33 Easy Day Trips from London by Train

Are you looking for the best day trips from London by train?

Then you’ve come to the right place. I’m a Londoner born and bred and am excited to share my favourite places to visit from London by train.

Whether you want to breathe in a lungful of sea air or explore more of England’s history, here are some fabulous London day trips by train.

the castle-like tower bridge in london

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Best Day Trips Within a 1 Hour Train Journey from London

Are you looking for the best short trips from London by train? Here is my pick of the best destinations that are less than an hour from London.

1. Cambridge

  • Fastest journey time: 50 minutes via Great Northern
  • From London Kings Cross
college buildings in cambridge around a grass quadrangle

Cambridge may be best known as home to the famous university, but it has much more to offer. And as the train ride from London to Cambridge is under 1 hour, and many of the main attractions are within walking distance of the train station, it is one of the easiest day trips from London by train.

Cambridge University was founded in 1209 and has 31 colleges. It’s the second oldest university in the English-speaking world.

Try to visit at least one college if you can. Better still, join a walking tour of the colleges led by a former student. My favourites are King’s College, St. John’s, and Trinity College.  

King’s College Chapel has some of the most beautiful stained glass you will ever see. At Trinity College, don’t miss the Wren Library, designed by Christopher Wren, who also designed St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Additionally, the University has eight museums that are free and open to the public. 

My favourites are the Fitzwilliam and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. The Fitzwilliam reminds me of a smaller version of the British Museum in London because it has a diverse collection.

If the weather behaves during your day trip to Cambridge, try punting on the Cam River.

Punting uses a boat similar to a gondola, where you stand on the back to paddle, but you use a pole instead of an oar. If you’re not brave enough to try it on your own, you can hire someone else to do the punting or go on a punting tour through the lovely area known as The Backs.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK A CAMBRIDGE PUNTING TOUR

By Anisa of Two Traveling Texans

2. Oxford

aerial view of spires and domes of oxford university

An Oxford day trip from London is perfect for history and literature buffs.

Oxford is best known for the university that shares its name.

Walk in the footsteps of greats like C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and start your day by exploring Oxford’s colleges. You’ll be able to see where masterworks like Alice in Wonderland were written and the inspiration for the Narnia books, not to mention some of the Harry Potter film locations.

Its landmarks include the Bridge of Sighs and Radcliff Camera. Once you’ve had your fill of the colleges there’s still plenty left to do.

Oxford is home to a number of first-rate museums like the Natural History Museum, the Ashmolean and the Pitt Rivers Museum, which is unique in that it catalogues its items by item type as opposed to age or geography.

Make sure to stop by the Oxford Covered Market for some local goods, and to climb to the top of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin for a panoramic view of Oxford.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK AN OXFORD UNIVERSITY & CITY WALKING TOUR

By Liliane of My Toronto, My World

3. St. Albans

  • Fastest journey time: 20 minutes via Thameslink
  • From London St. Pancras International
panoramic view of rooftops and cathedral in st albans hertfordshire

If you are looking for a historic day trip outside London, visit St Albans, a charming city located northwest of London. It’s less than 20 minutes by train from London.

Its crown jewel is St. Albans Cathedral, a architectural marvel with a rich a history spanning over a thousand years. Beyond the cathedral, there are many beautiful medieval buildings, cute cafes and a market, where you can buy local homemade produce.

Verulamium is situated in Verulamium Park, close to the city centre. Albans. These well-preserved Roman ruins include the city walls, hypocaust (underfloor heating system), mosaics and the Roman theatre.

If you have a bit more time, before going back to London, visit Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, the oldest pub in Great Britain. A very British way to finish your day out.

By Darek of DarekandGosia

4. Colchester

  • Fastest journey time: 45 minutes via Greater Anglia
  • From London Liverpool St.
norman castle with union flag
Norman castle in Colchester

Colchester is another excellent day trip from London by train for history buffs.

This is England’s oldest recorded town and is the site of the only Roman circus in England. It is home to a host of other Roman remains, including one of the most intact Roman walls in the country. There’s even a pub (the Hole in the Wall) built into part of it!

Colchester Castle‘s keep dates from 1076, but the dungeons of the castle contain the foundations of the Roman temple of Claudius.

The museum here is well worth a visit as it contains a number of key finds, including a Roman treasure hoard that was excavated during renovations of a department store on the high street. There’s also an 11th Century Augustine priory, St Botolphs, that is free to visit.

There are several free walking tours to take in Colchester. All of these are downloadable with maps; some have audio guides.

When you’re ready for a break you should head to the Tiptree Jam Tea Room. Tiptree Jam is local to Colchester but is famous the world over.

By Sarah of ASocialNomad

5. Hampton Court

large statue overlooking wide red brick exterior of hampton court palace

Hampton Court is one of the great buildings of England. Most people visit to look around the palace of King Henry VIII, the most notorious English monarch of all, who had a penchant for chopping off his spouses’ heads. But this is only the half of it.

Henry’s palace is magnificent, one of the high points of Tudor architecture. This was among the very last Gothic buildings in England, and the Great Hall is hugely impressive.

It’s also possible to look around the State Apartments and Haunted Gallery, where Catherine Howard’s ghost is said to run screaming for mercy, knowing that execution was likely to be her fate.

Hampton Court has a superb Baroque palace and gardens, added by King William III and Mary who reigned from 1689 to 1702. This is one of the finest Baroque buildings in England, along with the likes of St Paul’s Cathedral in the centre of London.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR FAST-TRACK TICKET

By David of Delve Into Europe

6. Harry Potter Studios

  • Fastest journey time: 15 minutes to Watford Junction Station via West Midlands Railway and then a shuttle bus to the studio
  • From London Euston
sign saying 9 3/4

Calling all Potterheads! If you are a Muggle craving to discover the world of Harry Potter in London, take a day trip to the Harry Potter Studios.

Harry Potter was mainly filmed at the Warner Bros Studios in Watford. Hop on a train from Euston or Victoria to Watford Junction. From the station, the Harry Potter shuttle bus will take you straight to the studios.

When you buy your ticket, you will have to choose a slot. I recommend you book the first one available.

Once you are in the studios, you are free to stay as long as you want so the earlier you get there, the longer you can stay. On average, visitors stay four hours.

You will see many sets such as the dining hall, the Gryffindor common room and the Gringott bank, in addition to many costumes. More importantly, you will discover how the movies were made. Everything from training animals to prosthetic makeup.

There are a couple of restaurants on site. You can even buy butterbeer!

The Warner Bros studios are a truly magical experience (whether you are a Harry Potter fan or not). The best day trip from London by train for all you Muggles out there!

If you want someone to take care of all of the arrangements for you, why not buy your skip-the-line ticket with a transfer from London? Click here to book.

By Pauline of BeeLoved City

7. Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)

  • Fastest journey time: 40 minutes to Newbury station via Great Western Railway and then a 15-minute taxi ride to Highclere Castle
  • From London Paddington
exterior of a grand stately home on a sunny day

Downton Abbey fans will delight at the opportunity to visit the famous Highclere Castle where the series was filmed.

The castle was established in 749 and rebuilt in the 17th century when it was purchased by the grandfather of the current Earl of Carnarvon (who still resides there with his wife). Just as in the Downton Abbey series, Highclere Castle served as a hospital for wounded soldiers during World War I. During World War II, it was home to evacuees.

Due to popularity, Highclere Castle entrance tickets can be challenging to secure so be sure to book well ahead if you’re visiting independently.  Alternatively, plan to spend the night nearby and arrive bright and early for first dibs on tickets.

An easier option is to visit Highclere Castle on an organised day trip from London as the admission ticket will be included.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR TOUR

By Chris of Explore Now or Never

8. Rochester

  • Fastest journey time: 40 minutes via Southeastern
  • From London Victoria (services also leave from London St. Pancras International)
rochester castle kent under deep blue sky
Rochester Castle

Rochester in Kent is one of the easiest places to visit near London by train as well as one of the most rewarding.

The majestic Rochester Cathedral is the second oldest medieval church and also the second most visited pilgrimage site in England.

Charles Dickens lived in nearby Higham and based many of his novels in the area. Stop by the friendly Tourist Information Office and pick up a Charles Dickens trail map for a small fee. Information boards marking key sights on this self-guided walk will also point the way.

Finally, don’t leave town before visiting Rochester Castle. Although just the carcass of the original building remains, the castle’s 12th Century stone tower is reputed to be one of the best-preserved in England and there are great views from the top.

9. Windsor

  • Fastest journey time: 30 minutes via Great Western Railway
  • From London Paddington to Windsor & Eton Central (change at Slough)
towers and gateway of windsor castle
Windsor Castle

As the favourite weekend home of the late Queen Elizabeth II, Windsor is one of the best-known cities in the UK and is one of Europe’s most stunning palaces.

The city of Windsor was established by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century and is home to just under 1,000 residents. Situated just 25 minutes from the capital, this historic town is one of the easiest day trips by train from London.

But there is more to see in Windsor than its castle and St. George’s Chapel. Explore Windsor Great Park, the former private royal hunting ground, or Guildhall, where Charles and Camilla wed. There’s St. John the Baptist Church, originally built in the 12th Century and reconstructed in 1810.

Runnymede, where King John sealed the Magna Carta in 1215, is nearby. Cliveden House, a three-story Italianate mansion, just 15 minutes north of Windsor, is where the works of Charles Barry reside.

Finally, there’s the Royal Windsor Horse Show that is held each May.

If you’re uncertain of what to see or where to go, there are various day tours of both the city and river to give an overall view of the beautiful sites to be found in Windsor.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR SKIP-THE-LINE TICKET

By Erin of Traveling Thru History

10. Winchester

interior of nave of cathedral
Inside Winchester Cathedral

Visit Winchester for a fun-filled day trip by train from London. Winchester station is roughly a five-minute walk to the town centre (downhill on the way there; ten minutes uphill on the way back!).

This historic city is one of the oldest in the UK and has picturesque cobbled streets, historic buildings and one of the most famous cathedrals in the country.

Some of the best things to do in Winchester include:

  • Winchester Cathedral. Some very famous people are buried here- including Jane Austen. You can also see one of the oldest Bibles in the world
  • Shopping! Winchester has some great shops on and around the high street.
  • Mizmaze. On the outskirts of Winchester is a very old turf maze that you can try and navigate. Well worth a visit if you have time
  • Visit the Christmas market. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in November or December, you must go to the Winchester Christmas Market. There are hundreds of stalls and even an ice rink.

By Kat of Wandering Bird

11. Bletchley Park

  • Fastest journey time: 30 minutes (to Milton Keynes Central) via Avanti West Coast
  • From London Euston
exterior of large country home of bletchley park

Bletchley Park, the home of the WWII code breakers, is a fascinating glimpse into the work of these heroes and of the early days of computers. See the iconic code-breaker huts and learn more about the work of Alan Turing and his group of code-breakers who cracked the German’s Enigma code machine, instrumental in winning the war for the British and Allied troops.

The estate comprises some 581 acres and the house on the site contained many WWII secrets whilst pretending to be a luxury getaway for some of Britain’s most brilliant minds. In the house are displays of the rooms just as they were used during the war and it feels like the people just left that day.

You can tour the huts that Turing and the code-breakers used and see how they broke Enigma.

Within the estate is the National Museum of Computing where you can try your hand at code-breaking puzzles and explore how computers have changed the world. 

Take a picnic and enjoy the grounds and the small lake where children can feed the ducks. And for adults? You can have a gin and tonic in the sunshine and dance to some retro 1940s or jazz-age music on the lawns in front of the house.

By Faith of XYU And Beyond

12. Canterbury

  • Fastest journey time: 55 minutes (to Canterbury West) via Southeastern
  • From London St Pancras International
old stone buildings and 2 towers by side of river
Canterbury Cathedral

Travelling from London to Canterbury is certainly not a new idea. Londoners have been making the trip for the past 1,000 years or so, although it wasn’t always possible as a day trip.

Originally, Christian pilgrims made the arduous journey on foot to Canterbury Cathedral, more specifically to the spot inside the Cathedral where Thomas Becket was murdered. This popular journey was the inspiration for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, one of the greatest works of English literature.

Nowadays, you can hop on a train in London and be in Canterbury in less than 1 hour. One thing that hasn’t changed much, though, is the imposing Cathedral.

Whilst it is the city’s main attraction, it’s not the only thing to see while you’re in Canterbury. St. Martin’s Church and St. Augustine’s Abbey are two other historic religious buildings that are also worth a visit.

A good option for lunch is the Lady Luck, which bills itself as a “rock ‘n’ roll pub”. They offer vegan as well as meaty versions of traditional pub grub, so it’s a great choice for vegan visitors to Canterbury.

By Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

13. Brighton

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour via the Gatwick Express. However, this is more expensive than the service run by Thameslink which takes 1 hour 10 minutes.
  • From London Victoria, London Blackfriars or London Bridge
people relaxing on brighton beach with pier in background

Brighton, on England’s south coast, is one of the most popular train trips from London.

Home to the UK’s largest Jedi population (!), Brighton is blessed with a broad shingle beach, a cool bohemian air and one extraordinary building.

The Royal Pavilion is the opulent Victorian pleasure palace of Prince George, later Prince Regent and then King George IV. Indian on the outside and Chinese on the inside, it is as extravagant and eccentric as its first occupant and seems oddly out of place in an English seaside town. You can grab your skip-the-line ticket here.

Brighton Pier is a prime example of an Edwardian pier. Take a stroll along its length, fill your face with candy floss and try your luck in one of its amusement arcades.

Finally, Brighton is a first-class shopping destination. The Lanes are home to independent shops, including some good antique shops, jewellery shops and boutiques.

14. Epping Forest

longhorn cattle in epping forest
Grazing longhorn cattle. Epping Forest

Are you looking for another destination near London to get closer to nature?

Located on the northeastern outskirts of London, Epping Forest is a fabulous walking destination at any time of year. However, it is at its best in autumn when its plants and trees are transformed into multi-colour works of art.

Whether you’re looking for a gentle stroll or something more vigorous, Epping Forest’s 8,000 acres offer a dizzying choice of walking trails, nine of which are waymarked circular trails. These range in distance between 1.25 and 6.6 miles, and most start close to parking and train stations.

To reach these ancient woodlands take the Overground train from Liverpool Street to Chingford or London Underground’s Central Line to Chigwell, Roding Valley, Buckhurst Hill, Loughton, Debden, Theydon Bois or Epping.

READ THIS NEXT: Easy Epping Forest Walks

15. Mayfield Lavender Farm

lavender field against blue sky with a few clouds

On the outskirts of the capital lies South London’s purple paradise.

Instagram heaven, Mayfield Lavender Farm is a full-blown assault on the senses but in a good way. Wander through a sprawling field of purple flowers, the air perfumed with the soporific scent of lavender.

If you are feeling peckish, treat yourself to a lavender-themed afternoon tea overlooking a sea of purple.

Thirsty? This is your opportunity to sample lavender cider.

For a tasteful gift, pick up homemade lavender products, including soaps and jams, at the gift shop.

Lavender blooming season runs from June through to late August, with peak bloom around mid-July. Check Mayfield Lavender’s website for flower updates and opening hours.

To reach Mayfield Lavender Farm, take a train from London Victoria to West Croydon and then hop on the 166 bus to the farm. A note of caution though; this route can get very busy at weekends (I walked back one stop to make sure I was able to board the bus).

Alternatively, catch a train from London Victoria to Sutton or Cheam and then take a cab/minicab to the farm (this is the fastest route but more expensive).

More Easy Day Trips from London by Train

Whether you are looking for a day at the seaside or want to explore one of England’s cool cities, here are some more fabulous places near London. Many of my favourites are here, including Rye, Liverpool (also a fabulous weekend break) and lovely Brockenhurst in the New Forest.

Most of these destinations are within two hours of London by train.

16. Bath

stone buildings and a covered bridge over a river with a weir and boat in bath england
Pultney Bridge, Bath

Bath is one of the most charming cities in England, filled with beautiful architecture, ancient buildings, culture and interesting places to eat and drink. Once you arrive at Bath Spa station you are only a five-minute walk from the centre of Bath itself.

This UNESCO-listed city is filled with beautiful Georgian buildings made of pale golden limestone. They blend perfectly with the Roman Baths and Temple, which are a must-see.

As the queues can be long, it is better to book ahead. You can choose to join a free walking guide around the baths or go at your own pace with an audioguide. For a treat, visit the Pump Rooms next door for a bite to eat.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR SKIP-THE-LINE TICKET WITH WALKING TOUR

Right next to the Roman Baths is Bath Abbey, an imposing Gothic building that towers over the city. You can take a guided tour that includes the 212-step climb to the roof to take in the view.

Pultney Bridge and views over the River Avon are a short walk from the Abbey. The bridge has quaint shops and restaurants on top of its three arches.

For an afternoon treat, head to Sally Lunns Buns for one of their delicious cinnamon buns and a look around the living museum. Other museums are the Holbourne Museum in Great Pultney Street or the Fashion Museum in the Assembly Rooms on Bennett Street.

If you want to combine Bath with a visit to Stonehenge and Windsor, take a look at this excellent day tour that bundles them into one neat package.

By Larch of The Silver Nomad

17. Bristol

street art of girl on swing holding two red baloons
Banksy in Bristol

Sitting in Castle Park on a Monday morning, sipping coffee in a boutique café and watching commuters go about their unhurried business with a smile on their face, you can’t help but feel the harmony of Bristol.

For the consumer, you can shop at Cabot Circus which is also home to a good range of chain restaurants. You can walk in the parks, explore Queen’s Square and maybe grab a cider at one of the boat pubs.

There are the renovated docks and the M Shed museum. Walking down the river, you can visit the famous SS Great Britain ship. Those who enjoy religious places should see the Bristol Cathedral or St Mary Redcliffe.

Or you can climb the steps of Cabot Tower, perched at the top of Brandon Hill for views over Bristol. Slightly further out is the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Observatory nearby. Or head out to the Ashton Court Estate.

The family will enjoy the Bristol Zoo Gardens or the Aquarium down by the docks.

By Dave of Dave Chant

18. Leeds

red brick buildings lining river in leeds

Spend a day in Leeds to understand why people rave about this city.

The train station is right in the city centre. But if you’re looking to explore the suburbs, the bus system is cheap and easy to navigate.

Situated in West Yorkshire in the north of England, a huge draw for visitors to Leeds is the huge amount of vintage shopping you can do. From kilogram sales to the numerous vintage, second hand and thrift stores in the city, you’ll struggle to come away empty-handed, and all for way less than you’d pay in London.

If you’re in the mood for some culture, you won’t have to look far. Kirkstall Abbey, the ruins of a monastery founded in 1152, is fascinating and free to explore. The Royal Armouries Museum, which displays the national collection of arms and armour, is one of the top things to do in Leeds and could keep you occupied for hours.

By Ella of Many More Maps

Say overnight in Leeds to see more of the city and to explore the surrounding area. For a centrally-located budget choice, check in to Premier Inn Leeds City Centre.

19. Liverpool

iron statue of the beatles in liverpool england

With its rich maritime heritage, striking architecture and buzzy cultural scene, there are more than a few reasons to visit Liverpool. And let’s not forget the stamp that the Fab Four have left on the city.

But did you know that it’s a breeze to visit Liverpool on a day trip from London?

Hop on a train at London Euston station, and two and a half hours later you’ll find yourself on the steps of Lime Street station. And as Liverpool is compact, it’s easy to explore on foot.

Make your way to the buzzy Albert Dock with its restaurants, bars and cultural attractions, including Tate Liverpool (the sister museum to the London Tate Galleries) and the superb International Slavery Museum. If you want to pay homage to Liverpool’s favourite sons, pop into The Beatles Story, the award-winning museum that charts John, Paul, George and Ringo’s rise to global superstardom.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BUY YOUR SKIP-THE-LINE TICKET FOR THE BEATLES STORY

Visit nearby Pier Head for The Three Graces, the iconic buildings that define Liverpool’s skyline, and to take your photo with the sculpture of The Beatles.

Finally, for the ultimate view of Liverpool’s waterfront, take a ferry across the Mersey. The easiest way to do this is to join a 50-minute River Explorer Cruise (book your ticket here)

READ THIS NEXT: 13 Reasons to Spend a Weekend in Liverpool: The Best Things to Do

20. Manchester

street sign in manchester

Most travellers make a beeline for London without considering Manchester. But with its rich history, vibrant culture and friendly locals, this northern powerhouse is 100% worth the direct train journey from London.

After arriving at the train station, grab one of the free city buses to Manchester Cathedral, which dates from 700AD.

Next, walk down to The John Rylands Library, a must-see in Manchester. It is like taking a step into Hogwarts for the day. Go up to the gorgeous Reading Room and be wowed by the glorious Gothic architecture.

Walk across to Cloud 23 in the Hilton Hotel for sweeping views of the city below, with a pot of tea, a coffee or even an early cocktail.

Before you head back to the train station, don’t miss exploring the Northern Quarter, Manchester’s hipster neighbourhood. From Arcade game bars to vintage shops, striking street art to even cat cafes, it’s worth a wander.

Finally, stop by Mackie Mayor, a gorgeous indoor food market. Visit even just to appreciate this stunning building.

By Bisola of Bis To The World

Read my review of Avanti West Coast First-class to decide whether it’s worth upgrading your journey

21. Norwich

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 45 minutes via Greater Anglia
  • From London Liverpool St.
exterior of norwich cathedral
Norwich Cathedral

Norwich is one of England’s true gems.

Less than two hours by direct train from London, this beautiful city was once more important than the nation’s capital. With winding lanes brimming with independent cafés and shops, museums, historic churches, restaurants serving both traditional and modern food, and dozens of authentic English pubs, there’s no end of things to do in Norwich.

The city’s cathedral, with its sprawling grounds and stone walls, is almost nine hundred years old and the second tallest in the country.

Norwich’s marketplace, sitting just outside the city hall, is even older and visitors still go there to buy goods, foodstuffs and souvenirs. And if you want to be super British, you can grab some fish ’n’ chips – one of the most iconic British foods – from the national award-winning Grosvenor Fish Bar in Norwich’s Lanes.

By Dagney & Jeremy of Cultura Obscura

22. Shrewsbury

  • Fastest journey time: 2 hours 30 minutes via Avanti West Coast (change trains at Birmingham International)
  • From London Euston
street of terraced houses in shrewsbury

If you are looking to escape the bustle of London, Shrewsbury provides an idyllic slower-paced destination, filled to the brim with beauty and history. The buildings are so varied in their ornateness and style that they rival the narrow, wonky passageways and steep streets for charm.

Shrewsbury has 660 listed buildings, the oldest of which was constructed in the 15th Century. Older still is Shrewsbury Castle. Dating back to 1074, this is home to the Shropshire Regimental Museum and is set amongst beautiful grounds.

You can follow a Charles Darwin trail or tour and learn about the great man and his early life in the town of his birth. If you’re a fan of the other famous Charles, you can still see a headstone with the name Ebenezer Scrooge in the churchyard of St Chad’s.

To clear your head after these big doses of history and architecture, why not try a walk at The Quarry? This 29-acre park offers riverbank walks, regular festivals and events and even a sunken garden called The Dingle, which was masterminded by Blue Peter’s Percy Thrower.

By Dan of Horo Travel Memories

23. York

gothic exterior of york minster on sunny day
York Minster

Do you want to immerse yourself in almost 2,000 years of history in just a day? If so, York is the perfect place to do just that.

On arrival at York station, grab a coffee and stroll along the City Walls. The walls run 3.4km around the old city and are the most complete example of medieval walls in England.

Travel back in time to the age of the Vikings at the Jorvik Viking Centre. This world-class centre is also an active archaeological site and is home to interactive displays about Viking life, history, and the importance of York to the Vikings.

Lunchtime. If the sun is out, stop for lunch at any one of the cafes and restaurants along the River Ouse.

After lunch, amble down York’s most famous laneway – The Shambles. Fun fact: It was an inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.

This 14th-century laneway is one of the best-preserved medieval streets in the world. From here, wander past Clifford’s Tower, the remains of York Castle built by William the Conqueror, and on to York Minster.

York Minster is simply magnificent. Join a Hidden Minster Tour to explore the areas not open to the public.

Finally, end your day in York by ascending the 275 stairs of the tower to take in the spectacular views of York and beyond.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK A YORK WALKING TOUR

By Melissa of Meet Me at the Pyramid Stage

24. Stonehenge

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 20 minutes to Salisbury via South Western Railway, then Stonehenge tour bus from the railway station.
  • From London Waterloo
stone circle under a blue sky with a few clouds

Few destinations in England fire the imagination like Stonehenge.

Shrouded in mystery, this iconic megalithic stone circle may have been a Neolithic burial site. Folklore variously attributes Stonehenge to Merlin, the Arthurian wizard, invading Danes or Ancient Romans. Some believe the stone circle has extra-terrestrial origins.

Your first port of call is the site’s Visitor Centre where there is an exhibition. see how our ancient ancestors lived by visiting the reconstructed Neolithic houses next to the centre.

Frequent free shuttle buses make the ten-minute journey from the Visitor Centre to the stones.

As this is one of the UK’s biggest tourist attractions, I recommend booking your timed-entrance ticket in advance. Although entry is free if you are a member of English Heritage or the National Trust, you still need to book your time slot.

Although you can visit Stonehenge independently from London, this is one destination where it may be more time efficient to join a day tour, particularly if you want to also visit Bath, Windsor or Oxford. Here are a few options to consider.

Stonehenge Half-Day Tour

Although Stonehenge is one of the most popular day trips from London, it is not the easiest place to reach by public transport, requiring a train and bus/taxi journey. This half-day tour includes a return transfer and an audio guide.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK

Windsor, Stonehenge and Oxford Tour

Three top destinations are bundled into one neat package here. You can choose to visit the interior of Windsor Castle and will benefit from a live guide.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK

Stonehenge, Windsor & Bath Tour

This guided full-day tour includes Windsor and Bath in addition to Stonehenge. Admission to the Roman Baths is optional.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK

25. Dover 

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 5 minutes to Dover Priory via Southeastern
  • From London St. Pancras International
white cliffs of dover in kent uk

Dover is one of the best seaside towns in Kent, is rich in English history and is home to some of Kent’s most popular attractions.

Over three million tourists per year visit both the White Cliffs of Dover and Dover Castle on a day trip from London. Dover is a great escape from the city for the day and is surrounded by the beautiful English countryside.

Once you arrive at Dover Priory Station, make your way to the White Cliffs of Dover for a scenic walk on the path that runs along the cliffs. Take in the view over the English Channel from the top of the cliffs; on a clear day, you can see France.

Next up on your day trip is a visit to Dover Castle, which is conveniently located near the White Cliffs. With a history stretching over 800 years, this is one of Britain’s finest and most important castles. Inside, there are rooms furnished with beautiful medieval decorations and a panoramic view awaits you at the top of the great tower.

You can book your Dover Castle ticket here.

By Ann of The Road is Life

26. Rye and Camber Sands

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 10 minutes via Southeastern
  • From London St. Pancras International to Rye (change trains at Ashford International)
Dunes at Camber Sands
Dunes at Camber Sands

Spend a day in Rye and Camber Sands to sample two fabulous destinations for the price of one.

History buffs will adore the medieval town of Rye with its Georgian townhouses and timber-framed Tudor houses. Steep cobbled streets are dotted with haunted inns that will set your imagination on fire. There’s even a castle.

To burn off decadent cake calories consumed in one of the town’s excellent cafes, climb the tower of the 12th Century St Mary’s Church.

Don’t leave Rye before checking out its shops and galleries. The town has an impressive selection of small independent shops and a handful of galleries displaying work by local artists.

When you have finished exploring Rye, head to Camber Sands by taking the signposted National Cycle Network Route 2, a three-mile walk.  Alternatively, jump on bus #102 which runs between Rye from Camber Sands every hour.

With its seven miles of golden sand and rolling dunes, Camber Sands has a beach to rival any in the Caribbean. Paddle in the rock pools, collect seashells or embrace your inner child by building sandcastles. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can try your hand at kitesurfing.

READ THIS NEXT: Rye and Camber Sands Beach: An Easy Day Trip from London

27. Whitstable

  • Fastest journey time: 1 hour 20 minutes via Southeastern
  • From London St. Pancras International or London Victoria
red and blue fishing boats in small harbour in whitstable

Whitstable is a charming fishing and harbour town located on the north coast of Kent, southeast of London, and is a super easy day trip from London by train.

Famed for its seafood scene, Whitstable is a great spot for foodies and has many oyster shacks in the harbour. The town also holds a popular two-day oyster festival every July, featuring hundreds of food stalls, live music and a parade.

Other things you can do in Whitstable include taking a walk along the coast, which is lined with colourful beach huts, or visiting the main high street which is filled with boutique shops, galleries and cafes.

End your day trip with a drink at the Old Neptune, which is one of the most popular pubs in town. It is located right on the beach, so you can enjoy a delicious pint of locally brewed beer with a beautiful sea view.

By Caroline of CK Travels

28. Bourton-on-the-Water (The Cotswolds)

  • Fastest journey time: 2 hours 10 minutes to Moreton-in-Marsh via Great Western Railway (change at Charlbury) for local bus #801 to Bourton-on-the-Water
  • From London Paddington
people walking by river in a pretty town in england

Known as the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most beautiful Cotswolds villages and a perfect day trip from London by rail.

This quintessential English village is famous for its golden stone buildings and arched bridges. Other than roaming around the quaint streets of the village, the best things to do in a day include exploring the Cotswold Motoring Museum, the Birdland Parks and Gardens and the famous model village.

For the perfect souvenir, visit the Cotswold Perfumery (you can also take part in one of their fragrance courses).

Finally, if you are feeling peckish, head to one of the many pubs in the village such as the Duke of Wellington, which has a great beer garden.

By Roshni of The Wanderlust Within

Thanks to less-than-stellar bus services, it’s fair to say that visiting the Cotswolds isn’t the easiest day trip from London by public transport. Joining a day tour is an excellent way for you to see a few more beautiful Cotswold villages and you will benefit from the knowledge of a local guide. Take a look at this day tour of the Cotswolds from London, which includesBourton-on-the-Water.

29. Brockenhurst

dappled sunlight in a forest grove
New Forest

Beautiful Brockenhurst is one of the best day trips from London by train for nature lovers. The town is easily reached by train from Waterloo.

The area is famous for its great cycling network. You can transport your bikes on the train, but it is also possible to rent bikes next to Brockenhurst train station. You will find several bike-friendly cafes and pubs in town.

In the nearby fields, it is common to spot wild horses roaming free. Some local stables offer horse-riding tours and lessons. Complete beginners and children are also welcome.

If you want to go hiking near London, this is also a good region for that. There are many paths nearby with hidden wild swimming spots. A popular place for a picnic and swim is by the Lymington River in Brockenhurst. Children especially love the rope swings hung up by locals.

By Eniko of Travel Hacker Girl

30. Saffron Walden

  • Fastest journey time: 50 minutes to Audley End via Greater Anglia. From here, take a taxi or bus to Saffron Walden.
  • From London Liverpool St.
pretty street of half timbered houses

Saffron Walden was once a Suffolk market town, but now it is a picturesque village filled with boutique-style shops, charming cafes and restaurants.

Here are the best places to visit during a day trip to Saffron Walden from London

Bridge End Garden  – Bridge End Garden is best visited when it isn’t raining as the gardens are beautiful. However, the highlight here is the maze, which will keep you amused for hours.

Saffron Grange Vineyard – The Vineyard is a little out of the town centre, approximately 1.7 miles away. If you book online before arriving, you can join the vineyard tour and tasting. Wine tasting is perfect at any time of the year.

Audley End House and Gardens – For a small entrance fee, you can explore this grand Estate.

Saffron Walden Town Centre – Explore the town centre (at weekends you will find great little markets right in the centre). This is a great spot to have lunch or afternoon tea. The restaurants and pubs all serve deliciously fresh food, so you are spoilt for choices. A great little town to explore.

By Paula of Truly Expat

Best Eurostar Train Trips from London

Day trips from London by train are not confined to England. Thanks to Eurostar, some cities in mainland Europe can be reached from London in under two and a half hours.

>>> Read my review of Eurostar Standard Premier to decide whether it’s worth upgrading your journey

31. Paris

  • Journey time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • From London St. Pancras International
large elegant building by the side of the river in paris france

Take an early train from London St. Pancras International Station and you are set for a wonderful day in Paris. Trains arrive at Paris Gare du Nord train station, from where you can travel around on the Paris Metro.

What to do during a day in Paris? If this is your first time in the French capital, you should go up the Eiffel Tower for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

>>> SKIP THE LINE & BUY YOUR EIFFEL TOWER SUMMIT TICKET HERE

Then, I suggest spending your time in one district so you don’t waste time navigating the city on public transport.

I recommend Ile de la Cité, the island in the middle of the Seine River, where most of the historical buildings are located. Visit Notre Dame (from outside), the Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie.

Also, you can wander around the medieval streets of this island and watch the typical Bateaux Mouches sail by.

By Elisa of World in Paris

32. Lille

  • Journey time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • From London St. Pancras International
lille france

Lille is one of the most underrated cities in France and an easy day trip from London by train.

Located close to the Belgian border – the so-called capital of French Flanders – Lille feels more Flemish than French, from its architecture to its food.

Due to its compact city centre, it’s a breeze to explore Lille on a self-guided walking tour.

Walk through its series of large cobblestoned squares lined with extravagant Flemish Baroque buildings. Browse the book market in the Renaissance La Veille Bourse, formerly the city’s stock exchange, a collection of small houses arranged around a porticoed courtyard.

Pay your respects at the Notre Dame de la Treille, Lille’s spiritual beating heart and an intoxicating mix of Gothic meets contemporary.

If time permits, stop by the Palais des Beaux-Arts, a fine art gallery that is second only to the Louvre in France for size and stature.

Finally, don’t leave town before trying merveilleux, little cakes of light meringue smothered in fresh cream and chocolate shavings.

READ THIS NEXT: One Day in Lille, France: A Free Walking Tour

33. Brussels

  • Journey time: 2 hours
  • From London St. Pancras International
detailed sculpture of figures on a pillar with gable roof buildings in background

Courtesy of Eurostar, a day trip to Brussels from London is both easy and affordable. Take a morning train from London St. Pancras International and in just over two hours you can be munching on waffles in the Grand Place.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Grand Place is the core of Brussels’ medieval city centre and is lined with ornate, late Medieval buildings. This is also home to the city’s Christmas markets.

For a stark contrast to Brussels’ historic centre, head over to the city’s east side.  Ancient architecture is replaced by sleek skyscrapers, including the headquarters of the European Union.

For something completely different, take a comic trail to discover just how many cartoons were created in Brussels. From The Smurfs to Tintin, Blake and Mortimer to Marsupilami, watch out for the comic

Finally, don’t leave Brussels before sampling one of the excellent Belgian beers and, of course, chocolate.

>>> JOIN A 1-HOUR CHOCOLATE-MAKING WORKSHOP HERE

READ THIS NEXT: One Day in Brussels: Itinerary and Best Things to Do 

Map of Places to Visit Near London by Train

If you find it helpful to map it out, here’s one I made earlier. To take a closer look at these beautiful places near London, simply click here or on the map itself.

map showing the location of best day trips from London by train
Best day trips from London: map (click on image for interactive map) Map Data @ 2020 Google

Tips for Day Trips by Train from London

  • As many Londoners do not own a car (myself included), expect services to be much busier at the weekend, especially to popular destinations like Brighton. To avoid the crowds, if possible try to visit on a weekday.
  • However, rail improvement works tend to take place on a weekend, particularly on Sundays. Therefore check for travel disruptions before you set out. Trust me, a rail replacement bus is not a joy.
  • Rail travel in England can be expensive but buying your ticket in advance will often save you money. For example, if I wanted to travel to Bath today, a return ticket would cost me in excess of £69 (and this would not be the most expensive ticket on this route!). However, the same ticket booked a month in advance is only £23.
  • Consider booking two one-way tickets instead of a return ticket as this can sometimes be cheaper.
  • A railcard can also save you money on train travel. A 16-25 Railcard, 26-30 Railcard, Senior Railcard, Family & Friends Railcard, Two Together and Network Railcard (London and SE only) save you ⅓ on eligible fares.
bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman is a Londoner who has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.