There are plenty of things to see in the city of London. But a bit further out, you’ll find more incredible places to explore on a day trip, particularly by train. Depending on where you want to go, there are express services to certain destinations. And fortunately, London has a number of reliable train stations. Within 3 hours of the city, there are castles, historic sites, beaches, and outlying towns. Whether you’re a couple or a family with kids, we’ll show you how to escape the crowds. Here are the best day trips from London by train.

1. Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Warner Brothers Studio Tour is your ultimate magical journey to The Making of Harry Potter. It’s only 15 minutes by shuttle bus from Watford Junction, so it’s the most convenient London day trip. There’s no Platform 9 3/4 to get you directly there, but the train to Watford Junction from London Euston is 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can go direct from London King’s Cross or Victoria on the Golden Tour double-decker Harry Potter bus. Apart from viewing original sets, props, and costumes, there are always attractions and special features. Don’t miss the recent addition of Professor Sprout’s Greenhouse, or browse the revamped Dragon Alley. There are various ticket options including VIP tours. Make sure to check their website for upcoming special features and events.

  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Train Station: Watford Junction
  • Opening Hours: Daily 8:30am-10pm
  • Address: Studio Tour Dr, Leavesden, Watford WD25 7LR, United Kingdom

Check Tours Official site

2. Windsor Castle

When you arrive at Windsor Castle, you’ll be in awe of the historic structure and grandeur. It’s an easy-going 35-minute day trip by train from London Paddington station. Windsor is a working palace and it closes on specific days and sometimes at short notice. To avoid disappointment, always check the website first for details. You won’t be disappointed though with its majestic architecture, superb interiors, and fantastic artwork. The castle’s St. George’s Chapel is England’s finest example of Gothic architecture. During your trip, make sure you stop by the souvenir shop and Undercroft Café. You can also book private tours to get the most out of the day.

  • Duration: 35 minutes
  • Train Station: Windsor & Eton Central
  • Opening Hours: Thursday to Monday 10am-5:15pm
  • Address: Windsor SL4 1NJ, United Kingdom

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3. Cambridge

Cambridge, compared to Oxford, is quite compact, picturesque, and laid back. A fun way to discover this historic city is along its punting canals. There’s an abundance of nature and the flattish landscape makes bicycling suitable for all. As a famous university town, don’t miss either self-guided or private campus tours. On rainy days, you can visit a number of museums and educational spaces large and small. Apart from popular shopping streets and arcades, there are also local and seasonal markets. Trains leave from St. Pancras Int. and King’s Cross, but it’ll be cheaper from Liverpool Street station.

  • Duration: 55 minutes
  • Train Station: Cambridge
  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Address: Cambridge, UK

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4. Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)

On the grand scale of things, Highclere Castle is rather small but filled with eccentric British charm. It is a family estate of the famous Lord Carnarvon. One of the highlights is Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Egyptian Exhibition, along with the estate’s antique collection. Around the grounds, there are public walkways to enjoy the greenery. But what made the caste really popular is the drama series, Downtown Abbey.  Tours are available so you can see the different set locations onsite. To get there, catch the train from London Paddington to Newbury Station. It’s just a 10-minute taxi ride from here. On arrival, it’s not a ‘free-for-all’ so you have to book in advance.

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Train Station: Newbury
  • Opening Hours: Generally April, May, July, August, and September; 10:30am-4pm (must pre-book)
  • Address: Highclere Park, Highclere, Newbury RG20 9RN, United Kingdom

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5. Oxford

Although only slightly more populated than Cambridge, Oxford has quite a bustling urban vibe. The country town is more varied in industry and economy. It’s also somewhat hilly and spread out over quite a large area. For Harry Potter fans, Oxford is second only to Warner Bros. Studio Tour. There are actual studios but the Great Hall in Christ Church College is one of the must-see locations. Other key highlights are Oxford Castle & Prison, the famous Blenheim Palace, and the Ashmolean Museum. Oxford also has a number of distilleries that can add more variety to your day. If you’re into theatre and music, visit the New Oxford Theatre, the Sheldonian, and the Oxford Play House. Trains leave from London Paddington or Marylebone – which is cheaper but 10 minutes longer.

  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Train Station: Oxford
  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Address: Oxford, UK

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6. Canterbury

The small town of Canterbury is full of architectural gems with Canterbury Cathedral as the centerpiece. Other popular attractions include St. Augustine Abbey, St. Martin’s Church, the medieval West Gate, and Roman Museum. Additionally, the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge has plenty of activities for all ages. Historic river tours are extremely popular as are walking tours. There are two stations, Canterbury East and West, but East station is closer to key historical sites. For both stations, trains leave from London Victoria or St. Pancras Int. If you want to go to West Canterbury, you can also hop on at Charring Cross. Just 10 minutes by bus from Canterbury is the charming seaside town of Whistable famous for oysters and boutique crafts. Another popular combination is Dover, both with trains back to London.

  • Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Train Station: Canterbury East/West
  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Address: Canterbury, UK

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7. Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle was the first of England’s ‘less stately’ castles to truly engage the public. Partly, this was due to the American heiress Lady Baillie purchasing and repurposing the castle in the 1920s. These days, Leeds Castle is hard to beat which is great considering the lack of nearby attractions. There’s a fantastic maze-grotto adventure, an obstacle course for 8 to 12-year-olds, mini golf, and playgrounds. Nature lovers can enjoy acres of guided walking tours and gardens, while the adventurous can challenge three high-rope courses. Additionally, there are jousting shows, a swan lake ferry, a dog collar museum, and a bird of prey center. Trains from London Victoria stop at Bearsted where shuttle buses are more frequent than the local Hollingbourne station.

  • Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Train Station: Bearsted
  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5pm
  • Address: Broomfield, Maidstone ME17 1PL, United Kingdom

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8. Bath

Bath is home to the only natural thermal waters in Britain built by Romans who liked to take baths. It’s not just a place to clean off the London grime, but a modern holistic and wellness destination. You’ll find independent beauty brands, local crafts, and boutique stalls along the streets. There are also unique museums, contemporary art galleries, theaters, and special events. To get the most out of a day trip, join a walking tour in the morning or afternoon. The local guide will show you the best of Bath’s Roman architecture and Georgian elegance. Trains leave early from London Paddington Station so have your backpacks ready.

  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Train Station: Bath Spa
  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Address: Bath, UK

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9. Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a rather singular site and you may have to contend with long queues. Since the time to spend there is limited, you can combine Stonehenge with other local activities. It’s cheaper to get tickets online, and thus avoid queues. However, your entry time is fixed and you should arrive 30-minutes before. Trains depart from either London Paddington or Waterloo stations. The way to Stonehenge is a bus from Salisbury station or a 20-minute cab or Uber if you can afford one. At the station, you can hop on the Stonehenge Bus Tour on a round ticket with an optional hop-off at Old Sarum. Alternatively, make a day of it and hire a bicycle in Salisbury to explore the area.

  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Train Station: Salisbury
  • Opening Hours: Daily 9:30am-3pm
  • Address: Salisbury SP4 7DE, United Kingdom

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10. The Cotswolds

Although the Cotswolds is well worth a couple of nights at least, a day trip from London is equally memorable. The Cotswolds runs through five counties and is adored for its rustic villages, quaint towns, and bucolic countryside. It’s often best to book a tour to cover all the gardens, landscapes, and historic areas. Photography, walking, and cycling tours are good options to see Cotswolds. Tetbury is one of the popular towns much unchanged since the 16th and 17th centuries. For Tetbury, you have to take a train from London Paddington to Kemble Station and then a bus for 11 km. A more accessible town is Moreton-on Marsh direct from London Paddington Station. Alternatively, the small Oxfordshire village of Kingham, once voted ‘England’s favorite village’, is also direct from London Paddington.

  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Train Stations: Moreton-in-Marsh, Kingham, Kemble
  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Address: Cotswolds, UK

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11. Dover Castle

Dover Castle is a veritable bastion that has served military purposes from 1066 into modern times! It was an Iron Age site and contains one of two remaining Roman lighthouses. At Dover Castle, you can explore secret WW II tunnels, an underground hospital, and a Morse code signaling station. For kids, there are interactive displays, games, and costumed characters on select days. Trains depart from London Victoria, St. Pancras Int., or Charring Cross stations. From Dover Priory, it’s a short walk through Dover town for buses on Taswell Street. Or if you’re fit, you can walk 20-minutes uphill to the castle. You can combine Dover with a day trip to Canterbury via train from Canterbury East Station or by coach.

  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Train Station: Dover Priory
  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5pm
  • Address: Castle Hill Rd., Dover CT16 1HU, United Kingdom

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12. Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror. It went through a number of historic events like rebellions and battles. But today, it offers numerous engaging activities for a fun family day out. Young children will love the Zog Playground with a dragon wing zip-wire. For older kids, there’s a maze adventure or you can try your hand at archery. There are also special events like falconry, jousting and stunt shows, historic tours, and live concerts. Trains leave from London Marylebone and it’s a 1.1 km (0.7 miles) walk from Warwick Station to the castle.

  • Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Train Station: Warwick
  • Opening Hours: Daily 10am-4pm
  • Address: Warwick CV34 4QU, United Kingdom

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13. Brighton

From a quirky English seaside town, Brighton has forged its own fate with destiny. It’s home to more tech start-ups and entrepreneurial ventures than any other UK city. Trains depart from London Bridge or Victoria stations, but the cheaper way is by National Express bus lines. There’s a lot to enjoy at the iconic Royal Pavilion & Garden, particularly during the Christmas holidays. Other popular activities include ziplining across the beach and going up the Brighton 360 tower. If you’re visiting with kids, check out SeaLife Brighton, the world’s oldest (Gothic-style) aquarium. Shopping along Brighton’s unusual colorful lanes and narrow alleys is also a must.

  • Duration: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Train Station: Brighton
  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Address: Brighton, UK

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14. Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-Avon is one of the farther choices for a day trip from London by train. The earliest train is 06:16 from London Marylebone, but since it’s a popular ride you should get tickets in advance. The early train is direct, but later trains have at least one interchange. On Saturday, the earliest train is 7am and Sunday is 9am so you’ll only arrive after 11am. Stratford can be touristy, but lots of fun. They have unique attractions like the Mad Museum, Magic Alley, and Butterfly Farm. On arrival, you can join bus tours to go to all key Shakespeare locations. The Royal Shakespeare Company often has early afternoon performances.

  • Duration: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Train Station: Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Opening Hours: Daily 24/7
  • Address: Stratford-upon-Avon, UK

Check Tours Official site

15. Day Trips From London By Train To Other Countries

The Eurostar train at St. Pancras International Station can get you to a number of cities outside the UK. As a general rule, make sure you arrive 90 minutes before departure. You’ll need to check in and sort out your luggage before boarding. With that in mind, these are the most popular cities just a short train ride away.

Paris, France

For a Paris day trip from London, it’s best to know exactly what you want to do. The most popular destination is Disneyland. You can get one-day premium access tickets that include a shuttle or train from Paris. There are also combo tours that include a Seine River cruise. Other must-see attractions include the Louvre,  Versailles, and the Eiffel Tower. So with all these attractions to visit, it’s highly recommended you stay overnight rather than rush a day trip.

  • Duration: 2 hrs 17 min
  • Train Station: Gare du Nord station

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Amsterdam, Netherlands

For first-timers to Amsterdam, interesting places to visit include the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, and the Anne Frank House. Foodie canal cruises and Heineken brewery tours are also popular. On weekdays, the earliest Eurostar train to Amsterdam Centraal leaves at 6:16am and the other fast train is at 8:16am. While on weekends, the fast link is only at 8:16am. It’s a 4-hour trip, so make use of the seat-side charging sockets, free Wi-Fi, and a buffet car. Try to catch the direct trains for return trips as well. Otherwise, you can take the Thalys train from Amsterdam Centraal to Brussels-Midi/Zuid and then the Eurostar. Like Paris, there’s a lot to see so we highly recommend staying overnight.

  • Duration: 3 hrs 57 min
  • Train Station: Amsterdam Centraal

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Brussels, Belgium

Grand Palace in Brussels

Fun things to do in Brussels can include chocolate workshops or walking tours of different varieties. Also, there are a surprising number of interesting museums in Brussels. For adults, you’ll enjoy all the beer-tasting tours on offer. While families with kids may prefer attractions like Mini Europa, the Lego Discovery Center, and the Atomium. The fastest direct Eurostar link to Brussels Midi station is the same as the Amsterdam train. The first two trains at 06:16 or 08:16 only take 1 hr 56 mins, while later trains are just over 2 hours.

  • Duration: 1 hr 56 min
  • Train Station: Brussels-Midi/Zuid

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Best Seaside Day Trips From London By Train

  • Dover CastleAt Dover Castle you can also explore WW2 underground facilities and tunnels. For children, there are interactive activities and fun costumed events. Nearby, you can enjoy walking and cycling paths along the White Cliffs; or take a Sea Safari boat ride. The Dover Museum is famous for its Bronze Age boats.
  • BrightonBrighton is the quintessential English seaside experience. From activities along the shorefront, to zip lining, or shopping along alleyway boutiques, Brighton has something for everyone. Sealife Brighton is also one of the oldest aquariums in the world.
  • Whitstable – Whitstable is only 10 minutes by bus from Canterbury. It’s well-known for its pubs and foodie scene. You can shop for all sorts of goods at the harbor market. Afternoon tea at Whitstable Castle and Gardens is definitely worth trying too.

Best Day Trips From London For Families With Kids

  • Warner Bros. Studio TourWarner Bros. Studio is only 15 minutes by bus from Watford Junction train station. There are various ticket options and VIP tours to choose from on the official website. More recent additions are Professor Sprout’s Greenhouse and a renovated Dragon Alley for all your wizardly shopping needs.
  • Leeds CastleThere’s plenty to do at Leeds Castle such as the maze-grotto adventure, mini golf, and a kid’s castle replica. For teenagers, they’ll enjoy the high-rope course. There’s also the bird of prey center, jousting competitions, and seasonal events. You can glamp for the night at Leeds Castle or even explore the nearby town of Maidstone.
  • Warwick Castle Warwick Castel is only a 20-minute walk from Warwick Station. Some highlights are a playground and zip-wire for younger kids and a maze for older children. There are special events, tours, and sometimes live concerts. Other things to do in Warwick include canal tours, walking tours, and museums. Alternatively, you can visit nearby Leamington Spa town for spa waters, dining, and shopping.

Best Day Trips From London For Couples

  • Highclere CastleHighclere, notwithstanding its Downton Abbey fame, is a popular venue for weddings. They have regular events, talks, and tours of their Egyptian artifacts and filmography heritage. Afternoon tea and summer picnics are two much-loved ticketed events for couples.
  • OxfordThere’s more to Oxford than just Harry Potter and the Great Hall of Christ Church College. Go on romantic river cruises for tea or a full-course lunch. There are also distillery tours, museums, and Bicester Village, loved for its shopping and al fresco dining. Blenheim Palace is just 20 minutes from Oxford.
  • BathBath is a great destination for an intimate couple’s day out. Apart from relaxing spas and wellness treatments at Thermae Bath Spa (pictured above), you can shop for exclusive beauty brands and local crafts. There are also unique museums, contemporary art galleries, and theatres. You can easily combine a visit to Bath with stopovers in Avebury, Stonehenge, and the Cotswolds.

How To Save Money On London Train Tickets

The best way to save money on British Rail is to book an Advance ticket. If you have kids between 5 and 15 years old, they can get up to 50% off. Tickets can be booked 12 weeks ahead, but only one way, so you must buy return tickets separately. Travel outside of busy times to take advantage of Off-Peak tickets. British Rail recommends a combination of Advance, Off-Peak, and Anytime fares as the cheapest deals. Age-categorized railcards also offer good benefits. Additionally, you can use sites like trainline to send text or app alerts for ticket discounts. Sometimes you can save money by buying split tickets instead of a single non-stop ticket.

Best Day Trips From London By Train Within 1 Hour

  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour – 30 minutes
  • Windsor Castle – 35 minutes
  • Cambridge – 55 minutes
  • Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) – 1 hour
  • Oxford – 1 hour

London Day Trips Map

Find More Day Trips From London


London Day TripsDuration From London Train Stations
Warner Bros. Studio Tour30 minutes to Watford Junction
Windsor Castle35 minutes to Windsor & Eton Central
Cambridge55 minutes to Cambridge
Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)1 hour to Newbury
Oxford1 hour to Oxford
Canterbury1 hour 10 minutes to Canterbury West
Leeds Castle1 hour 15 minutes to Bearsted
Bath1 hour 30 minutes to Bath Spa
Stonehenge1 hour 30 minutes to Salisbury
The Cotswolds1 hour 30 minutes to Moreton-in-Marsh
Dover Castle1 hour 30 minutes to Dover Priory
Warwick Castle1 hour 40 minutes to Warwick
Brighton1 hour 40 minutes to Brighton
Stratford-upon-Avon2 hours 15 minutes to Stratford-upon-Avon
Paris2 hours 40 minutes to Gare du Nord
For all new cities, I go overboard on my itinerary, just to see every major attraction. Countries I've visited include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand. Mostly Asian countries. Next target - Europe!