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London is one of the world’s most visited cities, and between its history, culture, art and architecture, it’s not difficult to figure out why.

A thriving cosmopolitan, the city is bursting with world-class attractions, edgy fashion, and a combination of modern day architecture and majestic buildings which date back nearly two millennia.

London Eye on Christmas night. Photo CC by Mostaque Chowdhury

So many millions adore this exceptional city; however the majority do themselves a great disservice by not exploring her phenomenal surrounds.

Cathedrals, medieval castles, roman baths and prehistoric monuments – these are just some of the many sites which are within easy access of London within a day. And while coach companies will offer various group tours to many of these sights, finding a car rental in London is so easy that it’s generally cheaper and more worthwhile to plan your own day trip yourself.

Here are some of the top day trips you should consider for your next trip to London.

Bath

The beautiful city of Bath is only an hour and a half drive from London, and this unique destination makes for the perfect city break.

A World Heritage Site, Bath is the only place in Britain where you can bathe in naturally hot spa water in original Roman style baths.

Those not in the mood for a spa can wander the city’s cobbled streets and explore the beautiful Georgian architecture on display.

Oxford

This beautiful city is only a short one hour drive from London, and it is here where you can explore the world’s most famous college town.

Discover awe-inspiring buildings which featured as the set for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, stumble across tranquil courtyards down narrow cobbled lanes, and enjoy the up market restaurants and bars which are constantly buzzing thanks to the student population.

Stonehenge

One of the most well known ancient attractions on earth – Stonehenge remains a mystery to this day.

The pre-historic monument is a stone circle made of massive standing stones, built somewhere between 3000 and 1600BC.

Stonehenge.

Stonehenge.

The drive from London takes roughly two hours, however it’s truly a once in a lifetime experience to witness the ancient stone circle for yourself.

Leeds Castle

Leeds is a magnificent castle with a history which dates back to Norman times. Located on a beautiful lake, this is easily one of the most picturesque castles in England.

A tour of the castle is a must however visitors can also spend the day enjoying tree-top adventure courses or hot air balloon rides as well as the beautiful flower gardens and café for afternoon tea.

The drive from London takes an hour and a half.

Kew Palace & Gardens

Home to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is easily accessible from the centre of London, and there is plenty to do which will fill a full day.

Giant lily pads at Kew Gardens.

Giant lily pads at Kew Gardens.

Expansive gardens which include treetop walks, breathtaking landscapes, iconic glasshouses, historic buildings, and a large range of rare wildlife and plants, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Kew, and this is a fantastic spot for families.  

Portchester Castle

A medieval castle built within a former Roman fort, this is a unique day trip which is well worth the trip.

Travel here to see some of the best original Roman fortifications in Europe, as well as medieval architecture and even a Napoleonic prison.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is unique as it is the oldest and largest currently occupied castle in the world.

Windsor

Windsor Castle.

While it remains a working royal palace, and is an official residence of Her Majesty the Queen, the castle is a fantastic day trip from London and visitors are permitted to tour the grounds and head inside, with indoor access including the beautiful State Rooms.

Blenheim Palace

Home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, this is a magnificent eighteenth century palace, a World Heritage Site with stunning Baroque architecture prominently on display.

From London, the trip takes an hour and a half by car, and it’s very easy to spend a full day exploring both the palace and the 2000 acres of parkland and formal gardens.

Photo CC by

Photo CC by Sheila Sund

Meg Jerrard is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

    30 Comments

  1. GREAT list! I’m dying to see Bath and Oxford.

    • Thanks Katrina! You’ll absolutely love both – I did them both in the one day as part of a bus tour, though I could have easily spent a full day in each individually.

      I hope you manage a trip here soon!

  2. A great list of things to do. Even though I haven’t been to GB, I am not a city traveler, so this list is perfect :)

    • Thanks Angela! I hope you manage a visit to BG soon – you have a lot of fab surrounds waiting to be explored!

    • Amazing Suzette – I love Hampstead Heath also! Should have added that to this list actually!

  3. I would love to see Stonehenge one day! And all the others of course, but Stonehenge would be my first choice. Shame accommodation in London is so expensive, so when there, I usually try to squeeze as much as I can into one day so that I don’t have to stay too many nights …

    • Some people say it’s just a pile of rocks, though I loved our time here. Though if you want to spend as little time as possible because of accommodation you can actually squeeze a lot of these trips into one day.

      I did a tour (wish I would have driven myself) of Stonehenge, Bath and Oxford all in one day. It was a bit hectic, but it can be done!

  4. Great list! I’ll be wandering around England in March and really want to checkout Stonehenge and Bath.

    • Plan to spend a lot of time in Bath, because it’s an amazing spot and you’ll wish you had more time! Stonehenge is something which can be done relatively quickly, within a morning or an afternoon, so perhaps consider one of the other destinations listed above for the same day trip :)

      Happy travels!

  5. Great blog post, I absolutely love Bath, it’s one of my favourite places in the UK. I really need to visit Stonehenge as I’ve not made it there yet, is it as you imagine….crowded?

    • It is definitely pretty crowded – though if you head here early in the morning it’s less so and there is a better opportunity for clean photos without tourists everywhere :)

  6. I am ashamed to admit that I had never heard of Portchester Castle before reading this post and I only live about an hour from London. I love Leeds Castle, it has beautiful grounds and if you fancied staying the night there they either have comfort rooms or, for the more adventurous, several glamping tents in bright, striped colours.

    • Glad we could introduce you then! I didn’t know you could sleep over at Leeds Castle – that’s amazing! I would definitely jump to take up that experience!! Thanks for the tip :)

  7. As a Brit, I am begging anyone reading these comments thinking about Stonehenge to not spend a day there. Honestly. Unless you’re a geology geek, it’s not for you! It’s just some stones off a road. If you want to see more stones, then head for the town of Avebury where the road actually goes through the stones. Waayyy cooler, in my British opinion. By all means, stop at Stonehenge on your way somewhere, but don’t go for a day.

    Totally agree with visiting Windsor, and Oxford, and Bath- actually I can’t tell you how much I love Bath, I love it soooo much :) its about 40 miles north of me and one of my favourite places ever!

    • Very good point re Stonehenge – I listed it as a day trip when in reality you would probably only spend a morning or an afternoon here. We spent longer probably because of our fascination with taking ridiculous posed photos :D

      I hadn’t heard of Avebury though – sounds like I need to get back to explore a bit more of the surrounding region because that sounds like an amazing little town.

      Thanks for the tips!

  8. Great post Meg! Love the fact that you included Bath in a day trip, though given the distance it is probably better to spend a couple of days there and also add in Bristol while you are there. Windsor Castle is a great choice but I have to agree with Sammi regarding Stonehenge. In my opinion it is extremely overrated but of course its one of those attractions you just have to see.

    • Thanks Chris! Bath you could definitely spend a few days. We got completely lost in the city while there (figuratively!) and just fell in love.

      Haven’t made it to Bristol yet so will have to put that on my list for next time! And perhaps in hindsight I should have suggested Stonehenge as a detour while taking in one of the other listed day trips. Though as you mentioned, it’s still something which is a must see!

  9. I’m pretty sure all of these places would be on my list if I had a UK trip planned! I’ve got family in Scotland so I think it might be time soon to head over to that part of the world :)

    • Sounds like a great plan! A few weeks in London followed by family in Scotland – happy travels!

  10. Great list! I’ve been to Stonehenge, but not any of the others on the list. I would love to visit the others though, especially Bath!

    • Definitely start with Bath – it’s one of the best on this list!

  11. These look like amazing day trips! Would love to see all the castles and tour the gardens! Thanks for sharing!

    • London definitely has some fabulous choice! Hope you manage a trip there soon Mary :)

  12. I don’t know when i will ever visit London, but a day trip to Bath sounds interesting! I heard about this place in Austen’s novels. Wonder what it looks like in real life!

    • I hope you do have the chance to visit soon Halida. Bath was really lovely and we had a fabulous time. Was one of the most authentic towns we visited in the UK during our time there and I think you would be really pleased with it in real life :)

      Happy travels!

  13. I would also suggest Paris which is easy to get to from London on Eurostar, only takes 2 hours 30 mins and well worth a day trip to remember.

    • Thanks Nicky! Fabulous tip :)

  14. Hampton Court Palace was very cool, entirely worth the train ride out from central London. (All the credit goes to my wife for finding it before our week in London a few years ago.)

    • Thanks for the tip Geoff, I’ll have to add it to my list for an upcoming trip :)

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