London is the kind of city where a visitor could never exhaust all the activities and sightseeing possibilities. Whether you’re coming from Dublin to London or from another city, it’s a great destination. However, there are so many fantastic day trips from London that it would be a shame to miss out on the highlights outside the city limits. Luckily for you, we’ve gathered together information on the 12 best day trips from London so that you can decide just where to spend your time.
Day Trips From London By Type
Note: You can look at a bunch of really great tour options HERE.
Why take a break from London just to go to another city? London has a lot going for it, but there are a couple cities nearby that are so unique they deserve to be high on your list of day trips from London.
Distance: 2 hours Visit Bath to, well, take a bath. The natural hot springs of the city have been drawing visitors for over 2,000 years. The Romans built baths and a temple in this area around AD 60, and the town became popular as a spa town in the 1700s-1800s.
Distance: 1 hour, 20 minutes The city of Oxford has been home to scholars and royalty for over 800 years. It is most famous for its university, which is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. The University of Oxford is comprised of many beautiful buildings, which are scattered throughout the town.
Distance: 1 hour The other main university town in England, Cambridge is located on the River Cam and was recently described as “one of the most beautiful cities in the world” by Forbes magazine. Tour the Gothic English King’s College Chapel or take a ride on the River Cam, where enthusiastic young men who look like they’re part of barbershop quartets punt your boat for you.
When you’re traveling in Europe, you just can’t get enough castles. However, that’s one thing that the city proper of London is sorely lacking. Therefore, take one of these day trips from London to get your castle fix.
Distance: 45 minutes Windsor Castle is the longest-occupied palace in Europe. Once you see this sprawling and lavish castle, you’ll understand why the royals haven’t wanted to give up their home (Queen Elizabeth tends to spend her weekends here). The castle is open daily with exceptions for some holidays. However, it can close on short notice since the Queen still uses Windsor for state functions.
Distance: 1 hour Leeds Castle likes to call itself “the loveliest castle in the world.” While plenty of castles worldwide might want to challenge that title, Leeds certainly has good reason to be proud. The gorgeous castle was built in 1119 as a Norman stronghold. A moat surrounds the castle and you’ll find a fantastic yew maze and underground nearby.
Distance: 1 hour, 20 minutes Highclere Castle has recently attained worldwide fame as being the filming location (and titular star) of Downton Abbey. The Jacobethan country home sits on a 5,000 acre estate, and is open to visits about 60-70 days a year.
One of the most important and popular day trips from London is to the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge. There are many other interesting historical sites near London as well.
Distance: 1 hour, 45 minutes One of the abiding mysteries of the world, Stonehenge is anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 years old. You can tour the visitor’s center near the famous gigantic circle of stones daily (closed only on December 24th and 25th), and make sure to book your tickets in advance. However, the best time to visit Stonehenge is on the Summer Solstice, when the rays of the sun line up with some of the stones. You are allowed to get much closer to the stones during the Summer Solstice than any other day of the year; many people spend all night there in celebration.
Distance: 1 hour Of all of our recommended day trips from London, history buffs will find a trip to Bletchley Park perhaps most intriguing. Now a museum, the mansion of Bletchley Park was where Allied forces broke the Nazi’s Enigma code, and shortened the length of the war by 2 to 4 years.
We can understand that day after day of touring the big sites of London can leave many visitors in need of a little relaxation. Here are the best day trips from London that get you right to the surf and sand.
Distance: 1 hour On the south coast of Great Britain is the family-friendly and gay-friendly town of Brighton. Just an hour away from London by train, Brighton is the second-most visited place in Britain, only after the capital city.
Distance: 1 hour The beach at Folkestone in Kent has such fantastic sand that there’s a yearly Sand Castle Contest in July. Like Brighton, there’s a direct train that takes you straight from London to the sea. It’s also right by the famous white cliffs of Dover, which are well worth a visit.
For those of you who want to make literary pilgrimages, we have a couple day trips from London to suggest. The first is obvious: have you heard of a playwright from the little town of Stratford-upon-Avon? For families, we also recommend a fun museum dedicated to children’s author Roald Dahl.
Distance: 2 hours Perhaps the most famous writer in the English language, William Shakespeare was born and died in Stratford-upon-Avon. To honor their native son, the town has opened many of the sites of Shakespeare’s life to tourists. You can visit his birthplace, his home near the end of his life, the church where he was baptized and buried, the farmhouse where his wife Anne Hathaway was raised, and the homes of his mother and daughter.
Distance: 1 hour The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is geared toward 6 to 12 year olds (though the young-at-heart may enjoy it as well). You can see Dahl’s writing hut and his manuscripts, correspondence, and “Idea Books.” Children who visit receive their own Ideas Book to jot down notes as they travel through the three interactive galleries. We hope we’ve inspired you to explore some of the amazing places outside of London. Take one or more day trips from London and make your trip truly memorable!