Taking a day trip from London is as easy as joining a guided bus tour, hopping a train or driving in any direction to sleepy market towns, Roman baths, medieval castles, and villages. If you’re like Trippy user, Kay Busch, looking for quaint towns outside the mega-city, consider these 10 top picks from other Trippy users. These are destinations only around one to two hours from London.
What are some good day trips outside of London during the summer? I’ve been to Windsor and Oxford and loved them…. so, something along those lines but more of a quaint town that’s not over touristy. I’m traveling with my friend. We like window shopping, hiking, museums/castles, we are pretty open-minded. We love good food and company/meeting locals.
Cotswolds…Formerly the sheep rearing center of England, it was left behind by the industrial revolution. What remains is a series of wonderfully preserved English villages. They are a beautiful collection of stately houses, modest thatched roof homes, small businesses, a number of small museums and delightful walking trails.
From London, rail service brings you to Moreton-in-Marsh in under an hour and forty five minutes. From there, bus (coach) service can connect you to many of the other nearby villages, including Stow-on-the-Wold, Bourton-on-the-Water, Stratford-upon-Avon and Chipping Campden.
For convenience and ease, I prefer joining a guided day trip from London, traveling by an air-conditioned coach with fellow travelers from around the world. Choose a tour that includes visiting Burford (the prettiest village in the Cotswolds) Bibury, Bourton-on-the-water, and Stow-on-the-Wold. One such tour to look for is Premier Tours’ Lunch in the Cotswolds Tour. This tour includes lunch at a 17th-century former coaching inn (for people riding the stagecoaches) in Bibury.
I’d highly recommend visiting Cambridge (England) for the day. It’s about 45mins by train from Kings Cross (tickets range from £14 up to £28 for a day return, check out www.nationalrail.co.uk for information on train schedules).
As it’s a university town, it’s a fantastic place to just walk around and soak in the atmosphere. Make sure to go punting down the river while you’re there! If you’re with friends, I’d highly recommend buying some drinks and food from a grocery store (there’s a Sainsbury’s near where the punts start), rent your own punt and just cruise for 2-3 hours. Really great way to see the colleges as a lot of them are placed along the river.
Oh and take some time out to have a pint at The Eagle Cambridge. A fantastic place steeped in history (it’s where Francis Crick and James Watson announced that they had discovered DNA)!
River punting is a must do activity when in Cambridge. Cambridge is a one-hour train ride from London King’s Cross Station.
3. Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)
Fans of Downton Abbey must make time to visit Highclere Castle. Go behind the scenes of Downton Abbey and discover the history and gardens of the castle.
Catch the train from London Paddington to Newbury or from London Waterloo to Whitchurch. The train ride is about an hour and from Newbury Station, take a taxi to Highclere Castle. If you’re traveling into Whitchurch, make sure you reserve your taxi in advance. Traveling by bus is another option to get to Highclere Castle.
Dabs from Chicago and Jonathan Strong from suggested Bath. Kristi wrote:
Bath with it’s beautiful Georgian architecture, it’s connection to Jane Austen, the fabulous Roman baths, you could easily spend a day or two here.
Jonathan liked the culture, beautiful sights, Roman Baths, and friendly nightlife. Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and home to 2,000-year-old original Roman Baths.
To get there, take National Express coaches from London Victoria Coach Station to Bath Spa Bus Station. There are 16 services per day that runs from 7:30 am to 11 pm. It only takes about two hours and 20 minutes.
Abbie Allenson shared her experiences in Oxford:
When I was in England I spent a few days in Oxford. It has a small-town feel while you’re surrounded by historic sites and some of the best schools. It’s really an amazing place to walk around, discover local pubs, and even hop on a ghost tour!
Matthew Nixon wrote:
Oxford would tick the “quaint” box – historic university town, easy to get to from London, and really quintessentially English.
The City of Dreaming Spires, Oxford has been the gathering place for scholars since the 9th century. When in Oxford, you must visit Oxford University, hire a boat and enjoy the waterways, and grab a drink at the local pub. Check out the Eagle and Child Pub.
A short one hour train ride from London’s Paddington Station leads to the quaint town of Oxford. If you have time, head over to Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s where you’ll find William Shakespeare’s birthplace and the location of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
Lissa Poirot said:
Salisbury (England), which has a gorgeous Salisbury Cathedral that houses an original Magna Carta. En route, you can stop and visit Stonehenge, and if you want to explore on to the coast, visit Portsmouth. It has cool nautical and British Naval history.
Though a train ride (one-and-a-half-hour ride) is possible from London Waterloo Station to Salisbury, if you’re interested in visiting only Stonehenge, I suggest taking the Stonehenge Express, a six-hour tour operated by Evan Evan Tours.
7. Hampton Court Palace
If you like haunted places and majestic palaces, don’t miss out on visiting Hampton Court Palace. You can get there by taking the National Rail from London Waterloo Station to Hampton Court, departing every 30 minutes.
Trippy user, Dabs said:
The easiest to get to is Hampton Court Palace, 1/2 hour outside of London by train. This is the palace built by Cardinal Wolsey and then “gifted” to King Henry VIII when Henry developed a little palace envy. Another place that is very close to London is Eltham Palace, the interior of which was redecorated in the Art Deco style. If you get to either of these by train, print out a 2 for 1 coupon from the Days Out website. A little further out, and not very well known, is the beautiful Arundel Castle, about 90 minutes outside of London by train. Set in a lovely little town, it’s well off the beaten path.
Just a 25-minute train ride from London Waterloo will take you to Kingston upon Thames. This town by the River Thames is off the beaten track and has one of the oldest markets in England. The ancient market dates to 838 AD and walking tours are available for a nominal fee starting from the gates of All Saints Church behind the Market House.
Kingston Historic Riverside is an ideal place for a stroll and to enjoy a quiet meal at one of the restaurants.
Anna-Fee Schuller wrote:
I’m actually quite surprised that no one suggested Canterbury yet. It takes a bit over one hour to get there by train from London. I lived in Canterbury for quite some time and in my opinion it’s the cutest little English town. Brick houses, small streets, tea rooms, handmade fudge stores, a little river and old city gates make this a very attractive and picturesque town. So much Englishness there! Canterbury has really everything you’d expect from a prototypical English town. And you shouldn’t miss the spectacular Canterbury Cathedral! If you go there feel free to ask me for some insider tips. 😉
York is one of my favorite destinations in England. I think it’s worth the trip if you like visiting one of the most well-preserved medieval cities in Europe. Either join a guided tour or take the two-hour train ride from London to York. Virgin Trains have daily services from London King’s Cross Station to York. You must book in advance to get the best rates.
Some of the highlights in York are the Shambles, York Minster, Clifford’s Tower and York City Wall.
Photos and article by Claudia Looi