London’s calling! It’s time to get out of Harrods and actually explore the famous city.
The UK capital is an international tourist’s dream with its classic architecture, quirky traditional hotspots and proximity to many of the country’s top places to visit. When you aren’t sure where to go and how to get there, London has epic day trips that can take you out of the bustling heart to more rural, scenic and noteworthy spots – as well as all the guidebook must-sees!
Stonehenge, quaint Stratford-upon-Avon and the regal Windsor Castle can all be visited along with an expert tour guide. Hop on a bike to explore the streets, and wander on foot to see the city’s street art.
When you aren’t great with logistics and want to hand off the hard stuff to the pros, try out one of these immersive London day trips.
Half-Day Trips in London
If you’ve got an evening Broadway show to catch, or want to fit in one last excursion before you leave the city, these half day trips are perfect for a few hours of exploring.
Day Trip to Hampton Court Palace
You’ve already stared at Buckingham Palace and tried to peek a glimpse of the Queen in her PJs, now it’s time to check out another of London’s palaces – yes, there’s more than one!
Hampton Court Palace is less than an hour’s drive outside the heart of London, or a quick train ride. Home to the Tudor King Henry VIII, this historical palace sits along the River Thames neighbouring Hampton Court Park.
Whether you have previously studied the Tudors, or just interested in learning about the regal histories of the country, Hampton Court Palace offers a look into the extravagant life of the Tudor monarchs. Nosy through the kitchens, bask in the beauty of the gardens and soak up the ancient luxuries. You can live your King or Queen dreams for a day.
Perfect for a family with children, the kids can learn fun and quirky facts of the ruling class to tell all their friends back home.
Windsor Castle Day Trip
Yes, it is indeed another castle. We Brits have a rich history which is showcased in over-the-top historical buildings that are often inhabited by royals – but we also have Marmite!
If you didn’t get a look at the Queen at Buckingham Palace, then perhaps you will at Windsor Castle. The official residence of Her Majesty is 40 minutes outside of central London, or just a few train stops away. Surrounded by sprawling lush gardens, and watched over by the iconic fluffy-headed guards, this is a quintessential British London day trip.
You can explore inside the castle touring the state apartments and art rooms. As well as the St George’s Chapel, and even Queen Mary’s doll house!
If you are an international tourist and want an insight into British history, this is a great way to learn. Add it on to your London itinerary.
Suggested trips – Windsor Castle Half Day Trip from London and Windsor: Tootbus Discovery Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
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Full-Day Trips in London
For those who have lots of time to kill, full day trips can take you away from the regular tourist track for more elaborate and adventurous trips. For visiting other UK towns and some famous spots, just hop on board a coach and get ready for an England road trip!
Day Trip to Leeds Castle
Ok, you get it – England is full of castles!
Just over an hour outside of London, Leeds Castle is another historic and elegant castle that was also a residence of our mate Henry VIII. You can wander the castle with a guided tour, lounge around the gardens, get lost in the maze, let the kids play in the playground and watch out for wildlife.
If you want to escape the crowds of the city, this is a perfect day trip to enjoy some fresh air. You can even turn your day trip into an overnight stay with beautiful accommodations on the castle grounds and nearby. This cosy country lodge is a celebrated and highly rated Airbnb just moments away from the castle.
A great pick for Anglophiles and families, Leeds Castle is a fun day out for everyone.
Suggested trips – Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Dover and Greenwich
The Making of Harry Potter – Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Harry Potter fans, here you are.. The ultimate Potter experience that will make all your wizardry dreams come true.
The Making of Harry Potter tour will take you through sets, costumes and props of the famous movies, giving you a behind the scenes look. Whether you are a lover of the books or movies, every Potterhead can get a bit of satisfaction knowing they are in the place where the cult-classic was made.
Get lost in the Grand Hall, creeped out in the Forbidden Forest, and try to battle your way through the wall of Platform 9 ¾. These immersive tours will only add to your love of the franchise – as well as your Harry Potter merchandise collection.
Just an hour outside of central London, you can catch a train, drive yourself or hop in an Uber for this London day trip.
Day Trip to Brighton
The girls, the gays and the theys, this one’s for you. Leave behind the well trodden streets and packed clubs of Soho for the bright lights and fresh sea air of Brighton. The LGBTQ+ capital of the UK, you won’t find a better spot to let your hair down and boogie the nights away.
Pride radiates from this seaside town filled with gay bars, clubs and events. However, anyone and everyone is welcome to come and spend a day lounging on the boardwalk looking out over the water and enjoying the attractions.
For when you want to have a care-free weekend in this epic city, check out all the amazing places to stay. With sea views and easy access to the amenities of the city, you can easily find a comfortable place to cure your hangovers. This modern home is my go-to. There’s space for all my mates and beautiful views for those morning-after-headaches.
Along the same lines as the Warner Bros tour, this day trip will take you from the heart of London into the countryside, and back in time to the days of Downton Abbey.
A British TV series that took the US by storm, this trip will take you around the magnificent historical stately home that was used as the set of the drama. You can wander the paths of the Earl of Grantham, and hide away in the servants quarters where Thomas Barrow and Mrs O’Brien concocted their schemes.
As well as the huge home, the tour will lead you through the Cotswolds village that featured throughout the show. Visit the church, pub, hospital and home of Mrs Crawley, all the while learning inside info about the taping of the series and actors.
If you’re a TV nerd – like me – or just happened to catch the show on Netflix, this day trip can get you away from the busy streets of London and back to the early 20th century.
Dover Castle Day Trip
I’ve run out of sarcastic comments about castles. I mean.. We have a lot of them, OK!
An hour and a half out of London, Dover Castle has major Game of Thrones vibes. Poke and prod through ornate royal bedrooms, bask in the beauty of extravagant banquet halls and get lost in the history of the sprawling historical home.
On a hilltop, Dover Castle has views out over the English Channel with lots of places to enjoy a picnic with your friends and family on the rolling lawns.
An admission ticket will give you access to the castle all-day-long, but when you’ve had enough you can take the short drive to the White Cliffs of Dover. A true icon of Britain!
South Downs National Park Day Trip
Who would have thought there is such a stunning national park less than 2 hours from London? Not me! (do I lose my Brit-card?)
The walkers among us will be able to stretch their legs along the epic national trail that leads along the ridgeline of the Downs. Bask in the outstanding views, that Virigina Woolf said made her “overcome by beauty more extravagantly than one could expect.” Explore by bicycle or horseback, check out the wildlife – very different from London’s pigeons, stop by vineyards and distilleries, and see historical spots.
There is so much to explore and see at the South Downs, we wouldn’t blame you if you want to extend your stay. The national park is filled with all sorts of places to stay including campsites, yurts and homes. I love this modern-yet-classic loft that has all the homey comforts you need after a day walking the park.
While you are in the area, be sure to check out the Seven Sisters Cliffs. You can stop by this impressive white cliffside on your way back into the city. It shouldn’t be missed!
Suggested trips – Seven Sisters and South Downs Full-Day Tour
Day Trip to Rye
It doesn’t get more classic English or idyllic than the small East Sussex town of Rye. With cobblestone streets, traditional cottages and locals that will give you a friendly smile as you pass by, Rye is where you can immerse in small town life.
In under 2 hours you can be away from the bustling streets of London, close to the coast and surrounded by medieval history. Enjoy pub lunches, wandering scenic streets, taking some impressive Insta-pics and perusing the country views from the top of St Mary’s Church.
If you get carried away in the beauty of the town, give yourself a treat and stay overnight. From quaint cottage rooms to modern renovated spaces, there are a lot of different places to stay in Rye. My favourite is this charming cottage with everything you need to feel at home.
From historical royal buildings to a prehistoric monument. You can’t say London day trips aren’t diverse! Everyone and their grandmother have heard of Stonehenge. This unique and mysterious rock formation has been at the centre of myths and legends across the world. How did it get there? What does it mean?
Less than a 2 hour drive from central London, it is one of the UK’s most famous landmarks that draws in tourists, pagans and curious travelers from around the globe.
However, once you have stared at the rocks, pondered their existence and enjoyed some of the country air, there’s not much else to do. We recommend adding on another stop to your day trip such as a visit to Bath or Southampton. Stop by a classic English town for some souvenir shopping, lunch and exploring, before heading back into the buzzing capital.
Day Trip to Bath
Famed for Jane Austen, the Roman Baths and its historical buildings, Bath is a picture-perfect postcard-worthy city. It has the same classic English vibes as London – but with less traffic and more polite crowds. If you’re bored of jam-packed shops in London, Bath is the next best thing.
Just over a 2 and a half hours drive from London, why not turn this day trip into a long weekend stay? Bath is full of incredible hotels that give you a touch of British hospitality. Abbey Hotel is a modern and central hotel where you can rest before another day of wandering the shops.
Take a guided tour of the Roman Baths, spend an afternoon lounging in the thermal spa, catch the sun in Victoria Park, and order up an authentic fish and chip takeaway from the local fishy. Whether you spend a day or a weekend, Bath is a must-visit!
Did you think I was going to end this list with anything other than another castle? I didn’t think so..
This 10 hour, full-day trip will take you to many of the UKs hidden gems including Stratford-Upon-Avon and the Cotswolds. You can wander through picturesque towns that seem out of a movie, take a tour of Warwick Castle and visit William Shakepeare’s Tudor home.
For history buffs, this is a perfect tour to expand your knowledge and get up close and personal with many historical sights.
A 10 hour trip may seem intimidating but the friendly guides, luxurious coach and planned stops with independent time will keep you occupied without wearing you out. Don’t miss out on the chance to hit all these amazing spots in one fell swoop.
And you thought London was the only place to visit in the UK.. I hope I’ve proved you wrong! There are so many incredible trips that can be taken from London that’ll only add to your love for the country.
See how the royals live, adventure the countryside, step onto some world-famous movie sets, and try your hand at ticking off all the castles! Day trips in London are fun and educational for everyone.
Now excuse me, gotta make a cup of tea.
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