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London is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, and it’s a city that has to be visited at least once in your lifetime. The British capital is overloaded with history, culture and diversity, and there are countless places to visit and sights to see.
As interesting and action-packed as London can be though, the city is enormous, it’s busy and it can easily become chaotic and overwhelming. At some point, you just need to escape, but luckily, with excellent rail and transportation links, there are plenty of great day trips from London.
The English countryside is just a short journey away. You can explore quiet, peaceful villages in the Cotswolds, or you can take in the heritage of famous cities like Oxford or Cambridge. If you’re travelling with kids, you can visit Warwick Castle, or if you’re looking for a romantic getaway then actually, Paris, the city of romance, is just a train ride away across the English Channel in France.
There are lots of great places to visit from the capital, so get you inspired, here are our favourite day trips from London!
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From Paddington Station, the world famous city of Oxford is just one hour away by train from London. This is one of the best day trips you can make from the capital because not only is Oxford filled with heritage, but it’s filled with iconic sights and attractions that are known across the world.
Oxford is a charming city, and it’s like few other destinations that you can visit in England. When you step off the train, then head straight for the city centre, and start exploring the ramshackle streets that have been here for centuries.
Oxford University, one of the oldest places of higher education in the world, forms the heart of the city. Many of the colleges are open to visitors, and you can join guided tours through these historic campuses, unravelling the long and often quirky history behind each one.
The Bodleian Library is one of the most recognisable sights in Oxford, and you can tour through the hallways, admiring the books that are stacked to the rafters. Visit Christchurch College to walk through the gardens, before strolling along the beautiful banks of the river.
The Ashmolean Museum is one of the country’s top-rated museums outside of London, while the unusual Pitt Rivers Museum is home to some bizarre artefacts collected from around the world.
When you’re hungry, then pop into a local pub for some hearty English fare, or call into the Covered Market to pick up a quick bite from the multinational cafes and vendors that set up shop here.
Equally as famous and just as enthralling as Oxford, is the city of Cambridge. From King’s Cross, the train journey from London takes just one hour, making this a great day out from the capital!
Cambridge, like Oxford, is home to one of the world’s most famous universities. Cambridge University dates back to the early 13th century, and today they still compete with their rivals at Oxford University in terms of tradition and educational rankings for the top spot in the country.
With this long history, Cambridge is a city that’s full of wonderful medieval architecture and heritage listed buildings. It’s quintessentially English, and it’s easy to get caught up in the eccentricities of the city when you visit from London.
As well as touring through the campuses and colleges of the university, you can take to the River Cam for a spot of punting, a popular pastime in the city amongst locals, students and tourists! Jump aboard a punting boat, take a picnic or some cold drinks along with you and cruise past the city’s iconic sights in style as you travel alongside the green river banks.
For history and art lovers, the Fitzwilliam Museum is stuffed to the rafters with paintings, sculptures and exhibits collected over centuries from around the world. Once you’ve taken in all the sights though, call in at one of the city’s charming pubs for some great local pub food before you take the train back to London again!
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Bath is a little bit of a longer train ride from the capital than Oxford or Cambridge, but it’s still under two hours of travel time and it’s one of the most intriguing cities you can visit on a day trip from London.
The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognising the fact that this is one of the oldest and best-preserved cities in the United Kingdom. Bath was founded by the Romans as far back as AD 43, and they built a settlement here because they found that underground, were huge reserves of thermal mineral water.
Bath’s long bathing culture goes a long way back then! Today, it’s still very much a thing too, and you can enjoy a pleasant day out relaxing at the modern thermal spa centre. The Thermae Bath Spa is a modern rendition of the ancient practice of Roman bathing, and you’ll find excellent facilities fed by the natural hot springs.
As well as this though, you can visit the original Roman baths, which are found right in the centre of the city. Archaeological findings have revealed Roman temples and bathing areas, although much of the structure you see today is a reconstruction dating back to the Victorian era. You can’t bathe here anymore, but you can see how the Romans would have enjoyed the thermal springs back in the day!
Lovers of history or literature – or both! – won’t want to miss out on a day to Stratford-upon-Avon, the hometown of England’s most famous baird, William Shakespeare. Stratford-upon-Avon is just over two hours by train from Marylebone Station in London, and it’s a great day out!
This will be a great escape from the overwhelming size of London, as Stratford-upon-Avon is pleasantly small and easy to wander around. The town was famously the birthplace of William Shakespeare, and you can find his legacy here today.
The Royal Shakespeare Company is based in the town, and at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, you can enjoy modern renditions of classics, ranging from Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet. As well as the theatre, you can visit Shakespeare’s old home and the house of his wife, Anne Hathaway.
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Two hours from Victoria Station in central London, is one of the most historically important cities in England, Canterbury. The small city has played a huge role in English history, as it’s home to Canterbury Cathedral.
The cathedral is the centre of the Anglican religion and community, and while the faith and religion, in general, might not be so pronounced or visible in the country today, in the past it played an integral role in the formation of English identity.
The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it dates way back to the 6th century AD when the first religious place of worship was founded on the same spot. The building you see today though, mostly dates back to the Noman era, while the most important event to have taken place here was the murder of Thomas Beckett, a bishop, on the orders of King Henry II.
No, it’s not England, but with the high-speed Eurostar trains, you can depart from St Pancras in London and arrive in the French capital in just a little over two hours. This is the ultimate romantic day trip from London, as Paris is known to all as the city of love and romance!
With just a day to spend in the city, there’s only so much you can do, but if it’s your first time here then head straight to the Eiffel Tower for some iconic photographs at the base before heading to the top for the best view over Paris. It’s just about the most romantic activity going in Paris, but there’s much more waiting for you on your return to ground level too!
Next, visit the spectacular Louvre. The magnificent glass pyramid is the entranceway to a treasure trove of art and culture, and here you can see iconic paintings such as the Mona Lisa hanging from the galleries.
Before you catch the Eurostar back to London, stroll through charming French streets, enjoy some classic French pastries and coffee or stop off for a fine dining experience with your partner for the chance to sample the famously delectable cuisine of Paris.
The Cotswolds is one of the most idyllic areas of natural beauty in England, and a visit to the charming countryside that’s found west of London is a must do!
This is a wonderful way to escape the capital and it’s the perfect destination for couples looking for a romantic getaway from the chaos of London. The Cotswolds are absolutely stunning, spreading across several counties, and encompassing an area renowned for its small villages, countryside towns and spectacular scenery.
You can spend the day exploring the different villages, calling in at lovely pubs and cafes and admiring the distinctive sandstone buildings that are found everywhere. If you’re feeling adventurous, then you can head out into the rolling hills to hike through woodland, across vast open fields and along dramatic ridges.
This a big place, but there are a few must-visits while you are in the Cotswolds. Castle Combe is one of the most photographed and easily recognisable villages in England and has featured as the setting of many pastoral scenes in movies and television shows.
Towns like Chipping Norton or Burford are wonderfully quaint, while there are old castles and the ruins of manors and abbeys to visit too.
The White Cliffs of Dover are one of England’s most iconic natural sights, and they are just a day trip away from London!
Found on the southeastern coastline, in the county of Kent, the white cliffs have for thousands of years captured the imagination of travellers and writers, and you’ll quickly realise why when you see them rising from the churning English Channel in all their poetic glory.
It’s a great place for a romantic day trip because the windswept and ruggedly beautiful cliffs with their bright white facade are a breathtaking sight, that will have you and your partner in awe.
While you are in Dover, you can also make the most of your time here by exploring the town too. Dover is home to some great attractions, and you can learn more about the local history at the Dover Museum, before exploring the historic walls and towers of Dover Castle, which has for centuries been known as the Gateway to England.
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Warwick Castle is one of England’s most beloved attractions, and not only is it one of the country’s most distinctive medieval relics but as it’s owned by the Merlin group who run amusement parks too, it’s also a great day out for the kids!
Found by the city of Warwick, the castle is everything you could imagine a castle to look like! There’s a huge, deep moat, drawbridges, tall towers and high walls, and as well as being an educational experience it’s also a whole lot of fun.
This was one of the first castles built by the Normans, after their successful victory over the English in 1066. The distinctive architecture you see today though, mostly dates back to the 14th century, when the castle was developed into a mighty stronghold when the threat of French invasion during the 100 Years War was very real.
As well as climbing towers and walking the battlements, there’s a Horrible Histories themed maze, restaurants, extensive grounds and daily medieval reenactments, including archery shows and even jousting tournaments!
For kids, one of the best places to day trip from London is Legoland Windsor. Located just outside the city, it’s easy to get to and packed full of thrilling rides and fun things to do!
This is one of the most popular theme parks in the United Kingdom, and the kids will love playing with stacks of Lego and riding the rides. Everything here is Lego themed of course, but you don’t need to know much about Lego to enjoy the place still, as there are water rides and safaris to name just a few of the attractions.
Legoland Windsor is split into different sections, or lands as they are known, each with their own different themes, and you can spend the whole day exploring each and every area of the park. Themes range from the Vikings, through to pirates and medieval kingdoms.
Of course, while you’re in Windsor, you can call into the famous grounds of Windsor Castle, to tour through one of the country’s royal residences. This is where the Queen spends her weekends when she’s off duty, but you can still visit many of the historic stately rooms to marvel at the history and heritage!
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Found in Watford on the outskirts of the city, the Warner Brothers Studio is a fantastic place to take the whole family. It’s a great day trip from London, as not only is it close to the city, but it’s where the movies come alive!
The studio is one of the biggest and most professional film production locations in the country, and countless movies are filmed here each year. For visitors though, the main attraction is the Harry Potter themed tour that’s run here. Every Harry Potter film in the series was produced here, and the legacy still lives on today!
Part of the studio has been turned into a Harry Potter exhibition, which has fast become one of the most popular tourist spots in England. With so many props and costumes left over after the filming finished, many of the items used were given a second life in what is in effect a massive Harry Potter museum!
You can learn more about how the films were shot, delve deep into the magical world of Hogwarts and see some of the most iconic items used in the movies, from broomsticks to double decker buses.
Hampton Court Palace is one of the country’s most historic former royal residences, but it’s also packed full of fun things to do that the whole family will appreciate on a day out from London.
The palace isn’t too far from the city – in Richmond-upon-Thames – and although it’s easy to reach on public transport, you’ll still want to leave early to fit in a whole day here and to see everything!
The palace dates far back to the 16th century, and it was commandeered by Henry VIII to be used as one of his personal residences – one amongst many! It’s no longer used by royalty, and instead, the vast halls and lavish grounds are all open to the public!
You can explore the interior of Hampton Court Palace, seeing where kings and queens through the centuries once lived and learning all the quirky and spooky tales of royal life that went on here.
The kids will love running through the huge palace gardens, but the highlight will be the acclaimed Hampton Court Maze, which began life way back in the 17th century, and will send everyone loopy as you try to find a way out.
There are some great day trips from London! The British capital, while being stuffed full of excellent attractions and sights to see in itself, makes for a great base to explore southern England, and given the size and scale of London, you’re going to want to get out at some point!
There are trains to many of the country’s most historic cities from London, and you can enjoy days out exploring the colleges at Cambridge and admiring the dreamy spires of the Oxford skyline.
For couples, the Eurostar can whisk you away in comfort across the English Channel, to enjoy the delights of Paris, the city of love and romance, together. If you’ve got the kids with you, then there are plenty of fun places to visit too. Travel to Windsor for a thrilling day out at Legoland, or best of all, journey to Warwickshire for an action-packed adventure at Warwick Castle!
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Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!