Getaway from London and enjoy a quintessentially English experience in the countryside; castles, boat rides and nights at the races are less than a two-hour train ride away! In this article, you will find a list of London one day trip ideas from a restaurant-hopping Brit who loves nothing more than a jolly good UK day trip.
Read on for a guide to the best day trips from London, England, the best weekend trips from London, my favourite London day tours, the best romantic day trips from London, the best historic day trips from London and the best foodie day trips from London, including how to get there and what else there is to do once you arrive.
Historic Day Trips From London
Windsor Trip and Castle Tour
A day trip to Windsor out of London will take you back in time. Part-time home of the Queen, oldest inhabited castle in the world Windsor Castle was also the setting for the game-changing wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
If you’re looking for the most beautiful castle in England, and you don’t have time for a day trip to Warwick Castle, then Windsor is a good second choice for a day trip in London (it’s located on the outskirts). See the glorious State apartments, St George’s Chapel and the stunning Royal Collection, which includes paintings by Holbein and Van Dyck, elaborate dinner services used by Kings and Queens and Henry VIII’s battle armour.
Special events, talks and tours are regularly held, so be sure to check out the castle event calendar. Standard admission to Windsor Castle costs £23.50 per adult, £13.50 per child and under 5’s are given free admission.
How to Get to Windsor Castle from London:
Windsor Castle is one hour by direct train from central London (leaving from Waterloo Station or Charing Cross).
Oxford, nicknamed ‘city of dreaming spires,’ is a joy to walk around on foot. With pretty streets lined with old buildings, charming squares and picturesque parks, it is one of the most beautiful places near London.
A day trip to Oxford from London offers beguiling history and flashy architecture. Don’t miss Radcliffe Square, the University (used as a backdrop in several Harry Potter movies), the Norman Castle & Prison, and the Venetian-esque Bridge of Sighs.
After taking in all that architecture, you will likely want to fill up on some traditional local dishes. My top sit-down options for food enthusiasts are The Rickety Kitchen for breakfast, brunch or lunch (think Full English, fancy waffles and juicy burgers).
How to Get to Oxford from London
The train from Paddington Station in central London takes 45 minutes to reach Oxford. A one day tour from London can be organized by Rabbies and include stops in the beautiful Cotswolds too.
Of all the places to visit outside London, this English palace may be the most well known. Fans of Downton Abbey flock to Highclere Castle to pay tribute to its alter ego and getaway from London for a few hours.
Tour the stunning State Rooms and take a wander around parkland designed by superstar landscape architect Capability Brown. The grand estate is open from July to September as well as many other special dates throughout the year.
There is also the option of private tours outside of seasonal opening times. Check out Highclere Castle’s public opening times:
Spring Public Opening: 11 to 26 April, 3 to 5 May and 24 to 26 May 2020
Summer Public Opening: 12 July to 8 September 2020
A day out of London awaits!
How to Get To Highclere Castle:
Take a train or coach trip from London. There is not a direct train to Highclere, but you can catch the 40-minute train ride from London Paddington to Newbury station, which is about 5 miles from the castle. You can also go viaNational Express Bus (which will take longer but it will be cheaper).
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Foodie Day Trips from London
Michelin Star Dining in Bray
Blow the gastronomic budget in historic Bray, one of the top foodie trips from London. It’s a quaint little culinary hamlet beside the Thames that happens to be home to two of the UK’s five three-starred Michelin restaurants. Day trips around London don’t get tastier (or more expensive!) than this.
Where to Eat in Bray:
- Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck – a world-class gourmet sensory experience
- Roux Brother’s Waterside Inn. more formal affair with a focus on French dishes. Tables are hard to come by so make sure you book early.
- The Hinds Head. – a slightly more budget-friendly option is Blumenthal’s one Michelin starred pub next door,
How to Get To Bray:
It’s only 30 minutes from Paddington in central London (plus a short walk or five-minute taxi ride from the station).
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Countryside Tasty Day Out
Bury St Edmunds is an old hidden gem of a market town in the heart of the Suffolk countryside, once a favourite holiday spot of Charles Dickens. Explore the ancient town centre with its 1,000 year old monastery ruins, park and magnificent 11th century St Edmundsbury Cathedral.
This one day trip from London is perfect for travellers looking for award-winning food in the UK.
Fine dining options in Bury St Edmunds:
- The best of the bunch is 1921 where wizard-like head chef, Zack Deakins uses the finest local ingredients to create art on a plate.
- Award-winning French offering Maison Bleue is worth a look too.
- The tastiest breakfast/brunch in Bury St Edmunds can be found at No. 5 Angel Hill, where stunning views of the town’s magnificent old Abbey Gate are thrown in for free alongside a good cup of coffee and a fluffy pancake.
- For a more hands-on cooking experience, check out Ice Cookery School’s event calendar.
How to Get to Bury St Edmunds:
You can reach Bury St Edmunds from London by train via Liverpool Street or London King’s Cross stations. The journey will take around one hour and 30 minutes.
Amersham is a charming old English village, so charismatic that it featured in a Hugh Grant movie. It’s one of my favourite things to do outside London.
Take a wander around and take in its pastoral charm (in the summer months, cool off with a walk around pretty Shardeloes lake), before sitting down to a slap-up meal at The Artichoke, a restaurant that’s nailed its offering so successfully that the Independent newspaper suggests that food-savvy citizens should move to Buckinghamshire (the county it belongs to) just so that they can eat there regularly.
If you’re in the mood for spice, make a beeline for Hawkyns, a pan-Indian restaurant by two Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar. The lunch menu offers 3 delicious courses for £22.50 per person.
How to Get to Old Amersham: It’s an easy day trip near London
The average journey time by train between Amersham and London Marylebone Station is 40 minutes. Amersham is one of the cheapest day trips from London that you can do, costing just £17 return.
Romantic Day Trips from London
Spa at Stoke Park
Address: Stoke Park, Country Club, Spa and Hotel, Park Rd, Stoke Poges SL2 4PG, United Kingdom
The countryside around the capital is brimming with high-end hotels inviting you to indulge in posh spas and fancy dining on a day trip outside London.
But for me, it’s all about Stoke Park. This is one of the best London day trips for couples in my humble opinion. This is the hotel where Bridget Jones was romanced by the devilishly charming Daniel Cleaver and where James Bond, in his absolute sexiest Connery incarnation, cunningly beat Auric Goldfinger on the golf course. The hotel is iconic and as such, it oozes romance.
It’s also perfect if you’re looking for winter day trips from London, as spa-ing is an indoor activity. A spa day retreat costs from £75pp from Monday to Thursday and includes a healthy two-course lunch.
How to Get to Stoke Park:
This is one of the easiest places to visit near London. The train from London Paddington takes you to Slough station, Stoke Park is a nine-minute taxi ride away.
The horse racing capital of the UK, sleepy Newmarket is less than two hours by train from central London, but you’ll find yourself in a different world of rolling green pastures and horses everywhere you look.
Newmarket Races is one of East Anglia’s best nights out (Princes William and Harry have been spotted here with a glass of Champers in hand!), offering some of the world’s finest horse racing, alongside dining and drinking options that range from street food to fine dining (Pimm’s Bar? Tick!). It’s also the best place to get dressed up in your finest attire (hats are optional, except on Ladies Day, when they’re mandatory).
Celebrity guests appear during the famous Newmarket Nights event, which usually takes place on a Friday night. Previous performers include Elton John, Little Mix and Nile Rodgers.
Stay over at the elegant Bedford Lodge Hotel, home to one of the best spas in the area, a perfect post-racing hangover cure.
Spend a day on a punting boat trip exploring culture in Cambridge. Pick up a delicious afternoon tea picnic box from Fitzbillies, a quirky tea room that’s so popular it now has two locations (on Bridge Street and Trumpington Street). Enjoy dainty finger sandwiches, scones and English pastries as you sail down the River Cam on your own gondola, taking in the historic College Backs.
Scudamore’s, who have been taking visitors punting in Cambridge since 1910, offers both private and public boat tours and DIY boat hire with food and drink options.
Other Cambridge highlights include the serene Fitzwilliam Museum, the many Harry Potter-esque Universities and Colleges (most of which are open to the public) and Parker’s Piece, the central park where everyone hangs out in the summer.
I also love the Cambridge Food Tour, a 3.5-hour walk that will introduce you to some of the city’s best eats.
How to Get to Cambridge from London
The train from London Kings Cross to Cambridge takes 50 minutes, the station is a charming ten-minute walk from the city centre.
Day trips to Paris from London
Is it possible to travel from London to Paris in one day? The short answer is yes, if you have the stamina. In this case, you can have your cake and eat it too; Marie Antoinette would be so proud.
How to Get to Paris from London:
Your day trip to Paris from London could begin as early as 05:40 from London St Pancras Station. The journey takes approximately 2 hours 30 minutes (passing through Dover) so you could be in the centre of Paris by 09:15 at the earliest (France is 1 hour ahead of the UK). The latest train back to London departs at 21:13, arriving back at London St Pancras at 22:39.
Looking for more London day trips by train? Here’s a list of more day trips outside London to consider:
- Day trip to York from London – one of the most popular UK day trips, York is a stunning old town with lots of history to explore.
- Day trip to Bath from London – Days out from London don’t get better than this. Visit this stunning Roman university city for history and culinary treasures.
- Cotswolds day trip from London – a London to Bath journey could be combined with a stop in the many pretty villages of the Cotswolds Hills.
- Stonehenge day trip from London – This is the perfect day trip from London by train or coach. Stonehenge tours from London can be booked via stonehengetours.
- Canterbury day trip from London – Canterbury cathedral is a site to behold and well worth the short trip from London via train or car.
- Brighton day trip from London – Beach heaven is only one hour away from London. Don’t miss the famous Pavillion or the sea walk beside the cliffs.
- Coach day trips from London are also popular. See National Express for more information. Want to drive? For day trips from London by car, compare rental prices at DriveNow.
So there you have it, the best day trips out of London. Where will your UK day trip take you?
About the Author: Claire Butler is a travel writer and content creator from the UK who has written for the New York Times, Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel. In her spare time Claire enjoys drinking wine, amateur photography, going to truffle festivals, watching and blogging about Classic Films and of course, planning her upcoming adventures!