Although London is brimming with art, culture, and things to do, there is much more to the United Kingdom than its most well-known city. Whether you hop in the driver’s seat, board a bus, or grab a train, make time in your trip to get out of the city and explore London’s surrounding areas.
These are your best bets for day trips from the capital.
The largest city in Somerset, Bath is known for its Roman baths and presence in Jane Austen novels. The city itself has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and remains the only place in the U.K. where you can soak in naturally hot spa water and visit 2,000-year-old bathhouses.
With roughly 5,000 buildings in the city drawing notice for their architectural merit, a stroll through Bath is like visiting an open-air museum. Between its Georgian architecture, iconic attractions, art museums, boutique shopping, noteworthy restaurants, and famous festivals, Bath is a true gem tucked away in the British countryside.
Located just 45 minutes from Stonehenge, these two stops are often grouped together.
Renowned for its diverse communities, quirky shopping areas, and cultural scenes, Brighton is a popular destination for both visitors and locals.
Nestled between the sea and the countryside, Brighton was voted “the happiest place to live in the U.K.” Its landmarks include the Royal Pavilion, Brighton Marine Palace and Pier, Brighton Clock Tower, St. Nicholas Church, and i360, but the city is also known for its beaches and painted timber beach huts.
From sailing to kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding to bike riding, there’s plenty of sandy, active activities to do in Brighton, as well as urban-centered outings such as historical tours, “ghost walks,” and pub crawls.
Located on the southern coast of England in East Sussex, Brighton is an hour train ride, or a two-hour drive, from London.
One of the U.K.’s most popular tourist destinations, Bristol is considered one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit and the best British city to live in. As London’s cost of living has increased consistently in recent years, many of the city’s artists have flocked to Bristol, contributing to its thriving music and creative scenes. In addition to Bristol’s vintage shops, bookstores, markets, cafés, and live music venues, the city also offers beautiful hilly vistas, river walks, cobbled streets, and plenty of historic sites to explore.
Located near the border of Wales in southwestern England, Bristol is two hours from London via train and two-and-a-half hours by car.
Made famous by Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” the university city of Canterbury boasts some of England’s finest medieval architecture. Roman walls encircle the cobbled streets, which include Gothic stone carvings, stained-glass windows, and timber-framed houses. The city is full of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, and St Martin’s Church. While you’re there, don’t miss the award-winning Canterbury Tales festivals, where the sights, sounds, and smells of Chaucer’s medieval England are recreated.
Nearby Herne Bay and its surrounding countryside also offer plenty of opportunities to explore Britain’s natural beauty.
Located in southeastern England, Canterbury is an hour-long train ride, or a one-and-a-half-hour drive, outside of London.
The City of Dreaming Spires is known for its history and, of course, its university. For over 800 years, Oxford has been a home to royals and scholars, although people are known to have inhabited the area for many thousands of years prior.
Today, Oxford is a bustling cosmopolitan town filled with historic buildings, shops, museums, music venues, and restaurants. With a mix of ancient and modern, there’s plenty to experience for travelers and locals alike.
Gaze out at the oldest university in the English-speaking world from the top of Carfax Tower, stroll through the city’s pedestrian-friendly streets, head to the Covered Market for treats, or have a picnic in Headington Hill Park. Whatever you do, be sure to take a lot of photos — towns like this are few and far between.
Located in the central southern region of England, Oxford is about an hour from London via train and an hour and a half by car.
One of the most important surviving sites of prehistoric England, Stonehenge consists of a group of huge, rough-cut stones arranged in two concentric circles. Archaeologists believe the site was constructed from 3000 to 2000 B.C — making it one of the U.K.’s oldest landmarks and cultural icons. The area has been a legally protected Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1882, and was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. Although the origin and purpose of the site is still shrouded in mystery, that unknown quality makes it breathtaking.
Walk in the footsteps of your Neolithic ancestors, explore the ancient landscape, and take in the beauty of one of the wonders of the world.
Located in Wiltshire, England, Stonehenge is a two-hour car or bus ride from London.
Stratford-upon-Avon is a small market town with more than 800 years of history. Located along the River Avon, it’s best known as the birthplace of English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. This Warwickshire country town contains the home where Shakespeare was born, the cottage where Anne Hathaway resided before they were married, and the church where the couple is buried. The Royal Shakespeare Company also resides there, and the town itself receives approximately 2.5 million visitors each year because of its famous bard.
Located 101 miles (163 km) northwest of London, Stratford-upon-Avon can easily be accessed by a two-and-a-half-hour train ride, or a two-hour drive, from the city.