Day Trips from London Hero
Beyond London

17 Lovely Day Trips from London

It might seem curious: a blog all about London travel recommending places to explore beyond London. However, one of my favorite parts of visiting London is how easy it is to get out of the city and see other parts of England, Great Britain, and even Europe. With just one day, there are some pretty incredible day trips from London available for the intrepid traveler who’s willing to figure out the logistics and maybe sacrifice a little sleep.

On my many trips to London (and while living there), I’ve done a number of these London day trips myself; others are still on my travel bucket list. Where I have been, I provide both personal recommendations and tips – and links to an entire other post that can help cover every detail you need to know to plan a day trip from London to that destination.

If you have the time in your London itinerary and know you want to explore even more, look no further. By the end of this post, you’ll know almost twenty new destinations you can easily visit on a day trip from London.

1. Greenwich

  • Travel Time: 30 minutes
  • How to Get There: London Tube & Docklands Light Railway

One of my favorite day trips from London – and the closest one – is technically within London… but Greenwich feels like its own little world and can easily be treated as a day trip outside of London.

From Central London, take the DLR to Greenwich; if you can, snag a seat at the very front of the automated, elevated train and pretend you’re driving! Once you arrive in Greenwich, you can spend the day exploring along the high street, visiting the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, standing on the Prime Meridian, lounging in Greenwich Park, and visiting the Cutty Sark ship museum.

Oh, and don’t miss out on strolling through the stalls of the Greenwich Market and enjoying a pub lunch before a pint at Meantime Brewing Company (named for “Greenwich Meantime,” or GMT, the primary time zone of London).

If you need even more ideas, I have an entire guide for what to do on a day trip to Greenwich.

2. Leavesden

  • Travel Time: 53 minutes
  • How to Get There: National Rail & Bus

Perhaps you – like me – are drawn to visit London because of its connection to our favorite boy wizard (Harry Potter, duh!). This is (part of) what inspired my first trip to London back in 2011!

If that’s the case, you simply must plan a day trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden. Located about an hour from London, it’s a little complex to visit Leavesden (you need to take a train and a bus), but I’m confident you can handle it.

Once there, you can easily spend a whole day at the studios; you’ll start by learning about the films, then explore the Great Hall and a number of other film sets. You’ll see literally thousands of props, costumes, drawings, and more that have been saved from the films. Halfway through, enjoy lunch at the restaurant – and my absolute favorite Butterbeer in the world (yes, I’ve tried them all!).

Then there are outdoor sets too, like the Knight Bus and Number 4 Privet Drive. End in the stunning Model Room, where you’ll be able to walk 360-degrees around a scale model of Hogwarts castle. Trust me when I say it’s a truly magical day!

3. Windsor

  • Travel Time: 53 minutes
  • How to Get There: National Rail

On my first trip to London, for some reason I decided to take a half-day trip to Windsor; I think it was my fascination with the monarchy that inspired my visit. For those Anglophiles who also find the whole Queen-Prince-Princess concept (or headlines) fascinating, Windsor is a great day trip destination to add onto visits to Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace.

You’ll take the train from London Paddington to Windsor station, and can then explore the town of Windsor on foot before visiting Windsor Castle. This is the queen’s official residence – and where we all saw the Duke and Duchess of Sussex married in 2018. If you don’t have enough time in your London itinerary for a full day trip, Windsor also works great as a half-day, as I did on my visit.

4. Cambridge

  • Travel Time: 54 minutes
  • How to Get There: National Rail

Want to smarten up your London Itinerary? Cambridge is a must – or maybe Oxford (#6), depending on your loyalties.

Cambridge is a roughly one-hour train ride from London but has a completely different vibe than the big city. Here you can stroll among (and even enter some of) the famous Cambridge University buildings, plus try your hand punting on the river Cam (pushing a shallow boat up and down the river with a large pole). There are also world-class museums and plenty of pubs to enjoy – including Eagle, often visited by Royal Air Force members during the Wars.

I have an entire guide for a day trip to Cambridge if this sounds like the place you want to visit.

5. Brighton

  • Travel Time: 58 minutes
  • How to Get There: National Rail

Brighton is hands down my most favorite day trip from London, even surpassing my love for astronomically awesome Greenwich. A short hour’s train from London Blackfriars will put you at the English seaside in the coastal town of Brighton.

In past centuries, Brighton was the city break for royals who needed fresh sea air to aid their health; today it’s a bustling university town with its own local flavor. You can visit the Royal Pavillion, a unique example of mixed architecture, or stroll along the Brighton Pier. A walk on the beach is always nice, as is ascending the British Airways i360 which gives you sweeping views of teh coastline and community below.

It’s become a bit of a tradition: I visit Brighton during almost every trip I take to England. If that sounds like a tradition you want to start, check out my guide for a day trip to Brighton.

6. Oxford

  • Travel Time: 1 hour, 4 minutes
  • How to Get There: National Rail

As a converse London day trip experience to Cambridge, Oxford is another great option. It’s a little bit further by train to Oxford (about 10 minutes longer, so basically negligible), so don’t let the time differences deter you if you definitely want to visit Oxford instead of Cambridge.

Oxford too has great university buildings you can visit, including the Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera. You can also visit Harry Potter filming locations in Oxford (links to my Harry Potter blog!) and The Eagle and Child. This pub is famous as the likes of JRR Tolkein and CS Lewis used to frequent it and you’ll find quotes from both painted in different parts of the establishment.

I also have a guide for day tripping to Oxford if you need even more ideas for how to spend your time there.

7. Bath

  • Travel Time: 1 hour, 18 minutes
  • How to Get There: National Rail or Bus Tour

It took me a few trips to London – and moving there – before I finally took a trip to Bath. However, some people will want to prioritize it, especially Jane Austen fans or those interested in the distant Roman history of London and England.

Bath is one of the locations mentioned Austen’s novels (admittedly not in a favorable light), and is home to the Jane Austen Museum. It’s also where you can find the famous Roman Baths, which were considered holistic centuries ago when Romans ruled the land. (If you’re curious about Roman history but don’t want to visit Bath, consider doing the London Wall Walk in the city instead.)

There are also numerous pubs and tea houses, be sure to try a Bath bun while visiting, as these pastries are unique to the city.

For more ideas and sights to see, read my guide for taking a day trip to Bath.

8. Stonehenge

  • Travel Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • How to Get There: Car or Bus Tour

Like Windsor, I prioritized visiting Stonehenge during my very first trip to London a decade ago. It’s not just me though – people are drawn to this neolithic site whose origins are still unexplained. The stones here are iconic, and you can book a tour to learn about the history and hypotheses scientists and others have about the area.

The reason I say this is a day trip is that it does take about two hours to reach Stonehenge (and two to return). You could also book a day trip tour to Stonehenge, Bath, and other parts of the country.

9. The Cotswolds

Day Trips from London - The Cotswolds
  • Travel Time: 2 hours
  • How to Get There: Car or Bus Tour

Of all the day trips from London I recommend, this is one I’ve never been to! I have heard that The Cotswolds are a fantastic day trip – or a weekend if you want to see more of the countryside.

If you can imagine The Shire from The Lord of the Rings, you’ll have a good image in your mind’s eye of the Cotswolds: picturesque towns nestled among the verdant countryside. You can book a tour of the Cotswolds or take a train to Bristol and rent a car from there to explore the towns at your leisure. 

10. Brussels

  • Travel Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
  • How to Get There: Eurostar

Wait – isn’t Brussels on the European Continent?, you ask. Indeed, you’re right – Brussels is literally an ocean(ish) away from London (okay, it’s a channel – the English Channel). However, thanks to the high-speed Eurostar train, you can reach Brussels in just over two hours; this makes it as viable a day trip from London as Stonehenge, the Cotswolds, or other destinations on my list.

During a London day trip to Brussels, I recommend sticking to the city center; stroll around the Grand Place and quintessentially European streets around the area. You could visit the Royal Palace of Brussels or rent bikes and ride up toward the Domaine Royal de Laeken where you can picnic in the park and visit the Château du Stuyvenberg.

Be sure to spend part of the afternoon sampling Belgian beer, such as at Bierbrasserie Cambrinus which has some of the city’s most famous beers on tap. Brussels is also known for chocolate and waffles (or chocolate-topped waffles if you want to combine the two) if you need a snack before catching the train back to London.

11. Paris

  • Travel Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • How to Get There: Eurostar

Similar to Brussels, you can reach Paris, France in an astonishingly short amount of time thanks to the Eurostar. In just 2 hours and 15 minutes, you’ll go from oy! to bonjour!

Paris has way too much to see in a single day, but if you can spend a long day in the city, you can visit the Eiffel Tower, stroll up the Siene (or take the Paris Metro, which is the best public transit in the world – yes, even better than the London Underground) to see the progress being made to rebuild Notre Dame, and head up toward the Louvre for a short visit to the galleries.

Don’t pack too much into your Paris day trip – the city is known for its practical approach to relaxation; it’s just as delightful to spend a day drinking wine at a cafe the Left Bank as it is to see the tourist sights.

12. Nottingham

  • Travel Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • How to Get There: National Rail

Early during my time living in London, friends and I made a trip to Nottingham. While this is definitely an off-beat suggestion, it can be fun for those who love pop culture.

Specifically, Nottingham is home to two famous pop culture settings: the forest of Nottingham, where legend has it that Robin Hood hid out with his band of merry men while liberating the tax collectors from their fees and distributing them to those in need, and Wollaton Hall – which might look very familiar as it’s where the Dark Knight (Batman) called home.

It’s a long but pleasant train ride to reach Nottingham if you’re up for the adventure and want to escape the typical crowds at other London day trip destinations I’ve already mentioned.

13. Dorset & the Jurassic Coast

Day Trips from London - Jurassic Coast
  • Travel Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
  • How to Get There: Car

Another off-beat option is Dorset and the Jurassic Coast; most people never think to plan a day trip here due to the fact it takes nearly three hours to reach and you’ll need a car to do so.

That said, if you do make the journey you’ll be rewarded: this part of England’s coat has lovely beaches and incredible cliff formations that you might recognize from shows such as Broadchurch (the BBC version) and the film Dunkirk. You can stroll long the beach, snap a few pics, buy some insanely fresh fish and chips, and breathe the sea air before turning your wheels back toward the big city.

14. Cardiff

  • Travel Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
  • How to Get There: National Rail

As we push toward the three-hour travel time, I’ll admit: you need a full day to be able to do the remainder of these day trips from London. That said, the Welsh capital of Cardiff is a great choice if you want to visit a different part of Great Britain during your London trip. I’ve done a trip to Cardiff as a day trip and it’s a really nice train ride each way. (You can catch a super early and late train to help rest after a busy day.)

Once in Cardiff, be sure to walk around town – Cardiff has a lovely core are that’s both historic (“Castle Quarter”) and modern (“City Centre”), and home to some iconic buildings plus a nice waterfront that’s a short walk away. You can also visit Cardiff Castle, which is home to Roman ruins, Norman relics, and “modern” Gothic architecture. Nearby Bute Park is also nice for a picnic or stroll – you might see anything ranging from neolithic stone circles to an ongoing cricket match.

15. Bruges

  • Travel Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
  • How to Get There: Eurostar and Regional Train

Love the idea of visiting Belgium but not up for a day trip to Brussels as I already mentioned? Another hour’s train ride each way will deposit you in Brugge, the picturesque small community that draws travelers for its quant waterways and charming residential areas.

Brugge is a big tourist destination, so you won’t escape the crowds on a day trip here, but it will give you a great variety of experiences beyond what you’ve been seeing in London.

My primary advice is to pay very close attention to the train timetables for the Eurostar and regional trains in Belgium; you’ll need to time it carefully to make this work as a day trip without missing any connections.

16. Amsterdam

  • Travel Time: 4 hours
  • How to Get There: Eurostar

Another continental destination, Amsterdam is only four hours away from London by Eurostar. This is the absolute furthest I think you could travel in a day trip from London; I recommend booking the earliest possible train there and back – and you may only have a few hours to explore this iconic Dutch city.

Once in Amsterdam, rent a bike and speed up your sightseeing: be sure to ride by the Rijksmuseum and visit the Anne Frank House or Van Gogh Museum if time permits. The iconic and admittedly commercialized red light district might also be of interest, but be aware that transporting some, er, souvenirs (🍃) from the Netherlands to England is illegal!

17. Edinburgh

  • Travel Time: 75 minutes + Airport Time
  • How to Get There: Plane

Last but certainly not least, it is possible – but again a long day – to visit Edinburgh as a day trip from London! I simply loved my visit to Edinburgh back in 2012 and have been keen to get back and spend a lot more time there. You’ll want to catch a very early flight from London to the Scottish capital so you have as much time as possible.

Be sure to visit Edinburgh Castle which sits on a hill overlooking the city; stroll down the Royal Mile and Grassmarket for more tourist hot spots and a bit of local flavor. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could try to climb Arthur’s Seat, a neighboring hill that gives sweeping views of the city and countryside.

To maximize your day in Edinburgh, you could fly up in the morning, then book the overnight Caledonian Sleeper Train back to London.

And there you have it – 17 of my favorite day trips from London. These are so varied in terms of what you can experience and where you can go, the only question is: how will you choose? Let me know any questions about these London day trips in the comments!

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