There’s no denying that London is one of the best cities in the world! Whether you are a local or a visitor, there is always something new to explore.
While it’s easy to get caught up in planning your days in the city center, there are also a lot of amazing places you can visit just outside London that make for a fun day trip.
Having visited London on multiple occasions, these are my top destinations if you are looking for day trips from London.
With pebble beaches, great shopping, and a diverse community, Brighton is a great place to spend a hot summer’s day in the United Kingdom. This coastal town has plenty of seafront for sunbathing or swimming, a fully functioning carousel, and the Brighton Palace Pier Amusement Park.
After a day at the beach, you can take a short walk into the town center where you’ll find plenty of attractions to keep you entertained, including the Royal Pavilion. This unique building was constructed in the late 1700s as a royal residence for King George IV.
Its unusual design was influenced by George’s infatuation with India and China. A tour through the new museum does a great job of transporting you to a different time and place.
Outside of the Pavilion, there are plenty of restaurants, shops, and local events taking place in town to keep any visitor busy. The city is very LGBTQ friendly and is unofficially known as the “gay capital of the UK” with many pride events taking place throughout the year.
Getting to Brighton from London: The city is served by direct rail service from London to Brighton with the journey taking just under an hour. Traveling by car will take around 90 minutes – 2 hours, depending on traffic. There are also coach services from each of the main airports with journey times varying from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on your departure location.
I’ve visited Dover a handful of times now and it always surprises me how much I enjoy it. The two main attractions to check out are Dover Castle and the White Cliffs.
Dover Castle, a former royal residence turned modern military fortress has an extraordinary history. Every inch of it takes you back in time from the secret wartime tunnels to the underground hospital, to the great tower decorated to match the time of King Henry II. It’s sprawling grounds and a spectacular view of the sea will keep you busy for hours.
The White Cliffs are as stunning in person as they look in pictures. The walkable path along the cliffs is very serene, offering a beautiful view of the English Channel and (if you’re lucky) a hint of the coast of France. After your walk, stop in the nearby cafe to warm up with home-baked scones and a cup of tea.
Note that the White Cliffs are protected by the National Trust and opening times vary throughout the year. Stop by the visitor center for more information on the preservation of the chalky grassland and their efforts to stop the eroding of the site.
Getting to Dover from London: You can catch a train from any of London’s major stations (St. Pancras, Waterloo, Victoria, or Charing Cross) with the high-speed train option only taking a little over an hour to reach Dover. If traveling by bus or car, the journey takes approximately 2 hours one way.
Famous for being the birthplace and gravesite of William Shakespeare, everything about his life and work is celebrated here. You can walk through the house and garden that he grew up in as well as revisit his real-life love story at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.
Afterward, you can walk down to the corner of Church Street and Chapel Lane to view where Shakespeare attended grade school and see in person his classroom.
And for additional context on the time period that Shakespeare lived in, the Tudor World museum located in town is solely dedicated to the life and times of the Tudors.
Stratford is also home to the Royal Shakespeare Company and Theatre with performances of Shakespeare’s plays being performed regularly throughout the year.
If you want to see the best of the best Shakespeare performances this is certainly the place to do it.
Getting to Stratford from London: Stratford is a popular tourist destination so there are many ways of getting here. A journey by car or coach will take just under 2 hours. Trains leave from either London Euston or London Marylebone and take around 2-2.5 hours. If you are interested in something more organized there are a range of tour operators who run daily trips from London.
Stonehenge & Bath
Arguably one of the most famous stone formations in the world, Stonehenge is about 1.5 hours from London. While historians and archaeologists debate the why and how of Stonehenge’s existence, millions of visitors continue to descend upon the stone circle each year.
Audio headsets are available for rent if you are interested in learning about the history and theories of the site.
About an hour from Stonehenge is the city of Bath. This “world heritage spa city” attracts visitors from all over to enjoy the historical Roman Bathhouse and experience the city that provided Jane Austen inspiration for a few of her novels.
The city of Bath is very walkable and full of beautiful Georgian architecture including the Royal Crescent. There are parks for picnics, a variety of restaurants and shops and of course modern-day spas for relaxation. Bath has always been one of my favorite cities to visit in England.
Getting to Stonehenge & Bath from London: Because of Stonehenge’s remote location, the easiest way to see both destinations is to participate in an organized tour that leaves from London and shuttles you around to each location. It makes for a long day but well worth it, in my opinion.
Otherwise, to see Stonehenge you can take a train from London to Salisbury and then take the Stonehenge Tour bus from there. Then take a train to Bath and back to London in the evening.
Alternatively, if Stonehenge isn’t on your bucket list, a train from London to Bath only takes about 90 minutes. Travel by coach or car to Bath is also an option and will take approximately 2.5 hours.
Small and quaint, the town of Windsor is the perfect day trip from London. It’s full of history, royals and is quintessentially British.
The main attraction is Windsor Castle, the unofficial residence of the Queen, but where she actually spends most of her time. The grounds, staterooms and St George’s Chapel where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were recently married are available to tour year-round.
One of my favorite parts of the tour is the castle gardens which are pristinely kept and full of bright flowers and plants.
The castle itself was built in the 11th century and is the oldest occupied castle in the world. The changing of the guard also regularly takes place and is a much better place to watch the ceremony than at Buckingham Palace.
Outside the castle grounds, there is plenty to do as well. The Eton walkway is a popular and historic 2-mile circular walk taking you through the town centers of Windsor and Eton. You can catch a Thames Riverboat cruise, visit the Old Court for some live music or stop into a cafe for afternoon tea.
It is truly one of the only towns I would consider to have found the balance between being both historical and modern in its presentation.
Getting to Windsor from London: The quickest way to get to Windsor is to take the train. The journey takes about 30 minutes with a quick transfer at Slough. Once in Windsor, the town and major highlights are all within walking distance.
Tayler Gill is an online entrepreneur and travel blogger at travelingtayler.com. As a Digital Nomad, she travels the world through house sitting and teaches other remote professionals how they too can bring balance to their work and travel lives.