London has to be one of the most exciting and lively cities in the world to explore. But when you’ve travelled from far and wide to visit, it would be a shame not step out of the city and make the most of the amazing places that are right on its doorstep. We’ve rounded up 6 of the best day trip retreats that are just a short train ride from London and that will give the capital almost a run for its money…
Tip: Book trains/coaches in advance for better prices!
London Victoria to Brighton: 55min, from £10 return via www.trainline.com
Brighton has got to be one of (if not the) coolest cities in England. Not only is it right by the beach, but it’s filled to the brim with quirky boutique shops, loads of street acts and walls that are plastered with awesome graffiti. One of the main attractions to the hippy town is the Brighton Pier where you should grab some seaside fish and chips, a deck chair and sit back after spending all your pennies in the arcade. Stop for tea in the narrow, winding South Lanes (don’t miss ogling at the shop window of Choccywoccydoodah while you’re there), shop at the weird and wonderful shops in the North Lanes and finally make a visit to Brighton’s grand Royal Pavilion.
Make sure you have a look at what’s on in the city before you go, Brighton puts on some incredible gigs and festivals during the year.
London Marylebone/London Paddington to Oxford: 1hr 5min, from £20 return via www.trainline.com
You can’t get more quintessentially British than in the historic city of Oxford. With a spot for afternoon tea around every corner, and punting on the River Cherwell right in the heart of the city, you could easily fill a day here. Visit the oldest university in England’s world renowned, prestigious Christ Church College. Wander through the University of Oxford Botanic Garden in the summer or spend a rainy day hopping from museum to gallery. If that’s not up your street, why not use your afternoon to pub crawl around Oxford’s old-school inns.
London Paddington to Windsor and Eton Central: 34min, Off-Peak Day Return from £11.70 via www.trainline.com
Catch a train to the largest occupied castle in the world, and the Queen’s second home, Windsor Castle. You can tour the inside for a price (and we must say it’s worth it just to gaze at Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House) however a wander around the outskirts or to the top of the Long Walk will give you fantastic views of the 900-year-old castle. The quaint, historic town of Windsor itself is simply stunning with its contrast of old English pubs and townhouses against the modern but stylish shopping squares. Just a 20-minute walk outside the centre is Eton. See if you can spot the Eton College students in their traditional tailcoats and waistcoats.
Fun fact: If you see a flag flying over the Castle’s Round Tower, this means that Her Majesty could be residing there at the time of your visit!
THE SURREY HILLS
London Victoria to Box Hill and Westhumble: 49min, Off-Peak Day Return from £9.30 via www.trainline.com
Fancy a real British countryside stroll? Surrey is just a stone’s throw away from the stress of the big city and the Surrey Hills will certainly give you a taste of English country living. With undulating peaks and insta-opportunities at every turn of the head, pack your walking shoes and explore London’s neighbouring Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Go and breathe in some fresh air, drink a cool beer with a view and see what The Devil’s Punch Bowl is all about...
London King’s Cross to Cambridge Station: 44min, from £14 return via www.trainline.com
The medieval city of Cambridge is only small but this is what makes it the perfect one day trip out of London. Go punting along the River Cam which winds its way past King’s College Chapel and The Wren Library at Trinity College - both must sees anyway when visiting the home of the University of Cambridge. If you ditch the map and follow your nose through the old, narrow streets, you’ll almost always bump into something to marvel at. History, architecture, punting and plenty of beer opportunities, what more could you want from a day in an English city.
London St Pancras to St Albans City: 19min, Anytime Day Return from £19.90 via www.trainline.com
Retreat from London to explore the charming market commuter town of St Albans and take in the fascinating history that it has to share. £1 will get you amazing city views from the top of the Clock Tower and just across the cobbled street is the shining star of the city - St Albans Cathedral. The magnificent structure is beautiful both inside and out, and you can even tag onto a guided tour for free. Just a 10-15 minute walk from the centre is the Verulamium Museum where you can check out the Roman relics and stroll through the enormous park.
London Paddington to Bath Spa: 1hr 25min, return from £40 National Express from £10, 2hr 50min via www.trainline.com
While this medieval city is a little further out than the rest, it’s truly worth the trip. There is plenty to do in Bath to keep entertained for more than a day, however it’s still possible to fit in all the main sites in just a few hours. Roman history in Britain can’t get much more authentic than a trip to the Roman Baths. Combine this with Bath Abbey, The Royal Crescent and Pulteney Bridge (also all must-dos) and your day in Bath will be complete! Bath is also home to the Jane Austen centre, since she lived her in her younger years. However, if London life has really knocked you out and you’re looking for some relaxation, splash out on an afternoon in the Thermae Bath Spa. Although a little pricey even on weekdays, it’s worth it for the spectacular views from its steaming rooftop pool.
Want to stay an extra night in Bath?