Did you know that some of Britain’s most beautiful locations are located near London? Starting from the English capital, interesting towns and suggestive castles, historic buildings and seaside resorts can be easily reached for a day trip. There are so many things to see near London and in this article, I will take you to 20 family day trips from London.
Even if London is a unique city, with attractions for all tastes, where it is truly impossible to get bored, it could be pleasant to include an excursion to one of the most famous places in the United Kingdom in your travel itinerary.
From a tour to Oxford, to a visit to Stonehenge, from a trip to the English countryside to a day on the beach, there are so many things to see near London.
Organizing a day trip from London is really simple. Even without a car available, in fact, you can easily move independently with trains and buses.
When we lived in London, we didn’t have a car, though we were able to make family day trips with kids easily thanks to a great ferry network.
Having lived in London for 7 years, I’ve had several opportunities to explore these beautiful places in England and I thought I’d share my tips with you, to help you better organise your trip. In this post, you will find what I consider to be the best destinations to visit around London.
What you are going to find in this article:
Cities to visit around London
The Coutryside and its villages
Castles around Londom
Seaside destinations from London
Scogliere di Dover
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Indice dei contenuti
A perfect destination for a day trip from London is Oxford, home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Immersed in the Oxfordshire countryside, this beautiful city near London, known above all for its colleges, is located just 90 km from the English capital and can be easily reached by public transport.
To visit in Oxford are the picturesque old town, Christ Church College, one of the most famous colleges in the city, the Carfax Tower, the Oxford University Church, the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe, the Radcliffe Camera, a circular building housing another wonderful library, and Hertford Bridge, known as the Bridge of Sighs, which joins two sections of Hertford College on New College Lane.
Also worth a stop is the Covered Market in Oxford, a covered market that opened in 1774.
If you and your children love Harry Potter you must know that several movie scenes were filmed here.
To take a Harry Potter-themed tour in Oxford, there are three places not to be missed: New College, which houses the cloister where the protagonists often meet to talk, the Bodleian Library, or more precisely one of its halls, the Divinity School, where the infirmary scenes were filmed, and Christ Church College, which houses the Great Hall.
How to get to Oxford from London
- by train: from Paddington Station, in one hour
- by car: Oxford can be reached via the M40 motorway. The journey takes about an hour and a half. However, it is quite difficult to find free parking in the center and the rates are quite high.
- by bus: from London Victoria Coach Station, with the National Express.
What to see in Oxford with kids
We loved walking around Oxford with our little ones: the city is family-friendly, with many pedestrian zones and few cars. There are museums, parks, castles and really enjoyable walks to be had here.
Here are 3 things to do in Oxford with kids.
1.Oxford University Museum of Natural History
This museum displays a large collection of natural specimens, from dinosaurs to dodo. Like the Natural History Museum in London, this one is also housed in a spectacular building: neo-Gothic architecture dating back to the 19th century. Follow one of the family-friendly trails, where children are encouraged to touch the exhibits. Also, check out the regular free kid-friendly activities listed on their website.
Discover a historic marvel that will capture the imagination of your entire family: Oxford Castle. With a 45-minute guided tour led by a charming costumed character, you will travel back in time, immersing yourself in the history of this majestic castle.
Firstly, this is Oxford’s largest park and arguably the most popular with families, thanks to its great range of activities. Secondly, there’s a miniature golf course, miniature railroad, sandbox, duck pond, skate park, tennis courts, and so much more! Plenty of room for the kids to let off steam and a nice place to escape the city crowds.
Elsfield Way, Oxford OX2 8NP
Among the things to see near London, one cannot fail to mention Cambridge, home to the second oldest university in England. There are so many reasons to visit this lovely town.
First of all, Cambridge is home to 31 colleges, such as Trinity College, King’s and Queen’s College, and its historic center is a maze of narrow cobbled streets lined with shops, typical restaurants and ancient pubs. Among the magnificent buildings, King’s College Chapel stands out, with the largest fan vault in the world and beautiful stained glass windows.
It is possible to take a tour inside the collages: walking tour information
A truly unmissable experience in Cambridge is “punting“, or the tour along the canals of the River Cam aboard a small boat propelled with a pole oar. All the information here.
Cambridge is certainly one of the most beautiful day trips from London that you could do.
How to get to Cambridge from London
- by train: from King’s Cross Station, several trains leave every day and take you to Cambridge in about 50 minutes.
- by car: departing from London you can reach Cambridge in about an hour and twenty minutes. You must take the M11 motorway towards Cambridge and then continue on the A1303.
What to do in Cambridge with kids
In addition to visiting a college, an absolutely must-do experience, I recommend trying punting, or the traditional boat ride along the river. This boat tour is great for kids given their attention spans, but long enough to see some of the colleges from the river and departs from near Jesus Green.
We loved looking out over the city from Great St Mary’s Tower – the 123 steps that make up the circular staircase are quite steep but manageable to do with children.
Another Cambridge family highlight is the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences: admission is free and it is the favorite place for dinosaur lovers. Buy your ticket in advance but bear in mind that the museum is closed on Sundays if you plan to see Cambridge over the weekend.
Another beautiful city close to London is Bath, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In this picturesque town, characterized by Georgian buildings, there are really many interesting attractions. Starting from the Roman Baths for which it is popular. Also wonderful are: the Bath Abbey, in the Gothic style, with its beautiful stained glass windows; the Royal Crescent, a majestic 18th century Victorian building, and Pulteney Bridge, a bridge over the River Avon dating back to the 1700s.
Bath is also home to a modern thermal spa Thermae Bath Spa, not to be missed if what you are looking for is a little relaxation.
In Bath, every year, numerous events related to literature are organized, many of which are dedicated to Jane Austen.
How to get to Bath from Londra
The means that will allow you to reach this town near London more quickly is the train. You can take it from London Victoria or London Paddington stations. The journey takes about an hour and 20 minutes.
What to do in Bath with kids
As well as some wonderful parks, marked Henrietta Park and Moorfields Sandpit, are the famous Roman Baths. Children up to 6 years of age do not pay and I generally advise you to visit them during the week, because the ticket costs more at the weekend. With the entrance ticket, £20 each (so quite expensive), but the audio guide is included to understand everything about the history and what you will see.
Another great thing to do in Bath is to book a morning brunch or afternoon tea at the Pump Room Bath. The package also includes a visit to the Roman baths. Prices start at £40 for brunch and £50 for afternoon tea.
Among the best day trips from London, one cannot forget Brighton, a very nice seaside town.
You can’t miss the beach and the famous pier, Brighton Pier, which during the summer season is populated by Londoners and tourists.
On the seafront, you come across charming restaurants and small kiosks, ice cream parlors, shops and, to the delight of the children, an amusement park.
Brighton is also full of interesting attractions such as the Royal Pavillion, the Brighton Museum and the Art Gallery.
If what you are looking for is an idea for a pleasant day with the family, I suggest you reach this pretty seaside town with a day trip from London.
Check out my article about What to do in Brighton with kids
How to get to Brighton from London
- by train: trains leave about every 15 minutes from various London stations, such as London Bridge or Victoria Station and take about an hour to reach their destination. From Brighton station you can walk into the city center. In about 15 minutes you will be at the sea.
- by car: Brighton can be reached by car in around 1.5 hours from London.
- by bus: Buses leave from Victoria Coach Station and take from one hour and forty to 3 hours to reach Brighton.
What to do in Brighton with bambini
I recommend a visit to the oldest aquarium in the world at the Brighton Sea Life Centre, the Royal Pavillon, one of the symbols of Brighton, the beach and the Brighton Palace Pier, with some rides, the Volks Electric Railway, the most of Great Britain running over a kilometer along the beach, which underwent an extensive refurbishment project in 2018 and has been back in operation since April 2023.
Check out my article about What to do in Brighton with kids
Among the things to see near London, the picturesque town of Canterbury, with narrow lanes and half-timbered houses, deserves a special mention.
Canterbury is best known for its beautiful Cathedral, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the Gothic style in the eleventh century, it is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe.
Also worth visiting in Canterbury are St Augustine’s Abbey, dating back to the 6th century, and St Martin’s Church, the oldest parish church in England. Both are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
How to get to Canterbury from London
- by train: from St Pancras International station, trains leave for Canterbury every 20 minutes. The journey takes about an hour.
- by car: Canterbury can be reached by car in around 1.5 hours from London.
- by bus: Buses depart from Victoria Coach Station and the journey takes approximately 2 hours.
What to do in Canterbury with kids:
- Canterbury Cathedral
- Westgate Gardens
- Canterbury Heritage Museum
- Kingsmead Leisure Centre
- Canterbury Historic River Tours
- Beaney House
- Canterbury Roman Museum
Another splendid medieval town close to London is Salisbury, overlooking the River Avon.
Here, the beautiful Cathedral and the historic center are worth a visit, with the typical half-timbered houses and charming shops.
Salisbury Cathedral is full of jewels. Among these is the Magna Carta. Only four examples exist and it is believed that the best preserved one is right here.
One of the best things to do in Salisbury is walking through its historic centre, the Old City. You can then take a walk in The Close district, full of Georgian and Elizabethan houses, or reach the Church of St. Thomas, famous for its 1400s tower.
An idea for a day trip from London could also be to reach Stonehenge, one of the most famous archaeological sites in the United Kingdom, and then take a walk through the center of Salisbury.
How to get to Salisbury and Stonehenge
- by public transport: starting from Waterloo station, in about an hour and a half, you can get to Salisbury. From Salisbury train station you can reach Stonehenge by bus.
- by car: London is 150 km from Salisbury. The journey takes approximately 2 hours. From here, it takes 15 minutes to reach Stonehenge.
There are several characteristic villages near London and, among these, one of the most suggestive is certainly Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakespeare.
The center of Stratford-upon-Avon, located in the county of Warwickshire and characterized by picturesque views, theaters and Tudor-style buildings, is small enough, but full of things to do and see related to its most famous citizen.
Do not miss, in particular, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, a beautiful wooden building in Tudor style, the wonderful church of Holy Trinity, located along the banks of the River Avon and the Butterfly Farm, the largest exhibition of butterflies, insects and living arachnids of Europe.
How to get to Stratford-upon-Avon from London
- by train: there are several trains that connect the English capital to the center of Stratford. The departure station is Marylebone, near Regent’s Park. The journey takes about two hours.
- by car: it will take around 2 hours to reach Stratford-upon-Avon from London.
From central London you can easily reach Rye, in the county of East Sussex, known as one of the best preserved medieval towns in England.
Here, today, walking through the steep cobbled streets, you can admire half-timbered houses, a castle and old inns.
Once here, go to Mermaid Street to enjoy its special atmosphere and visit the Norman church of St. Mary.
As it’s only 10 minutes from the beach at Camber Sands, it’s perfect to combine with a day at the seaside too.
How to get to Rye from Lonon
- by train: You can get to Rye by train from Charing Cross, changing at Ashford station. The journey takes just over an hour.
- by car: it will take around 2 hours to reach Rye from London.
What to do with kids in Rye:
- Wander the historic streets, looking for some of the most picturesque spot
- The Rye Castle Museum, built in the 13th or 14th centuries, also known as the Ypres Tower. It was a line of defence and prison, before being converted into a little museum.
- The Landgate is the only surviving gate from Rye’s medieval fortifications
Aylesford, a quaint village near London, is accessed via an impressive five-arched medieval bridge dating back to the 14th century.
Here, worth seeing are the old town, with its characteristic houses, and the medieval palace of Preston Hall.
Close to the village is Aylesford Priory, a restored medieval monastic house of Carmelite friars dating back to 1242.
If you decide to travel to Aylesford, you can walk up to the viewpoint of Blue Bell Hill and enjoy the view over the surrounding valley.
How to get to Aylesford from London
- by train: you can get to Aylesford by train from St. Pancras International. The journey takes an hour.
- by car: it will take around 45 minutes to reach Aylesford from London.
Among the things to see near London, Eynsford also deserves a mention, a village that seems to come out of a postcard.
Eynsford is nestled in the English countryside, with hills, farmland, woodland and low-lying grassland. Walking through its picturesque historic center is a bit like stepping back in time.
How to get to Eynsford from London
- by train: you can get to Eynsford by train from London Blackfriars. The journey takes an hour.
- by car: it will take you just over an hour to reach Eynsford from London.
Nestled in a beautiful natural setting, Cookham is a small village of quaint cottages and houses in the county of Berkshire. Cookham looks like something out of a picture book. Walking through its streets, it will not seem possible to find yourself only an hour from London.
From here, then, you can take various walks along the Thames, in contact with nature.
The village, every year, comes alive on the occasion of the Cookham Regatta and the Swan Upping Ceremony, or the annual census of swans on the Thames. This curious ceremony dates back to the 12th century, when the Crown claimed ownership of all swans, considered a delicious dish at the time.
How to get to Cookham from London
- by train: You can get to Cookham by train from London Paddington. The journey takes an hour.
- by car: it will take around 40 minutes to reach Cookham from London.
The Cotswolds are a range of hills located not far from London, of great historical and geological importance.
If you love images of rural England, which is often seen in movies, you absolutely must travel to the Cotswolds and immerse yourself in the beauty of the English countryside. What you will find are green meadows, stone cottages, romantic villages and small pubs.
Just reach the Cotswolds to forget the chaos of London and stroll around in search of picturesque corners to photograph.
The Cotswolds are located in central England, stretching from Bath to Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Some unmissable stops are
- the town of Burford, one of England’s best preserved medieval towns with many buildings dating back over 500 years.
- Bibury, considered to be the loveliest village in all of England. Stroll along the river and see Arlington Row, a series of weavers’ cottages that are now a symbol of the Cotswolds.
- Bourton-on-the-water: called the Venice of the Xotswolds because crossed by the river it is truly enchanting
- Stow-on-the-Wold, home to ‘England’s oldest pub’.
How to get to Cotswolds from London
- by train: from Paddington station, in about an hour and a half, you will reach the Cotswolds. Trains run to Bath, Cheltenham, Stratford, Chippenham, Gloucester, Kemble, Moreton-in-Marsh, Kingham and Oxford.
- by car: To visit the Cotswolds the most immediate method is to rent a car. Most of the villages are located between the A424 and A429 roads.
- by bus: to reach the Cotswolds I suggest you refer to the National Express company.
Windsor Castle is located in the county of Berkshire, about 20 miles west of London, and is one of the most popular day trips from London.
The Castle is a well-known royal residence. Here, kings and queens have lived and been buried over the centuries.
The complete visit of the castle can last hours and includes the royal apartments, where the famous Queen Mary’s Dolls House is located, the Chapel of St. George, the Albert Memorial Chapel, the Upper Tower and the Henry III Tower and the large and beautiful park.
You could stay longer in Windsor and take the opportunity to dedicate a day to them, visiting the famous Lego theme park. If you are interested in learning more, I have dedicated an article to Legoland Windsor.
How to get to Windsor Castle from London
- by train: the castle can be reached from Paddington station or, alternatively, from Waterloo station (it will then take more than half an hour).
- by bus: the Green Line bus departs from Victoria Coach Station.
- by car: the journey from London takes an average of 45 minutes and there are many parking lots around the castle.
If what you are looking for are castles near London, you must not miss Warwick Castle, considered one of the most beautiful fortresses in England.
Built in 1068 along the banks of the River Avon, it is still in excellent condition today. In fact, you will be able to visit the entire building, exploring towers and keeps, the State Rooms and the apartments.
Not to be missed are the beautiful gardens, designed by Capability Brown, a famous English landscape architect.
How to get to Warwick from London
- by train: from London Marylebone you can take one of the trains to Warwick village. The journey is approximately one hour and 45 minutes.
- by car: the journey by car takes about a couple of hours.
Among the castles near London, the beautiful Hever Castle should be mentioned, famous for being the residence of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII.
The interiors house fine furniture, tapestries, antiques and one of the best collections of Tudor portraits.
The park and gardens of Hever Castle are beautiful, extending over 125 acres and hosting an elegant Italian garden with classical statues and an English rose garden, with over 4,000 rose bushes.
How to get to Hever Castle from London
- by train: trains depart from London Bridge or Victoria stopping at Edenbridge. You will then have to take a taxi. Otherwise, the nearest station is Hever Station, the stop is 1.5 km from the castle.
- by car: Hever Castle is about an hour and a quarter from London.
Defined on several occasions as “the most beautiful castle in the world“, Leeds Castle is located in the middle of the Kent countryside, not far from Canterbury and only an hour by train from London.
Surrounded by defensive walls and 500 hectares of lush parkland, it is certainly one of the best things to see near London.
Built in 1119 by the Normans, the castle rests on two islets located in the center of a small lake.
It is a very suggestive place, of great historical importance. It was a royal residence, prison and fortress.
The surrounding park is also wonderful, with the famous hedge maze.
How to get to the Leeds Castle from London
- by car: the best solution to reach Leeds Castle from London is certainly the car (1h20m).
- by train: from Victoria station you will have to reach Bearsted and, from here, take a bus to the castle.
- by bus: from London Victoria bus station you will have to go to Maidenhead and, from here, take a taxi.
From London you can also reach the white cliffs of Dover in a day, composed of very fine textured limestone, in whose composition marine fossils can be recognized dating back to what could be the Cretaceous period.
The cliffs overlook the south coast of England. Precisely on the English Channel, in correspondence with the strait of the same name.
This suggestive location is certainly one of the things to see near London. You could then visit the city of Dover and the famous castle.
How to get to the White Cliffs Cliffs of Dover from London
- by car: the cliffs of Dover are about an hour and 40 from London.
- by train: departing from St.Pancras station you will arrive in Dover in an hour.
- by bus: with the National Express buses, departing from Victoria Coach Station, you will arrive at the cliffs of Dover in about 2 hours and a half.
The Seven Sisters are among the most beautiful cliffs in southern England. These are seven chalk cliffs, very white, overlooking the sea, located between Eastbourne and Seaford.
That’s why a walk in the Seven Sisters Country Park cannot fail to be included among the things to do near London.
How to get to the Seven Sister from London
- by car: in about two hours you can reach Seaford
- by train: from London Victoria station you can take a train to Eastbourne and start the walk. The journey takes 90 minutes. Alternatively, you can take the train to Brighton and, from here, the bus that takes you to Seven Sisters Country Park.
With less than two hours from London, it’s one of our favorites on the east coast of England. There is no proper ‘Italian’ beach, you need to go further towards Margate to find sand. But it has its charm nonetheless, with the typical houses overlooking the coast, and the mountains of oyster shells as a side dish.
Here we tasted one of the best fish and chips ever had in the UK: very fresh and with a super crunchy breading. There are so many, you will be spoiled for choice.
Late in the afternoon we headed to the harbor and watched some children fishing for crabs. There is also a nice playground and I recommend a visit to the Castle, if only to admire the architecture from the outside and relax a bit in the adjacent garden.
How to get to Whitsable from London
- by car: 1h30m
- by train: from London Bridge or St. Pancreas station an hour and a half.
What to do and see in Whitsable with kids:
- wander around the city and admire the street art
- visit Whitsable Castle
- visit the Harbor Market
- Take a boat ride to the Red Sand Forts and Wind Farm with WHITSTABLE BOAT TRIPS
- Rent a bike and take a ride along the coast per la città e ammirare la street art
I hope you enjoyed these tips. Which of these destinations inspires you the most?
Let me know in the comments
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