With nine million residents of the capital flocking to the next beer garden, open area, or rooftop bar, it may be easy to feel a little claustrophobic when the city is at its busiest. There has been an increase in domestic travel this year, with day excursions and staying overnight in Airbnb’s, campgrounds, and hotel rooms becoming more common.
Then, when the commotion of New York City becomes too much, we can go to the beach or the woods to get away from it all. Preparing to fly somewhere soon? Here are a few ideas to get you started on your own best day trip dreaming journey. All of them are within a day’s drive of London, making them ideal day trips for those who want to get away from it all.
The New Forest, Day Trip
When it comes to safaris without flying, the New Forest is the closest you can go. The famed ponies, that have grazed somewhere for eons, as well as free-roaming Highland cattle and pigs, will keep an eye on you as you make your way through the heather-covered heath. Don’t want to spend the whole day in the car?
Explore the countryside in an electric-powered Twizzy buggy. Or, arrange a beginner’s hacks at one of the stables to learn how to drive. Don’t forget to stop at the Royal Oak near Fritham for a great plowman’s lunch. How far is it? 90 kilometers is a long way. Between London Waterloo to Brocklehurst, it takes around an hour and a half by rail and about two hours by automobile. It is important to keep in mind that animals do not have the right of way.
Deal, Day Trip:
Margate and Whitstable get all the attention, but Deal is just as charming with its rows of Georgian mansions, one-of-a-kind shops, and a well-loved Saturday market. Deal Castle, constructed by Henry VIII as one of an ambitious line of coastal forts, is a great place to start the day, followed by lunch at either 81 Beach Street or Victuals & Company.
Bottle store in the manner of Paris Le Pinardier is an excellent place to stock up on tasty treats, and don’t forget to visit gallery-turned-homewares shop Taylor-Jones and Son where sheepdog Delilah will greet you warmly. How far is it? Just over 80 kilometers in length. You can get there in around two hours by vehicle or rail via London St Pancras International.
Box Hill, Day Trip:
Box Hill was featured in the Olympic road-cycling course in 2012, making a day trip to green and lovely Surrey a wheely great thing to invest a Sunday. Two hours should be enough time for the ride from Richmond Park to Hampton Court. From the summit of Box Hill, you’ll be rewarded with lovely scenery of the North Downs after a 1.6-mile climb and a few hairpin curves (which are simpler than they seem!).
Make sure to leave room at the National Trust café for the delicious home-baked pies and crumbles at The Tree Box Hill & Westhumble station is the last stop before returning to Waterloo with your bikes onboard a train. Whew! How far is it? 30 kilometers take a bicycle to get there (obviously). Take a map & a puncture repair kit as well as water and food with you for the day trip.
Dungeness, Day Trip
There are so few people on Dungeness’s sandy, shipwreck-dotted shore that it’s sometimes referred to as the only desert in Britain. It may seem like nothing is going on, but if you take a closer look, you’ll see that there is. The two-mile walk surrounding RSPB Dungeness offers views of glossy ibises & marsh harriers among other wildlife.
The Dungeness Snack Shack is a popular lunch spot where you can get fresh-caught fish on a toasty baguette, lobster and crab rolls, or smoked cod soup. Finally, look for the massive concrete sound ears,’ which were constructed during World War I to keep an eye out for approaching aircraft. How far is it? About 86 kilometers in length a one-hour rail day trip to Folkstone and a one-and-a-half-hour bus journey to Dungeness will have you there in around two hours.
Hastings, Day Trip Ideas
Hastings has a long and colorful history, spanning from its significance as the site of William the Conqueror’s triumph in 1066 to its heyday as a smuggling hub in the eighteenth century. As a result, it’s no surprise that sun-seekers from London have been flocking here like seagulls for ages.
Explore the stunning Norman castle remains or Smugglers Expedition (a museum built in ancient smugglers’ caverns) to learn more about the town’s fascinating past. Take a walk along the pier or the clifftop at the top of Britain’s steepest rollercoaster, the Hill Cliff Railway, and take in the views from the vantage point.
How far is it? 54 kilometers to get to the destination. A rail ride from London Bridge takes around an hour and a half, while driving takes about two hours.
Mersea Island, Day trip
Mersea, the UK’s most easterly populated island, is tethered to the land by a bridge that floods, making it seem really isolated during high tide. The Company Shed, a seafood restaurant that attracts visitors from all around the nation, is the place to be on the weekends.
If you want to eat the prawns, smoked fish, oysters, and dressed crab, you’ll need to show there early since it’s BYOB (bring your own bread) and reservations aren’t accepted. To that end, there are designated crabbing locations, as well as stores that offer the necessary equipment.
Alternatively, you might arrange a tour on the water to see the sights surrounding the bay. How far is it? A distance of 69 kilometers From London Liverpool Street, take an hour-and-a-half train ride to Colchester, then a 45-minute bus ride to Mersea Island; driving takes around two hours. Take a look at the tide schedule before setting out.
Whitstable, Day Trip
Whitstable is one of the most beautiful beach towns in the world. The best way to start the day is with a strong cup of coffee from Blueprint Coffee & Books. For the last leg of your journey, hire a bike from Whitstable Cycle Hire & peddle along the seaside Oyster Bay Trail for five miles.
What about a meal? At The Forge, you can observe the shucking of oysters right in front of you. Whitstable is one of the only a handful of British towns that have a beachside pub—the Old Neptune—right on the sand. 61 miles to be exact. From London Victoria, it takes an hour and a half to Whitstable by rail, and an hour and a half to Whitstable by vehicle from St Pancras International.
Rye, Day Trip
With its narrow cobblestone alleyways and antique stores, Rye seems like a little part of the Cotswolds. Seafood lunch at Globe Inn Marsh with views of lobster pots awaits after you’ve finished browsing the appropriately titled Tiny Book Store. Then, go to The George Tap for a pint of Sussex genuine ale or even a glass of wine.
The nearby Ahe Chapel Down winery is definitely worth a visit whether you’re interested in learning more about winemaking or just want to have a drink with their famous wine tasting. The soft sands of Camber Sands are only ten minutes away, where you may swim about in the shallows, fly a kite, or relax on your blanket. It’s 79 kilometers away. You can get there in around two hours by vehicle or rail from London St Pancras International is about an hour and 10 minutes.
Margate, Day Trip Ideas
When it comes to cold-brew coffee and artisan beer, Margate in Kent’s seaside town of Kent has just the right amount of salty appeal to help you withstand any strong sea gusts. The Turner Contemporary is a good place to begin, followed by a day trip to the vintage theme park & roller-disco Dreamland.
Take a break from the Waltzer and travel to Hantverk & Discovered for a seafood meal paired with natural wines. Breuer & Dawson and Haeckels are great places to browse for vintage clothing and seaweed-based skincare products for the remainder of the day. How far is it? 76 kilometers you can get there by rail in one hour and 25 minutes, or by vehicle in two hours.
Bath, Day Trip:
You’re in for a treat when you visit Bath. After seeing the Roman baths, take a dip in the rooftop pool of the Thermae Bath Spa, where you’ll be able to see the whole city from the water’s edge. Take a walk around the Royal Crescent once you’ve dried off as Jane Austen would have.
At the Fashion Museum, you may try on some authentic Georgian clothing to get into the mood of things. Peckish? You may get the Sally Lunn Bun, a form of delicious brioche bun, toasted and smeared with berry jam and cream at Sally Lunn’s teahouse. How far is it? A distance of 115 kilometers by rail from London Paddington, takes one hour and thirty minutes; by vehicle, it takes two hours and thirty minutes.
Brighton, Day Trip:
There’s no better place to replenish your Vitamin Ocean levels than Brighton, with its picture-perfect pebble beach, the abundance of live music venues, and the vibrant LGBT+ community. Start your day as the locals do by evading seagulls just on Palace Pier and then shopping your heart out from the Laines, which is brimming with small shops, record stores, and vegan cafés. The Hand Brew Co. and other small Sussex brewers may be found at the Brighton Beer Dispensary.
How far is it? Over the course of a little over 50 kilometers. From London Victoria, Blackfriars, or London Bridge, it takes around an hour to get there by rail, and about two hours by automobile.
Canterbury, Day Trip:
This was the place to be for a great fat knees-up in Chaucer’s day. It’s more subdued by default these days, but there’s still a pleasingly boisterous vibe because of the enormous student population. Take a day trip along the King’s Mile, which is lined with quaint shops.
As far as lunch options go, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better selection than at the indoor farmers’ market The Goods Shed, where you’ll find anything from exquisite Scotch eggs with coleslaw and fries to Japanese bento boxes at Tamago.
Visit the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge to see an Egyptian mummified cat and one of the world’s most significant collections of cow paintings. 61 miles to be exact. There is a one-hour rail ride from London St Pancras International or a one-hour and thirty-minute automobile ride from there.
Guildford, Day Trip:
To all, you fear mongers: Film fans will recognize Guildford Cathedral from cult horror classic ‘The Omen’. Everything else in Guildford, Surrey’s county town, is as bucolic.
If the weather is nice, you can sit by the waterfront at the picturesque Dapdune Wharf or even jump in at the Lido. Visit the 400-year-old Star Inn after lunch at Burrito Loco, which serves nachos made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Are you still peckish? Visit the adjacent Hogs Back Brewery via rail.
How far is it? The distance is 31 miles. Get to the destination. About a one-hour drive from London Waterloo by rail or automobile.
Southend-on-the-sea, Day Trip:
Southend is a great choice for a day trip back in time to a British beach town. Everything in this coastal town screams “vintage,” from the amusement parks and carnival attractions to the world’s longest pier and old-school chippies like Tomassi’s.
But it also has a thriving art and music scene, thanks to Focal Point Museum and the Village Green arts and music festival, as well as some ambitious restaurants like Aurum and The Pipe of Port. How far is it? 36 kilometers is the distance covered? Get to the destination. Train travel from Fenchurch Street takes one hour and fifteen minutes; driving takes two hours.
Cambridge, Day Trip:
Cambridge is a more peaceful, intimate city with fewer tourists and, dare we say it, a nicer campus than Oxford. The Fitzwilliam Museum and Fitzbillies are great places to start your vacation. Check out the delicious Chelsea buns while you’re in town. Begin your visit to Cambridge with a tour of the city’s colleges and King’s Chapel, then go on to the river for some punting.
You can either hire a guide in a beanie or try your hand at rowing on your own. Be like Rupert Brooke and have a cup of tea at The Orchard Tea Gardens in Grantchester. How long is the distance? From London King’s Cross, it takes 45 minutes by rail, and from London Liverpool Street, it takes 1 hour 10 minutes by train; driving takes around 2 hours.
Chichester, Day Trip:
Despite its cutesy exterior, the pastel-hued town of Chichester has a lot going for it. First stop The Norman-Gothic church, followed by the Pallant House Gallery, which has exhibits that are well selected, a first-rate bookstore, and an impressive patio café that rivals Rochelle Canteen in quality.
The Goodwood Estate, West Dean Gardens, and the lovely sands of West Wittering are only a short drive (or bike ride, if you’re feeling really peckish) away. How far is it? It’s around 80 miles. From London, it takes about two hours by automobile to get there in one hour and thirty minutes. A car is the ideal model of transportation if you want to go exploring in depth.
Stratford-upon-Avon, Day Trip:
Here, it’s all about Shakespeare: Bard’s mansion, Anne Hathaway’s quaint cottage, and the RSC’s little home theater are all a must-see. Stratford, on the other hand, is more than simply a historical theme park.
Visit Hooray’s British Gelato Kitchen for some Eton Mess ice cream while on your canal basin tour, then go to the Grade II-listed Old Thatch Tavern for some refreshment. How far is it? The distance is 104 kilometers. By rail, it takes two hours and fifteen minutes to get there from Marylebone; by automobile, it takes around two hours.