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Day Trips near London

We are a family of four, with 2 teen daughters (13,14 yo) planning to return to London in June. We have seen many sights in London and would like to have suggestions for day trips. Cambridge or Oxford? Windsor, Bath? We love the outdoors and exploring nature and castles. Art museums and history are ok, but not the most exciting for my 2 at this age.

Posted by
4482 posts

Kew Gardens-take the boat from Westminster to get there and Tube to get home. They would probably love Windsor as a palace of today's royalty. They might enjoy Brighton. London is the best place we've ever been for day trips-assuming the trains aren't on strike.

Posted by
8885 posts

Rye, Whitsable, Shoreditch, Hampton Court Palace, Oxford, Blenheim Palace, Richmond Park, Hampstead Heath, Venice Canal Path, Camden Lock Market, Carnaby Street, Brick Lane, Neal’s Yard Covent Garden, Natural History Museum, Highgate Cemetery and Karl Marx Tomb, and a visit to The Attendant https://www.the-attendant.com/en-us/pages/fitzrovia ….

Wander about Spitalfields or BoxCar Park. If by the Shard seek out the London Glassblowing gallery on Bermondsey Street.

Enjoy a pub lunch at The Dove or White Cross or The Ship or The Blackfriar

Check the Tower Bridge website
Wander about the Wetlands Center
Check to see if the London/Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is happening
Watch rowers on the Regents Canal
Climb the O2
As your dates draw closer check the rooftop cinema website: https://www.therooftopguide.com/rooftop-news/rooftop-cinema-london.html

June happenings:
Walthamstow’s Arts Festival

Posted by
585 posts

Hampton Court Palace is an easy train ride from London,
Brighton or Eastbourne. Major seaside destinations but no sandy beaches. Nice walks on the nearby cliffs.
Chichester, small cathedral city, aside from the cathedral also visit nearby Fishbourne Roman Palace. Lots of other attractions in the area.
Portsmouth visit the Historic Dockyard to see Nelson’s HMS Victory and the Mary Rose from the reign of Henry VIII

Posted by
27447 posts

As you can see, a lot of us enjoy places within day-tripping distance of London. I've spent multiple nights in Oxford, Cambridge and Brighton, so I think filling a day would not be an issue.

I'd have a hard time choosing between the two university cities. There are walking tours on offer in both cities. If available, I'd take a tour run by the university; at challenging times (like exam periods), I think the university tours are more likely to have access to more areas of the campus. I might go with whichever town is logistically easier/faster. Oxford trains depart from Paddington Station and take 55 to 67 minutes. Cambridge trains depart from Kings Cross or Liverpool Pool Street Station and take 70 to 87 minutes. British rail fares can be very high on a per-mile basis if tickets aren't purchased very far in advance, so that could also be a factor if you don't want to lock in a date for a day-trip to either Oxford or Cambridge. You can check schedules and fares at nationalrail.co.uk.

Brighton, with its funky shops as well as the distinctive Royal Pavilion, would probably be a winner with young teenage girls.

I'd also like to reinforce the earlier suggestion for London Walks. Its London tours last about two hours and cost only £15 for adults and £5 for kids 8 to 15--a tremendous bargain for your family. The guides are licensed. Some are out-of-work actors; naturally, they know how to deliver information in a very engaging manner. Click on "Calendar" in the gray banner near the top for access to the list of walks planned for each day. For more details on a tour, click on "Read More and Book" at the end of the individual listing. I've enjoyed every tour I've taken (probably between 10 and 15 at this point). There are usually about a dozen tours offered each day, and they vary, so it's worthwhile to check the schedule for each day you'll be in London to see what's on offer. Offerings could easily be change between now and June, of course.

London Walks now requests that tour members book online in advance; you don't have to pay ahead of time. Making a tour reservation would be a very good idea since there are four of you. However, as a solo traveler I was able to just show up for a couple of tours back in September. I don't think even a family of four would be turned away unless the group was too large--but I suppose that could happen.

Posted by
1016 posts

Bath/Cotswolds/Stonehenge will be a very long day and a bus tour from London may be your best option to utilize time better. On your own, you could easily train to Windsor or Hampton Court. Going North East to Cambridge ( a little further afield) you can punt down the river and wander the colleges. The town center is very vibrant with a small market. Cambridge is full of young students, so it has a young vibe and I think the teens would like it. Going South, Canterbury is an interesting city; the Cathedral is very much the main attraction. There are a few cobbled streets, but it is very much a high street for clothes shopping with some unique places to eat in between. (check out Tiny Tim's Tearooms https://www.tinytimstearoom.com/. You can also do some "punting" with the historical boating tours. I would personally look at bus tours for Bath, Plan to see Windsor or Hampton Court on another day, and then perhaps if the weather is decent and there are no rail strikes, then you could sketch out plans to go to Cambridge or Canterbury.

Posted by
2494 posts

Teen daughters would probably like Bicester Village - designer shopping. You can easily reach Bicester Village station by Chiltern Trains from London Marylebone. Then (once they have spent all your money) take the train the short distance to Oxford for the cultural stuff or do trip in reverse. https://www.thebicestercollection.com/bicester-village/en

You can also easily do Bath by GWR train from London Paddington. See this You Tube video.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you all kindly for such great suggestions! Windsor is definitely on the list of places to see and we will keep all these ideas in mind as we go forth in planning!

Posted by
4604 posts

I just did a daytrip to Bath, easy peasy. The Man in Seat 61 covers how to do it in some detail and also has a vlog of what you'll see. Oddly Rick lists this as a good choice on this website but not in his London guidebook.

Posted by
150 posts

Not a fan of Bicester, the outlets are crowded, parking is jammed, thought it was a waste of a nice afternoon. Wish we had visited Bletchley Park, or explored some C. S. Lewis sites. Big mistake.

Posted by
2073 posts

Thanks for the explanation Claudia - I've not heard of them before - sounds interesting.

Posted by
9 posts

I have kids close to the same age (12, 14 and 15). They really enjoyed day trips to Bath and Oxford. We did a private tour of Oxford with Footprints that was conducted by a student. She was fabulous and it was cool for them to see and hear about college life there since they are just starting to think about it themselves.

Posted by
3 posts

Wonderful suggestions everyone! Castles are always enjoyable it seems and my two daughters did favor our previous trip to Tower of London. We are leaning towards Windsor and Oxford, possibly including Bath. How much time would you suggest spending in each?

Thanks!