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19 Best Day Trips from London by Train

Looking for the best day trips from London by train? We have you covered! Discover 19 places to visit from London all within easy reach of the capital for a perfect day trip

What better way to explore some of England’s most beautiful towns and cities than to hop on a train from London for a day trip?

Day trips from London by train are easy, and if you book your train tickets in advance, they do not have to be too expensive. There are numerous day trips by train from London from which to choose. In this article, you will find a guide to my top 19. All are doable if you are staying in London (most less than two hours away by train)

I have chosen places within an easy train ride of the capital, with mainly direct services, that I would consider adding to any London itinerary. These are all easy day trips from London and, in my opinion, the best day trips from London by train.

Oxford is a great city to visit on a one-day trip from London. Numerous trains are available daily, and the journey takes, on average, only one hour.

Once in Oxford, the main attractions are in the compact and very walkable city centre. With beautiful architecture and a fascinating history, there is lots to see and do on a day trip to Oxford.

  • Distance from London: 52 miles / 83 km
  • Time taken by train: 1 hour
  • Leave from: London Paddington/ London Marylebone


Oxford is one of the best day trips from London by train.
  • Oxford University

Oxford University is one of the most famous universities in the world. Founded in the 13th century, it is composed of 38 colleges. Its alumni include numerous international heads of state, including 26 British Prime Ministers, Nobel prize winners, famous authors, and many well-known actors.

I would recommend wandering around the colleges on a walking tour and soaking in the scholarly atmosphere of this famous seat of learning.

The colleges vary in size, from the larger Magdelen and Christ Church Colleges to the smaller Corpus Christi and Trinity Colleges.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, some colleges may seem familiar as they were used as film locations for many of the famous scenes in the Harry Potter movies.

  • Bodleian Library

The library is one of the oldest in Europe and the second largest in the UK. There are various tours of the library available which you can book via the link at the bottom of this section.

  • Radcliffe Camera

The interestingly named Radcliffe Camera houses Oxford University’s Science Library. Built in 1737-49 in the neo-classical style, it is beautiful inside and out and part of the larger Bodleian Library.

  • The Covered Market 

Opened in 1774, the market houses many shops and stalls to browse and a great choice of eateries. It is the place to stop for a coffee break or a bite to eat before resuming your exploration of Oxford.

  • Blenheim Palace

If you decide to spend more than a day in Oxford, I recommend a trip to Blenheim Palace. The Palace is the home of the Duke of Marlborough, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, and a UK UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Learn more – Oxford Travel Guide

Cambridge, the location of another famous university (and Oxford’s rival in the boat race each year), is also only an hour from London by train.

It is also compact and perfect for walking with lots to see and do.

  • Distance from London: 49 miles/ 79 km
  • Time taken by train: 1 hour 17 mins
  • Leave from: London King’s Cross/ London Liverpool Street


  • Go punting

Take a punt along the River Cam. It’s a great way to see the city; even better, you can hire someone to do the punting for you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the views.

  • King’s College Chapel

Home to the largest vault ceiling in the world, King’s College Chapel is a must-visit place in Cambridge. If you are a fan of English history, don’t miss the Rood Screen (a large wooden screen that separates the nave from the altar), which Henry VIII gave his second bride, Anne Boleyn.

  • St John’s College, King’s College, Trinity College

Cambridge University, like its main rival, Oxford, comprises several colleges (31) worth exploring. St John’s, King’s, and Trinity College are just some of the colleges to see.

Learn more – Cambridge Travel Guide

Dover, on the southeast coast of England, is an iconic spot. The famous White Cliffs are a British landmark, symbolising the defence of the British Isles. Pre-air travel, the white cliffs provided travellers from the continent with their first glimpse of the UK.

From London, you can get to Dover in just under two hours by direct train from Victoria Station. Apart from the White Cliffs, places to visit include Dover Castle, St. Margaret’s Bay Beach, and Fan Bay Deep Shelter. 

Organised tours to Dover from London often include Canterbury, the capital city of Kent with a famous cathedral. 

  • Distance from London: 77 miles / 124 km
  • Time taken by train: 1 hour 58 minutes
  • Leave from: London Victoria


  • White Cliffs of Dover

Facing the English Channel and France, the White Cliffs must be seen when in Dover. At 350 feet high, it’s chalk streaked with black flint that gives the cliffs their characteristic appearance. Perhaps best of all, you don’t need to pay to walk on them.

  • Fan Bay Deep Shelter

Also at the White Cliffs site is Fan Bay Deep Shelter, a network of World War II tunnels. They were built between late 1940 and early 1941, 23 metres underground. You do need to pay admission to see the former accommodation for Fan Bay Battery artillery battery.

  • Dover Castle

Medieval Dover Castle dates back to the 11th century. It’s worth visiting for the commanding clifftop position alone, and rivals Windsor for the title of England’s biggest castle. Allow at least three hours to explore all the site has to offer.

  • St. Margaret’s Bay beach

Forming part of the Saxon Shore Way, St. Margaret’s Bay beach offers an escape from the city. As well as stunning views over the iconic Kent coastline, of course.

Read more – Day trips from London to Dover

Winchester is home to one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. Founded in 1079 the structure has been remodelled over the centuries and has Romanesque and Gothic styles throughout. It is also famously the resting place of Jane Austen.

There is a lot to see just in the cathedral itself, including exploring the crypt, home to Anthony Gormley’s famous sculpture Sound II, visiting Jane Austen’s grave, and admiring the Winchester Bible, an 800-year-old manuscript. Again, this is an easy day trip from London by train.

  • Distance from London: 60 miles / 96 km
  • Time taken by train: 1 hour 14 mins
  • Leave from: London Waterloo


  • Winchester Cathedral

As I mentioned above, there is a lot to see in Winchester Cathedral. I would recommend taking one of the tours to learn all about the history, as it is so interesting. After his successful invasion of England, William the Conqueror was crowned king in Winchester Cathedral in 1066.

Also, don’t miss Anthony Gormley’s Sound II sculpture in the crypt. If you are a fan of the novelist Jane Austen, who lived in Winchester, you will find her grave in the cathedral.

  • The Great Hall

The Great Hall is a 13th-century aisled hall that contains one of the most iconic symbols linked to the legends of King Arthur – the Round Table.

Read more – Winchester Travel Guide

York in northeast England takes slightly longer to get to from London, but we promise that it’s worth the extra effort! Board a train at Kings Cross and you could be there in a little over two hours. 

York is a very historic and beautiful city. It’s also very compact, and therefore walkable. Heritage attractions to see include York Minster, the city walls, and some fine museums, including the JORVIK Viking Centre and York Castle Museum. Wandering the cobbled streets, dipping into shops and cafes, is also a pleasure in itself. 

  • Distance from London: 211 miles / 340 km
  • Time taken by train: 2 hours and 2 minutes +
  • Leave from: King’s Cross


  • York Minster

York Minster is one of the most breathtaking cathedrals in Britain. The site is also central to religion in the north of England. Its age is why it’s known as a minster rather than a cathedral, as the latter term wasn’t used during Anglo-Saxon times. The minster dates back to the 600s.

  • City Walls 

York’s city walls are said to be more intact than any others in England. Stretching for over two miles (3.4 kilometres), they encircle the city. They are also known as the Roman walls, or the Bar Walls. You can access them year-round, on foot, for free. 

  • York Castle Museum

You can discover hundreds of years of history at York Castle Museum. It occupies the site of York Castle, which was constructed in 1068 by William the Conqueror. The recreated Victorian Street is one of the big draws for both kids and adults.

  • JORVIK Viking Centre

Head here if you want to know about Viking life in York. A ride through the city of Jorvik is an immersive way to experience the past.

Read more – Things to do in York

Liverpool is the perfect destination for Beatles fans, with so many attractions, tours and sights related to the Fab 4. But Liverpool is also a cultural hub offering great restaurants and cafes and, according to my husband, the best football team on earth!

  • Distance from London: 178 miles (288 kms)
  • Time taken by train: 3 to 3½ hours
  • Leave from: Euston


  • Pay homage to the Beatles – Take the Magical Mystery Tour, have a selfie with the Beatles statues and visit the Beatles Story
  • Take a stroll around Albert Dock, which is packed with museums, cafes, and the Tate Modern!
  • Explore Liverpool Cathedral, famous for its beautiful architecture

Manchester prides itself on being England’s second city after London—though people from Birmingham do have something to say about that! Whether it is or not, it’s packed with things to see and do. The BBC moving much of its operations from London to MediaCity at Salford Quays also put Manchester and Salford—actually a separate adjoining city—on the map. 

Top Manchester attractions include the superb Museum of Science & Industry, the canalside heritage Castlefield area, and the huge, famous football stadiums. In Salford, the quays offer lots to see, too. You can get to Manchester by train from London in as little as two-and-a-quarter hours.

  • Distance from London: 211 miles / 340 km
  • Time taken by train: 2 hours 12 minutes
  • Leave from: Euston


  • Castlefield 

Castlefield is a lovely place to wander around. There are plenty of waterside places to eat and drink, plus the remains of the Roman fort of Mamucium. This industrial area is rich in Roman and local history, and strolling by the canals can be very relaxing. 

  • Museum of Science & Industry

With an emphasis on local advancements in science, industry, and technology, this respected museum is well worth anyone’s time. It’s also free to enter. 

  • Salford Quays

Salford Quays is also by the water and home to the BBC’s flagship MediaCity. The Lowry, named after a famous local artist, is also here, along with lots of entertainment, dining and drinking venues, and hotels. 

  • City of Manchester or Old Trafford stadiums

No football (or soccer) fan’s trip would be complete without visiting the home of Manchester City or Manchester United!

Read more – Manchester Travel Guide

Located at the heart of England in the West Midlands, Birmingham is a dynamic, multicultural city known for its vibrant art scene and significant industrial past

  • Distance from London: 101 miles (163 km)
  • Time taken by train: Approx 2 hours
  • Leave from: Euston (to New Street)


  • Visit the Bullring

If you enjoy shopping, you will find many great shops and shopping centres in Birmingham’s Bullring.

  • Cadbury World and Bourneville

If you enjoy chocolate, visiting Cadbury World is a must when heading to Birmingham! The quant village of Bourneville was created to house the workers at the chocolate factory and is an example of a Victoria model village.

Read more – Birmingham Travel Guide

Portsmouth is a less obvious choice than some for a day trip, but it’s a great way to get a breath of fresh sea air. The city is also a must for fans of all things maritime, with Portsmouth Historic Dockyard the main draw. 

Other attractions include outlet shopping at Gunwharf Quays, and the Spinnaker Tower. You can reach Portsmouth by train from London in about an hour and a half.

  • Distance from London: 75 miles / 120 km
  • Time taken by train: 1 hour 32 minutes+
  • Leave from: London Waterloo


  • Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, with several historic ships and buildings, forms part of HM Naval Base Portsmouth. Here, you can see HMS Victory, the Mary Rose, HMS Warrior, and the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

  • Spinnaker Tower

The 170-metre Spinnaker Tower is the symbol of Portsmouth’s redeveloped waterfront. The so-called Sail of the Solent observation tower offers spectacular views. The Spinnaker Kitchen and Bar also serves food and drinks.

  • Gunwharf Quays

If you feel like a spot of shopping, Gunwharf Quays offers a good range of discounted outlet retailers, plus places to eat.

Hear more – Discovering Portsmouth UK Travel Planning Podcast Episode

Brighton is one of my favourite cities to visit in the UK and one of the best places to visit in East Sussex. It has loads of charm and character and is also home to one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen – the Brighton Pavilion.

There are also lots of great restaurants and cafes to choose from in Brighton.

  • Distance from London: 65 miles/ 105 kms
  • Time taken by train: 1 hour 10 mins direct service
  • Leave from: London Victoria / London Bridge


  • The Brighton Pavilion

Do not miss the chance to visit the Brighton Pavilion. Built by King George IV (during his time as Prince Regent) at considerable cost the pavilion is opulently decorated and filled to the brim with exquisite furnishings. It is really incredible and I had no idea until I visited just how beautiful it was.

  • The Lanes

Brighton has a great atmosphere and there is no-where better to enjoy this than in The Lanes. Packed with restaurants, tea rooms, pubs and shops these narrow alleyways are a shopper’s paradise.

  • Brighton Palace Pier

The pier in Brighton is Grade II listed and was opened in 1899. It is 525 meters long and is an iconic symbol of Brighton

Bath is another wonderful city to visit. Although a little further taking on average 2 and a half hours by train from London it is a hugely popular destination and absolutely worth a day trip (at the very least)

  • Distance from London: 94 miles/ 152 kms
  • Time taken by train: 2 hours 28 mins
  • Leave from: London Paddington


  • Visit the Roman Baths

Built over 2000 years ago the Roman Baths are one of England’s top tourist attractions. Ensure you have at least 2 hours to explore the Roman Temple, Bath House, Sacred Spring and museum.

Don’t miss the Grand Pump Room which is next to the Baths and serves refreshments including afternoon tea.

  • Admire the Royal Crescent

This row of 30 houses laid out in a crescent shape is officially known as the Royal Crescent. Built between 1767 and 1774 they are a beautiful example of Georgian architecture and incredibly expensive to buy!

Learn more – What to do and see in Bath

Bristol is synonymous with the work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel one of the most prolific mechanical and civil engineers in history. He built bridges and tunnels and steamships and railways and was one of the greatest figures during the Industrial Revolution.

21st century Bristol is a great place for shopping with loads of independent retailers to enjoy. Food and drink is also topnotch in Bristol with numerous restaurants and cafes to choose from.

It is also the home of Banksy.

  • Distance from London: 106 miles (171 km)
  • Time taken by train: Approx 1 hour 30 mins
  • Leave from: Paddington


  • Clifton Suspension Bridge

Designed by Brunel, this 150-year-old suspension bridge is a toll bridge linking Clifton in Bristol with Leigh Woods in North Somerset.   

For those of you with an interest in engineering, free tours operate at 3 pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and bank holidays between Easter and October!

  • Bristol Shopping Quarter

Visit the Bristol Shopping Quarter, home to hundreds of shops, restaurants, cafes and attractions – shop, eat, drink and enjoy!

Learn more – Bristol Travel Guide

Salisbury offers visitors a unique blend of historical and cultural experiences. The city is renowned for its magnificent cathedral, which has the tallest church spire in the UK. 

Nearby, you can explore the ancient ruins of Old Sarum and the world-famous Stonehenge.

  • Distance from London: 88 miles/ 142 kms
  • Time taken by train: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Leave from: Waterloo


  • Salisbury Cathedral

Not only a beautiful cathedral in its own right but also the home of one of only four Magna Carta documents in the world Salisbury Cathedral is a must-visit if you are in the city. Don’t miss the spire, which is the tallest church spire in the UK.

  • Stonehenge

One of England’s most popular tourist attractions is not far from Salisbury – Stonehenge. This ancient stone circle has existed for thousands of years and is probably the world’s most famous prehistoric monument.

There is a Stonehenge Tour Bus at the train station, which will take you to Stonehenge. Click here to find out more about visiting Stonehenge.

Learn more – Salisbury Travel Guide

Wander through Canterbury and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped straight into the pages of a storybook. This enchanting city is not only famed for its stunning Canterbury Cathedral, a masterpiece of medieval architecture, but it’s also the setting of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” which brings its rich history to life.

Take a walk along the cobblestone streets, past the ancient Roman walls and alongside the tranquil River Stour, and you’ll quickly see why Canterbury’s blend of history and charm makes it a popular day trip from London.

  • Distance from London: 61 miles/ 98 kms
  • Time taken by train: 1 hour
  • Leave from: St Pancras International (The Javelin) to Canterbury West


  • Visit Canterbury Cathedral

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the head of the Church of England and Anglican Church worldwide.

The Cathedral has a long and interesting history including surviving the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII and an extensive bombing campaign during WWII.

  • Stroll the medieval centre of Canterbury

The medieval centre of Canterbury is surrounded by ancient walls that were originally built by the Romans. Stroll through the medieval centre and admire its cobbled streets and timber-framed houses.

Another popular day trip from London by train is to Stratford-upon-Avon -Avon. Famous as the birthplace and home of William Shakespeare (1564-1616 ), Stratford-upon-Avon is a little under two and a half hours from London.

If you want to learn more about the Bard of Avon, this is the place to come. Hop-on, hop-off bus tours are available, and they are the best way to see all the sights.

  • Distance from London: 83 miles/ 133 km
  • Time taken by train: 2 hours 27 mins
  • Leave from: London Marylebone/ London Euston


  • Shakespeare’s birthplace

You can visit the house where Shakespeare was born and raised.

  • Anne Hathaway’s Cottage 

The beautiful thatched cottage that was the home of Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway is located about a mile from Stratford and is included in the hop-on hop-off bus routes around Stratford.

  • Church of the Holy Trinity

Birth, marriage and death. If you want to see where Shakespeare is buried head to the Church of the Holy Trinity.

Read more – Stratford upon Avon Travel Guide

Windsor is simply unmissable if you have even the remotest interest in British royalty – and all the pomp and pageantry that goes with it. Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest at St. George’s Chapel here, and the castle itself has so much to see. The glorious grounds and Windsor Great Park also offer plenty of green space. 

Eton College – the UK’s most prestigious private school – is close to central Windsor, too. You can get there by train from Paddington or Victoria, arriving at either Windsor & Eton Riverside, or Windsor & Eton Central.

  • Distance from London: 25 miles / 40 km
  • Time taken by train: 30 minutes
  • Leave from: London Victoria or Paddington


The castle is what most people come to Windsor for. Don’t miss St. George’s Chapel, Queen Elizabeth II’s final resting place. Other key attractions include Queen Mary’s Dolls House, the State Apartments, the Semi-State Rooms, and the Moat Room. 

  • Changing of the Guard

You can witness the Changing of the Guard in Windsor at around 11 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Check before you travel, as the ceremony can be cancelled due to bad weather, or for other reasons.

  • Windsor Great Park

You can truly escape the city, look out for other royal residences, and even spot deer at Windsor Great Park. Take the historic oak-lined, two-and-a-half mile Long Walk to pass through Deer Park. 

Read more – Getting to Windsor Castle from London

Warwick Castle is one of the loveliest castles in the UK, making the Midlands city a must for fortress fans. Some people also like to combine Warwick with Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s birthplace. Other historic sites in the city include the Collegiate Church of St. Mary and Lord Leycester Hospital.

You can get to Warwick by train from Marylebone station in London, and the trip takes around an hour-and-a-quarter. 

  • Distance from London: 83 miles (133 km)
  • Time taken by train: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Leave from: Marylebone


  • Warwick Castle

Once built from wood, Warwick Castle was rebuilt during the 12th century, this time in stone. Today, it showcases around 1,000 years of history. The mediaeval architecture, spooky dungeons and majestic interiors attract visitors of all ages.

  • Collegiate Church of St. Mary

The tower of this large church dominates the Warwick skyline. It dates back to the 12th century, is overseen by secular clergy, and still plays a key role in city life. 

  • Lord Leycester Hospital 

Grade I listed Lord Leycester Hospital next to the West Gate, on High Street in Warwick is one of England’s finest examples of mediaeval courtyard architecture. It’s also a charity for ex-servicemen.

A Roman fortress built during the 1st century A.D. formed the basis for where the city of Chester now stands. In northwest England, it lies close to both Manchester and Liverpool. Chester is mainly known for Roman remains and half-timbered, Tudor-style architecture.

Chester is a compact city that’s easy to explore on foot and packed with ancient sites. It is also popular for shopping and dining out. The fast, direct train service from London Euston takes just over two hours.

  • Distance from London: 210 miles / 338 km
  • Time taken by train: 2 hours 3 minutes
  • Leave from: London Euston


  • Roman Walls

After building their fortress here, the Romans then added Chester city walls to defend it. Sections of the astonishingly well-preserved walls are nearly 2,000 years old, and you can access them at any time. Completing the circle gives you sweeping views over the city. 

  • Roman Amphitheatre

Chester Roman Amphitheatre is the biggest in Britain. Its remains are centrally located, open during daylight hours, and free to enter. It was used by the Romans for military training as well as entertainment, and the design differs from others in England. 

  • The Rows

Chester Rows add character and interest to the streets, distinguishing Chester from other British cities. The half-timbered galleries are unique to Chester, and very Instagrammable indeed. Some date back as far as the 13th century. 

Read more – Chester travel guide

It might not have crossed your mind to take a day trip to another country from London, but it’s perfectly do-able. The Eurostar can whisk you off to Paris from St. Pancras station – in well under two-and-a-half hours!

Paris barely needs any introduction: you’ll be spoiled for choice regarding things to see. From the iconic Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, there’s far more than you can do in a day. If you plan and prioritise carefully, though, you can make the most of it.

  • Distance from London: 295 miles / 475 km
  • Time taken by train: 2 hours 18 mins
  • Leave from: St Pancras International


  • Eiffel Tower

The wrought-iron tower designed and built by Gustave Eiffel is a global icon. At 330 metres tall, there are magnificent city views from the top floor. It’s a must-visit when in Paris. 

  • The Louvre

The Louvre is one of the world’s most famous and respected art galleries. It’s renowned as the home of the Mona Lisa, which is carefully screened behind thick, bullet-proof glass. The other artworks, the architecture of the building, and the ceiling frescoes are also incredibly impressive. 

  • River Seine

The River Seine flows through the centre of Paris, and many city icons and attractions can be found on or close to its banks. Take a boat trip to see the French capital from the water, or wander along by the water to see where the day takes you. 

  • Notre-Dame cathedral

The mediaeval Notre-Dame de Paris is a stunning example of French Gothic architecture. It’s currently being rebuilt following a fire in 2019, but is still worth a look – not least as seeing the reconstruction means witnessing history taking shape. 

Read more – Getting from London to Paris

Tips for train travel in the UK

If you’re new to train travel in the UK and wondering how to buy tickets or catch a train, check out our Guide to UK Train Travel ebook.

Here are some quick tips to help you get started:

  • Buy Early: Secure your tickets in advance to get better prices.
  • Choose the right pass: Look into different railcards and passes to save money.
  • Check for updates: Always confirm your travel plans right before you leave to avoid any surprises due to schedule changes.
  • Ticket purchasing: I suggest using for an easy booking experience as they cover all UK rail companies.
  • Travelling during holidays and weekends: Be mindful of public holidays when maintenance might affect your plans with potential delays or bus replacements.