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Despite London’s Southern location in the UK it’s a great place to explore the rest of the UK from. From Day trips to Multiple Day Trips, it is possible to see a lot of the UK from London, and in this post, I am going to be giving you some great ideas for Alternative Day Trips from London!
There are so many places you can visit from London whether that’s by train, bus or car. You can go on your own or on an organised tour, however very often when looking online the same trips suggestions come up time and time again- Stonehenge, Bath, Brighton, Cotswolds, Windsor, Oxford and Cambridge.
Now don’t get me wrong, these are all good trips to do from London and whilst living in London for the last 2.5 years I have done some of these trips, however as a resident of London or as a tourist who has been to London a few times these options may start to seem a little boring and very ‘done’, you want something a bit different right??
See I told you I’ve done a few and if you do want to know how to visit these places and what to do, I won’t judge you for looking!
I’m going to share with you some great alternative day trips from London visiting places that are a little less known, they include quaint English countryside towns, high coastal views and a hop over the sea to Europe, but the most important thing is that they are 1-2 hours from London and totally do-able within one day.
Most of these tours you can do yourself independently either by train (I always use The Train Line to compare and book my trains) or by hiring a car in London.
However, if you would rather do a tour so you can sit back and relax, where possible I have linked a day tour by Get Your Guide. They offer a huge selection of tours, especially in the UK and are a really reputable company. If you decide that a tour of their’s fits you and you use the link in this post I receive a small commission for recommending it which keeps this site going.
My Recommended Alternative Day Trips From London
White Cliffs of Dover
The Southern Coast of England is home to some pretty impressive White Cliffs, the most popular place to see these from is from Dover. I went to the White Cliffs of Dover on a day trip from London by train and I had such a good day! I got to see plenty of the Cliffs and although I didn’t go to the Castle, Dover Castle is meant to be really good so I’d recommend you go!
If you want to get there yourself by train, have a look at my blog post: Visiting the White Cliffs of Dover on a Day Trip from London!
If you’d rather join an organised group, see the Cliffs and see more of Kent, I suggest looking into and booking one of these tours:
Seven Sister Cliffs & the South Downs
Whilst we’re on the subject of White Cliffs, if you’ve already been to Dover or fancy something that’s even more alternative, why not take a day trip from London to the Seven Sisters Cliffs! They’re also very incredible and span all along the coastline. This is a great day trip if you fancy a really good hike.
I got the train to Eastbourne Station which has a nice beach so you could go for a walk and go to the beach (weather dependent), to find out how to get there yourself see my blog post: Visiting the Seven Sisters Cliffs on a Day Trip from London!
Alternatively, this trip looks really good and you get to see a lot more of the South Downs than I did when visiting on my own:
I recently debated whether to go to Hastings or Margate on a day trip from London. I decided on Margate however I didn’t love it which is why it’s not in this post. You can read my true thoughts on Margate, incase you want to go but basically, I wish I had gone to Hastings!
Hastings is a classic British seaside town whereas so many others are a bit trashy! It has a pier, it has coloured beach huts and mini-golf, but it also offers a lot more than that which makes it a great day trip during the colder and cloudier months of the year like Winter, Autumn, Spring and sometimes even Summer!
It has the UK’s steepest funicular which gives beautiful views over the town and ocean, many independent shops, good British pubs, high-quality cafes and restaurants and it even has a True Crime Museum!
If you like the sound of this, you can jump on a train from London and within 90 minutes be down on the South Coast in Hastings.
If you need some more ideas on what to do, which you probably will check out Wanderlust Chloe’s blog posts below as she’s been twice, the photo is also from one of her trips!
Looking at a map you may think Stratford-Upon-Avon (not to get confused with Stratford in East London) is a bit too far out of London for a day trip but it’s just 2 hours on the train followed by a short bus ride from the train station into the town centre.
It would be a long day but if you’re going to be spending at least 4 days in London, it’s definitely worth getting out of London and into the midlands as Stratford-Upon-Avon is such a beautiful, unique and of course Historic place. It’s literally home to Shakespeare’s birthplace which you can visit- a restored 16th-century half-timbered house and there’s nothing like walking or getting a boat along the River Avon.
You can get to Stratford-Upon-Avon from London by yourself easily and follow a Stratford Upon Avon Guide to see the best things in Stratford, or you can visit on a tour. The plus of going on a tour is that you can also see some nearby places like Warwick Castle and then pop over to the Cotswolds before heading back to London:
This is a really good day trip from London because it’s so close to London! A 20 or 30-minute train will take you from London City into a small city full of Roman ruins and Medieval architecture.
The Cathedral is perhaps one of the most famous parts of St Alban’s and that’s because it was founded in about the 8th century and has since been an Abbey and then a Cathedral, it’s very impressive and definitely worth a visit, although I doubt you’ll be able to miss it. Close to the Cathedral is England’s oldest pub Ye Olde Fighting Cocks which offers great food!
Aside from architecture and history, St Alban’s has a trendy food scene great for brunch or lunch and plenty of shops to keep you busy for a few hours.
St Alban’s is really easy to visit from London by yourself and if you want to know more about the city and what there is to do there see Top Things To Do in St Alban’s by Wanderlust Chloe, and the photo below is hers too!
Hever Castle & Gardens
The UK is home to some pretty amazing Castles. Warwick Castle in the Midlands is probably the most well-known but there are so many more Castles around and for a good day trip I’d recommend going to Hever Castle and Gardens in Kent.
I’d never heard of this castle before but my friend Liv from Liv on a Shoestring went and it looks beautiful as you can see in her photo below! You can get the train to Hever Station which is 50 minutes from London, following this it’s a 20 minute walk through fields or along the main road.
It’s possible to visit the inside of the Castle and see the what was once the home of Anne Boleyn, there’s also a huge garden and if you do a full lap of it takes about an hour. There’s a fun maze which means this is a good day trip from London for children and there’s even a Japanese Tea House.
If you want a really alternative and unique day trip from London, this is it!
Brighton is a popular day trip from London and understandably so because its a cool area and there are lots of things to do in Brighton. However, the small town of Lewes which is just 8 miles from Brighton and 70 minutes on a train from London has a totally different feel to it and is a true English Countryside town.
Lewes has a castle that is over 900 years old, many quirky independent shops and quaint tea rooms. If you want to know more about Lewes, Culture Calling wrote a post on how to spend the day in Lewes, and the below photo is from Day out with the kids who have some things to do in Lewes too.
Canterbury in Kent can be reached within an hour from London by train, it’s pretty famous and you may know it from The Canterbury Tales or the Canterbury Cathedral which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Canterbury was once a pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages and it has a street that is over 1000 years old so you know that you’re going to see a lot of history there.
Aside from visiting the famous Cathedral you can walk along the River Stour or get some British tea in one of its many cafes.
Oneika The Traveller gives a low day on her day trip to Canterbury from London and I’ve also used one of her pretty photos below. Canterbury is easy enough to visit by yourself however if you wanted to see more including Leeds Castle, the White Cliffs of Dover and Greenwich you could do one of these tours:
Alternative Day Trips from London to Europe
You probably know that you can do a day trip from London to Paris at a push (aka it can be done but it will be a long day) but for an alternative option in France why not consider Lille?
Lille is in Northern France so it takes just 90 minutes by train which can be booked on The Train Line too from London St Pancras which is incredible and is less / the same time as most of the journeys I’ve recommended in this post.
Lille looks like a really gorgeous city full of history and beautiful architecture. It’s not that big but it seems there is plenty to do and enough to do in one day, especially if you spend a few hours of that eating French food!
I love Bruges and I don’t know anyone who has been that hasn’t. I found that there are lots of things to do in Bruges during my weekend in Bruges a few years ago, and even though it’s only small. A lot of people go to Bruges on a day trip from Brussels so why not go to Bruges from London?
Going to Bruges for the day independently might be a bit of hassle as you have to get the train to Brussels from London and then change onto a regional train, however, you can go on an organised tour to Bruges like the below and for a really good price of £79.00!
There’s also an offer on a Christmas Market trip from London to Bruges which would be amazing! They do Christmas Markets well in Belgium!
This trip books up fast and isn’t always available so be sure to look and book in advance:
Remember to head on over to The Train Line to check for the best train ticket prices and times for these trips!