One of the great things about visiting a country as small as the United Kingdom is that there are so many attractive destinations just a stone’s throw from its capital: London. Idyllic English market towns, peaceful seashores or cities with a medieval heritage, it’s all possible – and all within two hours of London’s main train stations. Here are our suggestions for day trips from London to return changed (and a little more British) from your trip to England.
Where can I go from London by train? Our useful tips to plan rail day trips from London!
- British trains are notoriously expensive. Travel during off-peak hours (6am to 9am, 3pm to 7pm) to avoid unnecessarily expensive tickets.
- Also, book your tickets well in advance to get the best fares, as prices increase the closer you get to the date of travel.
- Don’t forget that delays, maintenance and cancellations are common. Leave yourself plenty of time if you have connections, transportation or evening plans when you return from your day trip.
- There are plenty of nearby places that can be easily reached by direct train from London. The most difficult part will not be the journey, but the choice of destination!
Distance: 1 hour from London Victoria
Traditional tourists beware! Brighton caters to a decidedly modern crowd with its many nightclubs, LGBTQ culture and bohemian artsy attitude. Younger visitors will be charmed by the second-hand boutiques (Beyond Retro), independent cafes (Lola’s Coffee House), microbreweries (North Laine) and the magnificent pebble beach, Brighton’s ultimate icon.
Brighton is served by many trains every day, making it one of the best day trips from London. It’s easy to reach without having to stick to a specific schedule.
Distance: 1 hour from London Paddington
It is an open secret, if there ever was one, that Oxford continues to be a very popular tourist destination. With good reason – it boasts 38 university campuses that are as prestigious as they are historic, and look like they stepped off the set of Harry Potter. Literally; several scenes were filmed here, notably at the iconic Bodleian Library. It’s one of the oldest universities in the world, and a visit is an interesting experience.
Don’t forget the rowing competitions, the fascinating Ashmolean Museum, the literary heritage (J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit here), the stunning architecture, and the tiny pubs (The Bear Inn, Turf Tavern) hidden deep in the millennia-old alleys. Oh, if walls could talk…
Where should I go within 2 hours of London? York, of course!
Distance: 2 hours from London from King’s Cross
Halfway between London and Edinburgh, York is perhaps the best-preserved medieval cities in the UK. While the city boasts several modern museums, it’s really its history that attracts visitors. With virtually intact 13th-century fortifications (which can be explored on foot for free), a sublime Gothic cathedral (with 360-degree views from its spire), Roman and Viking heritage, a network of narrow streets flanked by Tudor architecture with original features. With a thousand ghost stories… York will quickly immerse you in its dark past.
While it’s certainly one of the more fulfilling day tours from London, York is also the most remote with a few hours of transit. It’s best to plan a full day at your destination and wake up very early!
Distance: 1.5 hour from London Paddington
Bath has been a tourist destination for nearly 2,000 years. The Romans were enchanted by its natural hot springs and public baths, which you can still visit today. A guaranteed change from the ordinary! Avoid buying any thermal water cosmetics on the spot, though, and instead head to the Termea boutique a few blocks to the west.
Bath is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its extraordinary and diverse architectural ensemble.
It also boasts some magnificent Georgian architecture with original features, including a series of 33 houses arranged in a perfect half-moon shape for a very British panorama. And of course, Bath Abbey is well worth a visit to admire its grandeur and size.
If you’re a fan of history, aesthetically-pleasing city and quaint English vibes, Bath is one of the best day trips from London for you.
Distance: 1.5 hour from London St Pancras
Even the most skeptical visitor will be charmed by this seaside village of weathered Tudor houses. Rye is a veritable postcard of medieval England – not a place to play tourist, but a place to take a breath in the maze of winding streets. It’s an easy destination if you’re looking for a little peace and quiet. For the ultimate British experience, opt for afternoon tea at Edith House on the sublime High Street.
What day trips can you take from London? Whitstable!
Distance: 1.5 hour from London Victoria
Whitstable is a charming seaside town in the heart of Kent. An ideal choice for a day trip to England from London! It’s famous for its pebbled seafront, pretty fishermen’s cottages and relaxed atmosphere. Here you can go on a short walk along the English Channel, browse the small bric-a-brac shops of the Harbour Market, and sit down in the pub to talk football (don’t call it soccer!) with the locals. In a nutshell, Whitstable is everything you would expect a quaint English seaside village to be.
And if you’re visiting in the summer, know that Whitstable is famous for its Oyster Festival. Fun and enjoyment guaranteed!
Distance: 1 hour from London Paddington
Windsor, whose main attraction is of course its royal castle, is a must for day tours from London. This landmark is steeped in more than 900 years of royal history and British monarchy. Be sure to visit the magnificent state apartments, ceremonial rooms and lush gardens of Windsor Castle.
In addition to the famous castle, Windsor offers a variety of sightseeing options, including a boat ride on the River Thames or a private tour of its historic streets.
Because of its proximity to the capital, Windsor is considered one of the easiest day tours from London. It can be visited in as little as half a day, or a full day if you plan to take in the city’s charming little detours.