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
The best day trips from London are:
6. St Albans
9. The Cotswolds
10. The New Forest
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read more about Henley-on-Thames.
London Day Trips for Nature Lovers
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read more about Stratford-upon-Avon.
How about you? What do you think are the best day trips from London?
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