BEST DAY TRIPS FROM LONDON BY TRAIN – 30 AWESOME IDEAS FOR A DAY OUT

Oxford University buildings seen from a high viewpoint

London has enough to see and do to keep you in the city for years. But if you are spending more than a few days here, don’t limit yourself to the city. One of the great things about London is that it’s surrounded by spectacular countryside, cute villages and towns and cities with tons of history – all very accessible by public transport so you don’t even need a car. There are so many exciting options for day trips from London by train, that you could spend a lifetime exploring.

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With that in mind, I’ve asked a few expert travel bloggers about their favourite day trips from London by train, and we’ve narrowed it down to a few options.

So here are some of the best London day trips by train.

Best day trips from London by train

Bath

By Teresa from Brogan Abroad

Pulteney Bridge over the river with buildings on both sides

Bath is one of the most popular day trips from London. It is the only UK city designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it will take you through the ages all the way back from Roman times to the present day. The most popular attraction is the Roman Baths, which give Bath its full name of Bath Spa. Built in 70AD, they are one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world.

The city is also well known for its Georgian architecture, which will transport you back to Jane Austen times. The Royal Crescent, The Circus and Pulteney Bridge are key stops for every visitor, as well as Bath Abbey. But wandering around Bath is one of the best ways to explore this city. You will find beautiful streets and sights around every corner.

One of the things I love about visiting is the amount of independent shops and restaurants Bath has. These local businesses have really helped the city maintain its character and stopped it from becoming another generic city in the UK. So if you love shopping or are a foodie, you will love what Bath has to offer.

Another way to explore Bath is on a walking tour of the city or doing a boat trip to Pulteney Bridge

Trains to Bath leave from Paddington Station
Fastest train time: 1 h 19 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Alternatively, you can take a tour from London. Here are a few recommended options:

Cambridge

By Daisy from Beyond My Border

Cambridge University buildings with clock tower and green

London is a gorgeous city that needs no introduction. However, there are a number of day trips from England’s capital that are just as worthy of a visit. One such destination is the city of Cambridge, home to one of the oldest and most renowned universities in the world. 

Depending on where you get on from London (London King’s Cross or London Liverpool Street), as well as the type of train, a one-way train ticket between the two cities is around 10 EUR. Once you arrive at Cambridge Station, follow signs towards downtown Cambridge. This 15-minute walk will take you to Regent Street, which is dotted with restaurants and cafes. Grab a quick bite at Mr. Street Meat or a sit-down brunch at Zaz Bistro. 

Afterward, head across the street to the University of Cambridge, where you can visit Chapel of the King at King’s College and the Wren Library at Trinity College. Wren Library is only open to visitors from Monday to Friday from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. This library was built in the mid-1700s and has numerous articles of historical significance. 

Find out more about university life in Cambridge with a guided walking tour with a graduate

For lunch, head to the marketplace located on Market Hill. This vibrant square holds daily outdoor bazaars with small bites and hearty meals. You can choose to eat nearby or take the food for a stroll along River Cam. Whichever the case, don’t miss out on punting along the river as it is a really interesting way of seeing the town! 

Whether you have 3 days in London or a week in the city, Cambridge is a great getaway that will give you a glimpse of life outside England’s capital! 

Trains to Cambridge leave from Kings Cross, Liverpool Street and London Bridge Stations
Fastest train time: 49 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Alternatively, if you prefer a guided tour you can take a day tour from London. 

Brighton

By Teresa from Brogan Abroad

The domes of the Royal Pavilion, first stop on any day trip to Brighton

Another very popular destination for a day trip from London by train is Brighton. Everyone loves having a break, and Brighton has everything you need to switch off and to discover the famous quintessential British seaside. And nowhere is this traditional seaside character more present than in Brighton Palace Pier, a stunning example of a Victorian pleasure pier with amusement arcades, fun rides and of course fish and chips!

The famous Royal Pavilion is the number one attraction in Brighton, with its Indian-inspired architecture and its Chinese-inspired interior design. It was built as a seaside pleasure palace by Prince Regent George IV in the late 1700s and it really gives you an idea of the indulgent parties that used to be held there.

Getting lost in The Lanes, a ground of maze-like narrow streets with old-fashioned shop fronts, is another must in Brighton, and it is sure to delight shopping enthusiasts. 

Brighton has a very rich LGBTQ history, and it has one of the largest LGBTQ communities in the UK. If you are interested in exploring this aspect of Brighton, you can take an LGBTQ History Tour.

Another great way to explore Brighton is on a bike tour of the city.

If you are looking to do something different and switch off on your day trip to Brighton, why not enjoy a sauna session by the beach? There is a public beach sauna on Brighton Beach called Beach Box, where you can get a sauna master to perform a German Aufguss or a Lithuanian Pirtis ritual for you. You will come out like a new person ready to continue your Brighton adventure, or ready to go back to London all nice and relaxed at the end of the day.

Trains to Brighton leave from Victoria and St Pancras Stations
Fastest train time: 1 hour
Check train times and ticket prices here

Stonehenge

By Sydney from A World In Reach

Stonehenge stone circle on an open field, one of the most popular day trips from London

Stonehenge is one of the most popular day trips from London and can be easily visited by train. The mysterious prehistoric monument is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Wiltshire, England and the journey there from London on public transportation takes just over two hours.

When you arrive at Stonehenge, you’ll be taken to the visitors’ center where you can either choose to explore an exhibition dedicated to Stonehenge’s history and displaying artifacts discovered around the site. The centerpiece of the site is of course the Stone Circle: a ring of standing stones believed to have been constructed in the Bronze Age. The mystery surrounding the purpose of the Stone Circle has captivated archaeologists for ages. Visitors can either walk 2.6 miles round-trip from the visitors’ center to the Stone Circle or opt to take a complimentary shuttle bus.

To get to Stonehenge from London, take the South Western Railway from Waterloo Station to Salisbury; from there, take the Stonehenge Tour Bus to Stonehenge. Trains do not run from Salisbury to Stonehenge and the bus is the only way to visit Stonehenge from London via public transportation. When buying tickets for the Stonehenge Tour Bus, you can choose a transport-only ticket or a ticket including priority access to Stonehenge and admission to other area attractions. The trip will take approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes. If you’re short on time, you can also opt for a guided combination tour of Stonehenge and Bath from London.

Trains to Salisbury leave from Waterloo Station
Fastest train time: 1 h 30 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Windsor

By Erin from Traveling Thru History 

Windsor Castle with houses around it

Windsor is a quaint historic town roughly an hour from London. While it seems like this famous locale would be overrun with tourists due to it being the weekend home of the Queen of England, Windsor still maintains a quiet charm that gives visitors a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of London.

Even though many people think Windsor Castle, Frogmore House, and St. George’s Chapel are the only sites to see since Windsor is such a small town, there are plenty of other things to see and do. Along with boutique shops and quaint eateries, there are beautiful parks, such as Home Park, a private royal park that is open twice a year, and Great Windsor Park, a former royal hunting ground now open to the public.

If you’re into history, take a look at St. John the Baptist Church, built in the 12th century, and Runnymede Meadow, where the Magna Carta was signed in 1215. For art and architecture enthusiasts, explore Cliveden House to see the works of Sir Charles Barry.

The trip to Windsor from London can be done on one of two train routes. The first option departs from London Paddington and goes to Slough, where you need to change for Windsor Central Station. This can take 30-50 minutes, depending on the time of day. The second option departs from London Waterloo and arrives at Windsor Riverside Station, which takes about 55 minutes.

Trains to Windsor leave from Waterloo and Paddington Stations
Fastest train time: 22 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Alternatively, you can take a tour from London that combines a visit to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. 

Stratford-upon-Avon

By Nicholas from Rambling Feet 

Timber-framed Tudor house in Stratford-upon-Avon, one of the most popular day trips from London by train

One person made Stratford-upon-Avon a tourist destination, and his name is William Shakespeare. There are reminders of The Bard everywhere you look – not so great if English literature classes gave you nightmares, but wonderful for fans of his work. He lived and died in the town, and so both his birthplace and burial place are popular with visitors. The former is a museum (as is his wife Anne Hathaway’s Cottage), while the family tombs in the Holy Trinity Church make this otherwise ordinary church a must-see for many. 

If you find it fitting to watch a Shakespearean play during your day trip, there are options for every budget, from the polished shows at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (they sell out very quickly) to free and open productions in the parks and on the banks of the Avon River.

I found the latter to contribute greatly to the town’s appeal, as do the many mediaeval buildings in the town. Were it not for the modern streets and vehicles, it would also seem as if Stratford-upon-Avon was transported straight from Elizabethan England.

If you extend your stay until after dark, there are ghost tours around town and in some of those historic houses; who knows if you may even witness something paranormal?

Trains to Stratford-upon-Avon leave from Marylebone and Euston Stations
Fastest train time: 1 h 53 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Alternatively, you can take a tour from London that combines a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon with Oxford and the Cotswolds. 

The Harry Potter Studios

By Allan from It’s Sometimes Sunny In Bangor

Set of Diagon Alley in Harry Potter Studios, one of the most fun day trips from London by train

Officially named ‘Warner Bros. Studio Tour London’, the experience is pretty much 100% Harry Potter with a rather massive studio tour with backdrops to countless scenes of the series and original settings, props, and costumes. 

From outset sets like Privet Drive to the indoor set for Diagon Alley. It is a tour that is continually changing special and seasonal events like “Ghostly Goings-On” at Halloween and Hogwarts in the Snow in winter, when the tour is decked with Christmas trees, reefs and snow.

It is always a busy attraction with limited time slots for tours so it is always best to book in advance. And even if not a big Harry Potter fan it is hard not to get swept up in the magic of the day. 

For travel to the studios, there are special tour coaches, but the tickets are expensive, while it is relatively cheap and simple to reach by train. The Studio is located around 20-miles north-west of London with direct services leaving central London from London Euston Station (a 20-minute journey) before reaching Watford Junction as the nearest station to Warner Bros Studio. There are then regular shuttle busses to-and-from the Harry Potter Studios from this station.

Trains to Watford Junction leave from Euston Station
Fastest train time: 15 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

However, if you prefer a hassle free visit to The Harry Potter Studios, this tour from Central London includes tickets and transfers.

York

By Teresa from Brogan Abroad

View of two towers of York Minster and the city of York from the Minster Central Tower

A lot of people may think that York is a bit too far for a day trip from London by train, but it actually is only a couple of hours away from London Kings Cross. Ideally, you’d want to spend a weekend in York, but if you are short on time, a day trip is perfectly doable.

There is a lot going on in York, so it’s a good idea to plan your day. A visit to York will take you through the ages, from the Roman times all the way through Norman, Viking and medieval times until you arrive in the present. So if you enjoy history, you’re in for a real treat.

A great place to start is The Shambles, one of Europe’s best preserved medieval shopping streets. You’ll really feel like you’ve travelled back in time. It gets pretty busy during the day, so try and arrive as soon as possible. Next, head to York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. Make sure you climb to the top of the Central Tower for the most spectacular view of York. 

Stop for lunch at the Shambles Food Court, where you will find street food from all over the world and a fabulous atmosphere. After lunch, take a walk along York City Walks, mostly built in the 13th century and incorporating some Roman remains.

If the weather is not on your side, head to Jorvik Viking Centre, where you can learn about York during Viking times. For me this was the biggest surprise of my time in York and I highly recommend it. Finish off the day with an afternoon tea at Betty’s Tea Rooms, which opened its doors in the 1930s and is a bit of a York institution.

An alternative way to explore York is with a walking tour of the city or doing a River Ouse City Cruise

Trains to York leave from Kings Cross Station
Fastest train time: 1 h 52 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Oxford

By Umang from Travelmax

Oxford University buildings seen from a high viewpoint

A quaint Victorian city, Oxford is not too far from London. Only 56 miles away, it is home to the world famous Oxford University. However, there’s more to this town than the university and its massive library! 

Reaching Oxford from London is very easy. The most recommended mode of transport is taking a train from London Paddington. The trains are very frequent, with one every 30 minutes, and it takes around one hour.

Once you reach Oxford, the first destination for you should be the Oxford University. The campus is beautiful with an air of Victorian England all around. Do make a point to visit the nearby Bridge of Sighs, and Oxford Castle and Prison. In order to get a bird’s eye view of the city, head up to the top of the University Church of St Mary The Virgin tower. 

After touring across the architectural beauty of the town, you may want to walk down to the River Thames, also known as River Isis here. If you’re lucky with the weather, you will be able to enjoy the sunset and its orange hues in the sky from the banks of the river. Straight after, you can get ready to head back to London.

A great way to explore Oxford is with a walking tour of the city and the University or taking a 30-minute river cruise

Trains to Oxford leave from Paddington and Marylebone Stations
Fastest train time: 58 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Alternatively, you can take a tour from London that combines a visit to Oxford with Windsor and Stonehenge. 

Warwick

By Reshma from The Solo Globetrotter 

Warwick by the river reflected on the water and surrounded by greenery

Warwick, a lovely town located on the banks of the River Avon in the West Midlands, is one of the best day trips from London by train. It is one of the best cities for outdoor city breaks ideal for families as it is home to many beautiful gardens, historical buildings and museums. 

Warwick is most famous for the splendid medieval Warwick Castle, which you will love if you are into history. It is best explored on a guided tour. The iconic St.Mary’s Cathedral, an 11th-century collegiate church is in the old town. Climb its tower to enjoy stunning panoramic views of Warwick. 

Among the most notable historical buildings is Lord Leycester Hospital, a well-preserved structure with courtyard-style medieval architecture, close to the East and West Gate. Visit St. John’s house – a Jacobean style social history Museum, if you enjoy Museums.

In the evening, you can choose from the many parks to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. The most popular is Charlecote Park – a large 16th-century country house that also houses a lovely deer park. And if you have enough time, check out Mill Garden and Jephson Gardens.

Trains to Warwick leave from Marylebone Station
Fastest train time: 1 h 19 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Alternatively, you can take a tour from London that combines a visit to Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford and the Cotswolds. 

Moreton-in-Marsh, The Cotswolds

By Dale from Wander Her Way

Old red brick three storey houses with signs reading The Kings Arms and Hotel Posting House

The Cotswolds is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it’s not hard to see why. This region in the English countryside is known for its rolling green hills and bucolic villages with buildings made out of local honey-colored stone.

However, it can be a bit tricky to explore the Cotswolds without a car, making it inaccessible for many visitors. But luckily, there is a way to experience the charm of the Cotswolds on a quick day trip from London by train!

The market town of Moreton-in-Marsh is easily accessible from London’s Paddington Station by train. There’s a direct route that takes approximately an hour and a half.

Moreton-in-Marsh has a history dating back more than 1,000 years and it has always been a town for travelers, long before the railway came. The town’s High Street is filled with pubs, bed and breakfasts, art galleries, and antique stores. Every Tuesday, Moreton-in-Marsh also hosts the largest open-air street market in the Cotswolds. 

On a day trip to Moreton-in-Marsh, you can grab a bite to eat at The White Hart Royal or The Bell Inn (said to have been frequented by J.R.R. Tolkien.) Afterwards, explore the grounds of the Jacobean manor Chastleton House, which overlooks the beautiful Evenlode Valley.

Trains to Moreton-in-Marsh leave from Paddington Station
Fastest train time: 1 h 28 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Alternatively, you can take a tour of the Cotswolds from London that takes you to a number of charming villages. 

Canterbury

By Ann from The Road Is Life

Tudor house by a river with people on rowing boats

One of the prettiest little English towns, Canterbury is full of fascinating history and plenty of fun things to do. It makes the perfect day trip from London as it’s easy to reach by train in just one hour. To get there, you can take the high speed train that departs from London’s St. Pancras Station. 

Canterbury’s high street is full of beautiful old buildings that date back to the Tudor era and picturesque little canals that run throughout the town. One of the highlights of visiting is taking a traditional punting tour along the canals. This will take you through the town center and surrounding area and you will learn some interesting historical facts from your guide as you go. 

The most famous landmark of Canterbury is of course the Canterbury Cathedral. A historical gem that dates back to the year 597, it happens to be one of England’s oldest and most beautiful cathedrals. The impressive interiors of this cathedral are like a time capsule. Take a step back in time as you stroll past the stunning stained glass windows, the site of Thomas Becket’s murder, the cathedral tombs, cathedral gardens and so much more!

Trains to Canterbury leave from Victoria and St Pancras Stations
Fastest train time: 1 h 02 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Alternatively, you can take a tour from London that combines a visit to Canterbury and the White Cliffs of Dover.

Dover

By Jiayi from The Diary Of A Nomad

Grass lands and white cliffs over the sea

The seaside town of Dover is one of the most charming places to visit on a day trip from London. In fact, there’s a great variety of things to do there, ranging from fun water activities to historical excursions. Dover is not only a great destination for history and nature; the picturesque town and its scenic views are also perfect for photography if you’ve already hit all the most Instagrammable places in London and are looking for a change in scenery! 

The main attraction of the area is, of course, the White Cliffs of Dover. You can easily spend half if not most of the day taking a long walk along the cliffs to enjoy the stunning views, the birds and butterflies, and the serene and romantic vibes. You’ll also pass by the alluring South Foreland Lighthouse, which was built in 1846 to guide sailors through the Strait of Dover.

Some of the other amazing things to do in Dover include visiting the historic Dover Castle. Built in the 11th century, it’s where soldiers were based when they looked out for invaders during WWII. The castle is also home to the medieval Secret Wartime Tunnels, which housed British forces who were battling the Germans during wartime. To learn more about the history of Dover, you can also head over to Dover Museum, which has an impressive collection of archeological artifacts from the area. Lastly, if you enjoy water activities, then don’t miss Dover’s port for swimming, sailing, kayaking, or paddleboarding! 

Trains to Dover leave from Victoria and St Pancras Stations
Fastest train time: 1 h 16 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Alternatively, you can take a tour from London that combines a visit to the White Cliffs of Dover and Canterbury.

Manchester

By Pauline from BeeLoved City

Looking up to Manchester Town Hall tower with lots of birds flying around

If you want to discover the North of England, a day trip from London to Manchester will be perfect for you!

Once you get there, the city centre is a couple of minutes from Manchester Piccadilly Station. From Piccadilly Gardens, you will have a lot of options. If you want to go shopping, you can stroll down Market Street and the Arndale centre.

If you love street art and good food (who doesn’t!), the Northern Quarter will be your paradise. You will find many beautiful murals there. For food and drinks, head to Thomas Street. There are plenty of restaurants and pubs.

You can also go on a walking tour. The city centre is quite small and easily navigable. Going on a walking tour is ideal to make the best of your day in Manchester. The guide will take you to all the most famous spots! All of that within a couple of hours. You will discover the Gay Village and Alan Turing Memorial, the Midland Hotel, St Peter’s square, Manchester Cathedral and the beautiful Town Hall on Albert Square.

Another great place to check out is the Printworks. This entertainment complex is located in an old cotton warehouse. Perfect to discover what Manchester is all about!

Finally, if you get a bit of extra time, you can head to Castlefield to walk along the canals! It’s very pretty.

Trains to Manchester leave from Euston Station
Fastest train time: 2 h 06 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Bristol

By Becki from Meet Me In Departures 

Clifton suspension bridge over a deep river

The home of Banksy, Blackbeard, Brunel and Balloons, the city of Bristol has a ton of stuff going for it. Located about 130 miles west of London it’s an easy day trip from the nation’s capital. 

This maritime city has a rich history and was home to the most famously notorious pirate, Blackbeard. Is also said that the story of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson was inspired by Bristol’s maritime history. In the book, Long John Silver frequented a pub called the Spyglass which is said to have been influenced by the Bristol dockside pub, The Hole in the Wall. The city is full of maritime history and several walking tours are based around this.

Bristol’s number one attraction is the SS Great Britain. This ship was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (voted as the second Greatest Briton of all time – he was pipped to the post by Winston Churchill). The famous engineer also designed Temple Meads Station and the Clifton Suspension Bridge; both are iconic Bristol landmarks worth seeing. The SS Great Britain was the world’s first screw-propelled, ocean-going, iron-hulled steamship and at the time revolutionised sea travel. 

If you visit Bristol in the summer months, you’ll probably see loads of hot air balloons, which Bristol is also famous for. Every August, Ashton Court plays host to the International Balloon Fiesta, which sees thousands of Balloons launched throughout the festival. 

Finally, no trip to Bristol would be complete without seeking out some of the stunning street art by Banksy. A bit of an institution on the Bristol scene, you’ll find his political murals dotted all over the city.

Trains to Bristol leave from Paddington Station
Fastest train time: 1 h 33 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Arundel

By Kelsey from Sights Better Seen

Arundel Castle with pink flowers in the foreground

Arundel is a cute historic market town located directly south of London. I spent a day wandering around and can highly recommend it!

If you’re obsessed with castles like me, you definitely don’t want to miss Arundel Castle. I was surprised (and jealous) to learn that The Duke and Duchess of Norfolk and their family still live there. Like most castles, it’s surrounded by beautiful gardens; but unlike any other castle I’ve visited, their organic produce garden has rehabilitated hedgehogs living in it! I didn’t spot any, but all the more reason to go back.

After you’ve spent a few hours exploring the castle, I’d recommend grabbing afternoon tea. There are PLENTY of tea shops to choose from, but Lulamae’s was one of the highest rated online so I went there. I can confirm that it did not disappoint!

Once you’ve stuffed yourself to the brim with scones and clotted cream, you should head over to the Arundel Museum (£1 if you show them your ticket to the castle). You can also meander through the Blackfriars Dominican Priory Ruins, which are the stone remains of an old friary.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful town, and don’t forget to say hi to the Duke and Duchess for me!

Trains to Arundel leave from Victoria Station
Fastest train time: 1 h 23 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Brockenhurst

By Enikö from Travel Hacker Girl

Ponies grazing on an open grassland with a forest in the background

Brockenhurst in the New Forest is a great destination for nature lovers. The New Forest has several cycling trails and it is one of the best ways to explore the area. There is a bike rental next to the train station in Brockenhurst or you can bring your own on the train. However, if you are looking for a place to go hiking near London, then that is also possible here. 

Wild ponies are quite a common sight, but you can also spot deer, rabbits, jays, cows and foxes. Brockenhurst has some stables that offer horse riding lessons and tours. Children and complete beginners are also welcome. 

In the summer there are some wild swimming spots that are popular among families. The Lymington River is quite shallow here, making it ideal for small children as well. There is a lovely spot near Hollands Wood Campsite, where you can enjoy a nice picnic on the river bank and have fun splashing around in the water and on the rope swings.

The town has some great pubs and cafes. The Buttery Cafe has a lovely afternoon tea selection. So if you want to get away from London, then hop on a train and enjoy the peace and quiet that the New Forest has to offer.

Trains to Brockenhurst leave from Paddington and Waterloo Stations
Fastest train time: 1 h 29 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Rochester

By Sima from The Curious Pixie

Standing outside a yellow and green fronted bookshop

Only 20 miles south east of London the historic city of Rochester is one of England’s finest. The childhood home of novelist Charles Dickens is often overlooked, but a short train ride from Victoria or London St Pancras will bring you to the land of castles and cathedrals.

Head to one of the oldest surviving Norman castles in England. Over 800 years old, a climb to the top of Rochester Castle will reward you with panoramic views across the city and the River Medway. Across the road, admire the stunning Romanesque architecture inside Rochester Cathedral which dates back to 1080.

Love shopping? Wander the quaint Victorian High Street full of independent traders and boutiques. Some are still housed in beautiful historic buildings dating back to the 14th century, just make sure the camera is at the ready. One not to miss is Baggins Book Bazaar, which claims to be England’s largest second-hand bookstore. With more than half a million books on sale you can get lost in there for days – a bookworm’s dream.

Next time you think of escaping the hustle and bustle of the big smoke, put a London to Rochester day trip on the agenda. You won’t regret it!

Trains to Rochester leave from Victoria and St Pancras Stations
Fastest train time: 37 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Rye and Camber Sands

By Bridget from The Flashpacker

Cobbled narrow street lined with small higgledy-piggledy cottages

For a super simple day trip from London, and two contrasting destinations, visit Rye and Camber Sands on the East Sussex coast.

A source of inspiration for writers and artists, the medieval town of Rye is a perfect day trip for history buffs and is a quintessential historic English town. Georgian townhouses, bedecked with flowers, and wonky timber-framed Tudor houses line steep cobbled streets. Haunted inns will set your imagination on fire and there’s even a castle.

Rye also has a fine selection of small independent shops and a handful of galleries selling work by local artists. Visit one of the town’s excellent cafes, and burn off the consumed calories afterwards by climbing the tower of the 12th Century St Mary’s Church.

Following the clearly signposted National Cycle Network Route 2, it’s a three-mile walk from Rye to Camber Sands.  Alternatively, take bus #102 which runs every 30 minutes. 

Camber Sands has a beach to rival many Caribbean beaches. Walk along its seven-mile stretch of golden sand, past rolling dunes. Paddle in the water or embrace your inner child by building sandcastles. And if you are feeling adventurous, you can try your hand at kitesurfing.

To get to Rye from London, catch a train from London St Pancras International and change trains at Ashford International. The journey time is just over one hour.

Trains to Rye leave from St Pancras Station with a change at Ashford International
Fastest train time: 1 h 34 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

St Albans

By Mansoureh from Travel With Mansoureh

Gothic cathedral with a park around it

When it comes to finding a cute destination a day trip from London, nowhere can beat the charming English town of St Albans. The town is located not far from London in the North and it is easily accessible by train. 

The train station is a 10-minute walk away from the town centre. It is highly recommended to go there on Wednesday or Saturday when the flea market takes place. It is believed that the history of the market goes back to the 9th or 10th Century. 

While in the town centre you will be able to see the Clock Tower, which was constructed between 1403 and 1412. The tower is open to visitors. 

While strolling around the town centre and admiring the stunning architecture, you can head to the St Albans Cathedral which is also known as The Abbey. The architecture of the church goes back to Norman times and it has the longest nave in England. You can visit the cathedral free of charge every day between 08:30 am and 5:45 pm. 

If you want a relaxing evening in a green space, you can go to Verulamium Park, where there is a beautiful pond. Eating at one of the local restaurants is a must when you are in St Albans. 

Trains to St Albans leave from Blackfriars and London Bridge Stations
Fastest train time: 33 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Tring

By Jacquie from UK Family Travel

Man and child looking at a dinosaur skeleton in Tring Natural History Museum

Tring is a lovely little town in Hertfordshire located about 40 miles north west of London. It’s a very easy 40-minute direct journey from Euston Station so it’s the perfect destination for a day trip from London by train.

Tring is most famous for its Natural History Museum which is just like its more famous relative in London but on a much smaller scale. If you’re a fan of the original museum in London, don’t let that put you off visiting the Tring Natural History Museum. Where it lacks in size, it makes up for it by offering a more intimate and less busy experience (and it actually has an incredibly impressive selection of exhibits despite its small size). The museum is 2 miles from the station so you would need to get a bus or a taxi.

The town of Tring is a lovely little market town with mock Tudor buildings and lies on the edge of the Chiltern Hills which is classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. After visiting the museum, we highly recommend getting out into the countryside and enjoying some scenic walks through the ancient woodlands of Tring Park. 

There are lots of easy walking trails. Just behind the Natural History Museum you’ll get a glimpse of the stunning architecture of Tring Park Mansion, designed by Sir Christopher Wren who also designed one of London’s most iconic sights, St Paul’s Cathedral. Entrance to the museum and the park is free making this a really great value day out from London.

Trains to Tring leave from Euston Station
Fastest train time: 37 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Whitstable

By Caroline from CK Travels

Fishing boats in the harbour with black oyster shack in the background

Whitstable is a charming fishing and harbour town located on the north coast of Kent, and is the perfect day trip from London by train. Getting there is super easy – the high speed train from Kings Cross or Stratford station takes just over an hour, or you can take a slightly slower train from Victoria station. 

Whitstable is very famous for its rich maritime history and incredible seafood scene. The town is a great spot for foodies with fresh fish markets and oyster shacks in the harbour, and a handful of very popular beachfront seafood restaurants serving lobster platters. Whitstable also holds an annual 2 day oyster festival every July featuring hundreds of food stalls, live music and a parade. 

Other things you can do in Whitstable include going for a walk along the coast which is lined with colourful beach huts, or visit the main high street which is filled with cute pastel-painted craft and antique shops, independent galleries and cafes. End your day trip with a drink at the Old Neptune, which is the most famous pub in town. It is located right on the beach, so you can enjoy a delicious pint of locally brewed beer and fish and chips with a beautiful sea view. 

Trains to Whitstable leave from Victoria and St Pancras Stations
Fastest train time: 1 h 17 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Saffron Walden

By Paula from Truly Expat

Stately home with formal gardens and a fountain

Saffron Walden is a beautiful little village that was once a market town and it’s now full of quaint boutique style shops, lovely cafes and restaurants. The train to Audley End is the fastest and easiest way to get there from London (Liverpool St station). It will take approximately 1.5 hours in total to Saffron Walden, but that includes the bus or taxi from the station. A couple of minutes’ walk away from Audley End Station, you can catch the 59 bus to Saffron Walden, which is about a three-stop bus trip. Alight at the local high school stop. 

Once you arrive in Saffron Walden there are many exciting things to fill your day with; this includes The Bridge End Garden, best visited when it isn’t raining, as the gardens are beautiful. However, the highlight here is the maze, which will keep you amused for hours.

You could also include The Vineyard, although it is a little out of the town, approximately 1.7 miles away. If you book online before arriving, you can join the vineyard tour and tasting. Wine tasting is a perfect activity during the summer month.

There is also Audley End House and Gardens, and for a small entrance fee, you can explore this grand estate.  Every season brings a new experience. My favourite time of the year is summer because I love it when the sun is shining and the flowers are blossoming. Besides the beautiful garden, you still have the mansion and stables to wander around.

You could also stop by The Saffron Walden Museum, a great place to explore during the summer months, especially with children. There are many arts and craft activities to enjoy once you have enjoyed the museum. You can find everything, from British and European ceramics to clothing worn by men and women over the past 200 years. Last but not least, explore the town centre, where you’ll find a great little market at the weekends, as well as great spots to have lunch or afternoon tea. The restaurants and pubs all serve deliciously fresh food, so you are spoilt for choice. 

Trains to Audley End (for Saffron Walden) leave from Liverpool Street Station
Fastest train time: 56 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Sheffield

By Dagney from Cultura Obscura

Imposing honey-coloured brick building with turrets and a clock tower

Sheffield is an English city that doesn’t get a lot of love, but is well worth a visit, especially as a day trip from London by train.

The city played an integral role in the Industrial Revolution, and is very proud of this heritage. There are several museums either dedicated to, or with exhibitions about different aspects of this history. If this is of interest, then you’ll definitely want to visit the Kelham Island Museum and the Metalwork Collection at The Millennium Gallery. To learn even more about the city’s history, head over to the National Emergency Services Museum for an education in police, fire and ambulance services both locally and nationally.

For those looking for an alternative scene, you’ll fall in love with Sheffield’s National Videogame Museum. The museum is dedicated to everything video game related and visitors can both play and learn about them. If you think you have what it takes, you can even create your own video game!

When you finally manage to tear yourself away from the fun, get some exercise wandering around the city and discovering all the amazing Sheffield street art! The city is a treasure trove of street art, with pieces in nearly every area of the city. However, if you want to ensure you see some street art, wander around the Sheffield Hallam University area and you can’t go wrong!

Trains leave regularly throughout the day from London St Pancras and take 2 to 2.5 hours to get to Sheffield.

Trains to Sheffield leave from Kings Cross and St Pancras Stations
Fastest train time: 1 h 59 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Birmingham

By Ania from The Travelling Twins

Square with people walking around and cathedral with tall spire in the background

Birmingham is the second largest city in England. You can reach it from London by train in a 1.5 hours journey depending on the train you take. The fastest connection is usually from London Euston, one which takes a bit longer but as well maybe cheaper goes from Marylebone Station. 

Once in Birmingham, I would start the visit in the High Street where you can admire the impressive Bullring Shopping Centre. Here you can indulge in some shopping, but I would leave it for the end of the trip. Close to the shopping centre, you will find St. Philip’s Cathedral, which is worth the visit.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is a bit further, with an important collection of fine art, natural history and enterography, making it a great place to visit. We spent over half a day here browsing different exhibitions.

Not far from the museum you will find another architectural marvel, a Library of Birmingham. You should go inside – the building is quite something – with different viewing platforms and a garden on the 7th floor.

By now it is time to go back to London, but consider visiting Shrewsbury next time you’re in Birmingham, which is only 45 min away.

An alternative way to explore Birmingham is on a walking tour of the city.

Trains to Birmingham leave from Euston and Marylebone Stations
Fastest train time: 1 h 22 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Nottingham

By Stephen from A Backpackers Tale 

Grand domed building in twilight reflected on water

Thanks to its university, Nottingham has a youthful atmosphere that sets it apart from many other cities near London. But Nottingham is much more than just a university town.

It’s a city of literary giants such as D. H Lawrence, and Lord Byron (You can still visit their birthplaces). As well as, the legendary setting where the fabled outlaw Robin Hood and his band of merry men stole from the rich and gave to the poor.

Most importantly, the city is filled with many quick and fun things to do. Perhaps, the most noteworthy site is Nottingham Castle. This castle looms high over the city on a craggy sandstone cliff. You can almost see Prince John sneering down on the people he oppressed. Today, the castle houses a large collection of art and pottery worth seeing. There’s also the Old Market Square, which is the largest market square in the UK.

Adventures lovers will want to explore some underground cave networks that run underneath the city. Legend says Robin Hood used these caves to escape the dungeon. Alternatively, you can just relax in one of the city’s beautiful green parks.

Nottingham has everything from legendary figures to famous authors; from castles to caves. Whatever you are looking for you will find it in the city. And because Nottingham is less than two hours from London by train, it’s made for a stress-free day trip away from ol’ smoke.

Trains to Nottingham leave from St Pancras Station
Fastest train time: 1 h 39 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Southampton

By Robin from Everything Yoga Retreat

Timber framed Tudor house in Southampton

Southampton is the largest city in Hampshire. Located South west of London, it is the perfect place to go for a day trip.

This city is well known for its docks and famous boats such as the Titanic. The Queen Elizabeth 2, the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Victoria all stopped there.

After a visit of the docks, you can go to the Bargate, a medieval gatehouse built at the end of the 12th century. The Bargate is in the old town and is protected by Medieval defenses. From the north and west sides, there is a one-kilometer walking circuit to discover the Town Walls. After that, you could visit the SeaCity Museum or the Tudor House and Garden.

Trains to Southampton Central leave from Waterloo, Victoria and Paddington Stations
Fastest train time: 1 h 22 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Bournemouth

By Mal from Raw Mal Roams

Sunset on a beach with a pier jetting out into the water

Bournemouth is an excellent destination to visit on a day trip from London by train. It is a popular seaside resort in Dorset that boasts 10 miles of gorgeous, sandy beach surrounded by soaring cliffs. Embark on a funicular and take a lift down to the beach that’s been operating in Bournemouth for over 100 years!

Go for a stroll on the promenade that stretches all the way to the neighbouring towns. On the way, you will notice the picturesque beach huts painted in all the colours of the rainbow. Don’t forget to check out Bournemouth Pier, situated centrally on the beach with an entertainment area for children and a zip line that will whisk you back to the beach in seconds!

Westbourne, an upmarket shopping area with a range of great outdoor cafes and restaurants, is right off the beach. Only a few minutes’ walk from Westbourne you will find Lower Gardens, a charming park where you can relax in the shade on the perfectly manicured grass, or you can try your skills at crazy golf. 
 
The best time to visit Bournemouth is during the summer and during the week.
Trains to Bournemouth leave from Waterloo and Paddington Stations
Fastest train time: 1 h 47 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

International day trips from London by train

Paris

By Krystianna from Volumes & Voyages

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

Believe it or not, it’s actually super easy to visit Paris from London as a day trip! You can easily take the high-speed Eurostar from St. Pancras International Station to Gare du Nord in Paris and it only takes a little over 2 hours. There are approximately 13 trains between these stations a day, but beware that prices can really fluctuate throughout the day. It’s best to book your tickets far in advance.

Paris is an absolute must-visit because it’s such a romantic city that’s filled with so much to do. From staring at the Eiffel Tower to eating macarons and crepes, you’re really going to fall in love with this city. My top recommendation for the city is to go up to the Sacré-Coeur Basilica to get a free panoramic view of Paris instead of paying to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower. You won’t regret it, and it’s a lot less busy than other spots where you can get panoramic views!

You should also try macarons while in Paris, but a great budget tip is to purchase macarons from Maison Georges Larnicol instead of Ladurée. The macarons are just as good but they’re half the price!

You can easily explore Paris on your own, but if you prefer a guide, you can take a walking tour of different areas of the city. Here are a couple of options:

The Eurostar to Paris leaves from St Pancras International Station
Fastest train time: 2 h 23 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Alternatively, if you don’t want the hassle of organising your own transport and tours you can take a guided day trip from London.

Brussels

By Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear

Facades of guild houses in Brussels. They can bee seen on a day trip from London by train

Even though Brussels is located in another country, Belgium, the Eurostar makes it the perfect day trip from London. The Eurostar is a high speed train that runs between London St. Pancras station and Brussels Midi station. The ride is only approximately 2 hours making the trip easily doable in a single day, 

The best part about visiting Brussels from London is that it’s such a different city with a completely different vibe. Visit Le Grand Place in Brussels, the famous town square and UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by beautiful guildhouses and the Brussels City Hall building. Brussels is also well known for its art nouveau architecture with buildings by Victor Horta throughout the city, such as Hotel Tassel and Hotel Solvay. 

Take some time to check out Midi Market, located across the street from the Brussels Midi train station, you’ll find many vendors selling odds and ends, produce, groceries, ready-to-eat foods, and of course, Belgium’s famous waffles. Also don’t miss trying out Belgian style mussels. The mussels in Brussels were absolutely to die for, especially those from Le Chou de Bruxelles. 

As great as Brussels is for the perfect day trip, you can always extend your stay with a weekend in Brussels.

You can easily explore Brussels on your own, but if you prefer a guide, you can take a walking tour of the city

The Eurostar to Brussels leaves from St Pancras International Station
Fastest train time: 2 h 04 mins
Check train times and ticket prices here

Are there any other day trips from London by train that you would recommend?
Let me know in the comments!

Travelling to London? Check out my other London articles

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Best London Day Trips by Train

Best London Day Trips by Train

Best London Day Trips by Train

 

 

 

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