Our Favorite Day Trips From London

We love London!! I can’t put it any simpler than that. There is so much to do that you could easily spend a year here and not see everything. As terrific as this city is, though, you are really doing yourself a disservice if you don’t try to see any of the other amazing places that the UK has to offer. The good news is that if you plan carefully, you can reach some of Great Britain’s best sites on a day trip from London. Read on to discover our recommended excursions.

1. Windsor

Windsor Castle

What to Do: Visit Windsor Castle of course! You could easily spend a day touring the state apartments, St. George’s chapel, and the lovely grounds of this 900-year-old home to the Britain’s monarchs. They also have a changing of the guard ceremony at 11:00 am several days a week, weather permitting. Don’t neglect to take a wander through the town while you’re there. There are plenty of great shops, lovely gardens, and historic pubs in the area. Eton College, where many of the British elite have attended school, is within walking distance of Windsor as well. If you’d like a tour, contact them in advance to make sure they’re available when you’re visiting.

Getting There: The fastest train journey is from Paddington Station to Windsor Central Station. The journey takes about 30 minutes and requires one change at Slough Station. You can also travel non-stop from Waterloo Station to the Windsor and Eton Riverside Station. This takes 53 minutes and requires a walk up a steep hill to get to the castle.

2. Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

What to Do: You’ll want to devote an entire day to visiting Hampton Court Palace, one of the favorite haunts of Henry VIII, so we don’t recommend trying to see anything else on the same day. There isn’t much else very close by, anyway. A visit to the inside of the palace includes admission to the Great Hall, the Chapel Royal, the apartments of King William III, and several art galleries and exhibitions, among other things. Outside, your admission includes a maze and some beautiful gardens. Sometimes, there are costumed re-enactors on site, portraying various celebrities from Henry VIII’s days. Kids love this, as they will interact with them and take pictures when they’re not actively performing. Be sure to visit the lovely Tiltyard Cafe, near the maze, for lunch or a snack. If the weather is nice, grab a can of Pimm’s or a tea and enjoy at one of the outdoor tables.

Getting There: Catch a train at Waterloo Station for the 35 minute trip to the Hampton Court Station. If you’ve purchased an Oyster Card, you can use it for travel on this journey since Hampton Court is in Zone 6. There is also a riverboat service in the summer that leaves from Westminster Pier, but it can take up to four hours to get to Hampton Court this way because of the tides. However, you can take the train to the Palace and then catch a boat to London, since the return trip takes less than an hour.

3. Bath

Roman Baths

What to Do: This gem of a town really deserves a visit of several days to appreciate all it has to offer, but on a full day trip you can certainly take in the highlights. If you do nothing else, you should see the Roman Baths, from which the city gets its name. These buildings that house the former public baths were first built by the Romans around 60 AD, and they played a large part in the history of the town. Bath Abbey is another must do. A church has stood here since the 7th century, though this one dates largely from the 12th and 16th centuries (still quite old!). Since this town was once the capital for fashionable Brits, it should be no surprise that Bath has its own Fashion Museum. Here, you can see all kinds of clothes, shoes, and accessories from about 1600 to the present day. If you get hungry, be sure to stop into Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House. Not only is this eatery located in one of the oldest houses in Bath, they have a fantastic afternoon tea that features the famous Sally Lunn bun. And no visit to Bath would be complete without taking a walk around town and viewing the Royal Crescent, which is a row of townhouses built in the late 1700s out of the beautiful Georgian that many of the other buildings in Bath are made of. The townhouses are laid out in a crescent shape, which gives the building its name. You can even visit the No. 1 Royal Crescent Museum, which is furnished to look as it would have shortly after it was built.

Getting There: Take the train from Paddington Station to the Bath Spa Station. The ride is only 90 minutes, and the station in Bath is located near the main sites. You can also rent a car to drive there, but be warned that traffic in the town can be atrocious, and finding a parking space can be difficult.

4. Warwick

Warwick Castle is Great for Families

What to Do: The big draw here is Warwick Castle which can easily take an entire day if you take your time seeing everything. This castle has been around since the 1100s, and there are lots of cool towers, walls, and dungeons to explore. Merlin Entertainment now owns this castle, and they have done a lot to increase the excitement level of the property. There is a Princess Tower, where children can have an interactive experience with a “real” princess. There are demos of giant medieval war machines, like the trebuchet, falconry exhibitions, and jousting tournaments to enjoy as well. You can also visit the Castle Dungeon for an extra fee, which is basically a haunted house walkthrough with costumed actors who try to scare you. If you don’t spend all day at the castle, try to have afternoon tea at Thomas Oken Tea Rooms. This teas house is located a short walking distance from the castle in a picturesque 500-year old house. They have a wide selection of teas to suit every taste, as well as coffee, sandwiches, and mouthwatering baked goods. We make it a point to go here whenever we are in the area. For those who like to go off the beaten path a little, St. Mary’s Church is something you should not miss. Its foundations date to 1123, and there is a breathtaking medieval chapel (the Beauchamp Chapel) located within. This church is not often busy during the week, so you can absorb its beauty in near solitude.

Getting There: You have several options when it comes to getting to Warwick. You can catch the Warwick Castle Express, which departs London at 8:30 am every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, from April through November. This service is run by Golden Tours and Warwick Castle. You can also take a train from London’s Marylebone Station, which will take about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The castle is about one mile from Warwick Station. The walk is easy, but there are also usually taxis available. Warwick Castle also has a parking lot, if you are renting a car.

5. Stonehenge

Stonehenge

What to Do: A visit to Stonehenge is on many a person’s bucket list, and it’s easy to see why. Archaeologists and historians are still puzzled over who exactly built this mysterious stone circle and for what purpose, although it is believed to have been built as much as 5000 years ago. It is also one of the most complete stone circles in existence and is considered a British cultural icon. The recent addition of a modern visitor center, complete with replica Neolithic huts and interactive exhibits have really improved the visitor experience, making it easier to understand British Stone Age life and what the stone circle might have looked like thousands of years ago. You really shouldn’t leave the UK without visiting.

Getting There: Unfortunately, this site is a little harder to get to by train alone, although you still have several options. You can take the train from London’s Waterloo Station to the Salisbury Station, which takes about 90 minutes nonstop. Salisbury Station is about 9 miles from Stonehenge, so you can either take a taxi or purchase a tour on the Stonehenge Tour Bus. Bus-only tours on this bus start at £15 for adults, but you can buy more expensive tickets that include entrance fees to Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral, which is also worth visiting. Another option is to catch a tour directly from London. We took this tour from Evan Evans, which also got us into Salisbury Cathedral and several sites in Bath. It was a long day, but worth every penny. Alternatively, you can rent a car and drive, but we don’t recommend driving anywhere near London if you can avoid it.

We hope we have inspired you to go beyond London on your next trip across the pond. Be sure to watch for our next installment of London Day Trips, coming soon.

9 Comments

  • Passports and Pigtails May 4, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    London is very near the top of the wishlist for our youngest. I love that Europe is so rich in architecture and history that there is never enough time, and so many options to fill that time with! Windsor Castle is an absolute must for us, and my hubby would love to see Stonehenge. Great list!

    Reply
  • ALiteraryFeast.com May 4, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    Love this! Such a pretty and well-written post. Adding the “getting there” sections is a big plus. I’ve only spent three days of my life in London. Hoof and mouth disease was in full swing, so we weren’t even allowed to get out of the car at Stonehenge! I have one blurry picture. 🙁 In Bath, I focused on the Jane Austen parts, so didn’t even visit the baths. However, we are going to Budapest in December and I plan to take full advantage of them there! Any recommendations about visiting the baths?

    Reply
    • kamieberry May 4, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you for your comment! Unlike Bath in the UK, most of Budapest’s baths still function as baths. If you’re going to visit them, I would recommend making a reservation for spa treatments even though you are going in the off season. But be aware that some won’t be open at all in the winter. Many also offer tours if you aren’t interested in getting in the water, though. Enjoy your trip. Budapest is lovely!

      Reply
  • Ashley May 4, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    All of those places look like so much fun. I can’t wait to go there so I can see those castles. I am definitely inspired.

    Reply
  • Jordan Loomis May 4, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    I absolutely love this! I have not been to Europe, but I have always wanted to go! Castles are always one of my favorite things to see.

    Reply
  • Wandermust mummy May 4, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    I personally love Oxford

    Reply
    • kamieberry May 4, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      I went to university there to take some law courses, so I definitely love Oxford, too. I will be including it in my London Day Trips, Part 2 article.

      Reply
  • Anita May 4, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    Fantastic guide! I especially love the “getting there” tips – so helpful. Warwick Castle sounds like a heap of fun, my kids would love checking out all the war machines.

    Reply

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