30+ Best Day Trips From London

London is an incredible city and you may never want to leave. But sometimes it’s nice to get out of the big city and take some day trips from London.

If you’re scoping out possible destinations, here’s my guide to 32 of the best day trips from London. I give you an overview of the attractions in each London day trip destination and give you tips for getting there by train, bus, car, and guided tour.

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There’s something for everyone in this list of London day trips. You can visit world famous UNESCO sites, admire ancient castles, visit artsy enclaves, stroll through medieval villages, or soak up seaside breezes.

I’ve included the most popular day trips from London like Windsor, Bath, Stonehenge, and Oxford. But I’ve also included some hidden gems in England where you can escape both the hustle and bustle of London and the crowds.

Generally, these London day trips are under 2 hours, depending on your mode of transport.

Best Day Trips From London

If you’re planning a getaway, here’s some fuel for your London day trip dreams. For ease of reference, I’m listed these 32 day trips from London in alphabetical order.

Arundel Castle
Arundel Castle

1. Arundel Castle

Arundel is home to one of the best medieval castles in England. Arundel Castle is 1,000 years old. Since Richard III’s reign, it’s been the Duke of Norfolk’s principal home.

The castle fell into ruin after the English Civl War and was later rescued and restored in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The castle follows much the same plan as Windsor Castle. It has a central moat and two baileys to the north and south, curtained with walls.

In 2021, thieves broke into the castle and made off with artifacts valued at over $1.4 million, including rosary beads carried by Mary Queen of Scots at her execution in 1587.

How To Get To Arundel:

  • By car: 1.5 hour drive
  • By train: From Victoria Station, a direct train takes 1.5 hours.
Pulteney Bridge in Bath
Pulteney Bridge in Bath

2. Bath

Bath is one of my favorite day trips from London. Bath is small but oh so beautiful.

Tucked into cozy green hillsides, the city has been attracting visitors since Roman times. It’s a city of romance and ruins.

Bath’s entire historic center is UNESCO-listed. The city is drenched in Roman history and is a non-stop parade of stunning Georgian architecture. It was and is one of the showiest cities in England. 

Bath has more protected buildings than any place else in England. Most are built in the creamy honey colored “Bath stone.” You may feel like you’ve stepped into a Jane Austen novel.

visiting the Roman Baths
visiting the Roman Baths

What To Do In Bath:

Historic Center:

Bath’s historic center is very pretty. Everywhere you go, there’s lovely honey-washed Georgian architecture hugging pristine roads.

You may want to book a 1.5 hour guided walking tour to get the lay of the land. You can also take a guided 2 hour walking tour of Bath that includes an entry ticket to the Roman baths.

Roman Baths: Dating back to 75 A.D., the Roman Baths are the best preserved ancient baths in Northern Europe. The museum is filled with ruins and artifacts. The grand finale is a smoldering open air pool known as the Great Bath.

Bath Abbey: Bath Abbey is a massive medieval church built in an eye catching Victorian-Gothic style. The abbey was the last great church built in England. There’s an amazing fan vaulted ceiling and beautiful stained glass windows.

Abbey Churchyard and Bath Abbey
Abbey Churchyard and Bath Abbey

Royal Crescent: The Royal Crescent is one of the great set pieces in Europe. It’s a row of terraced Georgian houses, laid out in a graceful 600 foot crescent shape.

Circus: The Circus refers to a semi-circular graceful loop of grand historic townhouses in Bath. The Greco-Roman inspired building has Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian capital decorations. In the Georgian era, the Circus was home to a veritable who’s who from world history. 

Jane Austen Heritage Center: Housed in a 270 year old Georgian townhouse, the museum is an homage to Jane Austen. It gives insight in the life and work of Jane Austen, who lived in Bath from 1800-06. The guides are actors dressed in period costumes. 

Pulteney Bridge in Bath, a great day trip from London
Pulteney Bridge in Bath, a great day trip from London

Pulteney Bridge: This is one of very few bridges in the world that is completely lined with shops. Its three graceful arches span the River Avon. 

Bridgerton Filming Locations:

Bath was a major filming location for the smash Netflix series Bridgerton. The series is an American fantasy of Regency era London in 1813.

If you, like me, are a massive Bridgerton fan, you can book a 2 hour guided walking tour to the Bridgerton filming locations.

How To Get To Bath:

Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace

3. Blenheim Palace

If you’re on the UNESCO trail, one of the best day trips from London is to Blenheim Palace. It’s in the quintessential Cotswold village of Woodstock and is called the “Versailles of England.”

Built between 1705-22, the Baroque-style palace is the seat of the dukes of Marlborough. It’s also the birthplace of Winston Churchill. The palace is fronted by a great court, with long wings that draw the visitor into the grand portico.

You can admire the opulent interior, which is stuffed with tapestries, statues, and fine period furniture. You’ll can also enjoy the superbly landscaped gardens. 

gardens of Blenheim Palace
gardens of Blenheim Palace

Click here to pre-book an entry ticket to the palace.

How To Get To Blenheim palace:

Bodiam Castle
Bodiam Castle

4. Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle is one of England’s true storybook castles and a wonderful day trip from London. It’s a square fortress completely surrounded by an ultra large moat.

Built in the 14th century by the wealthy Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, Bodiam has a perfect symmetry with stout drum towers at each corner and crenellated walls.

By the 17th century, Bodiam was a romantic ivy clad ruin. The exterior ws restored in the 19th century.

You can take the free guided tour or explore each nook and turret on your own. There’s a parking lot on site and you pay at the kiosk.

How To Get To Bodiam Castle:

  • By car: 1:15 drive
  • By train: It’s over 2 hours from London’s Victoria Station and you have to change trains.
the Brighton Promenade the runs along the seafront
the Brighton Promenade the runs along the seafront

5. Brighton

Brighton is England’s most fascinating and popular seaside city. It’s a rich and eccentric mix of attractions.

There is beautiful Regency architecture, outdoor cafes, a great art scene, an amusement pier, and the exotic Royal Pavilion.

What To Do In Brighton:

Brighton Pier: Open in 1899, the pier is a classic amusement pier. You’ll find fish and chip shops, fairground rides, and arcade games.

Royal Pavilion:

This is the top attraction in Brighton, built by famed architect John Nash in 1815-23. It’s a fairytale pavilion of Eastern design with opulent Chinese interiors.

Brighton Pavilion
Brighton Pavilion

The Music Room and Banqueting Room are especially spectacular. There’s also an onsite Tea Room with a balcony overlooking the gardens. You can pre-book a skip the line ticket for the pavilion.

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery: Housed in the pavilion, this museum displays Art Deco and Art Nouveau collections. An interesting piece is Salvador Dali’s famous sofa in the shape of Mae West’s lips.

Fabrica: Fabrica is an arts venue housed in a converted Regency era church. It commissions contemporary art works and hosts temporary exhibitions and workshops.

Lanes District: The Lanes is Brighton’s historic quarter, just a stone’s throw from the beach. You’ll find twisting lanes and pastel facades. It’s an ideal spot for strolling, people watching, and sitting down for a cuppa or pint.

Brighton Beach
Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach: On a summer’s day, you can lounge on Brighton Beach or go paddle boarding. In winter, you can order a hot chocolate and stroll down the stony beach.

How To Get To Brighton:

  • By car: 1.5 hour drive
  • By train: It’s a 1 hour ride with trains leaving from Victoria, Gatwick, and St. Pancras stations.
  • By bus: It’s 2+ hours by bus from Victoria Coach Station.
  • By guided tour: You can visit Brighton on an 8 hour guided private tour from London.
  • Getting around: You can take the hop on hop off bus.
Old Trinity Street in Cambridge
Old Trinity Street in Cambridge

6. Cambridge

Cambridge is a university city in Cambridgeshire England, just a 60 mile day trip from London. The historic town is famous, naturally, for Cambridge University. There are 31 colleges, which act as social communities.

Cambridge is the epitome of an idyllic university town with students buzzing around on bikes, bookshops galore, and stately university buildings.

What To Do in Cambridge:

Visit the Colleges: Some colleges can be visited for free. Others require a ticket. To learn about the famous colleges and alumni, you can book a guided walking tour.

King’s College: This college should be at the top of your list. It’s one of the greatest examples of late Gothic architecture with the world’s largest fan vaulted ceiling. It also has a stunning chapel with Renaissance stained glass and a wooden chancel screen.

King's College Chapel in Cambridge
King’s College Chapel in Cambridge

Enjoy the River Cam: The River Cam offers boat tours. If you want some exercise, you can also take a classic punting tour and learn to paddle the iconic flat bottomed boats.

Stroll the Old Town: The town itself is also charming. It offers up pretty medieval streets, art-filled churches, and some splendid museums.

Fitzwilliam Museum: This is the university’s main museum, with over half a million art works and antiquities. It’s effectively a mini-British Museum that houses everything from Impressionist masterpieces by Monet to Egyptian mummies.

Corpus Clock: This is a distinctive public monument in Cambridge. It’s a golden clock designed by Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking. It’s also known as the Grasshopper Clock because a grotesque grasshopper is the timekeeper, eating up time.

Bridge of Sighs in Cambridge
Bridge of Sighs in Cambridge

Wren Library:

Completed in 1695, Wren Library in Trinity College was designed by the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren, from St. Paul’s Cathedral fame.

The library houses medieval manuscripts, early editions of Shakespeare, and books from Isaac Newton’s personal collection. They’re in bookshelves topped by busts of great thinkers.

How To Get To Cambridge:

  • By car: 1.5 hour drive
  • By train: The train is the best option for getting to Cambridge. It’s an easy 50 minute train ride from King’s Cross Station.
  • By bus: Buses to Cambridge run from the Victoria Coach Station and take 1:45.
  • By guided tour: You can book a 9 hour guided day trip from London. You can also visit both Cambridge and Oxford on an 11 hour guided tour.
half timbered homes in Canterbury

7. Canterbury

It was love at first sight for Canterbury and me. I think it’s one of the most beautiful towns you can visit on a day trip from London. It’s a mini-Rome wrapped up in half timbered homes with its very own UNESCO sites.

To get oriented, you may want to book a short guided walking tour or a private walking tour.

What To Do in Canterbury:

Canterbury Cathedral:

The town’s UNESCO-listed cathedral is the focal point of the city. It’s the first of England’s great Norman cathedrals, dating from the 11th century. And it’s the first cathedral I personally fell in love with in Britain.

The magnificent edifice is famous not just for its stunning Gothic architecture, but as the place where Henry II’s agents murdered Thomas a Becket in 1170.

cloister of Canterbury Cathedral
cloister of Canterbury Cathedral

In the Trinity Chapel, you can see a candle indicating what was once a shrine to Beckett. Stained glass windows depicting miracles that occurred after his death.

If you have the time, book one of the cathedral’s “Behind the Scenes” tours to get the full scoop on this great edifice.

Christchurch Gate: This ancient gate was built in 1517 and leads to the cathedral. Atop it are the sculptures of Prince Arthur, Henry VIII’s younger brother, and his wife Catherine of Aragon. Henry would later, very famously, marry and divorce Catherine.

St. George’s Church: This was the place where the playwright Christopher Marlow was baptized. But all that remains of the medieval church on High Street is the clock tower.

Canterbury Roman Museum:

In 1868, a 3rd century Roman Domus (home) was discovered and excavated. A century later, a well curated museum opened to show what was found.

old town of Canterbury
old town of Canterbury

It houses one of the only in situ mosaic pavements from Ancient Rome in England and gives you a peak into Roman Britain.

St. Augustine’s Abbey: This is one of England’s oldest monastic sites. A greedy Henry VIII seized the abby in the 16th century and turned it into a manor house for his wife Anne of Cleves. You can learn about it on the free audio tour.

Crooked House:

Charles Dickens described Canterbury’s Crook House as “A very old building building over the road … leaning forward, trying to see who was passing on the narrow pavement below.”

ruins of St. Augustine Abbey
ruins of St. Augustine Abbey

The Crooked House is a skewed 17th century half timbered building perched at the end of Palace Street, near the center of Canterbury. 

City Walls: The city’s 13th and 14th century medieval walls are a source of pride. You can access them from Castle and Broad streets. Some of the walls are 20 feet high, yielding great views of the town.

How To Get To Canterbury:

  • By car: 1.5 hour drive
  • By train: It’s a 90 minute ride from London’s Victoria, St. Pancras, or Charing Cross stations.
  • By bus: Bus is the cheapest option. It takes 2:15 from Victoria Coach Station.
  • By guided tour: You can book a full day guided tour from London that includes Canterbury, Dover, and Leeds castle.
red dragon sculpture on the grounds of Cardiff Castle
red dragon sculpture on the grounds of Cardiff Castle

8. Cardiff

The harbor city of Cardiff is located about 150 miles from London. Cardiff was built during Britain’s 19th century coal boom, but has since been gentrified.

Cardiff known for its castle, museums, shops, restaurants, and nightlife. You can kick off your visit with a guided walking tour.

What To Do In Cardiff:

Cardiff Castle

The castle was built by the Romans nearly 2000 years ago and is steeped in Welsh history. It boasts Roman ruins, an 11th century keep, and a Neo-Gothic clock tower.

Inside, you’ll want to visit the Arab Room, the Norman Keep, and the labyrinth of tunnels from WWII. You can climb the keep’s tower for view. But it’s a craggy uneven path up.

National Museum Cardiff: Situated in the middle of the city’s civic center, the National Museum in Cardiff houses an eclectic mix of historical and scientific artifacts.

Cardiff Arcades: Cardiff is nicknamed the “City of Arcades.” Its glass covered Victorian arcades are filled with unique boutiques and shops.

St. Mary’s Street: This is the main street in Cardiff and one of the oldest streets in Wales. It’s the go to place for nightlife. From St Mary’s Street, you can also visit the Cardiff Indoor Market.

Dr. Who Filming Locations: The TV series Dr. Who used many filming locations in Cardiff. You can even take a Dr. Who themed walking tour.

The Potted Pig, a popular factory chic restaurant in Cardiff
The Potted Pig, a popular factory chic restaurant in Cardiff

Cardiff Harbor:

The harbor is a polished district crammed with restaurants, bars, and boutiques. It was once one of the world’s busiest ports. From here, you can take a spin around the harbor with Open Boat Tours.

How To Get To Cardiff:

  • By car: 2:45 to 3 hour drive
  • By train: Trains depart from the Paddington Station and take about 2:15.
  • By bus: 3:30
  • By guided tour: From Cardiff, you can book a guided day tour to visit stunning castles all across south Wales.
  • Getting around: You can take the hop on hop off bus in Cardiff.
Chartwell House
Chartwell House

9. Chartwell House

Chartwell House is where Winston Churchill grew up. Just outside London, Chartwell House was the country seat of Churchill for over four decades. The house was Churchill’s sanctuary from the tumultuous political battles in London.

Chartwell House isn’t a grand home. Though Churchill could ill afford it, he did try to gussy up the place. Churchill almost lost the house twice because he was broke. 

His friends bought the house and presented it to the UK’s National Trust. Upon Churchill’s death, it opened to the public as a museum.

You can see five rooms where Churchill lived — the dining room, the library, the drawing room, his wife Clementine’s bedroom, and Winston’s study. Three other rooms are filled with Churchill memorabilia. You can also check out his painting studio.

How To Get To Chartwell House:

  • By car: 50-55 minute drive
  • By train: Trains leave from Paddington and Charing Cross stations and take about 2.5 hours.
  • By guided tour: You can book a guided day trip tour to Chartwell House from London.

10. Chichester

Chichester is a tiny town 80 miles from London. It’s famous for having once been inhabited by the Romans. If you’re a history buff or ruin luster, pencil in Chichester on your London day trip bucket list.

What To Do In Chichester:

Chichester Cathedral: The top attraction in Chichester is its cathedral, which is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Consecrated in 1108, it’s home to both medieval and contemporary masterpieces, including a Chagall painting.

City Walls: Rome built walls to fortify the town against attack. You can take a 1.5 mile walk on the walls. 3/4 of the original walls are preserved.

Chichester Cathedral
Chichester Cathedral

Novium Museum: Opened in 2012, this award winning museum stands on what was once Chichester’s ancient Roman baths. You can tour the bath ruins and examine Roman artifacts from mosaic to coins.

Fishbourne Roman Palace: Chichester is home to the largest Roman residence unearthed in England. The palace was excavated in the 1960s and is about the size of Nero’s Golden Palace in Rome. You’ll see some very beautiful mosaics.

Chichester Cross: The Chichester Cross stands in a spot where two Roman roads once converged. It’s a stunning Perpendicular Gothic monument dating from the 15th century. It’s an octagon and each side has a pointy Gothic portal.

How To Get To Chichester:

  • By car: 1:30 drive
  • By train: A direct train leaves from Victoria Station and takes 1:10.
Castle Combe in the Cotswolds
Castle Combe in the Cotswolds

11. Cotswolds

In the Cotswolds, little has changed since the Middle Ages. It’s a romantic destination with a beguiling mix of nature and history. This area has tumbling hills, chocolate box villages, and sauthentic thatched cottages.

What To Do In The Cotswolds:

Bibury: This is a cute town on the River Coln. It’s home to one of the Cotswolds most famous streets, Arlington Row. It’s chock full of appealingly crooked brick cottages.

Castle Combe: This town is an adorable jigsaw‐puzzle painter’s vision of an English village. Laid out in a valley alongside a rushing stream, the town has slate roofed stone cottages and picturesque shop signs.

village of Bibury
village of Bibury

Chipping Camden: This is yet another town with charming thatched roof cottages. You can admire the local wool church, the 17th century marketplace, and take a ramble down Cotswold Way.

Bourton-on-the-Water: This adorable village is quintessential “ye old England.” There are loads of historic buildings and tiny bridges cross the water.

How To Get To Cotswolds:

Deal Castle
Deal Castle

12. Deal

Deal is a tiny town that’s an overlooked hidden gem in Kent. It ticks all the London day-trip boxes with its quaint rows of Georgian townhouses, unique boutiques, and laid back seaside charm.

There’s not a lot to do in Deal. It’s an off the radar place where you can kick back, relax, and poke into cute vintage shops and galleries.

One of the top attractions is Deal Castle. It’s a Tudor style castle built by Henry VIII as part of an ambitious chain of coastal forts.

Deal is sometimes called the “new Shoreditch.” It’s full of trendy and quirky art galleries. There’s also a thriving foodie scene.

No visit to Deal is complete without hitting its golden sand beach and grabbing some fresh seafood. It’s a quiet pristine beach dotted with wooden fishing boats.

How To Get To Deal:

  • By car: It’s a 1.5 hour drive from London to Deal.
  • By train: From St. Pancras Station, it’s a 1:25 ride on the high speed train.

White Cliffs of Dover
White Cliffs of Dover

13. Dover

The port town of Dover has been around since Roman times. It’s home to the famous White Cliffs that welcome you to England.

Dover itself isn’t the prettiest town. But its landscapes and attractions will keep you busy. The ocean breeze on your face is worth making the day trip from London.

What To Do In Dover:

Dover Castle: This is England’s largest castle. The castle dates from the 12th century during the reign of Henry II. Henry VII later remodeled it for artillery warfare. You can visit Dover Castle with the English Heritage Pass.

White Cliffs:

The famous towering white chalk cliffs are Dover’s trademark. They stretch for 8 miles along Dover’s coastline.

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can walk the entire stretch to the picturesque town of Deal. Alternatively, you can book a guided local tour to see the most photogenic spots.

St. Margaret’s Bay: This bay is at the midway point of the stretch of cliffs from Dover to Deal. You can reach the bay by descending a not so easy to find set of stairs. You’ll have beautiful views of the cliffs.

South Foreland Lighthouse: This is a castle-like lighthouse near St. Margaret’s Bay. First lit in 1843, it’s a National Trust Monument.

Dover Museum: If you need a dose of culture, head to the town museum. It’s housed in a beautiful arcaded building. It displays art and archaeological artifacts. The highlight is a perfectly preserved Bronze Age boat.

How To Get To Dover:

  • By car: 2 hour drive
  • By train: Trains depart from London’s St. Pancreas Station and take 1 hour.
  • By guided tour: You can visit Dover and Canterbury on a 10 hour guided day trip from London.
Eton College, the UK's most famous public school
Eton College, the UK’s most famous public school

14. Eton

The lovely town of Eton is right next door to Windsor. You could combine both destinations on a day trip from London.

Eton is home to Eton College, an exclusive boarding school in England. It’s a magnificent example of Perpendicular Gothic architecture.

Founded in 1440 by Henry VI, the college is known as the “nursery of Englands gentlemen” and is the world’s most famous public (i.e., private school. Most recently, Princes William and Harry attended Eton.

All boys wear a uniform of a black tailcoat (or morning coat) and waistcoat, with pin striped trousers and a white tie. This uniform is not for special occasions; it’s worn at all times.

the River Thames at Eton
the River Thames at Eton

You can only visit the college by making a reservation for a guided heritage tour. The tour covers School Yard, College Chapel, Upper School, Lower School, and the Museum of Eton Life.

You should also wander down Eton High Street. It will charm the pants off you with its authentic buildings and old world feel.

You can also take a 1 hour duck boat cruise for classic views of Eton, Eton College, and Windsor Castle.

How To Get To Eton:

  • By car: 30+ minute drive
  • By foot: Eton is only a 15-20 minute walk from Windsor.
  • By train: It’s a little over an hour train ride from London’s Waterloo Station.
  • By guided tour: You can book a guided student tour in Eton on a day trip from London that also includes Windsor and Oxford.
entrance to Hampton Court Palace
entrance to Hampton Court Palace

15. Hampton Court Palace

The splendid Hampton Court Palace is the world’s greatest surviving medieval palace. The palace has a deliciously rich and scandalous history and is filled with great art. 

Hampton Court Palace was the favored playground and leisure complex of England’s infamous King Henry VIII and other notorious characters in English history.

Hampton Court Palace is really a tale of two palaces smooshed together. It’s a combination of the Gothic Palace of Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII and the Baroque Palace built by the Stuart monarchs William and Mary.

the Great Hall of Hampton Court Palace
the Great Hall of Hampton Court Palace

The highlights are the Great Hall, the Chapel, the State Rooms, the Cumberland Art Gallery, and the gardens.

You can pre-book a skip the line ticket to the palace. You also get free admission with London Pass.

How To Get To Hampton Court Palace:

  • By car: 50-55 minutes drive
  • By train: Trains run from Waterloo Station every 30 minutes and take 40 minutes.
  • By guided tour: Click here for a skip the line entrance ticket to Hampton Court Palace. You can book a guided day trip tour from London. Alternatively, if you’re traveling on your own, you can book a 3 hour guided tour of the palace.
Dumbledore's office at Hogwarts at the Warner Brothers studio
Dumbledore’s office at Hogwarts at the Warner Brothers studio

16. Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio

The Warner Bros. Studio is a hugely popular day trip from London. It’s where the majority of the eight Harry Potter movies were filmed. When shooting was complete, Warner Bros. decided to turn the property into a tourist attraction.

And it’s an amazing place for Potterheads. The studio is home to an epic assortment of iconic sets, props, and costumes used during filming. 

You’ll see original set pieces, like the Great Hall, Diagon Alley, the Forbidden Forest, and a model of Hogwarts. You can sip a butterbeer at the onsite cafe.

Potions classroom at the Potter Studio
Potions classroom at the Potter Studio

Click here to pre-book a ticket the the studio. They’re expensive, but it’s an incredibly unique experience.

You can’t purchase a ticket onsite. You have to do it online.

How To Get To Harry Potter Studio:

  • By car: 30 minute drive and parking is free of charge.
  • By train: From London’s Euston Station, you arrive in Watford Junction. The Harry Potter shuttle bus runs every 20 minutes and is a 15 minute ride.
  • By bus: The bus from Victoria Coach Station takes about 1.5 hours.
  • By guided tour: On a day trip from London, you can book a 7 hour guided tour from London or a private 7 hour day trip tour from London.
Victorian houses in Hastings, a unique day trip from London
Victorian houses in Hastings

17. Hastings

Like Deal, Hastings has fast become one of southeast England’s hippest seaside resorts.

Hastings used to be a scrappy mix of unrestored 19th century homes and amusement rides. But, in recent years, the town’s been gentrified and is an artists’ haven, with painters heading to the coast for the incredible light.

The old town has some half timbered homes and Georgian facades. Hastings Contemporary is a respected public art museum. There are also antique shops and quirky boutiques.

Hastings got its name from the historic Battle of Hastings, when William Hastings defeated a pretender to the throne in 1066. The battlefield and the ruins of its abbey are just 15 minutes down the road from Hastings.

How To Get To Hastings:

  • By car: 1.5 hour drive
  • By train: 1:45 train ride from London’s Charing Cross Station
Hatfield House
Hatfield House

18. Hatfield House

If you’re a Tudorphile, Hatfield House is a must do day trip from London, both for its charm and its royal connections. Fans of Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, will be especially enchanted by the early 17th century Jacobean palace.

For over 400 years, the magnificent country estate has been home to the Cecils, one of England’s most politically influential families. 

Elizabeth spent much of her childhood in Hatfield’s “Old Palace.” Some of her most famous portraits adorn the tapestry-strewn walls of the newer (but still old) mansion.

Hatfield is so elegant that it’s been a filming location for many films. Most recently it appeared in The Favourite, a darkly comic period piece about the life of the ailing Queen Anne.

How To Get To Hatfield House:

Highclere Castle, seat of the Earl of  Carnarvon
Highclere Castle, seat of the Earl of Carnarvon

19. Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle is only 50 minutes from Windsor Castle. You could probably do both sites on a day trip from London.

Highclere is the country house home of the Earl of Carnarvon. The stunning 300 room castle is most famous, though, as the filming location for Downton Abbey, the hit British period TV series. 

Originally built in 1679, the castle was remodeled in the 1840s by the same architect who designed the Houses of Parliament in London. Famous landscape architect Capability Brown designed the gardens.

The main things to see are the State Rooms, the Egyptian Exhibition, and the gardens. The castle is open seasonally, so check opening dates on the website before planning a visit.

the Gothic-style saloon. Courtesy of Highclere Castle
the Gothic-style saloon. Courtesy of Highclere Castle

How To Get To Highclere Castle:

  • By car: 1.5-2 hour drive
  • By train: Trains run from Paddington Station and take 1 hour. They arrive in Newbury, from which you can taxi 5 miles to the castle.
  • By bus: You can catch a bus from London Victoria Station to Newbury.
  • By guided tour:

This guided day trip from London includes a visit to Highclere Castle and other Downton Abbey filming locations. You can also book a guided day trip from London that combines Highclere and Stonehenge.

medieval cottages in Lacock, a great day trip from London for those who love a medieval village
medieval cottages in Lacock

20. Lacock

Lacock is a quintessential trapped-in-time English village. You might never want to leave it’s so quaint and cozy.

The bite-sized townscape is dotted with centuries old half timber houses and stone cottages. Lush flower boxes overflow with colorful blooms and climbing roses decorate brick facades.

All this beauty attracted filmmakers. Three of the eight Harry Potter films used Lacock as a filming location, making the idyllic town a pilgrimage site for die hard Potterheads.

Lacock is home to Lily and James Potter’s House in Godric’s Hollow. Lacock Abbey’s scenic cloisters doubled as Hogwarts and Snape’s Potions Classroom in several films.

cloisters at Lacock Abbey
cloisters at Lacock Abbey

Be sure to stroll down historic High Street. It’s a eye catching hodgepodge of historic half timbered cottages and shops. You may recognize this street from the movie Downton Abbey.

Fox Talbot Museum is included in your Abbey ticket. You can learn about the history of photography.

And don’t forgot to pop into St. Cyriac Church. It’s a small but interesting 14th century country church at the end of a picturesque street 

How To Get To Lacock:

  • By car: 1:50 drive
  • By train: From London’s Paddington Station, it’s a 2:15 train ride to Lacock.
  • By guided tour: You can book an 11 hour small group tour from London that also includes Bath and Stonehenge.
Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle

21. Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle is one of Britain’s finest and oldest castles. It has a picturesque setting in the wooded countryside of Kent. It’s famous for the black swans that swim in its lake.

It was first built in Saxon times in the 11th century, long before the more famous Windsor Castle. The castle has outer bastions and crenellated ramparts. The oldest part is the Gloriette, the name given to the royal apartments.

In the Middle Ages, Leeds Castle was the home of eight queens and more of a royal residence than a fortress.

In 1926, the castle was bought by American heiress Olive Lady Baillie, who saved it from centuries of neglect and restored it to perfection. She later bequeathed the castle to Britain.

view from windows of Leeds Castle
view from windows of Leeds Castle

You reach the island castle by a causeway. Thanks to renovations by Henry VIII, the walls are six feet thick and impenetrable.

You can pre-book your ticket online.

How To Get To Leeds Castle:

Albert Dock in Liverpool
Albert Dock in Liverpool

22. Liverpool

Liverpool is a popular day trip from London where you can sample urban England at its most authentic.

Liverpool is best known as the home of the Fab Four and is the hub of Beatles tourism. But Liverpool has more to offer than the requisite Beatles’ pilgrimage.

You’ll find a pair of magnificent cathedrals, museums, cathedrals, old maritime buildings, and glassy skyscrapers.

You may want to book a guided history + Beatles tour or a 3 hour Beatles themed tour.

What To Do In Liverpool:

Beatles Story: This is a must visit exhibition about the Beatles’ lives narrated by John Lennon’s sister. You’ll learn the musical roots of the band and see replicas of the Casbah Club, Cavern Club, and Lennon’s White Room. You can pre-book a skip the line ticket.

British Museum Experience: This is an immersive museum where you can learn about the history of British Music from 1945 to the present. Click here to book a ticket.

Lennon & McCartney Homes: Paul McCartney’s childhood home is a well preserved brick townhouse. You can’t go in unless you reserve a tour with the National Public Trust. The same goes for Lennon’s home.

Beatles Sites: You can walk down Penny Lane, stroll in Strawberry Fields, stand in front of a wall painted with the Sgt. Pepper album cover, see the headquarters of Apple Corp., and pay homage at Eleanor Rigby’s tombstone in St. Peter’s Church.

Beatles sculptures in Liverpool
Beatles sculptures in Liverpool

Liverpool Cathedrals:

Liverpool has not one but two giant cathedrals, located at either end of Hope Street. They couldn’t look more different.

Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King is a modern building with a striking lantern tower and the famous Lutyens Crypt.

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Britain and the 5th largest in Europe. There are fantastic view from the top of the tower.

Tate Gallery Liverpool: Art lovers should head to this modern art gallery, which is a branch of the Tate Modern in London. This is the most visited visual art gallery outside London. You’ll find works by Matisse, Picasso, and Dali.

Penny Lane area of Liverpool
Penny Lane district of Liverpool

Museum of Liverpool: This is a museum for history nerds. It’s a well done museum telling the story of Liverpool’s history and culture.

How To Get To Liverpool:

the Yard River in Norwich
the Yard River in Norwich

23. Norwich

Just a bit north of Cambridge, Norwich is one of the prettiest cities in England and most tourists haven’t heard of it. The town is over 1,000 years old and barely shows its age.

Norwich was one of England’s most important cities in the Middle Ages. 31 medieval churches have survived the march of time.

The lanes in the historic town are a dream, fashioned out of flint cobblestone. They’re filled with medieval facades. Elm Hill is particularly pretty, with its iconic Tudor architecture.

Norwich is a good place for bookworms. It’s a UNESCO City of Literature.

Tombland Alley in Norwich
Tombland Alley in Norwich

The city is obsessed with books, with Britain’s most popular library and a slew of bookstores. One of Norwich’s best known restaurants is even housed in a library.

What To Do In Norwich

Norwich Cathedral: The city’s cathedral dates from the 12th century. It’s home to England’s second tallest spire and second largest cloister. Be sure to see Ethelbert Gate, which is an access point to the cathedral.

St. Peter Bancroft: This church was consecrated in 1455. It’s a pretty church with clerestory windows and a hammerbeam roof.

Norwich Arts Center: The center is housed in the 15th century St. Swithin’s Church. It hosts art exhibitions, readings from local writers, and concerts. Other literary events are held in Dragon Hall.

Norwich Lanes
Norwich Lanes

Victorian Royal Arcade: The arcade is a shopping spot enclosed in translucent stained glass, just off Gentleman’s Walk. It’s stuffed with independent shops and boutiques. This is an especially good place to nip into if you get caught in the rain.

Norwich Castle: Built almost 1,000 years ago, this is another historic spot in the city. There’s an onsite museum. The highlight is the Happisburgh hand axe that is 700,000 years old.

Norwich Market: The market has been a fixture on the Norwich scene for over 900 years. The stalls are housed in cheerful colorful buildings with striped awnings. You can explore, grab a snack, or eat lunch.

How To Get To Norwich:

  • By car: 2 hour drive
  • By train: Norwich is a 2 hour train ride from London’s Liverpool Station.
  • Getting around: You can take the Norwich hop on hop off bus.
cityscape of Oxford, one of the best day trips from London
cityscape of Oxford

24. Oxford

Oxford is a beautiful and bustling university town and must do day trip from London. It’s a 1,000 year old scholarly city with film set grandeur.

Oxford is home to the world’s oldest English speaking university. The town is nicknamed the “Town of Dreaming Spires.” It’s full of creamy honey-toned architecture and the feel of cloistered academia.

Oxford is renowned for the 39 separate colleges that constitute Oxford University. They are sub-communities where the students live and eat in their own worlds, developing their own history and customs.

Together, the colleges form an incredible square mile warren of old world stone architecture and bristling spires, all made of pretty Cotswold limestone.

All Soul College in Oxford, one of the best day trips from London
All Soul College in Oxford

You may want to start your one day in Oxford with a guided talking tour to get the lay of the land. You can book a small group tour with a university alumnus or a private 2 hour guided walking tour

What To Do in Oxford:

Christ Church College:

This is a stunning architectural gem. It’s the largest and most prestigious of Oxford’s colleges. It was founded by Henry VIII’s chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey. The college is the alma mater of 13 British prime ministers

The Tudor Great Hall is a stunning Renaissance space. It was used as inspiration for the Hogwarts Great Hall in the Harry Potter films.

With its long table and high ceiling, you can see why. It’s just missing floating candles.

Sheldonian Theater: This little architectural jewel was one of architect Sir Christopher Wren’s first big commissions. The theater is modeled on the Theater of Marcellus in Rome. It has a distinctive white cupola, from which you’ll have panoramic views.

Radcliffe Camera
Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera: The Rad Cam is one of Oxford’s most photographed landmarks. It has a towering 140 foot rotunda. Inside, you’ll find a light-filled circular library.

Bodelian Library: The venerable Bodleian Library is Oxford’s spiritual core. It’s one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The complex includes the Weston Library, the Divinity School, and Duke Humphrey’s Library.

Duke Humphrey’s Library: Completed in 1488, this sumptuously decorated library doubled as the Hogwarts Library in the Harry Potter films.

Ashmolean Museum: Established in 1683, the Ashmolean is one of Britain’s oldest public museums. Housed in an early Victorian building, it has an international art and archaeology collection spread out over six floors. You’ll see everything from Minoan artifacts to sketches by Michelangelo and Raphael.

Christ Church College
Christ Church College

How To Get To Oxford:

Mermaid Street in Rye
Mermaid Street in Rye, an off the beaten path day trip from London

25. Rye

Rye is an ancient seaside and market town, perched on a hilltop and filled with antique shops and quirky bookstores. The poet Patric Dickinson described Rye as “a beautifully jeweled brooch worn at South England’s throat.”

Medieval Rye is steeped in history. But it also has rave-worthy restaurants eclectic shops, and winding cobbled lanes.

What To Do In Rye:

Mermaid Street: This cobbled lane dates from the 10th century. It’s the street of your English dreams and a visual delight. It’s full of crooked half timbered houses and ivy covered walls.

Tudor building in Rye
Tudor building in Rye

Church of St. Mary: This church has a nave that dates to the 12th century and beautiful stained glass. You can climb the narrow spiraling steps to the bell tower for sweeping views of Rye and the countryside. If you’re lucky, you’ll see swaths of yellow rapeseed flowers.

Camber Castle: This is a Henry VIII fort right outside Rye. It lies in ruins. You can’t go inside, but you can admire the atmospheric exterior.

Rye Castle Museum: The museum consists of two sites: the Ypres Tower and the East Street Museum. Henry III built the tower for defense and it once served as a women’s prison. The museum gives you an overview of the history of Rye.

How To Get To Rye:

  • By car: 2 hour drive
  • By train: From St. Pancras Station, it’s a just over an hour train ride.
aerial view of Stonehenge, one of the best day trips from London
aerial view of Stonehenge

26. Stonehenge

Stonehenge is one of the Europe’s most important Neolithic landmarks. It may be the world’s most famous stone circle. It’s older than the Egyptian pyramids and still largely a mystery.

Stonehenge was built almost 5,000 years ago. The site and its surroundings have been been a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.

The mystery is less in how Stonehenge was built but why it was built. The alignment of the stones likely marked the passage of the sun and the changing seasons.

In the 21st century, excavations continued with more artifacts being found. A laser survey of Stonehenge revealed Bronze Age carvings on the stones.


How To Get To Stonehenge:

  • By car: It’s easy to reach Stonehenge by car. It’s around a 2 hour drive from London. There’s a car park is near the visitor center. 
  • By train: The nearest train to Stonehenge is Salisbury, which is around 12 miles away. From the station, you can taxi or catch the public Stonehenge Tour bus.
  • By guided tour:

You should definitely book a timed entry ticket for Stonehenge in advance. Having been to Stonehenge a couple times now, I think it’s best to visit on a guided early morning tour from London or a guided evening tour from London. That way, you can avoid the omnipresent crowds and walk into the inner stones.

Otherwise, you can book a 6 hour private tour from London to Stonehenge or an 11 hour guided tour from London with Stonehenge Windsor Castle & Bath.

Another option is to book a guided tour that combines Stonehenge and Avebury, which is another ancient stone circle that’s less commercialized than Stonehenge.

colorful houses in Stratford upon Avon

27. Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is a charming market town and is one of the most popular day trips from London. It’s best known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare and for its beautifully preserved Tudor buildings. 

The main attraction, naturally, is the timber-framed house where Shakespeare was born. It was passed down to various Shakespeare descendants and is now a museum. People day trip from London just to walk in the footsteps of the world’s master-genius.

What To Do In Stratford Upon Avon:

Shakespeare’s Birthplace:

Shakespeare’s Birthplace Museum is where it all began. This is the 16th century half timbered home in which Shakespeare was born.

It’s a charming and well restored half timber house and garden. The museum even holds Shakespeare’s crib. You can pre-book a skip the line ticket.

Shakespeare's Birthplace Museum
Shakespeare’s Birthplace Museum

Ann Hathaway’s House: This is a 12 room thatched roof cottage that was the childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife Ann Hathaway. It’s over 500 years old and you can see original period furnishings.

Royal Shakespeare Company: No visit to Stratford-upon-Avon would be complete without taking in a matinee or evening performance of a Shakespeare play.

Holy Trinity Church: This 13th century church on the banks of the Avon River is where Shakespeare was baptized and is buried. It’s been an active parish for over 1,000 years. Inside, there’s an impressive chancel with stained glass.

Riverside: When visiting, you should definitely take a stroll on the riverside promenade to see the famous swans. You can also rent a boat and have a good paddle.

Ann Hathaway Cottage
Ann Hathaway Cottage

How To Get To Stratford Upon Avon:

  • By car: 1:45 to 2 hour drive
  • By train: From London’s Marylebone Station, the ride is about 2 to 2.5 hours. Not all trains are direct.
  • By bus: From Victoria Station, it takes about 2.5 hours to arrive in Stratford-upon-Avon.
  • By guided tour:

You have quite a few options for guided day trips from London to Stratford, including:

Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle

28. Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is one of the most significant castles in English history. It was built by a king and the seat of the famous warmongering Duke of Warwick, Richard “the Kingmaker” Neville.

The legendary Warwick Castle shaped 900 years of British history and is definitely worth visiting on a day trip from London. It was the backdrop for the most famous dynasties and dynastic conflicts in England.

The castle was an important defensive stronghold in the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War.

It’s everything you’d expect in a storied fairytale castle – crenellated turrets, moats, and dungeons. Today, the castle prides itself on reenactments that give you insight into what life was like in a medieval castle.

Warwick Castle

Among other things, there’s a medieval dungeon, state apartments, towers to climb, a trebuchet show, archery tournaments, and a maze.

Click here to pre-book a skip the line entrance ticket to Warwick Castle.

How To Get To Warwick Castle:

  • By car: If you’re driving, it’s just an 18-20 minute day trip from London. Warwick Castle has 3 different parking areas. 
  • By train: There’s a direct train service to Warwick from London Marylebone (1:45) or Birmingham Snow Hill (40 mins). Warwick Railway Station is approximately one mile from the Castle. It’s a 15 minute walk.
  • By guided tour: From London, you can book a self guided tour that includes train and entry tickets. You can also book a private guided tour from London
Vicars' Close in Wells
Vicars’ Close in Wells

29. Wells

Wells is the smallest cathedral city in England, with a population of just 10,000. The ecclesiastic precinct is a well preserved wonder.

What To Do In Wells:

Vicars Close: This is the oldest purely residential street in England. It’s flanked with intact medieval buildings. The 14th century homes were for the priests serving the cathedral and are adorned with coats of arms.

Bishop’s Palace: The palace is the seat of the Bishops of Bath and Wells. The palace has a chapel and the ruins of a 13th century great hall.

Wells Cathedral:

The cathedral was built in stages between 1180 and 1508. It showcases several Gothic styles. 

Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral

The most notable feature is the West Front, decorated with more than 300 carved figures. Though eroded, they are one of the finest collections of medieval sculpture in Europe.

Other highlights of Wells Cathedral are the elegant Lady Chapel, the fan-vaulted Chapter House, and the celebrated Chained Library. 

Mendip Hills: These pretty hills are right outside Wells. They provide a spectacular view over Wells and its cathedral.

How To Get To Wells:

  • By car: It’s a 2.5 hour drive from London to Wells and this is the best way to get there.
  • By train: The train takes 1:20.
colorful houses in Whitstable
colorful houses in Whitstable

30. Whitstable

Whitstable is a posh seaside town in the southeastern corner of England in Kent.

This is the place to come on a day trip from London if you love colorful clapboard houses and seafood (especially oysters). The best place to sample the goods is Wheelers Oyster bar.

Whitstable’s historic center is laced with thin alleys, which all lead to the water. Stroll down High Street and Harbour Street for boutiques, shops, and restaurants. You’ll even find a Michelin starred restaurants in the tiny town.

Whitsable Beach
Whitsable Beach

Whitstable Castle is a vast Neo-Gothic home built in the 1790s. This is a good place to have afternoon tea.

Before or after sightseeing, you can hit the pebbly beach. It’s a beautiful spot despite the lack of sand. You can relax in a beach hut or grab a pint at the Neptune Pub.

How To Get To Whitstable:

By car: 70-80 minute drive
By train: From Victoria Station, trains run to Whitstable twice an hour and take 1:20.
By bus: You can take the bus from Victoria Coach Station, but it will take you over 3 hours to get to Whitstable.

Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral

31. Winchester

Pilgrim have long traveled to the city of Winchester to admire its stunning cathedral. But Winchester isn’t a one hit wonder. It’s filled with culture, heritage, and beautiful architecture.

The old town is full of independent shops and stores. You’ll find hip boutiques, trendy bakeries, bookshops, and myriad boozers.

What To Do in Winchester:

Winchester Cathedral:

The history of this enormously long Gothic cathedral dates back to 642. Inside, you find stunning vaulted ceilings, the illuminated Winchester Bible, 12th century frescos, and medieval carvings.

The church offers free tours. Check the website for times.

old town of Winchester, a great day trip from London

Ruins of Wolvesey Castle: This castle dates from the 10th century. It was torn down during the English Civil War and is in ruins. But you can still see how the grand the palace would have been in the Middle Ages.

Winchester College: This beautiful medieval red brick school has been around since 1382. You can only visit on a guided tour. You’ll see the Gothic Chapel, the Chamber Court, College Hall, and the Scholars’ Dining Room.

Great Hall: This is a remaining scrap of Winchester Castle. Dating from the early 13th century, the Great Hall is one of England’s best medieval halls. It’s now a museum. The thing you can’t miss is the Arthurian round table.

How To Get To Winchester:

By car: 1 hour drive
By train: Trains depart from Waterloo Station every 30 minutes for Winchester and take 1:10.
By bus: You can take the bus from Victoria Coach Station, but it’s over 3 hours to get to Winchester.

Long Walk to Windsor Castle, one of the best and most popular day trips from London
Long Walk to Windsor Castle

32. Windsor

Windsor is a picturesque Berkshire town mostly known for its iconic castle that’s a royal residence. The castle is the very symbol of English royalty.

Aside from the castle, Windsor has a cute village built up around it and it’s pedestrianized.

What To Do In Windsor:

Windsor Castle:

The 1,000 year old Windsor Castle is a striking 11th century castle that’s the official home of the Queen. The palace is the longest occupied royal residence in the world.

It’s home to some of the finest and most famous paintings in the British Royal Collection. You should check out Queen Mary’s Dolls House, St. George’s Hall, the State Rooms, and the Waterloo Chamber.

You may want to pre-book a skip the line ticket.

interior of the medieval St. George's Chapel
interior of the medieval St. George’s Chapel

Changing of the Guard: The changing of the guard usually takes place at 11:00 am on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. The famously stoic guards are clothed in the same red tunics and bearskin that they sport at Buckingham Palace.

St. George’s Chapel: St. George’s Chapel is a stunning medieval chapel in the Perpendicular Gothic style of architecture. The chapel holds a number of famous royal tombs. This is where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married in 2018.

Legoland Windsor: Legoland is a family theme park with ride and attractions made out of legos. It’s just 2 miles from Windsor. You can pre-book a ticket online.

Windsor Village: A small village is built up around the castle. It’s full of lovely shops, restaurants, and pubs. Be sure to wander down High Street, Thames Street, and the pedestrianized Peascod Street.

enjoying my London day trip to Windsor Castle
enjoying my London day trip to Windsor Castle

Ascot Race Course: Just 7 miles southwest of Windsor is the town of Ascot. It’s famous for its royally owned race track, one of the most famous racing venues in the world. The Royal Ascot races are usually the first week in June.

How To Get To Windsor:

I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the 30+ best day trips from London. You may enjoy these other travel guides and resources:

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