Day Trips by Train in England

I am planning a trip to England, and will have London as my "home base." I will not have access to a car. I would like recommendations on day trips by train. Favorites?

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1274 posts

We usually have a car, but we did take the train to York - two hours each way. It's an easy half-mile walk from the train station to Yorkminster. The book listed below (which you can get at Amazon) has lots of suggestions: Daytrips London: 55 One Day Adventures by Rail or Car, In and Around London and Southern England by Earl Steinbicker

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
2558 posts

Depending on how long you're willing to spend on a train, a huge amount of England is accessible as a day trip from London. What are you interested in?

Posted by Katy
London, UK
167 posts

Have a look on the London Walks website. They do day trips - Explorer Days - based on using the train from central London and you should be able to get an idea of quite a few possibilities - some they have a coach waiting at the destination station to take you further on so wouldn't work if you went independently unless you could get a bus.
Over the last few years, when I have time, I have been going on these Explorer Days and have done about 10 so far, can really recommend. My favourites so far, Winchester, the Cotswolds day trip and Colchester and Constable country.

Posted by Judy
Saint Paul, MN, USA
9 posts

Thank you all for your very helpful replies and suggestions. My husband and I will be travelling in August and sadly, only have about 8 days. We are thinking of Cambridge, Hampton, Windsor but are wondering if any of you have recommendations about day trips "less traveled." Dover? Cornwall? Other?

Posted by VS
Palo Alto, CA, United States
692 posts

There are lots of great choices, but be aware that trains are very expensive in the U.K., especially when you buy your ticket the day of travel. There is a Britrail London Plus pass that covers all the way out to Bath and all of southeast England, which would make it a lot more cost effective. I have been to Dover and the castle there is very worth a visit, also the small town of Rye. We passed through Brighton but did not have time for the Royal Pavilion, which I would make a point to visit next time. I think Portsmouth and Canterbury are also worthwhile, judging from Rick's book - but have never been to either myself. Bath we visited as a day trip, was wonderful but our time was very brief. One thing to be aware of is that there are a number of train stations in London, and depending upon where you are staying it may take quite a while to get to the station appropriate to your destination for the day. The Tube is great for getting from place to place within London, but it can take some time. Add to that the train time to your day trip destination and that can make for a very exhausting day.

Posted by david
837 posts

There are many wonderful choices with train travel times between 1 and 2 hours: Dover, Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Brighton, Hampton Court, and Windsor Castle. I would not attempt Cornwall, and even if you didn't find the train time excessive, you would need a car to explore the area.

Posted by Steve
108 posts

Judy, Bath is a great option and really easy to get to by train from central London. We spent 2 days in Bath and could've spent at least another day, so there's plenty to do. We were in Cornwall and it is quite a haul (maybe 5 plus hours in daytime travel, 8 hours plus overnight) to Penzance or St. Ives. I would not suggest that as a day trip.

Posted by D.D.
375 posts

You mentioned you were considering Cambridge. You might also try the town of Ely, which is not far away. There is a lovely cathedral there.

Posted by Pam
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
68 posts

I agree with the suggestion of Ely. It's an hour away from King's Cross and a lovely small town and a fantastic cathedral. The Minster is a supposed haunted pub just down from the cathedral.

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

My husband and I have done day trips out to Cambridge, Oxford, York, Bath, Wimbeldon, etc. We have also taken Gray Line bus tours, out to Bath, Stonehenge, Windsor, all around London, etc. As others have mentioned, London is a gateway to so many places for day trips. Gray Line does a great day tour around London. Then you can go back to the places you want to spend more time at. We also took a great boat tour along the Thames. We got the boat at Westminister Pier. It is the ticket booth to the far left, when stnading at the pier. We took a longThames boat tour that ended at Hampton Court. Then we took a train back to London, at the end of the day. It was a great boat trip and train trip. You have to get the earliest boat tour that is offered, in order to spend time at Hampton Court. It is a full day trip if you take the boat and come back by train. We didn't go inside Hampton Court. The grounds are beautiful though. We loved spending time on the Thames. The boat trip isn't offered during the winter time though. We also went on a tour of the Parliament Building. If you go over there in the moring, the guards will tell you when to come back for the tour. We went back at around 1:30 PM. There were just six of us on the tour. It was really nice. We were able to visit both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. London is so wonderful. We have been there four years in a row, we loved it so much.

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

I forgot to mention that we also took a Gray Line day tour out to the Cotswolds. We enjoyed that tour also.

Posted by Brian
Los Angeles, California
1986 posts

with only 8 days in London you reallly dont have time for too many day trips. You also dont want to spend half of your day in the train. Reasonable journeys would get you to the cathedral Cities- canterbury, Winchester, salisbury (and sonehenge0; cambridge, Bath. You could also consider escorted coach trips to Costwolds, Leeds Castle (in Kent) and Oxford (just a glimpse unfortunately). Kew, hampton Cort and Windsor are almost "local' trips and all worth easy trips by train- they wont use up a full day.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
931 posts

Has Brighton been mentioned? That is a simple day trip and provides an alternative to the usual "castles and cathedrals" places (which you will want to see too, I'm sure).