Despite the addictive buzz of city living, sometimes it’s good to break away from the crowds and get some fresh country air. Here’s our pick of the best day trips all accessible from London…
Oh we do like to be beside the seaside
Visitors have flocked here for centuries, and it’s not just for the beach and pier combo. The self-proclaimed liberal capital of Great Britain has an abundance of vegan restaurants, hipster cafés and massive celebrations for Brighton Pride. It’s no surprise that Brighton is considered one of England’s most forward-thinking cities.
Don’t miss: Shopping for vintage clothes in the Lanes – a vibrant and historic quarter of the city full of retro shops, art galleries, boutiques, cafes and record shops.
Time from London: 1hr by train.
Often referred to as “Shoreditch-on-Sea” following the recent migration of East London hipsters to this seaside town, Margate has come a long way since its donkey rides on the beach days. You’ll find the Turner Contemporary Gallery, a tangle of vintage shops, trendy places to eat and drink, and a cool retro amusement park, Dreamland.
Don’t miss: Cycling along the 32-mile Viking Coast Trail. Explore the chalk cliffs and rural villages in this charming part of Kent.
Time from London: 1hr and 30min by train.
This up and coming town along the Kent coast has undergone a massive regeneration project recently. Expect to find art galleries next to vintage boutiques and trendy cafés in the cobbled streets of the Creative Quarter. Around the corner, the Harbour Arm is full of pop-up restaurants and street-food from all over the world.
Don’t miss: The sandy beach – one of the closest sandy beaches to London. It’s a perfect place to chill out on a warm summer’s day.
Time from London: 1hr by train.
4. Blenheim Palace
Set among lakes, water terraces and miles of sweeping parkland in the Oxfordshire countryside, this Baroque masterpiece is a UNESCO-listed site. The home of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, it’s also the only non-royal country house to hold the title of palace.
Don’t miss: Exploring the cute nearby market town of Woodstock.
Time from London: 1h 30min drive, or the same by train and bus.
5. Hampton Court Palace
Technically in London, we do have good reason for cheating. Discover acres of riverside gardens, a world-famous maze, vineyard and resident ghosts thanks to Henry VIII’s wife-swapping antics.
Don’t miss: Walking there along the idyllic Thames Path from Kingston
Time from London: 50min by tube.
Spots to up your Insta Game
6. Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Attention all wannabe wizards and witches! (So everyone then). Live the magic of Harry Potter at the world-famous Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. Walk through the forbidden forest, visit Dumbledore’s office, step onto Platform 9¾, ride a broomstick against a green screen and drink a Butterbeertm.
Don’t miss: Wandering through the wizarding shopping street of Diagon Alleytm stopping to pick up your wand. Question is, will you have the same one as Harry?
Time from London: 40min by train.
7. Leeds Castle
Firstly, Leeds Castle is not in Leeds, but in the heart of the Kent countryside. Secondly, surrounded by lakes and romantic green parkland, it’s considered to be one of the loveliest castles in the world. And finally, its last Lady of the manor was something of a raver who allegedly had several notable party-goers including former US President John F. Kennedy.
Don’t miss: Arrive early to see the hot-air balloons fly from here – or get in one yourself to see glorious countryside all around you.
Time from London: 1hr 20min drive.
8. Mayfield Lavender Fields
You could easily be mistaken for thinking this is in Southern France, but no, forget Provence, it’s just a mere 1 hour drive from the city. You smell the aroma of lavender long before you see it. Wander through the rows of purple, as you snap the perfect selfie next to the iconic red telephone box.
Don’t miss: The owners run a photography competition so if you think your shots are great don’t forget to enter.
Time from London: 1hr drive.
9. White Cliffs of Dover
The famous White Cliffs of Dover are the first sight of England that visitors see coming by ferry from France. Make sure to visit the coastal path for impressive insta-worthy views and great scenery along the English Channel.
Don’t miss: Dover Castle sits on top of the cliffs but there are miles of tunnels waiting to be explored that were built into the cliffs during the Second World War.
Time from London: 1hr by train
10. Bombay Sapphire Distillery
A quintessentially British tipple – a gin and tonic is almost as popular as a cup of tea. Go behind the scenes at the Bombay Sapphire Distillery to learn about the history and craftsmanship of this tasty drink. More importantly though, you do have a gin tasting after the tour.
Don’t miss: Fancy making the perfect G&T cocktails back home? Take part in a Masterclass and learn to create cocktails with a specially-trained Gin Expert.
Time from London: 1hr 30min drive.
Time for a history lesson
Home to a magnificent cathedral and UNESCO World Heritage Site, travellers have been visiting Canterbury for centuries. Four reasons why you should too: Roman walls, tangled medieval alleyways, riverside garden strolls (and pubs!) and a thriving student-driven nightlife.
Don’t miss: A visit to the St Lawrence Cricket Ground. A classic English pastime is either playing or watching cricket. It’s not as confusing as you think!
Time from London: 55min by train.
12. Hellfire Caves
Deep in the sleepy village of West Wycombe something sinister lurks. Underneath this unassuming community lies a mile of tunnels where back in the 18th century high class gentleman (known as the Hellfire Club) would meet to practise occult rituals, read ‘rude’ books and drink heavily.
Time from London: 1hr by train.
“My kingdom for a horse!” and cue all other Shakespeare one-liners. The birthplace of the Bard, Shakespeare and Stratford go hand in hand. When you’re not misquoting the world’s most famous playwright, explore pub-lined Tudor streets, Anne Hathaway’s house (no, not the actress!) and the Holy Trinity Church, the burial site of Shakespeare.
Don’t miss: More bass and less Bard, see another side of Stratford at the annual Global Gathering Electronic Music festival.
Time from London: 2hrs by train.