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I’ve gone on more than 30 day trips from London, be it solo, road tripping or with a guided tour, and I’ve loved them all. I’ve even picked up a few tips along the way. So, let your resident day trip expert show you the best day trips from London for an exciting adventure.
There’s no place like London. It’s the cultural capital of the country and is known for many things.
From history and art to entertainment and shopping, it has everything, and I love my home city for that.
It’s also very accessible to other areas of the UK. Thanks to the country’s excellent public transportation network and abundance of tour options from London, you’ll have no problem planning a one-day escape. I know I haven’t.
From beach towns to historic cities and quaint villages, this guide contains all the best options for day trips from London, England.
Tip: If it’s your first time travelling in the UK, check out my London travel tips.
York is a beautiful walled city that was founded nearly 2000 years ago by the Romans. With mediaeval streets, gothic buildings, and ancient ruins, it has a tangible sense of history.
So if you’re a history buff looking for day trip ideas from London, York is an excellent option.
The massive 13th-century York Minster is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe. It was built from 1230 to 1472 and contains the world’s largest expanse of mediaeval stained glass.
The Shambles is a well-preserved mediaeval street with timber-framed buildings, some of which date as far back as the 14th century. It has a strong old English vibe and contains several Harry Potter-themed stores. You can also take a magical Harry Potter-themed guided tour of York.
Also, keep an eye out for the old-time candy shops that sell seaside fudges and peanut brittle from your childhood days.
For more activities in the area, take a look at these fun things to do in York.
Cambridge is a university city set along the River Cam. It’s associated with prestigious schools, world-class museums, and ancient architecture.
The world-renowned Cambridge University dates back to the 13th century. Taking a historical walking tour with a graduate guide is a must (I can’t recommend doing a tour around Cambridge by an alumni enough.
If you wear your tight, skinny jeans and Converse, they might mistake you for a student and give you a discount for the tour).
You’ll visit sites like Great St Mary’s Church and Trinity College while gaining insight into campus life.
The Backs is a section of the city where several Cambridge colleges “back” along the River Cam. Admire these historic buildings as you glide along the waterways on a punting tour.
Be sure to wear your thinking cap on this Cambridge day trip from London, and you’ll definitely feel educationally inspired.
Best Day Trips From London to Cambridge:
The view from the cupola of Sheldonian Theatre
Oxford is another one of England’s famous university cities steeped in history. But seeing as it has a large college population, it also has a youthful vibe.
There are plenty of fun things to do in Oxford, making it a wonderful destination for UK day trips from London. Touring Oxford University will be a highlight of your trip. It was established in the 12th century and is characterised by remarkably well-preserved architecture.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to attend Hogwarts, a Harry Potter-themed tour explores Oxford through the lens of this famous wizarding series.
Traditional wooden punts on the river Thames, Oxford, UK
Top Trips From London to Oxford:
If you’re looking for places to visit near London by car or train, Windsor is an easy option. This market town is highly associated with the Royals and provides a nice break from the busyness of London.
It’s important to note that no photos or videos are allowed in Windsor Castle and St. George’s Chapel, and after visiting, you’ll understand why.
I still think it is incredible to see, and if you are a Games of Thrones fan, you’ll like Windsor Castle.
There are many exciting things to see on Windsor day trips from London, UK. A hallmark of English history, Windsor Castle has been a residence of the British Royals since the 12th century. The property contains St. George’s Chapel, where King Henry VIII was laid to rest.
The nearby Windsor Great Park was the Royals’ private hunting ground for centuries. It supplies superb views of Windsor Castle and the open countryside in all directions.
You can also do ‘The Long Walk’ to get an iconic view of Windsor Castle.
Best London Day Tours to Windsor
St Albans is a small city just north of London. It’s primarily known for its tie to the Romans, who inhabited the area starting in the 1st century BCE. History lovers will especially enjoy this London day trip.
If you’re wondering about the activities in St Albans, you’ll be happy to know that this small city is packed with delightful experiences. Discover St Albans’ Roman past at the Verulamium Museum. It’s filled with Roman artefacts and shows what life was like when this ancient population thrived in Britain.
Wander the ancient ruins of the Roman Theatre of Verulamium. It was built around 140 AD but only rediscovered in 1847.
St Albans Cathedral is one of the city’s most popular attractions. It has a timeline that traces back to 1077 and was constructed in the Norman, Gothic, and Romanesque styles.
You can book a free guided tour of the Cathedral, which I recommend if, like me, you love history.
The guide takes you on a tour around the Cathedral, going through the history of the Cathedral. It showcases the different influences and how they impact the changes in the Cathedral over the years.
Lastly, St Albans’ mediaeval city centre is full of shopping and dining options. And every Wednesday and Saturday, it hosts a traditional street market. St Albans is one of the easiest trips from London.
Canterbury is a cathedral city that was a pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages.
If you’re seeking an idyllic getaway, heading to Canterbury is an excellent choice for fun day trips. London is a beautiful city, but the cobblestoned streets and ancient buildings in Canterbury are a sight to behold.
Canterbury Cathedral is one of England’s most famous churches. It was built between 1070 and 1077, with additions being added throughout the years. The church is massive, and you could easily spend hours exploring it.
The Westgate is an 18-metre tall mediaeval gatehouse. It’s the largest remaining city gate in the country. For a small fee, you can access the viewpoint and a small museum.
Top Day Tours From London to Canterbury:
The town of Rye sits just two miles from the sea. It has a serene atmosphere that’s very inviting to anyone looking for peaceful day tours from London, England.
Rye Castle, built in the 13th or 14th century, is one of the top things to do in this charming sleepy town. Although it’s small, it’s packed with information and exhibits that document the local history. It also houses mediaeval artefacts.
Mermaid Street is the postcard picture of Rye. The cobbled lanes are lined with quaint half-timbered mediaeval houses. Around this area, you’ll find sleepy antique shops, traditional English pubs, and century-old inns.
The Lamb House is a Georgian red brick building that was formerly owned by writers Henry James and E.F. Benson. It’s now a house museum that’s perfect for visitors interested in literary figures.
A day trip to Dover is perfect for nature lovers and history buffs. The town enjoys a scenic location along the English Channel. It also marks the closest point to continental Europe.
The White Cliffs of Dover are the town’s main claim to fame. These towering white chalk walls appear to rise right out of the ocean. You can stroll along the cliffs on the public walking paths and enjoy panoramic views of the sea.
Along the route, you’ll pass some interesting areas you can stop at, including the Fan Bay Deep Shelter and the South Foreland Lighthouse.
Dover Castle is an ancient mediaeval fortress founded in the 11th century. It has an impressive timeline that makes it one of the most significant castles in Europe.
Top Day Trips From London to Dover:
Seven Sisters are white chalk cliffs that line the English Channel. Sitting in rural England, they’re a great spot to enjoy the country’s unspoiled landscape. The Seven Sisters is one of the best places to visit outside London by car or train.
The Seven Sisters Cliff walks is the activity that brings travellers to this beautiful part of England. There are several routes that range in length, none of which are overly strenuous.
Besides a few hills here and there, they make for a leisurely stroll through the countryside. You’ll see lots of open grasslands, grazing sheep, and quite a few stunning viewpoints looking out over the ocean.
Best London Day Trips to Seven Sisters:
Cardiff is the capital of Wales. With a gorgeous waterfront location, numerous museums, and endless shopping and dining options, it’s the kind of place everyone can appreciate.
The mediaeval Cardiff Castle is a must-visit. The lavish interior features beautiful murals, stained glass, marble and wood carvings. It’s located right in the city centre and has stood watch over Cardiff since the 11th century.
You can reach the castle, as well as the city’s other famous landmarks, on a Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour. Sightseeing has never been easier.
If you’re a fan of British comedy, you don’t want to miss the chance to take a Gavin and Stacey Tour. This activity is offered at Barry Island, which is just 11 miles from Cardiff.
Best Day Trips from London, England, to Cardiff:
The Cotswolds are characterised by small historic towns, honey-coloured buildings, and rolling hills. It’s an area that seems suspended in time, and offers one of the best road trips from London.
Burford is considered the “Gateway to the Cotswolds”. Like all of the other villages, it has a charming town centre lined with independent shops and local eateries.
Close by, Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most beautiful Cotswolds towns. A gently flowing river with attractive low-lying bridges cuts through the high street. It’s the ideal place for wandering and picture taking.
You’ll find plenty of public footpaths in the Cotswolds that run through the countryside. Just note that it’s a rural area, which makes it one of the best day trips from London by car.
Public transport is limited. However, you could always book a Cotswolds tour once you arrive.
Top Day Trips From London to Cotswolds:
Edinburgh is Scotland’s exciting capital. It blends the past with the present in the most magical way. It offers more than enough activities to fill a day, making it perfect for one-day tours from London for on-the-go travellers.
If you’re into history, visit the city’s older sites, like Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyroodhouse, and St Giles’ Cathedral.
If shopping and dining is your thing, The Royal Mile is packed with eateries and practically any store you can think of.
Edinburgh is also famous for its ties to JK Rowling and her famous film series. A Harry Potter walking tour is a must for muggles.
Best Day Trip Out of London to Edinburgh:
Famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon is a mediaeval market town that’s one of the best day trips out of London for fans of literature.
There are numerous places in town associated with the famous 16th-century playwright.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a house museum that’s believed to be where Shakespeare was born and spent his childhood years. Then there’s Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, where Shakespeare’s wife lived as a child.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is dedicated to – you guessed it – Shakespeare. If you’re a fan of live entertainment, you don’t want to miss the chance to see a show here.
There are countless other attractions associated with the late great writer and poet. A sightseeing bus tour is the easiest way to travel between them.
Best 1 Day Trip From London to Stratford-upon-Avon:
Lake District is a naturally stunning area of England known for its glacial ribbon lakes, rugged mountains, and picturesque market towns.
Windermere is the name of both a town and the largest natural lake in England. You can partake in your usual lake activities here, like boating and watersport.
Be sure to reserve some time to explore the on-land attractions too, like The World Of Beatrix Potter. Learn about the much-loved author who wrote children’s books, including The Tales of Peter Rabbit.
To pack as much in as possible, take a Lake District tour and explore the region’s most scenic areas with a guide.
Best Day Trip From London to Lake District:
Visiting the Peak District will be the perfect day out from London for nature enthusiasts. This national park offers all sorts of outdoor activities.
The Monsal Trail is one of the area’s most popular hiking paths. It’s very scenic and fairly easy. Spanning a total of 10 miles, you can make a whole day out of hiking or just go for an hour or two.
To discover the local history, visit Chatsworth House. This is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. It contains one of Europe’s most important art collections and has a beautiful garden with water features and giant sculptures.
Whitstable is a sleepy seaside town that makes for a lovely low-key, one-day trip from London.
Eating seafood is one of the top things to do in Whitstable. For the freshest oysters you’ve ever tasted, visit the Whitstable Oyster Company.
You can walk off your meal at Tankerton Beach while admiring the calm water and colourful beach huts.
Next, carry onto the Whitstable Community Museum & Gallery and learn about the town’s maritime history. If time allows, book a tour of the stately Whitstable Castle.
Check out my YouTube video on things to do in Whitstable.
The charming town of Bath is compact, walkable, and full of historical sites and architectural gems. With a jam-packed Bath itinerary, you’re sure to experience the best day tours. London is just about a one-hour and 20-minute train ride from Bath, so you’ll have plenty of time for fun during the day.
The Roman Baths are one of the most well-preserved spas from the ancient world. They contain a modern museum filled with engaging displays.
The historic Bath Abbey – another popular attraction – was founded in the 7th century but rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries. This massive church is a fine example of English Gothic architecture.
You’ll also want to budget some time for exploring the boutiques, cafes, and mainstream shops in Bath’s charming town centre.
Best One Day Trips from London to Bath:
Located on the River Avon, Warwick is a town known for its century-old buildings and lush grassy parks.
The mediaeval Warwick Castle was founded by William the Conqueror in the 12th century. It offers lots of fun activities, like falconry shows, jousting tournaments, and archery demonstrations.
The Collegiate Church of St. Mary contains a Norman crypt that was built around 1123. It’s the only surviving area of the church; the rest of the building was rebuilt in 1704 in a Gothic design.
The sprawling St. Nicholas’ Park is set in the heart of Warwick. It features walking paths, grassy lawns, and a leisure centre.
Top Day Trips From London to Warwick:
The prehistoric monument of Stonehenge was erected around 2500 B.C. To this day, experts are baffled as to how such large stones were able to be lifted and arranged. This remarkable location offers one of the best day trips around London, and there are several ways to get to Stonehenge too.
When visiting Stonehenge, there’s really only one thing to do – explore the stones and try and postulate your own theory as to know and why they were built.
You can learn about this ring of massive standing stones in the visitor centre and outdoor gallery. Stonehenge is a site of great historical importance and an iconic UK landmark.
Check out my YouTube video on everything you should know when visiting Stonehenge
Stonehenge Tours from London:
Brighton is a coastal town full of seaside fun. It has a laid-back beachy vibe that makes it an excellent location for summer day trips from London.
The Royal Pavilion is a lavish former royal residence constructed with Chinese influence. Each room is full of ornate detailing.
The Palace Pier contains a small amusement park with an old-school vibe. It’s right next to the pebbled Brighton Beach. This is the best place in the city to grab some fish ‘n chips or ice cream.
Want to check out some incredible views of Brighton? Visit British Airways i360 for unobscured views of the city and coast.
Best London Day Trip to Brighton
Chichester is a small cathedral city with a timeline that can be traced back to Roman times. It has a local feel and is geared towards history and art lovers.
Chichester Cathedral was founded in 1075 and contains both Norman and Gothic architectural styles. It’s a large, beautiful old building with a spiritual atmosphere.
Fishbourne Roman Palace is the largest residential Roman building ever unearthed in Britain. It contains excavated ruins, well-preserved mosaics, and an on-site museum.
For something more modern, visit the Pallant House Gallery and admire one of the world’s top-rated collections of contemporary British art.
Margate is a coastal town with a hipster vibe. With its sandy beaches and eclectic attractions, it offers good old-fashioned holiday fun, making it a lovely location for England day tours from London.
Dreamland is a vintage-style amusement park with rides and attractions for all ages.
The Shell Grotto is an underground passage with millions of seashells lining the tunnel walls and ceiling. It was discovered in 1835, but when it was built remains a mystery.
The modern Turner Contemporary is an art gallery filled with thought-provoking art pieces. It’s located by the seaside and admission is free.
Mersea Island is a small island nine miles off the coast of Colchester. Spanning just seven square miles, it provides a nice break from city life.
Cudmore Grove Country Park will introduce you to the natural beauty of the area. It’s full of open green space and miles of sandy beaches. It also contains the ruins of a 16th-century fort.
West Mersea Beach is your ideal scenic beach spot with a row of coloured beach huts and scattered seashells lining the water.
Lastly, The Company Shed is a must-visit for seafood lovers. You can BYOB and order large seafood platters to share.
Located on the coast of Kent, Dungeness is considered Britain’s only desert. The desolate landscape stands in stark contrast to the English countryside. So if you’re looking for some quirky tours out of London, make your way to Dungeness.
Dungeness National Nature Reserve is located on a shingle spit. It’s a bizarre and beautiful place where you can walk next to abandoned ships, old lighthouses, and wooden homes.
At the Dungeness Old Lighthouse, climb the steps to the top for a 360° view of the unique landscape.
Most importantly for foodies, this area offers some of the best fish ‘n’ chips in Kent.
Deal is a small town off the coast of Kent. As opposed to England’s other seaside cities, it offers a more slow-paced vibe.
The 16th-century Deal Castle was constructed by Henry VIII as an artillery fort. Given its coastal location, it was designed to protect against attacks from France and the Holy Roman Empire.
Deal Pier sits next to the town’s pebbled beach. It’s a quiet place for a stroll. And, if you walk to the end, you’ll find a lovely little cafe.
The Deal Timeball Tower is a small volunteer-run museum. It’s an interesting place to learn about nautical navigation and local history. Admission is just £3 for adults and £2 for children and students.
The small country town of Lewes contains several important historical buildings. It’s just the right size to fit in all the main highlights on a day trip.
Lewes Castle and Museum is an 11th-century mediaeval fortress. It’s one of the oldest Norman castles in England. You can climb to the top for incredible panoramic views over the town.
The next-door museum contains local artefacts from the prehistoric period to the present.
Anne of Cleves’ House is a 15th-century Tudor house. Although there’s some debate as to whether Anne actually lived here, it’s still a fine example of a house from the era of Henry VIII.
Folkestone is a quiet port town that enjoys a scenic waterfront location. With numerous beaches, public parks, and a buzzing harbour, it’s the kind of place that makes you want to spend the whole day outdoors.
The Lower Leas Coastal Park is the perfect spot for picnics, relaxing, and a nice coastal walk.
If you’re into history, the Folkestone Museum contains all sorts of displays related to the town, from dinosaur fossils to maritime exhibits.
End your day at The Folkestone Harbour Arm. This lively seaside promenade is full of eateries and bars. And most weekends there’s live music.
If you’re looking for day trips near London, Surrey is just southwest of the city. It’s a county made up of rolling hills and quaint towns and villages.
The town of Guildford is all about history and scenery. Guildford Castle features beautiful grounds with vibrant coloured flowers. The ancient ruins are well preserved, and you can climb the Great Tower for 360º views.
The small market town of Leatherhead is the gateway to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is where you’ll find some of England’s most picturesque and accessible countryside.
Colchester is one of Britain’s oldest towns. As you can imagine, it’s a delight for fans of ancient history.
The Norman-style Colchester Castle was built around 1076. It houses a museum that contains an impressive collection of Roman exhibits, some of which date back 2,500 years.
The surrounding Castle Park is an expansive public space with well-maintained grounds and flower displays. It contains the Hollytrees Museum, which is set in an early-Georgian townhouse. It’s a free museum where you can learn about local history.
If you want to immerse yourself in history, Bristol is a splendid location for UK day tours from London. It’s a cultural hub especially known for its maritime history.
When you’re touring Bristol, there are several sites you don’t want to miss.
Bristol Harbour is a hive of activity. It was once a departure point for ships making their journey to the ‘New World’.
It contains the SS Great Britain. From 1845 to 1854, it was the world’s longest passenger ship. Today, it’s a ship museum.
If you don’t mind heights, walk along The Clifton Suspension Bridge for amazing views of the city. Then continue onto the Cabot Tower for more views and a bit of history.
Blenheim Palace is a stately UNESCO World Heritage site famous for being the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.
Fun fact, Blenheim Place is the only non-royal house in England to be granted the title of palace. If you’re a fan of British history, you’ll thoroughly enjoy touring this massive 17th-century country house.
Journey through the ages as you visit the different, highly detailed State Rooms. Admire the lavish portraits, tapestries and furniture. Then afterwards, explore the beautiful formal gardens.
Best London Day Tour to Blenheim Palace:
The South Downs is an area on the south-eastern coast of England made up of chalk hills. Spanning about 100 miles, it’s full of walking and hiking paths.
The South Downs are England’s newest national park. It’s a wonderful place to appreciate the quiet English countryside.
Temple of the Winds is an easy 2-mile hike. It’s very scenic and suited for all skill levels.
Glynde and Mount Caburn Hike is 6.5 miles. It goes from the village of Glynde up to Mount Caburn and features incredible views of the stunning South Downs scenery.
Hopefully, this guide has opened your eyes to new places outside of London you might not have considered travelling to before. You can plan some amazing day trips from London by train, bus, car, or even tour.
Whether you’re into historic spots, seaside villages, or other big cities, there are plenty of areas you can easily explore. Visiting English towns and cities from London is a breeze!