As if London doesn’t already have an overwhelmingly exciting list of things to see and do, there are a number of heritage sites, English towns, natural wonders, and academic spots for visitors to explore. They aren’t just some nice-to-have places, these are places with great significant cultural and historic impacts on England, making them worthwhile to be added to your travel itinerary.
I am not doing it alone, here is a list of 14 places that you don’t want to miss, shared by my fellow travel experts.
Victoria from Guide Your Travel
Brighton is a popular tourist destination located on the south coast of England. Visitors to Brighton can easily get there by public transportation. Trains from London Victoria and London Bridge take about an hour and run regularly throughout the day. There are also bus options from various locations in the city.
Brighton is a vibrant and lively city with a lot to offer. There is plenty to see and do and the beach is one of the biggest draws, especially on a sunny day in summer. The city is known for its beautiful beaches and bustling seaside promenade, as well as its vibrant arts and music scene.
There are many things to do in Brighton for a day trip. Visitors can explore the historic Royal Pavilion, stroll along the famous pier, and visit the vibrant North Laine area. For lunch, there are many great restaurants to choose from, but one recommended option is the vegan-friendly Food for Friends. In the evening, visitors can enjoy live music at one of the many bars and clubs in the city.
Other tips worth sharing include visiting the nearby South Downs National Park for stunning views and hiking opportunities and checking out the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery for a glimpse into the city’s history and culture. Overall, Brighton is a fantastic destination for travelers looking for a lively and exciting place to visit.
Oxford revolves around its prestigious university of the same name, and Oxford University had a long, rich history, and a world-known reputation for over 900 years. While students, professors, and academics fill Oxford, tourists flock to this place to soak in the classic architecture and intellectual vibe.
There are a number of museums and landmarks to check out in Oxford, together with markets, cafes, and boutique shops that are worth exploring. If you are heading to Oxford by train, hop on a train at Paddington and the journey takes about one hour and 25 minutes. another convenient way to Oxford is by bus. The London Express takes off from the Victoria bus terminal and the bus ride is also around 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes.
Oxford University and City Tour is a classic and it’s a walking tour covering all the essentials, the walking tour starts at 10:45 am and 1 pm daily. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with exploring Oxford on your own, and at your own pace.
Check out the Carfax Tower (the Center), the Christ Church (the symbol of the University), the University Botanic Garden, Magdalen College, Siant Mary the Virgin Church, New College, All Souls College, Radcliffe Camera, Sheldonian Theatre, Bodleian Library, and more.
One of my favorite museums in Oxford is the Oxford University Museum of Natural & Pitt Rivers Museum. Inside the neo-gothic architecture – the museum is actually a world-class museum of natural history, showcasing pre-historic specimens like dinosaurs and the extinct dodo bird.
Jess from Jet off with Jess
Known for its beautiful cobbled streets and prestigious universities, Cambridge is a beautiful town to visit in the UK.
If you’re living in London and want to escape the hustle and bustle for a peaceful day, Cambridge is perfect! The quickest way to travel to Cambridge from London is definitely by train. The stations where you can get the train are London Liverpool Street, London Victoria, and London Paddington. The total journey time is only 48 minutes but trains in the UK can be quite expensive. A cheaper alternative is the bus which costs only £11 each way.
The journey takes an hour and a half and you can catch one from Golder’s Green, Stratford, Liverpool Street, or London Victoria Station. There are so many great activities to do in Cambridge once you get there; Punting is definitely what the city is most known for. If you have never heard of punting before, the definition according to the Oxford English Dictionary is: “A long, narrow flat-bottomed boat, square at both ends and propelled with a long pole, used on inland waters chiefly for recreation.” Basically, you get in a wooden boat and push yourself along by hitting a long pole on the bottom of the canal and it’s a lot of fun! Some other activities to add to your day itinerary are; exploring the university grounds (there are 31 colleges in total), wandering the market in Cambridge Market Square, climbing the tower of St.Mary’s Church and visiting the Fitzwilliam Museum. After all the exploring the city you can step into Station Tavern to get a delicious dinner or drink to end the day out! Cambridge can be visited any time of year but it is particularly beautiful in Autumn like the month of October.
Joanna from The World in My Pocket
Canterbury is a great place to go if you are looking for an easy day trip from London. Located only one hour and a half away from the capital, Canterbury is very well contacted with London by both trail and road. There are plenty of daily trains leaving from London towards Canterbury.
There are plenty of things to do in Canterbury on a day trip from London. The first place you should visit once you arrive in Canterbury is the Cathedral. This can take a good 2 to 3 hours and even longer if you want to explore the grounds as well. It is advisable to book your ticket ahead of time, to guarantee a morning entry time. The Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, the head of the Church of England.
From the Cathedral, take a stroll around the historic town and head over to the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey. These are the ruins of a Saxon church, one of the most important religious monuments in medieval England. The site is included on the UNESCO Heritage List.
From here, take a break and have lunch at the Foundry, before heading towards the Great Stour River for a historic tour on a punt. The Foundry is a brewery as well so make sure to try some of their homemade beers.
The river tour lasts for around 45 minutes and it’s a great way to learn about the history of Canterbury, as well as Geoffrey Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales.
For the rest of the day explore the pretty corners of the city.
Stephanie from Big World Small Pockets
When it comes to the best day trips from London, it’s hard to get better than the wonderful coastal spot of Hastings.
Boasting a gorgeous strip of pebbly beach, amazing swimming opportunities, plus an iconic pier and a delightful Old Town behind it, there are plenty of things to do in Hastings.
The easiest way to get there from London is by train. Regular services leave from London Victoria, Charing Cross, and St Pancras stations, meaning there are plenty of options for day-trippers. Trains to Hastings from London Victoria take the longest, at just over 2 hours, but are also the cheapest, with tickets available from under £10. Trains from Charing Cross and St Pancras are slightly more expensive, but much quicker, taking just over 90 minutes.
Once you arrive, don’t miss the fantastic Hastings Contemporary Gallery or Shipwreck Museum, the chance to take the Victorian funicular, or visit Hastings Castle.
For those more interested in nature, cycling the glorious seaside promenade is a must, or why not try your hand at a spot of fishing, or head up to explore the views from East Hill?
Don’t miss the chance to eat your weight in fresh fish and chips and to check out The Stade – the heart of the historic fishing trade here and the largest beach-launched fishing fleet in Britain.
Finish your day with a spot of miniature golf, a ride on the miniature railway, or a short walk to discover the wonderfully peaceful (and sandy) Rock-a-Nore Beach.
After this, it’s time to head out for dinner in Hastings, where Teddy’s Beach Diner in St Leonards offers amazing cocktails, panoramic coastal views, and fresh fish.
Paulina from the UK Every Day
If you are looking for an iconic day trip from the capital, a 1-hour train ride from London St Pancras will take you to one of the most important historic sites in southern England. Dover is a port town that serves as a hub for travelers coming or leaving England. This place was also welcoming British soldiers during World War II and the remnants of the war can still be seen in this area.
Therefore, explore Dover Tunnels to learn a bit more about the history or visit Dover Castle where King Lear or Avengers: Age of Ultron was filmed. If you wish to see other well-known filming locations in Dover, make sure to head to Abbot’s Cliff or Port of Dover.
However, the most famous filming location is the White Cliffs of Dover. During a day trip from London, you cannot miss the opportunity to hike those tall cliffs with beautiful views of the English Channel. The White Cliffs of Dover inspired many artists such as William Shakespeare and Vera Lynn.
After the hike, head to one of the fantastic restaurants such as Il Rustico Restaurant to try some Italian food. If you love seafood, Wheeler’s Fish & Chips is a great choice just a few minutes walk from the British Legion War Memorial and Dover Beach.
Dover is perfect to visit any time of the year, however, there are plenty of Christmas events taking place every year so why not get festive outside of London? Dover Artisan Market or Christmas Concerts are only a few options to choose from.
Sarah from Slow Travel
Salisbury is just 90 minutes from London Waterloo, with two direct trains leaving every hour throughout the day. A pretty medieval city in the heart of rural Wiltshire, it makes the perfect place for a day trip from London.
Just a few miles from Salisbury is the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge which features on many visitors’ bucket lists. It’s so easy to get there; just hop on the dedicated Stonehenge Explorer bus straight from Salisbury train station and get driven to the mystical stones via the old Roman settlement of Old Sarum on the outskirts of Salisbury, where you can stop for a quick visit if you fancy it, or just continue on to the stones.
After a few hours exploring the prehistoric landscape, catch the bus back to Salisbury to have some lunch; try the New Inn, a traditional medieval pub with delicious food, a wide range of drinks, and wonderful cathedral views from its verdant garden. Spend the afternoon wandering the medieval streets, or visit the famous Salisbury Cathedral and take a tour of its famous tower. The Cathedral Close, which is the largest in the country, has several museums and historic houses open to the public, as well as beautiful grounds for picnics.
Salisbury really knows how to do Christmas; with lights, trees, and decorations across the city and its parks, as well as festive markets, pop-up ice bars, a Christmas Tree Festival, and a wide range of events from live concerts to a traditional pantomime, meaning that there is plenty to do even in the colder months.
End your visit with a hearty meal at one of the many restaurants in the city before you take a train back to the capital; they run late at night meaning you can really make the most of your day trip to Salisbury.
Need no introduction, Stonehenge is one of the most fascinating, as well as the most mysterious prehistoric monuments on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. Some believed the ring of giant rocks was the creative work of extraterrestrial lives, and yet if they were actually built by humans, what sort of technologies were employed to lift these heavy rocks left unknown. We can go on and on about the legends, hypotheses, and debates regarding the origin and purpose of Stonehenge. Today, The site has nothing much but the monument itself in the center of a plain. Given its significance and popularity, it is impossible to miss this monument if you are on your way to Salisbury; To fans of Sci-Fi or mythology, they should definitely make a trip and marvel at the man-made wonder with their own eyes.
Catrina from 24 Hours Layover
Coventry is a really convenient, unique, and fun day trip from London and can be reached in just over an hour traveling on the fast train from London Euston. There are many things to experience in Coventry such as seeing one of England’s most famous Cathedrals and visiting the famous Lady Godiva Statue, as well as the Transport Museum – a significant museum seeing as Coventry was once one of the car manufacturing capitals of the world.
Coventry is full of history and unique hidden gems: around 900 years ago Lady Godiva rode through the streets of Coventry naked on a horse in protest to a tax her husband had imposed. You’ll find the statue of her riding the horse in the center of town, as well as the bust of ‘Peeping Tom’ who was caught looking at her!
During the Second World War Blitz Coventry was one of the most bombed places in the UK and the medieval Coventry Cathedral was completely destroyed. You can visit this Old Cathedral: the ruins still remain so you can walk around them, as well as visit the New Cathedral next to it. Both look fantastic in the day as well as lit up after dark.
Coventry has plenty of shops too if you wish to do some retail therapy and last-minute shopping! It is especially fun to go to Coventry around Christmas time as they have a Winter Wonderland in the heart of town!
Coventry is one of the UK’s most exciting food destinations so there are many places to visit for lunch or dinner. If you are keen to experience a British pub then head to The Flying Standard – an atmospheric pub in the center of town for some great English pub food at very affordable prices!
Faith from XYUandBEYOND
For Shakespeare lover’s and history buffs Stratford-upon-Avon is the perfect city to visit from London as it is only a quick 2-hour train ride.
The City is quite small and most of what is fascinating about Stratford upon Avon is found within a walking distance of the river where you will see the Tourist Information Centre.
Your tickets to Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust take you through five historic Shakespeare locations all within walking distance of the central pedestrian area. A general ticket for all five locations includes entry to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Mary Arden’s Tudor Farm, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare’s New Place, and Hall’s Croft.
This year Stratford is again showcasing their Victorian Christmas Market. The market is themed, and you’ll find all the stallholders dressed in Victorian-style costumes. There will be artisanal gifts galore, entertainment, music, and special events to see.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage can be seen just outside Stratford. The cottage is a beautiful Tudor thatched building with 9 acres of gardens. You take a guided tour through the cottage with animators who are passionate about their Shakespearean history.
A real treat would be to attend the Royal Shakespeare Company and see a production of A Christmas Carol or a Shakespearean play by the incredibly talented cast of the company.
Before you head to the theatre why not have dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s favorite fish and chip café Barnabys and treat yourself to an authentic fish and chips with mushy peas supper.
Castle Combe, Cotswolds
Ann from The Road is Life
The Cotswolds region is full of beautiful English villages and scenic landscapes of rolling green hills. Taking a day trip to the Cotswolds from London is a great way to escape the city for a peaceful day in the English countryside.
One of the most popular Cotswolds towns to visit on a day trip from London is Castle Combe. This small English village appears to be frozen in time with its charming traditional buildings and rich history.
Upon arrival in Castle Combe, be sure to stop at the Manor House to see the stunning ivy-covered building in a picturesque setting. This 17th-century hotel is home to a Michelin-star restaurant and it’s worth having a look even if you don’t plan to have a meal there.
No visit to Castle Combe is complete without having lunch or dinner at the Castle Inn. Located on the main street of the village, this lovely 12th-century pub offers a cozy setting for a traditional English meal. Complete with a roaring fire, this pub is the perfect spot to warm up if you’re visiting on a cold day.
As you explore the cobbled streets of Castle Combe, take a walk across the little bridge to the other side of town. This is where you’ll find the best spot to capture the iconic view of Castle Combe in a photo.
The journey from London to Castle Combe is straightforward and takes 1.5 hours to reach on public transportation. Catch the train from London’s Paddington Station to Chippenham. Once you arrive, get in a taxi for a 15-minute ride to Castle Combe.
Bath is a historic city that’s all about… Bath. Located in Northeast somerset, a day trip from London to Bath is rather simple. Take a train at the Paddington Station as it goes straight to Bath in about 90 minutes. Trains leave every 30 minutes and the old town is perfect for a day trip. The city is filled with historic landmarks and attractions, with the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Roman Bath, the star of the show. However, Bath has no less wonderful historic attractions, including the Georgian Roots in Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey, and Pulteney Bridge.
To take the Roman Bath experience a little bit further, head to a Thermal Bath center and pamper yourself; or take a peek inside the Cross Bath.
If you have more time, visit the Holburne Museum and check out the collection of artworks by Gainsborough, Reynolds, and Stubbs; or visit the Herschel Museum of Astronomy, which is dedicated to the acclaimed musician and astronomer, William Herschel. The museum showcases original pieces of music and instruments, also, including works of his greatest achievement, the discovery of the planet Uranus in 1781. Don’t miss other spots such as the Museum of East Asian Art, the American Museum and Gardens, the Victoria Art Gallery, the Prior Park Landscape Garden, Mary Shelley’s house of Frankenstein, the Jane Austen Center (the author of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility), and so on.
Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far
Not a lot of people would think of Norwich as a day trip destination, but it’s such a beautiful place with plenty of things to see and do. There are regular trains between Norwich and London, with the average trip taking 1 hour and 50 minutes. With medieval buildings and a lovely riverside, this charming city is actually a great romantic destination too.
Norwich is especially notable for its vibrant cultural scene and title as a UNESCO City of Literature. Once alighting from your train, spend the first few hours exploring the city center, seeing the 11th-century Norwich Castle and Norwich Cathedral, and walking along the scenic River Wensum.
The best thing about the city is that you can pretty much walk anywhere in the city center! Grab an afternoon snack from Norwich Market, one of the oldest and biggest outdoor markets in all of the UK.
Finally, time to take the bus to the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, a museum in the local university where you can marvel at more than 1,200 pieces by names such as Picasso and Degas. More importantly, this is where Marvel filmed the Avengers Headquarters!
December or around the holiday season is the perfect time to visit Norwich as the city is speckled with Christmas lights. Once night falls and before heading back to London, don’t forget to drop by the ever-popular Tunnel of Light very close to the Cathedral. 57,000 LED lights glinting in the dark make for quite a magical sight (and an excellent photo opportunity).
Maja from Away with Maja
York makes an excellent day trip from London. There are regular, direct trains from London King’s Cross to York, and the journey takes approximately 2 hours each way.
York is a beautiful, historic city – full of charming cobblestone streets and top-notch attractions. Start your day trip by walking the City Walls in York. These are the most complete set of city walls in England, and one of the best free things to do in the city.
The stretch between Bootham Bar and Monkgate Bar is the best section! Next, visit the stunning York Minster – one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe, this is the most iconic sight in the city. Wander through the Shambles, one of the oldest shopping streets in Europe, as you explore the city. The picturesque cobblestone street and overhanging timber-framed buildings were supposedly the inspiration behind Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Don’t miss a trip to Jorvik Viking Center, one of the best Viking museums in the country. Take a ride through a recreated Viking village and learn all about York’s history as the Viking capital, Jorvik.
If you get hungry, stop by Brew and Brownie for a tasty brunch/lunch, Betty’s for an English tea, or fuel up at Gatehouse Coffee. Alternately, sample international cuisine at one of York’s top restaurants: Yak and Yeti (Nepalese), Blue Barbakan (Polish), or Rustique (French). Foodies will love a dining experience at Roots or Skosh. York is home to one of the biggest Christmas markets in the UK, St. Nicholas Fair, with plenty of festive stalls. If you’re visiting for the holidays, make sure to see the light decorations around the city – in particular, the lights on the gates to the city!