garden and second hand bookstore.

The nearest station is Evesham, which you can get to from London Paddington in less than two hours. However, if you want to hop between towns, you may be better off bringing your car, taking the M40 from London should get you there in a couple of hours. (Rachel of Champagne on Arrival)

Broadway The Cotswolds UK
Photo: Champagne On Arrival

Grantchester

If you like historic buildings and a picturesque setting you are going to love this village. Grantchester is exactly like the television show of the same name. The river Cam, the meadows and the old buildings form the backdrop to this whodunnit series. The St. Mary and St. Andrew church, dating back to the 12th century, frequently features in the “Grantchester” series as the protagonist is a priest.

Although the village is tiny, it boasts 5 pubs/restaurants. The Green Man is a five-hundred-year-old pub with a great atmosphere, excellent bar meals and during weekend evenings life music. Alternatively, try the Blue Ball Inn, this has been a pub since the year 1767. The interior of this pub is on the English Pub Interior Heritage List. Especially in the winter, with a roaring fire, this is an excellent place for an East Anglian Ale and a pub meal. The Blue Ball Inn also has two guests rooms. Ideal if you want to combine your stay with a visit to Cambridge.

To get there, take the train from London to Cambridge (50 min) and from there either walk (4.4 km) or take a taxi. (Stefania of Views of the World)

Grantchester church UK
Photo: Views of the World

Great Missenden

One of the biggest mistakes people make in London is never venturing outside of it! Just about an hour away from London Marylebone station is a charming village called Great Missenden, which is not only picturesque, but also home to author Roald Dahl’s finally resting place and a kid-friendly Roald Dahl museum.

In addition to the interactive museum which lets you step into some of the classic Roald Dahl stories and learn more about his life, you can use one of the museums free guides to go on a self-guided walk, either of the village or of the surrounding countryside. As you pass by important landmarks, farms, and forest that inspired his stories, you’ll also get the chance to see “real life” in a beautiful English village. 

Grab lunch at the Roald Dahl Museum cafe, or stop in to Sukothai, the best Thai restaurant in the area.

To get to Great Missenden, take a Chiltern Railways train from London Marylebone to Great Missenden, which takes just under an hour. (Kalyn at GirlGoneLondon)

Great Missenden UK field
Photo: GirlGoneLondon
Day Trips from London-Kids Are A Trip

Harry Potter Studio Tour

If you and your kids are Harry Potter fans, the Warner Brother Studio Tour is an essential add-on to any trip to London. My family loved seeing Hermione’s Yule Ball dress and the Weasley clock, strolling Diagon Alley and learning how they filmed the quidditch games. Here are my tips for getting the most out of this magical day trip. 

For starters, book tickets very far ahead and ideally schedule your visit for noon or earlier. We spent nearly 5 hours exploring the enormous studio, plus all the extras that change every few months. My daughter wanted to try all the interactive stuff including raising a broom and learning to duel. Every kid wants to be filmed doing a green-screen broom ride through London. That line moves steadily. But while your kids are waiting for their turn filming have an adult wait in the second, slower-moving line to view (and inevitably purchase) the video of your young wizard’s flight. 

Some essentials: The studio has a large café at the start of the tour, a smaller one halfway through— this is where you’ll find butterbeer on tap. The souvenir shop by platform 9 ¾ (1 of 3) has the most wizarding candy. If you’re looking for a cheap souvenir, the House pencils near the cash registers are only about £1. 

If you take train from London make sure to catch an express, which is a 20-minute ride (the local takes an hour). Dining and shopping options are slim at the Watford Junction station near the studio. So pick up some chocolate frogs for the train ride back to London.  (Eileen Gunn at FamiliesGo!)

Hogwarts-Express-Harry-Potter-Studio-Tour-London-Kids-Are-A-Trip

Highclere Castle

One of the best day trips from London is a visit Highclere Castle better known to the fans of the TV show as “Downton Abbey”. The estate is over 5000 acres and looks exactly like it does on TV.  It is open to the public in the summer and you are able to visit the gardens, the house and the Egyptian museum.

The original building was built in the 1600 and then Highclere as we know it today was built in the 19th century in the Jacobethan style. There is also an Egyptian museum on the grounds. The 5th Earl was an Egyptologist and discovered many artifacts that can be seen here today. 

Highclere Castle is located about one hour south of London via train. This is the fastest and easiest way to visit the Downton Abbey House. (Nicole of Nicole LaBarge Travel Blog)

Highclere Castle UK
Photo: Nicole LaBarge

Oxford

If you are looking for history or magic in a gorgeous gothic town, then you’ll love Oxford! Only about 1.5 hours by train, there are plenty of activities in Oxford to keep busy, from museums, shopping, or visiting pubs once occupied by great literary authors. I recently spent a week here after taking a short break from house sitting, but a day trip is certainly doable. 

Oxford is probably most well known for being the home of the University of Oxford which also runs many museums in the area such as the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers.  Both are enjoyable, but if you only have a little time the Pitt Rivers can be seen quickly. If you can, I recommend booking a reservation for lunch or dinner at the Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant, as it’s some of the best food in town! 

Harry Potter fans may also want to take a ticketed tour of Christ Church College which was the inspiration for many Hogwarts locations including the Great Hall! Other great spots are in Oxford are the board game cafe Thirsty Meeples, the C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve & Park, and the Oxford Covered Market. (Tayler from Traveling Tayler)

While visiting Oxford, we would recommend a quick twenty minute diversion to Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tours are available of the palace and estate. Children will enjoy The Pleasure Gardens with a butterfly house and hedge maze. A miniature train transports visitors from the palace to the gardens. It’s a stunning property with four cafés and restaurants on site. There is ample parking and it is easy to reach via public transport from Oxford. (Kirsten)

Oxford England-Kids Are A Trip

Paris

Oh, Paris. While the French capital isn’t an obvious day trip from London, visiting Paris, even if for a day, is totally worth it. Naturally, you won’t have time to visit all the main attractions, so keep it a laid back day.

Go for a stroll along the River Seine, take in the Eiffel Tower, and indulge in some French crepes at Framboise. Then head over to a little bar/store my husband and I love to stop by to have a beer or two, A La Bière Comme à La Bière on the 18th arrondissement. They have a fabulous selection of craft beers from around the world and from France, too, of course. The good news is they keep many of them cold so you can try new flavors and brands right there, and maybe buy a bottle as a souvenir?

A day trip from London to Paris is easy. Simply take a direct train from St. Pancras station to Gare du Nord, officially Paris-Nord. The train takes about 2h30 to reach the City of Light.

Paris is certainly a mesmerizing place to be, no matter for how long. Be sure to make the most of your day. (Bruna at Maps ‘N Bags)

Paris day trip from London-Kids Are A Trip
Photo: Unsplash

Stonehenge

Less than two hours west of London is one of the world’s best known sights, Stonehenge. This neolithic rock formation has been fascinating people for centuries, and yet its original purpose is still unknown. This is a great day trip from London that visitors will never forget.

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Construction was started on Stonehenge in 3000 BC and completed 1000 years later. The average stone used in the formation weighs 25 tons and some came from as far away as 200 miles. When you consider that these stones were moved prior to the invention of the wheel, it’s amazing that it was built at all. While Stonehenge is an excellent example of a stone circle, it’s just one of 313 such monuments in the United Kingdom.

The best way to get to Stonehenge from London is by bus. Bus transportation can be purchased on it’s own, or in combination with a tour. Several tour companies offer the opportunity to pay one price and receive admission and round-trip transportation which is a very convenient option.

While visiting Stonehenge, be sure to take advantage of the audio guide which is just 3 pounds. This narrated guide provides a wealth of information about the stone circle, the people who built it and the surrounding area.

A visitor’s center is located near Stonehenge offering a small museum, restrooms, a restaurant, and gift store. (Empty Nesters Hit the Road)

Stonehenge Day Trip London-Kids Are A Trip

Stratford-Upon-Avon

Stratford-Upon-Avon is one of the most beautiful places in the United Kingdom and a mere 2 to 2.5 hours by train from London, depending on which train you take.

This quaint English town is perfect for lovers of literature, history and romance, being the birthplace of the famous English writer, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s Birthplace along Henley Street is by far the top attraction in Stratford-Upon-Avon. It is a charming 16th century townhouse that has been lovingly restored and allows you to step into the life that young Shakespeare led, from his kitchen to the bedroom where he rested and wrote his famous plays. 

If you are keen to immerse yourself even further in Shakespearean lore, then join a Tudor school lesson in Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall, catch a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company (they feature 20 new productions every year!) and don’t forget to also visit the following: 

  • New Place: where Shakespeare lived for most of his life and also died
  • Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Gardens: the 15th century childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife
  • Mary Arden’s Farm: where Shakespeare’s mother had lived
  • Holy Trinity Church: where Shakespeare himself is buried!

If you’re hungry, pop by the family-run Countess of Evesham Restaurant Cruiser for a delicious meal along a luxury river cruise. This is a day trip you won’t forget! (Iuliya of Doing Life with Iuliya)

stratford-upon-avon
Photo: Pixabay

Warwick Castle

Fans of medieval architecture and history won’t want to miss a day trip to Warwick from London. The main attraction is Warwick Castle, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. It is a magnificent structure that easily takes half a day to explore. There are falconry shows, a trebuchet display, and interactive demonstrations of castle life. Visitors who want to extend their stay can stay overnight on the castle grounds in one of the lodges, glamping tents, or tower suites. Food is available at the castle.

Other area attractions include Old Town, Charlecote Park, the Mill Garden, and nearby Kenilworth Castle. The drive to Warwick is about an hour and 45 minutes on the M40. If you take a train from London Marylebone, it takes an hour twenty direct.

warwick-castle-uk
Photo: Pixabay

Weymouth

Just under 3 hours via a train ride from London, on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, there is the idyllic seaside town of Weymouth. It is a perfect destination for a day out for the whole family.

On a warm sunny day, you can enjoy the beautiful sandy beach and the sea (if you are brave enough, as it can be cool even in summer). Along the beach there is a promenade filled with street vendors and fun fairs and even donkey rides to the little ones happy. But there is so much more to Weymouth than just the beaches (check out this Weymouth guide for ideas).

The Weymouth Harbour, must be one of the most picturesque places on the Southern Coast of England. Filled with colorful houses and sailing boats it is always full of buzz and people enjoying themselves. 

It is also a great place to take your children crabbing. Just get the equipment from any shop and try to catch these crustaceans. It is not as easy as it seems and surely you will end up in the heated debates with fellow crabbers about the best bait to use.

If crabbing is not your thing, you can always go on a boat tour of the harbour and enjoy the views of Weymouth and the coast from the sea.

For me the seaside always means fish&chips. And when in Weymouth it can only mean one place – Bennett’s Fish and Chips. It is worth it, even if you need to wait in the queue spilling into the street outside.

If a day in Weymouth is not enough, you might want to consider spending a whole weekend there and explore the beauty of the surrounding countryside. Mini Tribe Travels

weymouth harbour uk
Photo: Jarek of Mini Tribe Travels

White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover are just a bit more than an hour away from London. And once you get there, you’ll feel in a completely different world.

The smell of the sea, the beautiful vivid green of the grass against the aquamarine sea and blue sky, in contrast with the white color of the cliffs: this is what I call a breathtaking view that it’s hard to forget.

To get there, just get one of the fast trains that depart from King Cross/St Pancras and stop directly to Dover Priory (if you prefer to drive, it’ll take you around 2 hours, and you can stop to Canterbury along the way). 

Once you reach the station in Dover, you can simply take a walk to the White Cliffs. The walk from the station will take you approximately 40-50 minutes. Or if you are a bit lazy, you can just get a taxi that will bring you to the National Trust visitor center in about 10 minutes. From there, you can start to explore the spectacular scenery surrounding the cliffs. 

And while you are there, you must check out Dover Castle. The castle itself is massive! It’s the biggest castle in England, and it can take you up to 6 hours to visit it properly. What I recommend is to set aside at least a couple of hours to get a taste of it, and you will then have an excuse to come back to this beautiful corner of the English countryside. (Sara from Gathering Dreams)

White Cliffs of Dover
Photo: Gathering Dreams

Windsor

If you are interested in history, architecture, and art, then you will love a day trip to Windsor.  Queen Elizabeth likes to spend her weekends at the castle in Windsor.  Add that to the fact that it only takes an hour on the train from London’s Waterloo station and Windsor makes a great day trip from London.

Visiting Windsor Castle will take up most of your day.  As you can imagine, it’s very popular so get your tickets in advance to avoid the long lines.  Aim to arrive early to catch the changing of the guard at 11 am. The audio tour (included in your admission price) is informative and will guide you through the Castle including the State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel.

After your done exploring Windsor Castle, you can check out Windsor Royal Shopping, which is an old Victorian train station that is now filled with shops and restaurants.  It still has many original features including the Jubilee arch, the cobbled stones, and Queen Victoria’s Royal Waiting Room.  If you still have time left, before you head back to London, walk across the bridge over the Thames and admire the picturesque town of Eton. (Anisa of Two Traveling Texans)

Windsor Castle-Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

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York

About a 2 hour ride north of the city, the train from London goes straight from King’s Cross station (stop in for the Harry Potter platform!) to the York train station. York is a beautiful town straight out of a storybook! The city is full of cobbled, winding streets with quaint little shops, beautiful architecture, and classic tea rooms. The Shambles is one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe, with many building dating back to the 14th century, and is also rumored to have inspired Diagon Alley from Harry Potter.

After wandering the streets, stop in to the famous York Minster, with stunning Gothic architecture and stained glass displays. After climbing the York Minster tower for expansive city views, head back down and check out the Jorvik Viking Centre for a history of local archaeology and immersive experience recreating what a Viking village might have looked like in the past.

Round out your day by eating at one of many classic fish and chip restaurants and get dessert at York’s Chocolate Story where you learn about chocolate making in the city and taste some culture! (Stephanie of Explore More Clean Less)

York Shambles Road UK
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