Not many travellers to the UK, look beyond London and we can see why. The capital is packed with endless things to do, from top tourist attractions to lesser-known activities that are a must visit.
But while you’re in the UK, we’d recommend planning a day trip from London to discover enchanted villages, stunning landscapes and other amazing cities.
A short vacation doesn’t exclude you from getting out of the hustle and bustle, as it is entirely possible. With meticulous planning, savvy transportation choices and a well-crafted itinerary, a day trip is within reach.
We have also included some itinerary options, so you can take advantage of the historical landmarks, picturesque landscapes and cultural experiences.
Whether you’re a solo explorer, a family looking for a little adventure, looking for staycation ideas, or a group of friends seeking a getaway, these best day trips from London are perfect for you.
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Historical day trips from London
Step back in time with these historical day trips from London, that history enthusiasts would adore.
Oxford is the ideal day trip from London, taking just over one hour by train.
The enchanted city of dreaming spires is packed with so much to do, from historical castle and prison, charming architecture to Literature lover’s pilgrimage.
Oxford is a prestigious university town, stroll through some of the free universities and learn more about student life.
Plan a route around Oxford on foot to visit the famous landmarks, such as the famous and our favourite Radcliff Camera, University Church of St Mary the Virgin and the Bridge of Sighs.
For literature lovers, Oxford is a pilgrimage. Explore the spots that are said to have inspired famous authors such as J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis.
Harry Potter fans flock to Christ Church and the Bodleian Library to witness the many scenes that featured in the films.
How to get to Oxford from London:
Just a short journey from London by train, bus or group tour, will get you into Oxford in just over 1 hour.
Train – Trains leave London Paddington to Oxford regularly. Book your tickets in advance and take advantage of cheaper prices. Price start from about £12.00 for advance booking per adult for a return. You can book your tickets via the Trainline here.
Bus – Return tickets for a bus per adult is £20.00. But will take about 2 hours, depending on traffic. If you’re booking train tickets last minute, consider taking the bus for a cheaper option. You can book bus tickets here.
Group tour – We use Get Your Guide, and they offer this lovely day trip from London to Oxford which includes Stonehenge and Windsor. You can book your tour here.
Car – Head out of London onto the M25. Take junction 16 for the M40, before taking junction 8 for Oxford. Just under 59 miles and should take around 1 and a half hours to reach, depending on traffic. Be mindful that parking is limited in Oxford, we would recommend parking in the park and ride car parks and catch the bus into the city centre.
Tips: Start the day early, as the day will be packed with plenty of things to see and do.
More information on visiting Oxford:
- Best places to eat in Oxford
- How to get around Oxford on a budget
- Free things to do in Oxford
- Day trip to Oxford from London
Stonehenge is an iconic prehistoric monument and mystical destination in the UK.
The origins of Stonehenge or its original purpose is unknown. Some claim it was a way to study the stars, seasons, or it could be a burial ground. Whatever its original purpose, Stonehenge is a wonder to wander around.
Archaeological finds have been discovered within the area of Stonehenge and some of these finds are on display in the interactive visitors’ centre. Discover the stories of who and how the ancient marvel was built.
How to get to Stonehenge from London:
Train: This will take nearly 3 hours and multiple connections. Since you’re on a limited time, we would recommend either a tour or road trip.
Group tour: This great tour with Get Your Guide, its a full day tour of Stonehendge but also covers Windsor Castle and Bath. You can book the tour here.
Car: The quickest option, at just under 2 hours, depending on traffic. Head onto the M25 and take junction 12 for the M3. Follow the motorway until junction 8 for the A303. Stay on the A303 until you reach signs for Stonehenge. Follow the signs for the onsite parking.
Tip: Plan your day trip to Stonehenge strategically, to be rewarded with mesmerising views at sunrise of sunset. The lights dancing and the shadow on the ancient stones creates a captivating spectacle.
Scenic walks from London
We love a city break just as much as getting out for a day hike and these scenic walks and small villages, are ideal for any day trip from London.
Seven Sisters hike
Nearly 84 miles south of London, but one of the best day trips from London if you LOVE a walking or hiking route.
The Seven Sisters is our favourite hiking spot in the UK. It’s a moderately challenging hike, that covers scenic landscape, beautiful fauna and flora, secluded beach spots and plenty of white cliffs.
You should expect to spend at least a day hiking a section of the Southdown’s, or hopping on the bus that takes you across the scenic landscape without breaking into a sweat.
If you have some additional time and want a more challenging hiking route, then you could walk the entire Southdown’s way from Eastbourne to Arundel, which is just under 63 miles and will take at least 24 hours to complete depending on your fitness level and speed.
How to get to the Seven Sisters from London:
Car – the most convenient option is to drive. It will take about 2 hours 30 minutes depending on traffic. Exit onto the M25 and take junction 6 for A22. Stay on the A22 until you reach Eastbourne. Eastbourne or Seaford is your starting point for your day hike across the Seven Sisters. You’ll end the route in either Seaford or Eastbourne.
Train – Take the Southern train from Victoria Station to Eastbourne. Journey is just under 1 and a half hours. Book train tickets in advance for the best deal. Prices start at £12.00 per adult for a return. Buses are not available. You can book your tickets here.
Tour – This tour offers you the great day trip opportunity which includes Brighton. Book it here.
Travel tip to the Seven Sisters: Pack a camera, as you’ll be taking plenty of snaps of the Belle Tout Lighthouse, the landscape and the Seven Sisters cliffs.
These links may help you plan your visit to the Seven Sisters:
Wandering around the picturesque villages of the Cotswolds, is like walking into a postcard, with rolling hills and honey-coloured stone cottages.
Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water and Castle Combe are just a few of these enchanting villages that dot the Cotswolds. Each boasting its own unique character, with quaint tearooms, charming markets and flower-filled gardens.
It’s no surprise that thousands of tourists flock to this corner of the country, for a glimpse at this picture-perfect Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The best way to experience the Cotswolds on a day trip from London is on two feet. Scenic routes and walking trails, meander through stunning landscapes and villages.
Plan a couple of days in the Cotswolds and take one of the lovely hiking and walking trails along The Cotswold Way.
How to get to the Cotswolds on a day trip from London:
Car – This is by far the best and most convenient way to get around. Hop between the different villages. Depending on your starting village, it will take nearly 2 hours from London depending on traffic. Take the M25 to junction 16 for the M40. Take junction 8 along the A40, then follow the signs to the first village that’s in your itinerary.
Public transport – It is possible to take public transport, but you’ll be spending more than 5 hours on the road and multiple changes. If you are planning to spend a couple of days in the Cotswolds, you could hop on the bus between the villages. But in our opinion, you’re better off driving or taking a tour.
Group tour: This is a full day tour to the Cotswolds via Get Your Guide.
These links will help you plan your trip to the Cotswolds:
Coastal day trips from London
Need some beach time? These coastal towns are ideal for a short-day trip from London
If you’re looking for a day trip that seamlessly blends the joys of the seaside with a dash of vibrant colour, then Brighton is the ideal spot.
Brighton Beach, with its pebble shores and the iconic pier, is heaven for those looking for a bit of seaside bliss and a romantic picnic.
Feel the sea breeze and soak up the sun as you stroll along the seafront, it’s a refreshing escape from the urban hustle of London.
The Royal Pavilion is a true architectural masterpiece, with Indian influence that offers an exotic blend for this once royal holiday home.
Wander through the opulent rooms and get a feel of what a royal household would be like.
What truly makes Brighton special, is the vibrant and inclusive atmosphere. Head to Kemp Town for colourful LGBTQ+ bars and clubs. Visit Brighton during Pride, for the colours and party to explode.
How to Get to Brighton from London:
Train: Within about 1 hour, you’ll be in Brighton by train. Train services run frequently with prices starting at £30.00 per adult for a return ticket. Book your tickets here in advance.
Bus – Just over 3 hours journey depending on traffic, but to get to Brighton on the bus is by far the cheapest option at £8.00 per adult for a return. While this is the slower option, if you’re on a tight budget in the UK, you will benefit from cheap bus tickets. Book bus tickets here.
Car – Nearly 2 hours by car, take the M25 to junction 7. Take the exit at junction 7 to Brighton for the M23. Follow the M23, which leads to the A23 into Brighton. Parking is very expensive and limited, utilise the park and ride service.
Tour: You may enjoy this convenient group tour to Brighton which includes the Seven Sisters. You can book your tickets here.
You may find these helpful with planning your day trip to Brighton from London:
Hastings was put on the map in 1066, when the Battle of Hastings was won by William the Conqueror. While the battle took place in Battle, Hastings is just a short train ride from the battle grounds and the Abbey.
But before getting off at Battle, take the train to Hastings and explore the birthplace of television first.
This charming seaside town offers a blend of cultural richness and historical significance.
Wander through Hastings Old Town, with cobbled streets, medieval architecture, before heading up into the Smugglers Cave and what remains of Hastings Castle.
Experience the classic British Seaside with a wander along the pebbled beach and vibrant promenade. Breathe in the salty sea air and indulge in fish and chips. A perfect recipe for a seaside escape.
Hastings is a small fishing town, where fishermen start their morning early catching fresh fish. Those freshly caught fish are sold daily.
The iconic funicular railway takes you up the East Hill for scenic views of Hastings. Pack a picnic for a lovely day trip to Hastings from London.
On your way home, plan a visit to Battle and explore Battle Abbey, before heading back to London
How to get to Hastings from London:
Train – In just under 2 hours by train, you’ll reach Hastings. Book in advance for the best train tickets. For a return per adult starts at £12.00. Book your tickets here.
Car – About a 2-hour journey by car. Make your way on the M25 to junction 5. Take junction 5 for A21 to Hastings. There is plenty of public car parks along the seafront and at the shopping centre. Leave early during peak season to prevent delays and reduced parking spaces.
Tip: Leave early, to avoid delays in transport, especially if you plan to drive, the A21 gets extremely busy on hot summers days, where locals and tourist head to the seaside for the day.
Check out these useful articles on visiting Hastings:
Eastbourne seamlessly blends timeless charm of the seaside with cultural delights. This coastal jewel is undoubtedly one of the best day trips from London.
During the Victorian period, coastal staycations were very popular, and Eastbourne is adorned with elegant Victorian architecture. The iconic Eastbourne Pier is the Victorian master. Make a point of visiting the Victorian Tea Rooms on Eastbourne Pier for a good cream tea.
For a more secluded beach location head to Holywell Beach. The tranquil surroundings and the breathtaking sunset are a great way to conclude your day in Eastbourne.
How to get to Eastbourne from London:
Car – It will take about 2 hours 30 minutes depending on traffic. Exit onto the M25 and take junction 6 for A22. Stay on the A22 until you reach Eastbourne. Eastbourne or Seaford is your starting point for your day hike across the Seven Sisters. You’ll end the route in either Seaford or Eastbourne.
Train – Take the Southern train from Victoria Station to Eastbourne. Journey is just under 1 and a half hours. Book train tickets in advance for the best deal. Prices start at £12.00 per adult for a return. Buses are not available. Book your tickets in advance here.
You may find these helpful when planning your trip to Eastbourne:
The allure of sandy beaches, rollercoaster rides and the mystery of the Shell Grotto, this hidden gem makes Margate a great day trip from London.
Margate beach is the perfect spot for basking in the sun and taking a refreshing dip in the tidal pools or sea.
Dreamland amusement park is a must for adrenaline junkies heading to the beach. Ride a 100-year-old wooden roller coaster, that wizzes you around the park.
This nostalgic yet thrilling experience is great for visitors of all ages.
Escape the heat, by going underground to the Shell Grotto. The passageways are adorned with intricate mosaic shells. But the origins and purpose for the grotto is unknown, which adds to the intrigue of why millions of shells set out in a mosaic has been placed here.
This coastal town is a promising day trip filled with seaside joy and nostalgia.
How to get to Margate from London
Car – Just over a 2-hour journey depending on traffic. Head out onto the M25 and take junction 2 for the A2. Take junction 1 for the M2 and stay on the motorway until junction 7. At junction 7 take A299 and stay on the road until you reach Margate. There are plenty of public parking, either at Dreamland or at car parks around the town. During peak season, parking will be limited. Leave early to avoid disappointment or delay.
Train – Take the train from London Victoria or London Paddington Station for Margate. The journey should take about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Advance bookings start at £20.00 for a return per adult. Book your tickers in advance here.
Bus – Take the bus from London Victoria Coach station to Margate, taking over 2 hours depending on traffic. The cost starts at £20.00 for a return per adult.
You may find these helpful
Day trips to Europe from London
While time might not be on your side, explore Europe on a day trip from London, it might be tight, but it is possible.
Transport yourself to the city of romance, art and history on a day trip from London.
A treasure trove of iconic landmarks, from the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Louvre Museum. Capture the essence of Parisian beauty in just a day.
Our favourite spot was the Louvre Museum, home to the Mona Lisa and other beautiful masterpieces.
The Champs-Elysees is a shopping paradise. Luxury boutiques, branded stores and chic French brands line the avenue, offering a touch of Parisian elegance.
With plenty to do in London, you may want to spend a few days in the city of love.
How to get to Paris from London:
Car – It is possible to drive, but the journey will take over 6 hours and you’ll need to go either via ferry or Eurotunnel. Once you’re in Paris, you’ll need to navigate parking.
Train – Trains leave via the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. Book in advance for the best rates. Journey time should take about 2 and a half hours. With advance booking, ticket prices start at £180 per adult for a return.
You may find these helpful:
- Things to do in Paris
- Christmas Markets in Paris
- Travel guide to France
- First timers guide to driving in France
- Tips on how to travel on a budget
Tips for planning your day trip from London
To include a day trip from London into your itinerary when you have limited time, requires careful organisation and planning, but it is achievable.
Whether you’re visiting the UK for a long weekend, a 7-day trip or a couple of weeks, it is worth getting out of the city and experiencing more adventures and beauty that the country has to offer.
Research transportation options
To make the most of your UK adventure and to fit a day trip from London into your itinerary, start by researching the transportation options.
You need to decide not only on the destination for the day trip, but also the logistics of how to get there and what fits within your budget.
In our opinion the most convenient way for a day trip from London is to drive. Roads and driving conditions are one of the best. Drivers are patient and the roads system is safe.
No need to rely on a schedule unlike travelling via public transport, it is worth noting that during peak times, roads can get congested and delay travel times. We would recommend leaving early, this will benefit your journey time and time well spent in the destination.
Small cities and towns may have limited parking, so research these options before you travel.
In our experience the places to be mindful of parking is Oxford, Brighton and the Cotswolds.
If public transport is a convenient option, then consider the travel time over your budget.
Train is the quickest option, but expensive unless you book your tickets in advance. You can check out ticket prices and options via the Trainline.
Most of these day trips we have mentioned are within a 1–2-hour journey via train from London and we would recommend catching the first train or bus out of London to benefit your time spent in the destination.
The bus is the slower option, but is sometimes the cheaper option, especially if you’re booking last minute.
If you are limited on time, you could take a tour from London, which may include multiple locations in one day. This is great if you do not wish to plan the logistics and want to visit multiple locations throughout the UK on a limited time scale.
If we are booking tours, we will book via Get Your Guide.
Research opening time
Limited time in the UK, needs a well-planned itinerary. Check opening times for any activities and things to do in the destination and book in advance to stay organised and maximise time.
Booking in advance may see a saving, but also won’t leave you disappointed.
On our trip to Oxford, many of the Universities and tours were booked up and tickets on sale on the day, were sold out within a couple of hours of opening. So, any last-minute decisions, may leave you disappointed.
Many of the seaside towns of Eastbourne, Hastings and Margate are seasonal. If you visit off season, be prepared for some museums, shops and cafes to close early or be closed. The best time to visit the seaside towns are from April till October.
To utilise time and get the best out of your day trip from London, leave as early as possible. You’ll avoid peak traffic, reduced crowds and avoid disappointment.
Pack the essentials for a day trip from London
Packing the essentials for a day trip from London is crucial to set you off on a smooth and enjoyable trip.
Choose a comfortable backpack to carry all your essentials, you could choose one of these backpacks.
A water bottle is a must, to keep you hydrated throughout the day. Check the weather conditions prior to your trip and pack the right clothing for the destination and activities you plan to do. We’ll often carry waterproof jacket and trousers. Weather in the UK is unpredictable, and a downpour is possible.
To keep to a budget, pack snacks that will keep you going during the day. You can either bring these from your home country, or purchase them in the local supermarket, but include this in your budget.
For a more comprehensive list of what to pack for a day trip, then head over to what to pack for a weekend away.
Suggested UK itineraries
Visiting the UK is an adventure, but with a limited time, you may find these suggested itineraries which include visiting top tourist destinations in the capital and less-known places and taking at least one day trip from London.
Long weekend in London
If this is your first time in London and only have a couple of days in the city, then this suggested itinerary is perfect. You’ll discover the top tourist attractions but also a day trip out to one of these beautiful spots.
Day one will be exploring the top tourist attractions of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard.
With such a limited time, you may favour an open top bus tour of London. This way you can see the top tourist spots and hop on and off the bus at your chosen destination.
Here is a great hop on and hop off bus tour in London
Day 2 will take you out of London, to one of these beautiful day trips.
Choose one that is most suitable for you and your budget. Plan how you intend to get to the destination and don’t forget to start early.
Back in London and you’ll be discovering some of the lesser-known attractions, such as St Dunstan’s in the East. Book your tickets in advance and head up to the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street, before heading to the Monument. Grab a bite to eat at Leadenhall Market.
If you have some time, make you way to the Tower of London and London Bridge.
Your last day in London, will have you visiting some of the famous landmarks.
If you didn’t visit The Tower of London and Tower Bridge in Day 3, cover this today. Then Head south along the Thames to visit the Clink Prison Museum, Shakespear’s Globe and ride the London Eye.
1 week in London
Follow the above itinerary for the 4 days.
Today is about visiting museums and art galleries.
The Natural History Museum is a must. As you enter the gigantic tyrannosaurus rex breathes down on you.
Wander around the museum and learn more about planet earth. Head to the British Museum and admire the vast collection of artefacts, art and antiques.
The Tate Modern has amazing contemporary art on display and is mesmerising.
London is filled with museums and art galleries, you’re unlikely to have time for them all, but choose which is preferred.
Take day 6 to explore another region of the UK with a day trip from London.
Plan the logistics of how you can get there but start the day early.
If you’re travelling in the summer, we would recommend a seaside destination.
This is a more relaxed day, by visiting the many parks and Royal Parks in London.
St James’s Park is just a short distance from Buckingham Palace, or you may prefer Green Park or Hyde Park.
With a variety of parks to explore, take your last day at a leisurely pace.
The hustle and bustle of city life can often tempt you to seek a quiet spot for a bit of fresh air and a change of scenery. But with time constraints, the desire to travel to the UK on a budget and have a hassle-free vacation can be challenging to balance.
Which is why we have chosen these best day trips from London. Not only are they just a couple of hours away by public transport, but it’s easy to include them into your UK itinerary, for a hassle-free vacation, we have also provided you with a couple of itineraries that you can follow.
It really is possible to escape the urban buzz for a day trip to Stonehenge, picturesque Cotswolds or the vibrant coastal town of Brighton.
If you do find that time is running out, then a tour could be the best option for you. Alternatively, public transport in the UK is efficient, with very little disruption, which makes it simple to get out of the smoke.
Book well in advance to save money and compare train and bus prices. Buses may be slower, but they are often the cheapest way to get around.
London will always be there, but while you’re in the UK, why not make the most of your vacation time with these best day trips.