The Best Day Trips from London: Part One
Samuel Johnson once said ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’ – but we’re not sure we entirely agree. Though London is undoubtedly one of the most exciting cities in the world, sometimes a change of scenery is needed. Fortunately, London is the perfect hub for exploring other amazing locations in the UK: here are a few of our favourites!
Even if you’ve never been to Windsor, chances are you’ll recognise its famous castle: the setting for many royal weddings, films, and one of the Queen’s favourite homes. This impressive medieval fortress spans 13 acres – making it the largest inhabited castle in the world – and has been a royal residence for over 900 years.
There’s so much to see in Windsor. Appreciate Windsor Castle in all its glory by taking a slow approach down the famous ‘Long Walk’, then while away the hours exploring the Chapel, State Apartments and Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. If history isn’t your thing, you can look around the quaint town (which is packed with lovely shops, bars and restaurants), take a stroll by the River Thames, or even venture further afield to the Legoland theme park.
Day trips from London: how long does it take? By train, the average journey time is 35 minutes (from London Paddington to Windsor Eton Central, with a change at Slough). By car, about an hour.
A charming seaside spot – favoured by chefs and amateur foodies alike for its oysters – Whitstable is a short, easy trip from London.
If you’re a shellfish fan, there are plenty of places to find a perfect bite. Take a stroll along the seafront and pick from the carts and stands, or sit down at one of the many restaurants (for a more rustic vibe, try The Forge; or, if you fancy a classier, restaurant affair, head to the Whitstable Oyster Company).
However, if you’re not enamoured with oysters, there’s still plenty to love about Whitstable. If it’s a sunny day, you can wander along the pebble beach and have a paddle, stopping at the Old Neptune (one of the only pubs in the country that is set right on the shingle) for a sundowner – bliss! On cloudier days, venture into the town and bag a bargain at one of Whitstable’s famously good charity shops.
Day trips from London: how long does it take? By train, the average journey time is 80 minutes (from London Victoria) or 70 minutes (from St Pancras International). By car, about an hour and a half.
Canterbury is home to one of England’s most important religious centres (Canterbury Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Anglican communion and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, no less) and the setting for influential poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, making it a must-visit for anyone with a passion for history, art, or culture.
Simply walking through this well-preserved medieval city is a memorable experience. Winding, narrow alleyways mix with Tudor buildings, riverside paths, and more modern facades. Explore the famous cathedral; spend time at the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge; tuck into tasty treats at local farmers’ market The Goods Shed; and discover nightlife that is as lively in 2019 as it was in Chaucer’s day (in medieval times, Canterbury was famous for its rowdy revels). Whatever you’re in the mood for, you’ll find it in Canterbury.
Day trips from London: how long does it take? By train, the average journey is one hour (from St Pancras). By car, about an hour and a half.
A prime contender for the UK’s most attractive city, Bath boasts beautiful architecture, a fantastic atmosphere, and a rich, diverse history. It’s no wonder that it’s often considered the jewel of South West England!
Bath was founded by the Romans, who harvested the location’s natural thermal springs and turned the town into an ancient version of a spa-and-wellness retreat. Sadly, though the historical baths have been preserved - and are a must-see for any visitor to the town - tourists can no longer soak in the flowing waters there. However, if you’re so inclined, there are other opportunities for a spa experience, such as at the world-famous Thermae Bath Spa (which also offers amazing panoramic views of the city from its rooftop pool).
But Bath isn’t just about bathing (forgive the pun): visitors can delve a little deeper into Bath’s rich culture with a visit to the Fashion Museum; marvel at the amazing Georgian architecture on display at the Royal Crescent and Pulteney Bridge; or try Bath’s version of a cream tea at Sally Lunn’s teahouse, which is home to the famous Sally Lunn Bun.
Day trips from London: how long does it take? By train, the average journey is 90 minutes (from London Paddington). By car, about two-and-a-half hours.
You’d be forgiven for assuming that all Cambridge has to offer is its world-famous university. Indeed, Cambridge University is something special: regularly ranked at the top of the global tables, blessed with some outstanding alumni (Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, and Charles Darwin, to name but a few), and encompassing a number of ancient, stunningly beautiful buildings, any visit to Cambridge should include a walking tour of its most famous colleges.
However, Cambridge has much more to offer than education. Often compared to its Oxford counterpart, Cambridge is a smaller, more peaceful town: full of green spaces, charming cobbled streets, ancient chapels, and fabulous museums. On a summer’s day, there’s no better way to spend an afternoon than with a lazy ride down the River Cam (on a unique boat called a ‘punt’, which you can either have a go at steering yourself or hire a guide to ‘drive’) and a picnic on the Backs (the manicured gardens overlooking the river which can be found to the rear of many Cambridge colleges). For dessert, sample the moreish Chelsea buns at Cambridge institution Fitzbillies, or try some local fudge at Fudge Kitchen.
Day trips from London: how long does it take? By train, journey takes 45 minutes (from London King’s Cross) or one hour and ten minutes (from London Liverpool Street); by car, about two hours.