London has an incredible amount of things to do within the city, but sometimes you just want to get out of the city and explore something new and at a slower pace. While London can keep you occupied for days, if you’re staying in the city for more than a few days a day trip from London may be just the getaway that you’re looking for. Here’s a list of my favorite day trips from London.
Bath is named for the ancient Roman baths that are located within the city. At less than one hundred miles away from central London, Bath makes a great day trip for those interested in the ancient Romans and literature. Around 60 AD, the city was named Aqua Sulis (the waters of Sulis) after the bathhouses that were constructed in the city. However, the hot springs were known before this time. As the Romans retreated, the city became less and less known for its hot springs. As more time passed Bath became a religious center as the Bath Abbey was constructed in the seventh century. Then, ten centuries later, the baths were again popularized due to their apparent healing qualities. During the seventeenth century Bath flourished as a spa town and consequently many new buildings in the Georgian style were constructed. As the popularity of Bath continued to rise in the eighteenth century, fashion became an important component of everyday society.
What to do
Obviously one of the main attractions in Bath are the Roman Baths. After purchasing your ticket (£17.50 for adults, but they offer student and children discounts) you’ll have free rein of what you want to see at the Baths. Included in your ticket price is an audio guide, so take your time and see all that the museum has to offer. The major highlights of the Roman Baths are the East and West Baths. The East Baths are where the women would have bathed, and the West Baths are where the men would have finished their bathing experience in icy cold water. Visitors will also be able to visit the terrace, which over looks the Great Bath and has many statues of Roman Emperors.
Literature fans will be happy to know that Jane Austen lived in Bath for a period of time. There’s an entire museum, the Jane Austen Centre, that celebrates Bath’s most famous resident. Visits at the Centre begin by a welcoming talk given by members of staff, and then you’ll be free to explore the museum at your own leisure.
How to get there
Getting to Bath for a day trip from London could not be easier. Simply hop on a train from Paddington Station in central London, and an hour and a half later you’ll be in Bath!
Oxford is easily one of the easiest day trips from London ever! Plus, tourists will be able to tour the colleges of one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Need help deciding if you should visit Oxford or Cambridge?
What to do
The most obvious thing to do on a day trip from London in Oxford is to tour the colleges! One of the most iconic colleges that you should visit is Christ Church College. This college is the home of the grand staircase, and the inspiration of the dining hall in the Harry Potter films. Christ Church is also known for educating thirteen Prime Ministers of the UK, so it’s absolutely worth a visit! While inside Christ Church make sure you pop into the Christ Church Cathedral, which is included in your admittance fee. Because of Christ Church’s fame, it’s wildly popular with tourists. This can make some tourists uncomfortable, and they may wish to tour another college. Other colleges of interest include New College, Merton College, and Trinity College.
Having a hard time deciding which college you should visit? A handy guide may help!
While touring the interiors of the colleges takes a considerable amount of time, some visitors may be more interested in a waking tour that showcases multiple colleges may be right for you. Walking tours are extremely popular in Oxford as they are a great way to see a lot of the city in a short amount of time. Some tours are free while others are paid, but regardless of the cost tourists should book their tickets well in advance to ensure they get a spot on the tour. I do recommend doing a bit of research on choosing what tour company you wish to use depending on what you’re most interested in. Footprints Tours offers a free walking tour given by actual Oxford students. Their tour includes visiting six colleges, and an in depth history of the town. Although the tour is free, remember it is polite to tip your tour guide! Another option for a waking tour in Oxford is Oxford Walking Tours. These tours are paid, but the company offers a wide variety of tours to choose from. They offer basic walking tours, literary, student life, and even ghost tours! Plus their ticket prices include admittance into the Divinity School—what a steal.
Not interested in spending your day trip from London only touring colleges? No problem! Oxford has so much more to offer, including a rich shopping scene. Be sure to visit the Covered Market in central Oxford. The market is sure to have something for everyone from food to flowers and souvenirs. If you have a sweet tooth be sure to hit up Ben’s Cookies for a real treat. Plus, if you order four cookies they’ll give you a special reusable tin to take home with you! Beyond the Covered Market, there are many High Street shops in Oxford, and smaller local boutiques as well. There really is something for everyone—and their budget.
How to get there
From central London, there are many ways to get to Oxford. The easiest is by taking a train from Paddington Station. Direct trains from Paddington leave every half hour or so, but there are trains with changes that leave more frequently in between. Another option is taking the Oxford Tube, a bus from central London to Oxford. Use Tube stops Shepard’s Bush, Notting Hill Gate, Marble Arch, or Victoria to access the Oxford Tube bus. Busses leave every twenty minutes or so.
Stonehenge is one of several prehistoric monuments found in the U.K., and is an official English Heritage Site as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stonehenge is part of a larger Neolithic and Bronze Age complex, which is one of the richest areas of archeological goods from these periods in England. It’s thought that the site was built in several stages. The first henges were constructed by Neolithic peoples around 5,000 years ago. And the stones that are found today are said to be constructed around 2,500 BCE. Then, during the Bronze Age, nearby burial mounds were erected. It’s unknown what the purpose of the henges and mounds were. Perhaps the stones were used for rituals due to the stones alignment with the summer and winter solstices. This alignment could also suggest that it was a place used for astronomical research. There are so many differing hypotheses about how the stones were erected and what they were used for so I recommend that you do a bit of Googling beforehand to find out your favorite!
What to do
First and foremost, see the stones! There what you came to see after all! There are two ways to get to the stones, either by walking or taking a shuttle bus. The shuttles stop at the Visitors Center very frequently, and take only ten minutes to get to the monument itself. Walking from the Visitors Center will take you approximately thirty or so minutes. On your walk you’ll be immersed into the Neolithic landscape, and there will be signage pointing out important pieces of the landscape.
Once you’ve arrived at the stones you’ll be able to fully walk around them—so long as you stay on the grassy path. It’s marked by ropes, so don’t worry about missing it. If your visit is in peak summer season be prepared for the monument to be packed with tourists taking photos! Make sure that you peruse the surrounding landscape, and don’t only focus on the stones! The surrounding pastures have important details as to how the stones were brought to this location. Tip: if you want the best photos walk along to the back side (closest to the highway) as you’ll be able to see the circular arrangement of the stones and there will be less tourists.
Looking for a full guide to visiting Stonehenge with expert tips and info about other stone formations nearby? Two Traveling Texans has you covered.
The Visitors Center includes a cafe (that is somewhat pricey!) to buy snacks at. Try one of their rock cakes if you can! Rock cakes are a baked good somewhere between a cookie and a scone, and taste so good. There is also an exhibition center and Neolithic houses to explore at the Visitors Center, so be sure to visit before or after visiting the stones.
If you’re an English Heritage or National Trust Member your visit to Stonehenge will be free, but it’s still recommended that you book your tickets before arrival. For everyone else, tickets will set you back £17.50. Be sure to book early as your desired time slot could fill up!
How to get there
Stonehenge is great for a day trip from London as it is fairly accessible from the city. There two main options to get to Stonehenge from London. The first is by taking a train from Waterloo to Salisbury Station, where you’ll pick up a bus that will take you directly to Stonehenge via The Stonehenge Tour. Busses depart Salisbury Station every half hour, and take about a half hour to get to Stonehenge. Bus tickets start at £15 for the bus ride to the monument. The company offers bundled packages that include admission into Stonehenge and/or the Salisbury Cathedral for those interested.
Another option is to hire a tour company that will take you directly to Stonehenge from central London. There are numerous tour companies that will meet you at a specified location in London and take you out to Stonehenge for the day. Pick the option that best suits your preferred time table!
Have you ever been to any of these destinations? Tell me about it in the comments!