The Best Classic Day Trips from London | Part I

In this series, we are going to look at the best classic day trips from London. If you are on a short break then you don’t have to spend all your time in London. You can still capture the spirit of the English countryside as there are many day trips from London to the countryside. You can even go as far as Edinburgh or Paris on a day trip from London!

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So! Without further ado, let’s look at some of the best day trips that are on offer whilst you are in London. Majority of the day trips depart from London Victoria Coach Station. Others such as Edinburgh and Paris depart from either Euston or King’s Cross/St Pancras train stations.

1. Stonehenge

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This famous prehistoric monument is only 2 hours from London, was built about 5,000 years ago. Although the first monument was an early henge monument, the unique stone circle was erected in the late Neolithic period about 2500 BC.

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Situated on Salisbury Plain, these giant 40-ton rocks stand alone and is a world heritage site. There are many theories that surround Stonehenge, from Bronze Age burial ground as many burial mounds were built nearby. Then there’s the belief that it is a religious temple to an astronomical clock, a temple for sun worship, and a healing centre. You can decide for yourself whilst discovering the history behind this mysterious monument and be captivated by the unique rock formation! English Heritage have a layout of Stonehenge which you can view here.

If you only do this trip, then the tour is unescorted and you will be taken straight to Stonehenge for an extended visit

2. Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath

This combination trip is by far better value for money and one of the best day trips out of London. The journey to these historic places are in the same direction of travel (west), affording the ability to pack in a full day trip to three of the four places. You can choose either Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath or Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Oxford.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is said to be the Queen’s favourite weekend residence. It is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and has landscaped gardens and turreted Round Towers. The lavish State Apartments are home to priceless artworks by Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci.

You can visit St. George’s Chapel where Harry and Meghan got married and also see the atmospheric tombs of former monarchs including Henry VIII, Queen Victoria, the Queen Mother. You can also see Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House which has tiny items, hot and cold running water and even electricity too!


The City of Bath was the first city in England to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It gets its name from the famous Roman Baths, Britain’s only hot spring and has been attracting visitors for 2000 years. The Pump Room is where you taste Bath’s healing waters containing 43 minerals.

The 15th century Bath Abbey is a unique example of Gothic architecture and founded in the 7th century. It was built from the famous yellow Bath Stone. There are many things to marvel at such as the stained-glass windows and detailed stonework. You can climb up and sit behind the clock face and even view inside the bell ringing chamber.

Besides the Georgian architecture to admire, you will also find the Jane Austen Centre which offers a permanent exhibition which allows you to discover more about the famous novelist’s connection to Bath inspired her novels and was where she lived.

3. Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Oxford

As mentioned before, this combination trip is by far better value for money and one of the best day trips out as the journey to these historic places are in the same direction of travel (west), affording the ability to pack in a full day trip to three of the four places. You can choose either Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Oxford or Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath.


The city of Oxford is home to the prestigious University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world. The city’s history has given rise to a unique architectural landscape that features fine examples of architecture going as far back as Saxon times.

Many famous students, from C.S. Lewis to Bill Clinton have attended Oxford. Walk through the college courtyards, cobbled lanes, unspoilt narrow alleys and ancient squares of this historic university town and take in the famous ‘City of Dreaming Spires’. See the Bodleian Library, which is one of the oldest libraries in Europe.

Christ Church college was founded by Henry VIII in 1532. It is one of the University’s most prestigious colleges but also functions as the UK’s smallest cathedral. Christ Church is recognisable since it was one of the major locations for the Harry Potter films! The Great Hall was used as the setting for Hogwarts. Christ Church’s beautiful architecture has also seen it featured in The Golden Compass.

There are replicas around the world of the famous dining hall, including in Cornell University and the University of Chicago.

4. Cambridge and Oxford

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Another out of London tour to take in are the cities of Cambridge and Oxford, which are arguably the most famous and prestigious institutions in the world, the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. They are also the oldest universities in the UK and perhaps even in the English-speaking world with Oxford University being the oldest with origins dating back to the 11th century and Cambridge University which was founded in 1209 by a bunch of rebel scholars, ironically from Oxford! Hence the rivalry between them going back centuries.

People also go punting for pleasure which is especially popular in both the university towns. Punting is an activity of going along the river on a boat which is push forward by pushing against the bottom of the river with a long pole.


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We have already touched on Oxford. So won’t go through it again.

King’s College Chapel was started by Henry VI in 1446 and took a century to build. It has wonderful gothic architecture, huge stained glass windows and artwork by Rubens. It is also the home of the King’s College Chapel Choir.

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Outside the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College, is the Corpus Clock, a unique invention shown to the world by Stephen Hawking. It has no numbers to tell the time. Instead, the time is shown through lights that shine through individual slots. The clock is actually made from a 24-carat gold-plated stainless steel disc.

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Besides punting must see is Cambridge’s Mathematical Bridge designed by William Etheridge. It is nearly 300 years old and the design uses only straight timbers. What’s unusual about that, you might think?! Well, the intriguing mystery is that the bridge arches!

Former students of Cambridge University include Oliver Cromwell, Charles Darwin and Alan Turing – the World War II codebreaker.

5. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

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This is one of the best day trips out of London for Harry Potter fans from all over the world. But it also for anyone interested in behind-the-scenes and showcases of beautiful sets, costumes and props. So popular is this tour to see closely guarded secrets, including facts about special effects and animatronics, that there are hourly departures until the early afternoon to the studios. There’s even an option for a private return transportation in a standard sedan/saloon car with entry tickets to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour London.

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Platform 9 ¾ and Hogwarts Express is a permanent exhibition where you climb aboard the train’s carriage and pose with a luggage trolley as it disappears through the platform wall. Discover the magical treasures as you enter the all new Gringotts Wizarding Bank on Diagon Alley. There’s Bellatrix Lestrange’s vault where you’ll find the Sword of Gryffindor and Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup, one of Voldemort’s many Horcruxes. You can also take a unique photo surrounded by thousands of pieces of magical treasure.

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Incidentally, you can enjoy watching the first Harry Potter movie on the journey to and from the studios too.

A couple of special events to note for later in 2022:

The Dark Arts feature is between Friday 23rd September and Sunday 6th November 2022 (Halloween is on 31st October!). The Great Hall ceiling will be decorated with floating pumpkins as well as a spooky feast of lollipops and red apples spread along the tables. While following the Dark Mark trail, you can try their wand combat moves against Death Eaters which is a live duel as they storm the Studio Tour.

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Hogwarts in the Snow is from Saturday 12th November 2022 to Sunday 15th January 2023. The Christmas festive makeover will see the Great Hall transformed with the icy silvers of the iconic Yule Ball scenes. The Gryffindor common room will also be decorated and along filmmaking snow covering the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley and the magnificent Hogwarts castle model.