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15 Must-See Day Trips from London in 2024 (With Images)

15 Must-See Day Trips from London in 2024 (With Images)

What's the best day trip from London?

London, with its blend of history, culture, and modern vibes, is just the start. Step out to Windsor Castle for a touch of royalty, the Seven Sisters Cliffs for breathtaking views, and Canterbury for a stroll through medieval streets. These day trips are your ticket to seeing more of what England has to offer. Check out our guide for all you need to know to plan these memorable escapes from the city.

London is one of our favorite European cities to visit because of its history, architecture, and foodie hotspots. But if you’re spending your entire trip within the city, you’ll miss out on some of the best day trips from London — most located within an hour or two from The Big Smoke! 

London’s proximity to incredible destinations makes it even more enchanting to visit. Spend a few days exploring the ins and outs of this fine, English city, then take to a train, rental car, or bus to check out the most iconic and visit-worthy day trips nearby to round out your trip.

But how can you determine which day trips from London are genuinely worth taking? With so much to do and see in London, you’ll want to make sure any side destination that takes you out of the metro area is going to be well worth it.

We created this guide to show you the absolute best day trips from London, including information on how to visit, what to see and do in each locale, and which tours you can book to get the best look at the architecture, history, culture, and natural beauty of these areas not far from the city. 

Getting out of the city and into the countryside, small towns nearby, lush parks and natural areas, islands, and seaside villages will deepen your appreciation for London and the United Kingdom as a whole. Let’s take a look at the best day trips from London and how you can experience the wonder and magic of each one! 

The 15 Best Day Trips From London in 2024

Adding a few day trips to your London trip will provide you an up-close look at the millennia of history, culture, and diversity this part of England encompasses. London gives you one part of the picture, but visiting some of the most stunning places around the city will help you zoom out and see the big picture of England’s past and present. 

Castles, parks on craggy seaside cliffs, charming towns and villages, and esteemed universities nearby demand your attention when you’re in London and up for a quick adventure beyond the city. Here are our favorite day trips to take from London! 

Don’t have time to read the entire guide? These are the best day trips from London if you’re interested in hitting the highlights:

  1. Windsor Castle (1 hour from London) for castle tours and beautiful grounds
  2. Seven Sisters Cliffs (1 hour 40 minutes from London) for seaside chalk cliffs and hiking
  3. Canterbury (1.5 hours from London) for half-timbered houses and canals
  4. Bath (2.5 hours from London) for Roman baths and museums

1. Windsor Castle

Carefully manicured lawn of Windsor, one of the best day trips from London, as seen from the end of the lawn looking toward the castle


  • 1 hour 20 minutes by car
  • 1 hour by train
  • Guided tours available

The medieval Windsor Castle is nestled in the beautiful, historic town of Windsor in Berkshire, England — just an hour west of London proper and absolutely worthy of a day trip from the city. Its manicured grounds, stone walls, and stately turrets are fascinating to see. 

Windsor Castle is one of the British royal residences, and each royal family that has resided in its fortified walls added their own flair and updates to the castle. You’ll see multiple periods reflected within the 11th-century Windsor Castle (including burial sites of famous rulers like Henry VIII), driving home the long-spanning history of this place. 

History is still being made here at the castle today. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were wed here at St. George’s Chapel in 2018. Kings, queens, princes, and princesses still use the grounds for royal ceremonies. Come watch the Changing of the Guard on Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays (April to July) at 11AM. 

Admission to the castle grants you a look at the beautiful grounds and the luxurious appointments in its State Apartments, but you’ll move through the castle in a large group without fully understanding the historic significance of what you’re seeing. 

Spring for the Royal Guided Tour (about 5.5 hours) to immerse yourself in the castle’s rich history and get access to more of the palatial royal home and grounds with a knowledgeable guide to lead you.

This tour includes the town of Windsor, castle exploration, a closer look at the paintings and historic furniture, the State Apartments, St. George’s Chapel, and an audio headset to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

How to Visit

  • Book your tickets in advance. This is a popular day trip from London and slots fill up quickly! Some dates may be unavailable due to royal engagements. Book your Windsor Castle Admission Ticket or Guided Royal Tour in advance to ensure you don’t miss out. 
  • Arrange transportation. The direct train from Waterloo Station is the easiest, fastest way to get to Windsor Castle. After arriving at Windsor & Eton Riverside Station, you can walk right over to the castle. If you’re renting a car, the trip takes around an hour and 20 minutes. 
  • Consider a bundle tour. Want to see more of the best nearby destinations from London in a single day? Opt for bundle tours like Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor Castle to pack more into your day (includes stops for refreshments). 

2. Seven Sisters Cliffs

White chalk cliffs of Seven Sisters Country Park, one of the best day trips from London, as seen with green grass and a lighthouse far below


  • 2 hours 50 minutes by car
  • 1 hour 40 minutes by train
  • Guided and adventure tours available

Seven Sisters Country Park is famous for the Seven Sisters Cliffs in South Downs of East Sussex. The blindingly white chalk cliffs constrast beautifully with the blue sea on the Sussex Heritage Coast as rolling green hills and dales create the perfect backdrop.

You’ll feel dwarfed by the natural world here and find it hard to believe that you’re under 2 hours from London and its bustling streets. Here in the South Downs, life is a little slower and sweeter.

Candy cane lighthouses dot the coast, the stunning white cliffs transport you to another world, and wildlife surrounds you in this natural oasis. Enjoy biking, walking, kayaking, or audio trails through Seven Sisters park to experience the wonder of this beautiful place. 

Birding is especially great here, with migratory species making their way to the cliffs, from heron and plovers to songbirds and jackdaws nesting among the nooks and crannies of the cliffs. 

You’ll find the best views of the cliffs from nearby Seaford Head, where the white coastline weaves in and out, crumbling in areas as erosion slowly chinks away at the natural chalk. 

Some of the most iconic sights here at Seven Sisters and South Downs are Beachy Head, the highest chalk cliff in the park at 535 feet, the Long Man of Wilmington, a human chalk figure at 235 feet tall, and Devil’s Dyke, the UK’s largest dry valley where you can see 30 miles across the Weald lowlands. 

In nearby Brighton, the perfect town to explore on your day trip to the cliffs, you can sample local cheeses and wines, tour Sussex wineries, and explore charming little shops. Brighton, Seaford, and Eastbourne are all well-connected to Seven Sisters by bus, which will bring you right to the park’s entrance. 

How to Visit

  • Arrange transportation or pickup. Booking a tour is preferable since transportation pickup is included (like from Westminster, London or London Bridge Train Station). If you’re visiting on your own, take the train from 
  • Get adventurous. Take an E-bike tour of Seven Sisters Country Park or opt for a jet ski coastline tour to get a new perspective on the beautiful chalk cliffs in the park.
  • Bundle multiple sites in one day trip. You can visit Sussex Villages and Seven Sisters Cliffs in one packaged tour with transportation or take a guided day trip from London to Brighton and Seven Sisters to fit more fun into your day trip.

3. Canterbury

Medieval town of Canterbury in Kent, one of the best day trips from London

Boris Sroujko/Shutterstock

  • 2 hours 20 minutes by car
  • 2 hours by train
  • Guided tours available

Historic Canterbury exudes a rustic, Old English charm and bills itself as “medieval, yet modern.” With canals networking through the town, cozy little pubs that have operated for centuries, and remarkable half-timbered homes that evoke another period in time, Canterbury is one of the most popular day trips from London.

Explore cobblestone streets lined with historic architecture and magnificent structures thousands of years old, like the famous Canterbury Cathedral, built in 597 AD and standing as one of the oldest churches in England. It’s the site of Archbishop Thomas Becket’s murder in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. 

Canterbury Cathedral is just one of 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the town, along with St. Martin’s Church and St. Augustine’s Abbey — all of these are must-see places on your trip. Museums, like the Canterbury Roman Museum and Heritage Museum, can deepen your appreciation of the history here. 

Imagine having lunch and a pint in the dim light of the Parrot Inn, one of England’s oldest pubs dating back to the 15th century! But don’t think it’s all history and views of the past in Canterbury. Modern shops and retailers, restaurants, breweries, and cafes are scattered around the cobblestone streets for a delightful contrast of new and old. 

The Canterbury Canal and River Stour are idyllic waterways to paddle a kayak or simply admire the scenic views of water winding directly through the heart of the town. Pathways along the river provide the perfect opportunity for a daytime stroll as you pass historic buildings, eateries, and bustling shops.

The Official Canterbury Guided Walking Tour makes a visit to Canterbury absolutely perfect — you won’t miss a thing, learning about the extensive history behind the charming canal-side homes, cathedrals, and cobbled streets. 

How to Visit

  • Figure out your travel method. There’s a direct train from London to Canterbury, making it a cinch to get here for a day trip. But if you’re taking a tour, you’ll be able to arrange pickup directly from London and sit back to enjoy your day trip without worrying about logistics. 
  • See the most historic sites. Entry to the Canterbury Cathedral includes an audio guided tour, but if you really want to dive into the past, opt for a Guided Canterbury Highlights Walking Tour to see the cathedral, St. Martin’s church, and St. Augustine’s Abbey with details on the history. 
  • Broaden your trip with nearby sites. Why limit yourself to one place for your day trip? Bundle multiple noteworthy sites near London, like Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, and the White Cliffs of Dover, with a day tour. 

4. Bath

Unique aerial view of Bath, a top day trip from London, seen with its stone bridge and step-down falls in the middle of the river

Valdis Skudre/Shutterstock

  • 3 hours by car
  • 1 hour 20 minutes by train
  • Guided tours available

Just under an hour and a half from London by train, the historic city of Bath is one of our favorite day trips from the city because it’s packed with millennia of history, stunning architecture, and ancient Roman baths that can be visited and toured to transport you to another period in time. 

The grand Georgian architecture of the city is noteworthy on its own, but the real draw to visit are the Roman baths that have been supplying the city with geothermally-heated spring water for more than 2,000 years. 

Structures were built over the springs to form the luxurious baths that the Romans bathed in, enjoying amazingly warm water directly spouted from the earth. While you can’t go in for a dip, you can go inside the baths to view their incredible layout and cozy, cavern-like rooms. 

The Gothic Bath Abbey is at the heart of the city, an imposing structure with a famed exterior stone carving, the Ladder of Angels, on the western facade flanking a large window. Come in to light a candle or take in the enormity and intricate design of this sacred place.

There are also modern spas and baths that have opened in the city to supply your need to enjoy a steamy, warm dip, like the Thermae Bath Spa (this is England’s only natural hot spring open for public use). The River Avon winds through the city and is perfect for a sightseeing boat cruise with Prosecco

Other marvels in Bath include the ornate, domed Pulteney Bridge, the 18th-century Circus, a circular layout of townhomes on a historic street, and the nearby massive Royal Crescent, a half-circle of terraced homes overlooking the green Royal Victoria Park in front with stately Ionic columns.

How to Visit

  • Book your transportation or tour. Getting to Bath takes just an hour and 20 minutes by train from London’s Paddington Station, but booking a tour from London to Bath means you’ll be picked up in London from spots like the Victoria Coach Station for convenience. 
  • Enjoy a guide as you wander the city. Take a Guided Walking Tour of Bath to learn little-known facts about the extensive history of the city, see off-the-beaten-path sights, and understand the broader picture of what made this town so special.
  • Opt for a multi-site guided tour. Make the most of your day trip with a multi-site tour, like one from London to Stonehenge and Bath or go from Bath to Stonehenge and the Cotswalds for a full day of travel and sightseeing. 

5. Mersea Island

Two little row boats sit on the sand on Mersea Island, one of the best day trips from London

WEST MERSEA, ESSEX, UK – AUGUST 31, 2018: The Beach along the River Blackwater with old dinghies and people in the background/Chris Lawrence Travel/Sutterstock

  • 2 hours by car
  • 1 hour 15 minutes by train
  • Guided and adventure tours available

Not far from London, the secluded Mersea Island in Essex is an amazing day trip destination if you’re seeking salty air, delicious seafood, and water recreation that feels far removed from the busy world of London. 

It’s the perfect “reset” destination on your London trip, allowing you to hit pause and slow down to enjoy the wildlife, waves crashing, and gorgeous sea views on Mersea Island. Two of the most popular places to visit on a day trip here are vineyards, Cudmore Grove Country Park, and West Mersea’s beaches, eateries, and shops. 

Cudmore Grove Country Park sits on the east end of the island with a prime, sandy beach to lounge on, grassy meadows filled with wildflowers and butterflies, and amazing views of the natural side of the island. 

Just 2 miles away, check out the Mersea Island Vineyard to sample wines from 4 local grape varieties, fantastic food at the onsite cafe, and rows of plump grapes growing ripe for the harvest. You can take a 10-acre vineyard tour on your day trip! 

In West Mersea, visit the beach to see rows of pastel-colored beachfront huts that give the shoreline a playful and carefree look when you wander this side of the island.

Famous seafood restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops are concentrated on this side of the island. Try your hand at crabbing, take a boat cruise, or stroll high street to sample the flavors and local goods! The Foot Ferry can bring you from one side of the island to the other, as well as other seaside towns of Brightlingsea and St. Osyth. 

Getting to Mersea Island presents slightly more of a challenge than some of the other best day trips from London. But it’s not a problem with easy road and train connections leading you to the Strood Causeway to get onto the island.

If you’ll be taking your day trip in late August, you can check out the West Mersea Town Regatta — the biggest annual event here, filled with activities like the “greasy pole” climb, vendor booths, street food, live music, Stock’s Fair, fireworks, and the sailing regatta! 

How to Visit

  • Decide if you’ll take the train or a car. Take the train to Colchester from London’s Liverpool Street Station, then take a taxi across the Stroop Causeway. Or take a rental car from Junction 26 on the A12, follow to A1124 and B1025, then cross the causeway to arrive at Mersea Island. 
  • Book any tours in advance. The island’s vineyard offers tours, but the slots can fill up quickly and require reservations to be made in advance. Crabbing, boat cruises, and water sports will also require you to think ahead and book tickets before your trip.
  • Mind the weather and tides. June through September offers the best weather on Mersea Island for beach visits and outdoor activities. Tides can affect your ability to cross the Stroop Causeway, so make sure to check the tides before your trip to ensure you’ll be able to get to Mersea Island! 

6. The Cotswolds

Traditional stone homes in the Cotswolds, one of the best day trips from London, a seen from the winding road


  • 2 hours by car
  • 1 hour 20 minutes by train
  • Guided walking tours available

The villages of the Cotswolds are truly breathtaking — so charming, this area really encompasses the Old English vibe and wraps you up in centuries of bygone history with stone homes and miles of low stone walls, narrow streets, rolling hills, and magnificent castles dotting the countryside. 

Spanning nearly 800 square miles, the Cotswolds are more of a region than a single destination, but it’s one of our favorite day trips from London because there’s so much to see and explore. Meadows, ruins, stately homes, and ample destinations for foodies, wine lovers, and fans of a cold pint make it truly special.

The wolds, or rolling hills, create the most beautiful backdrop wherever you head among the villages: Cheltenham, Castle Combe, Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, and Cirencester among them. These tiny towns feel like stepping into a fairytale! 

History is rich in every part of the Cotswolds. In Bibury, you’ll meander the wildflower banks of the River Coln and admire quaint cottages on Arlington Row (so iconic, it’s pictured on UK passports). In picturesque Broadway, art galleries, eateries, and museums will command your attention. 

Bourton-on-the-Water is often considered the prettiest of the villages with its valley location, Venetian-style bridges crossing the river,  modern and historic eateries and pubs, and an amazing model village that captures the heart of the village in a 1/9 scale. 

Minster Lovell Village on the River Windrush boasts the ruins of a palatial 15th-century Baron’s manor and gardens, while the same river runs through Buford and its stately medieval bridges, tea rooms, and old-fashioned pubs. 

In the village of Stratford-upon-Avon, you’ll be able to see the childhood home of William Shakespeare while you hear about his literary legacy and explore the very settings that inspired many of his world-famous tales. 

How to Visit

  • Take a car or train to the villages. The closest Cotswold village to London is Charlbury, which takes about an hour and 15 minutes by train from Paddington Station or an hour by car from Heathrow Airport. If you book a private day tour from London, transportation is provided by car.  
  • Book a day tour to make the most of your trip. Since the Cotswolds span such a large area, it’s best to book a tour that brings you to some of the highlights and journeys through the most picturesque villages. Opt for a Full-Day Cotswolds Tour with Lunch or get out and explore the walking paths with a Cotswolds Walks and Villages Guided Tour
  • Consider extending your trip. While the Cotswolds is a fantastic spot for a day trip from London, you may find yourself not ready to leave after a single day! There are so many quaint inns and luxe hotels in the area that booking a stay in your favorite village is always a grand idea. 

7. Hampton Court Palace

Red brick entrance to Hampton Court, one of the best day trips to take from London, with its red brick gates leading to the main building


  • 1 hour 20 minutes by car
  • 35 minutes by train
  • Guided palace tours available

If you’ve always wanted to visit a Tudor Palace, Hampton Court Palace is your chance to do so, located just 35 minutes from London by train! This impressive 16th-century royal residence was once the home (and prison) of King Henry VIII and his wives.

Today, you can visit and tour the palace, nestled on the banks of the River Thames, to step back in the pages of time. 

The Baroque-style palace is ornately detailed and designed with opulence and luxury in mind. Its massive footprint contains an astonishing 1,390 rooms, each lavishly decorated and designed to showcase the power and might of the crown. 

Highlights you can’t miss include the Great Hall with Anne Boleyn’s Coat of Arms and Abraham Tapestries, the Chapel Royal with its vaulted ceilings and Henry VIII crown replica, and the Haunted Gallery lined with Tudor portraits and leading to the State Apartments. 

In the State Rooms, you’ll be able to see William III’s private residence, Henry VIII’s kitchen, theaters, dining halls, and amazing artwork adorning the walls. 

The history of the palace is palpable in these hallowed halls. This is where King Henry VIII’s wife, Jane Seymour, died just after Edward VI was born. It’s also where his 5th wife, Catherine Howard, was arrested and executed on charges of adultery and treason.

Some say the palace is haunted by their ghosts to this day. 

Wander the lush royal gardens, see Britain’s oldest hedge maze — easy to get lost in — and the tennis court on the sprawling, well-groomed grounds. Things get hectic during the summer months as tourism explodes, so it’s well worth taking a private guided tour to escape the frantic crowds. 

Festivals and events are held annually on the palace grounds, from the RHS Flower Show to art shows displaying the Royal Collection and music festivals that bring the grounds to life with sound. 

How to Visit

  • Determine how you’ll get there. Take the 35-minute train from London’s Waterloo Station to Hampton Court Station, just a 5-minute walk from the palace. Or opt for a bus ride from London, which takes roughly an hour and 30 minutes. Driving takes about an hour and 20 minutes, but guided day tours may include your transportation to the palace.
  • Opt for a guided palace tour. While you can get your entry ticket to stroll the palace and grounds, the best way to explore the palace is with a knowledgeable guide that offers an intriguing history lesson with each room explored. We suggest the Royal Hampton Court Guided Tour with Afternoon Tea or the Hampton Court Private Guided Tour for a more serene experience.
  • Bundle more attractions in one. With a Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace Private Tour, you’ll be able to pack two stunning royal residences into your day trip in just 7 hours to see what life was like for the royal families of the past and present. A Westminster to Hampton Court River Thames Cruise is perfect if you want a scenic day trip on the water! 

8. Hastings

Old pirate town of Hastings, England, seen with its teal water below the winding streets and cliffside buildings and homes

Ian Woolcock/Shutterstock

  • 2 hours 40 minutes by car
  • 2 hours 30 minutes by train
  • Self-guided tours available

In East Sussex, about 2.5 hours by train from London, you’ll find the stunning town of Hastings on England’s idyllic southeastern coast. Victorian architecture studs the coastline and heart of town, castle ruins stand crumbling, and historic battlegrounds make it so intriguing for a day trip.

With endless views over the vast English Channel, the rocky shores of Hastings are picturesque and hearken to days long gone in England’s past. It’s been a summertime destination for locals for centuries and you’ll find all the shops, eateries, and historic attractions you’re looking for within its bounds. 

Perhaps the most famous attraction here is Hastings Castle, which now stands in ruins as the former royal home of William the Conquerer. Parts of the castle have fallen into the English Channel, which it overlooks on the pebbled shore. 

The Battle of Hastings (1066) was famously fought here between Norman and Saxon soldiers. Today, you can visit the impressive Benedictine Battle Abbey ruins built on those very battlegrounds.

The Hastings Old Town is where you’ll find the Fishermen’s Museum, an aquarium, pubs, galleries, and shops lining the harbor — just perfect for a laid-back stroll through the historic town. 

Some of the traditional 16th-century wood and black-tarred Net Huts, or fishing huts, still stand after centuries, surviving fires, plans for destruction, and the elements. The Hastings Shipwreck Museum is fascinating to learn about the maritime history of Hastings and the many ships lost on its shores. 

There are a few beaches worth checking out during your day trip for excellent coastal views and restaurants overlooking the Channel, including rocky Hastings Beach, Stade Beach, and Pelham Beach — just wear shoes with tiny pebbles underfoot. 

How to Visit

  • Take the train from London. It’s easier and faster to get to Hastings by train with a direct connection from stations like London Bridge and Clapham Junction bringing you directly to Hastings without worrying about renting a car or booking a taxi. 
  • Add a self-guided tour to your trip. The Quirky Self-Guided Smartphone Hastings Heritage Walk makes it easy and fun to learn about the vast history of Hastings without a guide — just your phone and tons of interesting stops to guide you! It’s laid out like a treasure hunt to make it even more enjoyable. 
  • Expand into East Sussex for a wine tour. Sussex Small-Group Wine Tours in the area immediately surrounding Hastings are the perfect opportunity to sample regional wines and extend your day trip to the broader area with vineyard and wine estate visits with lunch provided. 

9. Dungeness

As a featured day trip from London, a lighthouse and train are seen in Dungeness, a sleepy seaside town

Hanna Gurauskiene/Shutterstock

  • 2 hours 30 minutes by car
  • 1 hour 30 minutes by train
  • Fat tire E-bike tours available

Sometimes called the English desert, the barren coastal ghost town of Dungeness in Kent is a unique day trip option from London if you’re more of an explorer than a route-follower. Sitting on the Camber Sands Coast, this part of Kent is steeped in history and is all about contrast. 

It’s the contrast of rocky, sandy beaches and the cool, blue water of the English Channel, the juxtaposition of the defunct buildings and power stations against the artsy shacks and colorful cottages by the water, and the striking difference between the desolate stretches and charming little beaches. 

Otherworldly is a word often used to describe Dungeness, which is delightfully untouched by tourist trappings, save for a few snack shacks, inns, a golf course, and a nature reserve. This is where you come to get away from it all and see the coast of England unspoiled.

A collection of small Victorian fishing cottages, an old railway line long since abandoned, lonely lighthouse beacons, and historic fishing boats are the sights you’ll want to get a closer look at upon arrival. In the distance, two nuclear power plants rise and add to the eerie vibe of this forgotten town. 

Surpringly, the town of Dungeness has a thriving bohemian art scene. Wandering the town, you’ll find a pink cottage with an art studio and gallery next door, always open to visit, and small cottage studios that are free to browse with unique works inside. 

People live in quirky, converted functional buildings, like a 4-story tower once used for radar monitoring. The Dungeness Old Lighthouse is now a museum and popular overlook point.

A bird observatory and Dungeness National Nature Reserve make great visits if you’re into the natural world. Stop by the Snack Shack for a bite to eat with offerings like crab-topped flatbread, lobster rolls, and fish and chips served up on the shoreline. 

How to Visit

  • Opt for a train ride over car. The train from Victoria Station is the fastest way to get to Dungeness from London, taking an hour and 30 minutes compared to 2 hours and 30 minutes by car. From arrival at the Ashford International Station, you can rent a car or get a taxi to travel 30 minutes further to the coast where Dungeness lies. 
  • Take an E-bike tour. The Camber Sands Fat Tyre E-Bike Hire lets you pick up an E-bike outfitted for the dry sands of Dungeness and the Camber Sands Coast with the wind in your hair and maps to guide you to different points of interest.

10. New Forest National Park

Misty day over New Forest National Park with the sun setting over the hills in the distance

Helen Hotson/Shutterstock

  • 2 hours by car
  • 1 hour 45 minutes by train
  • Adventure E-bike tours available

New Forest National Park, referred to as The New Forest, is one of the most breathtaking wooded areas you can visit close to London. Ideal for a day trip, you’ll explore woodlands and sun-dappled glades, hike atop cliffs and heaths, and explore little-known coastal paths where wildlife and birds are abundant. 

This vibrant national park is teeming with wildlife, from deer and wild ponies to cows and donkeys, that roam free in the expanse of the park. Hiking, leisurely strolls, birdwatching, horseback riding, and off-road cycling trips and adventures through its leafy seclusion can be great options for your day trip. 

With 43 miles of coastline, you’ll find sandy beaches to spend a day enjoying the sand and surf in the sunshine. These are the perfect launch points for kayaking, canoeing, and more. You’ll even find the historic Hurst Castle built by Henry VIII at the end of the beach at Hurst Spit! 

You’ll find maintained gardens, 140 miles of hiking paths, vast stretches of farmland, history museums, and even theme parks here to enjoy for a day. Water sports from kayaking to sailing are popular, while annual events taking place year-round can add to the fun. 

But it’s not just the natural world that makes the park so astounding. There are historic little villages and towns within the park, scattered in the forests and along the coasts with cobblestone streets, friendly pubs and markets, and local shops filled with unique finds. 

If you decide to extend your day trip further, you’ll find rustic cabins and rental homes, glamping and camping sites, charming cottages, and luxe hotels to offer you a great night’s sleep in the New Forest. 

How to Visit

  • Know how to get there. You can take the train from London’s Waterloo Station to Brockenhurst Station, just 7 minutes from your destination for an easy trip. By car, the trip takes about 2 hours via exit M27 at Junction 1 (Cadnam) by heading south to New Forest. 
  • Book an adventure E-bike tour. One of the coolest ways to tour and experience the wilderness of the New Forest National Park is the Pedal & Puzzle Outdoor Escape Room by E-Bike. You’ll explore 10 miles of the coast through the park on E-bikes by solving clues that lead you to the end of the route!  

11. Highclere Castle/Downton Abbey

Red brick Highclere Castle pictured on a clear summer's day with green grass in front of the tall trees and a few clouds overhead


  • 1 hour 45 minutes by car
  • 40 minutes by train
  • Guided tours available

Ever dreamed of seeing the real location of Downton Abbey for yourself? You can, on an enchanting day trip from London to Highclere Castle and gardens! This stately castle is where the popular TV series was filmed and it sits just 40 minutes from London by train! 

Inside this Victorian castle, you’ll enter the world of the Crawley family. Stroll down the same stairs as Lady Mary, look at the dining room where Dame Maggie Smith delivered sharp, witty lines, and take in Jackdaws Castle like Lady Edith. 

This ancient royal residence has been around since at least 749 AD, when it belonged to the Bishops of Winchester. A medieval palace and lush, manicured gardens were added afterward, transforming into the Highclere Place House and finally, the Highclere Castle we know today. 

With 300 rooms inside the castle, you’ll be able to tour the very state rooms you’ve seen on Downton Abbey, walk down into the cellars and staff quarters for a glimpse behind the scenes, and even look through the Egyptian Exhibition collection with finds from the Tomb of King Tut by the 5th Earl of Carnarvon! 

The castle has served as a hospital during World War I, a safe house for children evacuated from London during World War II, and a place of rest and comfort for royals and elites throughout its history. Surrounded by gardens, hills, parkland, and farmland, the entire estate feels like something out of a fairytale. 

Stroll the Secret Garden, Monk’s Garden, and the Rose Arbour paths; look out over the Wildflower Meadow and breathe in the scent of the Healing Herb Garden; explore the Wood of Goodwill and the White Border during your visit. 

On the estate, you’ll also see marvelous structures like Jackdaw’s Castle on the East Lawn, the Etruscan Temple on Siddown Hill, and the intricate Temple of Diana casting reflections on the lake. 

How to Visit

  • Plan for the remote location. Getting to the castle is easier by train, but there’s no direct connection. From the London Paddington Station to Newbury Station, you’ll have just 5 more miles to get to the castle, so you can take a taxi for the last portion of the trip. 
  • Book a guided tour. For the best experience and to know the significance of what you’re seeing at the castle, book a guided tour with transportation from London. The Downton Abbey and Village Small Group Tour regularly books up, while the Downton Abbey, Cotswolds, and Village Tour brings you to other filming locations from the show. 
  • Opt for a multi-site tour. If you want to see more than just Highclere Castle on your day trip, consider something like the Downton Abbey, Oxford, and Bampton Day Trip from London for a full day of sightseeing near the city with transportation.

12. University of Oxford

For a roundup of the best day trips to take when in London, a photo of the Bodleian Library pictured in Oxford

Sergii Fgurnyi/Shutterstock

  • 1 hour 40 minutes by car
  • 1 hour by train
  • Guided walking tours available

The prestigious University of Oxford is a must-visit when you find yourself in London. Located just an hour outside the city by train, the hallowed halls of learning, research, and achievement wait for you to explore in Oxford, England. 

The history of the esteemed university spans back as far as 1096, showcasing the amazing staying power of this English institution of higher learning. It’s recognized as the 2nd-oldest continually operating university in the world.

Rulers have come to power and lost it, wars have raged, and peace has reigned during the time Oxford has been in existence. 

Oxford is synonymous with prestige and its long-standing status as one of the world’s top universities can be seen not only in the accomplishments of its graduates, but also in its architecture, history, and breathtaking views around its 38 colleges. 

These colleges are housed in buildings, not a single campus, designed in English Gothic, Saxon, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Postmodernist styles, among others. The history of these regal colleges makes it essential to book a walking tour that highlights the past and importance of each one. 

Matthew Arnold, a 19th-century poet, penned Oxford as the “City of Dreaming Spires” because of the abundance of Gothic and Neo-Gothic architecture in the medieval city center where these hallowed colleges sit. 

The city of Oxford, with its collegiate vibes, is packed with pubs and bars, trendy eateries, and modern boutiques and shops. Stroll along the River Cherwell and the Botanic Garden, the medieval city center, and an observation tower with incredible city and river views. 

How to Visit

  • Take the train. Oxford streets are pedestrian-only and parking nearby is very limited, so trains are the best way to reach the university. A direct train runs from London’s Paddington Station to Oxford Station, just a 5-10 minute walk to the center of Oxford.
  • Plan on a walking tour. You’ll get to experience the fullness of Oxford’s history and architecture with a walking tour through some of the historic colleges. We recommend taking a University and City Walk Tour with Alumni Guide. If you’re purely interested in the architecture, Oxford’s Architectural Gems City Walk will be right up your alley. 
  • Consider adding stops to your tour. The nearby Cotswold villages are picturesque and historic, making them an excellent choice to bundle with your visit to Oxford. Check out the Cotswolds and Oxford Guided Day Trip from London if that appeals to you! 

13. Brighton

The famous pier in Brighton seen on a still evening day with the sun setting over the horizon, as seen from the beach


  • 2 hours 10 minutes by car
  • 1 hour 40 minutes by train
  • Guided and adventure tours available

Located near South Downs and the bright-white Seven Sisters Cliffs, coastal Brighton makes an excellent day trip from London if you’re hoping to explore England’s coastal charm in a laid-back locale with awe-inspiring natural beauty.

A seaside resort town, Brighton is a place to relax and enjoy the pleasures of life: Good food, scenic walks, gorgeous water views, and ample eateries, shops, and historic sightseeing to occupy your time. 

While you’re here, explore the 18th-century, exotic Royal Pavilion and Gardens where royals like King George IV once lived. Make a splash at the historic Brighton Palace Pier with thrill rides, eateries, terrace chairs, and bars before it’s time to head back to London. 

You’ll want to rise to the scenic views you can only reach at Brighton i360, a rotating observation tower that offers the most stunning look at the sea, beaches, and town of Brighton from a height of 531 feet in a fully-enclosed viewing area. 

Down at the beachfront, there are tons of businesses (art galleries, pubs, upscale restaurants, and shops) operating just beyond the shore. Try kayaking, paddle boarding, and building sandcastles or just claim a beach chair and lounge in the sun at Brighton Beach.

The pier is sure to delight all ages, while the Volk’s Railway just beyond it is a cool spot to visit. It’s Britain’s oldest electric railway, around since the late 1800s, and you can take a ride for about £6!

Take a quick bus ride over to nearby Seaford or Eastbourne to explore even more of England’s coastal beauty from Brighton. You’ll also find wineries, vineyards, and local dairy farms where you can do a tour and sample deliciousness in surrounding Sussex. 

How to Visit

  • Trains make it easy to reach. Two main stations in London, Victoria and Blackfriars, run directly to Brighton for easy travel that takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes. Alternatively, book a Guided Day Trip to Brighton and Seven Sisters from London to have transportation taken care of. 
  • Find fun local things to do. See panoramic coastal views and turn the world topsy-turvy with an i360 and Upside Down House Explorer Pass, spend an afternoon at the bustling pier with games, rides, and food, or hop in a kayak to explore the beautiful coasts with views of the Victorian arches along the beachfront. 
  • Venture further out. While Brighton is well worth a visit on its own, you’re close to other amazingly scenic spots when you’re here. Check out the Seven Sisters and South Downs Tour from Brighton to see white chalk cliffs rising hundreds of feet high and beautifully unspoiled coastline nearby. 

14. Stonehenge

Blue sky over Stonehenge, one of the best day trips from London, as seen with its green grass surrounding the rock formations

Mr Nai/Shutterstock

  • 1 hour 50 minutes by car
  • 1 hour 30 minutes by train
  • Guided tours available

Stonehenge is one of the world’s most iconic wonders — who built it and for what purpose, we’re still not entirely sure. But one thing is certain: This megalithic site makes a phenomenal, unforgettable day trip from London! 

Set in the beautiful English countryside of Wiltshire, the 5,000 year-old stone ruins appear seemingly out of nowhere and are part of a larger complex of monuments from the Neolithic and Bronze ages. 

You’ve seen photos of the site with its upright sarsen stones, capped with lintel stones lying across them and surrounding a ring of small bluestones and trilithons in the center.

But until you’ve walked up to these structures in person, you can’t understand the magnitude and how perfectly-aligned these giant stones are (around 13 feet high by 7 feet wide at 25 tons each). 

Archaeologists have determined that the stones are set to align with the direction of the sunrise during the summer solstice and again at sunset during the winter solstice. Imagine the astrological knowledge that went into this alignment — especially with stones as large and heavy as these. 

Stonehenge, 5 Neolithic replica homes designed from ruins found on the site, the nearby Avebury monument 17 miles south, and other similar sites nearby are all UNESCO World Heritage Sites with historic significance and they can all be visited during your day trip. 

We don’t know how or why they did it and we may never know. But with the chance to visit this amazing monument so close to London, it’s a no-brainer to make this one of your day trips from the city! 

How to Visit

  • Take a car or book a tour. Renting a car or booking a tour with transportation is the easiest way to get to Stonehenge on a day trip from London. It takes about 2 hours to get here by car, but this transportation will be included with many tours from London, like Stonehenge Half-Day Morning or Afternoon Tour (sells out fast) or Stonehenge Half-Day Trip with Audio Guide.
  • Take a bus. While there are no direct lines linking London to Stonehenge, you can take a train from Waterloo Station to Salisbury that gets you most of the way there. Take a taxi for the final 12 miles to reach the monument or hop on the tour bus from the station. 
  • Add more stops to your day trip. Opt for a Full-Day Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Oxford Tour or check out Stonehenge and Roman Baths Tour for a deep-dive in history if you want to spend an entire day exploring beyond London. 

15. Cardiff

Panoramic view of Cardiff, a top pick for the must-take day trips from London, as seen with the downtown skyline reflecting in the water


  • 2 hours 50 minutes by car
  • 2 hours by train
  • Guided walking tours available

The capital of Wales and the small country’s largest city by far, Cardiff is an awesome destination for a London day trip that most people don’t consider when looking at cool locations around the English countryside. 

Museums, a medieval Gothic castle, bustling high streets with shops and restaurants, and evidence of the city’s distant past can be found in this friendly, welcoming capital city. Sections of the medieval town walls are still standing, and if you hunt around a bit on Queens Street, you’ll find the best-preserved section.

Within the walled area, now the Old Town, the Victorian Gothic Cardiff Castle stands proudly with an imposing presence at almost 2,000 years old. Climb up the keep at the top and you’ll be rewarded with endless views over the city! It’s built over ruins of a Roman fort from the 3rd century. 

Parts of the castle have been renovated, but it’s still fascinating to tour the old fortress and see how Gothic, Arabian, and Mediterranean styles seamlessly work together in creating this unique medieval castle. 

Stroll nearby to Bute Park if you’re in search of ample greenery, blooming flowers in spring and summer, or beautiful fall foliage in autumn. The River Taff runs through the park for a scenic place of rest or a serene little picnic. Hit Taff Trail to explore the riverbanks on foot or bike, stopping by a cafe in the center of the park to fuel up with fresh goodies. 

You’ll have time to swing by a museum, like the Museum of Cardiff in the Old Library, or the National Museum Cardiff with its artworks and natural history exhibitions.

Music fans can’t miss the Spillers Records shop — the oldest in the world in operation since 1894. It’s housed inside Morgan Arcade, so you’ll kill two birds with one stone. Pick up some vintage vinyl, listen to live performances, and play some old-school games! 

How to Visit 

  • Join a guided tour from London. The easiest way to get to Cardiff and see the main sights are on a guided tour out of London. We recommend the Day Trip to Cardiff with Cardiff Castle Entry since it includes bus transportation, castle entry and tour, scenic Welsh valleys, and lunch at Cardiff Bay.  
  • Take a car or train. If you won’t be joining a tour, you can always rent a car or take a train to Cardiff. Trains from London’s Paddington Station arrive in Cardiff Central Station within an hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours. 
  • Book a walking tour. You can take a private Half-Day City Walking Tour with a local to learn about the history here, or opt for the underbelly view with the Dark Cardiff Walking Tour with tales of murder, illness, ghosts, and treachery.

Things to Consider

Booking the best day trips from London can be a bit of a challenge with a lot of moving parts — trains to catch, tours to book, cars to rent, or taxis to hail. It’s much easier to pull off when you keep the following tips in mind! 

  • Book your London trip at the right time. London’s Bank Holidays and school breaks can result in jam-packed streets, trains, and nearby day trip destinations. July and August tend to be very busy in and around London, while late December sees massive crowds around Christmas and the New Year. Book outside of these months for a less-crowded experience and better availability.
  • Always book in advance. Even if you’re a “fly by the seat of your pants” type of person, a visit to London with day trips isn’t the time for spontaneity. Book everything in advance to ensure you don’t miss out: Flights, hotels, tours, entry tickets to attractions, even restaurants if they’re in high demand. 
  • Train times can change. Missed connections, staff shortages, cancelled routes, big crowds — all of these factors can affect how timely the trains in and to London are, so plan for a potential mishap and have a backup plan in case your train is running late. Taxis, buses, and tours with included transportation are you best options. 
  • Be aware of different road rules. If you’re planning on driving to your day trip from London, remember that the road rules are different here. You’ll be driving on the “wrong” side of the road and dealing with unfamiliar road signs and metric distance markers. Your non-UK license covers you to drive during your trip as long as you get UK insurance for your visit. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Red phone booth on the street alongside the asphalt street in London


Want to make the most of your day trip from London? Read through the most frequently asked questions and their answers below to learn more as you start planning your jam-packed London trip. 

What is the best day trip from London?

Windsor Castle and the surrounding city is the best day trip from London overall. Just 1 hour from London by train, the 11th-century medieval stone castle boasts impressive history as a royal residence that has been home for greats like King Henry VIII. Touring the lavish interior, gardens, and State Apartments will be a highlight of your visit.

What countries can you visit in a day from London?

Wales, France, Spain, Belgium, and Denmark are examples of countries you can visit in a day from London. Thanks to great train connectivity in the region, you can arrive in many surrounding countries with enough time to do some sightseeing, dine, and shop before heading back to London.

Where should I go within 2 hours in London?

There are so many places you can go within 2 hours of London, including some of the best day trip options like the medieval Windsor Castle (1h), the white chalk Seven Sisters Cliffs (1h 40m), charming Canterbury (2h), historic Bath (1h 20m), and the picturesque Cotswolds villages (1h 20m+).

What is the best place to visit outside London?

Windsor Castle and Stonehenge regularly rank as two of the best places to visit outside London because of their long histories and iconic status. Windsor Castle is still a royal hangout with weddings and ceremonies held at the medieval residence, while Stonehenge gained fame as the most famous prehistoric megalithic structure in the world.

Which is the most popular tourist town after London?

Edinburgh, Scotland is the second-most popular tourist town after London in the United Kingdom, according to visitor data from While London sees around 30 million tourists annually, Edinburgh gets about 4 million on a yearly basis.

So, Which Day Trip Will You Take in 2024?

Looking through this list of the best day trips from London, you can see that your options are abundant! From the fairytale villages of Cotswold in the countryside to idyllic seaside towns and the 5,000 year-old Stonehenge, being in London puts you close to many of the UK’s most memorable sights. 

Whether you’re ready to spend your day trips hiking in a forest glade with filtered sunlight or exploring medieval castles with long royal histories, you’ll set yourself up for a life-changing visit when you book one of the best day trips from London.