Top 10 best day trips from London by train

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    Waylin / Pixabay
    Waylin / Pixabay

    You can spend a whole year in London and you will still have places to see. If we also add the nearby destinations that can be visited with day trips from London, the possibilities multiply. In this article, you will find a selection of 10 trips from London by train or by bus that you can’t miss and spend your few weekend days out in London.

    1. Canterbury

    In the county of Kent, it is a mythical place for several reasons and one of the most booked tours from London. The city is located about 80 kilometers southeast of London, about an hour’s drive, and very well connected by road as it is halfway between the English capital and Dover.

    One of its great attractions is the cathedral, a World Heritage Site built in 597 BC, making it the oldest in the UK. In addition, it has been the main seat of the Anglican Church for centuries.

    As with St. James Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral was a major destination for pilgrims from the Middle Ages until quite recently. Those pilgrimages are the main plot of the Canterbury Tales, a 14th-century work written by Geoffrey Chaucer in an Old English form.

    Canterbury also has remains of the Roman occupation, a museum showing what their presence in the city was like, and other religious buildings worth visiting such as St. Augustine’s Abbey. And in between, it all is the old town, between the two canals of the Great Stour River.

    At one of the entrances to the old town (the west) is the Westgate Tower, which offers beautiful views of the city and has a small museum. Nearby is one of the best pubs in the city: The Pound, located in a former jail.

    Otherwise, you will find a very youthful atmosphere as 25% of the population of Canterbury is composed of students of its great university.

    Besides Canterbury, it is also a good idea to join an organized tour that takes you to other points of interest. A suggestion: Excursion to Leeds, Canterbury, and the Cliffs of Dover – places to visit near London during one day trip.

    2. Dover

    Not far from Canterbury, to the southeast and already on the coast, is the famous city of Dover. For many, it is known for being the closest point to France and from where the Eurotunnel to the city of Calais departs. However, Dover has other attractions worth mentioning that can be enjoyed on day trips outside London.

    Much of southern England has similar cliffs, but it is in Dover where the most spectacular ones are located. They are practically vertical, of great height, and stand out for dozens of kilometers of the white of its walls. The most famous is Seven Sisters, with also very beautiful beaches.

    In fact, the entire area north of Dover is composed of the White Cliffs of Dover National Park. In the middle of the park is the village of St. Margaret, on top of the cliffs and not far from the South Foreland Lighthouse, which has a cafe and can be visited.

    Back to the town of Dover, highlight the castle of the same name, one of the oldest in England and is preserved in very good condition. Next to it is the Roman Lighthouse, the tallest Roman structure preserved in the UK.

    And to the northwest of the castle is highly recommended to visit the tunnels used in World War II, several hundred meters long and part of a larger military complex.

    3. Oxford

    We leave the English southeast to go to the west of London and visit this great university city.

    Located 90 kilometers from the English capital, along with tourism, education is its major source of income to the number of faculties or colleges (38) that has its university. By the way, one of the oldest (from the 12th century) and where great writers such as Tolkien have studied.

    Most of the excursions to Oxford from London are organized to visit the Oxford University complex. Many of its colleges are located in very old buildings such as Magdalene or St. Catherine’s colleges.

    Oxford also has a cathedral, several museums, theaters, and the Carfax Tower, which can be climbed to have a superb view of the city.

    Do not forget that the Thames River flows through the city and that in it, although the course is narrower than in London, the popular rowing competition is held between the teams of the University of Oxford and the other great university in the UK: Cambridge, another favorite destination for day trips from London.

    4. Cambridge

    The visit to Cambridge is one of the most interesting tours from London that can be done in one day. This university city is not much farther than Oxford (100 km) and is excellently connected by train and road so you can easily visit it at your leisure, or if you prefer hiring an organized tour.

    The city is located south of the river Cam, hence its name. Precisely along its banks is located the university, which has magnificent green spaces such as The Backs.

    In addition, several bridges are located at various points along the river. Some are true works of art, such as the Bridge of Sighs or the Mathematical Bridge. And if you want to enjoy it all at your leisure, you can always book a short boat trip on part of the River Cam.

    Of all the colleges and faculties, the most famous are: King’s College, which has a magnificent Gothic chapel and a choral group of the most recognized in the world and was founded in 1441; and St. John’s College, which houses the famous Great Gate, a gate built in the sixteenth century. Don’t miss the university library either.

    Beyond the university complex, the city will surprise you with its large botanical garden to the south, the large St. Mary’s Church, or the Anthropological and Archaeological Museum. Like Oxford, the atmosphere is very youthful and there is a proliferation of restaurants, pubs, stores, and cafes.

    5. Brighton

    It is one of the most visited cities by the British in summer due to its beaches and its festive atmosphere. It is only 86 kilometers away and many tours are organized from London. Check out the offers here!

    One of its most important tourist icons is the Brighton Pier or Brighton Pier. It is more than 500 meters long and has all kinds of leisure attractions: restaurants, rides, and even a small amusement park.

    To the west of this pier was the West Pier, even more, famous and with a concert hall. Unfortunately, in 2003 it suffered a fire and only a part of the structure remains.

    Just in front of the remains of the West Pier and on land, you can visit the i360 Tower. It is almost 200 meters high and can be climbed for excellent views of the area. Also don’t miss a visit to the Royal Pavilion, the summer residence of King George IV, and the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.

    If you visit the city with your family, another activity could be to visit SEA LIFE Brighton, a large marine exhibition in front of the Brighton Pier. Be sure to visit the Churchill Square Shopping Center and, if the weather is good, try to enjoy the beaches of the city for a few hours.

    A good idea not to miss anything in Brighton if you go by public transport or by car on your own is to join an organized tour that will show you the most emblematic places of the city.

    6. Windsor

    Just 35 kilometers from central London, not far from Heathrow Airport, and on the south bank of the Thames is this small town typical of the English countryside. Its fame is due to Windsor Castle, the first official residence of the Queen of England (who usually visits the complex on weekends) and built in the eleventh century.

    Surrounded by idyllic gardens and parks, both the area surrounding the castle and some interior rooms can be visited by purchasing a ticket, which is usually included in the various tours from London that are organized to visit the area.

    However, if you go on your own, I recommend taking English castle tours in Windsor: the State Apartments, St. George’s Chapel, wait for the changing of the guard, or take a walk through the park on the south facade, with an avenue surrounded by trees 4 kilometers.

    Also tell you that the location of the castle is in New Windsor, as the first population center is to the southeast and is called Old Windsor.

    There is also a Legoland playground, Windsor Central train station has many stores and you can also take a walk to neighbor Eton, which is reached by the old Windsor Bridge.

    7. Stonehenge

    Although it is 140 kilometers away, thanks to good communications, it is one of the most popular excursions from London. We are talking about the megalithic complex of Stonehenge, 5,000 years old and located in the Salisbury Plain, in the county of Wiltshire.

    A World Heritage Site along with the neighboring site of Avebury, the excursion allows you to spend a few hours at the site, and then return to London. But you can rent a house or book a room near Salisbury Plain, if you don            `twant to hurry up, and come back to London the next day.

    A ticket is required to access the complex and the visit is guided. You have the possibility of using headphones to listen to what the guides are explaining in several languages.

    If you do not take one of the tours from London, you can always use the buses from Heathrow and Victoria Station to the cities of Amesbury (3 km) and Salisbury (14 km).

    If you go to Salisbury – a city famous for its cathedral – there are tour buses: The Stonehenge Tour Bus. The other option is to go by train from London.

    8. Bath

    In the county of Somerset and a little further than Stonehenge, this World Heritage City is another of the most famous and recommended tours from London.

    Despite the 185 km that separate this small city from London, if you go by train the trip only takes an hour and a half, which leaves you enough time to see the most important places in this city of Roman origin.

    Its name (Baño in Spanish), in fact, has to do with the hot springs that the Romans found on their arrival and around which they built some baths that still survive. These are one of the most visited places.

    In addition, you should not miss Bath Abbey, whose first construction dates from the seventh century. Also note the Church of St. Michael and its great sharp tower, gardens such as the Parade and Royal Victoria Park, or Pulteney Bridge, over the Avon River, and stores and houses.

    If you choose to visit Bath with an organized tour instead of doing it on your own you can combine the visit with other attractions. Definitely a good place to visit while on a day trip from London.

    9. Winchester

    It is a small city southwest of London, in the county of Hampshire. It deserves to be on any list of excursions from London because of its historical importance.

    Until the arrival of the Normans in the eleventh century, Winchester was the capital of Wessex (West Saxons), which was the name of the main kingdom of the region. This gradually came to dominate the other six until in 829 Wessex and the other kingdoms became England (land of the Angles). When the Normans occupied the island, then the capital was moved to London.

    These and more you can discover at Winchester Castle (Great Hall), which houses the History Museum. Inside is the Winchester Round Table, related to the legends of King Arthur. Also, be sure to visit the cathedral of the city.

    10. Portsmouth

    Portsmouth is a city on the south coast of England, not far from Winchester and an hour and a half from the British capital. The city is on an island, Portsea Island, and is connected by ferry with the great Isle of Wight, a popular summer resort for the British.

    As for Portsmouth, it has one of the largest ports in the world. It is home to a large shipyard where you can enjoy the National Museum of the Naval Navy.

    In this large outdoor space, there are several large historic ships such as HMS Victory, the ship that captained Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar and where he died, or the Mary Rose, from the time of the Tudor dynasty and exhibited in the land, in the Mary Rose Museum.

    Other places of interest are the Spinnaker Tower, 170 meters high and with a viewpoint at the top; the Museum of Normandy Landing or Southsea Castle, on the coast and including a lighthouse.

    It is a very popular summer destination among Londoners. So in the months when the weather is good in London there are many inhabitants of this city who take the opportunity to escape to Portsmouth for a few days.