This post's overview:
- 1 20+ fantastic day trips from London:
- 1.1 1. Cambridge
- 1.2 2. Seven Sisters Country park
- 1.3 3. Cotswolds
- 1.4 4. St. Albans City
- 1.5 5. Oxford
- 1.6 6. Hike from Dorking to the Leigh Hill
- 1.7 7. Brighton
- 1.8 8. Bath
- 1.9 9. Windsor Castle
- 1.10 10. Margate
- 1.11 11. Dover
- 1.12 12. Chichester
- 1.13 13. Rye, East Sussex
- 1.14 14. Hitchin
- 1.15 15. Warner Bros Studios
- 1.16 16. Norwich
- 1.17 17. Durdle Door, Dorset
- 1.18 18. Stonehenge
- 1.19 19. New Forest
- 1.20 20. East Grinstead
- 1.21 21. Warwick Castle
- 1.22 Some other posts you might like:
If you’re looking for travel ideas around England, I’ve got you covered. In this post, I would like to share with you 20+ amazing day trips from London.
England (just as Scotland and Wales) is a beautiful country with lots of places to explore. You don’t have to travel internationally to find gorgeous landscapes, exciting landmarks and stunning castles. There are so many things to do around London, and in this post, I wanted to share with you some of the most beautiful ones!
You can get to 90% of these places by train, however, to explore some locations, you would probably need a car. You can rent a car from rentalcars.com (we always rent from there, as they offer great & affordable travel insurance).
If you’re looking for some great weekend trip ideas, you can find them in this post about the best weekend breaks around the UK!
I also teamed up with some amazing travel bloggers to share with you even more suggestions on the England day trip ideas. Without further ado, let’s get started!
20+ fantastic day trips from London:
Cambridge is an absolutely fabulous place and is one of my favourite day trips from London. Located just 30-40 minutes away from London by a speed train, Cambridge can be explored just within one day! Cambridge is home to the famous University of Cambridge and the famous Bridge of Sights. It’s a beautiful place to walk around, explore the University and take some stunning photos of Cambridge!
2. Seven Sisters Country park
You’ve probably heard about the white cliffs of Dover. Well, this is way more impressive than that!
Seven Sisters is especially nice on a warm sunny day when the water will be almost as blue as in the Caribbean! Also don’t forget to bring some comfortable shoes, because you’ll need to walk for about 20-30 minutes from where the bus will drop you. It might be challenging to understand how to get to Seven Sisters, so don’t forget to check this post out to find out, how did we get to the cliffs.
Cotswolds is a lovely and unique AONB, and you probably will need more than one day to explore all the villages and towns of Cotswolds. Nonetheless, if you only have one day, don’t worry, you’ll still be able to see the highlights of Cotswolds. If you’re interested in doing a road trip in Cotswolds in just one day, head to this post.
4. St. Albans City
Another excellent day trip very close to London is St. Albans City. Many people think that St. Albans is actually part of London, but it’s a separate City (yes, it has a city status) 45 minutes by train from Central London. St. Albans has one of England’s oldest and most beautiful cathedrals. Moreover, on Saturdays, it has a charming market set up in the city centre. Furthermore, St. Albans City is home to one of England’s oldest pubs. You can spend an entire day in St. Albans or even half a day if you only have a few hours to spend there.
You can read more about a day trip to St. Albans in my post here >>>
Oxford is another famous University town in England, and it’s located pretty close to London (similar distance as Cambridge). It’s impossible to visit both Oxford and Cambridge in one day. If you’re coming to England for a limited amount of time, most probably, you will have to choose between Oxford and Cambridge. I personally like Cambridge a bit more, however, I know many people who prefer Oxford. Once again, the best activity in Oxford is walking around the city and exploring the hidden gems of the city.
6. Hike from Dorking to the Leigh Hill
If you’re an outdoorsy person, you will definitely like this amazing day trip from London. All you need to do is get to Dorking via train or car and go hiking to the Leigh Hill, from where you can see the beautiful panorama of Surrey and you can even see London from there. You will walk through vineyards, pine forests, hills and farms and it’s just a pleasant and exciting activity for a day trip!
You can read more about our itinerary and experience with the hike in this post >>>
Brighton is one of my favourite day trip destinations from London. Brighton is often called a little London by the sea as many people prefer to live there and commute to London every day. Luckily, with just a 1-hour journey by train, it’s definitely possible. Brighton has an amazing beach, a magnificent promenade, plenty of museums, beautiful city centre and an incredible amount of great restaurants to go out. You can head there for a small break to disconnect from your busy everyday life. Make sure you check my post about our day trip to Brighton.
Another fabulous day trip destination is Bath. While you can definitely do Bath in just one day, I recommend coming here for a weekend. Bath is lovely – it’s a city of culture. The architecture is stunning as well. There are so many things to do, from visiting the Jane Austen House to Pulteney Bridge and Bath Abbey. Of course, don’t forget the Roman baths, the most renowned landmark in the city.
9. Windsor Castle
Windsor is a perfect day trip for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of London. It has one of the oldest and largest occupied castles and has a fascinating history. It’s where the queen chooses to spend many of her weekends, and if you are lucky, you might be there when she is in residence. Just look for the British flag flying from the castles round tower.
Windsor Castle is quite big, and it is best to get there in the morning. Two train companies have services between London and Windsor. Great Western Railway operates services from London Paddington and takes about 25-50 minutes, but you do have to switch in Slough. Southwestern Railway operates direct service from London Waterloo and takes about 55 minutes. You can buy tickets directly from the station, online from Trainline or directly from the train company website.
Once you arrive at the Windsor train station finding the castle will be pretty straightforward. There will be signs everywhere, and most people everyone getting off the train will be visiting the castle as well, so follow the crowds! I highly recommend booking your ticket in advance, especially in summer, the queue for tickets can be quite long, and I recommend picking up an audio guide.
Windsor Castle truly is a remarkable day trip from London and one that should not be missed!
Submission and photo by Marika from Clumsy Girl Travels
You can travel (by train) from London’s Kings Cross to Margate in under two hours and, if the weather allows, go for a stroll along the huge sandy beach (take a dip if you’re feeling extra brave!).
Margate is famous for the cute but kitsch Dreamland Amusement Park which has done a great job in shaking off its old-school roots; think music festivals with the likes of Annie Mac and All Saints, the UK’s oldest operating roller coaster and a retro Roller Room.
Margate is also home to a number of award-winning eateries; try:
- breakfast at The Bus Café – a double-decker bus which has been converted into a mobile kitchen and café
- a leisurely stroll through Cliftonville Farmers’ Market for seasonal fruit and vegetables, cheese, bread, honey, fudge and wild game
- ethically sourced, sustainable seafood for dinner at Michelin-starred Angela’s Seafood Restaurant.
You can’t go to Margate without stopping by The Shell Grotto and its winding passageways (decorated with more than four million shells). No one knows exactly why or how long the grotto has been there!
Margate is also home to the Turner Art Gallery which you may have noticed on the new £20 note; the first contemporary building to be bestowed with the honour.
Submission and photo by Mads from THELONDONMOTHER.NET
The iconic White Cliffs of Dover and the imposing medieval Castle that sits above them are 2 great attractions in Dover worth visiting on a day trip from London. The world famous cliffs are best visited in good weather to appreciate the views over the English Channel and across to France. If however you’re not so lucky with the weather, the castle makes a perfect rainy day out.
Dover Castle has stood in its commanding position on top of the cliffs for nine centuries and this wealth of history, from Roman times to the Cold War, is fascinating to explore. From its medieval tower, furnished as it would have been in the 12th century as a home for royalty, to the WWII hospital deep in a cliff-side bunker, there’s plenty to occupy all ages and interests. There’s even an Escape Game in the tunnels for added fun (need to book ahead). The Castle has several restaurants, cafés and picnic areas and hosts events and special family activities throughout the year, such as dress-up days and Easter egg hunts.
Dover is easily reached by high-speed train in about an hour from St Pancras or slower (and cheaper options) from Victoria and Charing Cross stations. The Castle is a 1-mile walk from Dover Priory station and the White Cliffs Visitors Centre is about 2 miles from the station. Taxis are available.
Submission and photo by Phoebe from Lou Messugo
Chichester makes a great and easy day trip from London! It’s a beautiful small city located in West Sussex and is full of charm, lined with cobblestone streets and traditional townhouses. The star of the show is the Chichester Cathedral, a stunning medieval building that towers over the city. Take a stroll along the 1.5 mile Chichester Walls that surround the compact city, as they’re the most well preserved Roman city walls in England. Wander the streets, pop into some shops, and see the elaborate Chichester Cross at the centre of town.
Feeling artsy? Check out the Pallant House Gallery. Want to see some history? Head to the Fishbourne Roman Palace, the biggest Roman dwelling found in England. You can also visit Novium, a museum full of ancient artefacts. For some fresh air, meander over to Chichester Harbor, Priory Park, or Bishop’s Palace Garden! For a show, visit Chichester Festival Theater. If you happen to have a car, South Downs National Park, the Goodwood House, and the Goodwood Racecourse are must-sees.
To get there, take the Southern Line from Victoria Station to Chichester. Each way is 1.5 hours. That’s it – enjoy your visit to this beautiful city!
Submission and photo by Kelsey from Sights Better Seen
13. Rye, East Sussex
Just an hour from London by train is the delightful town of Rye, one of the most popular places to visit in East Sussex. You’ll find steep cobblestone streets lined with timber framed houses and a rich maritime history. In medieval times, before the sea receded from the town, Rye was an important port. Smuggling was common and it’s easy to imagine the characterful inns such as the famous Mermaid Inn as venues for underhand activity. For a full history of Rye, head to the town’s little museum at Ypres Tower.
Many of the shops and pubs are now home to inviting boutiques and gastronomic restaurants, perfect for a bit of retail therapy or lunch with friends. There’s an excellent hot chocolate bar, Knoops and an appealing old sweet shop, both likely to attract children or anyone with a sweet tooth.
If you’re visiting Rye in the summertime, it’s a short ride to the beach at Camber Sands. This huge sandy beach is stunning and combines well with a morning spent exploring the streets of Rye. Ensure you stay in Rye until the last train home: the town becomes incredibly atmospheric after dark when the sea mist comes in. It’s easy to imagine smugglers of old sneaking through the narrow streets. There are so many inviting pubs to try with beamed ceilings and cosy nooks to enjoy a pint in.
Submission and photo by Annabel from Smudged Postcard
Hitchin is a quaint medieval market town in Hertfordshire located 40 miles north of London. You can get there on a direct train from London St Pancras in about 33 minutes and from London Kings Cross in about 40 minutes making it a lovely day trip from London.
Market days are Tuesdays and Saturdays with an antiques market on Fridays. There are some lovely historical buildings and cobbled streets to explore with some equally lovely restaurants including our favourite, an excellent little Japanese restaurant called Kazuko.
During the summer months, the big draw for many people visiting from London is the Hitchin Lavender Farm. If you come by train to Hitchin, your best bet is to take a taxi or Uber to the fields. The flowering season is usually between mid-June to mid-August and during this time tens of thousands of visitors will come from all around.
Entrance to the fields is £10 per adult and £5 for children under 14. You’ll get a pair of scissors and a paper bag which you can fill with cuttings. We would advise going when it opens at 10 am because it can get very busy. They also have a late opening until 9 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays when you should get some lovely sunset shots.
There are a couple of cafés on-site, a gift shop and a couple of play areas for the kids. Parking is free in a large field so be prepared to wear sensible footwear if it has been raining.
Submission and photo by Jacquie from Flashpacking Family
15. Warner Bros Studios
Calling all Harry Potter fans for this one! If you’ve always been dreaming of becoming a wizard for a day, London is the perfect destination for you!
Located in Watford, the Warner Bros studios open their doors to all muggles wanting to dive into the wizarding world and discover the place where all Harry Potter movies were filmed.
You will get to discover amongst many other things, the sets, costumes, props and special effects equipment that were used for the 8 Harry Potter movies. You will also find loads of information about the movies, marketing strategies and make up techniques.
You will get to wander through the great hall, diagon alley, the forbidden forest and the gringott’s bank.
You can book your tickets online on the official WB studios website and can stay as long as you want in the studios. The average visit can take about 4 hours but if you are a true Harry Potter fan you will probably stay even longer and wish you had Hermione’s Time Turner!
It’s very easy to reach the studios by train from London City centre. Just hop on a train to Watford Junction and from there take the Warner Bros studio shuttle, you can’t miss it. You will find several restaurants in the studios for lunch and even a bar serving butterbeer!
Submission and photo from Pauline from Beeloved City
Just 1 hr 52 minutes direct by train from London Liverpool Street is the city of Norwich. I love Norwich. It is a city small enough to easily travel around on foot and has many things to do and places to see to offer. As a food obsessed traveller, I have focussed on the ‘must visit’ food and drink scene for when you are ready for a break from all of that shopping and sightseeing.
Get lunch at Benedicts. Richard Benedict won the ‘Great British Menu’ with two of his delicious dishes- one of these, ‘Nanny Bush’s Seasonal Trifle’ is amazing. The set lunch menu is great value at £22 for 3 courses.Contemporary bistro Farmyard is another top choice of lunch destination. Here a 3 course set lunch will cost you £21. For quicker bites, try a delicious wood fired pizza from Brick Pizza. This is a cool independent which is centrally situated near the market.
You must take home a box of the delightful macaroons from Macarons and More owned by Masterchef finalist Tim Kinnaird . Warning- these are so addictive and you will be back for more- don’t worry they do mail order too! They also offer cookery gift experiences including baking bread, pastries and macarons of course.
Find time for a drink in The Wallow, a cosy wine bar offering quality wines on self-service wine dispensers. They also have food boards for a nibble including cheese, veggie and classic Wallow board.
Submission by Melanie from Two Plus Dogs
17. Durdle Door, Dorset
The coastal line from Bournemouth to Durdle Door is so gorgeous and has been in existence since 185 million years with fossils of dinosaurs unearthed in this region (which is precisely why it’s also called the Jurassic Coast).
My first stop was at Swanage visitors’ centre and I took the coastal path to walk almost till Anvil Point Lighthouse. The entire path has a beautiful view of the sea with all its hues of blue and if you’re lucky you might spot dolphins (I wasn’t)! Beneath the path are the caves which were used ages ago for smuggling between France & UK!!! Ofcourse, now it’s sealed off for visitors!!!
Next, I headed to Corfe Castle, built in early 12th C. It has quite a history – at one point of time this place was the home of the crown jewels, and at another point this place also served as a prison. Currently it is in ruins though, but indeed picturesque with stunning view points!
My next stop was the very famous, but incredibly beautiful Durdle door. The way in which nature has literally drilled a hole onto the rock-formations making a door like structure, is a pure beauty of Mother Nature! There’s a huge car park atop and from there a relatively steep walk down a dirt track takes to the view of Durdle Door from atop. There are steps from here to reach the beach itself. The beach was pebbly and water was pristine!
Finally, from here I walked over to Lulworth Cove. While the view of this place from atop, as I walked from Durdle door was splendid, the cove itself is a bit too commercial and slightly crowded.
Submission & photo from Bhushavali
The ancient site of Stonehenge is situated in the county of Wiltshire close to the cathedral city of Salisbury. The stone circles date back over 4500 years and were erected on the site by prehistoric
people. It is the best known prehistoric site in Europe and over 800,000 people a year visit the stones.
Getting to Stonehenge from London is easy by public transport. I recommend catching a train from London to Salisbury. The journey takes approximately 2 and a half hours. Once you arrive at Salisbury there is a tour bus which takes you to and from Stonehenge itself.
This is a hop-on hop-off bus which offers flexibility for visitors wishing to explore at their own pace.
Once at Stonehenge enjoy a stroll around the museum which details the history of the stones and the people who erected them. The museum is located in the visitor’s centre approximately 2 miles from the stones. Hop on a free shuttle bus or walk to the stones. If
you choose the free shuttle it takes about 10 minutes before you catch a glimpse of the stones.
I recommend downloading the free audio guide from the app store or pick up an audio guide at the visitor’s centre for a small fee.
Submission and photo by Tracy from Tracy Travel in Time
19. New Forest
The New Forest is a huge and ancient swathe of woods, pastures and heathland that stretches across Hampshire and down to the south coast of England, says Nancy from MapandFamily.com.
William the Conqueror hunted deer here and so did Henry VIII. Nowadays visitors come for scenic walking, cycling, horse riding and camping as well as the picturesque villages, pubs and beaches.
You can’t visit the New Forest without seeing the famous wild ponies – it’s said their ancestors have grazed here for 2000 years. Although they’re privately owned these ponies aren’t tame – don’t try to pat them – instead they roam freely on the heath as well as in the villages. Try to visit in the Spring when the mares have fluffy foals trotting beside them. You might also spot donkeys and even Highland cattle out foraging on the Forest roads and lanes.
The New Forest makes a wonderful day trip from London and you can get there by train in around an hour and a half from Waterloo station. Choose Brockenhurst station if you’re looking for a village day out: you can hire bikes there, take a forest walk, find a cosy pub for lunch or enjoy cakes and scones in a pretty tea room. Or take a train from here to Lymington Town where you’ll find a Saturday market, little boutiques and a busy quayside at the foot of a steeply cobbled Georgian street.
Submission and photo by Nancy from Map and Family
20. East Grinstead
East Grinstead is a great day trip from London for people looking for something a little different. It takes 1 hour by train from London, and when you arrive at the station, be sure to check out the heritage steam trains!
If you’ve never heard of East Grinstead, you’re not alone! This little town is rarely on the tourist radar, but that’s what makes it such a great place to visit.
The main thing to visit is the East Grinstead Museum which tells the history of the town’s extraordinary past. During WWII, East Grinstead Hospital was converted into a specialist facial reconstruction centre to accommodate the overwhelming number of patients with severe burns and disfiguring scars. Today, it remains the leading specialist facial reconstruction hospital in the world.
While the museum is worth a visit on its own, there is still more to see. While in East Grinstead, you can enjoy the old English architecture and enjoy a tea and cake at the bookshop. Be sure to visit Sackville College, where the Christmas Hymn ‘Good King Wenceslas’ was written, and learn more about the writer and the history of the college. It is also one of the few places outside of Greenwich where you can stand on the Royal Meridian Line in the UK.
Lastly, nearby is Ashdown Forest, rumoured to be the inspiration for the Hundred Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh!
Contributed by Dagney of Cultura Obscura
21. Warwick Castle
Under 2 hours away from London, Warwick Castle makes for a fun-filled, busy day trip! Over 1100 years old, the castle has a colorful and dramatic history in the area. It now serves as a major tourist destination, with a wide range of shows, activities, and dining options. The biggest draws include the thrilling falconry show and the (seasonal) knight’s joust! There are hands on opportunities to shoot arrows yourself and try armor on like a real knight.
Other highlights include the gruesome dungeon tour, life size trebuchet displays, and the Horrible Histories hedge maze for families. In addition to the entertainment, they have several unique lodging options. There are medieval themed wooden lodges, a variety of camping options including “royalty glamping”, and also a luxury lodging opportunity to sleep in the castle itself. All of these are served by a dining hall with knight lessons for families and a live action weapon fight demonstration.
Warwick Castle’s address is Warwick, Warwickshire, CV34 6AH and there are several public transportation options for visiting if you don’t want to rent a car. The Warwick Castle Express is a luxury bus leaving from London from April-November on certain days of the week. The Warwick train station is roughly one mile from the castle, or pick one of several private tour operators with private pickup and transport.
Submission and photo by Stephanie from Explore More Clean Less