Looking to escape the city and find some day trips from London? You’re in luck – London is surrounded by incredible day trip destinations.
In just a short drive or ride on public transport, you can find yourself in front of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or sitting on a rollercoaster in a theme park. Whether you want the countryside, seaside, villages or the chance to experience another city’s highlights, you’ll have plenty of choices. If you have a day to spare, why not put it to good use?
Top Day Trips from London
We’ve already covered the ideal 3-day itinerary when visiting London, and you’ll find plenty of information on things to do and where to stay in London. But once you’ve ridden the London Eye, toured Westminster, visited the Natural History Museum, and shopped in Camden Market, a day trip to escape the city is just what’s needed. These are the very best day trips from London.
Whether you drive or take the train, Windsor is just an hour from London. The picturesque town is one of the best day trips from London and is easily accessible with plenty of things to do. Make sure to book your ticket entry in advance for Windsor Castle. You can purchase tickets online, there is easy cancellation up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund.
Visitors can tour the State Apartments in Windsor Castle – a royal residence of the British Royal Family. Purchasing entrance to Windsor Castle also lets you explore St George’s Chapel, where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married. The whole of Windsor Estate is full of British history, and Windsor Castle itself is recognized as the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. If you love the Royal Family and are intrigued by its history, Windsor Castle is a great day out.
Visiting London as a family? Consider spending time at Legoland Windsor Resort. There is lots to keep you entertained, from Lego-themed thrill rides to model cityscapes. To save walking around Windsor, you might also want to consider a hop-on hop-off bus tour. You’ll pass eleven different tourist attractions and have a free audio guide to introduce you to Windsor while you’re on the move.
- 50 minutes from London – Make one of the most popular day trips from London hassel free on this highly rated tour from London via coach where you’ll visit the historic town of Windsor and visit Windsor Castle at your own pace. Read more: How to Visit Windsor Castle.
Stratford-upon-Avon is another favourite day trips from London. A small medieval market town on the River Avon, it is mostly known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare requires little introduction. The playwright is widely hailed as one of Britain’s most famous writers, and his plays are still being acted and adapted today. You must stop by Shakespeare’s Birthplace, a museum dedicated to preserving Shakespeare’s childhood home and displaying rare, personal artifacts. Get your tickets in advance here.
We also suggest walking up the road to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. With this ticket from Get Your Guide, you get access to Shakespeare’s family home, Anne Hathaway’s home, and the couples’ shared house.
Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway at 18 years old, and he would have made the same walk to her family home throughout their courtship. Parts of the cottage are over 500-years-old, and thirteen generations have lived there – with the final resident William Baker moving out in 1911.
Driving and taking the train to Stratford-upon-Avon from London takes a similar time. However, on public transport, be prepared to switch lines a few times as there is no direct route. When taking the train, you’ll depart from Paddington Station.
- 2 hours from London – looking for a day trip from London that includes many of the top things to see and do? Book this highly rated tour that takes you to Stratford, Stonehenge, Bath and the Cotswolds
3. Leeds Castle, Broomfield Maidstone
Located on the boundary of the Kent Downs, Broomfield is a short walk away from rolling hills and dramatic landscapes. However, there are enough attractions to entice you to stay put. For a village, Broomfield has a lot going on.
Broomfield is most famous for Leeds Castle, which was built in 1119 as a Norman stronghold. Since, the castle has played royal residence to the medieval Queen Eleanor of Castile, Henry VIII, and many more key historical figures. Leeds Castle is also in remarkable condition, and you can tour the entire castle – exploring medieval-styled rooms and walking manicured castle gardens.
The Leeds Castle grounds take up much of Broomfield, and you’ll find multiple other attractions belonging to the castle. You can visit The Dog Collar Museum, Bird of Prey Center, and The Maze & Underground Grotto. Leeds Castle is one of the best day trips from London if you want lots of varied entertainment in one location.
- 1 hour and 25 minutes from London – Purchase your Leeds Castle admission tickets in advance with easy cancellation within 24 hours of experience.
4. Harry Potter Studio Tour
Leavesden may seem like a strange place for a day tour to Hogwarts. It is a small, built-up area sandwiched between the M25 and M1 – somewhere you’d likely drive by without realizing you should stop. However, Harry Potter fans note down this location.
Leavesden is home to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour, London. You can jump on the Hogwarts Express, walk down Diagon Alley, sit in the Great Hall, and even sample butterbeer. You’ll visit plenty of Harry Potter filming locations on a studio tour, as all eight films were filmed and produced here.
All Harry Potter fans should take a studio tour once in their lifetime. The behind-the-scenes experience makes it one of the most exciting London day trips.
To save you planning transport, you can book tours that include a transfer from London through Get Your Guide. Alternatively, to get to the Warner Bros Studio without booking a transfer, you can take public transport or drive.
Public transport takes around 45 minutes, and there is a train from London to Watford followed by a ten-minute bus ride to reach the studio. Driving takes around an hour, depending on traffic.
Are you wanting to experience more of medieval British history? Canterbury is a renowned cathedral city and has been a Christian pilgrimage site for over 800 years.
The city inspired Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which remains one of the most famous examples of medieval British literature. Canterbury is also the resting place of Thomas Becket, the murdered Archbishop.
You can still spot medieval architecture in the city center, and Canterbury is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its preserved historical architecture. Canterbury Cathedral sits in the city’s center and is a constant backdrop in the skyline as you explore and shop on the central streets. The cathedral is over 1,400 years old – so it is safe to say it has a lot of stories. Canterbury Cathedral is worth paying entrance for and we’d also recommend purchasing a Canterbury walking tour, which will provide you with more stories, history, and information on the importance of the city.
Canterbury is accessible by car. You can also use public transport, with direct trains running from London Victoria Station. You can compare car rental companies and prices here.
- 1 hour and 30 minutes from London – Book this highly rated tour to explore the historic city of Canterbury. This guided walking tour takes you through Canterbury Cathedral, the timber houses, the Marlowe Theater and the Buttermarket.
Woodstock is one of the best day trips from London and, while it is a cute market town in its own right, is best for people who want to visit Blenheim Palace. Get your tickets in advance here with easy cancellation.
Blenheim Palace is 17th century estate with a stately country mansion and extensive manicured gardens. The palace has an active social calendar, hosting the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, Blenheim Triathlon, Food Festival, Flower Show, and lots of concerts throughout the year. Blenheim Palace is clearly where to go for an entertaining day trip.
Even with no events, the palace is worth a visit to Woodstock. It was also the birthplace of Winston Churchill, who was the grandson of the 7th Duke of the Blenheim Palace. You can take a tour of Blenheim Palace to discover more about Winston’s family history and the story of the estate. Don’t forget to stop for the Winston Churchill Premier Afternoon Tea. The Afternoon Tea includes specialty teas, light cakes, scones, and savory snacks.
- 1 hour and 50 minutes from London – You can take public transport or drive to Woodstock, although we’d recommend driving as it is more straightforward. You can also purchase a private tour to Blenheim that includes transfers from London.
Not far from Woodstock, Oxford is a popular addition to most lists of day trips from London. Oxford feels like a quiet university town, despite its city status. To relax and take in history, atmosphere, art, and architecture, you should visit Oxford.
Oxford University is one of the oldest in the UK and is revered worldwide. You can easily incorporate visiting the university, as its campus buildings are spread all over the city. Get Your Guide offers numerous walking tour options, including campus tours and Harry Potter filming location tours. Christ Church College is particularly impressive and is home to a series of Old Master paintings and the Oxford Cathedral. Christ Church is open to the public, so it is worth stopping by to listen to a choir performance or appreciate the art.
The Ashmolean Museum belongs to Oxford University but is also open for public use. The museum was founded in 1683 and is dedicated to art and archeology – famously housing multiple Egyptian mummies.
Once you’ve finished visiting all that Oxford University offers, choose an independent coffee shop to sit and people-watch before heading back to London. Luckily, London isn’t far away.
In under an hour, you can reach Oxford on a direct train from London’s Paddington Station. Driving takes a little longer but involves a scenic drive through the Chiltern Hills AONB, so we’ll leave the decision to you.
- 1 hour and 30 minutes from London – This fun full day tour takes you from Oxford to the exterior setting of Downton Abbey.
Fancy a beach break on your London visit? Eastbourne is one of the best coastal trips from London. The town is a Victorian seaside resort with plenty of things to do and see.
History lovers should tour the Eastbourne Redoubt, a 200-year-old fortress used as a defense against Napoleon and throughout the World Wars. While, for a classic seaside experience, head to the town center to find the Eastbourne Pier. If you are ready to escape London, you’ll enjoy the holiday feel of eating fish and chips on an amusement pier.
Of course, Eastbourne is also the closest major town to the Seven Sisters Cliffs. The Seven Sisters are a stretch of dramatic chalk cliffs that overlook the English Channel. The Seven Sisters Cliffs are one of the most famed natural attractions in Southern England and definitely warrant a visit. From Eastbourne, it is only a fifteen-minute drive to the Seven Sisters Information Center – a good spot to enjoy a scenic viewpoint, ask for advice, and use the café facilities.
While you can take a tour from London directly to the Seven Sisters, visiting independently will allow you to experience Eastbourne as well. Direct trains run to Eastbourne from London Victoria Train Station. The direct train is faster than driving, taking only 1 hour and 30 minutes. See car rental comparisons and prices here.
- 2 hours and 20 minutes from London – Book this highly rated full day tour that takes you to South Downs National Park to see the famous white cliffs. During this small group tour from London, you’ll visit the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters and discover the Neolithic carving of the Longman of Wilmington.
Brighton is cool – full of independent boutiques, jewelry shops, and quirky cafes. The city has an eclectic mix of attractions and architecture, which makes it one of the most interesting day trips from London. Brighton almost shifts identity as you cross from street to street, so aim to take a walk around the center on foot. If you’d prefer a more leisurely option, you can always book a hop-on hop-off bus tour instead.
The promenade is all seaside cheesiness, with the Brighton Palace Pier, Upside Down House, pop-up food stalls, and too many seagulls to count. However, set back from the promenade in the city center, you’ll find a maze of alleys filled with independent shops. ‘The Lanes’ were built in the 1500s and are so narrow in sections that you’ll have to step into doorways to allow people coming from the opposite way to pass. For a unique shopping experience, Brighton is one of our best day trips.
Of course, there is also the Royal Pavilion to visit. The Royal Pavilion was a purpose-built palace for King George IV and is a grand blend of Indian and Chinese architecture. You can take tours of the palace interior to visit each elaborately decorated room. And, if you get tired of the beach on a sunny day, you can join the crowds of locals that sunbathe in the Pavilion Gardens.
You can easily catch the train from London to Brighton. In fact, we’d recommend catching the train, as it is quicker and takes just over an hour.
Just in case you haven’t got your fill of palaces near London, Molesey is home to one of the best. The town is split into two sections – East and West Molesey, and it is in East Molesey that you’ll find Hampton Court Palace.
Hampton Court Palace was Henry VIII’s full-time royal residence and is now open for the public to explore the remnants of the old Tudor Court lifestyle. Entrance tickets can be bought in advance and it is recommended to go inside as the quality of the palace interior justifies the spend.
Architecturally, Hampton Court was revamped by the Stuarts, so not all of the building reflects its Tudor roots. It has also been ongoingly well-maintained to preserve its heritage, which is great as it means visitors can explore fully functional rooms today.
Once you’ve visited the palace, head to the Hampton Court Maze for some fun outdoor entertainment.
- 50 minutes from London – Molesey is the perfect Tudor day trip from London and is less than an hour’s train ride from London Waterloo Station. If you would prefer a transfer from London, you can book a private tour such as this highly recommended tour.
Bath is easily one of the prettiest day trips from London. The city center has a unique aesthetic, with rows of Georgian terraces cut from honey-colored ‘bath stone’. The most famous row of houses is the Royal Crescent, which arcs around a stately public park in a semi-circle. And in the center, Bath Abbey is another example of the city’s stunning architecture, with an eye-catching Victorian Gothic design. You can easily visit these sights on a walking tour around Bath.
However, Bath is most popularly known for its Roman Baths. The Roman Baths are one of the most impressive heritage sites in the UK and were once a religious spa for Britain’s Roman settlers. People would come to bathe and worship the goddess Minerva – making their way around a system of specialized rooms that you can still visit. The Roman Baths use thermally heated water from a natural spring, and while you can’t swim in it today, the green pool makes a surprisingly pretty picture.
Plus, if you do fancy swimming in thermal water, you can book an experience at the Thermae Spa next door. The spa uses the same hot spring but treats the water with chemicals to make it safe (and enjoyable) to swim in.
As far as day trips from London go, Bath is the best if you want a spa experience or to discover more about Roman history in Britain. It is easiest to get the train to Bath direct from Paddington Station. The train journey takes an hour and 20 minutes – an hour quicker than driving.
- 2 hours and 35 minutes from London – Film buffs will love this Bath Bridgerton Tour in advance to visit 10 of the filming locations used on Netflix’s Bridgerton.
Like Oxford, Cambridge is stunning and has a student and intellectual appeal. The University of Cambridge is one of the best in the world, and Cambridge is definitely an elite university city. You can expect a classy, laidback vibe, punting boats on the River Cam, students studying in the cafes, and constant picnickers on the city greenspaces. Cambridge has a romantic, almost poetic atmosphere – sociable but reserved.
When visiting Cambridge, make sure to visit the University grounds and buildings. King’s College Chapel is a good spot to start. The chapel is of Gothic design and features a beautiful fan-vaulted ceiling, which is a textbook Gothic feature. There are also stained glass windows with fascinating images to admire. While those with knowledge of architecture will particularly enjoy the chapel, any visitor will appreciate its beauty. You can purchase tours of the campus that include access to the chapel, like this tour on Get Your Guide.
Like many of our city day trips from London, Cambridge is easier to access by train than a car. You can reach Cambridge from Kings Cross Station in 50 minutes on the train, while it takes 2 hours to drive. Cambridge is very walkable, so we suggest ditching the car and choosing to travel by train instead.
- 2 hours from London – Book this London to Cambridge and Oxford Universities tour. This tour includes two of the best day trips from London starting with Oxford to see where the likes of Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien walked the halls and where scenes from Harry Potter were filmed. It’s then on to Cambridge to visit Kings College and the halls where Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and Monty Python alumni honed their creative skills. Details here
13. Bognor Regis
Bognor Regis is not the most well-known day trip from London. In fact, more local Londoners venture to Bognor than London tourists.
Bognor Regis is a small seaside town and a fantastic alternative to busier coastal areas like Brighton. Bognor skips over the cheesiness of most British seaside resorts. You won’t find a theme park or amusement pier, but you will find lots of parks and long stretches of sandy beaches.
Literature fans can also pay a visit to Blake’s Cottage, where the radical Romantic poet resided for a period of his life. Blake famously wrote in a letter that the area was ‘idyllic’, and we can’t help but agree with him.
Bognor is a great day trip from London for anyone wanting to escape crowds and structured tourism. You can reach Bognor Regis by train in just under 2 hours, or by car in 2 hours and 20 minutes – a decision that we’ll leave up to you.
- 2 hours and 20 minutes from London
14. Box Hill
Remember the Surrey Hills AONB that we mentioned? Well, Box Hill is right in the center of it. It is a mildly challenging 224m hill and easily one of our most scenic London day trips on the list.
We highly recommend making the trip to climb Box Hill. Reaching the summit takes between two to three hours, with the return walk taking approximately six hours. You’ll be rewarded with views over the Surrey Downs at the summit, so make sure to pack a picnic to savor the moment.
If you forget, though, don’t worry. East of the hill, there is a lovely village, also named Box Hill. Here, you can tuck into a hearty British meal at the local gastropub or head for a coffee at the village café.
It is possible to visit by catching the train. However, the station is a bit of a walk from the hill, and the trains only run once an hour. We’d suggest driving instead when visiting Box Hill as a day trip from London.
- 1 hour and 20 minutes from London
York may be the most ambitious of our day trips from London. It is a beautiful medieval city located in the North of England, meaning that you’ll travel a fair distance to reach it.
But is it worthwhile? Of course, it is. Like Bath, York has lots of Roman history – actually being founded by the Romans, who built the original city walls. York also has lots of Viking history, which you can discover more about at the interactive JORVIK Center. If you want to visit lots of York attractions, it might be worthwhile purchasing a York City Pass. However, the best part about York is a free visit to The Shambles.
The Shambles is a narrow, cobbled shopping street with overhanging 14th-century buildings. It is one of the oldest recorded streets in Europe, and William the Conqueror directly referenced it in his 1066 Doomsday Book.
York is a great day trip from London for a taste of Northern England. While a 4-hour drive, York is accessible by train from Kings Cross Station in just 2 hours and 20 minutes. So leave the car behind and jump on a train!
Stonehenge is one of the most popular day trips from London. The Neolithic rock formation is a fascinating British mystery and a valued World Heritage Site.
You can visit Stonehenge on one of the many bus tours that depart from central London or organize your own trip. This bus tour option is particularly reputable should you wish to visit Stonehenge as part of a tour from London.
If you visit independently by public transport, you’ll catch a train from Waterloo Station to Salisbury Train Station, then take a shuttle bus to Stonehenge. It is a straightforward 2-hour and 20-minute route if you drive.
- 2 hours and 20 minutes from London – This highly rated day tour includes not only Stonehenge but other popular day trips from London stops including Bath, the Cotswalds, and Stratford Upon the Avon.
The Cotswolds are gorgeous but too big an area to squeeze into an independent day trip. If you aren’t going to take a guided tour from London, we recommend that you narrow down your visit to Bourton-on-the-Water.
Bourton-on-the-Water is a picturesque village and a popular introduction to the beauty and laidback lifestyle in The Cotswolds. The village is particularly famed for its model village, where you channel your inner Gulliver as you walk the waist-height rows of houses. Alternatively, have a walk in the countryside before grabbing lunch at one of the gastropubs overlooking the River Windrush.
Lower Slaughter is only a half an hour walk or 4-minute drive away too and is highly rated as having one of the most beautiful streets in the UK. We’d recommend allowing time to squeeze in a quick visit.
Bourton-on-the-Water is accessible by public transport as well as car, although we’d recommend driving as public transport schedules can be limited.
- 2 hours and 40 minutes from London – To really visit the Cotswolds, book this full day tour from London. It includes a full day exploring the green landscapes of the Cotswolds including the medieval town of Burford, Bibury, which is often considered the prettiest village in England and Bourton-on-the-water – also known as ‘the Venice of the Cotswolds
Okay, perhaps York wasn’t so ambitious after all. But who says that you need to take day tours within the UK? Picture it: the Eiffel Tower, Parisian cafes, and wandering the Louvre – it sounds like heaven, we know.
If you haven’t been to Paris before, we suggest prioritizing visiting the main sights. There are numerous fast-track tickets that you can purchase to maximize your time, including for the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Arc de Triomphe.
Paris is only 2 hours and 20 minutes away from London when you use the Eurostar train. While it sounds slightly unbelievable, it is actually an easy day trip from London. Eurostar has food and drinks available on board, too, so you can relax and refresh before exploring Paris.
London may be well-connected by tubes, buses, and trains, but don’t be fooled. Once you reach the countryside regions around London, you’ll definitely need a car. Check out car rental prices and comparisons at RentalCars.com
If you want to visit South Downs National Park, Surrey Hills, or the Cotswolds, we suggest hiring a car in London. These areas have limited public transport, and you’ll save yourself time (an important day trip factor) by driving.
If you visit a nearby university town or city, you won’t need a car. Instead, just hop on one of the many connecting trains from one of London’s train stations. Read: How to Get from London Airport to City Centre
Get Your Guide is a tour company we often use and it offers many day trips from London that bundles some of the most popular day tours in one place. We have recommended plenty in this post, but to refresh, you may want to check out these organized day trips from London.
And these are some of the top day tours from London. There are so many places around London to visit that it can take days to see them. While these are all considered day tours, we recommend giving most places at least a day or two to truly explore. They are destinations unto themselves.
Read more about London and travel in the United Kingdon