Dr Samuel Johnson once said that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” but a trip away from London town can be just the ticket every now and again. There is a lot more to the United Kingdom than just London, and if you have a few extra days in the Big Smoke, consider embarking on one of these day trips from London.
Unbelievably, a day trip from London to Paris is easily achievable if you take the fast Eurostar trains from St Pancras. In just over two hours, you’ll be stepping off at Gare du Nord, with direct access to the Metro. A daytrip is not the time to tick off the top ten sights of Paris; rather, pick a neighbourhood to explore, like the Marais, Left Bank or Montmatre, then have a long leisurely lunch before visiting some of your favourite art work in the Louvre. Drop by a supermarket on your way back to Gare du Nord and load up on cheap, delicious French brie or camembert. Et voila! An easy, fuss-free day trip from London!
With it’s elegant Georgian architecture, Roman-era baths and Jane Austen associations, Bath is a family friendly day trip from London. Eschew the guided tours; instead, pick up return tickets from Paddington train station or book online via National Rail. The train ride is about 1.5 hours. The Bath Spa train station is located right in the heart of Bath – there’s the Cathedral, Roman Baths, the Royal Crescent, The Circus and for literature buffs, The Jane Austen Centre. Everything is within easy walking distance, but if the weather turns, jump on a red hop-on-hop-off bus.
The city of dreaming spires is also home to the world’s oldest university, Oxford University. A quick train ride from London will bring you right to the door step of Oxford town. There are cobblestoned streets, soaring medieval spires and atmospheric colleges to explore. Trinity and Magdalene are Oxford’s most famous colleges, and you can either go for a guided tour or visit on your own. Have lunch at the Bear, a traditional English pub dating from the 13th century. Finally, your day trip to Oxford wouldn’t be complete without a punt – rent a long, narrow, flat bottomed boat and push off using a long pole on the River Isis – an idyllic way of ending your day trip from London.
History buffs should not miss a visit to Hampton Court, home to England’s notorious King Henry VIII, he of the six wives. A designated Historic Royal Palace, Hampton Court was a gift to Henry from the Archbishop of York. The palace occasionally hosts live Tudor cookery classes, banquets, kirtle making workshops and jousts. Costumed courtiers roam the hallways, reenacting historical scenes. There’s also the expansive gardens and the Maze to explore. Getting to Hampton Court is easiest by rail, but if you have time on your hands, consider catching the river boat from Richmond-upon-Thames.
If London’s crowds and pace has left you gasping for air, Brighton is the perfect seaside day trip. From London, catch the train from London Bridge or Victoria Station, or take the buses from Victoria Coach Station. There’s lots of things to do in Brighton – from exploring the famous Brighton Pier, to participating in sand sculpture festivals to visiting the Royal Pavilion, to simply relaxing on a deck chair on the pebbly beach.