Explore London

The Best London Day Trips: Part Two

There’s so much to do in the exciting city of London, but sometimes we all get itchy feet. Fortunately, London is a short journey from many other buzzing UK destinations. If you are looking for a new place to discover, here are some of the best London day trips!

Brighton

Brighton

Often referred to as ‘London-on-Sea’, Brighton has much in common with the capital. However, whilst this little seaside town is bursting with innovation and diversity (like London), it also has its own special personality: a bohemian, creative vibe that makes it well worth a visit.

From the delightful pebble beach to its buzzing arts scene, there’s plenty to explore in Brighton. Take a lovely seaside walk and check out the impressive Royal Pavilion – which was built by King George IV as a pleasure palace and looks like something from Disney’s Aladdin – before splashing some cash in The Lanes, an independent shopping district. Finish up with a delicious meal in one of Brighton’s acclaimed seafood restaurants (like Riddle and Finn’s) and then hide your dessert from the circling seagulls as you stroll along the pier.

London day trips: how long does it take? By train, one hour from London Bridge, Blackfriars or Victoria. By car, about two hours.

Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon

Whether you’re bats about the Bard or simply enjoy wandering through scenic Cotswolds towns, a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon is sure to please. This well-preserved Tudor town does pay serious homage to its most famous son (William Shakespeare was born there), so bookworms and budding actors will find plenty to explore: major attractions include Shakespeare’s birthplace, his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage, and the theatrical home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Swan Theatre.

However, if you’re not a Shakespeare fan, never fear – there are other delights to discover here. Learn about the West Midlands waterways with a tour of the canal, sample Stratford’s speciality cheeses with artisan cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield, and check out the 19th century wheelwright and blacksmith workshops at Chedham’s Yard.

London day trips: how long does it take? By train, just over two hours from London Marylebone. By car, about two hours.

Oxford

Oxford

Famous for its ancient university – which dates back to the 11th century, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world – and ‘dreaming spires’, Oxford is a majestic city steeped in culture and prestige. A tour down Oxford’s attractive city streets allows visitors to – quite literally - follow in the footsteps of Nobel prize winners, scientists, politicians, playwrights and artists.

Any trip to Oxford must begin with a tour of its beautiful colleges: Magdalen and Christ Church are arguably the most famous, but the others are well worth a look, too. History buffs and aspiring students will revel in the eclectic architecture – from Palladian domes to ziggurat-inspired towers – whereas younger visitors will spot many of the filming locations from the popular Harry Potter series. Enjoy a quintessentially British experience by punting down the River Isis, tuck into a cream tea at local favourite Vaults & Garden, and take a short bus ride out of town to explore Blenheim Palace (a world heritage site and the birthplace of Winston Churchill).

London day trips: how long does it take? By train, one hour from London Paddington or Marylebone. By car (or the regular ‘Oxford tube’ coach), one hour and thirty minutes.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge

There’s nothing in the world like Stonehenge – and no matter how many photos you’ve seen of this incredibly famous landmark, nothing can compare to witnessing it in person. The huge, prehistoric rocks (which are set - either by chance or by design - in a large stone circle) simply have to be seen to be believed. How they got there, and what the purpose of the rocks might be, we don’t yet know; which sort of adds to the fun, as you can read up on the subject and come armed with your own theories.

Believed to have been constructed 5,000 years ago, Stonehenge is older than some of the Ancient Wonders of the World (like the Great Pyramid of Giza). The largest rock weighs 25 tons and stands an impressive 30 feet tall; and though you can’t touch the stones (a necessary restriction to prevent erosion), you can walk pretty close to them via convenient walkways that have formed around the site.

But it’s not only the stones themselves that are waiting to be discovered at Stonehenge. In 2013, a new visitor centre, complete with a reconstructed Stone Age village and comprehensive museum, opened at the site, meaning that you can spend a pleasant day at the monument exploring and learning.

London day trips: how long does it take? By train, it’s 90 minutes from London Waterloo to Salisbury (from there you can take the Stonehenge Tour Bus directly to the monument). By car, just over two hours.

This blog is part of a series. Check out the first edition, ‘The Best Day Trips from London: Part One’, to uncover more noteworthy destinations that are close to the capital.