England is a destination that offers endless possibilities to those who visit. There’s so many things to see and do either own your own, by renting a car or via public transport. Let me show you the absolutely best day trips from London that you simply must consider if you are planning to visit England. Many of these experiences are the top places to visit in England and some are local secrets that you’ll be so glad you found out about!
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Stonehenge day trip from London
When it comes to places to go in England, a Stonehenge day trip from London is an absolute must. Stone henge is an ancient and significant location that everyone must visit at least once in their life.
You’ll want a couple of hours to explore the site. Take the bus from the visitor’s centre or if the weather is nice, stroll to the stones. The audio tour is well worth taking. Marvel in the mystery and sheer magnitude of the rock formations. Then head back to the visitor’s centre where you can explore neolithic homes and a museum exhibition on the original people of the area. A Stonehenge day trip from London is truly fascinating.
Explore the tallest chalk cliffs in England at Beachy Head
Why not head to the coast for the perfect London day trip? Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters cliffs are the tallest chalk cliffs in England. The cliffs stretch for an impressive 21.9km (13.6 miles) and can be accessed from many points.
Their height is most impressive at Beachy Head. Visit Birling Gap to stroll along a sandy beach and view the cliff face. Alternatively travel a little further to Cuckmere Haven where you can enjoy a meandering river and the most spectacular panorama along the length of the coastline.
Allow a full day to visit the region as each site has its own unique beauty. Best of all, they’re all free to visit. You will need to have some change on hand for parking if you drive.
Take the train from London Victoria to Eastbourne station. The rail journey is just over an hour. The bus runs to Beachy Head on the hour. Alternatively you can catch an Uber or Taxi. To best view the region we recommend you drive. The journey is 1.5 hours by car in good traffic. It’s spectacular beauty make it one of the prettiest day trips from London. Best of all it can be enjoyed all year round!
READ | Read our comprehensive guide on visiting Beachy Head, England’s most spectacular white cliffs.
READ | Our guide to staying at the nearby Grand Hotel Eastbourne
BOOK | Make a weekend of it. Check out current hotel rates in Eastbourne
Stroll along a historic pier on a day trip to Brighton
A day trip to Brighton is a wonderful way to see the coast whilst exploring a cosmopolitan city. Brighton is just over hour from London Victoria on an express train. It’s best explored by foot. Leave early because Brighton is a destination you’ll want to spend the whole day at.
By road, it’s around an hour to Brighton. Take the motorway and park in a designated car park. Street parking is metered and timed. Start in the laneways. There’s an eclectic mix of shops to browse and window shop. Make sure to stop in at Choccywoccydoodah. The chocolate sculptures are incredible.
Where to eat
Make sure you walk past the Black Lion Hotel. The building isn’t original tudor, however its extremely authentic and has an intruiging back story. Their food is delicious and a great place to stop for lunch.
The Brighton Foreshore
Delve into World War 2 mysteries at Bletchley Park
Bletchley park is just a 45 minute drive from central London and makes an excellent stop on the way to Oxford. Additionally you can take the train to Bletchley station.
Bletchley Park was formerly a secret World Word 2 site. It housed the Turing Machine, which was the device used to crack the Nazi enigma code.
These days the whole site is open for exploration. Many of the original huts still exist on the property. Additionally a museum has been set up where you can view codebreaking machines throughout the years.
Up to date entry fees and opening hours can be found on their website. It’s an excellent day trip from London for those who love World War 2 nostalgia.
READ | Our guide to visiting Bletchley Park
Travel back to Roman times at Bath
Get close to the royals at Windsor Castle
When it comes to the top places to visit in England you have to include at least one royal attraction! We’ve included Windsor Castle.
Windsor is easily reached by train. Depart from Paddington and travel towards Windsor Eton Central. The castle is a short walk from the station. Additionally it is a 40 minute drive from the city.
The township of Windsor is very scenic, however the main attraction is the castle. Do this day trip from London justice by booking tickets to visit the castle rooms. The grounds and cathedral are spectacular, but you won’t really get a sense of the grandeur without entering the palace. Keep your eye out for the intricately detailed ceilings.
St George’s chapel (where Harry and Megan got married) is on site and open for exploration. Walk the same aisle as the royals and enjoy the rich history that the building holds.
The castle is one of the most popular places to go in England, so ensure you arrive before midday and book your tickets in advance.
PLAN | Up to entry fees and opening hours can be found on the castle’s website.
GUARANTEE YOUR ENTRY | Book your tickets in advance here
READ | Find out more about one of England’s most famous castles with our guide to visiting Windsor Castle.
Go punting in Cambridge
Cambridge is an iconic university town and an easy day trip from London. It’s just under 2 hours north of the city by car and around an hour by train.
There are iconic locations you must visit on your England trip and this is one of them. The world renown university is home to some of the most beautiful stone buildings, yet its biggest attraction is water based. Join an organised group or hire a punt and go punting down the river. It’s a beautiful way to enjoy this historic university city.
Take a fast train to Manchester
Skip the car and take the fast train on your day trip to Manchester. The journey can be as quick as 2 hours, with trains departing every 20 minutes from Euston station. Book in advance to ensure you get a good seat and your travelling party can sit together.
Manchester has a rich industrial heritage. You’ll see its symbol, the worker bee, embellished in gold throughout its buildings and streets. If you’re familiar with the TV series Coronation Street, you’ll know its filmed in Manchester. Book ahead for a set tour, or explore the streetscape. It’s a die hard fan’s dream come true!
Football fans will love the stadium and museum. The people’s history museum gives a fascinating insight into the history of the area and cathedral and town hall have iconic architecture.
Enjoy the architecture on an Oxford day trip
On the cusp of the Cotswolds region, Oxford is an easy and beautiful day trip from London. Oxford is an easy 1 hour drive and train ride from London. Its well serviced by public transport and can easily be explored by foot.
Allow a full day for your Oxford day trip. Iconic sites like the Bodliean library made famous in a Discovery of Witches and Harry Potter are a must. The prestigious Oxford university is housed in some of the most beautiful gothic buildings, so keep your eyes up for the spires. If boating is more your pace, take a leisurely cruise down the River Cherwell. It’s the same river Lewis Caroll floated down whilst dreaming up Alice in Wonderland.
An Oxford day trip is a full day of walking and exploration. Keep your eyes out for the little details … they’re everywhere. If you plan to stay into the night, why not take a ghost tour?
There’s so much to do. Discover what not to miss here.
Before you leave, make sure to enjoy a hearty meal at a local pub. The Eagle and Child pub is a favourite.
READ | Why not visit the nearby Cotswolds? Our guide to The Slaughters will entice you to extend your visit!
READ | Historic Bletchley Park is just 30mins from Oxford.
BOOK | Accommodation with Hotels Combined and make a weekend of it
Explore a moated castle at Herstmonceux
If you visit England and you don’t visit a castle, have you even visited England? The short answer is no. When it comes to incredible castles, Herstmonceux in East Sussex, is one of the most impressive.
It’s a little remote, so you’ll need a car to get there. From London, it takes around 1.5 hours to get there. The castle is well worth the drive. It’s impressive in size and surrounded by a full sized moat. Book an organised tour to explore the insider of the castle, or wander the gardens. It’s a truly impressive day trip from London.
Relive the battle of Hastings at Battle Abbey
Unlike it’s name would have you believe, the Battle of Hastings, wasn’t fought at Hastings itself. Around 20 minutes inland from the coast lies the small township of Battle. Here is where the battle sight lies. The site encompasses the battle fields, historic buildings and the ruins of the abbey. It’s 1.5 hours south west of London and by car or train. The site is about a 10 minute walk from the station.
Battle Abbey is best visited outside of winter. Rain can mean that the battle ground is too muddy to be explored. It’s a pivotal location in this day trip from London, so you’ll want to visit when its open.
There’s a mixture of ruins and intact buildings on site. Expect to see domed buildings, beautiful grounds and a garden wall that can be traversed. It’s a beautiful and historic site. Allow 2-3 hours to properly explore. Battle Abbey is also an English Heritage site like Stonehenge. Membership will afford you free entry.
BOOK | For up to date entry fees and opening hours visit the Battle Abbey website.
READ | Why not visit The Seven Sisters Coastal Park whilst you’re in the area?
Hire a narrowboat and navigate the canals at Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes is in close proximity to both Oxford and Bletchley Park. It is also one of our most unique and lesser known day trips from London. Milton Keynes is an easy 40 minutes from London by train or 1 hour by car. It’s an excellent place to explore the Grand Union Canal.
The Grand Union Canal runs from Birmingham to London. Milton Keynes is a fantastic place to explore it from. A narrowboat ride is the traditional way to explore a waterway in the UK. Join an organised tour, or if you’re adventurous hire a boat and skipper it yourself. It can either be a day trip from London or a longer adventure as many narrow boats also have accommodation facilities. It’s a unique addition to any England trip!
Immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros Studio tour
If you love Harry Potter than then Warner Bros Studio tour is the perfect London day trip for you! The studio is located just north of London at Watford Junction. It’s around an hour by car or rail, with a courtesy bus connecting you to the studio from the train station.
You must book your tickets in advance as the studio is extremely popular. Allow 2-3 hours to explore and interact with all of the displays. During peak times (summer, holidays etc) add an extra hour or two to allow for queues.
The studio features original sets, interactive displays (try riding a Nimbus!) and props from the movies. Make sure to try the butter beer and take a photo on the back of the Knight Bus. There are so many opportunities to interact and get an iconic shot.
ACCIO TICKETS | Get your Harry Potter Studio tickets here.
READ |Love Harry Potter? Read our guide on Scotland’s Harry Potter train or our guide to the best Harry Potter experiences in Melbourne.
Explore Shakespeare's birthplace at Stratford-Upon-Avon
Go inside the concorde at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford
Scoot over to the Isle of Wight on a hover craft
We’re leaving the mainland for this day trip. First you’ll need to get to Portsmouth. It’s 1.5 hours north west of London. By rail it is 2.5 hours, so a car is best suited to this full day adventure. Once you’re in Portsmouth, its time for the fun to begin. We’re saying goodbye to conventional modes of transport and riding on a hovercraft!
There’s no better start to a perfect London day trip that a unique mode of transport. The Portsmouth to Isle of Wight hovercraft is the world’s only year round passenger hovercraft service. The journey takes a swift 10 minutes, making it the quickest way to cross the Solent.
One of the top places to visit in England is The Needles. Once you’re on the isle of Wight, hop on the tourist bus and get exploring. If you miss the tourist bus, never fear, the regular island busses will also get you there. During the summer months the beaches are unmissable. In winter it makes for a wonderful weekend romantic break.
BOOK | When it comes to day tours from London, this is a full day of adventure so make sure you leave early. You can prebook your hovercraft tickets here.
Enjoy the Victorian glasshouses at Kew Gardens
The Kew Gardens are beautiful all year round, however they’re most spectacular in spring. This day trip is perfect for public transport. The gardens are only 30 minutes out of central London and easily accessible by bus and rail. Additionally they’re a 20 minute trip by car.
The grand Victorian glasshouses are the most impressive feature of the Kew Gardens. There are a series of glass houses featuring a range of different species and sub climatic plants. The main glasshouse is two storeys high and features the original iron lace spiral staircases. The view is truly magical.
In spring the bulbs are in full bloom and make for a wonderful spectacle. The gardens regularly have special plantings and displays so make sure you check what is on before visiting.
BOOK |Get your tickets in advance and make the most of your time at the gardens
PLAN | For displays and up to date opening times visit the Kew Botanic Gardens website.
Take a tour of Highclere Castle and imagine you're in Downton Abbey
Search for wild ponies in the New Forest national park
Not all day tours from London are castles and buildings, some of the best escapes are into the wild. The New Forest National Park is a region of England, 1.5 hours south west of London. You’ll need a car for this day trip.
Brockenhurst is the main village in the region and a good starting point. The ponies in this region are wild, so there’s no guarantee of seeing them. Beachern Wood, which is near Brockehnhurst is a great place for a walk or bike ride and a location that the ponies frequent. There are around 3000 free roaming ponies, so keep your eyes out!
It’s free to explore the local area.
Day trip to Paris from London
We couldn’t write a post about day trips from London without including a sneaky trip across the channel to Paris! The best way to day trip to Paris is on the Eurostar. The train ride is just over 2 hours and will take from the heart of London to the heart of Paris in comfort.
Visit the Louvre, take a photo with the Eiffel tower, eat all of the croissants! Book an early departure and late return to maximise your time in France. It’s an essential stamp on your passport to add to your England trip!
BOOK | For up to date fares and to book Eurostar tickets visit the Eurostar website.