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Top 10 London Day Trips: See the Beauty of England & More!

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Top 10 London Day Trips: See the Beauty of England & More!
Plan the perfect day trip from London with our itinerary guide to hit all the ultimate destinations with your friends and family! Read on to find out how you can hit all the destinations.

Ah, London, such a beautiful city full of wonders.

Whenever I go to England and the United Kingdom, its capital city is so fascinating—a place I always make time for.

It's the city where you can discover the long history of the British Empire, experience the always exciting pub lifestyle, and marvel at tall unique modern skyscrapers.

Some of my favourite parts of the city are the quaint little cafes, wild clubs, and romantic river cruises. These are all must-sees on your itinerary, and if you're a shopper, then there's lots of that for you too!

But after taking a turn at all of London's famous landmarks, the big city can get overwhelming.

So, what better than having an alternative plan and find out more about England's culture and lifestyle while unwinding from busy London? A day trip to a nearby countryside town or another metropolitan city will be the best way to relax and get the complete package of a British holiday.

How, you might add? Well, I've planned quite a few of those myself and even did additional research. All so you don't have to!

Here's all the ideas, research and summarized in one place, to make your life easier. Get ready for a memorable day trip from London...

Image by David Singer on Flickr

10 Day Trips Within England 

Undoubtedly, everyone knows London. The city of red buses, unique taxis, Big Ben, and Queen Elisabeth is a must-visit destination.

Others, like football fanatics, may also know there's lots to do in Liverpool, Manchester, and other well-known cities.

But England has so many other stunning cities and towns worth knowing. So, when you're in London, here is my top 6 list of cities you should take a day to visit if you want to stay in England.

10. Stonehenge: Mystery and History in One Stop!

I bet everyone knows this extraordinary prehistoric landmark. Frankly, there is not much for me to say why this day trip from London is amongst the best.

The uncertainty that revolves around Stonehenge’s meaning and the building is partly what makes it so attractive. Honestly, once you visit it, you'll be amazed by how enormous the stones really are.

Stonehenge is one of the most famous neolithic monuments in the world and is only one of several surviving across the English countryside. It was built around 5,000 years ago, presumably as a spiritual site.

There are many speculations on what Stonehenge exactly represents, but it is, in fact, a burial ground. 

Archaeologists still have no idea how the architects and workers of the day constructed the grand stone circle. For anyone interested in the ancient world, this is a London day trip not to be missed!

Grab an audio guide to learn about the site's archaeology and what scholars suspect about its purpose. You can also visit five neolithic houses reconstructed based on nearby finds.

There's an admission fee to support the site, and you can skip queues if you book your ticket in advance. Expect to pay US$25 for an adult, with concession and family tickets available.

How to Get There

Stonehenge is in the county of Wiltshire, and the closest city is Salisbury. That means it's about 90 miles from London and takes about 2 hours to drive. If you drive yourself, you can visit the nearby smaller stone circle at Avebury and stop at a village pub for lunch.

You can also take a train or a bus to Salisbury from London and then a bus to Stonehenge.

You can also cut down the hassle by booking an organized trip to Stonehenge rather than going on your own! 

Image by Werner Bayer on Flickr

9. Cambridge: Home of Intelligence

As a city hosting a world-class university, Cambridge is a popular destination. I agree it's awe-inspiring!

This is the city where some of the greatest minds in the world have studied. So, perhaps a day trip to Cambridge will help you connect with your inner Charles Darwin, Alan Turing, or Stephen Hawking.

Visit numerous colleges with impressive architecture and brilliant museums of science, technology, and anthropology. Or explore beautiful, magnificent gardens, including a 40-acre botanical garden. 

Whether you decide to explore on your own, or go on an informative tour, you'll enjoy the change of pace from bustling London!

How to Get There

Cambridge is about 55 miles away from London, and by car, it can be reached within 1.5 hours.

By train, Cambridge is only 50 minutes away from London and can cost as little as US$10.

By bus, the journey is about 2 hours and tickets start from US$12.50. 

cambridge day trip from london
Image by Pixabay

8. Windsor: Insight Into the British Royals!

Have you been following all the juicy gossip from the British royal family? Don't worry. I admit I love tuning into it every now and then.

So, that's why I love a good day trip to Windsor and if you're a fan like me, you'll appreciate one too!

During your holiday in London, you'll probably not be able to meet the royal family. But a visit to Windsor and the historic Windsor Castle will allow you the opportunity to experience their history and lifestyle.

It was the Queen's official residence, RIP Queen Elizabeth, and has been one of the homes of the royal family for 900 years! Several monarchs are even buried there, including King Henry VIII.

Windsor Castle was also the venue for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The grounds surrounding the castle are just as impressive as the structure itself and the treasures that it holds.

And make sure to catch the iconic Changing of the Guard at 11 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during the summer.

Windsor Castle is a working royal palace, so it's closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Sometimes, the castle can't be accessed because they're in use.

Furthermore, this picturesque town is the perfect destination to get away from the always busy London.

How to Get There

Windsor is approximately 1 hour away from London by train, and it costs about US$12.50 to US$15. The castle is very close to the station, so it'll be easy for you to access.

Want to take the bus instead? The journey to Windsor is about 1 hour by bus, and it can cost as little as around US$6.25. 

Or you can book all-inclusive half-day tour to Windsor.

Autumn leaves in front o
Image by David Mark on Pixabay

7. Brighton: England by the Seaside

While the UK may not be particularly known for its beaches, Brighton is an exception. This pebbled beach is on the south coast of England, looking out over the channel towards France. No British holiday is complete without a day trip to Brighton beach.

Any trip to Brighton should be accompanied by a visit to the white cliffs of Seven Sisters, which are characteristics of the white cliffs that line the English coast and offer some spectacular views.

Must-see spots include the Devil's Dyke, a v-shaped valley said to have been created by the devil himself. Another site worth exploring is the Long Man of Wilmington, a 235-foot-high chalk figure created on the side of a grassy hill.

In Brighton, you'll find a lively seaside resort town with plenty of green spaces and narrow streets packed with unique boutique shops and individual market stalls.

There's also the Brighton Museum and the Royal Pavilion. This Indian-style palace looks like it belongs to imperial times! Getting some English-style fish and chips at the seaside is obligatory.

Brighton is also considered a haven for the LGBTQIA+ community.

How to Get There

You can reach Brighton from London in about 2 hours depending on whether you go by train or drive. While the train is faster, it's nice to go by car so you can take your time exploring the coastal sights.

Sphere on rocks by the water in Brighton
Image by Martyn Cook from Pixabay

6. Blenheim Palace: Sir Winston Churchill's Birthplace

If you only have time to visit one stately home, make it Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It's a magnificent palatial structure in 18th-century Baroque style with large staterooms and walls adorned with priceless works of art.

Blenheim Palace is considered to hold the finest collection of antiques in Europe.

As well as the house itself, there are 754 hectares of property landscaped by Capability Brown. The Rose Garden, Water Terraces, and Secret Gardens are all highlights. There are even 2 lakes and a temple dedicated to the goddess Diana.

You could easily spend an entire day exploring the house and grounds or join a tour that shows you the highlights in just a few hours.

Tickets should be bought in advance. You can get a standard adult admission for around £43, and there are also concessions and cheaper tickets if you just want to visit the parks and gardens, not the house.

How to Get There

There are no direct bus or train routes to Blenheim so it's easiest to go by car, which will take about 90 minutes.

If you take the train, head to Hanborough. From there, you can catch a local bus. Or sign up for an organized London day trip to Blenheim Palace and the beautiful Cotswolds.

Aerial view of Blenheim Palace in England
Image by Dreilly95 on Wikimedia

5. Canterbury & Leeds: Visit Both Famous Names!

Canterbury is one of the most famous names in England. This is thanks to the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer and the Bishop of Canterbury, who always seems to make problems for the monarch in movies. 

So what should you see if you're visiting these two English spots?

The grand Canterbury Cathedral is a reflection of the region's important history. It was initially built in 597, and parts of the current structure date from the 11th century. It's surrounded by Medieval cobbled streets and timber-framed houses.

A day trip to Canterbury from London is usually combined with a visit to Leeds Castle, just 20 miles away. Built in the 12th century, the castle has a romantic feel and sits at the center of a natural lake and 500 acres of gardens.

The castle is best known as one of the residences of King Henry VIII and several of his wives. Take on the castle's yew tree maze and discover the underground grotto at the center.

How to Get There

The best way to visit both Canterbury and Leeds Castle is by car. It's only about two hours to Canterbury from central London and Leeds is on the way.

Sign up for a Leeds Castle tour, Canterbury Cathedral, and a Greenwich River boat ride.

Streets of Cambridge
Image by Inja Pavlić on Unsplash

4. Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour

Magical London day trips? If you're traveling with kids, or you're just a big Harry Potter fan, you won't regret visiting the Warner Bros Studio.

This studio is largely dedicated to the magic behind the Harry Potter film franchise.

Take the tour to see sets from the films including the Great Hall at Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forest, and Platform 9 ¾ for catching the Hogwarts Express. You can also look through the props room and see the detailed care given to creating every potion jar and Weasleys Wizard Wheezes.

See how they created visual effects, such as Harry's invisibility cloak, and how they brought some of the most famous creatures to life!

How to Get There

The studio is located only about 20 miles from central London in Leavesden, Watford. Drive directly or take the train to Watford and jump on a tour bus to the studio.

Try this Harry Potter Tour that leaves directly from central London. If you decide to travel there independently remember that booking in advance is essential. Tickets start from around US$62.

Expect to spend at least 3.5 hours in the studios.

Sign for platform 9 and 3/4s
Image by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash

3. Oxford

Oxford is another famous university town. Oxford University has an excellent claim to being the oldest university in the world, established in the 12th century and still running on more or less the same collegiate model today.

The dispersed nature of Oxford, with all students and academics attached to one of 38 different colleges, means the university grounds alone are a city. The modern city of Oxford has grown organically around the University buildings.

Oxford is often called an open-air museum because buildings from all the major architectural periods push up into the skyline to create the 'dreaming spires of Oxford.' 

If you add this to your visit, remember to check out these unique examples of architecture and more spanning the centuries in Oxford:

  • St George's Tower, built in the 11th century
  • Christ Church Cathedral from the 12th century
  • New College built in the 14th century
  • the Divinity School dating to the 15th century
  • the 16th-century Sheldonian Theatre
  • the Radcliffe Camera, built in the 18th century
  • and many 19th and 20th century architectural wonders

Want to see more of the city? Pop into Oxford's oldest pub, the Bear, serving customers since 1242. Or have a pint at the Eagle and Child, where the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis met to exchange their stories.

How to Get There

Oxford is just 60 miles from London and you can drive or catch a direct train in about an 1 hour. It's definitely one of the quickest London day trips you can find.

The city center is easy to navigate on foot, and you can refuel by stopping off for ice-cream in the summer and mulled wine in the winter.

Aerial of old buildings in Oxford
Image by Sidharth Bhatia on Unsplash

2. Warwick Castle

If you're a fan of Medieval times, then put Warwick Castle on your itinerary. The thousand-year history of the castle is brought to life with interactive shows including jousts and archery.

The castle was initially built in the 11th and 12th centuries, and it feels like stepping back in time as you cross the drawbridge to enter. Walk the ramparts before exploring the cavernous interior full of suits of armor and wax reconstructions.

This is another place where the surrounding grounds are as impressive as the castle. If you live in the area, you'll want to visit again and again.

How to Get There

Tickets start from approximately US$30 for adults if you remember to book in advance.

The castle is about 100 miles from central London and about 2 hours by car. Alternatively, you can get the train to Warwick and walk about 20 minutes through the picturesque village to reach the castle.

Of course, there are also organized day trips from London that combine Warwick Castle and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Body of water next to Warwick Castle in the UK
Image by Colin Craig on Wikimedia

1. Bath: Experience the Sacred Waters

Bath is a popular destination to visit from London with lots and lots of things to do. It's undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking cities in England.

Walking the streets and soaking up the Georgian architecture feels like traveling back in time. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site. 

The well-preserved ancient baths built upon a hot spring have been a place of worship for both the ancient Celts and the Romans. They were public baths and a sacred site dedicated to the goddess Minerva.

Later the roman baths became part of the royal family's favorite destinations.

Today, they are open to everyone to marvel at the Romans' fantastic architecture, culture, and history. You may not be able to bathe in the sacred waters of Minerva, but there are still great hot springs and spas for a good soak.

Plus, what better place to grab a stunning photo for your Instagram feed?!

How to Get There

Bath is less than an hour and a half from London by train and tickets start as low as US$12.50. By bus is about 2.5 hours and the trip can be as cheap as US$7.50.

So, depending on your available time and budget, you can go either by bus from Victoria Coach Station or a train from Paddington Station. 

Old buildings on a street in Bath
Image by Beth Jnr on Unsplash

Day Trips Within the United Kingdom

People often forget that the United Kingdom consists of four individual countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

These four countries may be part of the same nation yet, they all have unique traits. Therefore, if you are planning a day trip from London, it would be a marvelous idea to go to the capital of one of the rest of the countries of the United Kingdom. 

I'm here to show you, you definitely don't need to plan an entirely different trip to Ireland or Scotland to see the best of some of the UK's other countries!

Edinburgh: Hop Over to Scotland

When thinking of the beautiful Scottish capital, I'm immediately reminded of tartan kilts, the great highland bagpipes, and the adorable Scottish terriers. But of course, Edinburgh has much more than that!

Once you arrive in Scotland, you'll feel a profound different ambiance from London. The streets feel different, the architecture, the cars, the weather, and even the people seem to try to convince you that you are indeed not in England.

The city's medieval old town, the stunning castle, and Edinburgh's scenic nature will amaze you!

How to Get There

The quickest way to get to Edinburgh from London is by direct flight. Regularly that can cost anywhere from US$50 to US$250. If booked in advance, you'll definitely be able to find cheaper flights.

By train, it's about 5 hours and 20 minutes, and the cheapest ticket is at the low price of US$33.50.

If you're looking for an even cheaper option, you can also opt for the bus. You'll need about 9 hours from London to Edinburgh, and it costs as little as US$20.

Edinburgh Day ca
Image by Pixabay

Cardiff: Jump Into the Home of Doctor Who

Similar to Edinburgh, Cardiff might surprise you with how different it is from a city in England.

But rather than the architecture and the streets, what will leave you flabbergasted is their language. Welsh is an official language in Wales, and it originates from the Celtic language.

So, while in Cardiff, Wales, you'll probably feel as though you've left the United Kingdom entirely. Nevertheless, you'll thoroughly enjoy your time in this magnificent city. 

There's something for everyone—whether you want to hike among waterfalls or you're a fan of Doctor Who and want the full tour of filming locations around Cardiff.

How to Get There

The trip to Cardiff from London by train is less than 2 hours, and you can find tickets as cheap as US$18 while with the bus the journey is about 3 hours, and the tickets start from only approximately US$6.50.

Pink sunset by the pier in Cardiff
Image by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Day Trips Within Europe

If you're in London, then here's my top recommendation for you: Make your trip long enough to see other parts of Europe!

Europe has an excellent transportation network, and it's the best time to take advantage of that. If London is you're home base during your travels, you're in the perfect position since it's such a transportation hotspot.

The United Kingdom may be an island nation, but it's still reachable from continental Europe by train, bus, car, boat, and of course by plane. And if you're trying to avoid flying, grabbing bus or train tickets are easy and affordable.

So, why not make your day trip an international excursion? If you're a wanderer like myself, you'll love the feeling of ticking off another country from your travel bucket list. 

Paris: City of Love

The city of light, fashion, and romance can be reached from London within a few hours.

Surely, it might be unthinkable to explore Paris only in one day. Still, a day trip from London to this historical city can be entertaining and fulfilling.

You'll have the chance to get a picture at the Eiffel Tower, explore the Palace of Versailles or the incredible Louvre Museum.

But since you'll probably be limited by time, you might want to try specific tours such as hop-on-hop-off bus tours, free walking tours, or cruise ship tours. Honestly, Paris has many things to do and choose from, so you won't have to worry. 

How to Get There

The best way to reach Paris for a day trip is by train. It only takes about 3 hours from London, and the price is about US$45. 

Paris Eiffel tower day trip within europe
Image by Pixabay

Brussels: The Capital of the EU

As the capital of the European Union, Brussels has fantastic sights to get immersed in and explore.

Like Paris, Brussels is not too far from London. Hence, a day trip to the Belgian capital is enough to explore beautiful gardens, street markets, museums, grand cathedrals, or royal palaces.

This graphic city is undoubtedly a fantastic choice for a day trip. Similarly to Paris, it's better to choose a specific schedule before arriving so you can fully appreciate and experience Brussels. You'll have your choice between fantastic options like chocolate tours or Belgium beer tours.

How to Get There

The journey to Brussels by train from London is only about 2 hours, and the price can be as cheap as £30. 

brussels day trip from europe
Image by Pixabay

Start Planning Your Day Trips With Pilot

No matter what you choose, a day trip from London will be an extraordinary experience.

Whether you choose a relaxing and quiet trip to a small city within the borders of the United Kingdom or another European capital city, get your camera ready.

Because you need to take as many photos as possible to make your friends and family back home jealous. Make sure that you can get all the photos you want by organizing your trip in advance. The trip planner I love to use to keep everything in one place is Pilot!

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Collaborate stress-free with your travel companions and have all the features you need all in one place with Pilot. It’s completely free and ready for you to try it out now!

Disclosure: Pilot is supported by our community. We may earn a small commission fee with affiliate links on our website. All reviews and recommendations are independent and do not reflect the official view of Pilot.

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