Best Day Trips From London You Can Reach in Under 3 Hours

  •   Last Updated:
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Best Day Trips From London You Can Reach in Under 3 Hours

  •   Last Updated:
  •  
  •  2
  •  London

You could spend a lifetime exploring London, but with so many pretty towns, beaches and villages only a short train ride away, it’s well worth investing the time and money into a few day trips from London. It gives you a chance to explore some of the best places in England, enjoy a bit of nature, and get away from the non-stop noise and chaos of the big smoke. That could mean anything from a peaceful walk in the countryside, getting to know a few locals in the pub, or eating your way through the huge range of regional foods that are scattered all across the country.

Keep reading for some of the best days trips from London and you’ll see for yourself how much there is to see right on the doorstep of the city. Whether you’re a total history buff, like to relax in nature, or even want to find somewhere to surf in the UK, then you need check out some of the options below.

1. Bath
Best Day Trips from London - Bath Abbey

📷@gonzalollorens

Bath is around 2 hours from London by train and 2-3 hours by bus, and it’s well worth the journey! A few thousand years old, the city was once a Roman stomping ground and they’ve kindly left their stunning Roman Baths for us all to see. Oh, and don’t forget to take your student card for discounted entry. Head over to the spa city, see Bath Abbey and grab one of Sally Lunn’s sticky buns before swooshing back to London in the evening.

2. Brighton

Best Day Trips from London - Brighton Pier

📷@mygirlandmeblog

Brighton is an epic coastal city to explore and around 60 minutes from central London. Out of all the day trips from London, this is one that you’ll want to visit in the summer. Regardless of when you visit, Brighton is known for its diversity and culture, which makes it a super welcoming city! For a bite to eat, head over to Sunbird’s Deli, where they make an epic chicken mezze and falafel wrap. If it’s a warm day, then finish it off with a ’99’ (soft vanilla ice cream with a chocolate flake) and head to the promenade for a stroll. If not, you might be better off taking a walk into The Lanes where you can get warm with some local craft beer.

If you’re planning to visit in August, then you’ll want to check out Brighton Pride, which attracts thousands of people from around the world.

3. Cambridge

Best Day Trips from London - Cambridge

📷@eve.piri

Around 45 minutes from Liverpool Street Station in London, Cambridge is a gorgeous place to visit for a day trip. Make sure to grab a creamy hot chocolate and a slice of fresh pizza from Aromi before heading off to explore. No one likes to be a ‘hangry’ traveller! If you want to try a classic old pastime, go punting down the river. Prices vary but you can save some pennies by booking online before you go.

4. Stonehenge

Best Day Trips from London - Stonehenge

📷@kaylinikeda

Probably one of Britain’s most iconic prehistoric sites, Stonehenge is around 8 miles (or 12-13 km) from the centre of Salisbury (Wiltshire) and steeped in over 5,000 years of history. Day trips from London don’t get much better than this if you’re looking for something a bit more unusual, especially as so many people talk about the energy they feel when visiting. The easiest way to get here is via bus or train to Salisbury, then a short bus ride to the site itself. Don’t forget your student card for discounted entry and try to avoid the crowds by visiting later in the day or first thing in the morning. Food options are pretty limited here, especially if you want to keep costs on the lower side, so make sure to take a packed lunch.

5. Oxford
Best Day Trips from London - Oxford

📷@echinchyee

Easily reached on a Megabus or via train, Oxford is a great day trip from London. Make sure to visit the totally free Museum of the History of Science and wander through the Covered Market where you’ll find some epic coffee spots. Don’t forget to wander the city’s stunning buildings and streets and grab a bite to eat at Pieminister, who serve some proper English pies that are the best in the city! If you’re looking for a bit of culture, head over to Modern Art Oxford who house a range of cutting-edge exhibits that are constantly changing (and free).

When here, get on the S3 bus from Oxford train station directly to the gates of Blenheim Palace. You’ll receive a 30% discount on entry to Blenheim Palace if you show your bus ticket upon arrival. Once there, head inside the Palace itself where you can see Winston Churchill’s lockets of hair on the wall… creepy or cool, you decide! After that, head into the Pleasure Gardens and take a small picnic to enjoy when wandering the Formal Gardens.

6. Bristol

Best Day Trips from London - Bristol

📷@porthjess

Hop on a bus or train directly from London to Bristol to explore some of Britain’s most iconic street art. Famed as the home of Banksy, you’ll spot many of his works dotted across the city. Make sure to visit ‘Man Hanging From Window’, the ‘Mild Mild West’ mural on the Hamilton Building, Stokes Croft and the ‘Girl With The Pierced Eardrum’ in Bristol’s Harbourside. For some tasty grub, head over to The Hobgoblin for a mound of dirty fries.

7. Cotswolds

Best Day Trips from London - Cotswolds

📷@diman_zi_est

The Cotswolds might only be a few hours from Central London but I guarantee it’ll feel like you’ve been transported into merry olde England. Filled with little villages, cobbled streets and stunning walking routes, it’s a great place to visit for a day trip (or longer) from London. Take the train from London to Cheltenham and take one of the local buses that’ll whisk you off to the beautiful towns. If you think you’re going to visit quite a few towns and villages, it’s worth getting the £10 Cotswolds Discover Pass that covers all trains, buses in the area. From Cheltenham, take bus 801  (complimentary with the pass) which passes through the stunning Bourton on the Water, Stow on the Wold and ending in Moreton in Marsh station for a train journey back to London.

8. Windsor

Best Day Trips from London - WIndsor Great Park

📷@thegoodly

This is one of the best day trips from London for those short on time. Only 40 minutes or so on the train from the city centre, Windsor is a picturesque town which is always popular with tourists looking to visit Windsor Castle, one of three official residences used by The Queen . Make sure to take a boat trip around the town and local area and grab a bite to eat at the Cinnamon Cafe for epic homemade treats. After gorging on cake, head out onto the totally free Heritage Walking Trail (about 1 mile or 1.5 km) that goes through the heart of Windsor and Eton.

9. Warwick

Best Day Trips from London - Warwick

📷@yudithia

Around 90 minutes on the train and 2 hours by bus, Warwick is a beautiful place to explore on a day trip from London. Once there, head to the totally free Warwick Market Hall Museum, the Royal Pump Rooms and the Leamington Spa Art Gallery. If you don’t want to pay the fee to enter Warwick Castle, you can still get an epic view and picture from the bridge on Banbury Road without parting with any hard-earned pennies. Alternatively, head over to the Lord Leycester Hospital, there is a fee payable but you can get free entry during certain heritage weekends, so plan your trip around these. After all that art and culture, head over to the The Chip Shed, who conjure up an epic fish and chips with either mushy peas or lashings of gravy.

10. Canterbury

Best Day Trips from London - Canterbury

📷@withtlovers

An hour’s train ride from London, Canterbury is a beautiful place for a day trip, including the coastal areas of Whistable and Herne Bay. Spend hours here whiling away the time on the beach, crabbing, and exploring. Grab some Whitstable ‘native’ oysters  and lobster on the beach at The Lobster Shack, then head down to The Old Neptune pub for a great atmosphere.

Budgeting For A Day Trip

Best Day Trips from London - Empty railway line running along the UK coast

📷@kernowthunder

Now, as with any day trip, budget is something we wanna keep on a tight leash. Obviously, rocking up at train stations on the day you want to travel (without a rail card), hopping in a black cab, or arranging a private jet isn’t going to make the cut – especially when we want to make our pennies go as far as possible.

That being said, it’s possible to squeeze in a few day trips from London without blowing a gaping hole in your savings.

Trains

First off, always book in advance, preferably 10-12 weeks before your trip. This way, you’ll be able to slash the costs of train travel by around 80 percent in some cases, which will be even cheaper if you grab yourself a railcard. As this will be an ‘advanced ticket’ you’ll need to stick to the trains you booked (imagine it like a flight ticket that way).

Buses

There’s a heap of local and national bus routes that crisscross Britain. If you’re going between cities, make sure to book ahead on services like Megabus where you can grab fares for a few pounds. Just make sure to get them in advance and always take the bus you’ve booked.

 

Need a place to stay once you’re back in the capital? Check out some of the best hostels in London

 

Here are a few other options to keep you entertained in London:

 

Inspired to take one of these day trips from London? Tell us which destinations made it onto your itinerary in the comments below!

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