Oxford aerial view England UK
Beautiful view of Oxford from the tower at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin

London makes the perfect base camp for taking day trips to visit scenic and historic destinations all within a couple of hours.

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Best day trips from London

Path in Oxford England UK
Oxford is one of the best day trips from London

While planning your visit to London, make sure to add these top day trips if you love nature, scenic views, striking architecture, and/or history.

  • The Cotswolds is the best day trip from London – only 80 miles northwest (depending on which village you visit – from Burford to Bath) – and features charming fairytale houses, stone wall enclosures, historic inns and pubs, and rolling hills throughout the 800 square miles of this region.

  • Windsor Castle (the oldest and largest residential castle in the world) and St. George’s Chapel in Windsor England (the final resting place of 11 royal monarchs including Queen Elizabeth II) in Windsor is only about 25 miles from London – making it an easy day trip.

  • South Downs including Beachy Head and The Seven Sisters – majestic white chalk cliffs along the English Channel separated by dry valleys – Devil’s Dyke, and The Long Man. This area ranges from 60 to 90 miles from London so expect a true all-day trip.

  • Oxford, located 56 miles from London, offers a full day of activities (or more – I spent five days there and still didn’t experience everything I wanted to do). You’ll find magnificent architecture, historical sites, nearly 40 colleges, lots of chapels, churches, and steeples, a castle, and much more.

  • Bletchley Park is home to the beautiful country estate and park and the famous World War II codebreakers – a must-do historical site located in Milton Keynes, about 55 miles north of London. See my full review about my fascinating experience: A guide to the historic Bletchley Park – home of WWII codebreakers.

I plan to create a blog series and dedicated posts about my three-week workcation adventures in England. Until then, here is an overview of the best scenic and historic day trips from London.


Best day trip guide to the Cotswolds

Burford Cotswolds England UK
Add The Cotswolds to your list of the best day trips from London

This section features the best villages to visit in the Cotswolds – so far – as they are the four that we toured on our guided day trip. They include Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, Burford, and Bibury. I plan to return as the area offers many more charming and historic villages I would love to explore. And adding the Cotswolds Way to my hiking adventures – a 100+ mile hiking trail through the region.

The Cotswolds – Bourton-on-the-Water

Bourton-on-the-water Cotswolds England
Bourton-on-the-Water is also knows as the Venice of the Cotswolds.

Our family’s favorite European city is Venice. And after visiting the Cotswolds, our favorite village in this region is the charming and historic Bourton-on-the-Water. Its nickname is Venice of the Cotswolds.

You’ll fall in love with the five historic and beautiful stone bridges arching over the serene River Windrush – a tributary of River Thames. They were built between 1654 and 1911.

We especially loved walking along the river and did a quick tour of the miniature model village – a scaled replica of Bourton-on-the-Water. Other top attractions and things to do in Bourton-on-the-Water include Cotswolds Motoring and Toy Museum, Birdland Parks and Gardens, Greystones Nature Reserve, Cotswolds Brewing Company.

The Cotswolds – Stow-on-the-Wold

Stow-on-the-Wold Lord of the Rings Door Cotswolds England
It’s believed that this door in Stow-on-the-Wold inspired the Tolkien Doors to Durin in Lord of the Rings.

Stow-on-the-Wold, another fairytale Cotswold village, earned a place in our hearts. This medieval historic place was the site of the last battle in the English Civil War back in 1646. Of special note is The Porch House, which dates back to 947 AD, making it the oldest inn in England (verified by Guinness Book of Records).

If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you will definitely want to add the Cotswolds village of Stow-on-the-Wold to your itinerary. Many speculate that the door framed by old yew trees that leads into St. Edwards Church was the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Doors to Durin. He was a frequent visitor to Stow-on-the-Wold while a professor in Oxford.

The Cotswolds – Burford

Bibury church Cotswolds England cemetery
The historic St. John the Baptist Church in the idyllic village of Burford – the gateway to the Cotswolds.

Burford, considered the gateway to the Cotswolds, is home to England’s oldest pharmacy, dating back to 1734 (when you go inside it looks like a modern pharmacy). We especially loved the architecture of the historic St. John the Baptist Church and surrounding graveyard. Built between 1160 and 1475, St. John the Baptist Church is one of the largest wool churches, which was funded primarily by rich medieval wool traders.

The Cotswolds – Bibury

Arlington Row Bibury Cotswolds England
The iconic Arlington Row houses of the Cotswolds located in Bibury, England.

Bibury was once coined the prettiest village in England. This Cotswolds village is where you’ll find the historic and protected Arlington Row – a series of connected stone homes built in 1380, which are featured on the inside cover of every U.K. passport.

England’s oldest working trout farm is also nearby. I also recommend stopping by the Church of St. Mary to marvel at its beautiful architecture. Established in 899, this Anglo-Saxo church was built in the late 11th century.


The South Downs – Beachy Head, The Seven Sisters, and Devil’s Dyke

Beachy Head lighthouse white chalk cliffs on English channel
The Beachy Head white cliff rises 530 feet above sea level overlooking the English Channel.

You may have heard of the Cliffs of Dover in the North Downs (which I would love to visit). However, we took a guided day trip to the South Downs not too far from Brighton, England where our stops included The Long Man, Devil’s Dyke, Beachy Head, and The Seven Sisters. Here you’ll take in panoramic views of valleys, dramatic white sea cliffs made of chalk, a lighthouse, and the coast of the English Channel.

Seven Sisters white chalk sea cliffs England English Channel UK
The dramatic white chalk sea cliffs known as The Seven Sisters.

Devil's Dyke England
The serene and beautiful Devil’s Dyke in South Downs is a perfect stop on your way to the white cliffs of Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters.

Windsor Castle and St. George’s Chapel

Windsor Castle England UK
Windsor Castle and St. George’s Chapel in the charming town of Windsor, England is a must-do day trip from London.

I arrived in England during the mourning period of Queen Elizabeth II and walked the queue to her lying-in-state. The line to pay your respects snaked around the River Thames for miles and at one point meant more than 24 hours to wait. So we were surprised to learn that our self-guided tour of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle allowed us to view her final resting place in the Royal Vault. It was a very moving experience.

Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest castle in the world that’s still inhabited by residents. Your tour will take you to the queen and king apartments where you’ll experience lots of history, beautiful architecture, and stunning furnishings.

Guide to an Oxford day trip

Christ Church Oxford England UK
Christ Church in Oxford, England is a perfect destination on your day trip from London.

While you could spend weeks in Oxford and still not see everything (I stayed five days and it wasn’t long enough), a day trip from London is doable. My top three recommendations for a day trip include a walking tour of Oxford colleges, audio tour of Christ Church, Oxford Castle & Prison – and stop in and eat or drink at The Turf Tavern, which dates back to 1831. Oxford’s version of the Bridge of Signs is near the alleyway that leads to this old pub.

Watch for a future post on other cool things to do and see in Oxford, including:

  • Christ Church – especially Grand Hall if you’re a Harry Potter fan
  • Bodleian Library – Divinity School and Duke Humphrey’s Reading Room (both filming locations for Harry Potter)
  • Oxford Castle & Prison
  • Tour of Oxford colleges (there are 39 of them!)
  • Carfax Tower
  • Oxford University Museum of Natural History
  • The Turf Tavern – dating back to 1831
  • University of St. Mary the Virgin and Tower
  • Oxford Botanical Garden
  • Punting or other boat tour on River Thames or River Cherwell
  • Bridge of Sighs
  • Radcliff Camera
  • Oxford University Press (if you’re a word nerd like me)
  • And more

Visit Bletchley Park; Milton Keynes, England

Bletchley Park Milton Keynes England UK
Bletchley Park estate in Milton Keynes, England

I am so grateful that Bletchley Park hosted me on a self-guided audio tour of Bletchley Park. This historic site was the secret home of the famous World War II code breakers, including Alan Turing.

The tour of this beautiful estate takes you on a journey of the past with immersive films, interactive displays, and historic buildings. It’s a perfect day trip for those who love history and learning more about WWII or anything techy. See my full review of my Bletchley Park experience (opinions are always my own.)

A list of the best day trips from London and distances

Bridge of Sighs Oxford England UK
Bridge of Sighs; Oxford, England

How far away are the best day trips from London? Here are the estimated miles to some of the top day trips from London.

  • The Cotswolds featured villages:
    • Bibury: 102 miles
    • Bourton-on-the-Water: 88 miles
    • Burford: 73 miles
    • Stow-on-the-Wold: 84 miles
  • Windsor Castle and St. George’s Chapel; Windsor, England: 25 miles
  • Beachy Head; Eastbourne, England: 87 miles
  • The Seven Sisters: 67 miles
  • Oxford, England: 56 miles
  • Bletchley Park: 55 miles


Best day trips from London I still need to do

While I experienced a lot during my three-week workcation in England, it still wasn’t enough time to visit every place on my list. Here are a few more of what I’m sure are some of the best day trips from London for next time.

  • Blenheim Castle
  • Bath
  • Brighton
  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • Canterbury
  • Cliffs of Dover
  • Downton Abbey filming locations (Highclere Castle, village of Bampton, etc.)
  • Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros. Studios
  • Leeds Castle
  • Stonehenge
  • Stratford-on-Avon
  • Warwick Castle
  • York
  • And many more

Did I miss any of your favorite day trips from London? Let me know in the comments.

Pin it for later – best day trips from London

Collage of Best Day Trips from London

Best day trips from London
Author

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

48 comments

    1. Thank you so kindly! I know you would love Windsor and The Cotswolds. So happy we had the opportunity to explore these areas in England.

        1. We loved exploring the South Downs – so beautiful along the English Channel. We definitely thought it was worth the day trip from London.

  1. I love historic day trips. It has been a while since I have been to London. Looking forward to returning and visiting Bourton-on-the-Water. I love all the flowers.

  2. I love Windsor Castle. We are Lucky enought to go to London often — my sister lives there. You can find so many historic day trips!

  3. Wow! Love your photos: especially the ones taken from the Cotswolds. We haven’t been to England yet, but it’s on the list. We’ll bookmark your post for reference!

    1. That’s so good to hear! You will not be disappointed with The Cotswolds. So charming! I would love to return and hike through all the historic places in this region.

  4. I can’t wait till we get to go again. I plan on making many day trips from London! Windsor Castle for sure!

  5. Oh my goodness beachy head just made it to the top of my list next time I’m around the London area! This was so helpful and now I’m excited to hit up England once more. Thank you for sharinging!

    1. That makes me so happy to hear! I am so glad we took the day trip from London to Beachy Head. The views were stunning! You will love it!

  6. I also took a day trip to Oxford from London last year and really enjoyed it! Haven’t had the chance to visit the other places on this list but will definitely check them out.

  7. Most of the time we have stayed close to the city when we visited London. But these historic spots looks like great day trips from London. Such a lovely variety in the sights you can see – small towns, lovely outdoor scenery and history too!

    1. Thank you! There is a lot to do right in London. Happy we had the opportunity to take a few day trips to enjoy the scenic and historic spots.

  8. So much to see! You have captured some of my favourite places in southern England. I live in the north and have not visited places like the Cotswolds for some time. Your post reminded me how much I love some of these places so I should return. I have never been to Bletchley Park though and would definitely like to visit this historic place.

    1. I actually spent 5 days in Oxford so got to see a lot but not enough. I did make it to the Covered Market and plan to visit the Science Museum next time.

  9. This is how I exactly imagine what it would be like to step into the countryside, just a few hour’s drive from the city. Scenic, historic and uplifting. Cotswolds is ❤️

    1. I’m so happy we had an opportunity to visit the English countryside and take these day trips from London. Very scenic and historic.

  10. I didnt know you could do a tour at Bletchley Park! I watched the series on Netflix and absolutely LOVED IT! Definitely bookmarking this new information!

    1. I haven’t seen Bletchley Park on Netflix yet – I need to watch it! If you get the opportunity to visit England, I highly recommend touring Bletchley Park – so fascinating!

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