London has plenty of attractions to keep you on your toes, but if you fancy getting away from the city for a change of scene then there are plenty of places nearby to choose from.
Here is a round-up of the 7 greatest day trips from London, all which are one hour or less away by train!
If you want to hear the sound of the sea, smell the scent of salt in the air, and eat fish and chips on the beach – then pack your beach towel and head to the seaside city of Brighton. You can saunter down the iconic Brighton Pier, brave the fairground rides, eat an ice cream and top up your Vitamin D on the pebbled beach. Don’t miss the Asian-style Royal Pavilion, the major landmark of the city. Brighton has a vibrant arts community, so pay a visit to The Lanes to shop for handmade trinkets, jewellery and prints crafted by local residents. Brighton also has a terrific nightlife scene, and is known for its LGBT friendly bars. Hang around for a sundowner, catch a live music gig then take the last train back to The Chilworth Paddington with a stick of Brighton rock!
Where: 60 miles southeast of London
Getting there: Train from London Bridge, Victoria or Blackfriars (1 hour)
The main attraction of beautiful Cambridge is its grand university campus which takes over the entire city. You can purchase tickets and explore some of the colleges for a glimpse into this academic world. King’s College and Trinity are right in the heart of the town and are two that you cannot miss when in Cambridge. The Fitzwilliam is the best museum in Cambridge. If you’re prepared to chance a tumble into the water you can hire a vessel and punt yourself along the River Cam, and cross the iconic Bridge of Sighs. Alternatively, hire a guide to expertly glide you past the top sights of the town. Cambridge is a small, walkable town which you can enjoy pottering around on foot – just keep an eye out for bicycles.
Where: 64 miles north of London
Getting there: Train from London King’s Cross (45 minutes)
An easy option for those staying in accommodation in Paddington, Oxford is a university town which is the counterpart to Cambridge. Besides the sprawling colleges, this is where you can find the world-famous Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera and the remains of the medieval Oxford Castle. If you fancy checking out a museum, the Ashmolean provides a fascinating insight into ancient civilisations through artefacts and art. Pick up some boutique clothing, unique souvenirs or sip an artisan coffee in the Covered Market, an 18th century indoors bazaar before your take the train back to London.
Where: 56 miles northwest of London
Getting there: Train from London Paddington (1 hour)
4) St Albans
The town of St Albans is on the London commuter belt and is served by regular, high-speed trains as well as cheaper services which stop more frequently. This small town is known for its colossal cathedral and a bustling centre ideal for shopping or dining at an independent eatery. History buffs can take a walk around Verulamium Park to see what’s left of the Roman wall and gleam insight into Roman Britain at the Verulamium Museum. A seamless train journey and the family-friendly town makes St Albans a great day out for kids to in London, and you’ll be back in time for dinner at one of the restaurants in Paddington.
Where: 25 miles north of London
Getting there: Train from London St Pancras International (20 – 35 minutes)
5) Box Hill
A favoured destination for Londoners fleeing the city at weekends, Box Hill is a pleasant valley of lush, rolling hills offering scenic views across Surrey. Wear decent walking footwear and take plenty of water in order to tackle the steep ascent to the summit of the hill. There are a number hiking trails that take you through the woodlands of this outstandingly beautiful area so you can really stretch your legs. You might want to pre-book some spa deals in Paddington for when you get back to banish aches. Pack a picnic, or stop at one of the cafes or pubs in the village of Westhumble. Box Hill is popular route for cyclists, so if you have a two-wheeler of your own you might want to cycle to Box Hill or take it with you on the train.
Where: 30 miles southwest of London
Getting there: Direct train from London Victoria (55 minutes)
If you read Chaucer during your school days, then this city will take you down memory lane! Today, Canterbury is a quaint, cathedral city which is encased by the remnants of walls built during the Roman times. You can wander down the King’s Mile to admire in the Tudor buildings and take a scenic boat ride along the River Sour. There are a number of museums to mooch around, including an interactive tour through the Canterbury Tales and the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey. Canterbury also has plenty of boutiques and eateries to discover.
Where: 60 miles southeast of London
Getting there: Train from London St Pancras International (54 minutes)
7) Hever Castle
The childhood home of Anne Boleyn is the romantic, double-moated Hever Castle which makes for one of the best day trips from London for families. The interiors feature antique furnishings and tapestries and, supposedly, there are a few ghosts lurking within the corridors. Besides the castle, there are 125 acres of grounds with landscaped gardens, a beautiful lake and a maze. It is best to plan to spend an entire afternoon exploring the house and gardens. Hever Castle is an ideal day out from London during the summer, or autumn when the trees turn golden.
Where: 40 miles south of London
Getting there: Train from London Bridge (42 minutes) followed by a 5 minute taxi ride