There are plenty of things to do in London without ever having to leave the city, but a day trip also makes for a lovely addition to any itinerary. London’s central location means that it’s the perfect city to base yourself. It is this that makes it convenient for many exciting day trips from London by train. While many of these are elsewhere in England, it’s also possible to visit other countries on a trip from London and be back in the Big Smoke in time for tea!
Rail is often the best way to get to the regional destinations surrounding the English capital. In a city as big and busy as London, there are naturally several major railway stations in London that connect to various areas of the country (and even overseas). The rail connectivity is what makes these one-day trips from London ideal for any kind of traveler. Whether you are a history buff or an adventure seeker, you will find tons of places that you can do as in a single day from London. Of course, if you have the time, you can even extend and convert these to weekend trips from London by train.
In this blog post, I will be sharing the best day trips from London by train. You will get a gist of all the beautiful places to visit as well as useful information on which railway station is best for those London day trips out. Of course, as always there are plenty of insider tips included that will make your planning easier.
Planning a trip around London?
In case you are looking for some quick links to tours, places to stay and travel accessories for your weekend getaways, you can consider using these online options.
- Booking.com has several good UK hotels listed on their site. You could use this link to browse and book the same.
- GetYourGuide has various local tours and car bookings available that you can use to explore the day-trip destinations around London. In fact, you will find walking tours in places like the Cotswolds village, punting tour of Cambridge and more. Keep an eye out for the various links in the blog article below and use them to book your activity of interest.
- Consider buying a London Pass through this link. It gives you access to over 90 attractions in and around London, including Windsor Castle. Plus there are other benefits.
- For any of your travel needs or general shopping, consider using Amazon through this link.
Disclaimer: This article includes affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you purchase through my link. Thank you for supporting me with this.
- 1 Main train stations for day trips by train from London
- 2 The best London day trips by train
- 2.1 Windsor – one of the best train trips from London
- 2.2 Brighton – one of the beach day trips from London
- 2.3 Day trips to Bath from London
- 2.4 Day trips from London to Stonehenge
- 2.5 Cotswolds day trip from London by train
- 2.6 Railway day trips to York
- 2.7 Oxford – a cultural day trip by train from London
- 2.8 Train trips from London to Wales
- 2.9 One day trip from London to Cambridge
- 2.10 London to Paris by train
Main train stations for day trips by train from London
The main stations to be aware of (for the purposes of the day trips outlined here) include:
This station connects mainly to areas in the west and southwest of England. You can catch a train from here to destinations such as Bath, Cardiff, Oxford, and Bristol. London Paddington also offers a train service to Windsor (with a changeover in Slough). It is a great option for your Cotswolds day trip from London -especially for the villages of Stroud, Stonehouse, and Kemble. You can even get to Cardiff in Wales from London.
London King’s Cross, famous for being home to Harry Potter’s Platform 9¾, offers rail service to York. The other places to visit near London by train from this station include Cambridge, Newcastle, and the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh.
There are several lines running out of London St Pancras that connect to areas in central and northern England and Scotland, but this is also where you can catch a train to Brighton in the southeast. In the same building, you’ll find St Pancras International, which connects London to continental Europe (including Paris) via the Eurostar.
A central station, London Marylebone is great for day trips by train from London to Birmingham, Oxford, and the home of William Shakespeare, Stratford-Upon-Avon (with one stop). You can also take a train to the Cotswolds from London Marylebone, stopping in the village of Banbury.
Waterloo is yet another perfect station for day trips out of London in England. You can get connections to Southampton and Portsmouth. It also, offers you a train from London Waterloo to Windsor, though it tends to be slower than the train that runs from London Paddington. You can also reach Stonehenge from London Waterloo by catching a train to the nearby village of Salisbury.
The best London day trips by train
Windsor – one of the best train trips from London
One of the closest day trip destinations from London, Windsor is only 25 miles to the west of the city. A must-visit for fans of the royal family, Windsor is famously home to Windsor Castle, which has hosted several royal events in recent years. It was notably one of the late Queen Elizabeth’s favorite residences and now serves as her final resting place.
Windsor Castle is the main attraction in the charming city, and guests can enter the castle to visit highlights including the state apartments and St George’s Chapel. You can pre-book tickets to this attraction through this link.
Meanwhile, Windsor Great Park is ideal for visitors on a budget as it’s completely free to enter. The greenery and fresh air are reason enough to visit, but you might also get to take a photo with the resident red deer that live in the park. There is an option of a Hop-On-Hop-Off bus in Windsor that you can consider when you are here.
Also nearby is the Legoland Windsor Resort, and while there are two themed hotels on the grounds, you could also see Legoland as part of a day trip—particularly since the train journey is only around an hour. Definitely one of the easy day trips from London with kids.
You can catch the train either from London Waterloo or London Paddington stations to reach Windsor and Eton Riverside Station.
Brighton – one of the beach day trips from London
If you are seeking seaside day trips from London, then this is the place for you. Located in East Sussex, Brighton is England’s premiere beach resort destination. The area has a rich history that dates back to the Bronze Age, but most people visit to absorb the music and arts scene, as well as the seaside ambiance.
Known for its eclectic range of coffee shops, pubs, and eateries that are scattered throughout The Lanes, Brighton is home to the iconic Brighton Palace Pier, where you’ll find carnival rides and lively bars and restaurants overlooking the ocean. There are several self-guided walking and bike tours available in Brighton. You can even opt for special food walking tours as well as just get onto a hop-on hop-off bus to get the sights of Brighton.
This is one of those London day trips by train where you will also get a chance to do a spot of shopping. The city has a reputation for artsy shops, antique furniture, and record stores.
At Sea Life, the oldest aquarium in the world, you can explore the wonders of the marine world, including stingrays that swim through the Lagoon and starfish in the interactive rock pool.
Day trips from London to Brighton are best done by train, usually taking around an hour. Several trains depart from London to Brighton every day from a variety of stations, including London St Pancras.
Day trips to Bath from London
If you love history and architecture that sweeps you back in time, Bath makes a fantastic day trip destination from London. The primary attraction at Bath is, of course, the Roman Baths. Nearly 2,000 years old, the Baths are now part of a museum complex where you can see (and learn about) the Great Bath and what’s left of the Temple to Sulis Minerva. Try this walking tour that gets you an entry in these Roman Baths.
If you want to actually soak in a bath, then you can visit Thermae Bath Spa, which features an open-air rooftop pool, steam rooms, and spa treatment packages for the ultimate indulgence.
Not far from the Roman Baths, you’ll find the historic Bath Abbey and its iconic bell tower. You can go inside for free and marvel at the stunning memorials and stained glass within.
Other attractions that you could consider visiting on your Bath day trip from London —include the Jane Austen Centre, Bath Guildhall Market, the Holburne Museum, and the Fashion Museum. I do feel, however, that you might not be able to do it all in a single day. So either you can pick and choose or possibly extend this to a weekend trip from London by train.
Also, don’t forget to take a photo at the Royal Crescent (instantly recognizable for its Georgian Townhouses), and Pulteney Bridge, which runs over the River Avon.
A standard train journey to Bath from London Paddington is around an hour and 20 minutes, but it can be longer on public holidays and weekends.
Day trips from London to Stonehenge
It’s one of the world’s greatest mysteries and less than two hours from the capital city – a great day trip outside London. Stonehenge is England’s most famous prehistoric monument—the Stone Circle is thought to have been left behind by people who lived 4,000 years ago, and general admission allows you to get close to the stones and witness the cleverness of mankind. You can use this link to pre-book your ticket with an audio guide.
There’s a Stone Circle Experience available, which allows you to really get up close and personal by stepping inside the circle with a limited group of people and a host outside of normal hours. However, there’s also plenty more to do here if you don’t want the full experience of venturing inside the circle.
Visit the museum and exhibition and discover what it was like to live in a Neolithic village, stop for refreshments, and pick up a souvenir to remember your time at Stonehenge.
Traveling from London to Stonehenge by train requires you to board one from Waterloo Station. You will get one every 30 minutes for the village of Salisbury. From there, you can either take a taxi to the Stonehenge site or catch the Stonehenge bus, which is £8 each way.
Cotswolds day trip from London by train
The Cotswolds region in England’s southwest is renowned around the world for its outstanding beauty. The villages within the region feature typical English countryside charm, including stone cottages and footbridges against a background of luscious greenery. Personally, I think this is one of the best weekend trips from London by train
There are several villages to visit in the Cotswolds, and on a single-day trip, you won’t have time to see them all. Those that should definitely be on your bucket list are Stow-on-the-Wold—where you’ll have the chance to fit in some world-class antique shopping—Chipping Campden, Burford, and Bibury, the latter of which is home to the stunning Arlington Row.
For a bigger town experience, visit Cirencester, a former Roman settlement. The unofficial capital of the Cotswolds boasts eateries, galleries, gift shops, and more. Get Your Guide has several walking tours of Cotswolds that you can pre-book for your day trip.
You can reach the Cotswolds by train from London Paddington, which serves Kemble, Stroud, Stonehouse, Gloucester, Swindon, and Moreton-in-Marsh. The village of Banbury is another option for a train trip from London Marylebone station. Depending on which village you connect to, train journeys take anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour and a half.
Railway day trips to York
For history buffs, it doesn’t get better than the medieval city of York. The walled city was established by the ancient Romans and was also held by the Vikings. Today, its rich heritage is preserved in winding medieval streets, gothic buildings, and a humbling cathedral, which will immerse travelers in the ultimate historic experience.
It’s simply enough to wander through the twisting laneways of the city, but you could also spend your day in York taking a cruise down the River Ouse, strolling along the city walls, and discovering York Minster.
A trip to the Jorvik Viking Centre will take you right back to the ninth century, while you’re sure to laugh the day away at a comedy show held at the York Opera House.
York can be a quirky day trip from London with this Witches and History Walking Tour. You can also, get onto a Hop-on Hop-Off bus to explore the city. Consider getting this York City card for their entrance discounts and access to attractions.
The northern English city is just over two hours away from London by train, departing from London King’s Cross Station, with several trains running every day.
Oxford – a cultural day trip by train from London
Oxford day trips from London are all about exploring a beautiful city with a rich history and culture. The most popular attraction here is the University of Oxford. You can take a walking tour of its beautiful campus and visit some of the most famous colleges, such as Christ Church, Magdalen College, and Trinity College.
Don’t miss the Oxford Castle and the Sheldonian Theatre – the latter being the beautiful Baroque building that was designed by Christopher Wren. You can also take a punting tour on the River Thames, go shopping in the city center, or enjoy a traditional English pub lunch.
The best way to get to Oxford from London is by train. There are frequent trains from London Paddington Station, which takes about an hour. This is perfect for anyone who is looking for short trips by train from London
Train trips from London to Wales
Wales is a beautiful country with a rich history, culture and gorgeous landscapes. In fact, depending on your interests, you can opt for the different types of Wales day trips from London.
If you’re interested in history, you could visit Cardiff Castle or Caernarfon Castle. Nature Lovers will love Snowdonia National Park or the Brecon Beacons, while cultural aficionados can plan a visit to the National Museum of Wales or the Welsh National Opera.
There are many great places to eat in Wales, from traditional Welsh pubs to trendy restaurants. Be sure to try some of the local food, such as Welsh cakes or a pint of Welsh beer.
The best way to get to Wales from London by train is to take a train from London Paddington Station. The journey takes about 2 hours, and there are frequent trains throughout the day. To various cities like Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Snowdonia. Once you arrive in Wales, you can use the train or bus system to get around.
One day trip from London to Cambridge
This London train trip takes you to a city that is home to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. You can explore the beautiful campus of Cambridge University and visit some of the most famous colleges, such as King’s College, Trinity College, and St. John’s College.
Besides this, you can head to the King’s College Chapel. This is a beautiful chapel located in the heart of Cambridge and is best known for its stunning architecture and stained glass windows.
Keep some time aside for the Fitzwilliam Museum which houses a vast collection of art, antiquities, and natural history specimens. You can also take a punting tour on the River Cam or just go shopping in the city center.
Cambridge is also, recommended as a winter day trip from London – especially during Christmas. The Xmas markets – specially the Cambridge market in the market square and the St John’s market are a delightful cultural experience.
The best way to get to Cambridge from London is to take a train from London Kings Cross Station. The journey takes about 50 minutes, and there are frequent trains throughout the day.
London to Paris by train
On a day in Paris, you could take a hop-on hop-off bus tour of the city to see its biggest attractions all at once, from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe. You could also visit Cathédrale de Notre-Dame or the Louvre, or take a stroll through the free Luxembourg Gardens.
However you spend your day, don’t forget to stop for lunch in a Parisian bistro and order some local specialties, from steak tartare to onion soup.
You can reach Paris from London St Pancras International, via Eurostar. The journey takes around two hours and 15 minutes (although it can be up to two hours and 40 minutes). However, the portion of the journey where the train actually travels beneath the channel is only 20 minutes.
You can easily explore all of these amazing places to visit from London by train, and often, the commute won’t even be three hours. As you can see – the perfect day trip is only a train ride away.
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This guest post was contributed by Lewis Ogden. He is a UK-based entrepreneur, travel enthusiast, dad, husband and the founder and owner of WayToStay.com. Lewis started his blog to share his own travel experiences and provide epic free travel guides. He caught the travel bug back in 2009 on a trip to Italy with his wife and has visited many different countries each year since.