London is a big city full of all the things that we love most about the world’s best concrete jungles: great food, historic pubs, diverse nightlife, rooftop bars, and a thriving arts scene. If you want it, London’s got it. But while the Big Smoke has something for literally everyone, it does lack beaches, a quaintness, and the kind of charm that only a small town can afford. If you’re looking to make a quick getaway, all of the places on this list are within a two-hour journey from London (and can be explored solo). Here are the 7 best day trips from London.
Bath is a quaint English city about two hours from Central London, and it’s really as cute as it sounds. The tucked-away town is affordable to reach by train, has plenty of shops to explore, and is engulfed with nature, making it an ideal day trip from London.
There’s just enough to see in Bath in one day without being overwhelming. After your quick journey from London to Bath, start your adventure by exploring the city’s central shopping district, Southgate. Packed with everything from independent boutiques to high-street retailers, you can find practically anything here. If all the shopping has made you hungry, pop over to Framptons cafe for an affordably delicious brunch–try the buttermilk pancakes.
Feel like royalty at Queen Victoria Park or for an elevated experience stroll along the Bath Skyline walk where you’ll see the city’s greenest spaces from above. Prior Park Landscape Garden is famous for its rolling hills and picture-perfect scenery, and no trip to the Georgian city is complete without visiting the Roman Baths.
Ask any Londoner and they’ll tell you a day trip from London to Richmond feels otherworldly. The tranquil town is located 40 minutes outside of central London. Many people trek to Richmond for its cute shops, slightly differing British accents, and great pub fare. The real stars here? Deer.
Richmond Park sits in the center of town and is home to over 600 deer who freely roam the grasslands area. If you’re wondering how to spot them, you will have to spend time wandering as they can sometimes be found deep within the park. Century-old oak trees, sprawling green space, running trails, and picturesque ponds also make this place so great. For those looking to get out of London for a bit, it’s the perfect countryside escape.
Brighton is London’s beachside escape for city dwellers. In just a quick one hour day trip from London to Brighton, you can reach the boardwalks and seaside of Brighton. Although it’s a tourist hotspot, Brighton is home to many locals, which gives the city its authentic feel. One of the best beaches near London, Brighton Beach includes a family-friendly pier where you’ll find arcade games, rides, and fish and chip food trucks known by locals as chippy vans.
To avoid the inevitable grey English skies, head to Brighton in the peak summer months because a winter visit may leave you cold and wet. After the beach, head into the city center to indulge in Brighton’s cultural attractions.
The Brighton Lanes, a shopping district, is the perfect place to explore boutiques, record stores, and coffee shops. For art lovers, the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery are a must-visit. Don’t leave the city considered the LGBTQ+ capital of the UK without exploring the 200-year history of Kemptown, Brighton’s ‘gay village’.
Pro Tip: Brighton beach is a pebbled beach so bring swim shoes for the most comfortable experience.
Only two hours away by train, Paris is the perfect excuse to get another stamp in your passport. With so much to see in the French capital, I recommend getting an early morning train and a late-night train back to London–you’re going to need it. From the Eiffel Tower to The Louvre, Paris’ arrondissements have a lot to explore.
While on the train from London to Paris, try organizing your day trip by must-sees (things you cannot leave without experiencing) and maybes (things you’d love to see but don’t mind skipping this time around). Then take the day head on by planning 2-3 activities with meal breaks in between. If you’re a foodie headed to Paris prepare your stomach’s lining for an abundance of pastries and fresh bread with most meals. My favorite bakery, and your new favorite bakery, in Paris is Du Pain et des Idées. Try the ‘escargot or savory bacon-topped pastry and, of course, the buttery-good croissants.
Travel Tip: If you’re on a budget, check out Eurostar Snap for tickets to Paris starting from £25 pounds. You pick the date and Eurostar will pick the time of travel.
Heading to Scotland’s iconic capital city for a day trip from London is never a bad idea. Edinburgh is only a one hour flight from London. Known for Gothic architecture and cobblestoned streets, the Scottish hub is the perfect mix of city meets quaint town. To begin, take a stroll through the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s cultural hub. Along the way you can wander into shops, pubs, and spot historical monuments like St. Giles Cathedral.
You can’t take a trip from London to Edinburgh without witnessing the city’s crown jewel, Edinburgh Castle. The fortress sits atop a hill that can be spotted throughout the city. For the full experience, take a tour of one of the UK’s oldest castles where you’ll get to see the prestigious rooms and heirlooms while ultimately feeling very royal-like.
Known as one of England’s most romantic cities and its university city, Oxford is truly a must-visit. Just an hour away by train, Oxford is the perfect destination if you’re looking to take a quick day trip from London. The compact city is best explored by foot or bike. You’ll probably notice right away that Oxford is a city built around the university. It’s the oldest university in the English-speaking world and remains a very popular draw amongst visitors.
Christ Church is Oxford’s largest college and is located right in the middle of town. Taking a guided walking tour is helpful as the university is large and widespread with a lot of history–it’s Hogwarts in real life–that shouldn’t be missed. Aside from the university, Oxford has much to explore. Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO world heritage site and an 18th-century structure that represents a victory over French troops. If shopping is your thing, roam Covered Market where you’ll find traders selling everything from food to handmade goods.
Known for being quieter than Oxford, Cambridge is a city along the river with personality. Tucked away into the countryside there’s abundant green space, a famous university, a charming riverside, and a thriving arts scene. You can’t go to Cambridge without hitting the river for a boat ride referred to as punting, so I recommend visiting in the summer. Punting is Cambridge’s answer to the gondola rides of Venice.
Nature-lovers on a day trip from London should add the city’s sprawling 40-acre botanical garden full of lush foliage to their itinerary. Similar to Oxford a walking tour of Cambridge University is informative and worth the visit. Unearth your inner artist while exploring The Fitzwilliam Museum or catching a comedy show at Cambridge Junction. Take a stroll around Market Square if you want to stuff your carry-on with locally made crafts and fill your camera roll with cute photos for your feed.