One of the most common questions I get asked is “what are the best day trips from London?”. I’ve written about the subject before, but today I want to bring you new locations and A Lady in London’s guide to choosing the right day out for your travel style and personal taste.
Day Trips from London
Below are 17 day trips that cover a range of geographies and cater to a variety of interests. I’ve visited all of the destinations, and can personally vouch for how good they are. There’s more about day trips in the beautiful book Escape London: Days Out within Easy Reach of London, too. You can get it here.
I’ve also written about day trips in the summer, winter, spring, and autumn, so you can look at those posts if you want recommendations for specific seasons.
1. Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle was one of my first day trips from London when I moved to the UK. It was just as magical as I remembered it from a childhood visit, and I loved everything from the decadent interiors to the fascinating history. It’s close to London, too, so makes for a good day trip if you love all things royal and are pressed for time.
I’ve taken several day trips to Winchester over the years, and every time I go I fall more in love with the city’s pretty streets, secret gardens, and bucolic riverside walks. It’s the perfect day trip for history lovers and cathedral fans.
3. Stamford and Burghley House
Friends introduced me to Stamford and Burghley House in Lincolnshire recently. I loved the beautiful streets in Stamford and the rooms and grounds at Burghley House. This is a great day trip if you like stately homes and English towns with rich heritage.
4. Hever Castle
I visited Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, on a day trip to Kent with friends. The castle and moat were stuff of fairytales, and I adored how the expansive gardens were bursting with color. It’s the ideal day trip if you’re a castle fan or garden lover.
Down in West Sussex, I went to Petworth with friends for a day last year. From cobbled streets and cozy pubs to the incredible art and gardens at Petworth House, I was thoroughly impressed. Petworth is one of the perfect day trips from London for art lovers and country house enthusiasts.
York might seem a long way from London, but I discovered how easy it was to take a day trip by train a number of years ago. I was won over by everything from York Minster cathedral to the tiny Snickelway lanes lined with half-timbered facades. York is your ideal destination if you love historic streets.
7. Sissinghurst Castle Garden
Back in Kent, I discovered the beauty of writer Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst Castle Garden my first year in London. The flower beds and bluebell woods were spectacular, and the backdrop of the castle and oasts rounded out the idyllic scene. Sissinghurst is the perfect outing for garden lovers and literary types.
I took a day trip to Margate—aka “Shoreditch-on-Sea”—last year and enjoyed soaking up the hipster paradise on the Kentish coast. With an amusement park, vintage shops, a contemporary art gallery, and charming streets, Margate is a great day out for hipsters and seaside lovers alike.
I discovered Birmingham a few years ago when I took a day trip from London to visit the city’s famous Christmas markets. I’ve been back since and found a city full of creative spaces, beautiful architecture, and amazing museums. This is a great day out if you love exploring cities.
I fell in love with Durham as soon as I saw its famous cathedral from the train. It took a few more years to visit, but when I did I found a gorgeous university city full of pretty streets and classic English atmosphere. Durham is for you if you love a collegiate environment.
Leicester surprised me. Perhaps the most underrated city in Britain, I arrived with low expectations and left overwhelmed by the city’s rich history, great cafes, and stunning architecture. From Richard III’s burial site to impressive Victorian buildings and a Roman Wall, Leicester is for you if Shakespeare, history, and unexpected treasures get your heart pumping.
12. Leeds Castle
I’ve visited Leeds Castle twice, and both times I fell for its historic charm, striking moat, and vast grounds. It’s just the place if you love a legendary fortress with a storied past.
Out in the Cotswolds, I adored the pretty spa town of Cheltenham as soon as I saw it. Since then I’ve been back several times to explore its colonnaded streets, impressive art gallery, and horse racing. Cheltenham is a great day trip from London if you love Regency buildings, the Arts and Crafts Movement, or the thrill of the races.
Newcastle is another city I thought was too far to visit in a day. But again the train proved me wrong, and my first visit to the city was a day packed with Victorian streets, stunning bridges, and great art museums. If urban exploration is your idea of a good time, Newcastle is for you.
The iconic white cliffs first drew me to Dover, and I stayed for the castle and its secret World War II tunnels. On subsequent day trips I explored the waterfront and enjoyed views across the English Channel. Dover is a great choice if you like military history and intrigue.
Leeds was another city that caught me unaware and thoroughly delighted me. I arrived not knowing what to expect, but I quickly became enamored with its Victorian shopping arcades, the interior of its Corn Exchange, and its cool cafes. It’s just the place if you love to shop.
17. Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace wowed me from the moment I arrived. The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and an impressive building in its own right, I found the palace and gardens stunning. Easily twinned with a trip to nearby Oxford, this is just the place if you love stately homes and want to see one of Britain’s finest.
I hope this guide has helped you choose the perfect place for your travel style. Happy travels!
Have you taken any exciting day trips from London? What were they?
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