What’s not to love about London?
The capital of Great Britain is one of the most renowned cities in the world and for good reason as it hosts a wealth of English culture and history.
Yet London is just one city, one part of the UK.
It is surrounded by beautiful cities, castles and countryside that are an easy day trip away by car.
Each place famous in it’s own right and completely unique.
Picturesque countryside and quaint villages can be found within easy distance of London, and with motorways making the journeys relatively quick and easy, it would be a shame not to leave London in search of other British gems.
Here are 15 of the best day trips from London by car.
The spa town of Bath is a World heritage Site.
In 60AD, Romans first built a spa and temple on the natural hot springs located here.
Before the hot springs, it was likely a shrine to the local Britons.
The Roman Baths are an extensive tardis, a marvel of Roman engineering and a brilliant insight into the life of ancient Romans.
Bath Abbey stands within 2 minutes walk and looms impressively over cobbled streets lined with quirky shops, pubs and cafes.
The iconic Royal crescent, built with famous Bath stone is also well worth a visit.
How Far is Bath from London?
Bath is approximately 114 miles west of Central London, 2 hours 30 minutes by car.
2/ Windsor Castle
Windsor castle made headlines with the wedding of prince Harry and Meghan Markle having taken place there in 2018.
It is a favorite of Her majesty the Queens Royal Residences, and dates back to the 11th Century when William the Conqueror built it after taking the crown.
Much of it was rebuilt by Charles II in 1660 when the Monarchy was restored following the English civil war, when it was used as military headquarters and a prison for Charles I.
Arrive in time for the ceremonial changing of the guard at 11am before visiting the impressive state apartments.
How Far is Windsor Castle from London?
Windsor Castle is approximately 23 miles West of Central London, 1 hour drive by car.
Stonehenge remains a mystery, despite archaeologists research and informed theories, no one knows exactly why it was built, exactly how it was built, or what it’s purpose was.
Despite this, tourists flock to see the stone circle to try and decide for themselves if it was a sacrificial site used by druids, a meeting place, temple, or calendar.
Stonehenge itself is just part of a much bigger site with multiple stone circles, Neolithic villages and an informative exhibition on site.
No doubt the people who built it would be surprised with our fascination of this ancient stone structure.
How Far is Stonehenge from London?
Stonehenge is approximately 89 miles from central London, 2 hours drive by car.
|London to Stonehenge Shuttle Bus and Independent Day Trip
Take your time to wander around the stones with the aid of an audio guide.
Learn about the possible reasons Stonehenge was built nearly 5000 years ago, and how these 40 tonne stones were brought here.
|Stonehenge and Bath Day Trip from London
Combine Stonehenge and Bath in a fantastic tour.
Visit the Stone Circle in the morning before continuing on to more recent history with an afternoon Bath.
Choose to visit Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths, the Jane Austen visitor center, or simply explore the streets.
|Stonehenge, Windsor and Bath with Pub Lunch in Lacock
This fully guided tour takes place in the best of the West.
It begins Royally at Windsor Castle, before a stop at Stonehenge and pub lunch in Lacock.
Finish the day exploring Bath by coach and then on foot to see Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths.
4/ Stratford on Avon
The Warwickshire market town of Stratford on Avon is most famous for being Shakespeare’s home town.
Indeed, there are 5 Shakespearean houses to visit, including that of his wife, Ann Hathaway.
With a Tudor interior and it’s uneven floors, a visit really is a step back in time.
The river Avon meanders near the town center, a beautiful place to picnic, stroll, or cruise along.
It’s well worth stepping into one of the many Tudor pubs in the center to sample a traditional English ale.
If you have time, stay a night and book theater tickets to see one of Shakespeare’s plays.
How Far is Stratford on Avon from London?
Stratford on Avon is approximately 107 miles, 2 hours from Central London by car.
5/ The Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is undoubtedly the place to go to experience pretty English villages nestled amongst beautiful rolling hills.
It is the epitomy of rural England, with countless areas forming the backdrop of many images like the stone cottages and country gardens.
Cotswolds was designated an area of outstanding beauty in 1966.
Bourton On The Water has been described as ‘the Venice of the Cotswolds’ and for good reason.
The yellow stone cottages are out of a story book, and there is no shortage of cosy tea rooms and interesting shops selling everything from antiques, to art, and vintage clothes.
A visit here is relaxing, hassle free and gives visitors a taste of rural life.
How Far is the Cotswold from London?
Bourton On the Water is approximately 87 miles from Central London, 2 hours by car.
|Lunch in the Cotswolds from London
Enjoy the peace and serenity of the Cotswolds with a delicious 2 course lunch included.
Explore several villages including a walking tour around beautiful Bilbury and free time at Stowe on the Wold to explore stone cottages and souvenir shops.
|Blenheim Palace Tour and The Cotswolds Custom Day Trip from London
Combine your trip to the Cotswolds with a visit to the impressive Blenheim Palace, a baroque manor house where Sir Winston Churchill was born.
Visit Boughton on the water and stunning views of stone arched bridges at River Windrush.
Oxford is famed for it’s prestigious University, the oldest in the English speaking world.
It’s existence was first recorded during the 12th century.
However it’s architecture is the reason to visit.
Known as the ‘city of dreaming spires’ there are examples of English architecture from every period since the late Saxons.
Many of oxfords colleges show examples of this, and several can be visited by tourists throughout the year (although access is restricted as students live and study there).
Walk the streets that thousands of students have before, marvel at the impressive buildings and narrow alleys.
Hire a punt or go on a tour along the river and enjoy a glass of Pimms and lemonade in the sunshine, a traditional refreshment still popular today.
How Far is Oxford from London?
Oxford is approximately 58 miles, a 1 hour 20 minutes drive from Central London.
7/ Warner Bros. Studio – The Making of Harry Potter
For the fans of Harry Potter, head to Warner Bros. Studio and see the props and sets used in the world famous movies, based on the book series by J. K. Rowling.
Follow Harry’s footsteps as you discover Diagon Alley for yourself.
Learn how animatrics created characters such as Dobby, and how special affects created the wizardry, or is it magic?
Try some butter beer for yourself.
Christ Church College, Oxford was used for filming the huge dinning hall, along with other locations in Oxford.
This is definitely a must see wizarding tour for muggles dreaming of magic.
How Far is Warner Bros Studio from London?
The Warner bros Studio is only 21 miles from Central London, approximately 45 minutes by car.
Visit the world renowned Cambridge University, founded in 1209, and rival to Oxford University.
On paper, these cities may look like twins as they are both home to the oldest Universities in Britain,
Both have rivers and interesting architecture.
However, the two cities are very different and it is worth visiting both.
Cambridge is bigger and brighter than its compact, grey rival, but it too has plenty of quaint pubs, cafes, and shops to discover in between visits to various colleges, including the gothic St Johns College, known as the ‘wedding cake’ for its layers.
How Far is Cambridge from London?
Cambridge is approximately 63 miles North of Central London, 1 hour 15 minutes by car.
9/ Canterbury and Dover
The white cliffs of Dover are iconic to the English coastline, and a great day trip from London to relax in the countryside.
Dover castle, one of hundreds of castles in the UK is well worth a visit too,
Strategically placed for defence, it is the largest castle in the UK and was founded in the 11th century.
Just inland is the City of Canterbury.
Famous for its Cathedral, it is the mother church of the Anglican Communion,and seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England.
The cathedral is partly Gothic in style following a fire in 1174, and is an extremely impressive religious building.
How Far is Canterbury and Dover from London?
Dover is approximately 82 miles, 2 hours East of central London.
Canturbury is only 60 miles away, approximately 1 hour 40 minutess by car.
10/ Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle is easily one of the UK’s top 5 castles to visit.
The medieval castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 and has been expanded since.
It’s location on the banks of the River Avon, provided natural defense back then.
Today it creates a fantastic location to fire an 18m tall Trebuchet.
While it is possible to stay the night either in the Knights village or even in a room in the castle itself, most of the complex can be seen in a shorter visit.
There are castle dungeons, a live actor experience similar to the ‘London Dungeons’.
If possible, time your trip to coincide with one of the many seasonal exhibits Warwick castle hosts around the year, such as an unrivalled jousting display, or ‘flight of the eagles’ birds of prey displays.
How Far is Warwick Castle from London?
Warwick castle is 96 miles, approximately 2 hours by car from Central London.
11/ Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey is a hugely popular period drama set in Yorkshire.
In real life, the set of Downton Abbey is called Highclere Castle and is a Jacobethan style country house located in Hampshire.
Explore the rooms used for filming, and learn about the Carnavons, the real life counterparts to the fictional crawly family, who have lived there since the 17th century.
A tour of Highclere Castle is one of the best ways to learn about Aristocratic life in Edwardian times.
How Far is Downton Abbey from London?
Downton Abbey (Highclere castle) is approximately 67 miles west of Central London, 1 hour 30 minutes by car.
12/ Leeds Castle
Perhaps confusingly, Leeds castle is not located in the city of Leeds, but in Kentish countryside.
It was a favorite residence of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, whom he famously divorced and in doing so created the Church of England.
In 857 a wooden structure was first built on the site, today the predominately 19th century castle stands in 500 acres of parkland.
See history unveil itself from the castles roots as a Norman stronghold to a Tudor residence used by Henry VIII and a private royal residence in later years.
How Far is Leeds Castle from London?
Leeds castle is approximately 43 miles east of Central London, 1 hour 10 minutess by car.
13/ Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is reached via a 2 mile ferry Crossing from Southampton.
On a clear day the views of Southern England and the Isle of Wight are spectacular.
The welcoming Islanders have plenty to offer tourists, from a model village in Godshill and Shanklin Chine, a woodland out of a fairytale, complete with rare plants and a waterfall.
Shanklin is a lovely seaside town with plenty of quaint tea shops to enjoy the slower pace of life.
How Far is Isle of Wight from London?
The Isle of Wight is approximately 90 miles from Central London, 3 hours journey time including the ferry crossing.
A settlement has existed at Brighton since the Bronze age.
Despite the beach being pebbled rather than sound, visitors flock to the cosmopolitan city of Brighton.
The Royal Pavillion, built in 1787 as a Royal residence for George, Prince of Wales, is a must see, along with a stroll down Brighton Pier and time well spent amongst the amusements and rides.
Theater and Evening Concerts are another big draw, and it’s one of the most LGBT friendly cities in the world with it’s forward thinking attitude.
A trip to eccentric Brighton is bound to be filled with fun, excitement, and no doubt seagulls trying to beg some fish n’ chips from you.
How Far is Brighton from London?
Brighton is approximately 54 miles South of Central London, 1 hour 30 minutes by car.
15/ Bicester Shopping Village
Shopaholics will love a day spent at Bicester Shopping village.
With over 160 designer outlets, you can easily spend all day browsing the stores.
There’s plenty of fantastic cafes and restaurants for those all important breaks.
You can even enjoy a special shopping experience thanks to their Valet Service, personal shopper, and hands free shopping, where they collect your purchases from the stores for you.
It couldn’t be easier to indulge your retail desires than this.
How Far is Bicester Shopping Village from London?
Bicester Shopping Village is approximately 63 miles from Central London, 1 hour 20 minutes by car.
There’s undoubtedly more to England than it’s amazing capital, London, and this list of the 15 best day trips from London by car is an excellent place to decide what activities are for you.
Are you a history buff, excited for ancient architecture of cities such as Bath and Canterbury?
Do you prefer a country escape to the picture perfect Cotswolds on the iconic white cliffs of Dover?
Maybe you’re a huge fan of Movie sets and seeing film locations from Harry Potter and Downton Abbey is right up your street.
There is something for everyone and more, even if it’s your other half begging you for a trip to the seaside when you’d prefer to be pretending you’re a Knight or Lady of an amazing castle, the trip will have plenty to offer you.
If you have experiences with other day trips from London, share your recommendations below.