London is exceptionally well-connected to the rest of the UK through regular flights from its airports to frequently departing trains as with any capital city. Heading out on the train on a day trip from London opens up more of the UK to visitors. As the UK is a relatively small, well-connected island with cities and lush countryside, a day trip to somewhere new is very easily achieved. From London, you can visit many destinations in less than 2.5 hours, and you can even travel to the capital city of another country in that time!
While there are many exciting things to do in London both night and day, why not jump on a train and see what the rest of the UK has to offer. Here are 20 day trips from London that are worth the journey.
- 20 Day Trips From London
20 Day Trips From London
Stonehenge’s history spans more than 4500 years and this UK landmark is the most famous stone circle in the land.
Stonehenge consists of more than 100 individual stones positioned in a circle and is one of the most famous landmarks in England.
The monument dates back to prehistoric times, with the early henge built around 5000 years ago and the circle we see today constructed in 2500BC.
Surrounding Stonehenge is numerous Bronze age burial mounds, all of which have been excavated.
The artefacts found within the burial mounds are on display in their museum.
Stonehenge has long been a source of debate amongst archaeological societies, with many now believing that the henge was part of a burial ground.
Its other purposes remains a mystery, as does how the stones were positioned by a society that predates the wheel.
Getting to Stonehenge from London: Take the SWR train from London Waterloo.
Travel time: 3 hours 14 minutes.
Famed for its Roman baths, which gave the city its name, Bath is undoubtedly not to be missed if you are heading out on a day trip from London.
The waters that flowed during Roman times are still there today and are open for the public to access.
Both Roman baths from that era and more modern thermal spas draw thousands of visitor’s to the city each year.
The natural springs in Bath are the only hot springs in the country you can bathe in.
Bath’s streets are filled with honey-coloured brick buildings built in the Georgian style.
Visit the Royal Crescent and Circus for the opportunity to take some incredible photographs.
Getting to Bath from London: Take the GWR train from London Paddington.
Travel time: 1 hour 20 minutes.
Aside from its academic prowess, Cambridge is a beautiful city filled with history, striking architecture and an impressive amount of museums.
Visit the University of Cambridge to see its eight museums covering polar explorations and archeology, to science and arts.
There are fascinating historical markers around the city to explore, including old libraries, the Bridge of Sighs and many beautiful enclosed courts and mews.
Cambridge is considered a green city, with many parks and picturesque corners perfect for a relax and a picnic.
Much of the landscape stretches from the centre of the city to the River Cam.
Getting to Cambridge from London: Take the Thameslink train from London St Pancras or London Bridge.
Travel time: 45 minutes.
Brighton is synonymous with traditional British Seaside appeal.
However, cultural links to rock ‘n roll, its electric LGBT+ scene, and plenty of quirky and independent shops, bars, and restaurants draw crowds away from London.
Brighton has a pebble beach that in summer, is dotted with brightly coloured deckchairs.
Head to the Palace Pier, Brighton Pavilion, and the Recency houses to be truly immersed in the cities’ colourful history.
Getting to Brighton from London: Take the Gatwick Express train from London Victoria.
Travel time: 1 hour 34 minutes.
Like Cambridge, Oxfords history with education often precedes the city itself.
Make time to visit the impressive buildings and grounds of the university to see what it is like at Britain’s oldest university.
From its immaculate lawns to Cotswold stone buildings, it certainly makes for a pleasant explore.
Don’t miss the Radcliffe Camera. James Gibbs built the camera in 1737-49 as a home for the Radcliffe Science Library.
Its circular structure adorned with a large dome, impressive carvings and multiple columns makes for great photos, as well as a step back in time.
Stop by The Bear, Oxfords oldest pub, for a cold pint and some great food.
Dating back to 1242, the pub sits on the former site of the Ostler house.
Getting to Oxford from London: Take the Chiltern Railways train from London Marylebone.
Travel time: 1 hour.
6- Harry Potter Studios
The producers of Harry Potter used much of the UK for location filming for all seven of the Harry Potter films, including various London locations.
For more complex scenes and those requiring a set, the filming was done at Warner Bros. Studio.
The studio has since been preserved and is open for visitors and Harry Potter fans to explore.
The tour offers sets, props, costumes and insights into special effects.
They even have a Creature Effects area that showcases how magical creatures such as the Basilisk, Buckbeak and the various house-elves and goblins.
Don’t forget to sample the famous Butterbeer before you leave from the Backlot Café.
Butterbeer is available in souvenir tankards that visitors can take away.
Getting to Harry Potter Studios from London: Take the Avanti West Coast train from London Euston.
Travel time: 56 minutes.
The home of William Shakespeare, Stratford-Upon-Avon, is an excellent literary escape from the hustle and bustle of London.
For a dose of literary history, head to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, an open house museum that takes visitors through Shakespeare’s early life.
Visit the Shakespeare Company to see one of his famous plays performed by renowned thespians.
The town itself is quaint and filled with many shops, restaurants and pretty parks.
Head to The Recreation Ground, a large park on the river banks, for a picturesque stopping point.
Getting to Stratford-upon-Avon from London: Take the Chiltern Railways train from London Marylebone.
Travel time: 2 hours 15 minutes
8- Windsor Castle
William the Conqueror founded Windsor Castle in the 11th century, and since then, it had been home to 39 monarchs.
The castle is currently the home of Queen Elizabeth II, who spends most of her private time there.
Windsor is the largest and the oldest castle in the world that is still occupied.
Within the castle are lavish state apartments, incredible works of art passed down throughout the monarchy, and of course, many hidden treasures.
Similarly to Buckingham Palace, the Queens London residence, Windsor is guarded by The Household Troops, who have defended the castle and the monarchy since 1660.
One of the highlights of a visit is watching the changing of the guard at the castle three times a week, at 11 am.
Getting to Windsor Castle from London: Take TfL Rail from London Paddington.
Travel time: 57 minutes.
Moreton-in-Marsh lies in the north of the Cotswolds and is easily reachable by train.
This quintessentially British market town has existed since the 13th century, and a market is still held there today each Tuesday.
The town was often used as a rest point for travellers heading to London. This heritage has filled the town with many historic B&B’s and pubs well worth an explore.
Visit The Bell Inn, which served as J R R Tolkien’s inspiration for the Prancing Pony pub in his book, ‘Lord of the Rings.
Getting to Moreton-in-Marsh from London: Take the GWR train from London Paddington.
Travel time: 1 hour 30.
Dover is mainly known in the UK as a busy ferry port with good links to Calais. There is, however, much more to this coastal town than shipping.
Dover is famous for its chalk-white cliffs, which have become a synonymous image of the British Isles.
There are many pleasant walks over the tops of the cliffs, offering spectacular views of the English Channel and out to France.
Overlooking the town is Dover Castle.
Originally built during medieval times to fight against French invasion, the castle was modified extensively during WWII to house underground secret war tunnels.
The tunnels, and the castle, are open to visitors to explore.
Getting to Dover from London: Take the SouthEastern High-Speed train from London St Pancras.
Travel time: 1 hour 14 minutes.
11- Botany Bay
Botany Bay is a stunning natural location on the Southeast coast of England in Kent.
Thanks to its incredible views of the white cliffs, the bay is often regarded as a hidden gem.
On the bay are many chalk stacks, which have gradually been eroded from the cliffs themselves.
When the tide is out, walk across the golden sand between the stacks for an awe-inspiring moment.
There are many rock pools in the area at low tide and fossils waiting to be found.
Overlooking the bay is a hotel with a restaurant and cafe.
Getting to Botany Bay from London: Take the Thameslink train from Kings Cross.
Travel time: 2 hours 17 minutes.
Canterbury is a handsome cathedral city in the southeast of England.
The Romans built the city and the cathedral has stood proud in the city since 597AD.
The city is rich in history; from its Roman origins to royals, saints and playwrights.
The city’s architecture mixes Romanesque and Perpendicular Gothic, making it a fascinating city to stroll around.
There are many tours around the city taking in its history, including ghost tours and river tours.
After you have had your historical fill, stroll through Canterbury’s narrow cobbled streets, which are filled with independent boutiques and quaint cafes and restaurants.
Getting to Canterbury from London: Take the SouthEastern High-Speed train from London St Pancras.
Travel time: 1 hour.
13- Hever Castle
Hever Castle is a 13th-century treasure and a fascinating drawcard for history lovers.
From 1462 to 1539, it was the home of the Boleyn family and the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, one of King Henry VIII’s wives whom the king sadly beheaded.
The castle itself features wood-panelled rooms, tapestries and antiques, all of which date from its 700-year-old history.
The castle has one of the best collections of Tudor portraits outside of the National Gallery in London.
The gardens are also worth a visit while exploring Hever.
The gardens have won many awards and feature an Italian garden, a giant topiary chess set and an English rose garden.
Getting to Hever Castle from London: Take the Southern train from London Bridge.
Travel time: 1 hour 19 minutes.
Rye is in East Sussex and is famous for its smuggling history.
The town itself is located two miles from the sea.
Head to Mermaid Street, a cobbled street lined with wonky half-timbered houses, to hunt for antiques in one of their many stores.
For those interested in literature, be sure to explore the Lamb House, a red brick home owned by American author Henry James.
Today the house is run and preserved by the National Trust.
Don’t miss climbing to the top of Ypres Tower at Rye Castle for beautiful views over the town and surrounding countryside.
Getting to Rye from London: Take the SouthEastern High-Speed train from London St Pancras, and change at Ashford International for a Southern train.
Travel time: 1 hour 10 minutes.
15- Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace is the only non-royal house in England to have the title of Palace and is the seat of the Duke of Marlborough.
Blenheim Palace was built between 1705 and 1722.
The Palace reflects the English Baroque style of architecture, a short-lived movement.
It’s famous for being the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, whose family lived in the Palace for more than 300 years.
The parkland surrounding the Palace is vast and well worth stepping away from the tourists into the quiet of the lawns, forests and lakes.
Getting to Blenheim Palace from London: Take the GWR train from Paddington.
Travel time: 1 hour 44 minutes.
16- Hampton Court Palace
Home to the infamous Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey began construction on Hampton Court Palace during the 16th century.
The Palace is surrounded by well-tended gardens and has notable features, including the Maze and the Great Vine.
Queen Victoria was the monarch who opened the palace to the public in 1838.
One of the things not to miss is taking a ghost tour of the palace when visiting.
Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife, haunts the Palace, with a white wraith appearing on the anniversary of her death.
The ghost of Catherine Howard also haunts the Palace, with screams of mercy being heard in the palace corridors, linking to her execution for treason.
Getting to Hampton Court Palace from London: Take the SWR train from Waterloo.
Travel time: 54 minutes.
17- Seven Sisters Cliffs
Seven Sisters Cliffs are part of the South Downs in East Sussex and are distinctive for their white chalk.
The Seven Sisters Country Park, in which the cliffs are situated, features 280 ha cliffs, river valleys and grasslands.
The area is a drawcard for walkers, bird watchers and a fantastic place to go canoeing or paddleboarding.
The best views over the cliffs come from Seaford Head, which offers vistas over the cliffs, the Belle Tout Lighthouse channel.
Getting to Seven Sisters Cliffs from London: Take the Southern train from London Victoria.
Travel time: 2 hours 18 minutes.
The city of Bristol sits alongside the River Avon in the southwest of England.
The city was once a bustling port town that has transformed into a cultural hub.
The cities You can still see maritime history today in its 19th-century warehouses that have been turned into shops, restaurants, high-end apartments and even an art gallery: The Arnolfini.
Many famous faces come from Bristol, from Hollywood actor Cary Grant, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, and world-renowned mystery graffiti artist Banksy.
Getting to Bristol from London: Take the GWR train from Paddington.
Travel time: 2 hours 2 minutes.
Dungeness is the headland on the coast of Kent. The beach itself is a shingle beach.
There is so much for history and nature-lovers in Dungeness, making it perfect for escaping the big city.
Head to the Old Lighthouse, a grade-II listed building dating back to the early 1900s.
Photographs of the lighthouse standing alone surrounded by shingles are often the postcard of the area.
Nature-lovers should visit the RSPB Nature Reserve, which offers sanctuary for local coastal birds in the shingle and wetlands.
Birds spotted here include pintails, wigeons and tufted ducks.
Take a ride on the RHDR Mini Railway, a 90-year-old mini steam train weaving through 13 miles of stunning countryside and coastline.
Getting to Dungeness from London: Take the SouthEastern High-Speed train from London St Pancras, change at Ashford International for a Southern train to Rye, and a bus from Rye.
Travel time: 2 hours 30.
One unusual day trip from London will lead you to a different country.
By taking the Eurostar from London to Paris, you can be in the French capital in just under 2.5 hours.
An early train out and late train back will give you a full day to immerse yourself in Parisienne culture.
Head to the Eiffel Tower to admire one of the most famous landmarks in France and for incredible views over the city.
Visit the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay to satisfy any artistic cravings or meander through Montmartre’s narrow streets.
Getting to Paris from London: Take the Eurostar from London St Pancras.
Travel time: 2 hours 23 minutes.