I love a good day trip from London. There are so many great places near the UK capital, and it always amazes me how easy it is to get out and explore. While there are a lot of fun day trips by train, there are some that are easier to access by driving. If you have wheels, today I bring you A Lady in London’s 13 easy day trips from London by car.

Day Trips from London by Car

Day Trips from London by Car

Pretty much any day trip from the UK capital can be done by car, but some are faster or easier to do by train. These include places like York and Newcastle, where high-speed rail lines make traveling by train much faster than driving.

Others are much easier to do by car. These encompass areas that are far from railway stations or require multiple connections with too much or too little transfer time.

They also include regions like the Cotswolds, which have a lot of places to see in one area and infrequent public transport services connecting them.

Day Trip to Painswick

In this blog post I want to focus on the day trips that are faster and easier to do by car than by train. If you don’t have your own car, you can rent one here.

If you drive yourself, make sure to check traffic ahead of time (Google Maps is good for this). If you’re traveling during rush hour or during peak summer season, you’ll want to leave extra time in case there’s traffic on the way.

Folly at Highclere Castle

So now for the list. I’ve done all of these trips, so I can personally vouch for how good they are and the quality of what you’ll find when you get there. I hope you enjoy reading about them, and that they inspire you to get on the road.

1. Cotswolds Day Trip

The most obvious day trip from London by car is the Cotswolds. This area is spread over several counties and has a lot of villages, gardens, countryside, and landmarks dotted throughout. While it’s possible to go by train, it’s not easy to get around by public transport once you arrive.

Driving makes visiting the area a lot easier. It’s just under a 2-hour drive from London to the Cotswolds, and once you’re there you can see places like Castle Combe, Bibury, Upper and Lower Slaughter, Burford, Chipping Campden, Broadway, Painswick, Westonbirt Arboretum, and more.

Broadway Tower

If you go, keep in mind that there’s a lot more to see in the Cotswolds than you can fit into one day. It’s a good idea to plan ahead and map out what you want to see so you can get to everywhere you want to go.

If you don’t have your own car, I’ve written about 5 easy ways to visit the Cotswolds without a car.

Castle Combe

2. Highclere Castle Day Trip

Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey) is another of the best day trips from London by car.

This stately home in the English countryside is stunning to see and exciting to tour. The interiors and grounds were used in the filming of Downton Abbey, so fans can feel like they’re stepping into the world of Lord and Lady Grantham while visiting.

You can tour the inside of the house and spend time walking around outside. There’s a lot to see, so make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to take in the gardens, stroll around the grounds, and have tea or lunch at the cafe.

It’s just over an hour and a half’s drive from London to Highclere Castle, so it’s an easy day trip and a fun one.

Highclere Castle

3. Stonehenge Day Trip

Stonehenge is another day trip from London that’s awkward to do by rail. The usual train-and-bus combination isn’t seamless, so it’s a better day out by car.

Stonehenge is one of those places people either love or hate. I think it’s magical to see the stones and imagine their history, but some see a pile of rocks next to a busy road and wonder why they came all the way to see it.

If you want to discover your own views on it, you can drive from London to Stonehenge in around 2 hours. There’s an audio tour to guide you around the stones, and Neolithic houses, a virtual tour, and exhibitions that bring the site to life.


4. Blenheim Palace Day Trip

Back to stately homes, Blenheim Palace is an ideal day trip from London by car. The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and the only non-royal, non-episcopal English country house to hold the title of palace, this historic mansion and surrounding gardens are stunning to see.

You can tour the State Rooms in Blenheim Palace to take in portraits, tapestries, and furniture. Afterwards you can head outside to walk through the Formal Gardens and get lost in the yew tree maze.

It takes around an hour and a half to drive from London to Blenheim Palace. You can spend the whole day there, or combine it with a visit to nearby Oxford. The two make a great twin-center day out from London if you get an early start.

Day Trip to Blenheim Palace

5. Leeds Castle Day Trip

Leeds Castle is another of the most enjoyable day trips from London by car. Its historic charm, striking moat, and expansive grounds make it worth a drive to Kent.

At over 900 years old, this striking fortress has colorful rooms, a fun hedge maze, and activities like falconry to entertain visitors of all ages throughout the year. It’s exciting to come for a tour and explore the grounds for a day.

Driving from London to Leeds Castle takes around an hour and 15 minutes, so it makes an easy day out from the UK capital.

Leeds Castle

6. Burghley House Day Trip

Up in Cambridgeshire, Burghley House is an elegant 16th-century country house near Stamford in Lincolnshire. It’s a beautiful day out, and worth a special trip.

The rooms and grounds at Burghley House feature stunning interiors and pretty gardens, and the place is surrounded by expansive grounds. There’s a lot to explore here, and it’s rewarding to take it all in.

It takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes to drive from London to Burghley House. You can combine it with a visit to the nearby town of Stamford if you want to do more and have time to see both in one day. I’ve written about how to do it here if you want to learn more.

Burghley House

7. Hever Castle Day Trip

Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, is a great day trip from London by car. The Kentish fortress and its surrounding moat are straight out of a fairy tale, and it’s great to see the place where Anne spent her childhood years.

It’s best to visit when the gardens are in full bloom, as there are a lot of great colors to see. There’s also everything from huge fountains to pretty footbridges and topiary hedges to discover.

Driving from London to Hever Castle takes around an hour and 15 minutes, so its another easy trip from the capital.

Day Trip to Hever Castle

8. Avebury Day Trip

If stone circles are your thing, Avebury is another great day trip from London by car. This village in Wiltshire is famous for its Neolithic heritage, and the stones are an integral part of the community.

The village of Avebury is beautiful, too. It has plenty of thatched-roof cottages, and there are beautiful gardens to explore at Avebury Manor.

But if stones are your thing, there are a lot more in the surrounding area. It’s good to have a car to travel between all the sites.

Driving from London to Avebury takes around 2 hours. You can combine a visit with Stonehenge for a bigger day trip if you want to see all the stones in one day. They’re a 40-mintue drive from one another, so it’s easy to get between them.

Avebury Standing Stone

9. Lacock Day Trip

Not far from Avebury, Lacock is another of the best day trips from London by car. This Wiltshire village has been used as a filming location for Downton Abbey and other TV shows and films.

Lacock’s yellow stone buildings warm up the village, and the streets are full of shops and pop-ups selling jams and fresh baked goods.

Additionally, the famous Lacock Abbey started life as a 13th-century nunnery and later became a country house and then a museum. Scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed in its cloistered halls.

Driving from London to Lacock takes around 2 hours and 10 minutes. Lacock is just a 25-minute drive from Avebury, too, so you can combine the two if you want to see both in one trip.

It’s also just 15 minutes by car from the beautiful Cotswolds village of Castle Combe, so you can do all three in one day if you want to. I’ve done it before and you can read about my experience here.

Lacock, England

10. Sissinghurst Castle Day Trip

Back in Kent, writer Vita Sackville-West’s Sissinghurst Castle is a great day trip from London by car. The main event here is the garden, which has incredible flower beds.

There are also bluebell woods in spring, and the backdrop of the castle and oasts rounds out the picture. It’s a good place to visit in the spring and summer, when the flowers are in full bloom and the weather is (usually) at its finest.

Driving from London to Sissinghurst Castle takes around an hour and 40 minutes, so it’s a great escape from the city.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

11. Petworth Day Trip

Down in West Sussex, the town of Petworth has everything from cobbled streets to cozy pubs. Local shops, half-timbered facades, and colorful doors make this place worth visiting.

But an even bigger draw is Petworth House. This stately home has an impressive art collection, with paintings by everyone from Anthony van Dyck to Thomas Gainsborough on display. The sweeping grounds were designed by the famous 18th-century landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown.

It takes around an hour and 40 minutes to drive from London to Petworth. Exploring the town and stately home will keep you busy for a day, but if you only want to see the town, the nearby South Downs Way is a good add-on if you like country walks.

Day Trip to Petworth, West Sussex

12. Camber Sands Day Trip

If you’re looking for somewhere on the seaside near London, Camber Sands beach in East Sussex is a beautiful stretch of shore on England’s south coast.

Camber Sands has grassy dunes and a rocky waterfront, and the beach and surrounding area feel natural and fresh.

The drive from London to Camber Sands takes around 2 hours. The beach is close to Rye, one of the prettiest towns in the UK. If you want to, you can combine the two for a day trip to the seaside and the picture-pretty streets.

Camber Sands Beach

13. Surrey Hills Day Trip

One of the closest day trips from London by car is the Surrey Hills. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sits south of London and has everything from storybook villages to walking paths.

It’s great to visit the Surrey Hills by car, as there are a lot of pretty places dotted around the area. Driving makes it easy to see a number of them in a day.

Villages like Shere are famous for being filming locations for the movie The Holiday, and the hills in the surrounding countryside are dotted with adorable sheep.

It takes around an hour and 15 minutes to drive from London to the Surrey Hills, so it’s quick and easy to get out and into the beautiful landscapes this part of England has to offer.

Lamb in the Surrey Hills

I hope this post has helped you discover some new day trips from London by car. There are a lot of amazing places within driving distance of the UK capital, and it’s worth getting behind the wheel to see them.

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Day Trips from London by Car

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