The problem with London is that it’s hard to leave. The city is so big and has so much to offer that it would be easy to spend a lifetime here without feeling done. But there are a lot of great places outside of London, too, and it’s worth getting away sometimes. As such, today I bring you A Lady in London’s guide to the 15 best day trips from London.

Best Day Trips from London

Best Day Trips from London

The best day trips from London are:
1. Oxford
2. Cambridge
3. Bristol
4. Brighton
5. Stonehenge
6. St Albans
7. Rye
8. Henley-on-Thames
9. The Cotswolds
10. The New Forest
11. Whitstable
12. Canterbury
13. Lincoln
14. Bath
15. Stratford-upon-Avon

There’s a lot more about them in the beautiful Escape London: Days Out within Easy Reach of London book. You can get it here.

London Day Trips for University Lovers

Home of one of the world’s most famous universities, Oxford needs no introduction. The beautiful architecture of the colleges and incredible sense of history mean that there’s a lovely surprise around every cobbled corner. The city also has a lot to offer beyond just the academic highlights, from museums like the Ashmolean to the famous Covered Market and loads of Alice in Wonderland lore.

Read more about Oxford.

England’s other famous university town, Cambridge rivals Oxford in both academic achievement and architectural beauty. Don’t tell anyone, but I think Cambridge is a tiny bit more beautiful than Oxford, even if the town is a bit smaller. The chapel at King’s College has the most beautiful fan vaulted ceiling I’ve ever seen, and watching the idyllic punts float along the river makes for a perfect afternoon.

Read more about Cambridge.

London Day Trips for Hip Urbanites

I didn’t know anything about Bristol when I moved to London, but I met enough people that raved about their university experience there that I decided to take a trip. I’m glad I did, too. The city has great museums—the M Shed is a great place to get a feel for the people and life of Bristol—a pretty waterfront, and sweet boutiques and shops. The fact that there were red pandas at the zoo when I was there was a huge added bonus—my favorite animal is generally an elusive little critter.

Read more about Bristol.

Another of the best day trips from London, Brighton is a seaside city with something for everyone. From the expansive beaches and famous pier to the little lanes and grand pavilion, it has kept me entertained on countless trips. I never get tired of the lavish interiors of the 18th century Royal Pavilion or the funky shops in the North Laine area, and I love that the bars and restaurants are always buzzing.

Brighton Pavilion
Read more about Brighton.

London Day Trips for History Lovers

One of England’s most famous landmarks, Stonehenge can be a controversial day trip. Is it a fascinating Neolithic circle that offers insights into ancient ways of life, or just a boring group of rocks? I’m in the former camp—I find it mesmerizing—and I’ve taken several worthwhile trips to Stonehenge. Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, it’s easy to combine it with a trip to Salisbury where there’s more to see and do. Like a cathedral with one of the four remaining original copies of the Magna Carta in it.

Read more about Stonehenge.

St Albans
One of the easiest day trips from London, St Albans is only a 20-minute train ride away and full of all things Roman. I’m a bit obsessed with the fact that Britain has so much more history than my native California, where we only became a state in 1850. St Albans’ Roman ruins, including a giant section of Roman wall and a Roman theater, fascinate me. Add to that the historic cathedral and colorful markets, and it makes for a great day out.

St Albans
Read more about St Albans.

London Day Trips for Lovers of Lovely Towns

Rye is my favorite day trip from London, if for no other reason than that its pretty little streets and quiet charm offer the perfect escape from the urban intensity of the capital. The mock Tudor buildings and pretty green squares are great for exploring, and the little details on the houses and shops give it a great sense of place. Its proximity to the coast means there’s always good seafood in Rye, too.

House in Rye
Read more about Rye.

Famous for its annual rowing regatta, picture pretty Henley-on-Thames is a great day out from the capital. I love going for afternoon tea or a walk along the river, soaking up the green spaces and watching the boats go by. Henley, as locals call it, also has lovely little streets and a market square that I can spend hours exploring.

Boats in Henley on Thames
Read more about Henley-on-Thames.

London Day Trips for Nature Lovers

The Cotswolds
One of the loveliest places in the UK, the Cotswolds are known for their idyllic landscapes and storybook villages. They’re every expat’s vision of Ye Olde England, and they very much live up to the reputation. Rolling hills, spring lambs, and skinny roads with giant hedges on either side give way to thatched roof cottages and mock Tudor high streets. My favorite towns in the Cotswolds are Upper and Lower Slaughter and Bibury, all of which are impossibly pretty and overflowing with charm.

The Cotswolds
Read more about the Cotswolds.

The New Forest
The New Forest in Hampshire is one of my favorite days out from London. When I’m in the mood to immerse myself in nature, there’s no better place to get away than the area’s leafy trails and pastures full of ponies. I love visiting in the autumn when the colors are bright with fall foliage, but long summer afternoons are great, too. When I need a break from rambling through the woods, The Pig is the perfect place to indulge my inner foodie.

New Forest in Autumn
Read more about New Forest.

London Day Trips for Foodies

Over in Kent, Whitstable is my favorite place for seafood in England. The town is famous for its oysters—as the annual oyster festival suggests—and I love sitting by the water on sunny days enjoying giant trays full of them. Whitstable is also full of great little shops and cafes, and it’s worth spending time exploring them after a day on the waterfront.

Read more about Whitstable.

London Day Trips for Cathedral Lovers

Steeped in history, Canterbury is home of one of England’s most famous cathedrals. I could spend hours taking in the Disneyfied stained glass windows and marveling at the sword sculpture dedicated to Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170. But there’s more to Canterbury than just the cathedral. The city also has a lot of good shopping and pretty parks, as well as an array of great markets.

Canterbury Cathedral
Read more about Canterbury.

Lincoln wasn’t on my radar screen until an English friend recommended I take a day trip there when I moved to London. When I did, I discovered a beautiful city with rich history. From the stunning cathedral to the historic castle, the 16th century Guildhall to the cobbled streets, I fell in love with Lincoln as soon as I arrived.

Lincoln Cathedral
Read more about Lincoln.

London Day Trips for Literary Types

I first learned about Bath from Jane Austen novels, and dreamed of visiting the Pump Room like so many of her heroines. But when I finally traveled to Bath for the first time, I realized that the city has a lot more going for it than just Jane Austen. The beautiful buildings feature the famous Bath stone that glows golden in the afternoon sun, and I love visiting the Royal Crescent just before sunset. Bath also has ample shopping and dining options, and the awe-inspiring Roman baths that gave the city its name.

Royal Crescent in Bath
Read more about Bath.

The birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon is still known for its links to The Bard. With some of the most famous theaters in the country there and Shakespeare’s house open to visitors, it’s the perfect place to learn about the life of one of the world’s great playwrights and watch his works performed on stage.

Stratford upon Avon
Read more about Stratford-upon-Avon.

How about you? What do you think are the best day trips from London?

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Best Day Trips from London

79 Comments on Lady’s 15 Best Day Trips from London

  1. Brighton is specially nice around summer, and so lively. Loved it on my day trip from London. Superb for a day off from busy London life!
    Same goes for Canterbury…there I’d recommend walking around the cathedral’s cloister, sometimes you get lucky and get a private hearing at the amazing Choir!

    Wonderful post, beautiful photographs, and great tips (I’d not have thought of some of these!) 🙂 thanks a lot for sharing (both on here and over the weekend at the Hive!) Inspiring!


  2. I’ve done several of these day trips while of vacation in London. Next on my list is Rye and Brighton. My faves in the past have been Salisbury and St. Albans. I love a pretty town with lots of historical significance!

  3. Hi Julie! It was lovely meeting you at The Hive! 🙂 I didn’t know you can visit the Cotswolds as a day trip from London! We will be visiting London next month and we were thinking about escaping somewhere in the nearby… maybe we give Rye a try, since it’s your favorite day trip!

  4. Been reading a wonderful book that spins off this great idea of “day trips” – titled “Prospects of England” by Adam Nicolson and Peter Morter. subtitled “2000 years seen thru 12 English towns”..,the story of Chipping Campden, for example, in the Cotswolds, talks about the unique stone used to construct the High St city core buildings – oolite..,cider-colored limestone..,beautiful pics, again, Julie..,thanks!

  5. You must have read my mind… I’ve just been researching the best day trips from London because one of my goals this summer is to see a lot more of the UK! Love this, thank you for posting it!

  6. Hi,

    That’s certainly a pretty diverse list of places! I’m from the UK but still haven’t been to Stonehenge, shame on me, although I recently discovered and visited a copy in New Zealand, which seemed bizarre but was really interesting!
    If you love history how about visiting Warwick? It’s a beautiful old city, with cobbled Tudor streets, and the Castle is awesome! It’s about an hour away from where I grew up, and it often has events on during school holidays, which make it even more interesting, I’ve been to a few awesome snow fairs there on Boxing Day, but I know they have things all year round. Really, there’s a lot of cool places around the UK, i’m glad I’ve visited quite a lot of them, but there’s still lots more I want to go to when I finally return home!

    All the best,


  7. Brighton is truly a great place to visit,.. especially love Brighton Pier when the lights are on and the sun is setting – beautiful
    Next stop Stratford-upon-Avon 🙂

  8. Woohoo, Cambridge certainly just pips Oxford to the post on beauty (not that I’m biased or anything :P) Definitely going to be adding a few of these to my day trip list – I’d love to go to Whitstable later this summer and I must go to Bristol zoo for the red pandas! x

  9. You have gathered a good set of collection of nearby places. It’s very useful when sometime you just want to go away from city but that too a nearby place which you can cover in just weekends. Thanks for your information.

  10. I’ve been to Bath and Oxford on past trips to the UK. I absolutely loved Bath – it’s such a trip back in time, such a quintessentially British place. I think next time I’d hit up Brighton, bc that pavilion looks like something that has to be seen to be believed, and Cotswolds, because it’s just a perfect combo of lovely nature and cute villages and towns.

  11. I ended up here via the shout-out you got from Lonely Planet. I’m not disappointed! All of the places on the list look lovely…I think if I had to choose between them, I’d head to The Cotswolds, Oxford and Cambridge.

  12. Nice post & thanks for the great tips!
    I’m visiting the UK in Oct. Wanted to visit Brighton but was told it’d be too windy there. Is Cotwolds / Cardiff good to visit in Oct in your opinion? 🙂

  13. Many thanks for taking the time to write and share. We are in Central London right now. We will be using your invaluable list for our day visits.

    By the way, London is super! We love this beautiful and international city loaded with history and landmarks.

  14. I love this guide. I was just in London a few weeks ago and didn’t get to take any trips out of the city but I’m hoping to get back there soon and certainly want to explore some of these towns. Thanks for the tips!

  15. Great overview of places to visit! For a 2 day trip early December would you go to Rye, Henley-on-Thames or the Cotswolds?

  16. These all look great. What would be your pick for day trip with 2 young kids (8 and 4). I figure Stone Hedge is out. We are travelling to London in April.


  17. Fantastic Blog! I get to come to London for 2 weeks this winter (right after Christmas). Which of these would you say are best to visit even though it is winter?

  18. Hey there. You recently came to talk to my class and so when I was researching the best places to go on day trips from London, and your name popped up I had to click it. I have a free day in a few weeks and definitely want to take a trip outside of London for the day. I’ve been to a lot of the places that you mentioned in this post in the past 2 months: Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Stonehenge, Bath, and Stratford-upon-Avon. So I was wondering if you had a suggestion for my next place? Which was your favorite apart from those I have already been to? Or if you’ve been to a new place since this article was published…maybe somewhere new? I think it’s important while studying abroad to see as much of England as possible. Thank you!

  19. Hi! I came across your blog and this post while Googling “best day trips from London”. I love your blog and photos! I lived in Cambridge for over a year in 2012 and totally agreed with your view that Cambridge is a bit more beautiful than Oxford! I admit, I am a little biased :). I am visiting London in mid January. What are your recommendations for scenic day trip from London in the winter?

  20. Hey! So happy to come across your blog – I am a southern california girl who is spending the next three months in London on a relocation for my husbands career (I’m also 6 months pregnant and looking for good ways to fill my last few days of alone time 🙂
    Of the above do you have any more specific shout outs for winter visits (Jan through March)? I see your most recent comment above that all are great in winter, but just thought I would ask again if you had to pick 3 or 4 that still deliver on charm and substance while cold and trees are bare… Thanks again! Excited to read more!

  21. Such a great lost and beautiful pictures! I’m planning a trip to London next year and was searching for some day trips outside of the city when I found your post through Pinterest, it definitely helped me to choose a few places to see!

  22. We are visiting England in mid-May and would like to spend 5 days in the country side or small villages or towns. We have been to the Cotswolds, new Forest and Lake District – loved all- but are looking for other destinations. Devon or Bath? And, in Devon, where would you suggest?

    • Great ideas! I’ve written about Devon and Bath before, so feel free to take a look at my posts about those places. If you need further assistance, please visit my Travel Planning Services page and get in touch.

  23. This is an excellent post – we will be in London in June and July – great list that we will work our way through.
    Thank you so much.

  24. Hi
    I love taking day trips from London. I’d really recommend taking the high-speed from St Pancras to Deal via Folkestone and Dover. Deal is a cute seaside town with nice backstreets but the best bit is the train between Folkestone and Dover which goes right by the sea, with the chalk cliffs on the other side. On a sunny day it’s awesome!

  25. Your article is so well written and helpful. My husband and I are going to London this Christmas for a week (12/21-12/28). We were last there in 1989, so everything will definitely be new again! We are now thinking of extending our stay through New Year’s Day and would love to take 1 or 2 day trips. This is not the perfect time, weatherwise! Any suggestions, obviously towns on the coast might not be the best. Thank you!

  26. Thank you for such a comprehensive list! I’m travelling to London for the first time next weekend. With one free day I now have various options to choose for my day trip from London.

  27. Great ideas for day trips from London. It’s great if you can just hop on a train and be in a totally different city for the day! I have lived in Brighton and Canterbury so can recommend those places and there’s tonnes of cool stuff to do in each. I love Whitstable – lush beaches and nice little shops. I guess other coastal places would be Hastings and Camber Sands – both quite touristy and popular but that’s not unlike the others listed!

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