Anyone who’s been to London will tell you just how magnificent the Big Smoke is. (That nickname got attached to the city because of its heavy smog). There may be overwhelming variety, so much to see and do, but you can really get a flavor for it after a couple of days. So what do you do when you feel like you’ve well and truly checked it off your travel bucket list and want to explore other areas outside of London in the limited time you have left in England? Here are 10 of the best day trips that you can venture on from your base in London which are only a short train ride away.
1. Bath, Somerset
Beautiful Bath may be 90 minutes away from London’s City Centre, but it sure is worth the journey. With its natural hot springs, museums, and 18th century Georgian buildings – including the famous Royal Crescent – there are plenty of attractions to see. Do you like your literature? Bath is is also home to the Jane Austen Centre, which celebrates the life of the city’s most famous resident.
2. Stonehenge, Wiltshire
The famous pre-historic Stonehenge monument is located two miles west of Amesbury and eight miles north of Salisbury in Wiltshire. It might be a bit of a trek from London at two hours and 30 minutes on the train, but this wonder of the world is not to be missed.
The first monument was built 5,000 years ago, with the unique stone circle erected in about 2500 BC, and is championed all around the globe. As well as the monument itself, there is an extensive exhibition that delves deep into everyday Neolithic life and Neolithic Houses that you can walk through and explore.
3. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
Classy Cambridge has the look and feel of Bath in terms of its size and architecture. The city is situated on the River Cam in the east of England, and has boats called Punts that you can take down the river.It’s like England’s very own version of Venice!
Punting takes a couple of hours and makes for a rather pleasant afternoon, especially if the sun is shining. Make sure you also stop off at the prestigious University of Cambridge, which dates back to 1209, as this is a must see for history lovers.
4. Harry Potter Set Tour, Watford
The Warner Bros Studio tour in Leavesden is a treat for any self-respecting Harry Potter fan. Located 30 minutes away from the center of London by train, there is simply no excuse for not getting lost in the wizarding world – at least for just one day.
Featuring props and sets that were actually used and built for all eight Harry Potter movies, the studios are sure to awe and impress, making you question why you had to be born a Muggle. Not to worry, your Hogwarts letter must have got lost in the mail, or the owl got misdirected.
5. Brighton, Sussex
The lovely seaside resort town of Brighton is just over 60 minutes on the train south from London. With its quaint pebble beach, colorful buildings and charming backstreets, the town is loved by tourists and locals alike.
Brighton is renowned for its nightlife, shopping and the arts, and of course the famous Brighton Pier, and is a popular day-trip destination for both the people who live in England and visitors.
6. Oxford, Oxfordshire
Much like Cambridge, Oxford is a city in the Southeast of England known for its prestigious university. The university was established in the 12th century, and was the muse for the nickname given to Oxford by poet Matthew Arnold. The “City of Dreaming Spires” relates to both the university’s architecture and sense of history, and is simply breathtaking.
The Botanic Gardens in particular are a delight, especially in the summer, at the edge of River Cherwell. Oxford also has some interesting museums, such as the Ashmolean, and the Covered Market is worth a look if you like to shop! You can take a train from London to Oxford, and the ride lasts 55 minutes.
7. St Albans, Hertfordshire
St Albans is a cute English Cathedral City only 20 minutes from London’s City Centre. Like Bath, Cambridge, and Oxford, St Albans features mesmerising medieval architecture. It contains adorable little cafes, where you can indulge in afternoon tea, as well as an abundance of restaurants and bars.
St Albans is home to Verulamium Park, which is situated in the very heart of the city, and the gorgeous stretches of greenery of that park make for the most pleasant walk during the sunshine-filled days of summer.
8. Bristol, Somerset
Bristol is a little further afield than some of the other day trips on this list; it takes up to one hour and 45 minutes to get there on the train from London. However, with all its charm and diversity, Bristol will certainly make it worth your while.
It straddles the River Avon with a range of restaurants, shops and night life spots – including Harbourside on the edge of the river which used to be a port. It is very popular with English people as a place to visit, which means it is often swarming with crowds, making the city buzz with electricity and excitement.
9. Colchester, Essex
There are a few potential spots in Essex that would make for very delightful day trips from London; however Colchester comes highly recommended, as it is one of the largest, most historic, towns in the county.
Along with Colchester Castle and Castle Park, Colchester has some wonderful art museums and galleries, including The Minories. For a family-friendly day out, and a way of gaining popularity with your kids, you can visit the Colchester Zoo. The fact that it only takes 65 minutes to get to on the train is also a bonus.
10. Canterbury, Kent
Canterbury is a city also famous for its history. It is a 90 minute train ride away from London, and home to one of the most famous cathedrals in England. This cathedral contains the famous sword sculpture dedicated to the archbishop who was murdered there in 1170, Thomas Becket. This sculpture, combined with the cathedral’s beautiful stained glass windows, makes it definitely worth a visit. Furthermore, the city itself has great shopping – from high street stores to market stalls – and some pretty parks to get lost in for the afternoon.
Undoubtedly, England is a country with so much choice to offer; therefore it’s easy to struggle deciding where to go and what to do with your time! Even if you decide to do one, some, or all of these day trips, each of these places are the epitome of England, so be assured you will have experienced the essence of what the captivating country is all about. As long as you’re having a good time, then you’re doing it right. Happy day-tripping!