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Day trips from London

I'll be in London this summer for 15 days (not counting my departure day), and I'm starting to think about what day trips I'd like to make. I've been once to London (and nowhere else in England) in 2015 for a week. So, a lot of the basics will be repeats (which is a good thing), but I will be spending a lot of time exploring more of the city itself obviously. I already bought a London Pass for 10 days, so that will take up the first two thirds of my stay (plus day trips included on the pass to Windsor castle and Hampton Court palace). That leaves me with five days to take day trips after I use up the pass. I'm thinking Bath, Cambridge and York. I know York is two hours each way, but I'm doing the same thing in Germany from Berlin-Dresden. It doesn't bother me. I'm good at getting up early and hitting the train station. I really want to make use out of this extended trip to England, especially with the dollar doing so well against the pound.

Any other ideas for day trips? I think Stonehenge is maybe too expensive and too much of a hassle to get to. Would you vote for Oxford instead of Cambridge? I like castles, palaces, museums, walking around city centers and architecture. I'm thinking that I need to buy train tickets pretty soon (will be there late June-early July) to get the lowest prices to make these day trips affordable.

Posted by
3336 posts

I prefer Oxford to Cambridge. I visited Cambridge for a couple of days a few years ago and stayed for 7 weeks in Oxford previous to that when my husband was doing some academic work there...I'm probably a little biased! The colleges in Oxford are generally more accessible to the public than those in Cambridge - plan which ones you want to see before you go - there are quite a few of them. The Ashmolean Museum is worth a few hours of your time. You can have lunch or dinner just around the corner at the Eagle and Child where Tolkien and Lewis hung out and discussed their books and stories. Of course there is the Bodleian Library and the Sheldonian Theater and all of the little alleys and back streets of the city. The meadows down around the river are beautiful and there are many paths that can be walked along it. It's just a very beautiful city. Blenheim Palace is just west of Oxford and that's also well worth a visit.
Another nice day trip from London is Hatfield House near St. Albans. It's a grand home that's been there for ages - it's where Queen Elizabeth 1st was when she learned she was queen. The same family has lived in it for generations...great gardens as well.

Posted by
650 posts

I visited Windsor Castle this past Friday. It was unbelievable. I have never seen anything in my life the State Apartments. You must visit. The London Pass will not let you skip the queue, you will wait in line like everyone else but it will give you a discount.

Posted by
171 posts

I am a little biased when it comes to Oxford and Cambridge - I prefer Cambridge. I lived there for three years.

I think the mistake that most tourists make when touring Cambridge is that their first view of the colleges is by walking along the streets. Most of the colleges are, at best, unimpressive from the street. In fact the best way to see the colleges for the first time is from the river.

In summer you can rent a punt or canoe at either the Anchor pub on Silver Street or the Mill pub which is more or less next door to the Anchor. You can also hire a punt with a professional punter. The trip down the river past Queens', Kings, Trinity and St, Johns colleges shows you Cambridge at its best. For some reason this view of the colleges is called the "Backs". The advantages of renting a "pro" punter are: he/she knows how to punt (punting is not all that easy, but most punts come with a paddle, just in case). The other advantage of a pro is that the "pro" is usually well informed about the colleges and the way Cambridge functions - in fact they may be students earning some pocket money.

After your river tour visit those same four colleges on foot. Be sure to cross the "Mathematical Bridge" at Queens' and see the inside of King's College Chapel. It was built by Henry VI to provide 70 "scholars" with a place to worship. The chapel is large enough to seat those 70 scholars plus all their living relatives and friends!

Any way, give some thought to visiting Cambridge.

Posted by
533 posts

A few to consider:

Canterbury. In addition to the famous cathedral, there's the Canterbury Tales attraction (a fun animatronic retelling of a few of Chaucer's stories, plus a look at what Canterbury was like as a medieval tourist trap), a number of small local museums (I've been to the Roman museum and the Beaney House and enjoyed both), and a very attractive city center.

Brighton. The Royal Pavilion is really something else - George IV's "seaside pleasure palace," mostly built before he was king and didn't have anything to do but go around spending money. Different areas of the town have very different character, and not all will be to everyone's taste. Since it's a beach town, it gets crowded on weekends in the summer.

Winchester. The ancient capital of England, with all the history that entails.

Posted by
8293 posts

I have to second Winchester as a day trip from London. Wonderful Cathedral. A visit to the Tourist Office will give you tons of information, maps and walking tour ideas. Also, if Hatfield House is your choice, carry on to St Alban's afterward. It too has a beautiful Cathedral, and if you are there on a .Friday there is a great street market close to the Cathedral. Both cities are approx. an hour from London.

Posted by
136 posts

I like Cambridge, St. Alban's, Hampton Court but check out the London Walks as they not only had 2 hour London walks but also day trips out at very reasonable prices.
I know they do a Stonehenge/Salisbury and we enjoyed their Cambridge day as we visited an American WWII cemetery, an old castle keep, and even did pun on the Cam.

Posted by
1253 posts

I would recommend Windsor, Cambridge, Oxford and Bath. As another recommended, you might also check London Walks for day trips.

Posted by
724 posts

They've already been mentioned, but would pick Winchester and Ely, both are great cathedral towns.

Posted by
1540 posts

For our 1 week in London we did lots of day trips:
Salisbury (with bus trip from main train station to Stonehenge), Leeds to see the castle, Bath, Oxford...
We had a book that I got on Amazon with a title "like"
10 1-day trips from London.

Posted by
325 posts

Thanks to everyone for all their great suggestions!! I have lots of things to pick from now. I'm so excited to have this much time to visit England this summer!!

Posted by
171 posts

King's College Chapel (Cambridge) looks as much like a cathedral as many real cathedrals in England.

Posted by
3186 posts

Dover is a day trip and it is one of my favorite castles. I also loved Salisbury. It has an interesting little museum and I enjoyed the walk to and from the train station. If you've ever been to Pompeii, I personally think Bath is skippable, although I really enjoyed the Georgian House museum.

If you've ever been to Pompeii, I personally think Bath is skippable.

Currently scratching my head over this one. I must have missed the streets full of stunning Georgian architecture when I went to Pompeii...

Posted by
4003 posts

Don't count Stonehenge out if you want to see it. A lot of people go there from London as a day trip.

Posted by
9 posts

London has many outlying neighborhoods and boroughs with a small-town atmosphere that are accessible without even leaving the metro London transit network.

Posted by
234 posts

Lots of good ideas mentioned already. You can also do the Cotswolds as a day trip (or spend the night if you want a bit more time there). I did this tour last year and it was very easy to do as a day trip from London: The Cotswolds are beautiful, and if you think you probably wouldn't make a trip to them specifically, a day trip there is a great way to see these unique villages.