You can go on many day trips from London.
The British capital is a fabulous place to visit and you will never run out of interesting things to do or places to visit. But let’s admit it: it is such a big city that it can get overwhelming, and you will likely feel the need to get out to get somewhere that is a bit quieter.
The good news is that there is an abundance of London day trips that are so easy to enjoy. Trains in the United Kingdom work really well and take you to even the most remote places. From natural sights to archeological sites and charming small towns, you are bound to find something that suits your interests.
This post highlights the best places to visit on day trips from London and share practical information that will help you organize your day.
15 Fun Day Trips From London
Harry Potter Studio
As of late, this has become one of the most popular day trips from London. If you are a fan of Harry Potter, read all the books and saw all the movies, you really should not miss on it. You will be let into the secrets of the movies and all the filming.
The best way to go to Harry Potter studio is on guided tours departing from London. These two are the best options:
- Warner Bros studio tour and transfer from London – an incredibly well reviewed tour. It last 7 hours, for an incredible day away from town.
- Harry Potter studio and Oxford day trip from London – similar to the one above but it also takes you to Oxford.
Oxford is a real gem. It’s the first place I have ever visited in England, the first time I went a lifetime ago when my parents packed my bags and sent me there to learn English. The city is truly charming, with gardens, churches and abbeys, beautiful parks and a nice atmosphere and it is a great place to visit on day trips from London.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Trains to Oxford depart from Paddington station. The journey takes about one hour. Once in town, you can explore on your own or go on a guided walking tour of the city such as this excellent one (which is run by an Oxford University alumni), or get on the hop on hop off bus – get your tickets here.
If you want to visit more places in one go, these tours may be good options:
- Harry Potter studio and Oxford day trip from London – a great tour to hit two interesting and fun places.
- Full day Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford tour – you literally see the best of England in a day.
- Oxford, Stratford and Cotswolds day trip from London – a great tour to a few charming smaller towns.
- Oxford and Cotswold Villages day trip – similar to the one above, minus Stratford.
Make sure to check out my post 20 + Great Things To Do In Oxford.
Known for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford is a small but extremely pleasant town. The main point of interest is Shakespeare house museum; but other than that the town is a maze of cobbled alleys and nice corners that are nice to discover and photograph.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: There are no direct trains from London to Stratford Upon Avon. You can leave from Marylebone station and change in Leamington Spa. The overall journey takes more than 2 hours. Once in Stratford, you will want to visit Shakespeare’s House – get tickets here – or join a hop-on hop-off bus tour – get your pass here.
Given that getting to Stratford can be time consuming, you may want to opt for a guided tour that also goes to Oxford or other nearby places. See above for tours that also go to Oxford.
I always assume everyone knows about the Cotswolds, because they are such a popular place for London day trips among Britons. But as I moved out of the UK, I realized that people outside the country have never even heard of this place. The Cotswolds is a series of charming, quaint villages where you will feel time has stopped and an excellent place to visit on day trips from London.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The best way to explore the Cotswolds is by car. Alternatively, you can opt for a guided tour. These are the best options:
- The Cotswolds guided tour from London including lunch – this is the best option if you only want to visit the Cotswolds, but in depth. The tour lasts 11 hours!
- Oxford, Stratford and Cotswolds day trip from London – one of the best options as you get to see many places. It may be a bit more rushed.
- Oxford and Cotswold Villages day trip – two stops for an excellent tour.
- Full day tour of the Cotswolds – a nice option if you are not interested in the other places.
Windsor is one of the easiest and most popular London day trips. The castle, which still belongs to the royal family and is often used for official occasions, is a great sight and fun to explore, and the city is small and quaint and the atmosphere is much more relaxed than that of London.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Direct trains to Windsor depart from Waterloon station. The journey lasts just about one hour. Make sure to get tickets in advance to visit the castle. You can get them here.
Guided day tours of Windsor usually go to other nearby destinations as well. These are the best options:
- Full day Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford tour – this guided tour hits three of the best tourist attractions in the country.
- Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Roman Baths day trip – another excellent guided tour option.
Colchester and Wivenhoe
If you are in search of good day trips from London that take you away from the crowds of tourist, get on the train and head to Colchester, in Essex. Unknown to most foreigners and with a reputation for being a rough town due to the barracks, it actually is a charming small little city where you will find a beautifully kept castle (one of the best castles in Essex) and – right behind it – a park you will enjoy exploring, especially during the spring and summer months.
Colchester won’t take you long to explore. Once you are done, get on bus 61 or 74 and go to Wivenhoe – it’s about a 30 minutes bus ride all the way to Wivenhoe train station. This small former fishing town has a lovely waterfront with an excellent pub (The Rose and Crown) and is just a very pleasant place to chill for a couple of hours, especially when the sun is out.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Trains to Colchester North Station depart from London Liverpool St. station and take around 50 minutes. From North Station you will have to take a bus to the center of town. On the way back, I recommend taking the train from Wivenhoe (make sure to ask for this ticket at the counter not to incur in any fines). It takes little over one hour.
This isn’t the easiest of day trips from London, but if you want to get away from everything to a place that is beautiful, relaxing and not crowded with tourists, Mersey Island really is an excellent option. This small island not far from Colchester is connected to the mainland by a causeway that can flood during high tide, making getting there sometimes a hassle as cars can’t cross the causeway when it is flooded.
Having said so, once you are there it truly is a pleasant place for a walk along the beach and for one of the best seafood and fish meals you can hope to get – there are a couple of excellent places where you can eat and bring your own bottle.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The easiest way to get to Mersey Island would be by car. If you can’t fathom the idea of having to drive on the left side of the street, you will have to take the train to Colchester and from the city center take bus 67. You need to get off at Blue Row.
Stonehenge isn’t just one of the best places to visit on day trips from London, but in general one of the most interesting places to visit in England. A UNESCO World Heritage Site is thought to be a place of pagan worship, but the debate on what it truly was is still ongoing.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: To get to Stonehenge take the train from London Waterloo station and get off at Salisbury. The trip lasts about 90 minutes. Advanced bookings are recommended. Get your Stonehenge admission ticket here.
Given the cost of train travel in the UK, to which you’d have to add the admission ticket to the site, you may want to consider joining a guided tour. There are several ones that go only to Stonehenge and some that take you also to other sites.
These are the best options:
- Stonehenge half day tour – a great guided tour that takes you straight to the site.
- Stonehenge and Bath full day tour – a good option to visit two beautiful places.
- Stonehenge express half day tour from London – another excellent option. You spend 2 hours at the site.
- Stonehenge, Bath and West Country day trip – a highly recommended guided tour.
- Full day Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford tour – a great guided tour to some of the prettiest places to visit in England.
Famous for its well preserved Roman baths, the Georgian city of Bath is a truly lovely place to explore for a day. Just picture cobbled alleys, lots of quaint corners, Roman sites and Georgian architecture, stunning churches, terraces and crescents and you get the picture. After exploring the Roman baths, you should continue wandering around the city and finally hit one of the many good pubs scattered around town.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Trains to Bath leave from Paddington train station. The journey lasts approximately 90 minutes. Once in town, you can opt for a guided walking tour such as this one, or get the hop-on hop-off bus tour (get your tickets here).
Guided tours to Bath departing from London usually include stops to other nearby places. These are the best options:
- Stonehenge and Bath full day tour – a tour to two of the most popular places to visit in England.
- Stonehenge, Bath and West Country day trip – another great guided tour option.
Fans of Downton Abbey like myself will be happy to know that they can now visit Highclere Castle the filming location of this popular TV series on day trips from London. As there are no direct trains departing from London and you’d have to fiddle with a combination of train, taxi etc, you are definitely better off joining a guided tour such as this one.
Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury
Dover is one of the most spectacular places to visit in England and you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to go. As if the sight of the white cliffs were not enough, you can also admire a 800-years-old castle beautifully perched on the cliffs.
Canterbury is one of the most famous university towns in England. The most iconic sight there is the Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site located right in the center of the city, which is a very pleasant place to explore.
Dover is quite a bit of a trip to get to from London, so you may want to join a guided tour. This tour of the White Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury also goes to the nearby Canterbury, for a fantastic day out.
Brighton and the Seven Sisters Cliffs
Brighton is a great place to escape from London if you feel you need to be by the sea. It’s not a small town – there is a university after all. But the presence of the beach makes it a very pleasant place. Once you are done exploring the city center, make your way to the waterfront to visit Brighton Pier and the beautiful Royal Pavilion (make sure to get tickets in advance for that here).
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Trains to Brighton depart from London Victoria station. The journey lasts about one hour.
At about 40 minutes drive from Brighton, one of the best day trips from London is to Seven Sister Cliffs – a great alternative to the cliffs of Dover. There, you can go for a walk in the Seven Sisters Country Park. As this is not an easy place to reach by public transportation. your best bet is to opt for a guided tour that makes several stops – including Brighton and Devil’s Dyke – such as this one.
There always is a big contest going over which city is prettier – Oxford or Cambridge. I never got the point of it as these university town are actually very different and both of them are beautiful. Hardly ever making the list of places to visit on day trips from London, Cambridge actually is an easy train ride and packed with things to do – punting being one of them.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Trains to Cambridge depart from King’s Cross station. The journey takes between 45 minutes and one hour. Once there, I recommend going on a guided walking tour with a local graduate – such as this one – or to join a guided punt such as this one.
Isle of Wight
The one to the Isle of Wight isn’t the easiest of day trips from London, as it takes quite a bit to get there, but it definitely is very rewarding. White cliffs, beautiful white sand beaches lined with colorful beach huts, a scenic medieval lighthouse are among the main attractions there.
The easiest way to get to the Isle of Wight is probably on a guided tour. This one includes all transportation costs and a guide, for a completely hassle free day.
Paris is a massive city with lots and lots to see, and I honestly do not recommend trying to see it during a day trip. Having said that, with the Eurostar the distance between the two cities can be covered in little over 2 hours and you get to spend a good amount of time in the city. You can read my post “The Perfect Itinerary To See Paris In A Day” for an easy to follow itinerary that will tell you what to see and how to organize your day.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Trains to Paris depart from St. Pancras station. You can also opt for this guided tour which includes train tickets, skip the line tickets to the Eiffel Tower, and a cruise on the Seine.
Guided Day Tours From London
Finally, the following are the best guided day tours from London that you can book online:
- Warner Bros studio tour and transfer from London – by far the best tour for Harry Potter fans.
- Harry Potter studio and Oxford day trip from London – another excellent tour that takes you to Harry Potter studios and also Oxford.
- Stonehenge, Bath and West Country day trip – a great tour to visit some of the most beautiful places in England.
- Full day Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford tour – a fabulous tour to a few must sees.
- Oxford, Stratford and Cotswolds day trip from London – lovely cities and charming villages for a perfect day away from town.
- Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Roman Baths day trip – a great tour of some of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
- Oxford and Cotswold Villages day trip – two lovely places at a short distance from London, for a great day away from town.
- White Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury day trip from London – a well crafted tour to one of the most scenic places in the country.
Further readings about London and the UK
Make sure to check out my other posts about London:
- How To Make The Most Of London In A Day
- My Favorite Secret Destinations in London
- Where To Get The Most Impressive Views Of London
- 15 Amazing Day Trips From Paris
- The Best 5 Days London Itinerary
- An Easy To Follow Itinerary For 4 Days London
- A Perfect Itinerary To See London In 3 Days
- How To See London In 2 Days
- 5 Easy Ways Of Getting London Dungeon Tickets
- 7 Easy Ways Of Getting London Eye Tickets
- How To Get Madame Tussauds London Tickets And Skip The Lines
- How To Get Tower Of London Tickets
- Where To Stay In London: The Best Areas And Hotels
- A Local’s Guide To The Things To Do In Newcastle
- 19 Exciting Things To Do In Edinburgh
- 19 Fun Things To Do In Cornwall
- The Best Villages In The Cotswolds