London is one of the world’s best cities to visit but many travelers will admit that they often fancy a trip to the country and away from the bustling metropolis even if it’s just for a mere day. Fortunately for visitors, there are so many other interesting areas located within a 100-mile radius of London and since the city is a hub for pretty much every railway line in the United Kingdom, reaching these countryside locations is easier than ever. Here are some suggestions for the best day trips from London.
Best Day Trips from London
Windsor: The Royal Playground
A mere 30 minutes by train from London’s Paddington station, Windsor has long been the royal playground. Its most famous attraction is Windsor Castle, the Queen’s preferred weekend residence, which tourists have the option to tour. An adult ticket costs £20 and gives visitors a peak at St. George’s Chapel, access to some of the rooms in the State Apartments, and a tour of the sprawling palace grounds, which is a well-known hunting ground. Windsor is also home to the elite preparatory school, Eton College, whose alumni list includes some of the UK’s most recognizable names. In addition to hunting, Windsor is also known for horse racing. The famed Royal Ascot Races, held every year in June, takes place just south of the city.
Bath: Where 18th and 19th Century Comes Alive
If you’ve ever picked up a Jane Austen novel, odds are you already have a predetermined picture of Bath, quite possibly England’s most picturesque city. Bath is littered with well-preserved Georgian structures, many of which are Grade A listed buildings. Its distinctive feature is the honey-colored stone, aptly called Bath stone that comes from nearby mines. It’s also popular for its natural hot springs, which the Romans discovered and took advantage of during their stay. Remnants of the original ones that date back to the 9th century can be seen just below street level. These baths are now part of the Roman Baths complex where a museum, an adjoining thermal spa, and a restaurant also resides. The commute from London takes approximately an hour and a half by train, making it further than most of the places on this list, but Bath certainly presents a great case as to why it’s one of the best day trips from London.
Oxford/Cambridge: Enhancing that English Wit
You’ve certainly heard of both, considering they house two of the most respected universities in the world. Oxford and Cambridge are what you imagine perfect college towns are like. Beautiful architecture, an intimate ambiance, and an incredible sense of history add to the allure of academia for both. But which one should you choose? You can’t really go wrong with either. Both are easily accessible via rail from London and takes just a little over an hour by rental car. Oxford is the bigger of the two, in both population and size, so it might seem a bit more cosmopolitan. However, it also presents a gateway to the heart of England.
The Cotswolds: England’s Heart and Soul
I personally couldn’t think of a lovelier part of England than the area collectively known as the Cotswolds. Filled with storybook villages that feature idyllic landscapes, England’s heart and soul definitely deserves a spot in this list of best day trips from London. The Cotswolds are made up of dozens of small villages, each with their own charm. Some of them are perched upon rolling hills and include a number of thatched roof cottages, while some towns feature replicas of a Tudor high street. It’s impossible to see all of the villages in a day, but some of the must-visit ones include Chipping Camden, Bibury, Stow-on-the-Wold, and Bourton-on-the-Water.
Driving on your own is the best way to make the most out of your daytrip to the Cotswolds but you can also join a small group tour offered by one of the many travel agencies in London like the London Toolkit.
Stonehenge and Avebury: Relive the Mysteries of the Past
Easily one of the best day trips from London is driving to see the megaliths. Some of the oldest civilizations known to man inhabited the western part of England and most of their culture remains a mystery to us even now. That’s the allure of Stonehenge and Avebury, where you will find a collection of large stones that were placed strategically in circles. The reasoning behind the design remains puzzling, as is the logistics. Scholars estimate that the stones gathered at Stonehenge go back some 5,000 years (Avebury’s are around 2,500-3,000 years) and by the looks of them weighed several tons so how did our Neolithic ancestors managed to transport them from hundreds of miles away?
Stonehenge is impossible to get to on your own primarily because it’s a restricted area so most visitors only get to see them through organized tours. If you want to have more access to these giant stones, consider visiting Avebury instead where you can actually touch them and even picnic on its grassy lawn. You can reach the town via rail in just two hours.