14 Incredible Places Within a Few Hours of London

London is within easy reach of many other amazing parts of England. Here are 14 first-class day trips from London to enjoy while you’re there.

London is the vibrant, beating heartbeat of England. It’s also a wonderful gateway to other popular parts of the country! From ancient Roman cities to beautiful royal residences, there’s an eclectic mix of outstanding day trips to take from London.

So, if you’re traveling to the UK capital and fancy an escape from the city or wish to explore more of England, here are 14 of the best outings to consider.

1. Stonehenge

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Few sights are more iconic than the monoliths of Stonehenge. The best part? They’re accessible from London in under two hours.

There truly is something magical about this place. Consider visiting at sunup or sundown if possible, or even timing your visit to join the Summer and Winter Solstice celebrations.

Visitors have celebrated these religious festivals-cum-historical events in the same spot for over 5000 years, and watching the sun rise through the stones surrounded by Druids and friends is a truly spiritual experience.

2. Brighton

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Only an hour away by direct train from London Bridge, Brighton is a seaside town with masses for any day tripper to enjoy. It’s definitely one for your British bucket list.

Don’t miss the spectacular Royal Pavilion, a breathtaking palace with attached Regency gardens. The gigantic Brighton Pier provides an authentic British seaside attraction with an arcade, restaurants, and an entire fairground.

Away from the water, Brighton is a lively and vibrant town famous for its inclusive atmosphere and art scene. For shopping and food, North Laine is a colorful Bohemian hub of independent business that you shouldn’t miss.

3. Paris

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Thanks to the Eurostar from St Pancras International, the French capital is only a little over two hours away by train. Services run as frequently as twice an hour and, if booked well enough in advance, can be as cheap as £39 each way. It’s impressive how much can fit into a day in Paris, too. The extensive Metro system makes it possible to get around all the sights.

The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Champs-Élysées, and the Arc de Triomphe are all must-sees, but make time to enjoy a coffee in front of a café, the Parisian way.

4. Cambridge

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The university city of Cambridge is under an hour from London by train. The 31 colleges that comprise Cambridge University are the star attraction, and tours by boat or bus are a great way to see them. Trinity, King’s, and St John’s are breathtaking.

Climb the tower at Great St Mary’s church for the best view of the city, and head inside King’s College Chapel to marvel at a true masterwork of architecture. Punting (traditional river boating using a long barge pole) is also a must!

5. Oxford

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Home to Cambridge’s rival university, Oxford is every bit as beautiful. It boasts the oldest botanic gardens in the UK and the world-famous Bodleian Library, comprised of 26 buildings throughout the city. The most famous is the Radcliffe Camera, which was been featured in several movies.

Oxford’s historic Covered Market is the place for a bite to eat and a bit of shopping. It dates to the 1770s and is home to over 50 independent traders. Then, of course, there’s the university itself. With 38 colleges, famous filming locations, and stunning architecture, a tour of the many sights is a rich and fulfilling experience.

6. Stratford-upon-Avon

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As the birthplace and final resting place of William Shakespeare, a day trip to Straford-upon-Avon centers around the bard. There’s no finer place in the world to experience a Shakespearean play! The Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions are world-renowned, and they perform year-round at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Shakespeare’s Birthplace complete the attractions. Both have been painstakingly preserved and have in-depth exhibitions about the lives of the playwright and his wife. Away from the arts, there’s a butterfly farm and a fascinating Mechanical Art and Design Museum, full of moving mechanical designs and creations.

7. The New Forest

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If the streets and high-rises of London start to feel claustrophobic, hop on the train at Waterloo and head for the New Forest. This incredible National Park is home to all manner of wildlife, not least the famous wild ponies. Fun fact: 5000 of these beautiful animals graze freely throughout the forest (find more fun facts about the UK here).

Grab a map, some hiking boots, or even a bicycle, and head out on any of the countless trails that crisscross the land. There are also endless local pubs and independent restaurants in the villages in this area.

8. Windsor

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Windsor’s a brilliant destination to visit while traveling in London. The star of the show is Windsor Castle, which has been home to British monarchs since the 11th century. Open to the public all year round, this opulent palace is full of regal splendour and priceless works of art.

If possible, arrange your trip to coincide with the changing of the guard. This unique display of pageantry and military precision shouldn’t be missed.

Away from the castle, St George’s Chapel is the final resting place of many former monarchs and is also the venue for royal weddings. There’s a gorgeous little shopping center inside Windsor and Eton Central Station and a peaceful river to enjoy.

9. Thorpe Park

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After some thrills and excitement? Head to Thorpe Park. One of the country’s two largest and most famous theme parks and situated only a short train from London, Thorpe Park is sure to delight and terrify you in equal measure.

It’s home to Stealth, the UK’s fastest rollercoaster, and the world’s first horror-themed roller coaster, SAW – featuring scenes from the infamous movie series and a stomach-turning 100-foot “beyond vertical” drop. Their newest ride, Hyperia, is set to open for the 2024 season and promises to be the tallest and fastest rollercoaster in the country.

10. Bletchley Park

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Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes is one of the most critical locations in Western history. It was the top-secret home of the World War Two Codebreakers, a group of brilliant minds—including Alan Turing—who cracked the Germans’ Enigma Code and helped turn the tide of the war.

Today, it features countless interactive exhibitions and fully restored rooms, presented exactly as they were during the war. Head to Hut 11 for a real highlight: the Turing-Welchman Bombe machines, which cracked the code. The museum in Block B contains an exhibition on Alan Turing’s life and work, plus the largest display of Enigma machines in the world.

11. Bath

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With a direct train from London Paddington that takes a little over an hour, Bath is perfect for a day trip from London. UNESCO accredits Bath as one of the Great Spa Towns of Europe.

It is named for the city’s Roman Baths, which date back nearly 2000 years and are one of the best-preserved Roman sights anywhere in the world. You’ll find guided tours, audio guides, and even costumed characters based on real Romans who worked at the Baths. Adventurous souls can visit Wookey Hole Caves, one of the UK’s largest accessible cave systems (a great UK bucket list activity).

12. Warner Bros. Studio Tour

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For more than a decade, Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden was the home of the Harry Potter movies. The crews preserved countless props, sets, and costumes from the filming, and they all remain on display here.

And that’s just the start! You can explore complete movie sets like Diagon Alley and the Great Hall, along with full miniature models of Hogwarts Castle. There’s even a Butterbeer bar – the only place in Europe to enjoy the famous wizarding beverage.

13. Canterbury

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The medieval walled city of Canterbury is another terrific day trip from London. A high-speed rail link from St Pancras International gets you there from the capital in under an hour.

The cathedral is one of England’s finest, with a 72-meter-high tower dominating the city’s center. It’s vibrant and quirky and full of independent shops and award-winning restaurants.

A punting tour up and down the River Stour is a unique and informative way to see the city’s sights. Canterbury is also a center of pilgrimage. It’s most famous for the fictitious pilgrims of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but thousands of very real people make the journey down the Pilgrim’s Way from Southwark in London to the cathedral.

14. Imperial War Museum Duxford

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Though a bit further away than some of the other options, the Imperial War Museum Duxford is well worth a day trip from London. It’s home to some of the most iconic airplanes ever created, from infamous fighter jets like the Spitfire, to the colossal Avro Vulcan.

It’s not all exhibitions, though. Duxford is one of the only places to witness these antique aircraft in full flight. The air shows are truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Be sure to book ahead for a timed entry slot; otherwise, you may need to wait to enter at busy times.

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Author: Simon Whitaker

Title: Writer & Editor

Expertise: Travel, Theatre, Gaming, Sports, Disney

Simon Whitaker is a freelance writer and copyeditor based in England. With one degree in Natural Sciences and another in Musical Theatre he considers himself a bit of a jack-of-all-trades, and his writing reflects his numerous hobbies and interests. Simon has been passionate about travel his entire life: From hurtling down alpine ski runs behind his Dad as a child to getting engaged in Singapore as an adult, he's collected a wealth of tips, tricks and recommendations that he loves to share.

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