Are you planning a short trip to England and want to explore cities close to London? Look no further! This Londoner has you covered whether you’re an experienced traveller or new to exploring the UK, there is plenty of great days trips from London within easy reach.
From quaint cobbled streets and lively markets, these destinations offer unique experiences that take in all the culture, beauty, and history of these historic English towns, villages and cities close to London by train.
14 Cities Close to London – Outside UK
Here’s a look at some of the best places near London to explore— all within 2 hours away by train or car.
1. St Albans – 25 Minutes Away by Train
Just 25 minutes away from London, St Albans is the closest city to London by train. St Albans has plenty of history for visitors to explore. It was once a major Roman settlement and its cathedral dates back 1,400 years.
Visit Verulamium Park, which lies on the site of what was once one of the largest cities in Roman Britain. Tour the beautiful 11th-century St Albans Cathedral or visit the Verulamium Museum, filled with fascinating ancient artefacts and some of the most breathtaking mosaics you’ll find outside of the Mediterranean.
For more inspiration read my guide on things to do in St Albans?
2. Chelmsford – 30 Minutes Away by Train
This city is located just 30 minutes away from London by train. Chelmsford was granted city status on 1 June 2012 to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
This small city is filled with exciting attractions such as Hylands House and Park—a Grade 11 Neo-classical mansion surrounded by parkland.
The Chelmsford Museum offers interactive exhibits about the history of Chelmsford and Essex and Central Park, which is home to several outdoor events throughout the year.
3. Brighton (England) – 1 Hour By Train
Brighton is one of England’s most popular seaside resorts just an hour away from London by train.
This quaint yet modern seaside escape from London has been a beloved bathing sea resort since the 18th century and is well known for its iconic Royal Pavilion.
Built by King George IV between 1787 and 1822, visitors marvel at the exotic palace constructed of Indian-style domes and minarets accented with lavish decorations.
Additionally, tourists flock from all around to take strolls and take in sights along Brighton Palace Pier, a 1,722ft long Victorian pier located near downtown Brighton.
If you’re feeling adventurous, float up to 450ft in the spacious glass viewing pod of Brighton i360 for 360 views of the South Downs and the surrounding.
Last but not least, be sure to visit Brighton Museum & Art Gallery with its rotating collection of contemporary art exhibits and historical artefacts. They are so many things to do in Brighton!
4. Cambridge England – 1 Hour By Train
Cambridge, England is a bustling university city and county town located in Cambridgeshire. Cambridge is one of my favourite cities in the United Kingdom to visit, with so much to explore and things to do in Cambridge. Why don’t you start your visit by seeing Trinity College or the free-to-enter Fitzwilliam Museum.
Why not climb the 123 steps of the University Church tower of the Great St Mary’s Church and get a 360-degree view of the market square and the Colleges from above.
For a unique experience, why not take a punting tour along the river Cam and take in the beautiful views of the college “Backs”.
For more inspiration read my guide on the best photo spots in Cambridge
While punting, keep your eyes peeled for the famous Mathematical Bridge too. Built in 1749 by James Essex (the Younger) and designed by William Etheridge, this architectural wonder stretches across the river Cam connecting Queens’ College with other colleges.
Check out King College Chapel, one of Cambridge’s most iconic buildings.
And if that wasn’t enough for you, take a stroll around Cambridge University Botanical Garden or join an exciting 90-minute Cambridge tour led by a past Cambridge student for firsthand insight into the prestige University.
A Cambridge day trip from London by train is easy from St Pancras train station with a journey time of within one hour.
Cambridge Uni Tour Led By Alumni w/ Optional Kings College
Come take a walk with one of Cambridge University’s graduate students and tour some of the most popular colleges, like King’s College, Clare College, and Trinity College.
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5. Winchester – 1 hour by train
Winchester is a charming Cathedral city in Hampshire, England. The ancient walls of the cathedral had stood since 1093 when William the Conqueror was in charge, and its Great Hall has King Arthur’s Round Table pride of place. This is a must-see city for those looking to transport themselves back in time.
Many centuries’ worth of history can be explored throughout the city, from Winchester Cathedral to the magnificent remains of Winchester Castle, which still stands strong in the form of its Great Hall.
There’s also the Hospital of St Cross founded in 1132 one of the oldest charities in Great Britain with Grade I listed buildings.
Don’t forget the Royal Armouries either – Fort Nelson hosts an unbelievable collection of artillery that you won’t want to miss out on.
And if that isn’t enough? Then you can experience victory through the Exercise Hockley Viaduct Way; this historic railway dates back to 1891.
For those seeking a guided experience, take a stroll around Winchester with a guided walking tour.
6. Canterbury – 1 hr 30 minutes by Train
Canterbury is another excellent destination for those looking to escape from London for a day trip. Located an hour and a half away by train, this ancient city offers plenty of attractions such as Canterbury Cathedral (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
The mother church of Anglicanism has sections that date back to the 11th Century, the Anglo-Gothic and Romanesque structure has been the site of major historical events.
The Canterbury Roman Museum is the perfect place to travel back in time. With its original Roman pavement mosaic, you can explore what the town would have been like 100 years ago.
Discover the history behind England’s largest medieval gateway at the Westgate Towers Museum and Viewpoint. Learn about how it was used to defend the city while enjoying spectacular views of Canterbury. Then, take a walk through the beautifully kept Westgate Gardens nearby.
However, one of the top things to do in Canterbury is to do a Canterbury river tour.
London: Canterbury Cathedral, Dover Castle, and White Cliffs
From London, take a day trip by mini-bus to Kent, known as the Garden of England. Visit Canterbury Cathedral, see the fantastic White Cliffs of Dover, and tour Dover Castle – the largest castle in the country!
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7. Oxford 1 hr 30minutes by Train
Located just an hour and a half away by train, Oxford is another great destination for those looking to explore England’s past. Oxford is also one of the major cities in the United Kingdom.
If you have just a short amount of time to explore Oxford, let me offer you the perfect sightseeing itinerary. Start with the University of Oxford it’s an absolute must-see. Here are a few things you can do in Oxford:
Take a stroll along its grounds, admire its magnificent architecture, and peek into some of its famous lecture halls. From there, head straight to Christ Church College, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oxford, UK and known worldwide for its connection with Alice in Wonderland.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Radcliffe Camera. This stunning Thematic Library is a perfect symbol of Oxford’s architectural heritage. Its eye-catching 18th-century baroque-style design is renowned for its morning sunlight and striking shadow patterns – it’s a sight you won’t forget.
Home to over 200,000 rare books from the 16th, 17th and 18 centuries, Radcliffe Camera Oxford also showcases impressive displays like the exhibit of John Selden’s legacy.
After that jaw-dropping experience, make your way to Pitt Rivers Museum, where you’ll find fascinating collections from many cultures, postcards from all around Great Britain, and incredible exhibitions on anthropology and archaeology from all over the world.
Bridge of Sighs is one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks. This beautiful footbridge will transport you back in time as you meander over its Gothic arches, connecting two quadrangles at Hertford College.
The bridge provides spectacular views of wooded gardens and meadows that are simply not seen elsewhere in Oxford, making it well worth a few moments of your time if you’re fortunate enough to make it there during sunset.
Finally, top off your visit with a scenic boat ride along the River Thames. Just don’t forget your camera—this picturesque view is one for the ages.
Oxford: University and City Walking Tour with Alumni Guide
Take a walking tour of Oxford University with one of its current students, who will provide extensive knowledge about the school, and take you to a filming location for Harry Potter.
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8. Bristol 1 hr 30 minutes by Train
Located just an hour and a half from London, this vibrant city has plenty of things to see and do, including excellent shopping in The Galleries, exploring Bristol Cathedral, or taking a stroll along the picturesque Harbourside.
For more inspiration read my guide on things to do in Bristol UK
While you’re in town, visit the Bristol Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the world, or take a day trip to the nearby Bath. You won’t miss out on this charming city with its fascinating history, elegant architecture, and beautiful natural surroundings.
Bristol: Tootbus Bristol Discovery Hop-on Hop-off Tour
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It’s one of the large cities easy to travel to London Paddington with a journey time from London to Bristol Temple Meads of one and half hours from London Paddington.
9. Norwich 1 hr 50 minutes by Train
If you are looking for an exciting day trip outside of London, consider visiting Norwich, UK.
You’re in for a real treat when you travel to Norwich, this beautiful cathedral city located in Norfolk, England.
It was the first UNESCO City of Literature in England to receive the title award in May 2012. There’s so much you can do while in Norwich like:
Visit the famous Norwich Castle, which has stood since 1067, and explore the Roman ruins at Venta Icenorum – the remains of a once-thriving ancient town.
See the spectacular Norman architecture of Norwich Cathedral, built nearly 900 years ago in 1096-1145, this impressive structure is an unmissable part of the city’s skyline.
Better yet, catch up on local history by heading to the Museum of Norwich at The Bridewell.
Go shopping at Castle Mall or Chapelfield Mall, admire the beauty of St John the Baptist Cathedral or take in stunning views of part of the Norfolk Broads National Park.
You’ll never forget your time in this delightful city with its wealth of fascinating history.
10. Salisbury England – 2 hours by Train
This cathedral city is located in Wiltshire in the UK, where the rivers Avon, Nadder, and Bourne meet. The sights here are sure to take your breath away.
In the heart of it, all is Salisbury Cathedral – one of England’s four original Magna Carta manuscripts has its home there dating back to 1215AD.
Further exploring can be had at nearby Cathedral Close, where attractions like Arundells, Mompesson House, The Rifles Military Museum and Salisbury Museum await.
And don’t forget to check out the traditional Charter Market in the Market Place when you’re in town.
11. Bath 2 hours by Train
Bath, England, has so much to offer! If you want to learn more about the history of this beautiful city, visit the Roman Baths and explore Bath’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Bath is one of the few UNESCO World Heritage cities near London.
Once you’re done there, head over to Thermae Bath Spa and soak in some of their natural hot spring water. And don’t forget to check out The Holburne Museum, where you can experience a bit of Bath’s culture. Then relive the Georgian era with a tour of No.1 Royal Crescent.
For more inspiration read my guide on things to do in Bath UK
After that why not stroll through the Fashion Museum and take in some of the beauty and style of Bath.
For those up for an adventure, climb the 154 steps to get a magnificent view from the top of Beckford’s Tower located on Lansdown Hill.
Finally, visit The Jane Austen Centre and let it transport you back in time as you explore Austen’s time spent living here in Bath, UK. Believe us when we say it doesn’t stop there – pop into Sally Lunn’s for their legendary Bath bun or enjoy some high tea at one of the local establishments for a real taste of English culture.
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12. Chichester 2 hours by Train
Chichester in West Sussex has a rich Roman past. In fact, there is historical evidence of Roman settlement within the city. Examples of this can be found in the remarkable Roman baths and the Georgian wall that replaced the old city walls.
The Chichester Cathedral stands tall and proud as an impressive testament to the city’s past – having been constructed in the 11th century, it replaced an additional cathedral founded in 681 at Selsey.
If you want to learn more about what Chichester City Centre has to offer, then check out The Novium Museum. You can go on a fascinating learning tour there, as it’s free to enter. Plus, here is a fun fact – it was built on the remains of a Roman bathhouse.
Then take a stroll through Bishops Palace Gardens to appreciate nature’s beauty while taking in some spectacular views. What are you waiting for
13. Manchester 2 hours by Train
If you’re looking to explore Manchester, England, you’ll have no shortage of things to see and do. Manchester is one of the major cities near London worth visiting.
The Manchester Opera House and Palace Theatre in the city centre is a great first stop.
Visit the Manchester Cathedral not only was it built almost 800 years ago, in 1421, but this historically significant UK landmark also features beautiful remnants of old English Gothic architecture, such as its unique two-toned masonry work.
The cathedral houses the world’s largest stained glass window in a three-part design called ‘The Good Samaritan’, which is worth taking a few moments to admire.
If you’re a sports fan, then be sure to check out Old Trafford while you’re there.
RHS Garden Bridgewater is worth a visit to experience something extra special. Reviving the gardens of the historic 156-acre Worsley New Hall estate has created an idyllic landscape everyone should see at least once.
For a unique tour of Manchester, try one of the river cruises or take in all Manchester United has to offer with its museum and stadium tour.
Don’t forget there’s plenty more beyond just Manchester, like the beautiful countryside, including the Lake District and Peak District, and cosmopolitan cities such as Chester, Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle.
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14. Liverpool 2 hours by Train
If you’re looking for a truly iconic and quintessentially British experience, then look no further than Liverpool.
Pay a visit to the Royal Albert Dock Liverpool and relive its industrial heritage, or wander through the Beatles Story Experience to feel the electrifying force of 1960s counterculture.
To learn about Liverpool’s literary and artistic past, explore Liverpool Cathedral and the Walker Art Gallery.
Why not check out the British Music Experience if music is more your thing? Its interactive galleries will have you rocking around the clock!
Sports lovers should head to Anfield Stadium to witness Liverpool F.C. in action or take a 360-degree tour of the Royal Liver Building, one of Liverpool’s most iconic landmarks.
History buffs can explore the Georgian Quarter, where centuries-old architecture stands proud.
Immerse yourself in independent culture in the Baltic Triangle, one of Europe’s most cutting-edge creative hubs. However you choose to experience it, Liverpool has something to offer everyone.
Cities Near London FAQs
What towns are close to London?
There’s no shortage of options when you’re looking for towns near London. Here is a list of towns close to London:
Maidenhead is just a short 34-minute drive to the West of London. This picturesque town offers quaint little cafes and lovely scenic walks and is perfect for a day trip excursion or even a weekend staycation.
Windsor is another great town to explore, just a 25-minute drive out of London. Wander through its beautiful castle or discover the many shops and restaurants in the stunning high street.
Hampstead is also just a short 15-minute drive outside of London. Hampstead is the perfect place to relax and unwind with its charming village vibe and beautiful parks and gardens.
Richmond-upon-Thames is a 40-minute drive from London and offers great hiking trails and beautiful green spaces.
For those who fancy something further away, Folkestone in Kent is well worth checking out; it is famed for its beachfront promenade along the coast, where you can enjoy some of the best views of The White Cliffs of Dover.
I have tried to select towns 30 minutes from London or within an hour from London.
What cities are 1 hour away from London?
If you’re hoping for a quick getaway from London, several historic cities are within just one hour’s drive of London St Albans, Chelmsford, Winchester, Brighton and Cambridge.
What are the 2 cities in London?
London isn’t just one city; it’s actually two: the City of London and the City of Westminster. The City of London is a smaller area consisting primarily of the financial district, while the City of Westminster is made up of a variety of neighbourhoods and boroughs on both sides of the River Thames and takes in prominent landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Houses Of Parliament and Trafalgar Square.
UK Cities Closest to London Conclusion:
These cities near London are some of the best places to visit if you’re looking for an escape from London but don’t want to travel too far, then these cities are perfect for you.