There’s no denying that we love London but we also love to explore beyond the capital. Fortunately, it’s easy to leave the city and there are lots of places to discover nearby.
Not only is train travel easy, it’s a far greener way to travel – something we are trying to do more. Just make sure to book your train tickets in advance to ensure you get the best deals.
From seaside towns and cultural centres to famous cities and historical sites, these are some of the best day trips from London by train.
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Best day trips from London
There are 10 main train stations in central London offering services across the country. The main stations are:
- King’s Cross
- St Pancras
- Charing Cross
- London Bridge
- Fenchurch Street
- Liverpool Street
These train stations all have luggage storage options and all have direct Tube links except for Fenchurch Street, which is close to Tower Hill and Aldgate Tube stations.
When travel planning do look at the Trainline website. You can buy tickets in advance, reserve a seat and save money. The National Rail website has information on timetables, connections, stations and fares. Most rail services offer First and Standard Class accommodation.
Other London posts you might enjoy:
- 34 of the best hidden gems in London you must see
- 21 things to do in London in November – with kids! (2022)
- Our 13 favourite children’s book shops in London (2022)
- How high can you go? Try the Cutty Sark Rig Climb and see!
- 26 fun things to do during the October half term in London (2022)
Day trips 1 hour or less from London are marked in purple
Day trips within 2 hours from London are marked in yellow
Day trips 3 hours from London are marked in red
International destinations are marked in green
Popular day trips 1 hour from London
The little town of Lewes in East Sussex is known primarily to historians as the setting for the Battle of Lewes and to archaeologists as the site of a settlement since at least 961 AD. But for travellers the town’s main claim to fame is as a centre of fiery celebration: Lewes Bonfire Night; the Britain’s most dangerous Guy Fawkes celebration.
As locals and visitors Remember the 5th of November, the streets of Lewes turn to smoke and fire. Six separate Lewes Bonfire Society organisations host parades and bonfires around town, all in celebration of the death of Guy Fawkes and the failure of the Gunpowder Plot.
The remainder of the year, Lewes remains a quaint countryside town capped by a Norman castle and several sites of historic architectural interests.It also lies along the South Downs Way footpath, and can serve as the beginning or end of a day of walking in the surrounding countryside.
If you do want to spend the night in Lewes you’ll find one of the most unusual places to stay in the UK here, the Big Green Bus. The Lewes to London train is operated by Southern Line and runs into London Victoria.
Travel time from London: 1hr
Stephen, Monk Bought Lunch
If you are looking for a unique day trip from London then St Albans is definitely a great choice. St Albans is a small, but charming city located about 20 miles from London. The train journey from St. Pancras shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes – it only takes that much to get to an idyllic and peaceful place outside of the capital city.
One of the biggest attractions there is the St. Albans Cathedral, but you should also spend a few hours in the Verulamium Park, which is a perfect place to have a picnic.
The Clock Tower from the beginning of the 15th century is also a key landmark in the city. It’s one of the few medieval towers in England. It’s worth climbing its narrow stairs – a great panorama of the city stretches from above.
St Albans hosts a traditional street market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Over 150 stalls make it definitely one of the most colourful markets in the south of England. To finish off your day trip, visit Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, one of the oldest pubs in England, and enjoy a typical British dinner.
Travel time from London: 32min
Contributed by Darek and Gosia, DarekandGosia.com
The town of East Grinstead is easily reached from London by train. Make sure you check out the neighbouring Bluebell Railway Museum when you arrive at the station!
The town is most famous for the role it played during WWII. During this time, the local hospital, the Queen Victoria, became a specialist hospital for facial reconstruction treatment. Almost all of the British soldiers who were severely burned or lost limbs during the war were treated here.
The hospital remains one of the top specialist centres in the world for facial reconstruction. You can learn all about the hospital, the “Guinea Pig Club” and Dr Archibald McIndoe at the East Grinstead Museum.
Once you’ve finished at the museum, have your photo taken standing on the Meridian Line. Alternatively, collect Pooh Sticks in nearby Ashdown Forest, the forest that inspired the Hundred Acre Wood.
Make sure to grab a cake and coffee at the East Grinstead Bookshop on the High Street. The bookshop has been there since 1535!
Travel time from London: 1hr
Dagney from Cultura Obscura
Sitting on the southern coast of the UK, Brighton is one of the most popular destinations for a day trip from London. Thameslink runs direct trains from London Bridge and St. Pancras International stations and within an hour you’ll be at the seaside.
Getting around Brighton is just as simple as getting there; it’s a very walkable town with a relaxing and upbeat atmosphere. The pier is one of the best things to do in the city; it has an arcade with fun video games, delicious food stalls, and a wonderful view of the beach. It’s also a great place for photography if you’ve already visited the best photo spots in London and are looking for a change in scenery.
I also recommend taking a stroll in the Brighton Lanes, the charming historic quarter of the city. The narrow alleys there will lead you to lots of shops, boutiques, and delicious seafood restaurants such as Riddle And Finns.
Travel time from London: 1hr
Jiayi, The Diary of a Nomad
Aside from its music festival or the recently renovated train station, few people choose to visit Reading unless just passing through. Yet, there are tons of things to do and see there that make it a great place for a day trip from London.
Located in Berkshire, to the west of London, Reading is easily accessible by train. There are two different train lines that will take you between London and Reading, either via Waterloo or Paddington, but the latter can whizz you into Reading centre in as little as 26 minutes!
The town has a fascinating history, with historical attractions ranging from a replica Bayeux Tapestry in the Reading Museum to the ruined 12th century Reading Abbey. There are also plenty of places to stroll and relax in the city centre, including the Forbury Gardens and Caversham Court Gardens.
Further afield but a quick taxi ride away, you’ll find one of the best vineyards in the country, Stanlake Wine Estate, and the beautiful National Trust stately home, Basildon Park. Did you know some of the interior shots of Downton Abbey were filmed here?
Foodies will love the town’s boutique cafes dotted across the centre, from 7 Flowers & Tea, which is a tea shop and florist in one. The neighbourhood of Caversham to the north of the station also boasts numerous independent cafes and restaurants.
Time from London: 26mins
Anna, Would Be Traveller
Harry Potter Studios
Whether you are a Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw, you will find so many Harry Potter things to do in London (including this excellent Harry Potter walking tour). But no trip to England would be complete without visiting the Harry Potter studios where most of the movies were actually filmed.
Warner Bros Studios: The making of Harry Potter is located in Watford. To get there, hop on a train from Euston or Victoria to Watford Junction. Once you arrive you will find a Harry Potter shuttle that will bring you straight to the entrance of the studios.
You can book your ticket on the WB Studios website and the best thing to do is to get the first one available. Once you are in the studios, you are free to stay as long as you want.
Inside, you will get to see the sets including the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room and Gringotts Wizarding Bank. You will also find plenty of information on how the movies were made including how they chose the filming locations, special effects, make up… everything you can think of!
Finally, you will find a couple of restaurants where you can treat yourself to a Butterbeer.
Travel time from London: 48mins to Watford Junction
Pauline, Beeloved City
The city of Oxford is one of the best places to go for a day trip from London. Not only is it easily reached from the capital, but it offers a real slice of English tradition and charm. Visitors can take a train from London to Oxford (approx. 1hr), with regular direct trains leaving from London Marylebone and London Paddington.
One of the most popular things to do when visiting Oxford is to explore the oldest and most prestigious university in the country. Oxford University has been home to many world-renowned scholars and the buildings here are classically British and simply stunning. This is where you’ll find Christ Church College, home to an important collection of Old Masters paintings and drawings. The university is also home to the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe and the second-largest library in the UK after the British Library.
Other top sights in the city include the Bridge of Sighs, the Carfax Tower, the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin and Oxford Castle. Oxford Castle is located on the western side of the city and has a rich history which can be uncovered with an informative tour given by an exquisitely costumed guide.
No trip to Oxford would be complete without a punt down the River Cherwell. This is a great way to see the city during summer months (although if you do the punting yourself be warned, it’s harder than it looks!).
From Oxford you can catch a 40min bus ride to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Blenheim Palace, a stunning country house home to beautiful gardens.
Travel time from London: 1hr
Chrysoula, Historic European Castles
Windsor Castle is one of the Royal Residences of the Queen of England, and it is the longest continually inhabited palace or castle in all of Europe. Windsor Castle dates back to the 11th century and tours are available, allowing visitors to see the elegant rooms and fabulous art collection.
If you spend the day here, you can also walk around the village, enjoy the charming English country pubs here, and walk over to Eton to enjoy a stroll through this charming town as well.
To get to Windsor from London by train takes between thirty minutes to just over an hour. Trains depart from London Paddington to Windsor and Eton Central or London Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside.
Travel time from London: 30mins – 1hr
Stephanie, History Fangirl
As England’s oldest recorded town, Colchester is an easy day trip from London. The journey time from London to Colchester takes around 90 minutes with regular train services from Liverpool Street Station to Colchester North, just 15 minutes walk from the town centre.
In Colchester you’ll find a wide variety of free walking tours to take – and these all include audio guides and downloadable maps.
As well as being the oldest town on record, Colchester is also the site of England’s only Roman Circus. The Roman Wall around the old part of town is also one of the most intact in the country – there’s even a pub built into part of it. You’ll find St Botolphs, an 11th century Augustine Priory here that’s free to visit and several museums in the town.
The stunning Norman Keep of Colchester’s Castle dates from 1076, but the dungeons are built on the foundations of the Roman Temple of Claudius. Be sure to visit the museum and find all the Roman treasures. These include a treasure hoard from the Fenwick department store on the high street, found when renovations to the shop were taking place.
And while there are many cafes and places to stop for a lunch break in Colchester, you should make your way to the Tiptree Jam Tea Room. Tiptree Jam is local to Colchester but is famous the world over!
Travel time from London: 52mins
Sarah, A Social Nomad
At just over an hour from central London, the medieval town of Rye in East Sussex is a wonderful day trip out of London by train. Once an important port town on England’s south coast, Rye is now surrounded by marshland with the sea a couple of miles beyond. The town is full of atmospheric cobblestone streets and timber-framed houses.
Visit in winter and the streets are frequently cloaked in sea mist. During the evening, it’s easy to imagine the smugglers from days gone by sneaking from tavern to tavern. In summertime, Rye is a delightful town to wander through, there are lovely independent shops and plenty of cafes to enjoy lunch or coffee.
Just a mile or two from the town centre is the wonderful expanse of Camber Sands, one of the best beaches in this part of England. Buses run regularly from Rye to the beach.
The Mermaid Inn, of 12th century origins, is Rye’s most famous pub. It’s definitely worth checking timings of the last train back to London to ensure you can have a few drinks in this characterful watering hole.
To learn more about Rye’s history pop into Ypres Tower, a former jail and now a fascinating museum complete with gallows and a skeleton as well as a model of how the town would have looked in medieval times before the sea water receded away from the defensive town walls.
Travel time from London: 1hr 8min
Annabel, Smudged Postcard
Famous for being one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Cambridge is the perfect day trip, particularly if you have a number of days to spend in London.
The easiest way to get to Cambridge from London is by taking the train from Kings Cross Station – there are regular trains that will get you to Cambridge in approximately one hour.
Once in Cambridge, take your time to explore the sites of the famous university, including some of the colleges where students live. King’s College & Trinity College are two of the most famous. There are also many walking tours that you can take, often run by local students to give you a great insight into daily life in the city.
One of other iconic things to do in Cambridge is to try your hand at punting along the River Cam. If you prefer to stay dry, then it can arguably be more fun to sit on the banks of the river and watch the chaos of many people trying to punt and possibly falling in!
Time from London: 1hr 10 min
Contributed by Michael, The World Was here First
Popular day trips 2 hours from London
Situated on the beautiful Avon River, Bristol in South West England is a mere two hours from London by train.
Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, his eponymous bridge is the city’s most famous icon and is a must-see. The bridge over the Avon River offers amazing views of the surrounding areas, and it’s a lovely spot for watching the sunset.
Another highlight of the city is the Arnolfini, which is one of Europe’s leading centres for the contemporary arts, artist’s performances, music, and dance events. This is a go-to place if you want to experience art through all your senses. Entry is free; make sure to go to the top floor for views across the harbour.
Bristol is also famous for street-art in the UK, and the city walls are painted with several interesting murals. Bristol’s Stokes Croft neighbourhood is an area where the legendary Banksy makes his mark.
If it’s a sunny day, pay Bristol harbourside a visit, where you’ll find museums, galleries, exhibitions and, of course, lovely houses overlooking the water. Also don’t miss out on visiting the beautiful Bristol Cathedral.
There are direct trains from London to Bristol that leaves every 5-15 minutes from London Paddington and London Waterloo. The city has two railway stations, Bristol Parkway and Temple Meads Station, with the latter being much closer to Bristol’s city centre. Consider taking a train to Temple Meads Station and get off closer to the city’s main attractions.
Travel time from London: 1hr 40min
Ivan, Mind The Travel
The city of Nottingham is synonymous with myths and legends. Local stories tell the tales of Robin Hood and his men dashing through the trees in Sherwood Forest, taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Several street names and statues around the city pay homage to this tight-wearing hero. Today though, Nottingham is one of the most underrated destinations in the UK.
Nottingham is just 90 minutes by train from London St Pancras. The centrally-located Nottingham train station is just a stone’s throw away from the city’s main points of interest.
Nottingham Castle is one of the city’s top attractions and should be the first port of call upon arrival. The castle, which dates back to 1674, is perched on top of a craggy rock where it watches protectively over the city. The views of the city skyline from up here are spectacular and visitors can take guided tours of the labyrinth-like network of caves beneath the castle.
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem is a ramshackle pub and restaurant that sits adjacent to Nottingham Castle. This is the oldest inn in England and the owners will tell you fascinating tales about its resident ghosts and spirits. The menu boasts all of the traditional English classic dishes – Sunday roast dinners, toad in the hole, etc.
Nearby, Hurt’s Yard is a narrow little passageway filled with coffee shops and eclectic boutique stores that have been designed to look just as they would have done during the Victorian era.
The Lace Market is Nottingham’s premier social district. Nottingham was once one of the main lacemaking cities in the UK and this neighbourhood is filled with old factories that have been converted into chic cocktail bars and upscale eateries.
Time from London: 1hr 30min
Melissa, High Heels & a Backpack
Approximately two hours by train from London Waterloo, Portsmouth is a great day trip destination.
This popular port city in Hampshire has a host of great attractions like The Historic Dockyard. This forms part of the HM Naval Base and houses a number of historic buildings and ships which are open to the public. There’s also the Mary Rose Museum where you will find the recovered remains of Henry VIII’s warship which was lost in 1545.
In addition to these two main attractions, Portsmouth also has the iconic Emirates Spinnaker Tower, the D-Day Story museum and the Portsmouth Museum. There are also beautiful beaches, water sports avenues and a fantastic shopping scene. In fact, a number of visitors make a day trip to Gunwharf Quays just for the shopping!
There’s a thriving dining and drinking scene as well in Portsmouth. There are a number of restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs across the city with many just a short walk away from the seafront. For fantastic brunches in a beautiful setting, Cosy Club in Gunwharf Quays comes recommended.
There are so many things to see and do in Portsmouth that it’s not easy to fit everything into a single day. But a day trip will certainly give you an introduction to this great city on England’s south coast.
Travel time from London: 1hr 30min – 2hrs
Deeptha, The Globe Trotter
You certainly won’t be the first person to travel from London to Canterbury. Pilgrims have been making this journey for nearly 1,000 years to visit the Canterbury Cathedral.
More specifically, they come to see the place inside the cathedral where Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered in 1170. This pilgrimage became the inspiration for the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.
Of course, back then the journey was made on foot, and it took a lot longer than a single day to get there. Located about 60 miles southeast of London, Canterbury is now an easy London day trip by train. Hop on a train at St. Pancras station, and you’ll be at Canterbury West station in approximately 1hr 30mins.
The Cathedral is still the main attraction, but it’s certainly not the only thing to see here. The entire old town of cobblestone streets and historic buildings is very well preserved and easy to explore on foot. When you’re ready for a lunch break, head to the Lady Luck, which serves up pub grub favourites as well as some of the best vegan food in Canterbury.
Time from London: 1hr 30min
Wendy, The Nomadic Vegan
Located only 1 hour and 20 minutes from London Bridge Station by train, Whitstable is a favourite day trip for South East Londoners in particular.
Whitstable is located on the north coast of Kent in south-east England. This charming seaside town has a large, wide and long pebble beach and dozens of colourful beach huts.
Whitstable is most famous for its oysters which have been harvested in this area since Roman times. An Oyster Festival is held here every July.
Whitstable has a long high street with brilliant independent shops. There are unusual bookshops, stores selling stunning, wooden, handmade toys alongside lovely clothes and jewellery. Don’t miss the amazing ‘Oysterman’s Daughter’, an enormous mural painted on the side of a house depicting a mermaid with an oyster and pearl.
If that wasn’t enough Whitstable also has a castle where you can stroll around the gardens or enjoy an afternoon tea within the cafe.
Travel time from London: 1hr 20mins
Kristie, Mamma Prada
Bath is a historic city famous for the ruins of Roman Baths dating from 70 AD. It’s also one of the most beautiful places in England. The city was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage in 1987.
The Roman Baths sit on natural and still active hot springs, visitors can enjoy the relaxing power of nature in the nearby thermal spa. If visiting without kids, you should book a Twilight Package and take in the stunning city views from a hot pool on the spa’s rooftop.
Another iconic place in Bath not to be missed is the Royal Crescent. These buildings are a beautiful example of the classic British Georgian architecture. Many noble people used to live there, but today you can explore its museum and stay a night at number 16, which is the Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa.
Other interesting places to visit are Bath Abbey and Pulteney Bridge. Finally, don’t forget to pop into the Pump Room Restaurant for a traditional afternoon tea.
Bath is located in county Somerset, in the southwestern part of England. You can catch a direct train from London Paddington Station.
Travel time from London: 1hr 20mins
Mal, Raw Mal Roams
Located on the banks of the River Avon, Warwick is famously known for the magnificent medieval Warwick Castle.
On your day trip from London, start your visit with a guided tour of Warwick Castle. Check out the iconic St.Mary’s Church, an 11th-century collegiate church. You can get beautiful panoramic views of Warwick from its tower. Visit Charlecote Park, a large 16th-century country house on River Avon surrounded by a lovely deer park.
Other well-maintained gardens are the Mill Garden, Jephson Gardens and St.Nicholas’ Park, all ideal for relaxing. The Mill garden and Charlecote are highly recommended if you are here for a day.
Explore the famous Lord Leycester Hospital, famous for its courtyard-style medieval architecture and East and West Gate. If you are into museums, you should visit St. John’s house – a Jacobean style social history Museum.
The earliest train departs from London at 6:05 AM and they run regularly throughout the day. Chiltern Railways operate on this route.
Travel time from London: 1hr 15mins
Reshma, The Solo Globetrotter
The New Forest National Park
The New Forest National Park in the UK has been a holiday destination through ages. It is located in Southern England, covering southwest Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire. It’s easily reached by train from London in about 90 minutes.
The New Forest has a number of activities on offer. There are the award-winning Exbury Gardens and the internationally renowned National MotorMuseum at Beaulieu. There are also leisure and wildlife parks including the famous family-friendly Peppa Pig World at Paulton’s Park.
You can discover the cobbled streets of the picturesque towns and villages or take a long walk along the New Forest Coastline, which is mesmerising! With over 100 miles of gravel tracks to choose from, another option is to go off-road by bicycle. Bikes are available to hire.
There are various train stations you can travel to from London including Ashurst, Beaulieu Road, Lymington Town and Lymington Pier.
Travel time from London: 1hr 30mins
Tanayesh, Shoestring Travel
Lincolnshire is almost directly north of London and makes for a great day trip from London.
Start your visit with a walk up the popular Steep Hill – the 14% gradient is well worth it. At the top of the hill is the entrance to Lincoln Cathedral and at the bottom is Well Lane. The Hill consists of independent shops, tea rooms and pubs.
At the top of Steep Hill you will find Lincoln Castle with its restored wall walk and its 19th Century prison. It’s even home to the historic Magna Carta that was a charter of rights agreed to by King John of England. Opposite the castle is the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral, famous for its Lincoln Imp gargoyles. Work began on the Cathedral back in 1072.
There are plenty of cute little cafes to wander into on your walk up or down the hill. Halfway up you will also find two free museums that stand side by side; The Collection and the Usher Gallery, Lincolnshire’s premier art gallery. Another great free museum is the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, which tells the history of Lincolnshire through some excellent exhibits. There’s a lovely play area for kids in the courtyard.
Lincoln’s waterfront area is especially beautiful. Here you can catch a movie, take a boat trip or choose from one of the many restaurants overlooking the water.
For more ideas take a look at this post on things to do in Lincoln.
Travel time from London: 2hrs
Suzy, Our Bucket List Lives
Popular day trips 3 hours from London
There are endless options for day trips out of London, but York remains one of the best choices on offer thanks to its myriad historic attractions. York is located a 2.5hr – 3hr hour train ride from London’s King Cross Station.
The city of York dates back to 71AD, the time of the Ancient Romans. Today it remains one of the oldest walled cities in the world and home to plenty of Roman ruins.
Highlights include York Minster one of the finest cathedrals and medieval buildings in Europe. Barley Hall is a family friendly option highlighting what life was like in the late 1400s. The Merchant Adventurers’ Hall was built in 1357 and has one of the grandest Great Halls on show.
Other attractions that must not be missed include The Shambles the most well preserved medieval street in the world. Make sure to visit the York Walls and numerous fortresses located throughout the city that were once used as Roman defences.
Be sure to stop in on Spring Espresso for coffee.
Travel time from London: 2.5 – 3hrs
Toni, Enchanted Serendipity
Jump on a train at Euston Station and enjoy a day trip from London to Liverpool. In just a couple of hours you will be in one of the UK’s friendliest cities, brimming with culture and quirky things to do. There are the obvious things to do in Liverpool like the Beatles tours, the football grounds and the Liverpool Docks. But how about spending your train trip from London exploring the lesser known sights of Liverpool?
If you’re into history, St Luke’s Bombed Out Church Gardens is a hidden treasure. Destroyed during the Blitz and left derelict as a war memorial this church is a beautiful place to relax and learn about the past.
For some of the best food in Liverpool don’t miss the Baltic Market. With street food stalls from around the world, it showcases Liverpool’s multiculturalism through food.
The best way to see Liverpool is from Liverpool Cathedral; climb to the top for the best views over the city. Check out the top ten things to do in Liverpool from a local tour guide here.
Travel time from London: 2hr 13min – 2hr 30min
Contributed by Jo, Lost Wanders
Best known for being Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon is in Warwickshire, in the heart of England. Easily reached by train direct from London Marylebone, the station is a short walk from the town centre. Shakespeare’s birthplace is right in the centre, on Henley Street. Visit and learn more about how he would have lived as a boy and when he was married to Anne Hathaway.
Nearby is the Guildhall and Shakespeare’s Schoolroom, open to the public with interactive sessions where you can take part in a Tudor classroom!.
The Royal Shakespeare Company is based in Stratford, with two theatres on the banks of the River Avon. There are regular productions in both the main auditorium and the smaller Swan theatre. On the third floor there’s an excellent restaurant with great river views.
Stratford is famous for the Butterfly Farm which is just five minutes’ walk from the Town Centre. You’ll find hundreds of the world’s most beautiful butterflies there.
And, there are regular boat trips along the River Avon, including gin tasting tours in the summer, run by the Shakespeare Gin Distillery.
Stratford upon Avon is a quintessentially English Market Town, with pretty half-timbered buildings, tea shops and churches. There are plenty of places to eat and drink from the stunning Garrick Inn, built in 1718 to the traditional style Hathaway’s Tea Rooms in a Grade II listed building on the High Street.
It’s also worth checking out the Woodsman restaurant in the Hotel Indigo, run by the team behind the Michelin Starred Ledbury and Harwood restaurants.
Travel time from London: 2hr 12min
Contributed by Fiona Maclean, London Unattached
International day trips from London
It’s not just the UK that you can explore on a day trip from London, you can also head across the Channel.
It’s easy to plan a day trip to Brussels from London. In 1h 53min, the Eurostar takes you to Brussels-South which is only a short subway ride away from the historical centre.
In Belgium’s capital, there’s no shortage of things to see, in fact, there’s no way you’ll be able to visit Brussels in only one day (but nothing is stopping you from coming back!).
Must do’s when you’re visiting Brussels for the first time are the Grand-Place with its old guild houses and its impressive city hall and the Saint-Hubert Galleries. If you’re really interested, go and visit the Manneken Pis and its female counterpart Jeanneke Pis, but expect tiny statues and long lines.
Amazing museums in Brussels include the Magritte museum, the Musical Instruments Museum and the Natural Sciences Museum (dinosaurs!). When you’ve had your fill of culture and history, wander around the Marollen and the Matongé neighbourhoods to discover the ‘real’ Brussels.
A highlight – but a little out of the city centre – is also the national monument The Atomium, which will give you awesome views over the city. Next door you can find Mini Europa, which is great fun, especially with kids.
If you’re hungry during your day trip to Brussels, grab a bite at Houtsiplou, this colourful restaurant has a child friendly menu, toys and a huge terrace where parents can relax after spending the day chasing their kids in this large city.
Travel time from London: 1hr 53min
Contributed by Babs, Next Stop Belgium
Disneyland Paris, France
Looking for something different for a day trip to London? Then take the train to visit Mickey Mouse in Disneyland Paris!
Thanks to the Eurostar, a trip to Paris from London is super easy and fast. The London to Paris train departs from London St Pancras and arrives at Paris Gare du Nord. From here it’s only 40 extra minutes to reach Marne La Vallée – Chessy, where Disney is located. The total trip from London St Pancras train station to Marne La Vallée train station takes less than 3 hours.
First of all, be sure you have your FastPass as you don’t want to spend your precious time in Eurodisney waiting in line. FastPass can be used for the most popular rides and you will never have to wait more than 10 minutes for the ride.
For the rides, it depends on what you like. There are many fun rides and activities for all ages so you will be spoilt for choice! Be sure, however, to visit the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle for some selfies. The Pirates of the Caribbean and Space Mountain Mission 2 are also two musts of Disneyland Paris.
Travel time from London: 3 hours
Contributed by Elisa, World in Paris
The pretty city of Lille is the capital of the Hauts-de-France region and is an easy day trip from London. The London to Lille train departs from St. Pancras station and arrives in the centre of Lille 1 hour 22 minutes later.
There are lots of things to do in Lille from world-class museums to the largest Christmas market in Northern France. The old town is a delight to discover; especially if you take a tour of the cobbled streets in an open-top 2CV.
Lille is also home to the largest flea market in Europe, La Grande Braderie de Lille, which takes place annually on the first weekend of September. The flea market is hugely popular – some two million people visited in 2019 – so book your accommodation well in advance.
Make sure to visit Aux Merveilleux de Fred. This patisserie is famous for ‘Les Petits Merveilleux’, roughly translated as “the little marvels”. These cakes originated in Belgium and consist of a sandwich of two meringues with whipped cream in the middle, which is then covered in more whipped cream and topped with flavours such as chocolate shavings or nuts.
Travel time from London: 1hr 22mins
Travelling by Eurostar you can be in Paris 2hrs 17mins after leaving Kings Cross Saint Pancras. In other words, leave early enough and you can be in the City of Lights in time for breakfast.
Paris a relatively compact city and easy to get around either on foot or using the Metro. Obviously you’re not going to see everything in one day but you can get a good feel for Paris on a day trip.
A tour with Fat Tire Tours is a fun way to see the main sights. Once you’ve spied the Eiffel Tower and taken a photo of the Arc de Triomphe, make your way to the Jardins des Plantes, a 17th century garden located near the Natural History Museum (itself well worth a visit). The Louvre is obviously a highlight but for a museum that’s a little less well known, try the Paris Magic Museum.
Other things to do in Paris include a cycle along the Promenade Plantée, a raised pathway similar to the Highline in New York City, and a visit to Le Jardin d’Acclimatation, a traditional theme park that’s particularly fun if you’re visiting Paris with kids.
Travel time from London: 2hrs 17mins