Whilst the UK has so much to offer any traveller, most will make their way to London, a magnet to tourists from all over the world. I get so many questions on Instagram from people who want to know where they can visit easily from London on a day trip, so I thought why not create a blog post for it?
Whilst expensive, London is well connected to the rest of the country via train, making a day trip pretty simple. Whilst there are ample places to visit, here I list my top 5 easy places to visit from the capital.
Of course, I will start for the most tourist-friendly place! Windsor in Berkshire is home to Queen Elizabeth II and has become famous around the world in recent years due to multiple royal weddings! There are actually two ways to reach Windsor by train, so which to choose? I personally would just choose the train station that is nearest to your London hotel. Waterloo runs direct services every 30 minutes into Windsor & Eton Riverside, taking 57 minutes and costing around £12.40 for an off-peak adult return.
The journey time from Paddington is slightly shorter, but don’t forget to weigh up how long it will take you to get to either Waterloo or Paddington so you can look up the trip as a whole. Paddington to Windsor requires one change at Slough (everything is signposted, it is very easy), the trains are timed up with each other so the connection is just a few minutes. This route will take you into Windsor & Eton Central Train Station, my favourite station out of the two, it is rather quaint! Total journey time is between 26-40 minutes and costs around £11.70 for an off-peak adult return.
So why visit? Not only is this super sweet town super sweet, but it is steeped in royal history. Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century, the castle has been home to 39 monarchs! Lucky for you the castle is open all year round, tickets cost £22.50 for adults, £13 for under 17s and free for under 5s. Not the cheapest but you get a lot of castle for your pennies.
Once you are finished exploring the castle, I urge any visitor to head over the bridge and into Eton, home to Eton College, one of the most famous schools in the world.
This Instagram gem is just 1 hour and 8 minutes from London St Pancras, with one train change at Ashford International! Tickets cost £34.70 for an off-peak adult ticket and trains depart every hour, so make sure you don’t miss yours!
Most of you will have seen photos of Rye dotted around the internet, but it is one of those rare places that is even prettier in person. I have visited a couple of times, those half-timbered buildings and tea rooms draw me in over and over, and I have never found crowds to be an issue, even in the height of summer.
Located next to the sea, Rye offers a mishmash of Georgian and medieval houses spread along cobbled streets. This is one of those towns that makes you feel like you are taking a step back in time, and with plenty of places to eat and lots of independent shops to poke your nose in, you will be able to fill the whole day.
Don’t forget to check out the view from atop St Mary’s Church tower, and grab a scone or a bit of cake from Cobbles Tea Room. If you do find yourself having some spare time, most likely in summer, hop on the train to Winchelsea, a nearby village oozing in English charm. The train takes just 3 minutes, but only run every 2 hours, so time it wisely!
It’s no secret that Cambridge remains to be my favourite city in the UK, and in good news, it is so easy to visit from London! Train duration varies but you are best off getting the train from London’s Kings Cross Station and it is possible to do it in just under 50 minutes. Trains cost £25.40 for an adult off-peak ticket, and trains are pretty regular, departing around every 10 minutes. As I said, train times vary, there are slow and fast trains, so please check on National Rail before travelling!
Home to one of the world’s most well-known universities, Cambridge is a feast for the eyes for those who have any sort of interest in architecture. Whilst you might think this would be a city overrun with students, it is quite the opposite. The students remain fairly contained due to the entertainment and social options within each college, the city is far more overrun by tourists so be careful with the times you choose to travel.
My favourite season in Cambridge is autumn, the summer crowds have died down, especially during the weeks, and the colleges are blooming in red leaves. Unfortunately you never really know when peak autumn will hit, its largely down to the weather during summer, but this year (2018) late October was blooming brilliant.
Did you know Winchester was once a capital city? You can visit this historic city from yourself on a 57-minute train ride from Waterloo Station. Tickets cost around £37 for an off-peak adult return and trains run between every 10-20 minutes. Train times do vary so check before you travel.
Winchester developed from a Roman town and it is thought the first permanent residents arrived even before then. By the 3rd century, Winchester had grown to be the fifth largest town in Roman Britain. After the Romans left the city went into decline before the Germanic tribes arrived, by the mid 7th century the first Christian church was built within the Roman walls. A few years later Alfred ‘The Great’ triumphed over the Danish and the Saxon king declared Winchester to be the capital of his kingdom.
With a population of just 45,000, Winchester is a fairly market town. However, as you meander your way through the historic streets you can’t help but notice you are walking through what was once the ancient capital of England. Visitors can explore the 1000-year-old cathedral, built by William the Conqueror. Day-trippers can also expect to find Jane Austen’s house, her grave, Winchester City Museum – depicting the city’s rich history from the Iron Age, via the Romans and Anglo-Saxons, to the present day. Also the Hospital of St Cross – the oldest charitable institution in the country, founded in 1132 by the grandson of William the Conqueror, Henry de Blois. Today, it’s roamed by elderly black- and red-gowned brothers, who hand out the Wayfarer’s Dole – a crust of bread and horn of ale (now a swig of beer) from the Porter’s Gate. Wolvesey Castle, also built by Henry de Blois offers the crumbling remnants of an early-12th-century castle, and Winchester College, a prestigious school that you can poke your nose into.
And for those who truly love history, the Great Hall and Round Table, the only parts of Winchester Castle that still stand, boasts a 700-year-old copy of the Round Table (still as fascinating as the original!). Historians say this was constructed in the late 13th century and then painted in the reign of Henry VIII.
You have probably heard of Bath before, or will at least recognise photos. The city is one of the most beautiful in all of England and just 1 hour 30 minutes away from London on the train. Okay, I say ‘just’, but it could be further, right? Make sure you wake up early as there is a lot to see, trains run from Paddington Station every 20-30 minutes, tickets are sadly not the cheapest, you are looking at £50-£60 for an off-peak adult ticket and for the early rises tickets cost £70 at peak time (before 9:30am).
Is it worth the money? Yes! Not only does the city offer a perfect example of a Roman city, but it is great for shopping, eating and seeing. Other than gawping at the stunning sandy coloured stone that the entire city is constructed with, no trip to Bath is complete without seeing the beautifully preserved Great Bath. The city gets its name from these baths, the Romans built them as part of a spa in 43 BC, naming it ‘Aquae Sulis’ meaning ‘the waters of Sulis. You cannot swim in the original Roman baths but you can take a dip at the nearby Thermae Bath Spa which uses the same water.
What else is there to see? Loads! Pulteney Bridge is one of just four bridges in the world that houses shops and cafes inside, the Royal Crescent is one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the world, number 1 Royal Crescent is now a museum. Prior Park, on the outskirts of the city, offers not just stunning landscaped gardens, but breathtaking views over the city.
Last but not least, for those that don’t have a fear of heights and have a fair bit of time to kill, I would highly recommend taking a hot air balloon over the city and the neighbouring Mendip Hills, absolutely magnificent. Balloon rides are dependent on weather and can be booked via Bath Balloons.