The best day trips from London

Looking to get out of the city for a few hours? Here’s the definitive list of best day trips from London, featuring spa cities, seaside towns and adventures in the great British countryside
Rye - best day trips from London 2018
By Emma Hughes |
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‘When a man is tired of London,’ Samuel Johnson famously declared, ‘he is tired of life’. With all due respect to Sam, much as we at Time Out love everything about living in the city (well, nearly everything; there’s nothing that lovable about being wedged on the Northern line at 6pm), we disagree. From time to time we all need a change of scene – but preferably without too much faffing. So, whether you’re in the mood for bracing sea air or a forest frolic, here are twelve sweet spots, complete with pretty pubs and ace restaurants, that are close enough to the capital to get there and back in a day.

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for more amazing day trip ideas, from floral getaways to boozy breaks, and check out our guide to the best weekend breaks from London if you fancy escaping the city for more than a day. 

RECOMMENDED: 101 incredible things to do in London instead

 

13 dreamy day trips from London

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Margate - best day trips from London 2018
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Margate

The Turner Contemporary opening in 2011 was the long-neglected Margate’s invitation to the ball. Today, the Kent coast’s most famous Cinderella story is awash with cold-brew coffee and craft beer, with just enough salty charm to still give it an edge. Start at the Turner, then mosey over to retro theme park and roller-disco Dreamland. Once the effects of the Waltzer have worn off, head to Hantverk & Found for a lunch of the freshest seafood and natural wines. Spend the rest of the afternoon shopping: browse immaculate vintage piece in Breuer & Dawson, and stock up on seaweed-based skincare at Haeckels.

How far? 76 miles

Get there one hour 25 minutes by train from London St Pancras International; approx three hours by car. 

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Stratford-upon-avon

Stratford-upon-Avon

The Bard, of course, is the big draw here, and Shakespeare’s house, his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage and the RSC’s home theatre are all must-sees. But Stratford’s more than just a Tudor Disneyland, you know. Take a boat tour of the canal basin to find out more about the West Midlands’ waterways, refresh yourselves in the Grade II-listed Old Thatch Tavern, stop for a scoop of Eton Mess ice cream at Hooray’s British Gelato Kitchen and pick up some local Berkswell to take home from posh cheesemonger Paxton & Whitfield (sorry, fellow travellers).

How far? 104 miles

Get there two hours 15 minutes by train from London Marylebone; two hours by car. 

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deal - shutterstock

Deal

It doesn’t get as much attention as Margate and Whitstable, but with its tidy rows of Georgian townhouses, quirky independents and thriving Saturday market, Deal ticks all the day-trip boxes. Start at Deal Castle (built by Henry VIII as part of an ambitious chain of coastal forts), then treat yourself to lunch at 81 Beach Street or Victuals & Co. Parisian-style bottle shop Le Pinardier is great for stocking up on gluggable goodies, and make sure you stop by gallery-cum-homewares boutique Taylor-Jones and Son, where Delilah the sheepdog will welcome you with open paws.

How far? Just over 80 miles

Get there one hour 20 minutes by train from London St Pancras International; approx two hours by car. 

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