20 Excellent Day Trips From London
We love London.
And it just so happens that whoever founded it conveniently decided to put it smack bang in the middle of a bunch of great road trip destinations, all two hours away by either car or rail.
Amazing coincidence, really.
So we’ve put together a convenient list of the best 20 day trips from London that won’t take hours to make…
Main image: Blenheim Palace | Last updated: 3rd September 2019
This 250-acre park was designed to be unique. And boy, is it. Created in the 1700s, it features a fake ‘ruined’ abbey, a Roman amphitheatre, an Alpine valley, a Gothic temple, a cool grotto, and more.
How far are we talking? 1hr by car, 45mins by train (go to Cobham & Stoke D’Abernon station from Waterloo)
Anywhere good to eat and drink? Stop off at Mr Hamilton’s Tea Room and afternoon tea. It’s in the park itself and includes everything from finger sandwiches to sones with jam and cream. Just remember to book at least 48 hours beforehand.
This mind-bogglingly cute little chocolate box town is where much of Four Weddings and a Funeral (and a dozen other films) was shot.
How far are we talking? It’s literally on the tube network, so, not very far. About an hour-ish from central London.
Anywhere good to eat and drink? Five or so minutes from Amersham station is The Crown Inn, where you’ll find Hawkyns, an pan-Indian restaurant courtesy of twice Michelin starred chef Atul Kochhar. There’s also The Artichoke, a local favourite, rolling in awards
In 2011 Margate became home to the Turner Contemporary art gallery, which in turn provoked a wider refresh. Their renowned theme park Dreamland under went a £25m revamp, and new cafes, restaurants, and boutique B&Bs starting popping up throughout town. The beach is big, and sandy, and you can walk the Viking Costal Park to nearby Botany Bay.
How far are we talking? It’s about an hour and a half by train from St Pancreas. Or a two hour drive from central London.
Anywhere good to eat and drink? For fish and chips it’s Peter’s Fish Factory, and the queues out the door agree. The Greedy Cow does some pretty hefty grilled cheese toasties, as well as number of other laid-back lunchy options.
So, obviously the big draw here is Windsor Castle, but there’s a lot going on here besides, from lunch cruises on the river, to the racecourse, to Legoland, to the dozens of museums.
How far are we talking? 40mins by train (direct from Waterloo, or change at Slough for a faster journey), 45ish by car.
Anywhere good to eat and drink? Bel & The Dragon is a cosy country inn serving Modern British grub. They also offer three kinds of cream tea including Eton Mess with fresh English strawberries, meringue, and cream.
Built in 1270, this was Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, and it’s been amazingly well preserved since then. There’s regular jousting, festivals, oh, and it has its own water maze, with step-boards built on a lake.
How far are we talking? Only 45-ish mins by train (from London Bridge, and with a 20min walk from the station), or an hour by car.
It’s literally Britain’s oldest recorded town. In fact, it used to be the capital city (presumably on account of it being the only city), so you’d technically be going from one capital to another.
How far are we talking? 1hr on train (direct from Liverpool Street), 2hrs by car.
Anywhere good to eat and drink? Tiptree Tea Rooms. Colchester is home to Tiptree jam, making it the ideal place for afternoon tea.
If you like fancy architecture, then Winchester Cathedral, Winchester College (they claim to be the oldest school in the UK), and Winchester City Mill would all like a word.
How far are we talking? 1hr by train (direct from Paddington), 90mins by car.
Anywhere good to eat and drink? The Wykeham Arms is a beautiful 18th-century pub, five minutes from the cathedral. Otherwise there’s The Chesil Rectory, a beautiful 600 year old grade II listed Medieval house turned Modern British restaurant.
Yes, we all know about Stonehenge. And frankly, it’s getting a little old. But Salisbury also has other stuff, you know, like the Magna Carta and a cathedral boasting Britain’s tallest spire.
How far are we talking? 90mins by train (direct from Waterloo), 2hrs by car.
Slightly smaller than Oxford, its spiritual sibling, Cambridge gets a double-first in amazing museums & jaw-dropping architecture.
How far are we talking? 1hr by train (direct from Kings X), 2 by car.
Anywhere good to eat and drink? We like Pint Shop (craft beef and laid-back, easy food); Stem + Glory for vegan-friendly grub; or The Garden Room at The Tamburlaine Hotel for scones and jam.
Slightly larger than Cambridge, its spiritual sibling, Oxford gets a double-first in amazing museums & jaw-dropping architecture.
How far are we talking? 1hr by train (direct from Paddington), 2 by car. And while you’re there you’re only a stone’s throw from,
If you like learning about world leaders who helped save civilisation itself from the Nazi menace during the ’40s, and seeing where they grew up, then look no further than Blenheim Palace.
How far are we talking? 2-ish hrs by car, 1hr by train (going to Hanborough station)
Anywhere good to eat and drink? The palace itself has a number of food and drink options, although The Orangery is by far our favourite – an elegant cream-coloured dining room with a glass panelled roof and huge floor-to-ceiling windows, flooding it with light. Food wise, it’s Modern British, whilst drinks include a global wine list with both rosé and regular Champagne. They also have a short selection of classic cocktails and and nine different varieties of G&Ts.
Deck chairs. Fish & chips. The world’s oldest aquarium. Piers. Big wheels. Cool, Indian-style pavilions. Flea markets. If you’re into these things, you need to go to Brighton.
How far are we talking? 1hr by train, 2 by car.
Anywhere good to eat and drink? The Mash Tun for a beer. otherwise The Ginger Pig for something a little more laid-back; Food For Friends for veggie; The Salt Room for fish; and 64 Degrees for intimate theatrical dining.
Home to a little thing called Canterbury Cathedral that people literally make pilgrimages to. You should consider making one yourself.
How far are we talking? 90mins by car/train. And while you’re there you can visit…
As seaside day trips from London go, Whitstable is tough to beat. They’ve got fresh oysters sold on the beach (and a dozen restaurants serving them), a castle, a museum, a harbour market, and more. And a Lobster Shack.
How far are we talking? 90mins by train or car.
Anywhere good to eat and drink? Wheelers Oyster Bar or The Whitstable Oyster Company. If you’re not an oyster fan, JoJo’s, followed by The Twelve Taps.
Flickr / Martin Pettitt
Birthplace of William Shakespeare, it’s safe to assume that this sweet little town is at least a little bit inspiring.
How far are we talking? 2hrs by car/train.
Created for a pair of millionaires back in the ’30s, Eltham is an Art Deco dream wrapped in a pre-Tudor coat.
How far are we talking? It’s literally in London. Greenwich, to be precise. So, however far away from that you are
This gorgeous little seaside town has both Tudor cottages, and the famed modernist De La Warr pavilion. Grab a pint and look out over the channel.
How far are we talking? About 90mins by train, slightly longer by car (depending on traffic).
Anywhere good to eat and drink? The Drift Wood for Austrian-fusion.
Sean Hickin / Flickr
Chartered by King John in 1205, this town is filled with comparatively cutting-edge Tudor houses. Also, Oliver Cromwell was born here, and they have the only museum to him, literally anywhere.
How far are we talking? 1hr by train, 2 at least by car.
Timo Newton Syms / Flickr
If the name rings a bell, it’s because they have a regatta here every year in which Oxbridge students race each other on the Thames. There’s even a rowing museum.
How far are we talking? 1hr by car or train.
Ben Sutherland / Flickr
Okay, so there are tons of London workers who visit Tunbridge Wells every day, you know, to go home. But for those who don’t, you’re missing out on one of the great destinations for day trips from London, thanks to its gorgeous Pantiles shopping arcade, some stunning parks, and the restorative waters known to cure any 18th century disease.
How far are we talking? 1hr by train or car, and it’s direct from Charing Cross/Waterloo.
Anywhere good to eat and drink? The Black Pig for high-end pub grub.
So, this one’s a biggie – it’s 800 square miles. But apparently every inch of those miles looks stunning. If we were a betting publication, we’d put money on the fact that the term “rolling hills” wasn’t invented here.
How far are we talking? 2hrs by car if you hustle… train is more problematic, and you’ll need to prep ahead if you’re hoping to plan a day trip from London. You’ll need to go from Paddington to Worcester, and it’ll take a couple of hours minimum.
Anywhere good to eat and drink? Ox Barn At Thyme for seasonal plant-based food in a rustic farmyard setting: otherwise The Wild Rabbit for Modern British from the comfort of a 1750s inn.
Main image: Blenheim Palace
Looking for something to do IN London? Look no further than our Monthly Agenda…