Surrounded by iconic locations and charming sights, London offers a wealth of history and grandeur to any traveller with a day to spare. From prehistoric monuments to stately castles and the idyllic English countryside, a day trip from London can take you to some of Europe’s favourite attractions. Take advantage of the city’s prime location and set out to see a few of the best spots in England and beyond. Here is our guide to the best day trips around London complete with a suggested itinerary!
Windsor Castle, Bath & Stonehenge – Duration: 12h – One of the great things about travel in England is how many landmarks rest within a few hours’ drive from one another. You can spend the morning exploring the longest-occupied palace in Europe with a visit to the venerable Windsor Castle, move on to the open field that hosts one of the oldest structures in the world for a chance to examine the mysteries of Stonehenge, and then check out the Roman-era baths in the city of Bath. With this combination of classic destinations, you can check off some of the most famous spots around the country. Itinerary: Explore sprawling Windsor Castle, the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen. Discover the enigmatic rock formations of UNESCO-designated Stonehenge, and take time to wander through the beautiful streets of the Georgian city of Bath. An early start ensures you’re one of the first through the gates at Windsor Castle in the morning. Stroll through the world’s oldest and largest occupied castle. See the State Apartments and the display of items from the Royal Collection, such as paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Gainsborough. Other castle highlights include St. George’s Chapel and the incredible miniatures of Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House. After the castle, depart for Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Listen to an audio tour that delves into theories surrounding the arrival of the colossal stones more than 5,000 years ago. The purposes behind this ancient site’s construction still remain a mystery. From there, arrive in the beautiful Georgian city of Bath Entrance to the Roman Baths is included which were built over 2000 years ago. Explore this World Heritage Site at your leisure and admire its ancient architecture, Roman statues, and historic abbey before journeying back to London. Good for: Couples, families and history buffs.
Burford & Bourton-on-the-Water – Duration: 10h – England’s famous pastoral charm is on full display when you take this journey through the quaint villages and rolling hills of the Cotswolds. With stops at towns like Burford, Bibury, and Bourton-on-the-Water— where stone cottages date back to the Reformation and the storybook scenery hints at fairy tales come to life—you spend a day enjoying the peace and beauty that lies away from the bustle of the city. Itinerary: Spend a day soaking up the pastoral scenery and bucolic landscapes of the Cotswolds, touring picture-perfect stone villages like Burford and Bourton-on-the-Water. Sip tea in riverside cafes, enjoy lunch in an old-fashioned inn, and explore the history of this charm-soaked region. After departing from central London, relax during the ride out of the city to your first stop in Burford. Walk alongside the River Windrush, admiring the stone facades of 15th-century buildings as you window shop your way down the high street or stop for tea near the historic priory. Next, continue on to the enchanting town of Bibury, where the stone cottages of Arlington Row make up one of the Cotswolds’ most iconic architectural features. Head to the Swan Hotel, a 17th-century coaching inn overlooking the River Coln, and enjoy a traditional English lunch of country fare, British ales, and fine wines. From there, wind your way north, driving past more storybook villages on your way to Bourton-on-the-Water and Stow-on-the-Wold, two of the prettiest towns in the northern Cotstwolds. In each village, follow your guide on a short walk, learning about the history of these nationally cherished townships before the return ride to London. Good for: Couples, history buffs, photography
Greenwich, Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral & Dover – Duration: 10h – If you’re in a mood to visit the southeast, then there’s an array of iconic sites there waiting for you. This tour starts with a trip across the Greenwich Meridian and a look at the lakeside battlements and Tudor-style manor of Leeds Castle, and then shows off the Gothic spires of Canterbury Cathedral. You can look out over the English Channel from the White Cliffs of Dover to appreciate one of the island’s most defining features before you head back to town. Itinerary: Traipse around the walls of a magnificent stone castle on the edge of a lake, stroll underneath impressive arches in the medieval Canterbury Cathedral, and walk alongside the stunning White Cliffs of Dover at the edge of the sea. This immersive full-day tour reveals England’s varied history. Heading out of London you pass through Greenwich, home of the famous ‘Cutty Sark’ tea clipper and the Royal Observatory, and cross over the Greenwich Meridian. You can leave London behind aboard a comfortable bus that shuttles you to Leeds Castle in Kent, where you discover a lovely Tudor-style manor constructed on a small island, surrounded by a natural lake. With over 500 acres (202 ha) of beautiful parkland and manicured gardens to explore, enjoy serene views where grand architecture stands alongside lush foliage. Next, make your way to the White Cliffs of Dover for a photo stop. Standing alongside the English Channel as a natural white barrier facing toward continental Europe, the cliffs reach impressive heights of up to 400 feet (121 m) above sea level. Travel through Kent to the Canterbury Cathedral, an important Anglican church with a towering bell tower dating back to 1498. Listen as your guide details fascinating history about this cathedral, and walk inside its vast perpendicular nave, where different sections of the church merge together, creating an enormous hall of intricate splendor. Good for: history buffs
Harry Potter Tour – Duration: 10h – If you’re a fan of J.K. Rowling’s best-selling books and their blockbuster cinema adaptations, you shouldn’t pass up the chance to explore the real-world roots behind the famous magic school. A visit to the Warner Bros. studio features the film sets, props, and makeup that came together to bring the wizarding world of Hogwarts to life. To top it off, a trip to Oxford shows you England’s venerable contribution to the history of education and gives you the opportunity to walk the halls of one of the oldest universities in the world. Itinerary: Combine Harry Potter magic with centuries of English history. Travel out of London for a morning in the famous university city, before heading to the working Studios complete with the sets used to create iconic scenes in the Harry Potter films. First stop on this magical day out can be Oxford, home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Upon arrival, embark on a walking tour of the Gothic architecture of its libraries, colleges, and chapels, and then step inside the 15th-century Divinity School to marvel at its elaborately vaulted ceiling. Enjoy free time to explore the streets once walked by famous attendees like C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, T.S. Eliot, and Dr. Seuss before making the drive to the Warner Bros Studio Tour. Travel with Harry, Hermione, and Ron as you venture into Hogwarts’ Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office, the Ministry of Magic, and Hagrid’s hut. Grab a seat on the Hogwarts Express, take a stroll down Privet Drive, and get an up-close look at the unique Weasley family clock. The tour also offers you a look at the magic that goes into the movie-making process with intricate prosthetics and remarkable makeup that transformed the actors into your favorite characters. Good for: Potterheads
Chester by train – Duration: 12h – A unique and quintessentially English collection of sights awaits you on this journey to the storied city of Chester. A leisurely train ride carries you across the English heartland for a day of exploring the characteristic black-and-white architecture, medieval buildings, and ancient city walls of Chester. You can get a look at landmarks like the Roman amphitheatre while you learn about the city’s history during an open-top bus ride. Then, take your time to explore the shops and walkways of the Rows before the train ride back to London. Itinerary: Hop on a train in London and head to Chester. Explore the cultural heritage of one of England’s most quintessentially English cities and see some of its most impressive sights—an introductory tour by open-top bus is included which visits the Cathedral and Roman Amphitheater. Upon arrival, embark on a bus tour of the city aboard an open-top bus—a great way to get your bearings and spot the sites you want to explore further. See iconic landmarks including the Cathedral and Roman Amphitheater as you hear insightful commentary about the City Walls and its rich history. Join a guided walking tour to visit the significant sites. Learn how Chester was established by the Romans over 2,000 years ago and see much of the Roman influence that still remains. Explore the city as you wish. Grab lunch in one of the many delightful restaurants or cafés and browse the city’s rows of shopping galleries before heading back to the train station for your return journey to London. Good for: couples, families
In a hurry? Pin it for later!