London is a great city, a buzzing metropolis with lots to keep anyone entertained for days, weeks or months. But sometimes, even born-and-raised Londoners want to get out of the Big Smoke for a break from city life and a bit of fresh air. If you’re looking for some day trips within an hour of London, here are 8 options to choose from.
8 DAY TRIPS WITHIN 1 HOUR OF LONDON
Surrey Hills – 56 Minutes from Victoria Station
If you’re looking for fresh air and country walks, look no further than Surrey Hills. Take a train to the market town of Dorking and explore this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From Dorking, you can easily reach Box Hill for sweeping views across the county, or head to a nearby wine estate for a vineyard tour and a glass of something delicious.
Other Surrey Hills highlights include Leith Hill, the town of Godalming, the Devil’s Punch Bowl and Frensham Pond.
Southend-on-Sea – 54 Minutes from Fenchurch Street Station
Fancy a trip to the seaside? Head to Southend’s seafront for an afternoon at the beach. Home to the longest pleasure pier in the world (walk the 1.3 miles to the end, or take the pier railway) and a fun adventure theme park that’s ideal for kids, it’s a quintessentially British seaside town that makes a great day trip from London. Prepare for crowds on sunny days!
St Albans – 18 Minutes from St Pancras International Station
St Albans is a great place to visit to escape the madness of London without spending much time on travel. It has a beautiful city centre and a rich history. Visit the Verulamium park and museum for a look at some fascinating Ancient Roman artefacts, including the ruins of a Roman theatre, or go to the centuries-old cathedral for a look at its medieval wall paintings and the longest nave in England.
The city centre is also a great place for a leisurely stroll, without the hustle and bustle of London but with good pubs and a picturesque high street.
Windsor – 38 Minutes from Paddington Station
Windsor is home to one of the better-known royal residences, Windsor Castle, a structure that dates all the way back to William the Conqueror’s time. It’s a magnificent building that makes this market town worth a visit in and of itself. Stroll along the Long Walk for spectacular views of the castle, and take a picnic to enjoy elsewhere in the vast green space of Windsor Great Park.
If you’re looking for something the kids will enjoy, head to nearby Legoland instead for a day of fun.
Colchester – 49 Minutes from Liverpool Street Station
Colchester is the oldest recorded town in the UK and was previously the capital of Ancient Roman Britain, known then as Camulodunum. It was famously sacked by Boudica (sometimes called Boadicea) and her Iceni rebels, and there’s a statue of the warrior queen on a roundabout close to the station.
Highlights of the town include the remnants of one of the country’s longest Roman walls, a Norman Castle and its surrounding park, and family favourite Colchester Zoo. If you’re more interested in flora than fauna, you could visit Beth Chatto’s Plants and Gardens instead.
Royal Tunbridge Wells – 45 Minutes from London Bridge Station
Tunbridge Wells, granted its royal status in 1909, is a picturesque spa town in Kent. Take a ride through the Spa Valley on an old-fashioned steam train, then stroll along the Pantiles and browse its interesting selection of independent shops. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even visit one of the town’s many rock-climbing walls to test your nerve!
If you’ve got time, head out of the centre to visit Scotney Castle, a gorgeous garden with a moated castle dating back to the 14th century.
Cambridge – 48 Minutes from King’s Cross Station
Cambridge is one of the UK’s best-known university cities and is within an easy distance of London. This city of spires is full of fun activities for you to enjoy with family or friends. Go punting on the River Cam, hire a bike and cycle around the cobbled streets, browse the shelves of well-loved bookshops or head to King’s College Chapel for an inside look at this famous church, home to the Christmas carol service broadcast.
Canterbury – 54 Minutes from St Pancras International Station
Canterbury is a former pilgrimage site, and many people still use this as the official starting point of the Via Francigena, a pilgrim route from this English cathedral city all the way across the Alps and down to Rome. We aren’t suggesting you try this as a day trip from London, but there are plenty of more accessible walking and cycling routes near the city centre!
If you’re not much of a walker, head to Canterbury Cathedral, England’s foremost Christian monument, or go punting on the River Stour. You can also visit Roman city walls and a Roman museum, or the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge for a dose of culture.
There are so many places within easy reach of London. Whether you’re a Londoner looking to escape the rush or are a tourist wanting to see what else England has to offer, a visit to any of these spots will leave you wanting more.