8 of the Best London Day Trips That are Fun and Easy

8 of the Best London Day Trips That are Fun and Easy

Hot air balloons float over the Clifton Suspension Bridge across a gorge in Bristol, one the best day trips from London.
(Photo credit: Gary Newman/www.visitbristol.co.uk)

Looking for day tours from London to picture-perfect castles, charming countryside villages, and stunning coastal cliffs? After spending a few days in London checking landmarks off your London bucket list, you might be itching to get out and explore the famous historic surroundings like Bath, Stonehenge and Windsor. 

Whether you’re searching for easy London half-day trips you can reach by train, coach excursions with a pro guide, or day trips from London by car, this list will get you started. It includes some of the best London day trips recommended by travel bloggers with info on what to see and do and how to get there.

A few of these outings can even be done in half a day if you want to return to the city for an afternoon activity or evening show.

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An aerial shot of a river winding through the city of Bristol, a day tour from London about two hours away.
(Photo credit: Destination Bristol/www.visitbristol.co.uk)

Bristol Day Trip

By Nabiha of Verses by a Voyager

One of the most amazing day trips from London is to Bristol, a large and lively city in the southwest of Great Britain with a maritime legacy and plenty of sightseeing.

One of the top Bristol activities is the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which crosses the River Avon over a dramatic gorge. The Victorian-era landmark offers splendid views of the surrounding area and an incredible sunset. You can walk, bike or drive the stretch, or take in the scene from the blufftop Clifton Observatory, a lookout tower in a 1766 windmill.

Located on Brandon Hill, 105-foot-tall Cabot Tower is another symbol of the city. It requires a steep hike to reach the viewing platform, but the reward is spectacular panoramas.

The vibrancy of Bristol along with its dedication to culture and arts can be witnessed through the graffiti murals all around. Legendary street artist Bansky is said to be from the area and has left his marks around the city.

Bristol is about 120 miles west of London on the River Avon. The trip typically takes between 2 to 3 hours by car or bus (check Megabus or National Express for tickets). Direct trains depart Paddington Station in London stop for Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads. A super-fast version of the rail route launching December 2019 cuts the travel time to 68 minutes and 1 hour 19 minutes respectively.

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The ancient stone circle under a blue sky at Stonehenge, a London day tour.
(Photo credit: Sydney/A World in Reach)

Stonehenge and Bath Tour

By Sydney of A World in Reach

One of the most popular ways to escape London is to spend a day exploring Stonehenge and Bath, a pair of legendary UNESCO World Heritage Sites outside of London.

The 4,500-year-old Stonehenge in Wiltshire is one of the most famous prehistoric monuments in the world. Though I’ve heard many say they were disappointed by the small size of the stone circle and the crowds, I definitely thought it was a bucket list experience! Make sure to spend some time at the museum in the visitor center. Here, you’ll learn more about the history of Stonehenge as well as about what life was like during the neolithic times.

After visiting Stonehenge, make your way to the ancient city of Bath and its thermal springs. The picturesque downtown is ideal for grabbing some lunch and taking a walk around admiring the beautiful architecture before heading to the city’s namesake: the Roman Baths. If you still have some time before heading back to London, pay a visit to the beautiful Bath Abbey and grab a cornish pasty from The Cornish Bakery.

Since both sites are in the same general direction west of London, they’re often combined into one day trip from the city, like this guided group excursion with Golden Tours. For public transportation to Stonehenge, take the South Western Railway from London Waterloo Station to Salisbury (about 90 minutes). From there, a tour bus goes directly to Stonehenge. Transiting from Stonehenge to Bath requires taking the Stonehenge Tour Bus back to Salisbury and hopping on a train to Bath. Bath connects to London Paddington Station via rail (about 90 minutes).
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Arundel Castle’s front and turret with pink flowers in the foreground under a cloudy blue sky.
(Photo credit: Kelsey/Sights Better Seen)

Arundel Castle

By Kelsey of Sights Better Seen

Looking for a cute historic market town just a stone’s throw from London? How about one with a castle, too? Enter: Arundel.

The highlight of this West Sussex destination is certainly the hilltop medieval fortress, where the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk and their family still live. If you’re castle obsessed, you definitely don’t want to miss it! Tickets to Arundel Castle include access to the Keep, for views over the River Arun and the sea in the distance, the 14th-century Fitzalan Chapel, and the well-manicured gardens, which are said to be full of rehabilitated hedgehogs. 

After spending a few hours exploring the castle, pop over to the Arundel Museum for some history on the town (admission is discounted if you have a ticket to the castle) and to the Blackfriars Dominican Priory Ruins, the stone remains of an old friary. There are plenty of tea shops to choose from for an afternoon cuppa with scones and clotted cream (Lulamae’s has a great atmosphere).

Arundel is about 65 miles south of London, down the A3 to the A283 by car. For public transit, take the Southern Line from Victoria Station in the direction of Bognor Regis (about 90 minutes to Arundel).

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An aerial shot of a the walls of an old cathedral with the top missing and surrounded by buildings in Coventry, a day trip from London.
(Photo credit: Dagney/Cultura Obscura)

Coventry Day Trip

By Dagney of Cultura Obscura

Coventry is a great option for a day trip from London, with a fascinating history and unique museums.

One of the real standouts is the Coventry Transport Museum. This place is massive, and definitely one of the top things to do in Coventry! The museum details the history of transportation throughout the years, from monocycles to race cars. There’s even a 4D simulator so that visitors can experience driving in the world’s fastest car. However, we particularly loved the bicycle section — did you know that bicycles contributed to progressive views of women in the UK?

You can also explore the ruins of the Old Coventry Cathedral, bombed during WWII, and learn about the Coventry refugee experience at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

The city is often overlooked by tourists, and none of the sites we visited were particularly busy. This is a shame because we thought Coventry was a real underrated gem! If you’re looking for a unique day trip from London, definitely consider Coventry.

Coventry is located in central England, about 100 miles northwest of London. Express trains from London Euston reach Coventry in an hour and the regular London to Coventry train just under 2 hours. Alternatively, National Express buses leave regularly from Victoria station and take around 2.5 hours.

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The white Seven Sisters cliffs topped with grass in the background and pebbly shoreline with the waves washing up. The cliffs are part of South Downs National Park.
(Photo credit: Loredana/Destguides)

Seven Sisters Cliffs and South Downs National Park

By Loredana of Destguides

The Seven Sisters, a range of white coastal cliffs on the English Channel, is a great place to go for a half or full-day hike just outside of London proper. The chalky bluffs are part of South Downs National Park in East Sussex, a sweeping landscape of rolling hills, ancient forests and breathtaking seaside.

A circular walking route along the cliffs is about 8 miles long and takes 6 or so hours to complete. From the top, you can see excellent panoramic views over the water and of the grasslands. Access to the path, along with parking and some facilities, can be found in Birling Gap, East Dean and Seven Sisters Country Park.

I decided to check out the Seven Sisters cliffs on New Year's Day for a half-day walk in nature. They were simply stunning and the weather was stable and temperature relatively mild. It only took about 2.5 hours to get there by car from Central London (give or take a bit depending on traffic), a drive through the quaint villages and countryside that the UK is known for.

The Seven Sisters are about 80 miles south of London on the coast. For transit, take the Southern line from Victoria Station to Eastbourne or Seaford (about 90 minutes) and hop on bus route 12 for stops at Birling Gap, East Dean or Exceat (for Seven Sisters Country Park).

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The set of an old street with stone buildings on either side inside of a building at the Warner Bros Studio Tour London, one of the most popular half-day trips from London.
(Photo credit: Harbors and Havens)

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
(The Making of Harry Potter)

By Elizabeth of The Fearless Foreigner

Calling all Harry Potter fans! Whether you are a muggle or a wizard, a visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is one of the best day trips from London. Located in Leavesden, the studio tour gives you a behind the scenes look at how the Harry Potter films were made. 

Leavesden has one of the largest movie studios in Europe. Two huge warehouses are now designed for Harry Potter fans to visit and see how the movies were made. While walking through the huge spaces you can see the real props, costumes and sets from the films. There are several interactive exhibits, including broomstick riding. Even the biggest Potter fanatics will learn some new interesting facts and stories. 

Have you been wanting to try Butterbeer? You can do that here too! There are special events and workshops to participate in as well, like a “Behind the Seams” experience all about the costumes used and the work that went into creating them. It was pretty cool to be able to try on some of the actual robes! 

Make sure to buy your ticket at least two to three months in advance, as this day trip from London is extremely popular.

Warner Bros. Studio is about 20 miles northwest of central London near the town of Watford. You can get to there by driving yourself (free parking), using public transport or booking a tour. To visit on your own from London, take the train from Euston Station to Watford Junction. From the station, there are regular shuttle buses that go directly to the studio. Most tours combine transportation and the admission ticket.
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The exterior of Windsor Castle with two stone turrets and an entry gate. London to Windsor Castle is a popular day trip from the city.
(Photo credit: Harbors and Havens)

Windsor Castle

By Michelle of Harbors and Havens 

Known as the queen’s weekend home, Windsor Castle was constructed by William the Conqueror and has been home to the royals for more than 1,000 years. At an impressive 13 acres, the fortress is one of the oldest and biggest castles still occupied today (look for the Royal Standard flag flying to see if the Queen is there). 

With a ticket, you can tour the grounds, wandering the state apartments to view portraits, elegant furnishings and weaponry collections. Gothic St. George’s chapel opens its doors as well, and you can see the burial place of several monarchs there, including Henry VIII. 

Carve out some time to walk around the charming riverside towns of Windsor and Eton just outside the castle, too, where the old-timey streets are full of pubs and souvenir shops.

A day trip to Windsor Castle is a popular excursion from London, as Windsor sits just 25 miles west of the central city. Direct trains between Waterloo Station and Windsor and Eton Riverside take about an hour, or you can take the rail from Paddington Station to Windsor changing at Slough to save a few minutes. You can also book escorted tours from London.

St. Albans Day Trip

By Deeptha of The Globe Trotter

With historic streets, beautiful buildings and a thriving food scene, the old market town of St. Albans is truly a gem of a city, and an easy and fun day trip to take from London. The city is packed with places to discover and experience, including several historical St. Albans attractions.

The St. Albans Cathedral, one of the oldest places of continual worship in the UK, is the main draw for visitors. The city has a few other notable distinctions, like being home to a medieval clock tower and the ruins of a Roman theater from around 140 AD. One of its pubs, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, even claims to be the oldest in the country. Other places to visit include the St. Albans Organ Theatre and the St. Albans Museum and Gallery.

St. Albans is located 25 miles north of central London in Hertfordshire. The train from St. Pancras International to St. Albans City takes less than 30 minutes so it is an easy half-day trip from London.

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