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London is an amazing city.

In fact, it has recently moved up my list of favorite cities in the world, barely nudging out Wellington for the top spot. London is big and busy, with something always going on — the exact opposite of everything I know, which is what draws me to it the most, I think.

But, despite the never-ending options of things to do and see in London, I found myself venturing outside the city quite a bit during my summer visit. In fact, I think I spent nearly as much time outside of London as in it!

England may be a relatively small country, but it certainly does have a lot of cool stuff to see. Here are some of my top recommended day trips from London:

Oxford

Chances are, no matter where you are in the world, you’ve heard of the University of Oxford. It’s only one of the most well-respected, oldest establishments of higher education in the English-speaking world. It’s a place high-school-me once dreamed of attending, falling in love with its dramatic old buildings and dreamy English accents vicariously through books and movies.

Oxford

Oxford

The Radcliffe Camera

My Oxford dreams never did come to fruition, but that didn’t mean I no longer wanted to visit “the city of dreaming spires.” Oxford makes a great day trip from London, being less than an hour away by bus or train. You can wander in and out of shops in town, and visit some of the university’s most famous colleges. I got to visit Christ Church College, one of the largest of Oxford’s 38 colleges. The dining hall here was said to be the inspiration for the Great Hall of Hogwarts in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.

Christ Church College

Inside Christ Church College

Oxford

Bath

The city of Bath would make a good weekend break from London — there’s more to do and see there than initially meets the eye. This city in southwest England is best known for the ancient Roman baths that are easily its top tourist attraction (and they ARE truly fascinating), but there’s more to see in Bath than just baths.

Bath

Roman Baths

The whole city of Bath was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, and other points of interest include the beautiful Bath Abbey, pretty parks and gardens, the symmetrical Georgian-style Royal Crescent, and Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon, which was built to resemble the Ponte Vecchio and the Ponte di Rialto bridges in Florence and Venice.

Bath

Bath Abbey

Bath

The Pulteney Bridge

Stonehenge

No trip to the UK would be complete without a visit to this famous site. Is it touristy? Yes. Is it overrated? Perhaps a bit. But you still absolutely have to visit, just to say you did.

Stonehenge

This is as close as you can get to the stones these days.

Visiting Stonehenge (and nearby Avebury) is an easy afternoon trip from London. And, while walking around the mysterious standing stones is cool, I’d recommend adding it to another jaunt outside of London because it doesn’t really take all that long.

Stonehenge

Stratford-Upon-Avon

Any Shakespeare lovers out there? If so, then Shakespeare’s birthplace is a place you simply cannot skip! You can visit the house where The Bard was born (and enjoy recitations of some of his best scenes by costumed actors in the backyard), along with 5 other properties tied to Shakespeare’s life. You can also visit Holy Trinity Church, where the playwright is buried.

Stratford-Upon-Avon

Shakespeare’s birthplace

Stratford-Upon-Avon

A typical street in Stratford-Upon-Avon

You can also wander around Stratford-Upon-Avon itself, which is actually quite lovely and photogenic. If you’re in town long enough, be sure to catch a play, too. The Royal Shakespeare Company is based in Stratford, and there are quite a few places around town to catch performance onstage.

Stratford-Upon-Avon

And grab lunch from a floating vendor!

Windsor Castle

For all you fans of the royal family, Windsor Castle should most definitely feature on your UK itinerary. This medieval castle has been a royal residence stretching all the way back to Henry I, and the Queen still uses it today (it’s one of her favorite places to go on the weekend).

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

Visitors to Windsor can tour the ornate State Apartments, visit gothic St. George’s Chapel, and check out special exhibits in the Drawings Gallery (I saw a nice photo tribute to the Queen, which runs through June 2013). You can also catch a Changing of the Guard ceremony every day outside the Horseshoe Cloister.

Windsor Castle

A crowd gathering outside St. George’s Chapel

Windsor Castle

Changing of the Guard

Warwick Castle

Lastly, if you’re looking for a family-friendly day trip from London, consider a visit to Warwick Castle. This real castle is today somewhat of medieval amusement park (it’s now owned by the same company that owns all the Madame Tussaud’s wax museums). That doesn’t mean it’s not cool to visit, though.

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle

Attractions include 3-D shows, archery displays, interactions with birds of prey, and lots of “quests” for the kids. The castle also has a couple of jousting shows daily (which are really quite entertaining), and is home to a gigantic trebuchet — the largest catapult in the world, according to the castle’s marketing material. This is armed and shown off every day.

Warwick Castle

Enjoying the jousting show!

 

This is by no means an all-inclusive list. Like I said earlier, England is full of interesting things to see. These are just a few of the spots I visited on day trips from London and enjoyed enough to suggest to you. I look forward to discovering even more the next time I’m in the UK!

——

Which of these day trips would YOU be most likely to take?

 

*Note: I visited all of these locations on complementary day trips with Grayline of London. The trips I did were Windsor, Bath and Stonehenge and Oxford, Stratford, Cotswolds and Warwick Castle. Both were fantastic, though spending more time at each attraction (with perhaps the exception of Stonehenge) would be much preferable. 

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33 Responses to 6 Day Trips to Take From London

  1. Travis says:

    Great Post! London quickly moved up the list of our favorite cities as well. We didn’t do any day trips (well, Reading for the Reading Festival but that doesn’t really count) but did spend a while in Salisbury, Stonehenge, and Bath and definitely agree with your recommendation of them. Thanks for giving us some places to check out next time we’re there. Love the blog!
    Travis recently posted..London Walking Tour – Along the Thames

  2. Alecs Variny says:

    All of them! I am going to London for a month this summer with my kids and I plan on visiting all the places you mentioned. Thank you.

  3. An alternative to Oxford is Cambridge, also home to a great university dating back to medieval times. I decided to visit Cambridge because a friend who was from England told me that Cambridge is a more beautiful city and Oxford is more industrial. I have nothing bad to say about Oxford because I’ve never seen it, but Cambridge was wonderful.

    Windsor can be paired with Eton, the great prep school (or “public school,” as the Brits call them) that’s just across the river. Made for an interesting tour. Also not far from Windsor is Runnymede, where the Magna Carta was signed. There’s not a whole lot to see there other than a couple of monuments, but if you’re the type of person who enjoys just seeing sites where history took place, Runnymede is cool to check out. You can get there by public transportation from Windsor, if you don’t mind doing a bit of walking.

    Stratford is great — I’ve been there twice — but it’s kind of difficult to pull off as a day-trip. I think it’s about 2 and a quarter hours from London by train. Plus, if you want to see a Shakespeare play there, you’ll likely have to stay overnight just to be able to do that (although there are weekend matinees, of course). So I think Stratford is best conceived of as a weekend trip or something like that.
    Harvey (H-Bomb’s Worldwide Karaoke) recently posted..Santacon 2012: a photo and video essay

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I agree that Stratford is probably best done as a weekend trip instead of a day trip (especially if you want to see a play), but I included it here anyway!

      Good tip on Cambridge. I’ll have to get out there another time. I was too set on Oxford (especially with its Harry Potter connection!) to even consider an alternative.

  4. Lindsey says:

    I didn’t get to Bath or Windsor Castle when I was in England but the others I can vouch for were absolutely worth it! All the more excuse to go back ;)
    Lindsey recently posted..Travel Fears

    • DangerousBiz says:

      There’s always an excuse to go back to the UK as far as I’m concerned! ;) I can highly recommend both Bath and Windsor though for next time!

  5. Ele says:

    I took a coach trip that featured Bath and Stonehenge. That provided comfortable transport and we skipped the lines, which was an advantage. I was very impressed with Bath and the Roman heritage. There is this bridge that you know it’s a bridge only after you have walked over it-how cool is that?

    I went to Windsor on my own, then. Rail travel in England is something out of this world!
    Ele recently posted..LUNIatikai žygiuoja per miestą: žieminis kitokio Vilniaus veidas

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I’m impressed by any country with a rail network, period. Train travel is kind of a joke here in the U.S.!

      Glad to hear you liked Bath – it’s definitely a cool little city.

  6. Sammi says:

    I love Bath, its my favourite city. I also think Avebury definitely outshines stonehenge XX

  7. memographer says:

    Christ Church College is so inviting! I can’t wait for my trip to UK.
    Great Summary! Beautiful photos, Amanda.
    memographer recently posted..Sapa Vietnam and its tribes (Part 2)

    • DangerousBiz says:

      All of Oxford was so grand and pretty… I just wish I would have had better weather! Guess I’ll have to go back sometime.

  8. Ryan Brown says:

    My favorite historical fiction author, Bernard Cornwell, writes so much about the beginnings of London and the UK tht I have become fascinated. Just like me, it seems like you find much more outside the cities as well. Bath looks stunning, and the dream spires remind me of their pagan roots. Cannot wait to get to London, great guide!
    Ryan Brown recently posted..Photo Essay: My Favorite Snapshots from New Zealand

    • DangerousBiz says:

      There’s definitely a lot to be found outside the major cities in the UK. Though, that being said, I LOVE London, and could easily spend weeks there and probably still not see everything I would want to!

  9. Aryn says:

    I go to university in Oxford, Ohio so it’s one of my goals to go to the real Oxford. I definitely wouldn’t mind making trips to these other places too!

    Aryn
    Driftwood and Daydreams
    Aryn recently posted..Songs to Inspire Travel

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Ah, you must go to Miami! I had quite a few friends who graduated from there. :) But yes, you’ll have to get yourself to the real Oxford someday!

  10. Dani says:

    Great post, Amanda! Even though we lived in London for three years, we never made it to Warwick Castle. We love Oxford too, and Cambridge is also a fantastic place for a day trip. Next time you’re in London, you should go down to Brighton – it’s only an hour on the train, has a fun pier and watching the sunset on the beach is lovely.
    Dani recently posted..How to Break Free in 2013: Our book launch!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks, Dani! I’m hoping to spend an extended amount of time in London sometime next year, so I’ll have to be sure to visit Brighton then!

  11. I did that same Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge tour. It was definitely worth it. I think I would like to spend more time in Bath.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..My favorite holiday treat (recipe, tips,and photos included!)

  12. Erik says:

    We visited Bath, Stonehenge & Stratford-Upon-Avon when we my family visited Europe in 1986 when I was 14 and, being at that impressionable age, they all had quite an impact. I especially loved Bath.
    Erik recently posted..New Zealand- Chapter 22- From Taupo to Rotorua (pt.2)

  13. [...] December 23, 2012 · Add Comment Today’s sponsored post is a perfect follow-up to my 6 Day Trips to Take From London post from last week. This one highlights some other parts of the UK that are worth a visit (I can [...]

  14. Nice list. It’s too easy to forget how easy it is to travel from London. Like others I’d add in Cambridge. And Dorset (Jurrassic Coast) and Brighton. But then I love the seaside. :)
    Fiona Maclean recently posted..Divine Bovine 2013

  15. [...] Then chances are you might want to see what’s beyond the city, as well. There are countless day trips you can take from London, but, honestly, you can do most things cheaper on your [...]

  16. [...] I wouldn’t recommend making a visit to Stonehenge the only motivation for a day trip from London. Pair it with Bath or Salisbury or another place of interest to make it worth your time. [...]

  17. janet stanley says:

    I have visited all these places, great choices, have to agree re. Cambridge it is a a lovely city also with a town ‘green’ & a bustling market, liked it better than Oxford…..thanks for the interesting blog :)

  18. Tiana Kai says:

    These look great, I’m a Harry Potter fan as well and wouldn’t mind a peek at Hogwarts inspiration!
    Tiana Kai recently posted..Gearing up for a 30 day UK road trip

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