The Best Cities For A Day Trip If You're Staying In London

London is known and loved for its thriving arts scene with world-class museums, avant-garde galleries, and vibrant Theatreland, but equally impressive are the quaint countryside villages, wilderness areas, and cozy market towns all within reach from The Big Smoke.

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy a hike or cycle through the English countryside? Ashdown Forest — a landscape so idyllic it inspired the tales of Winnie the Pooh — is just the place. And for something a little more daring, Dungeness presents the perfect backdrop for an outdoor adventure. Marvel at the history and architecture of legendary places like Oxford and Cambridge, hop around the Cotswolds, stroll the quiet cobblestoned streets of Rye, or just lounge on the beach in Bournemouth — either way, you've got plenty of options to choose from. These are our favorite London day trip destinations, all within a couple of hours (or even just 30 minutes) by car or train, and complete with many an English pub for cold ales and ciders to bring your trip full circle.


Honey-hued Georgian architecture, ancient Roman baths, and a thriving literary culture that once beckoned Jane Austin are just a few of the things that make Bath a great destination for a day trip from London. Have a soak in the steaming thermal baths, take a stroll around the Royal Crescent — an architectural marvel of Georgian homes — or channel your inner royalty with a Bridgerton-themed itinerary. For literary lovers, the Jane Austin Centre provides a glimpse into the famed author's time in the city, and for beer aficionados, Abbey Ales Brewery is worth a stop.

For old-world wines and seasonal, modern European fare, carve out some time for a meal at The Circus Restaurant, but don't forget to save room for decadent chocolate sweets at Mrs. Potts Chocolate House. Located 115 miles from London, Bath can be reached in under an hour and a half by train or two hours, give or take, by car.


Cambridge wows with its pretty chapels, historic university, and stunning architecture — we're looking at you, Trinity Hall, Bridge of Sighs, and King's College. For the quintessential Cambridge experience, go punting down the river to dose up on nature and history in unison while slow-sailing under charming bridges and cruising by some of the city's most iconic landmarks. 

While London's best museums are world-class, take a wander through The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge to marvel at everything from ancient Egyptian coffins to Renaissance sculptures and rare manuscripts, or pop into the Cambridge Gin Laboratory to learn more about England's ubiquitous spirit. Before you head back to London, indulge in an upscale dining experience at Midsummer House. Tucked away in a Victorian cottage on the River Cam, this double Michelin-starred French restaurant is one of England's premier culinary spots. Cambridge is 65 miles from London and can be reached in a little over an hour by train or car.


Canterbury, with its UNESCO World Heritage sites, cobble-stoned streets, charming abbeys, and fairytale Tudor-style homes, makes for a great day trip from London. Mosey along the old city walls, then pay a visit to the gothic wonder that is Canterbury Cathedral followed by Saint Augustine's Abbey, one of England's most important monasteries. Then take a stroll through the Canterbury Roman Museum to learn more about the city's origin.

Once you're all history-ed out, go shopping along King's Mile, Cathedral Quarter, or Saint Dunstan's, where you'll find boutiques galore, or drift along the river to take in the flower-clad homes and serene city from the water. A wander through Westgate Gardens is also a must. After shopping, check out Cafe du Soleil, which is housed in a centuries-old mill and doles out wood-fired cuisine right on the river. Don't miss their duck mousse with Madeira jam. Canterbury is only 60 miles from London and can be reached in about an hour by train or car. 


Chock full of art, history, plenty of festivals, and English pubs, Bristol has a little bit of something for everyone. As the birthplace of Banksy, it's no surprise that Bristol is brimming with art. Search for his original work, such as "The Well Hung Lover on Park Street" or "The Mild Mild West" on Stokes Croft, and carve out time for the city's many galleries and museums, such as Arnolfini and the M Shed, respectively. History buffs may also want to visit Tyntesfield House, one of the U.K.'s most stunning Gothic castles. When planning to visit, be sure to check your date options, as the city hosts a number of festivals that could take your day trip to the next level.

For a quieter day trip, stroll Clifton's streets lined with quaint, colorful townhomes or watch the boats bob on the harbor with a pint in hand. For the city's best seafood, have a meal at The Old Fish Market smack dab in Old Town, where you'll find excellent pub fare, an impressive whiskey and ale selection, and live music on some nights. Bristol is just under 120 miles from London and can be reached in two hours by car or an hour and a half by train. 


Few places wow like the spectacular White Cliffs of Dover, emblematic of England's coastline and home to some of the country's most iconic scenery. Dover is worth visiting on a day trip for the panoramic vistas from the cliffs alone, but beyond the serene, chalky cliffs and turquoise waters they tower over, this seaside hideaway has even more to offer.

Explore the grounds of the medieval Dover Castle and adventure through the secret wartime tunnels hidden beneath it, or take in the peaceful atmosphere of the perfectly manicured Kearsney Abbey Gardens. For a bite, there's no better place than The White Horse. First established as an "ale tasting house" in 1574, The White Horse is the epitome of a cozy English pub and throws together a mean beer-battered cod. Dover is about 75 miles from London and can be reached in an hour by train or a smidge under two hours by car.


Sleepy cobble-stoned streets with little ivy-covered houses, antique shops with trinkets and rare finds, and cute little bookstores with colorful spines stacked high make Rye the perfect destination to take in English charm. Set off on a slow stroll down Mermaid Street (don't forget your camera!) with its half-timbered houses and pop in for a coffee and pastries at The Mermaid Street Cafe

After a leisure walkabout, pay a visit to Rye Castle Museum and Ypres Tower to get a feel for the city's medieval history. Be sure to also venture out to the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve for wetland trails and incredible coastal wildlife. Cap off the day with a tasty meal at Fletcher's House, where you'll find modern British delights, followed by a visit to Rye Waterworks Micropub to sample local ales and ciders. The charm of Rye is only 80 miles from London and can be reached in a little over an hour by train and two hours by car.

New Forest National Park

Looking to escape the hustle and bustle of London Town for a day? New Forest National Park is your place. This magical corner of England is full of breathtaking woodlands, idyllic glades, rolling fields of heather, abundant wildlife, and plenty of well-mapped walking trails to take it all in. Lace up your hiking boots and spend the day wandering winding trails through ancient forests and heathlands, or rent a bike to cycle through pretty villages and a "secret" coastline.

From tiny, technicolored dragonflies and chatty pipit birds to grazing deer and wild horses, you'll have plenty of company along the way. After your nature immersion, pull up a chair at The Trusty Servant in the village of Minstead for hearty homemade food. New Forest National Park is about 80 miles from London, and depending on what nearby town you choose as a home base, travel times can vary. Due to a network of public buses in the area, you can navigate New Forest without a car.


Gorgeous South Downs countryside, a sunny seafront promenade, and a lively Victorian pier are just a few reasons to add Eastbourne to your London day trip list. Sandwiched between the English Channel and South Downs National Park, Eastbourne is ideal whether you're looking to take in its historical charm or simply plan to venture around the great outdoors. 

Grab an ice cream and stroll the storied shingle shores of Eastbourne Beach or peer out at white cliffs from Holywell Beach, but be sure to save time for a quick jaunt to the nearby Seven Sisters cliffs. For delectable Turkish dishes, head on over to Meze, and for the city's best Italian dishes, go to La Locanda del Duca. Eastbourne is around 70 miles from London, and you reach the beachfront community in an hour and a half to two hours by train and two-and-a-half hours by car.


Brighton is the ultimate seaside destination — not just for a London day trip, but England as a whole. With its colorful row houses, plethora of vintage shops, a bustling pier, and tons of bars and local restaurants, all situated on a stunning coastline, Brighton is London minus the crowds and plus the sea.

Start the day with a few arcade games on the city's much-beloved Brighton Palace Pier, then slide into a seat on the Brighton O Ferris wheel for stellar sea views, followed by some shopping along The Lanes, an artsy shopping area chockfull of boutiques and little jewelry shops. Before you head back, save time for Petit Pois, a rustic French spot with contemporary plates and one heck of a wine list, and Brass Monkey Ice Cream for something sweet. Only 50 miles from London, Brighton can be reached in an hour by train or two hours by car.


Brimming with some of the world's best academic institutions, libraries, and universities, Oxford is known for its scholarly history that spans back nearly a thousand years. Beyond the gorgeously manicured lawns of the city's colleges and the infinite halls of Bodleian Library, Oxford has plenty more to offer the London day-tripper.

Visit the Oxford University Museum of Natural History for some of the world's most renowned archeological relics or the Ashmolean Museum, which started as a cabinet of curiosities and is now the oldest public museum in the country, and then explore the grounds of Oxford Castle and Prison. Follow it up with a lunch or dinner at The Folly, a dazzling little British restaurant perched right on the River Thames. Tip: To really get the full experience, embark on one of The Folly's river cruises. About 60 miles from London, Oxford can be reached in about an hour by train or two hours by car.

Ashdown Forest

If you're a history buff who's looking to go beyond the usual castles, abbeys, and fortresses, Ashdown Forest is the perfect escape. With the earliest occupations of the area dating back some 50,000 years, Ashdown Forest is a treasure trove of archeology and prehistoric history.

Bursting with idyllic nature and ancient heritage, Ashdown Forest is such a special place that it inspired the tales of Winnie the Pooh. And as the largest public open space in the South East of England, you're spoiled for choices when it comes to walking trails and nature excursions. Take your pick from any of the scenic walking trails — though the circular route that winds through the Scots Pine clusters is always a sure win — and pack a picnic to enjoy along the way. Just remember to leave no trace. Ashdown Forest is roughly 40 miles from London, and you can expect to arrive in this enchanting area in about two hours by car or train.


Tucked away off a desolate coastal area of Kent, Dungeness almost feels extraterrestrial compared to the typical lush English countryside. Head out on a cycling adventure to explore the Romney Marsh, with its infinite desert scenery and shingle beaches, or set off on a hike along any one of The Dungeness Nature Reserve's walking trails. For something a little less daring, a climb to the top of the historic Old Lighthouse is a nice trade-off.

For lunch, you'll want to hit up Dungeness Snack Shack, where you'll find fresh, local fish — the fishcakes are a bit of a local legend, as are the lobster rolls. Carve out some time for a visit to Romney Marsh Brewery for delicious ales and lagers. Although Dungeness is just under 80 miles from London, you'll want to leave early — it's two hours by car and over three hours by train, but every bit worth it.

The Cotswolds

Formally designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1966, the Cotswolds certainly lives up to its name. Tucked away in an expanse of rolling hills, lush meadows, and emerald woods, the Cotswolds are strung together by a series of sleepy villages that make for the perfect city break.

You'll want to start with the so-called "gateway to the Cotswolds," Bibury, before heading up the road to Bourton-on-the-Water and then on to Lower and Upper Slaughter and Stow-on-the-Wold. In Bibury, be sure to take a leisurely walk down Arlington Row, where you'll find the village's iconic 17th-century cottages. Stop for a lunch of traditional British delights at The Rose Tree in Bourton (be sure to try the sticky toffee pudding), and don't miss Saint Edward's Church in Stow-on-the-Wold. At 80-ish miles from London, the Cotswolds are about two hours away, and since the area is comprised of different villages, the Cotswolds are best explored by car.


This sleepy little fishing town is decked out in colorful fishing huts, a shimmering shoreline, and some of the best seafood money can buy. Spend the day slurping on the oysters that put Whitstable on the map and brews at the local haunt, The Old Neptune Pub, or wander along the beach and take a dip if you dare. (It's cold!)

For a bit of history, you can also enjoy a classic afternoon tea in Whitstable Castle or just walk the grounds at your leisure. For some great local shopping, pop into the many boutiques on High Street, where you'll find everything from vintage clothing stores to record shops. After all the oysters and beer, you'll want to be sure to save room for a meal at Birdies, a family-run French restaurant loved for its seasonal dishes. Only 60 miles from London, Whitstable can be reached by either train or car in about an hour and a half.


It's no secret that Hastings is one of the most scenic beach towns along the U.K.'s coast. But, as the center of the famous Battle of Hastings, there are also plenty of history-oriented things to do, allowing your day trip to be part coastal adventure and part historical immersion. See the many interesting exhibitions at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, or explore the Norman ruins of Hastings Castle. At the famed castle, you'll want to take a Smugglers Adventure for a fun and interactive look at the area's smuggling history, where you'll learn all about the pirates of yore. 

After exploring, wind down with a walk through Old Town and then pop into any of the area's cozy, age-old pubs like the Hastings Arms and Ye Olde Pump House. Hastings is 70 miles from London and can be reached in two-and-a-half hours by car or under two hours by train.


Conveniently close to London, Guildford makes for an easy day trip and requires little planning. Visit the Guildford Cathedral, whose eerie atmosphere made for a perfect backdrop in the iconic horror flick, "The Omen," and then go for a pint of ale or cider and some pub fare at The Royal Oak.

Afterward, venture out to the picturesque Guildford Castle perched on a nearby mound for a climb to its Great Tower, where you'll be met with sweeping views. Once you head back down to High Street, carve out a little bit of time to see the 16th-century Guildhall; just look for the gilded — or should we say Guilded — clock jutting out over the street, and you've found it. Finally, don't miss the Watt's-Gallery Artists' Village to learn about the life and works of Victorian sculptor and painter George Frederic Watts. At just over 30 miles from London, Guildford can be reached in 30 minutes by train or about an hour by car.


Bournemouth is known and loved for its golden shores, candy-colored beach huts, thriving food scene, and lively Victorian pier. This is no surprise, given that Bournemouth is widely considered the U.K.'s best beach destination. Lounge on the beach after a fun afternoon on the pier, where you'll find classic arcade games and fun little boat tours; for something a little more daring, glide along the zipline for stunning water views, go scuba diving, or scale a wall at Rock Reef.

After some waterfront activities, pop into Lola's for some zesty Spanish tapas like patatas bravas, Galician-style octopus, and jamon Iberico. Walk it off in the Lower Gardens and then head to the Bournemouth Big Wheel to take the city and coast from above. Depending on how much time you've got, an adventure through pristine Lulworth Cove and Durdledoor, a UNESCO World Heritage site that boasts some of England's most breathtaking shoreline, is also a must. About 110 miles from London, Bournemouth can be reached in two-and-a-half hours by car or two hours by train.