28 Best Day Trips from London

London is the city where I live and the one I fell in love with, even though it can be overwhelming at times. As a Londoner, you will need a break from the daily chaos to go and relax or explore other areas of the UK.

When you are visiting London for 3 or 4 days, you also have time to go on a day trip outside the city. The location of the English capital is convenient for various excursions and activities. You can easily get to a beach, go to places carrying the heart of the English culture or even leave the country altogether. Here is a guide to the best day trips from London, it includes how to get to your destination and the things to do once you get there.

You can also read Top adventure weekend getaway in the UK

1. Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey

Recommended by Xyu and beyond

Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey is a country manor house built in the Jacobethan-style. It is famously known as the Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed. It sits in the Berkshire countryside around 45 miles from London. It is not easy to get to unless you have a car or take a guided tour.

Highclere Castle aka Downton Abbey

Highclere was built in 1842 with an incredible park and grounds designed by Capability Brown. It is very high on the must-do list of many visitors to England who have been fans of the series.

An adult ticket to Highclere Castle is £16 which is pre-booked and guarantees entry to the Castle. It is essential to book online and bring your printed ticket with you.

The tour takes you through all the grand rooms on the first floor and you can vividly imagine the characters from the series making their way through the Library, the incredible Saloon with its soaring columns and leather panelled walls, the library with its 5500 books and of course the music room with its baroque ceilings and a desk that belonged to Bonaparte.

Lord and Lady Carnarvon still live in the house but you can wander up to the first floor to view several of the bedrooms used by the Downton Abbey stars in the series. The rest of the house is off-limits as they are family rooms.

In 1987, a secret room was found where Lord Carnarvon (who funded the archaeological dig that discovered King Tut) had hidden some Egyptian treasures. Today you can take a separate tour of these amazing discoveries.

There are a lovely gift shop and a couple of outdoor and covered cafes where you can sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy the Downton views.

2. Canterbury

Canterbury in Kent, home to a UNESCO Heritage Site, is only 60 miles away from London. This makes Canterbury an ideal destination for a day trip from the capital. You can easily drive to this beautiful English town or take a train from Victoria, Charing Cross, or St Pancras International.

Walking around the town centre is the best way to explore Canterbury. You can start by visiting the Canterbury Castle, the oldest Norman castles of England, then you can make your way through the cobbled streets towards the famous Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury in Kent

You can also take The Canterbury Tales Tour to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of 14th century England. The tour begins at the Tabard Inn and ends at the shrine of St. Thomas Becket.

Before heading back to London, make sure to give a visit to St. Augustine’s Abbey, which is an English heritage site and part of Canterbury’s UNESCO heritage centre.

3. Paris

Recommended by Salut from Paris

Thanks to the Eurostar train, it takes just a bit over 2 hours to get to Paris from London. Even you could probably spend 2 weeks in Paris without getting bored, one day in Paris is actually enough to get a solid first impression.

You will arrive at the Gard du Nord train station, not far from the Basilica de Sacre Coeur. This famous church sits on the hill of Montmartre, your first destination for the day. Head over there right away to enjoy a morning view over Paris - and a café on a Parisian terrace.

Paris

Compared to London, Paris is rather small, so put on comfy shoes: you’ll walk a lot! From Montmartre, you can walk towards the south, to the Seine! You’ll pass by the Galeries Lafayette, Opéra and the Louvre Museum. You won’t have time to admire the Mona Lisa this time, but you can take a picture of the Louvre Pyramid!

From there your itinerary leads you east, to the remains of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Even though the cathedral can’t be visited at the moment due to the incident, it’s still a nice photo spot. If you have a few spare minutes, sneak into the Hotel Dieu. It’s just next to Notre Dame but a real hidden gem in Paris! The hospital has a beautiful courtyard and allows you to have a few calm minutes before heading to your next activity: A cruise on the Seine! This is the best thing to do if you don’t have much time in Paris - you get to see most of Paris important sights within an hour and can even take a snap of the Eiffel Tower!

4. Windsor

Recommended by Two Tall Travellers

Just half an hour train ride from the famous Paddington Station, take you to the royal town of Windsor, where you can have one of the best day trips from London.

There are two train stations – Windsor and Eton Central and Windsor and Eton Riverside. Both are close to the centre of the town but from Paddington, you’ll have to change at Slough to reach Windsor.

Home to the Queen, Legoland and the Eton Mess, it’s a charming town not to be missed.

Windsor

Spend a morning exploring Windsor Castle, or wander across the bridge to the small neighbouring town of Eton to marvel at the esteemed College.

Stroll along the cobbled streets and take your pick of the variety of restaurants for lunch. You’ll find all the cuisines you can think of, from well-known chains to locally owned eateries.

Shop till you drop along the High Street – don’t forget to get your local souvenirs from the shops across from the Castle!

Enjoy a well-deserved cream tea complete with Champagne whilst over-looking the river – there really is nothing more English!

If you’re looking for a day of excitement with the family, then you need to make your way to Legoland! Easily accessible by bus (take the GreenLine directly from Victoria), the theme park is full of rides, attractions and activities that you’ll all enjoy!

After a busy day, spend the night in one of Windsor’s fancy hotels, or simply jump back on the train to the capital!

5. Oxford

Oxford is only 52 miles away from London which makes it a perfect place for a day trip to the university city. To visit Oxford, you can simply book a day tour, use the frequent bus services operating 24/7 from London Victoria or catch a train from Paddington or Ealing Broadway.

Oxford

Being home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world with its 38 colleges definitely has made Oxford one of the most visited cities in England. In fact, most of the things to do or to see are directly or indirectly related to the university.

My favourite things to do in Oxford is strolling around the High Street with its historic college buildings. You can walk to Radcliffe Square, where you can find the round building of Radcliffe Camera, where up to 600,000 books can be stored.

You can also, for a small fee, visit some of the colleges and chapels that are open to the public, although, public access can be limited during exams.

Before heading back to London, go to The Grand Café, the oldest coffee house in England.

6. Botany Bay in Kent

Recommended by Travel Hacker Girl

Who doesn't like a day on the beach? Botany Bay in Kent is a great place for a day trip from London. On hot summer days, locals escape here to cool down. The sandy, shallow beach is perfect for families with children and if the tide is out you can even go fossil hunting.

Botany Bay in Kent

There are many hidden coves and rock pools that you can go and explore. Building sandcastles or kayaking are other activities you can try on-site. However, it is not only in the summer that the place is worth a visit. The unique chalk cliffs make it a pretty site any time of the year. If it is windy you can fly a kite or watch the surfers show off their skills. 

The journey from Central London takes about 2 hours by public transport. You can take a train to Canterbury or Westgate-on-Sea and then change to bus 8A breeze. This bus will take you all the way to Botany Bay. If you have a car you can also drive, but keep in mind that parking is limited on-site. The area is also popular amongst hikers and cyclists, as the Viking Coastal Trail goes right next to Botany Bay.

7. Cotswolds

Recommended by Historic European Castles

The Cotswolds is a beautiful part of Central England that feature rolling hills, quintessentially British villages and picturesque farmhouses that make you feel as though you’re a million miles from the bustling capital.

The region lies between the famous British towns of Oxford, Bath and Stratford-upon-Avon (birthplace of Shakespeare) and is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which makes it a popular destination for those doing a whistle-stop tour of Britain.

Castle Combe in Cotswolds in Englnad

Thankfully, the Cotswolds can be reached as a day trip from London, either by driving and exploring the area by car, or taking trains or tours to certain towns and cities.

Driving is probably the easiest option as it gives you full flexibility to discover some of the smaller, off-the-beaten-track destinations. Alternatively, you can take trains from London Paddington to Gloucester, Oxford or Hereford and then take more local bus routes to smaller towns such as Moreton in Marsh, Bourton on the Water, Cirencester and Stow on the Wold. These towns are stunning places to stop and enjoy a spot of afternoon tea and if you visit in summer you might be lucky enough to enjoy some village fêtes or local celebrations. If nothing else the Cotswolds are perfect for plenty of photo opportunities which will make all your friends and family jealous!

Tours to the Cotswolds usually include stops at Warwick Castle and Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as journeys through some of the smaller towns and villages. These are a fantastic option if you don’t fancy driving in the UK or just want someone else to do the planning!

8. St Albans

If you are looking for a day trip to experience the English life outside of the capital, you should visit St Albans, especially if you love Roman history, cosy streets with cute buildings and pretty churches.

This cute English town is easily accessible from London, with just a 30-minute train ride from London St Pancras, Blackfriars, or West Hampstead.

St Albans

After only about a 10-minute walk from the train station, you will find yourself in the centre of St Albans, where there is a flea market every Wednesday and Saturday.

Without any effort, you will find the Clock Tower, which was built in 1412. You can climb the stairs to the top, or you can continue walking towards the St. Albans Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in England. Visiting the Cathedral is free of charge and it is open every day between 08:30 am and 5:45 pm.

You can choose to have a picnic at Verulamium Park or eat at one of the local restaurants.

9. Stonehenge

Recommended by The Crowded Planet

Visiting Stonehenge is a great way to get out of London for a day. The legendary prehistoric site is only about two hours away from the city, and it's easy to reach by bus or train. Alternatively, there are many organised tours available if you want no hassles at all.

Stonehenge

If you decide to visit Stonehenge by yourself, the best way to get there is to take a train from Waterloo Station to Salisbury, and then hopping on the Stonehenge Tour Bus which will take you directly to the site. You can't access the stone circle itself, as it's only open on the summer solstice when it can be visited on a first-come-first-served basis.

Visitors to Stonehenge are allowed to walk around the megalithic stones, and then tour the visitor centre, detailing the history and theories about how and why it was built, plus a room with a fun 360° audio-visual show.

Many people think it's not worth paying the Stonehenge admission charge since you can't get close to the stones - I disagree, the site is really amazing even from a distance, and the visitor centre is super informative. On your way back to London, try to visit Salisbury Cathedral before getting on the train - it's one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in England, really worth the detour!

10. Saffron Walden

Recommended by Truly Expat (www.trulyexpat.com)

Saffron Walden is a historic market town dating back to 1500; it is located in north-west Essex, and just 15 miles south of Cambridge and 56 miles from London.

The train to Audley End is the fastest and easiest way to get there. It will take approximately 1.5 hours in total to Saffron Walden, but that includes the bus or taxi from the station to the city centre.

Things to do in Saffron Walden

You can visit Bridge End Garden, which was created in about 1840 by Francis Gibson. The gardens are beautiful, but the maze is a must, especially brilliant on a sunny day and will keep you amused for hours.

Saffron Walden

You need to pay £18.50 for the entrance fee of Audley End House and Gardens, which takes you around the beautiful Estate.

Every season brings a new experience here, so depending on when you go, it will depend on what there is to see. I, in particular, love the smell that spring brings here. If that isn't enough, you still have the mansion and stables to get through, well worth the visit.

Saffron Grange Vineyard is only 1.7 miles from the town centre. If you book online before your arrival, you can ensure a spot on their vineyard tour and tasting. What a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Check out the town centre (especially during the weekend where you will find markets), and stop for a bite to eat or afternoon tea. The restaurants and pubs all serve deliciously fresh food, so you are spoilt for choices. There are a lot of unique boutiques here that you can spend your afternoon browsing through.

11. Stratford-upon-Avon

Recommended by Pink Caddy Travelogue

Not far from the hustle-and-bustle of London is a quiet English town that’s a can’t-miss for any literature buffs. Named for the River Avon that flows through it, Stratford-upon-Avon is a beautiful, historical gem that can be easily reached via train or car as a day trip from London.

Stratford-upon-Avon

First incorporated in 1196, the village has retained much of its historic flavour, despite being a bustling modern village. It’s most well-known for being the epicentre of all things Shakespeare. The famous poet was born here, spent most of his life here, and died and was buried in this quiet English town. Most of his immediate family had homes here as well.

Although visited by millions of tourists every year, the town itself is charming and distinctly English, and a visit here is a worthwhile step back in time. Many of the buildings have retained their Elizabethan or medieval look, and in springtime, English gardens abound in the streets surrounding town-centre.

Visitors can tour Shakespeare’s birthplace, a wattle-and-daub cottage where, in 1564, the poet himself was born. Tourists can also check out Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare’s family worshipped and where many of them are now buried. End the day by seeing one of Shakespeare’s works brought to life on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Theater, an unforgettable experience!

12. The Harry Potter Studio Tour

Recommended by Nomad By Trade

The Harry Potter Studio Tour is located just outside London and is an absolute must-visit for any fan of the books and/or movies.

The Warner Brothers Leavesden studios were home to much of the filming on the movies, and many of the sets have been preserved here for the fans to explore. You can walk through the Great Hall, Gringott's Bank lobby, and the Forbidden Forest among other iconic sets.

The Harry Potter Studio Tour

Along the way, you'll get exclusive behind-the-scenes insights into what it was like there during filming and get up close to loads of recognisable props. If that's not enough, there are photo ops where you can be green-screened into scenes from the film (for an extra fee) and a free mechanical broom that makes it look like you're raising it with magic.

Along the way, you can even sample some butterbeer. We booked it as a tour from London and the direct bus from Victoria Station which took approximately 1:15 on the way there and an extra half hour on the way back thanks to rush hour traffic. There is free parking available on the site if you have a car, and it can also be accessed by taking the Underground to Watford Junction station and then hopping a 15-minute ride on a dedicated bus route for 3 pounds round-trip. It's not a cheap day, but it's well worth the excursion from London!

13. Leeds Castle

Recommended by England Explore

Leeds Castle in Kent (not, rather confusing, in Leeds, which is in the north of England) has a fantastic history - and is a great day out from London.

There’s been a castle there for 900 years and was used by at least six monarchs, including Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.

The Castle is everything you’d want: turrets, a moat, armour and luxurious four-poster beds. With a bit of imagination, you could see yourself as a King or Queen in medieval England.

It’s also a great place for children – but is too small for buggies which have to be left in an outside buggy park. And so it's unsuitable for very young children.

Leeds Castle - Photo by Ian Simpson on Unsplash

Children are well catered for though in the Castle Grounds. There are two castle-themed playgrounds and mini-golf (called ‘crazy golf’ in the UK). Older children may like to try a bit of falconry with daily displays.

For the grown-ups, there are the gorgeous Castle gardens – worth the visit alone – and the excellent Castle View restaurant. There’s even a 9 hole golf course (I bet you’ve never played on one where the water hazard is actually a moat!).

The castle is one hour’s drive from central London along the M20 motorway (off junction 8) or a rail journey to Bearsted Station (followed by a short bus trip).

Entrance to the castle and grounds isn’t cheap - it’s £25 ($35), for an adult online - but a significant discount is available for families: £76 ($100) for a family of five.

Leeds Castle, then, is a wonderful place, and well worth a day trip from London.

14. Arundel

Recommended by Joanna Nemes

If you want to take a historical but also a relaxing trip from London, visit Arundel! Located about an hour and a half by direct train from London Victoria, Arundel is a medieval town famous for the castle with the same name, the current residence of the Duke of Norfolk.

The main attraction of Arundel is the castle, which is one of the best-preserved in the country. Not only that you can see its beautiful gardens and grounds, but you can also get inside and see the bedroom in which Queen Victoria slept during her visit to the castle, in 1846.

There are often events organised by the castle so it’s always worth checking what’s ok before you go. When I visited Arundel Castle, I was lucky to attend a medieval festival in the lower courtyard.

Arundel

Another medieval gem that you must visit in Arundel is the Cathedral, which has been built in the French Gothic style, same as the Notre Dame in Paris.

Arundel is also a very charming town, with plenty of antique shops and independent boutiques selling mostly handmade items and local products. There are also plenty of small cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a delicious lunch. The Waterside Café serves typical British delights such as fish and chips or battered sausages on their lovely terrace overlooking the river. When the weather is good, they also rent boats, if you fancy a trip up or down the river, towards the Arundel Wetland Centre.

15. Rye & Camber Sands

Recommended by Bridget at The Flashpacker

Do you fancy visiting two contrasting destinations for the price of one as a super simple day trip from London? Welcome to Rye & Camber Sands on the coast of East Sussex.

Getting to Rye from London is easy. Catch a train from London St Pancras International and change trains at Ashford International. The journey time is just over one hour.

Rich in history and the source of inspiration for writers and artists, Rye is a perfect medieval town. Wonky timber-framed Tudor houses and Georgian townhouses, bedecked with flowers, line steep cobbled streets. There are haunted inns that will set your imagination on fire and even a castle.

Rye

To explore its sights, pick up a map from the town’s Tourist Information Centre and follow their Rye walking tour. If you are feeling energetic, climb the tower of St Mary’s Church, Rye’s spiritual centre for more than 900 years.

If shopping and browsing are more of your things, Rye has a number of delightful small independent stores and art galleries displaying work by local artists.

To reach Camber Sands, in the absence of a car you have three options: cycle, walk or take a local bus. Along the signposted National Cycle Network Route 2 it’s a lovely three-mile walk to Camber Sands. Bus #102 runs between Rye from Camber Sands every 30 minutes.

With its seven miles of golden sand and rolling dunes, Camber Sands has a beach to rival many in the Caribbean. Soak up the sun, stroll along the beach, collect seashells, paddle in the water, build sandcastles. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can try your hand at kitesurfing.

16. Whitstable in Kent

Recommended by What’s Hot Blog

Did you know that you could go from the centre of London to the beach in just over an hour? Whitstable is a small coastal town in Kent, which is an easy train ride away from London. It's the perfect place to visit for a sunny weekend and is small enough that you can do all the main sights in just one day.

As you wander down the high street from the station you'll walk past lots of quaint, independent shops where you can pick up quirky souvenirs, a good book for reading on the beach or some secondhand finds. There's also Harbour Market where you'll find lots of small stalls selling homemade food, prints, jewellery and more. Further up from the beach is Whistable castle and gardens where you can relax with a sea view and enjoy a spot of afternoon tea too.

Whitstable in Kent

Down at the beach, you can go for a long walk and admire the coloured beach huts. Of course, no trip to the British seaside would be complete with a large portion of fish and chips so grab this to take away from one of the local chippies and then head down to the beach for lunch.

Whitstable is known for its oyster trade so if you're feeling adventurous you could choose to gorge on fresh oysters instead. This is one of the top things to do in Whitstable as the oysters are freshly caught so I'd highly recommend trying them here if you're ever going to. With a sprinkle of lemon juice or Tabasco sauce, they're just perfect! Head to Wheeler's Oyster Bar with its iconic, Instagrammable pink facade for a plate of these or The Forge, an oyster bar on the beach, for just the one.

17. Cambridge

Recommended by Two Traveling Texans

Cambridge may be best known as home to one of the most famous universities in the world, but it is more than that. It’s a picturesque city with lots to offer for those interested in history, art, or adventure. It’s only an hour on the train to travel from London to Cambridge and most attractions are within walking distance of the train station, so it makes for the perfect day trip.

Cambridge

Cambridge University was founded back in 2019, making it the second oldest university in the English speaking world! Most colleges allow visitors, although access may be limited during the school term. I suggest you try to visit at least one of the 31 colleges that make up the University. My favourites are King’s College, St. John’s, and Trinity College.

The King’s College Chapel has some of the most amazing stained glass you will ever see. At Trinity College, the Wren Library, designed by Christopher Wren, who also designed St. Paul’s Cathedral, is a must-see.

Additionally, the University has eight museums that the public can visit for free. My favourites are the Fitzwilliam and the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. The Fitzwilliam reminds me of a smaller version of the British Museum in London because it has a diverse collection.

Another one of the things you must do when you visit Cambridge is punting on the Cam River. Punting uses a boat similar to a gondola, where you stand on the back to paddle, but you use a pole instead of an oar. If you’re not brave enough to try it on your own, you can hire someone else to do the punting or go on a punting tour through the lovely area known as The Backs.

18. Brighton

Taking a day trip from London to Brighton is one of the most fun and convenient escapes. A one-hour train ride from London Victoria, Blackfriars or London Bridge or just a two-hour drive can get you to this seaside city in the county of East Sussex.

Brighton

I know most of the people visit Brighton to enjoy the sunny days on the beach, but let’s not forget that the Brighton Pier has one of the coolest indoor places in the city. Since it is indoor, you can visit it anytime regardless of how poor the weather is.

On a sunny day, you can get some fish and chips and ice cream and share it with many hungry seagulls next to the sea, then continue to visit the well preserved Royal Pavilion.

19. Bristol

Recommended by Amber from With Husband In Tow 

If you travel for food or if you love craft beer and gin, Bristol is the place for you. An hour and 45 minutes direct train ride west, Bristol makes for the perfect London day trip.

Once the most important port in England, visitors can explore Bristol’s maritime past with a visit to the SS Great Britain museum. This former passenger steamship was once the longest ship of its kind in the world. Today, it’s Bristol’s number one visitor attraction.

Bristol

The most iconic symbol of Bristol dates back to the Victorian Age and will cost you £1.00 to drive across. Built in 1831 and standing 330 feet in height, the Clifton Suspension Bridge spans the Avon Gorge and River Avon. A ten-minute drive from Bristol city centre, the bridge is one of the most photographed images of Bristol.

After exploring Bristol’s past, it’s time to explore what makes Bristol a worthwhile day trip from London, it’s a culinary scene. Bristol is home to a dynamic and diverse offering of culinary delights. From traditional English pub grub to the most Michelin starred restaurants in the UK, outside of London, Bristol is a food travellers paradise. Its multi-ethnic community serves food from around the globe.

For lovers of craft beer, Bristol is home to several “independent” brewers producing a wide range of outstanding Bristol craft beers and cask ales. In addition to beer, Bristol has had a long tradition of distilling spirits, especially gin. Throughout Bristol, visitors can enjoy artisan gin distilled by some of the UK’s best and oldest distillers. Before heading back to London, pop into one of the cities many pubs for a locally brewed craft beer or properly prepared gin and tonic. Cheers!

20. Bath

Recommended by An Adventure is Calling and Dance Dispatches

Bath, located in Southwest England, is a perfect day trip from London. Located less than 100 miles (or 160 km) outside of the city, it is just a short, one hour and forty-five-minute train ride from Paddington Station to Bath Spa Railway Station. Once you arrive in Bath, you will easily be able to walk the city on foot or use their convenient city bus system.

Bath

All travellers will most likely want to start their day with a visit to the Roman and Medieval Baths, the city’s most popular spot, where you can learn more about the ancient rituals. Simply follow the audio guide around the sites of various statues, pools and relaxation areas. You can even taste the ‘healing’ waters at the designated station, although you probably won’t enjoy the flavour.

If you prefer to explore more historical sites and museums, head to the Bath Abbey for a Tower Tour, which offers stunning views of Bath and the surrounding countryside. Then head to the Fashion Museum to learn about the history of English clothing and then to the Jane Austen Centre to enjoy the information on her life and novels.

If you prefer to explore more of the outdoors, rent a Victorian-style wooden rowboat and paddle down the Avon River. Consider taking a short hike or bus ride to the village of Southstoke for breathtaking views of the countryside and architecture dating back to the 15th centuries. Spending a day in Bath is the perfect day trip from London for travellers who want to escape the city and enjoy the English countryside.

21. The Henry Moore Studios and Gardens

Recommended by Smudged Postcard

Just 30 miles north of London lies the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, set in a particularly peaceful and rural part of Hertfordshire.

Henry Moore was a hugely successful British artist during the 20th century. His sculptures, many of which are a semi-abstract depiction of the female form, can be found all over the world.

If you visit the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, you’ll find an impressive range of his work set in formal gardens and farmland as well as in a number of gallery spaces. Many of the works are in bronze but there are also sculptures carved from wood and from stone in the studios.

The Henry Moore Studios and Gardens

The open-air nature of this permanent exhibition space makes a family visit to the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens particularly appealing. Children can touch the bronze sculptures and really gain an understanding of abstract art.

Visitors can book guided tours of Hoglands House, the Moore family home which contains the artist’s private art collection as well as artefacts which inspired his work. There are also temporary exhibitions and events for children. The onsite café, with large glass windows overlooking the gardens, is very good.

The Henry Moore Studios and Gardens are open from Easter until October each year. Just 11 miles from Stansted Airport, the Studios and Gardens are a short taxi ride from Bishop Stortford railway station which is in turn 45 minutes from central London.

22. Wye, Kent

Recommended by The Road Is Life

Wye is a picturesque countryside village located in the heart of Kent on the outskirts of Ashford. For a relaxing and fun day out, Wye makes the perfect escape from the bustle of London for those seeking some peace and quiet.

After living in Ashford for the last 2.5 years, I’ve often found myself retreating to Wye to immerse myself in the peaceful nature of the English countryside.

My favourite thing to do in Wye is to hike up to the Memorial Crown viewpoint which is located on a hilltop overlooking the village and surrounding countryside. The crown was built into the hillside in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII. The hike takes around 35 minutes and is mostly uphill.

Wye in Kent

Starting from the High Street, you will work your way along a public footpath through a series of fields and forests until you reach the viewpoint at the top. There are signs in the village pointing you in the direction of the walk, otherwise, the path is easy to find by searching for the Wye Memorial Crown on Google maps. From the top, you can enjoy panoramic views of the pretty village surrounded by a patchwork of green fields.

When you return to the village post-hike make your way to the Tickled Trout Pub, a quaint old English pub built in traditional Kentish style architecture on the edge of the Stour River. There has been a pub in that spot for more than 400 years! They serve delicious food and have a great selection of ales and ciders to choose from. On a warm afternoon, their outdoor patio is the perfect place to relax and sip a pint or two in the sun.

To get to Wye, take the high-speed Southeastern train from London’s St. Pancras Station to Ashford which takes 37 minutes. From there, hop on the train toward Canterbury West and get off at Wye which is the next stop.

23. Dover

Recommended by Lee and Stacey of One Trip at a Time

For some of the best scenery in England, along with centuries of history, a day trip to Dover is a great option. It was bombarded in WWII and although the town wasn’t attractively redeveloped post-war, the castle and famous white cliffs more than make up for that.

Dover White Cliffs

Built on the site of an ancient Saxon fortification, Dover Castle is perfectly positioned on top of the high white cliffs to defend the town - which it has been doing since the 12th century. Almost every succeeding century since that time has seen additions built, including the Secret Wartime Tunnels built during the Napoleonic Wars and used in WWII as the top-secret command centre for the rescue mission called Operation Dynamo. History lovers will also like the Roman legacies which include a 2000-year-old lighthouse next to a pretty Anglo-Saxon church.

After spending a few hours exploring Dover castle and its sprawling grounds, don’t miss the iconic and inspiring white cliffs. Plunging hundreds of feet into the sea, the beautiful cliffs are synonymous with England and have been the romantic subject of artists, poets, and writers for centuries. Just be cautious when walking along - the same erosion that keeps the cliffs chalk-white can also cause the ground to give way underfoot!

To get to Dover from London there are a few options:

National Express buses depart Victoria Coast Station about every 90 minutes and take 2.5-3 hour to get to Dover

If you have a car, it takes about 2 hours to drive from London on the M20

Trains leave Charing Cross, Victoria, and St. Pancras stations about every 30 minutes and take 1 to 2 hours to get to Dover

Once in Dover city centre, you’ll need a car, taxi, or shuttle to get up to the castle and the cliffs.

24. Norwich

Recommended by Cultura Obscura

Norwich is a fantastic day trip from London but it also works for a weekend if you want to stay longer. It is a direct train from London Liverpool Street, which takes 90 to 120 minutes. (The bus is a bit cheaper, but about double the time.)

There are so many wonderful things to do in Norwich, many of which can easily fit into a day as they are quite close together. Norwich’s most popular destinations, which should not be missed, are the cathedral and the castle. The castle is a little disappointing if you are expecting a large building, but it is bigger than you think! Underneath the hill it sits on, is a great art gallery. Plus the castle can be quite fun on its own, especially for kids.

Norwich

The Norwich Cathedral is gorgeous and surprisingly overlooked despite having the second largest spire and the largest cloister in England. The cathedral grounds are also lovely to walk around on a nice sunny day.

Another must-see is the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell, which chronicles the history of the city. You might be surprised to find out that outside of London, Norwich was the most important city in England for quite some time. On the last Saturday of the month, visitors can also go on a tour of the Bridewell Undercroft.

Other great things to do while in Norwich includes a visit to Strangers Hall and the Guildhall. If you enjoy shopping, head to the Norwich Lanes, the Royal Arcade, and the Norwich Market (which is over 900 years old)! For those who enjoy the outdoors, enjoy a peaceful afternoon at Plantation Gardens or go hiking in Mousehold.

25. Sheffield

Recommended by Daniel James

Whilst looking for ideas for day trips outside of London, be sure to check out Sheffield for a pleasant day out in the Yorkshire’s greenest city. With a short train journey from St Pancras station in London, you can arrive in the northern city of Sheffield and connect yourself with a different pace of British life within just two hours.

You’ll quickly learn that Sheffield is a city with an interesting historical background that attracts people from all over the world. Also known as Steel City, Sheffield is popular with international students and is home to many independent shops and quirky places to eat and drink.

Sheffield

Cubana is one of the many places to go if you like colourful Spanish tapas and cocktails, not to mention, the perfect place to try out your best Salsa dance moves. Or, maybe if you're looking for something more English inspired, you can visit Forge Bakehouse which is renown for its creative brunch menu. 

Whether you spend your afternoon at the Millennial Gardens, do some well deserved shopping at the infamous Meadowhall shopping centre, or just fancy a peek at the most beautiful Grade Listed I Cathedral that has been in the heart of the city for over a 1000 years, you won’t be disappointed. No matter what your purpose if you’ll find something to keep you entertained for the day in Sheffield.

26. The City of York

Recommended by Sharon from What The Saints Did Next

Although it’s 174 miles away, the northern city of York makes a great day trip from London, taking just two hours by train from Kings Cross. Founded by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago the medieval city is famous for the gothic York Minster, its city walls and The Shambles; one of the UK’s most picturesque streets. The city takes pride in its historic past and gives a feeling of stepping back in time.

There’s so much to see and do, free or paid. There is a one-day York pass available for £45, giving entry to 25 attractions which include the Minister (normally £11), Sightseeing bus tour, river cruise, Clifford’s Tower, Chocolate Story, JORVIK Viking Centre, the Dungeon and a pizza or pasta meal at ASK.

The City of York

For those who prefer to do things for free or at a slower pace. Walking the city walls are a must and in my opinion, the perfect way to see the city, discover the gates aka bars of Monkgate, Micklegate, Walmgate, and Bootham Bar as well as the charming cobbled streets aka gates. Visit St Mary’s Abbey and Botanical Gardens, sit on the banks of the River Ouse, watch street performers, window shop, visit the National Rail Museum, explore the Snickelways and the famous Shambles, said to be the inspiration of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.

Food-wise, The Shambles Food Court is worth a visit and has fantastic street food with delicious offerings from around the world. Otherwise, there are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from.

Betty’s Tea Rooms are also a major highlight in York and they’ve just celebrated their 100th birthday. The queues are crazy so unless you are prepared to wait in line, it's advisable to make a booking.

27. Burnham Beeches

Recommended by Journey Maxx

Central London with all its world-famous landmarks and museums is every bit as exciting as it is exhausting. Sure that London’s Royal Parks and plenty of other such green spaces offer an oasis of nature in the Big Smoke.

Less than an hour away is the location of one of my absolute personal favourite places, Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common. Managed and maintained by the City of London Corporation despite being located in Bucks, visiting the atmospheric woodland has been a regular Autumn pilgrimage for me.

Although it is always a great day out any time of year it is undoubtedly around October and November that you see exactly why that time of year is when most love to visit. Especially so with the glowing orange and brown light on the giant beech and oak trees, especially overlooking the central pond.

Burnham Beeches

Then also in May and you are treated to a colourful display this time of the bluebell kind. Likewise, as well as being a great walking location, Burnham Beeches is also an ideal location for cycling too.

Exploring through the forests it will come as no surprise to learn that, thanks partly to the close proximity to Pinewood Studios, a number of scenes from films and TV shows have been filmed here. Notably in the Harry Potter films namely Order of the Phoenix and part one of The Deathly Hallows.

The trees, many of which have been pruned over a hundred years ago, have a fascinating history. The oldest of which is known as “Druid’s Oak” dates back more than 800 years.

With some very nice cosy pub lunch options nearby, I cannot think of any better escape to the country that does not involve such a long journey from London. The nearest train station (Burnham) is approximately 2 miles away (and I will try and pretend that it isn’t close to Slough either!) but the X74 bus to Farnham Common takes you almost to the entrance. Or of course, bring your bike and get pedalling!

28. Eastbourne and Beachy Head

The easiest way to start a day trip from London to Eastbourne is to hop on a direct train from London Victoria. In less than an hour, you will be in the centre of the coastal city of Eastbourne.

Beachy Head

You can stroll around the city centre where there are shops, cafes and restaurants and walk towards the coast. On a sunny day, the beaches are the perfect place to relax and enjoy the sound of waves crashing on beaches.

Later you can continue walking towards Beachy Head on the west of Eastbourne, where there is a breathtaking series of white cliffs. Make sure you have comfortable shoes on and have food and drink with you. This place is so picturesque and I am sure you will stop to take a lot of photos.

Before heading back to London, you can have fish and chips on one of the seafront restaurants in Eastbourne.

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