10 British Train Trips from London
Although we adore London, sometimes the city is so bustling that we long for slow, small-town, English living. This is why we’ve compiled a list of our top 10 favorite English towns to visit by train from London. All of these can be enjoyed in a day, offering a peaceful getaway before exploring the remainder of the history, art, and culture of the English capital.
Argued to be the best day trip from London, Cambridge is full of things to do and see, offering a bustling English town experience for when London seems too chaotic. Known for its world-famous university, Cambridge has many activities including walking tours of the many colleges, punting on the River Cam (an English version of the gondola), and museum hopping. Our favorite is the Fitzwilliam Museum which houses many famous works of art, all enjoyable for free to visitors. Enjoy a pint at The Eagle where Francis Crick and James Watson announced they had discovered the secret of life (DNA), and pick up some sweets from the many Harry Potter-esque candy shops around town. If you opt to go on a punting tour then we suggest picking up a bottle of wine and some cheeses from a local store to enjoy in the boat. But be forewarned, many phones have been lost in the River Cam!
Known as Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon is a charming village in the heart of England. Near Oxford and Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon offers many sights to see and attractions to enjoy. Visit Shakespeare’s birthplace and then his wife, Anne Hathaway’s, cottage. Afterwards visit the Church of the Holy Trinity and boat down the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal. Feeling inspired to pick up a copy of Midsummer Night’s Dream or Romeo and Juliet? Enjoy it in the Stratford Butterfly Farm, or better yet see it live at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Small-town English living at its finest, The Cotswolds boasts quaint cottages surrounded by scenic rolling hills. Many Brits flock here in the summer months to enjoy the small town charm such as the wonderful walking and cycling paths, gorgeous gardens, and local farmers markets. Besides enjoying The Cotswolds as a local, explore Blenheim Palace (where Winston Churchill was born), take a tour of the 150 year old Hook Norton Brewery, and enjoy the extensive gardens at Sudeley Castle.
Established in the 12th century, and rival to the similar university town of the prestigious Cambridge University, Oxford is known for its history and scholars. The town extends far greater than its center, so be sure to explore it all. We suggest climbing the Carfax Tower to look out of the city, visiting the famous Radcliffe Camera, and strolling through the Botanic Gardens off of High Street. Seek out the Hertford Bridge, known as the Bridge of Sighs, and afterwards step into Blackwell’s Bookstore which has the largest single room devoted to book sales in all of Europe (the 10,000 sq. ft Norrington Room).
Originally a top weekend spot for posh Londoners, now is a common day trip for many Brits and their families. The iconic Brighton Dome arts complex offers many dance shows, plays, and workshops daily whereas the neighboring 18th century Royal Pavilion has exhibitions and house tours for all to enjoy. The Brighton Fishing Museum is free to anyone to peruse (as are most museums in England) while the famous Brighton Pier awaits with a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and other amusement park rides, all over the water.
Dubbed one of the best castles in Britain, Warwick Castle makes for a full day of activities in the interactive castle experience. There is the Castle Dungeon tour which bring the Witches of Warwick to the underground floors of this historic masterpiece. Usually warranting 5-6 hours to fully enjoy, the Warwick Castle makes for a perfect day trip from London. After exploring the stone walls and hidden staircases, enjoy a classic pub dinner in the town of Warwick before taking a quick train back to the big city.
Known for its famous Roman Baths built on Britain’s only hot springs, Bath makes for the perfect day trip from London. The Roman Baths are still flowing with natural hot water, but visitors can no longer bathe there. If you’re interested in experiencing this authentic regional cleanse, try the Thermae Bath Spa which uses water from the same hot springs as the Roman Baths. Once clean and dry enjoy the city’s famous architecture such as Bath Abbey (where you can take a Tower Tour and climb the 212 steps to the top), the Royal Crescent (an unusually curved row of 16th century townhouses, one of which is now a townhouse museum), and the Pulteney Bridge (one of but four bridge in the world to boast shops on both sides of the crossing). Finally stop by the Jane Austen Centre to see what life was like during the 1800s.
Named “The Loveliest Castle in the World”, Leeds Castle is over 900 years old and was built on over 500 acres of parkland and gardens. Leeds Castle is now known for the plethora of things for kids to see and do while visiting, while remaining one of the top historic castle experiences in the country. Children can enjoy a Knights-themed playground, Elsie (the Castle Train), a ropes course for the more adventurous, and even free Falconry Displays in the summer months. Additionally visitors can lose themselves in the The Maze and Underground Grotto, known as one of the most popular mazes in Kent.
With history dating back 4,500 years ago, Stonehenge remains one of the most mysterious and spiritual places in Britain. Besides visiting the world-famous Stone Circle, the visitor centre has built Neolithic Houses to explore how people lived thousands of years ago, alongside an exhibition housing over 250 archaeological objects uncovered in the local landscapes. If visiting on a clear day we recommend bringing a picnic and exploring the over 6,500 acres of parkland and walking routes.
As the Queen’s official residence, Windsor Castle is the world’s oldest and largest inhabited castle. Most buzzing in the morning we suggest heading for an afternoon trip to enjoy one of the guided castle tours included in the admission price. Windsor prides itself on being very much so a fully operating castle, so step into modern day royal-living, an experience only offered here. The Queen is known to spend all her private weekends here, so who knows, you may catch a glimpse!