Looking to escape the capital for the day? These day trips from London are the perfect circuit breaker for city dwellers in need of a change of scene.
From a seaside jaunt in Brighton or Margate to a cultural getaway in Lewes or Bath, we’ve got you covered.
With a journey time of one hour 30 minutes by train from London Paddington (or two hours 30 minutes by car) Bath is a more than doable day trip – but if time allows, we recommend you make a weekend of it (and book in to No.15 Great Pulteney). Between the Crescent, the Roman Baths, and the Abbey… there’s a lot to fit in. Classics ‘to-dos’ aside, carve out some time to visit 8 Holland Street’s Bath gallery and nām, a store which sells antique furniture and homeware.
Few places so close to London (the journey here takes approx. one hour by train, or two by car) feel like such an adventure. Unofficially known as ‘Britain’s only desert’, the landscape is barren and the wildlife is overrun. A wholly unique locale, be sure to pay a visit to Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage, and make a pitstop for lunch at roadside hut the Snack Shack, which does the freshest lobster rolls around.
Brighton, East Sussex
Brighton has been a good-time getaway since the Regency. Eccentric and characterful, it’s a mishmash of retro, seaside fun, and boasts a buzzing LGBT+ scene. Spend the day exploring bunting-lined streets at your leisure – we suggest kicking things off at The Lanes (a prime spot for vintage shops and independent boutiques) before heading to the Palace Pier. Once shoreside, stop to enjoy some freshly made doughnuts on a striped deckchair plotted along the 8km-long pebbly beach.
A much-loved pocket of the east-Kent coast, Deal is sweet as can be. Nicknamed, ‘Margate’s little sister’, the tempo here is considerably slower than its seaside sibling. With a slew of shops, cafés, and galleries – we recommend Linden Hall Studio, which is housed in a converted chapel, for a taste of the homegrown art scene – there’s much to engage with. The Saturday Market stalls are worth a rummage and don’t forget to pop your head into The Rose, for a quick bite or a pint of something cooling before making your return to the city.
Coming in at just over an hour’s train ride from London Victoria, Lewes is a swell spot for a day trip. Too often overlooked in favour of Brighton, visitors to Lewes can expect a slower pace and an abundance of artisan cafés and indie shops selling local craftsmanship to enjoy. Don’t miss Lewes Flea Market – a must for antique furniture and quirky homeware enthusiasts.
The New Forest, Hampshire
A peaceful escape for city-weary Londoners, New Forest promises a nature-dominated afternoon or weekend – think sightings of free-roaming New Forest ponies and copious paths primed for lengthy woodland walks. Such outdoor pursuits are best followed by a hearty roast at a thatched-roof pub. Note: in charming villages, like Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst, you’ll find some of the country’s best farm-to-table restaurants.
This Victorian seaside town has enjoyed quite the hipster renaissance. Home to the Turner Contemporary and Carl Freedman’s Counter Editions, in recent years, the renovation of the town’s retro-theme park and roller-disco Dreamland has seen a younger crowd of day-trippers heading here come the weekend. Following a spins on the rides, head to the Shell Grotto. Later, stock up on seaweed-based skincare at Haeckels before heading for home (you’ll be pulling in to London St Pancras International in a neat one hour and 25 minutes).