25 Fun Day Trips From London By Train +/- 2 Hour Journey Time

London is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world with a rich history, iconic landmarks (many of which are free to visit) as well as hidden gems to take you away from the crowds and a fantastic foodie scene. So why should you consider taking day trips from London?

Well, as amazing as London is (we are born and bred Londoners so we are quite partial to it), there is a whole lot more in the way of iconic landmarks and rich history waiting to explore just outside of London.

But if you want to explore a little further and don’t drive, there are loads of great options for day trips from London by train. Even if you do drive, sometimes it is faster and more convenient to take the train.

There are some fabulous days out from London to take in famous landmarks like Stonehenge and great beaches in case you just want to escape the heat of the city.

And of course, London has the added benefit of being an international transport hub and is serviced by a superfast international train service, the Eurostar.  You can easily take train trips from London to Europe in a day.

Whether you live in London or are just visiting and looking to explore the UK further, here are some fun and easy places to go by train from London.

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Paddington Bear at Paddington Station in London.

Paddington Bear at Paddington Station in London

Day trips from London by Train (Towns and Cities)

Bath

Submitted by Erin from Traveling Thru History

Bath is a beautiful city known for beautiful architecture, historic shops, the famed Roman Baths and Jane Austen. It is the only city in the United Kingdom to be designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. With so many wonderful sites to see, a day trip to Bath is something everyone should enjoy.

Getting to Bath is quite simple: take the Great Western Railway from Paddington Station. After five stops, the train will reach Bath Spa Railway Station in just under an hour and a half.

From there, visitors can explore the city on foot and see some truly fascinating sites. After exploring the Roman Baths and perusing cute little shops, visitors should be sure to check out Bath Abbey, a 7th-century parish church; Sally Lunn’s House, home of the famous Sally Lunn bun; and the Royal Crescent, one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture in the UK.

If you’re unsure of what else to see, Bath offers a variety of free and paid walking tours to help you see and enjoy more of the city. Or, if you prefer to explore on your own, you’ll find hidden treasures down every street in the city.

London to Bath by train

Route: From London Paddington to Bath on Great Western Railway
Journey time: Around 1 hour 20 minutes

The Roman Baths in Bath.

The Roman Baths in Bath

Bristol

Submitted by Nichola from Globalmouse Travels

Bristol is a great city for a day trip from London as it’s easy to reach by train and perfect for wandering.

Bristol is known for its street art thanks to its one-time resident Banksy  (you can do street art tours) and for its wonderful Clifton Suspension Bridge which is well worth a wander over. If you have time, pop into Cliftonwood, the most colourful area in Bristol.

If you’re looking for things to do in Bristol with kids then Bristol Zoo is a must visit as is the imaginative We the Curious, one of the UK’s biggest interactive science museums.

All ages will love the free to visit M Shed, a museum by the docks which tells the history of this great city and the people who have called it home through the ages. Another must-visit site is the SS Great Britain which is packed full of the sights, sounds and even smells of the past.

Visit Za Za Bazaar for food – an amazing restaurant where you can try food from all over the world and eat as much, or as little as you like. Bristol is great for a day trip and after you’ve been, you’ll be planning a longer visit.

London to Bristol by train

Route: From London Paddington to Bristol on Great Western Railway
Journey time: Around 1 hour 40 minutes

View of Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol.

View of Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol

Cambridge

Submitted by Paul from Anywhere We Roam

Boasting some of the country’s most important achievements, a day trip to Cambridge is a journey that evokes quirky English tradition, intellectual zeniths and a history so rich it oozes from the wonky lanes and idyllic river-backed gardens that make it such a special place.

Most famous for the university that brought the world IVF treatment, computer games, Artificial Intelligence and the rules of football, Cambridge is also just a great place to hang out. Punting along the River Cam is a great way to appreciate the splendour of the Georgian architecture as you sail past immaculate college greens.

For a more cerebral experience, take in evensong at King’s College Chapel and be uplifted by ethereal music and the largest fan-vaulted ceiling in the world.

Once you’ve explored the majesty of Cambridge, down a pint in a local river-side pub, enjoy artisanal food in the thriving restaurant scene, or have a rooftop cocktail with sweeping views over the city centre.

Later, stroll the Botanic Gardens, home to rare plant species before exploring one of the many world-class museums in Cambridge.

London to Cambridge by train

Route: London Liverpool Street to Cambridge on Greater Anglia. There are also indirect trains from London King’s Cross.
Journey time: From 1 hour 4 minutes to 1 hour 37 minutes

Punting in Cambridge.

Punting in Cambridge

Colchester

Submitted by Sarah from A SocialNomad

Colchester is an easy day trip from London by train. From the train station, it is a mere 15 minute walk into the centre of this old Roman town.

A day trip to Colchester is both easy and great fun! Colchester is England’s oldest recorded town and is famous as the place where Queen Boudicca made her stand and fought against the invading Romans.

The Roman Army certainly left their mark here. You’ll find the most intact Roman city wall in England (and a pub built into it!), the only Roman circus in the country and even Roman treasure.

Colchester’s castle museum is where you’ll find the Fenwick’s Hoard – Roman Treasures that were found in the town during department store excavations. Colchester’s Castle is not to be missed, the remarkable Keep may date from Norman times but there’s also a Roman temple in the dungeons.

You also shouldn’t miss the 11th century St Botolph’s Priory ruins right in the centre of town. Finally, no trip to Colchester is complete without trying the world-famous Colchester Native Oyster (yes those Roman’s introduced them too).

And the equally world-famous Tiptree Jam company has a glorious tea room in town where you can try all manner of fruit and savoury specialities, including the Moorish Blackberry Gin.

London to Colchester by train

Route: From London Liverpool Street to Colchester on Greater Anglia
Journey time: Fastest time – 46 minutes / Average time – 57 minutes

Colchester Castle.

Colchester Castle

Hastings

Submitted by Jenni Fielding from Choose Veganism

Hastings is a quaint little seaside town on the south coast of England and a great place to head if you are looking for beach day trips from London by train.

You can travel directly to Hastings by train from a number of London stations including Charing Cross, Victoria, London Bridge and Blackfriars. Whichever station you leave from, you’ll arrive at Hastings Station, which is located right in the city centre and less than half a mile from the beach.

At the beach you will find Hastings Pier, a traditional Victorian pier built in 1872 that nowadays runs family-friendly events with numerous food and drinks stands and colourful beach huts.

Hastings is most famous for the Battle of Hastings which took place in 1066. If you visit Hastings Castle (which can be reached by taking a beautiful Victorian funicular railway), you can learn all about it.

Hastings was also a favourite haunt of smugglers several hundred years ago. The Smugglers Adventure attraction is well worth a visit too. You can head deep underground to discover the ancient tunnels that were used to hide all kinds of contraband in years gone by.

Hastings Country Park, a 345 hectare nature reserve, is very scenic and just a short walk from the town centre. You will have the most stunning views of the south east coast from the cliff tops.

Hastings has lots of great dining options, but one that you absolutely must visit is the Prince Albert pub. This traditional and cosy pub has a warm and welcoming atmosphere and a menu of the most incredible vegan food. Even if you aren’t vegan, it’s well worth a try as the food is certainly something to write home about.

London to Hastings by train

Route: From London Bridge to Hastings on Southeastern
Journey time: Around 1 hour 36 minutes

Hastings Pier at sunset.

Hastings Pier at sunset

Leicester

Submmitted by Mark from Wyld Family Travel

Leicester lies in the East Midlands, close to the geographical centre of England. Leicester is an easy day trip from London by train with around 89 trains a day from London to Leicester.

Leicester is one of the oldest cities in England with evidence of Roman settlement in the form of Roman baths that can be seen at Jewry Wall. Artefacts taken from this site can be seen in the museum next door.

In more recent years, there was a gruesome discovery of bones under a car park in Leicester city centre. They turned out to be the remains of King Richard III from 500 years ago. You can visit the award-winning Richard III Visitor Centre next to Leicester Cathedral and tour the site, learning about the history surrounding the King.

Leicester Cathedral, built in Norman times, lies at the heart of Leicester and is thought to be one of the six churches mentioned in the Domesday Book from 1086. Today it houses the remains of King Richard III.

Other attractions to visit in Leicester include the National Space Museum, packed with space-themed interactive exhibits including a 4D cinema and the chance to drive a Mars Rover. It is also home to the largest planetarium in the UK as well as a space rocket or two.

For those that love food and retail therapy, the Golden Mile is just the place for you. It is full of the best Indian restaurants and shops in the city. Forget the big department stores. On the Golden Mile you will find unique and quirky stores selling all manner of goods from clothing to spices.

After the Golden Mile head to Leicester market in the city centre. It has been running in this location for over 700 years and is the largest outdoor market in Europe.

On your way back to the train station you could pop into the Leicester Museum & Art Gallery. It opened in 1849 (one of the first museums in the country to open to the public) and is home to fascinating natural history and Ancient Egyptian collections.

London to Leicester by train

Route: From London St Pancras to Leicester on East Midlands Railway
Journey time: Fastest time – 1 hour 2 minutes / Average time – 1 hour 13 minutes

Prince Rupert Gateway leading to Leicester Castle.

Prince Rupert Gateway leading to Leicester Castle

Lincoln

Submitted by Alex from Lincoln and Beyond

The historic city of Lincoln makes for a fantastic alternative family day trip from London. This off-the-beaten-path city has many treasures to explore and stories to discover. Its most impressive feature is the towering hilltop cathedral that was once the tallest building in the world for over two centuries.

Lincoln is home to one of only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, the document that laid the foundation for English law. You can see it inside a vault beneath Lincoln Castle.

You can also walk around the full half-kilometre perimeter on top of the stone walls of the castle and enjoy spectacular views of the city and surrounding countryside from these walls.

After visiting the cathedral and the castle, pop down Steep Hill, one of the prettiest and, as the name suggests, steepest streets in the country. For lunch, stop by at local favourite Stokes High Bridge Café, or one of the many wonderful Lincoln tea rooms.

There are many fun free educational activities to try in Lincoln when visiting with kids, such as the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, which has a History Hunters playground and special museum trail for children. The city also has creative traditions, with various independent galleries for discovering local art.

London to Lincoln by train

Route: From London King’s Cross to Lincoln on East Midlands Railway (with a change in Newark)
Journey time: Fastest time – 1 hour 56 minutes / Average time – 2 hours 20 minutes

View of Lincoln Cathedral from Lincoln Castle.

View of Lincoln Cathedral from Lincoln Castle

Norwich

Submitted by Sheree from Winging the World

Norwich is a wonderful medieval city located in Norfolk, England. It’s situated around 2 hours by train from London and the train goes direct to Norwich station, the gateway to the city.

Most famous for its epic castle which sits in the middle of the city, Norwich has a wealth of interesting history. A great place to learn about the city’s past is on an underground Norwich tour which takes visitors into a medieval undercroft.

As well as the castle, the city boasts two cathedrals and the largest permanent undercover market in Europe. With its cobbled back streets, the famous Norwich Lanes and beautiful architecture, Norwich is a wonderful city to get lost in. Owing to its small size, it is also very easily navigable on foot.

For families, Norwich offers plenty to do. There are all the usual city attractions such as the cinema and bowling but Norwich is also home to a Puppet Theatre, offering fun for everyone.

Don’t miss the opportunity to grab lunch at the Waffle House, a popular independent restaurant located down St Giles Street. Whether you’ve got a sweet tooth or prefer more of a savoury snack, you’re sure to find something delicious here.

London to Norwich by train

Route: From London Liverpool Street to Norwich on Greater Anglia
Journey time: Fastest time – 1 hour 42 minutes / Average time – 1 hour 55 minutes

Colourful townhouses on Quayside Street in Norwich.

Quayside Street in Norwich

Oxford

Submitted by Emilie from London City Calling

The historic city of Oxford is definitely one of the best and easiest day trips from London by train. Known for being home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world, there’s plenty to see and do in Oxford to fill up an entire day.

You can wander around the impressive University of Oxford college buildings which have been used as the backdrop for many famous movies (including Harry Potter). Admire the neo-classical Radcliffe Camera and famous Bodleian Library, and step inside the 1,000 year old Oxford Castle and Prison.

On a sunny day, you can’t miss the opportunity to go punting along the river. Plus, don’t miss the newly refurbished Westgate shopping center and its multiple rooftop restaurants and bars which offer some of the best free views over the entire city.

London to Oxford by train

Route: From London Paddington to Oxford on Great Western Railway and from London Marylebone on Chiltern Railways
Journey time: 50 minutes from Paddington and 1 hour 15 minutes from Marylebone

The Radcliffe Camera at Oxford University.

The Radcliffe Camera at Oxford University

Rye

Rye is located in East Sussex on the south coast and is one of the most beautiful small towns in England, but there is so much more to Rye than its looks.

There are some lovely things to do in Rye including visiting the Ypres Tower (Rye Castle Museum) which was built in 1249 by King Henry III to help defend the country against the French. It houses a collection of pottery and medieval weapons as well as displays detailing stories of smugglers who operated in Rye.

Rye was once an island and only reachable at low tide but the channel has silted up over the centuries and it is now connected to the mainland. It is one of the Cinque Ports which were set up to help defend the country from French invaders and was also an important trade port.

In the 13th century, Rye was a famous pirate town. Smugglers would take Mermaid Street up into town from the River Brede and stop off in the Mermaid Inn for a drink. These days, Mermaid Street is one of the most photographed streets in England.

Combine your visit to Rye with a trip to the beach if the weather is good. Rye is just a stone’s throw from one of the best beaches in the UK, Camber Sands. It is a little under 3 miles to walk from Rye to Camber Sands along a National Cycle Network Route or you can take a short bus ride.

London to Rye by train

Route: From London St Pancras to Rye on Southern Railway
Journey time: Around 1 hour 9 minutes (with 1 change in Ashford International)

Mermaid Street in Rye, one of the best day trips from London by train.

Mermaid Street in Rye

Salisbury

Submitted by Ucman from BrownBoy Travels

Salisbury is a quintessentially small English city and can be easily explored on foot. You can do a self-guided or guided Salisbury walking tour to learn about the history of the city and the buildings.

Some of the buildings are from the Tudor period. One of the things you will learn on a walking tour is that there are quite a number of haunted buildings in the city. There is a ghost story about almost every other building in the city centre.

Salisbury Cathedral is the main highlight of Salisbury. It has the tallest spire in England and if you climb to the top, you will be rewarded with the most magnificent views over Salisbury and the surrounding Wiltshire countryside. The cathedral is also home to an original copy of the Magna Carta dating from 1215.

Adjacent to the cathedral is the Salisbury Museum which houses archaeological finds relating to Stonehenge.

As lovely as Salisbury is, it may not warrant a full day trip from London. This means you will have time to visit one of the most famous landmarks in Britain, Stonehenge, which lies just 8 miles from Salisbury. Tours run from the centre of Salisbury or the railway station and take around 2 – 3 hours.

London to Salisbury by train

Route: From London Waterloo on South Western Railways
Journey time: Around 1 hour 30 minutes

View from the top of Salisbury Cathedral.

View from the top of Salisbury Cathedral

Stratford upon Avon

Submitted by Anuradha from Country Hopping Couple

Stratford-upon-Avon is a lovely medieval market town located along River Avon, in the county of Warwickshire. The town is known worldwide and has attracted visitors for over 250 years.

Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of the renowned English poet William Shakespeare. Naturally, for this reason, top things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon are associated with Shakespeare.

There are a total of five Shakespeare family homes that are managed by Shakespeare trust – Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Shakespeare’s New Place, Mary Arden’s Farm and Hall’s Croft.

These houses are 16th and 17th century half timbered and thatched buildings and each of these have an association with the poet and his family. If you are interested in visiting all 5 family homes, taking a hop-on-hop-off tour is a good option since some of these homes are located a few miles away from each other.

Other attractions include taking a boat trip on River Avon and visiting Stratford Butterfly Farm, especially if you are travelling as a family.

London to Stratford upon Avon by train

Route: From London Marylebone to Stratford on Chiltern Railways
Journey time: 2 hours 6 minutes

Shakespeare's Schoolroom and Guildhall in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare’s Schoolroom and Guildhall in Stratford-upon-Avon

Tring

Tring is a pretty little market town in Hertfordshire on the edge of the Chiltern Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is characterised by its mock Tudor buildings but it is most famous for being home to the Tring Natural History Museum.

The museum was built by Walter Rothschild in 1889 and housed his private zoological collection. He died in 1937 and donated everything to the Natural History Museum.

The collection here is extensive and while it doesn’t include dinosaurs (except for an impressive giant sloth), it offers a much more intimate experience with far fewer crowds than its London relative.

There is a little café at the museum where you can grab a quick bite but if you have time for a longer lunch, Lussmanns on the high street is fabulous.

If you feel like walking off your lunch, right next door to the museum is Tring Park which offers some lovely scenic walks through ancient woodlands. Look out for Tring Park Mansion which was designed by Sir Christopher Wren who also designed one of London’s most iconic sights, St Paul’s Cathedral.

If you are up for a bit of a longer walk, you could reach nearby Ashridge Estate. If you’re there in spring, you will be rewarded with the most magnificent display of purples and blues in their bluebell woods.

Tring is one of the most perfect day trips by train from London for combining culture and nature and ideal if you are looking for day trips from London for walks.

London to Tring by train

Route: From London Euston to Tring on West Midlands Railway (take a taxi or bus into town from the station)
Journey time: Fastest time – 34 minutes / Average time – 50 minutes

Large animal specimens at the Tring Natural History Museum.

Large animal specimens at the Tring Natural History Museum

Warwick

Submitted by Tracy from UK Travel Planning

Located in the West Midlands, the beautiful English city of Warwick is only a 1 1/2 hour train ride from London.

Warwick is perhaps most famous because of its imposing castle. Built over 900 years ago, it merits an entire day to be able to fully explore the grounds, gardens and castle. The Great Hall, state rooms and dungeons are all worth a visit and are packed with historical objects.

During the summer, Warwick Castle has a packed schedule of activities and is a popular destination for families. This includes birds of prey, jousting competitions and the medieval trebuchet show which is particularly impressive. At Christmas enjoy Warwick Castles’s Light Trail and outdoor ice rink.

The castle is a 10 to 15 minute walk from the train station. When visiting Warwick it is also worth taking a stroll around the old town to admire the many 17th and 18th century buildings which still remain.

Warwick has many cafes and restaurants offering a wide selection of traditional English food and afternoon teas. Alternatively, in summer pack a picnic and blanket and enjoy lunch in the castle grounds.

London to Warwick by train

Route: From London Marylebone to Warwick on Chiltern Railways
Journey time: Around 90 minutes

View of Warwick Castle.

View of Warwick Castle

Winchester

Submitted by Kat from Wandering Bird

If you’re looking for fun day trips from London to somewhere easily accessible by train, take a look at the historic city of Winchester.

Winchester is one of the oldest cities in the UK and has a lot to see including medieval houses, narrow, cobbled streets and one of the most famous cathedrals in the country.

You can reach Winchester by train very easily from London. There are regular trains between the two and the journey only takes about an hour. There is a short 5 minute walk from the train station in Winchester to the city centre – it’s downhill on the way there but uphill on the way back!

Whilst you’re in Winchester, be sure to visit the historic cathedral which is where the author Jane Austen is buried. You can also see one of the oldest bibles in the world on display.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Winchester during December, you’ll find the famous Winchester Christmas Market right next to the Cathedral- it’s regularly voted as one of the best Christmas markets in the UK.

Back on the high street, spend some time enjoying the great mix of high-brand shops and unique boutiques. The high street isn’t large and you can explore it fairly quickly.

There are plenty of good places to take a break and get some food in the city. If you enjoy steak, head to ‘The Porterhouse’ which serves a range of dishes, including its award-winning steak. If you want to experience a traditional British pub in summer, visit the Willow Tree by the river.

London to Winchester by train

Route: From London Waterloo to Winchester on South Western Railway
Journey time: Around 1 hour 5 minutes

Winchester Cathedral on a sunny day.

Winchester Cathedral

Windsor

Submitted by Joanna from The World in my Pocket

Windsor is one of the easiest and most accessible day trips from London by train. The easiest direct route is from Waterloo Station to Windsor and Eton Riverside station, with a journey of around one hour.

There are plenty of things to do on a day trip to Windsor from London, starting with visiting Windsor Castle, one of the most famous castles in England and the royal residence of Queen Elizabeth II.

Windsor Castle is the oldest largest occupied of its kind in the world, with a history of over 900 years. As a tip, if you buy your ticket directly through the Royal Collection Trust, you can revisit the castle free of charge at any time for the next year.

One of the most famous walks in Windsor is the Royal Mile, which starts just behind the castle. It is 3 miles long and passes through Windsor Great Park, which used to be a hunting ground in the 11th century. The chances of seeing deer when you walk the Royal Mile are very high, as the Deer Park is home to around 500 red deer that roam freely on the grounds, often not far from the avenue.

Another fun place to see in Windsor is the Crooked House, an uneven building that will make you question how is it still standing.

For foodies, you might want to consider taking a 15 minute taxi to Heston Blumenthal’s world-renowned restaurant, the Fat Duck – if you can get a reservation! And if you are a family looking for an action packed adventure, Legoland Windsor is just outside of Windsor. You can take shuttle buses running from close to the train station.

London to Windsor by train

Route: From London Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Riverside on South Western Railway or from Waterloo to Windsor and Eton Central on Great Western Railway (if visiting Legoland)
Journey time: Around 1 hour

Windsor Castle.

Windsor Castle

York

Submitted by Maja from Away With Maja

York is one of the most popular destinations to visit in the north of England, and one of the most historic and charming cities in the country. It is ideal if you are looking for places to go by train from London that feel a million miles from London.

You can travel from London King’s Cross station to York by train in 2 hours. Much of the compact city is pedestrianized, so it’s easy to get around on foot once you arrive.

There are lots of things to do in York but York Minster should be your first stop to admire the stunning architecture of the cathedral both inside and out. Walking the medieval City Walls is a must—the best sections are near Station Road and between Bootham Bar and Monkgate Bar.

Don’t miss Jorvik Viking Center, where you can step back in time (smells included!) to experience life in York during the Viking era. The cobblestone streets and narrow, winding alleyways (called snickelways in York) are perfect for exploring, with the Shambles being the most famous. It was supposedly the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.

If you’re hungry, check out some of York’s unique, independent venues: Pig and Pastry or Brew and Brownie for brunch, Blue Barbakan for delicious Polish cuisine, Yak and Yeti for delicious Nepalese food, or the Rose and Crown for the best pies in town.

London to York by train

Route: From London King’s Cross to York on London North Eastern Railway
Journey time: Around 2 hours

View of York Minster in York.

View of York Minster in York

Other day trips from London by train

Looking for more ideas? Here are some more towns and cities that are easy to reach by train from London:

St Albans – for St Albans Cathedral, Roman ruins and lovely shops and restaurants and one of the oldest pubs in Britain, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks

Birmingham – for the UK’s largest Christmas market and the most Michelin Star restaurants outside of London

Canterbury – for Canterbury Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in the country

Day trips from London by Train – Beaches

Whether you are looking to escape the heat of the city in the summer or fancy a bracing winter walk, there are some lovely beach day trips from London.

Brighton

Submitted by Erica from Travels with Erica

Brighton is the perfect quick day trip from London. It is just under a 90-minute train ride from central London, and you can explore all of Brighton’s major attractions by foot!

Of course, most people visiting in the summer months will be coming for Brighton Beach but there are lots of things to do in Brighton other than the beach.

The must-visit attractions in Brighton to see on your day trip are the seafront, Brighton Pier, the Lanes, and the Royal Pavilion.

They are all within a 15-minute walk of each other, so you can easily visit them all and not feel rushed.

If you have extra time to spare, Sea Life Brighton is the oldest operating aquarium in the world. It is right along the seafront and is a fun way to spend an hour or two.

When it comes time to eat, there is no better place than the Lanes. It is filled with locally owned restaurants, cafés, and shops. It is the heartbeat of the city and no trip to Brighton is complete without wandering through the small alleys and stopping for a pint or two.

London to Brighton by train

Route: From London Victoria on Southern and from London King’s Cross on Thameslink
Journey time: Fastest time: 58 minutes / Average time 1 hour 20 minutes

Brighton Pier in Brighton.

Brighton Pier in Brighton

Margate

Margate has had a bit of a facelift in recent years with parts of its old town resembling a hip East London area. It is packed with boutique shops, bakeries, antique shops and vintage clothes stores and is one of the best places to visit in Kent if you’re looking for a good old-fashioned British seaside day trip from London.

If you’re seeking a more cultured day, head to the Turner Contemporary. If you time your visit right, you will spot the Antony Gormley ‘Another Time’ statue but you will need to check the Margate tide times if you want to see him as he is only visible for a couple of hours either side of low tide.

For those seeking traditional seaside day trips from London by train, Dreamland, a vintage theme park on the seafront complete with vintage rides and attractions will fit the bill. Build up an appetite and then pop to Gina’s Bakery in the Old Kent Market and pick up some freshly baked goodies. They are utterly delicious.

If you’ve come to Margate for the beach, there is a chance you might be disappointed. The best part of the beach is away from the Turner Contemporary and closer to Dreamland.

There are some far nicer beaches nearby at Botany Bay and Broadstairs which can be reached by walking or hopping back on the train for 5 minutes.

If walking, take the coastal path for just over 2 miles to Botany Bay. The beach is lovely but there is not much there so you may want to carry on to Broadstairs which is nestled around the neighbouring bay.

Here you can grab a delicious seafood lunch at Wyatt & Jones (or a takeaway at Flotsam & Jetsam). Just watch out for pesky seagulls if you head to the beach to eat it! Save room for a traditional gelato from Morelli’s which has been serving Italian ice cream on the seafront for over 100 years.

Broadstairs is on the same trainline as Margate back to London so you can hop on it here and head back home at the end of the day.

London to Margate by train

Route: From London St Pancras to Margate on Southeastern
Journey time: Around 1 hour 30 minutes

Antony Gormley Another Time statue at low tide.

Antony Gormley Another Time statue at low tide

Southend-on-Sea

Submitted by Kylie from Essex Explored

A great day trip from London by train is to the Essex seaside town of Southend-On-Sea. The train from London is a quick 60 minutes and then the seafront is just a short 10 minute walk from the train station.

There are lots of things to do in Southend, however it is most famous for having the longest pleasure pier in the world! Southend Pier extends 1.34 miles into the Thames Estuary and even has a narrow gauge railway if you don’t feel like walking that far to the end which runs on the hour and half hour.

Alongside the pier is Adventure Island amusement park with over 30 rides. It has an inside area that is open year-round and suited for younger visitors. The outside attractions are seasonal with larger thrill rides, including ‘Rage’, a looping roller coaster with a vertical drop!

Southend is also famous for Rossi Ice Cream which has been made in Southend since 1932. There are plenty of restaurants in Southend, but a trip to the seaside isn’t complete without takeaway fish and chips! Several fish and chip shops line the seafront and they are all very good. Being close to the sea, the fish is always fresh!

Southend Beach can get quite busy during the summer months so if you feel like a quieter beach experience, walk a little further from the attractions to Chalkwell Beach. Southend is one of the best day trips from London with kids.

London to Southend by train

Route: From London Fenchurch St to Southend Central on the C2C or London Liverpool Street to Southen Victoria on Greater Anglia
Journey time: Around 60 minutes

Adventure Island at Southend-on-Sea.

Adventure Island at Southend-on-Sea

Other seaside day trips from London by train

Looking for more ideas? These places near London are also easy to reach by train:

Whitstable – great for local seafood

Seven Sisters – great for scenic walks along the white cliffs

Dover – for Dover Castle and the white cliffs

Day trips from London by Train – Attractions

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle is the most beautiful castle in Kent. In fact, it has been called the loveliest castle in the world and you can see why when you visit this beautifully restored castle with its magnificent grounds.

Leeds Castle is located in Leeds in Kent which is only 25 miles from London. It is reached by taking a train to nearby Bearsted station and then Leeds Castle provides a free shuttle bus service to take you to the castle (between April to September).

The castle was built in 1119 but there is not much left of the original structure. It has been significantly modified over the years by its owners who include King Henry VIII and Sir Richard Smythe.

There is so much to do at Leeds Castle that you can spend a whole day there. The castle itself deserves around an hour if you are doing a self-guided tour. If you are visiting Leeds Castle with kids, you can pick up a leaflet with some fun games in it, including trying to spot mini Henry VIII dolls that are hidden around the castle.

Outside, you can attempt the castle maze, test out your archery skills, watch a falconry show or let the kids enjoy one of the best playgrounds we have ever seen.

Leeds Castle won’t disappoint and makes for one of the best family day trips from London.

London to Leeds Castle by train

Route: From London Victoria to Bearsted on Southeastern
Journey time: Around 1 hour 9 minutes

Autumn colours at Leeds Castle in Kent.

Autumn colours at Leeds Castle in Kent

Other attractions near London

Hampton Court Palace – a beautiful Royal Palace and a great place to go ice skating in the winter

Mayfield Lavender Farm – one of the best places to see lavender in the UK

Blenheim Palace – Beautiful historic house and gardens and a World Heritage Site

Kew Gardens – one of the best botanic gardens in the world

Day trips from London by Train – International

The beauty of London is that it is so easy to take day trips from London to Europe. These are the best international day trips from London by train.

Brussels

Submitted by Caroline from Veggie Wayfarer

One of the advantages of Europe is how easy it is to travel between countries. Say you are looking for a day trip from London, why not hop on the Eurostar from London St Pancras to be whisked away to exotic Brussels? Ok, granted perhaps Belgium is not the single most exotic location but there are lots of things to do in Brussels in a day!

If your day trip happens to coincide with rain, fear not there are plenty of interactive museums to visit: The National History Museum, the Magritte Museum and even the Comics Art Museum! Now if you like a more hands on approach why not try one of the famous chocolate or waffle-making workshops that are widely available.

No trip to Brussels would be complete without sampling some classic Belgian food and it doesn’t get more classic than Moules Frites followed by a waffle washed down with a Belgian beer!

Summer is the best time of the year to visit Brussels. Walk around the Grand Place (Grote Markt) and take in all the fabulous gold guild houses. Next, go on the hunt for the illusive little peeing man (Manneken Pis) before taking the comic strip mural walk (a self-guided walk that takes you around all the murals dedicated to comics around the city).

End your day at the Atomium – a remnant of the 1958 World Expo – where you have some of the best views over the city.

If you happen to be visiting Brussels at Christmas, you should visit the Brussels Christmas market, one of the best Christmas markets in Europe and if you have more time, a weekend in Brussels is perfect!

London to Brussels by train

Route: Eurostar to Brussels from London St Pancras
Journey time: Around 1 hour 48 minutes

The Grand Place in Brussels.

The Grand Place in Brussels

Paris

Submitted by Krisztina from She Wanders Abroad

When thinking about the best day trips from London by train, most people only think about destinations inside the United Kingdom. However, thanks to well-established train routes, you can easily take an international day trip to Paris from London as well!

Although it’s recommended to spend at least a few days in the City of Love, you can easily get acquainted with and cover a lot of sights even if you spend only one day in Paris! And if you catch the earliest train possible, you will have almost the full day to explore the best attractions in Paris.

Paris has a fantastic public transportation system with 16 different metro and countless bus lines, so getting around won’t be a problem. On top of that, many of the must-see sights are actually close to each other, so you can easily walk from one to the other.

Start your day by exploring Montmartre, one of the most charming neighborhoods in Paris. You can’t miss seeing the Sacre-Coeur here and if you’re feeling hungry, you can also pop into one of the many amazing Parisian cafés.

Next, walk along the River Seine where you can admire world famous sights such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum or Pont Alexandre III.

Your one day in Paris wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Eiffel Tower from up close, so make sure to stop by Champ de Mars to admire the Iron Lady!

If your time allows, you can also go up to the top from where you can get an incredible panoramic view over Paris. As the Eiffel Tower is the top attraction in the city, make sure to purchase your tickets well in advance!

London to Paris by train

Route: From London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord on Eurostar
Journey time: From 2 hours 16 minutes

View of the Eiffel Tower at dusk.

View of the Eiffel Tower at dusk

Disneyland Paris

Submitted by Elisa from World in Paris

London to Disneyland Paris is one of the best day trips from the UK capital. Thanks to fast and good train connections, it is possible to spend a fun day out in Europe’s most famous theme park and be back at your hotel in London at the end of the day.

Eurostar trains leave from London St Pancras train station. The journey to Paris Gare du Nord only takes 2hrs 23 min, and it is very straightforward. From there, there’s another local train to take to Marne La Vallée – Chessy, which is the Disneyland Paris train station.

If you take one of the first Eurostar from London, you can reach Disneyland Paris before the opening. Be careful not to book the direct train to Disneyland Paris (which operates during the holidays) because this leaves later and you will not have any time at all in the park.

In Disneyland Paris, you will find two theme parks: Disneyland Park and Walk Disney Studios. With only one day available, we recommend visiting Disneyland Park, which is the park of Mickey Mouse, and the classic Disney Movies. There, you will find fun rides and shows, and if you are lucky, you will also meet some of the Disney characters.

Inside Disneyland Paris, you will find many restaurants and food trucks offering all kinds of food. We recommend Captain Jack’s Restaurant des Pirates, located in Adventureland, for its exotic atmosphere and delicious Creole cuisine.

London to Disneyland Paris by train

Route: From London St Pancras to Disneyland Paris on Eurostar
Journey time: Around 3 hours (ok, so it doesn’t quite fit in the 2 hour criteria BUT it’s worth it!)

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris.

Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris

Looking for more ideas for trips from London?

Some people would suggest that Suffolk and the beaches in Suffolk are good for a day trip from London by train, in particular Aldeburgh and Southwold (even Dunwich), but in truth, they are best explored by car over a weekend. There are lots of things to do in Suffolk with kids but they are not easily reached by train and make far better day trips from london by car.

The same can be said for neighbouring Norfolk. Norwich is one of the easiest day trips from London by train, but reaching the Norfolk beaches is a little trickier. Like Suffolk, Norfolk is best explored by car as many things to do in Norfolk like Bewilderwood or Norfolk Lavender, are a little remote.

These two counties make lovely UK staycation destinations if you are looking for somewhere not too far from London.

Visiting the UK at Christmas? We have loads of ideas on things to do at Christmas in the UK.

25 Fun Day Trips From London By Train.

Views from Dunstable Downs over the surrounding counties.
Hertfordshire walks for families.
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