The UK is a small country, packed with history, culture and natural beauty. Explore charming villages, ancient castles, picturesque towns, and beautiful countryside on the best London day trips.

LAST UPDATE: 21 Nov 2023

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London is our hometown and one of the world’s great cities. But it’s also good to get out of it.

The sheer variety of day trips from London is extraordinary.

Within an hour you can see the oldest occupied castle in the world or two of the greatest university towns. Travel a little further and you are in chocolate box villages or strolling among ancient stone monuments.

Enjoy some of the freshest seafood in the UK, or hike along picture-postcard white cliffs. Live the life you should have been born into at Downton Abbey or embrace the magic of Harry Potter.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a bonafide Londoner, our favourite day trips from London have something for everyone.

They are all no further than 2 hours and 15 minutes away and you can use public transport or go on a private tour.


Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It has been the home of British kings and queens for over 1,000 years. Only 30 minutes by train, it’s one of the easiest day trips from London.

The highlight is the castle itself. Standing proud on the banks of the river Thames it is an imposing fortress.

The castle was built in the 11th century after the Norman invasion of England. It combines a traditional motte-and-bailey style with luxurious staterooms.

Inside the grounds, St George’s Chapel is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in England. The chapel has held many royal weddings. It contains the tombs of 11 monarchs.

Windsor Great Park surrounds the castle, and it’s one of our favourite walks near London. Eton College – England’s most famous public school – is nearby.

windsor castle day trip from london


  • The State Apartments inside Windsor Castle.
  • St George’s Chapel, the final resting place of many British monarchs.
  • A stroll in Windsor Great Park.


Windsor is 30 minutes by train from London Paddington Station.


Many day trips from London combine Windsor with trips to Oxford, Stonehenge, and/or Bath. We suggest you don’t try to cram too much in, otherwise, you’ll be on the bus all day.


The University of Oxford is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Founded in the 12th century, 57 British prime ministers, a couple of US presidents, 12 saints, and Kate Beckinsale were all educated here. 

Known as the “city of dreaming spires” it’s a wonderful mix of cobble-stoned laneways and golden architecture.

Many of the buildings are truly remarkable.

Gothic towers and exquisitely decorated interiors have inspired authors from JRR Tolkien to JK Rowling.

Oxford is not all old-school tradition. It has a buzzing atmosphere, excellent pubs and a great cafe scene.

You could spend a few days seeing all the best things to do in Oxford, but a day trip is perfect to see the highlights.

For a detailed 1-day itinerary with tips about what to book ahead, read our Oxford day trip guide.


  • The remarkable architecture around the Radcliffe Camera.
  • The Duke Humfrey’s Medieval Library in the Bodleian.
  • Christ Church College – the inspiration for Harry Potter.


Oxford is 45 minutes by train from London Paddington Station or roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes by car.


Tours to Oxford usually stop at one or two other sights. Choose from Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, Cotswolds villages, or Windsor and Stonehenge.


Cambridge University was established in 1209 when students left Oxford to escape rioting townspeople. It hasn’t looked back since.

Some of Cambridge’s great inventions include IVF, Artificial Intelligence, computer games, and football. Famous alumni include Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, and Ali G.

Exquisite late-Gothic architecture towers over cobbled streets and immaculate greens. Punters glide along the River Cam surrounded by magnificent colleges. Students negotiate wonky lanes on bikes.

It is, quite simply, the most beautiful city in England.

For a detailed 1-day itinerary read our Cambridge day trip guide.


  • Trinity College, the wealthiest of Cambridge’s College.
  • A punt on the River Cam.
  • Evensong in the remarkable Kings College Chapel.


Cambridge is 50 minutes by train from London Kings Cross Station or roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes by car.


You can easily do a day trip from London to Cambridge on the train. But, this day tour is very reasonably priced.


Cambridge and Oxford are both excellent day trips from London. If you have time, it is well worth visiting both.

However, if you only have time for one, Cambridge is overall a prettier city with beautiful colleges backing onto the River Cam 

Oxford, on the other hand, has more unique buildings. The Duke Humfrey’s Library, the Radcliffe Camera, and the dining hall at Christ Church are all remarkable – especially for Harry Potter fans.


Harry Potter fans will not want to miss the Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. 

This self-guided walking tour takes you through the sets, props, and costumes used in the Harry Potter films. You can see the Great Hall, Platform 9 3/4, Professor Sprouts Greenhouse, and other iconic sets.

There are 950 potion jars, nearly 900 memory vials, and life-size animatronic versions of Buckbeak and Hippogriff.

The studio is in Leavesden, on the northern edge of London.

If you’re not taking an organized tour, make sure you book in advance as tickets can sell out, especially in peak season.

dining room harry potter studios


  • Wandering through Diagon Alley.
  • Exploring the Hogwarts Potions Classroom packed with props.
  • The Forbidden Forest looking for Buckbeak and Aragog.


The Harry Potter studio is 20 minutes by train from London Euston to Watford Junction Train Station. From Watford Junction, it’s another 10 to 15 minutes by bus.

The studio runs a shuttle bus from the station that leaves every 30 minutes and costs £3. Alternately, catch the number 9, 10, or 20 bus from Watford Junction station.

Driving from central London takes about 1 hour. Parking is free and directly outside the studio tour.


The easiest way to visit is on this Day Trip to Harry Potter Studios from London Victoria Bus Station.


The Cotswolds is the quintessential English countryside. Picturesque honey-coloured villages with historic stately homes are surrounded by rolling green hills.

Hearty country pubs with a roaring fire are the perfect ends to a great country walk in the Cotswolds.

Train connections from London are decidedly poor and the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds are spread about. The best way to visit is to drive yourself or get a tour.

We have put together ten different ideas for day trips to the Cotswolds. For first-timers, we would recommend visiting Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter, and Stow-on-the-Wold.


  • The Weavers cottages on Arlington Row in Bibury.
  • Strolling along the River Eye in picture-perfect Lower Slaughter.
  • The Car Museum and Model Village in Bourton-on-the-Water.


Driving from London to Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter, and Stow-on-the-Wold and back takes about 4 hours.


Here are some well-rated tours from London that stop at some of the most interesting villages. One includes a stop at Blenheim Palace the former home of Winston Churchill.


Blenheim Palace is one of the greatest stately homes in England.

It’s located in Woodstock on the edge of the Cotswolds; a few miles from Oxford.

Set in 2000 acres of landscape parklands, it was built between 1705 and 1724 as a national gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough. It is the only non-royal, non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace.

Its rich baroque architecture and sumptuous interiors are so impressive it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Blenheim Palace is Winston Churchill’s childhood home and it has been used in Harry Potter and The Crown TV series.

It’s a great day trip for kids with a Giant Hedge Maze, Butterfly House, and the new Sensory Garden.

blenheim palace cotswolds 1


  • The State Rooms and Long Library in Blenheim Palace.
  • The formal gardens including the Water Terraces and Secret Garden.
  • Picnic by the lake in the Capability Brown landscaped gardens.


Blenheim is 45 minutes by train from Paddington Station to Oxford, then 45 minutes on S7 bus. If you want to drive it’s about 1 hour and 30 minutes by car.


This Blenheim Palace day tour also includes Bourton-on-the-Water and Bampton Village from Downton Abbey fame.

blenheim palace cotswolds

7 – BATH

Bath is an elegant city blessed with Georgian architecture, Roman remains, and rustic medieval back streets.

The towering Bath Abbey is one of the main attractions. But Bath is most known for having the best-preserved Roman bathhouses in the world.

Part hipster, part posh, Bath straddles the divide between quirky and glamorous. 

Enjoy a thermal spa, shop for designer goods, and stroll lanes bursting with impressive architecture.

Bath is another of the UK’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it’s one of the best historic day trips from London.

For a detailed 1-day itinerary, including what to book in advance, read our Bath day trip guide.

old bridge with shops on top in front of a curved weir


  • The remarkable remains of the Roman Baths.
  • The Georgian residences on the Royal Crescent.
  • Learning about the life and times of Jane Austen.


Bath is 1 hour 20 minutes by train from Paddington Station, or roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes by car.


Most day tours to Bath include a stop at Stonehenge, while some also stop at Windsor Castle. Here are some we recommend.


Stonehenge is one of the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world and a British cultural icon.

The stone circle consists of an outer ring of sarsen standing stones, each around 13 feet high and 7 feet wide, capped by connecting horizontal lintel stones. 

Inside is a smaller ring of bluestones and inside that are two larger vertical sarsens topped by one lintel.

Standing alone on a barren hill, it is a mesmerising and slightly eerie site.

There are two ways to explore Stonehenge:

  • Purchase general admission, download the audio guide, and walk around the stone circle at your leisure.
  • Join the Stone Circle Experience which allows you to go into the Inner Circle. Only 30 people are permitted per session and it can be booked out months in advance.

It only takes an hour or two to explore Stonehenge so it’s worth visiting other places on your day trip including Windsor, Oxford, or Bath.

If you have your own car, you could visit Old Sarum (an Iron Age fort) and Salisbury, a lovely market town.

stonehenge uk


  • Learning about how Stonehenge was constructed.
  • Walking amongst the Neolithic houses where people lived 4,500 years ago.
  • Standing in the Inner Circle at dawn or dusk.


Stonehenge is 1 hour 30 minutes by train from London Waterloo to Salisbury, then a 12-mile taxi ride. Alternatively, there is an hourly Stonehenge Tour Bus that leaves from Salisbury station.

If you’re driving yourself, it’s around 2 hours by car with plenty of parking on site.


Many tour companies combine tours to Stonehenge with Windsor, Oxford, or Bath. The first tour on our list includes the Inner Circle experience.


Perched on the edge of the River Thames and under the flanks of the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Henley is a pretty market town.

Henley has held the Royal Regatta – the most prestigious rowing event in the world – since 1839. This annual event, along with the riverside location, fills the town with traditional English culture.

Wander the independent shops on the market square. Have a pint in a cosy pub while rowing boats glide down the river. Pick out the Midsomer Murders filming locations.

One of our favourite walks near London is the Henley-Hambleden hike. The trail follows the river along to the beautiful village of Hambleden before returning to Henley. It’s a great thing to do on your Henley day trip from London.


  • Sitting by the River Thames and watching the world go by.
  • The Grade II listed Town Hall where scenes from Midsomer Murders were filmed.
  • A well-earned pint at the Stag & Huntsmen in Hambleden.


Henley-on-Thames is 40 minutes from Paddington Station changing at Twyford. If you are driving, it’s 1 hour by car from central London.


Take a day trip from London to see the two main filming locations for the global TV hit Downton Abbey.

Downton Village was largely filmed in the village of Bampton. Wander the streets which have Downton Hospital, the village pub, the post office, Cora Crawley’s house, and the local church.

The abbey used in the TV show was Highclere Castle, the country seat of the Earls of Carnarvon. Built in 1679 and largely renovated in the 1840s, the castle was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers in World War I. Much like in the show. It also provided a home for dozens of evacuee children during WWII.

See the grand main hall, the library, sitting rooms, and other rooms featured in Downton Abbey.

Highclere offers different tours throughout the year and most require booking in advance.

If you can’t secure tickets directly, a day tour from London is another way to visit. Tours from London can also be very limited, so try to book well in advance.

highclere downton abbey


  • Capturing a photo of Highclere Castle across its landscaped gardens.
  • Learning about life above and below stairs 100 years ago.
  • Pottering around the quaint streets of Bampton.


Visiting Highclere Castle and Bampton is not easy by public transport. If you are driving, it’s around 1 hour 30 minutes by car.


Here are a few well-rated tours to the Downton Abbey locations from London.


Brighton combines the nostalgia of the Victorian seaside town with a youthful vibe.

Its pier is packed with amusement arcades, fairground rides, and food stalls. The pebble beach is backed by Victorian and Georgian facades and a quirky former royal residence built in the 19th century.

However, underlying these signs of yesteryear is a modern city. Narrow lanes and alleyways hide independent shops and cafes. Bohemian neighbourhoods house record stores, vintage emporiums, and art spaces.

Brighton is also a very inclusive place. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, a feminist bookshop, and numerous gay bars and clubs. Brighton Pride (held in August) is one of the biggest in the country.

It’s a fun day trip from London and just 1 hour by train.


  • Enjoying brunch in The Lanes.
  • Marvelling at the rather strange Royal Pavilion.
  • Playing games on Brighton Palace Pier.


Brighton is 1 hour by train from London Victoria Station or London Bridge Station. It’s around 2 hours by car.


The Seven Sisters are a series of chalk sea cliffs that run between the River Cuckmere near Seaford and Beachy Head near Eastbourne. Rising 200 metres, they are the most dramatic and beautiful white chalk cliffs in the UK. 

With a blanket of green grass on top, the glow of the sea below, and the luminance of the cliffs blazing in front, the Seven Sisters are spellbinding.

It’s one of the most scenic day trips from London.

The best way to see it all is to walk along them. The entire walk is around 18 kilometres, but there are plenty of great photo opportunities in the section around Cuckmere Haven.

All the details about the walk are in our Seven Sisters guide.

best walks near london


  • The famous red and white Beachy Head lighthouse.
  • Photographing the white cliffs over the cottages at Cuckmere Haven.
  • Descending to Birling Gap to see the cliffs from below.


The train from London Victoria to Seaford Station takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes. If you are driving, it takes around 2.5 hours. More details on getting there are in our Seven Sisters Cliffs guide.


This full-day Seven Sisters tour by train and minibus includes Long Man of Wilmington, Beachy Head and Seven Sisters Cliffs. It’s a great way to see the highlights without worrying about the logistics.


Arundel has everything you need for a great day trip – a mighty castle, a charming market town, a pub by the river, and landscaped gardens perfect for gentle strolls.

England’s second largest castle, Arundel is a medieval fortress almost 1,000 years old. Tickets can be purchased to explore the castle and/or gardens.

Come in April and the castle grounds are bursting with colourful tulips. 

The High Street is one of our favourites in the country with independent shops and cafes. There’s a great farmer’s market on the third Saturday of each month.

Head down to the river for a short stroll to a lovely pub, right on the banks.

A great way to see it all is to combine the visit to the castle with a half-day hike through its landscaped gardens and then along the river Arun. You can find all the details on our best walks near London guide.


  • The Farmers Market and coffee from Tarrant Street Espresso.
  • Photographing the castle while walking along the Arun River.
  • A pint at the Black Rabbit overlooking the river.


Arundel is 1 hour 25 minutes by train from London Victoria Station, or 2 hours by car.


Canterbury has been attracting visitors for centuries. St Augustine put it on the map in the 6th century when he made it the first base for Christianity in England.

Six centuries later, Thomas Becket’s murder on the orders of King Henry II made it the most important pilgrimage sight in England.

Today three UNESCO World Heritage Sites and charming medieval centre make it a wonderful day trip from London.

Half-timbered medieval buildings, atmospheric pubs, and pretty gardens make it a beautiful city.

Don’t miss the King’s Mile artistic area which is packed with little galleries and independent stores. 

For a detailed 1-day itinerary read our Canterbury day trip guide.


  • The magnificent Canterbury Cathedral.
  • The medieval Old Weaver’s House and Crooked House.
  • A guided punt trip through the old town.


Canterbury is 50 minutes by train from St Pancras Station.


Tours to Canterbury often include the mighty fortress of Dover Castle and sometimes the much more romantic Leeds Castle.


Dover is not the prettiest town in England, but it has two excellent sights that make it worth visiting on a day trip.

The first is Dover Castle, England’s largest castle.

Founded in the 11th century, it has been described as the “Key to England” due to its defensive significance. Towering high on a rocky hill above the narrowest part of the English Channel, it’s still a mighty fortress.

A maze of secret tunnels used during the Second World War are fascinating to explore.

The second sight is the White Cliffs.

A good coastal path runs from the castle along the tops of the cliffs. It ends at the National Trust Foreland Lighthouse (1 hour and 30 minutes’ walk from Dover Castle). Go as far as you want and then head back.


  • Climbing the stairs of the Great Tower for views over the castle.
  • The immersive exhibition of the Secret Wartime Tunnels.
  • The Underground Hospital deep in the bowels of the castle.


Dover is 1 hour 10 minutes by train from London St Pancras Station or 2 hours 15 minutes by car.


Most tours from London include a stop in Canterbury. Some also stop off at the romantic Leeds Castle.

16 – RYE

In medieval times, Rye supplied ships to the Crown in exchange for certain privileges. Those privileges made Rye wealthy and walls, gates, and towers were built to defend the town.

As time went by Rye’s harbour steadily silted up and lacked strategic importance. What remains is one of the finest and unspoilt medieval towns in England.

Perched on top of a hill, its tiny, cobbled alleyways, enchanting inns, and half-timbered houses are well preserved. The remnants of its fortifications include grand gates and defensive towers. 

Rye is a charming day trip from London. The centre is so compact that it is easy to stroll around and it’s only five minutes from Rye train station.

Read our guide to the best things to do in Rye with tips for what to book ahead and what else to see in the area.


  • The cobbled alleyway of Mermaid Street.
  • Climbing St Mary’s Church Tower for views over the town.
  • The excellent independent stores on the high street.


Rye is 1 hour 10 minutes by train from St Pancras Station changing at Ashford International, or 2 hours 30 minutes by car.


In the Middle Ages, Whitstable served as a port for pilgrims making their way to Canterbury. Today, it’s the best day trip from London for seafood lovers.

Relaxed, rustic shacks sell fresh oysters and lobster straight from the water. Michelin-starred restaurants serve Whitstable’s prized seafood in refined settings.

Excellent local ales and old-school pubs on pebbly sands complement the overall experience.

The high street has independent shops, art galleries, and great cafes.

Take a boat tour out to see seals or explore the strange remnants of the Maunsell Forts.

For more details, read our guide to the best things to do in Whitstable with tips for what to book ahead.


  • Devouring fresh oysters from The Forge on the harbour wall.
  • The hand-crafted goods at Whitstable’s Market Harbour.
  • A pint at the Old Neptune on the shingle beach.


Whitstable is 1 hour 10 minutes by train from London St Pancras Station, or around 2 hours by car.


Twenty years ago, Margate was another English seaside town struggling to compete with cheap flights and foreign sun. However, over the last decade, it has been undergoing a regeneration.

The small Old Town is now home to cute boutiques, quirky stores, and some good brunch spots.

In 2011 the Turner Contemporary art gallery opened on the seafront. Exhibitions rotate every 3 or 4 months, each one having a connection to JMW Turner.

The beach has always been an excellent swathe of golden sand and that hasn’t changed.

The coastal path linking Margate with Broadstairs is one of our favourite walks near London.

It might not compete with Windsor, Oxford, or Cambridge, in terms of historical clout. But, there’s an understated charm to Margate that has a lot of appeal.


  • Visiting the Turner Contemporary Art Gallery.
  • Brunch and shopping in Margate old town.
  • Walking the coastal path past Botany Bay to Broadstairs.


Margate is 1 hour and 25 minutes by train from London St Pancras Station, or 2 hours and 20 minutes by car.

19 – YORK

York has many strings to its bow. Originally a Roman settlement it transformed into a walled medieval city and then a lively cultural hub. Today it’s a wonderful mix of old and new.

Ancient and medieval buildings stand next to smart restaurants and buzzing bars.

It has one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe and the 2nd largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe.

There’s a host of museums too. Experience York’s Viking invasion at the Jorvik Centre and the gruesome York Dungeon

Over 200 miles from London, it could easily be too far for a day trip, but the fast East Coast train line takes only 2 hours.

It’s a long day, but a great day.


  • Ambling along The Shambles pottering into Harry Potter-themed stores.
  • The majestic interior of York Minster.
  • Following the City Wall Walk for great views of the medieval walled city.


York is 2 hours by train from London Kings Cross Station or a tiring 4 hours by car.

20 – PARIS

Paris deserves more than a day, but at 2 hours and 15 minutes on the Eurostar, it’s a feasible day trip from London.

There are so many things to do in Paris it’s difficult to work out what to fit in.

You could pick out one of the days from our 3-day Paris itinerary. Any of them could work well as a 1-day itinerary as each day focuses on a particular area.

A good overview of all that is great in Paris is day 1 which includes the Jardin du Palais Royal, the Louvre and the beautiful Sainte Chappelle. After a lovely stroll along the Seine, you’ll visit the Shakespeare Book Company, Notre Dame and finish up in the Le Marais.

This is a great way to see the best of Paris. However, you may want to skip the Louvre if you are a big fan of art as you could easily spend the whole day there. Save it for your next trip.

Whatever you choose I guarantee you’ll be sleeping on the train on the way home.


  • Admiring the breathtaking stained-glass windows at Sainte-Chappelle.
  • Exploring the Louvre, probably the finest museum in the world
  • Discovering the Île de la Cité, home to Notre-Dame Cathedral


Paris is 2 hours 15 minutes from London St. Pancras Station


This Paris day tour visits the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral. The package includes a 1-hour boat ride on the Seine River.

You will also get a pre-booked table at the Madame Brasserie restaurant on the Eiffel Tower’s first floor.

Train tickets from London St Pancras and coach transportation in Paris are provided.


All our day trips are within 2 hours 15 minutes of central London. However, many of them are much closer. This map includes them all.  

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


brighton day trip from london



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