The British Isles are home to some of the most stunning landmarks in the world. While metropolitan cities like London, Manchester, and Edinburgh are on the top of every traveler’s list, there is also a lot to see in the countryside. The island is fairly small, where no place is more than 150 km from the coast, making it easy to take a day trip from London.
While London is a must-visit for any traveler in the UK, there is much to see outside of it. While tourists love London's fast-paced lifestyle, they can enjoy a change of scene by visiting towns and villages around the city. The capital city is in Southern England and is well-connected to the rest of the country through trains, flights, and buses. This impressive connectivity makes it even easier to take a day trip from London.
Here are some places that are a must-visit that you can explore as day tours from London.
Guided tours include an expert guide who accompanies you on your trip. More often than not, these tours also include transfers, ensuring a comfortable and hassle-free journey.
Also known as a self-guided tour, this option ensures you can plan your own itinerary and explore the location at your own pace. Typically, one has to arrange their own transportation when on non-guided tours.
An audio-guided tour is one where you pay for and use an audio guide, usually found at the location, to get insight into the particular attraction. Most sightseeing locations have audio guides available in different languages to ensure all visitors can avail it.
True to its name, a half-day tour takes up a part of your day for the tour. This is usually done for locations close by, so that the travel time isn’t a lot, giving you more time at the location.
Full-day tours either include multiple close-by locations or one far-off location, hence taking up an entire day for your visit. The tour starts in the morning and ends in the evening when you return home. It usually includes transfers and transportation.
Combo tours include two or more sightseeing locations in a single day trip, ensuring visitors can cover more locations in a set amount of time. It follows a strict schedule, and typically includes transfers and the assistance of an expert guide.
This is an interactive map of England. Click on the location markers to find more details about day tours from London.
Stonehenge is one of the most well-known monuments in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built between 3000 BC and 2000 BC, and is visited by nearly a million people every year. The precision and symmetry of the structure are shrouded in mystery, considering the lack of advanced instruments during the time of construction. A must-visit for history buffs, it is also home to hundreds of artifacts that were found in and around the area.
Best time to visit Stonehenge: March to June and September to November.
Distance: 140 kilometers from London.
Best known for its Roman-built bathhouses, Bath is located in the Somerset county of England. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is packed with stunning architecture, natural beauty, and rich history. It is also the only city in the UK to have natural hot springs, making the Thermae Bath Spa a must-visit for all travelers. A day trip from Bath to London should be on your list when visiting the UK.
Best time to visit Bath: June to September.
Distance: 185 kilometers from London.
Windsor is one of the most popular day trip destinations from London, thanks to the magnificent Windsor Castle. b, it is almost 950 years old and has housed 39 monarchs. Its splendid architecture and verdant gardens cannot be missed! Windsor is also home to several lush parks and racecourses, Legoland, Eton College, and Windsor & Eton Brewery.
Best time to visit Windsor: November to March.
Distance: 40 kilometers from London.
Cotswolds is your chance to experience the British countryside. Sprawling over 800 acres, it covers five counties with traditional and medieval towns & villages. When in Cotswolds, one can explore the area through walking trails, or enjoy a drink in one of the many old-timey taverns, and even relish local dishes.
Best time to visit Cotswolds: Between March and May, or in the winter.
Distance: Approximately 140 kilometers from London.
Home to the University of Oxford, one of the oldest and most famous universities in the world, Oxford is a popular destination for day tours from London. Along with extraordinary landmarks such as Radcliffe Square, Bodleian Library, Christ Church College (where Harry Potter was filmed), and Oxford Castle & Prison, Oxford is also home to several museums and the iconic Oxford Covered Market. When visiting, don’t miss out on punting in Oxford!
Best time to visit Oxford: May to September.
Distance: 90 kilometers from London.
Stratford-upon-Avon is best known as the birthplace of legendary playwright William Shakespeare. This town is perfect for a day tour from London, as visitors can enjoy its parks, medieval architecture, rivers, along with the world’s largest butterfly park. Literature and theatre enthusiasts can visit the house Shakespeare was born and grew up in, or even catch a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Best time to visit Stratford: March to May.
Distance: 164 kilometers from London.
A day trip from London to Cambridge is perfect to explore one of England’s premier scholar towns. With quaint streets, ancient buildings, and bridges all around the town, Cambridge makes for a great day tour from London. Apart from visiting the various buildings part of the University of Cambridge, one can also enjoy punting, a traditional pub lunch, and a stroll along the River Cam (popularly referred to as “The Backs”).
Best time to visit Cambridge: June to October.
Distance: 105 kilometers from London.
Lacock is a charming medieval village in the Cotswolds. It is famous for its Abbey and cloisters, which have gained fame as a filming location for the Harry Potter movie franchise. One can also visit the Fox Talbot Museum (Photography Museum), which celebrates William Henry Fox Talbot, who once lived in the Abbey and is the inventor of the negative/positive photographic process.
Best time to visit Lacock: May to September.
Distance: Over 100 kilometers from London.
Apart from the locations mentioned above, some of the best day trips from London are to Dover, Brighton, and Reading. The White Cliffs of Dover and the impressive Dover Castle make for a great day tour from London for people of all ages. Brighton, with its beach, galleries, and hipster culture is a hit with youngsters and couples. Reading is known for its rich history, as seen in its numerous museums. This destination is typically visited by families and couples.
One of the best day trips to take in the summer is to Stonehenge from London. The drive there is breathtaking, and the weather is quite pleasant. Most importantly, the Stonehenge Summer Solstice is celebrated every year to mark the longest day of the year. The sun’s rays glide over the monument and one gets the most perfect view of the sunrise, and thousands of people gather to watch it happen.
Cotswolds in winter is a breathtaking experience. The crisp, cold weather and inspiring natural beauty make for a wonderful time. If you time your trip right, you can also explore the many Christmas markets, grab a hot chocolate, and celebrate the festive season. Another great place to head to for a winter day trip from London is to Windsor. Between November and March, Windsor Castle’s King George IV’s Semi-State Rooms are open to the public, which will make your trip even better.
If you have an entire weekend to spare, you can spend longer in the Cotswolds and head to different villages and explore the walking trails. Other popular weekend getaway destinations include Warwick, Bristol, Edinburgh, and Paris.
This depends on the destination. If a direct train or coach is available to your destination, it’s best to opt for that, because it is usually more budget-friendly and gets you there quicker. However, if it’s a destination that requires a lot of changes, one would be more comfortable driving there. It is also best to keep in mind that in some places, parking fees can be pretty expensive, so if you opt to drive, you will also have to consider the parking charges wherever you go.
All the above-mentioned locations have guided tours available. Whenever possible, it’s best to opt for a guided tour, as it gives you insight and information that you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise, thus enriching your experience. If you take a specific day tour, you can also purchase tickets with transfer that will get you to the location, followed by a tour, and back.
What you need to carry along depends on the location and season. But overall, you need to carry your passport, some cash, a hat or sunglasses, and a camera. Additionally, as the weather in England can be unpredictable, ensure you pack a light jacket, and a raincoat or umbrella.