Day Trip from London

Wife & I are on first visit to London (Sept 23-29 - 6 1/2 days to tour) and are interested in one or two day-trips outside of London. A friend suggested Windsor Castle, but we're open to suggestions. What day trip(s) would you recommend for first time visitors? Also what tour companies would you recommend. We have check with London Walks and the only day-trip that we would be interested in during our stay would be the "Stonehenge & Salisbury" day-trip that they do every Tuesday. Has anyone taken this tour? Has anyone use for day tours?
Thanks. - Joe

Posted by Toni
Charlotte, NC, USA
3036 posts

Windsor is one of our absolute favorite day trips. Easy to do by train from Paddington station. Trip takes about 25 min. with one change at Slough (very easy). The town is nice as well as the castle. You can also do a cruise along the Thames from the bridge over to Eaton and see a bit of the countryside. Here is a link to an article I originally wrote for AAA Carolina's "Go!" magazine, then modified for Trip Advisor. It is about our favorite 'do it yourself by train' day trips from London.

Posted by Paul
Cedar, IA, USA
2645 posts

Not used any of the tours, but some common ones in addition to Stonehenge would be Bath, Oxford, Greenwich, and even Portsmouth if you are a naval buff.

Posted by Kira
Seattle, WA, USA
1019 posts

I'd add Hampton Court Palace to Paul's list. Also will note that if you go to Windsor, you can both see the castle and take a delightful walk into Eton! So you kind of get two-for-one. (If you do that, I recommend the Crown and Cushion on Eton High Street for a pint along the way.) No input on tours from me... I never take them. Will be interested to hear feedback from others!

Posted by Joel
Tempe, AZ, USA
966 posts

Joseph - Cambridge or Oxford could be a nice day trip. It's about a hours train ride. Same day return to Cambridge is as little as £27.20 pp. Same day return to Oxford is as little as £56.40 pp.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1539 posts

Hello Joseph. I think the two best places to go to, as day trips from London, are Windsor Castle (a palace of the royal family of Great Britain), and Cambridge University. I went on three trips to England. I plan to do my fourth trip to England, in May of 2014. And, in London, I highly recommend walking through the Museum of London.

Posted by Jim
Dallas, Texas, USA
499 posts

You could also consider Eurostar to Paris or Brussels. Your intention may be to stay in Great Britain, but these are other possibilities. Leave on earliest train, return same day taking last train. Haven't done the Brussels segment, but Paris was workable.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3082 posts

In addition to the daytrips already mentioned, I suggest taking the train to Portsmouth Harbor and spending a few hours touring the harbor, ships, and museums there. Henry VIII's ship is there and may be open for visits. The harbor is full of history, including WWII connections. As I recall, the train was under 2 hours each way. From Portsmouth harbor it is easy to take a ferry over to the Isle of Wight for a look-around.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
891 posts

Cambridge or Portsmouth would be my recommendations - both have been mentioned already. In answer to you other question "also what tour companies would you recommend", I think near everywhere mentioned already is easy to get to by public transport (rail/bus), and if you are happy to make your own arrangements then a tour company is not necessary (on the other hand, London-Stonehenge-Salisbury-Bath would be hard, to say the least, to do by public transport in one day and so a coach company makes sense). We've used Viator for tours in Europe perhaps twice and had no complaints (essentially they resell someone else's tour so you do pay a little supplement which you can avoid by finding the original tour company).

Posted by Iain
Edmonton, AB, Canada
668 posts

Did Windsor, Stonehenge Bath with a tour company a few years ago and it worked out well. Unfortunately I do not recall the name, but you could Google it.

Posted by Tim
Ojai, CA
591 posts

I would have to agree with Ron on Windsor Castle and Cambridge. No tour company needed as you can easily do the trips on your own.

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

I third Cambridge and Windsor. I would not sniff at Bath, too.

Posted by Donna
Huntington Station, NY, USA
16 posts

Joseph, I took the London Walks day trip to Stonehenge and Salisbury, and it was excellent! Richard, the guide, was outstandingly informed and good-humored, and it was wonderful to have someone to shepherd us onto the right trains and offer a running commentary. There's even a private bus for the ride from Salisbury to Stonehenge. I don't recall the fee but I know that I felt it was more than worth it. I took a few other London Walks within the city and they were all terrific as well. I'd also like to second the previous suggestion of Hampton Court. And if you have any interest in maritime history, a self-guided visit to Greenwich is easy and rewarding. The narrated boat ride is half the fun. Happy travels!

Posted by Emma
161 posts

Hi Joseph please check the "National Rail" UK site. The rail prices are much less expensive than suggested on this thread. Then check on the purchase of a Network rail card. Rail trips out of the London area can get very inexpensive for up to four people. Have fun!

Posted by Tim
Knoxville, TN, USA
3634 posts

Also have a look at the underground WWII installations at Dover. Immensely interesting place.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
334 posts

Stonehenge; Bath and Portsmouth; Cambridge; Kew Gardens.
You won't go wrong with any of the overall suggestions posted by the other. So decide what is in your interest and comfort level and go with that. Viator is a consolidator. I'd avoid them and book directly with the tour operator of wherever you're going. I highly recommend London Walks.

Posted by Joseph
Mountain City, TN, United States
6 posts

I appreciate all the info. Has anyone been to or would recommend the Leeds castle tour? Has anyone been on a day tour that includes Leeds castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Dover and Greenwich boat trip and, if so, how was that?

Posted by Marty
Rockville, MD, USA
70 posts

You asked about the Greenwich boat trip. My family and I did this in March - we took one of the tourist boats from Westminister pier to Greenwich and spend the day touring the museums there. We had supper at the Kings Arms (delicious, and we still get their emails because we gave them our address when we access their free wireless). Then we took the light rail and tube back to our hotel. My advice would be to read up on the museums and go first to the one you think you'll most enjoy. In my case that would be the Observatory and the fascinating exhibit on time, longitude, and navigation. We spent too much time on the Cutty Sark, in retrospect.

Posted by Marty
Rockville, MD, USA
70 posts

Oops. Apparently you are asking about a trip that combines a Greenwich boat trip with other sights. I haven't done that. However Greenwich is very easy to tour on your own. In my opinion it's worth a whole day.

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1645 posts

I went to Canterbury as a daytrip from London and enjoyed it. Aside from the cathedral, which is incredible, the town has a Roman artifacts museum (I didn't get to go there because of time), and a Norman castle keep surrounded by apartments buildings and a roundabout - very surreal and breathtaking. The castle grounds are free and anyone can wander around. I think there are tours that take you into the keep, which is all that remains.

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
820 posts

We used Evans Evans for day tours around London, out to Stonehenge, Windsor and Bath. We booked the tours through Gray Line Tours, here in the U.S. They subcontracted the tours out to Evans Evans. We totally enjoyed all our tours. We also took the train out to Cambridge, twice. Then when we got off the train, we could literally cross the short street and get on a double decker bus tour of Cambridge. It is a pleasant ride around Cambridge. We also ate lunch over by the river, where the guys "punt". We have also taken a boat cruise, which went over to Greenwich. We just spent a short time over there. We didn't go inside the tour of the Cutty Sark. It was a nice ride over to Greenwich. We also took a Thames boat ride over to Hampton Court. Then we took the train back in the evening. It is a very long ride from the pier over to Hampton Court. You have to get the earliest time, in order to be able to walk around Hampton Court. We didn't go on the tour iside, but that would have taken most of the day. We really enjoyed doing that - twice. The boat ride out to Hampton Court doesn't run in the winter time though. There is only one boat company which operates that route. We also took the train out to York for the day. There are just so many things to see and do in London. We have been there four years in a row, for 10 days to two weeks each. We still want to go back.

Posted by Judy
46 posts

I've not taken a day trip from London but have taken many from Edinburgh with a company called Rabbies Trail Burners. In the last year or so they started tours from London also. I highly recommend their Scotland trips and would suggest you look into their London tours as I think you'd be pleased.