BEST DAY TRIPS FROM LONDON
London offers an abundance of landmarks, historic places and great attractions to suit every taste. But just in case you want to step outside the big city, you will certainly not be disappointed, as the diversity of sights on offer is outstanding. And the best thing is that you do not have to travel far at all.
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1. Windsor Castle and area
With over 500 people living inside the castle, Windsor Castle is the largest dwelled castles in the world spread over 13 acres of an amazing landscape. Highlights of the complex include:
St. George’s Chapel - Ever since its construction during the 14th Century, the chapel has been associated with Royal England. Several royal wedding ceremonies including King Edward VII and recently Prince Harry exchanged marital vows with Megan Markel here in 2018. It also has burials of Henry VIII, Edward IV and several other kings.
Semi-State Rooms, the opulent rooms with luxurious embellishments, constructed during the reign of George IV, are now used by Queen Elizabeth II for official entertaining. Most beautiful of them is the Crimson Drawing Room.
Queen Mary’s Doll House - Crafted in 1924 by famous craftsmen including Sir Edwin Lutyens, this masterpiece was presented to Queen Mary. The miniature items inside the dollhouse were sized 1:12 (1inch for 1ft) scale.
State Apartments - This is the Queen’s residence inside the castle and are open for visit if the Queen is not in residence at the Castle. Valuable artefacts, paintings, armour and so much more are on display to wonder at.
Changing the Guard Ceremony - If you enter the castle at 11 am, it is an added advantage to see the ‘Changing the guard ceremony’ from April to July (Monday-Saturday).
Albert Memorial Chapel - A passage to the east of the St. George Chapel leads you to this chapel constructed in the memory of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria.
Windsor Castle Towers - Climb 200 steps to reach the top of the Round Tower, having trenches on all three sides, to get a beautiful view of the surroundings.
One of the finest prehistoric monuments located in the Wiltshire landscape, the enormous bluestone structure is a landmark in British cultural icons.
This Scheduled Ancient Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site is believed to be built around 3000-1500 BC by Neolithic people. The presence of human bones within the circle depicts that this place was used as a burial ground during 3000-2500 BC.
The Stonehenge Free Festival started in 1972 attracted a large number of visitors to the place. The location is also featured in The Beatles 1965 film- ‘Help’ and several other films, TV series, etc.
During the ticketed tour, learn more about the construction, how these stones were placed, Neolithic tools and so much more. However, to enter the midst of the circle, you need to acquire special morning/ late evening access from the English Heritage managing the monument and its surroundings.
3. Bath and Surroundings
Famous for its hot springs and superb Gothic architecture, Bath, UNESCO World Heritage Site, has an array of attractions visited by over millions of international tourists every year. During the day tour, you cannot afford to miss visiting the following places.
Roman Baths - Built by Roman invaders around 75AD, these hot spring Thermae are dedicated to Goddess Sulis (a goddess with healing powers according to the Roman belief). These baths, called Aqua Sulis, eventually became a centre of bathing and socializing.
Nobody is allowed to take a bath here anymore but you can still experience the taste of the water at the Pump room. Drink the natural and pure spring water containing over 43 minerals.
Soak in the Thermae Bath Spa - The modernized Thermae Bath Spa is an exotic location where you can soak in natural hot spring water and indulge in various types of spa treatments. Reach the rooftop pool to have fun in the water during summer months and get a glimpse of the scenic beauty of the city.
Bath area offers visitors an abundance of museums and galleries to cater for all interests, from Victoria Art Gallery, where you can explore the rich collection of more than 1500 items of contemporary Victorian art dating 1700 onwards including British oil paintings, sculptures, books and so much more, to the American Museum, dedicated to American antiques, furniture, and decorative art and surrounded with over 120 acres of beautiful landscape; or Fashion Museum, a Georgian building housing more than 160 dresses spanning over 400 years.
Royal Crescent - There are 30 homes of elegant Georgian architecture in the Royal Crescent. Visit No.1 Royal Crescent to get a glimpse of the Victorian furnishing and lifestyle.
Sally Lunn’s Tea Room and Restaurant (Oldest House in Bath) - This oldest house, once the residence of Sally Lunn, is one of the best restaurants in Bath. When on a visit, have the luscious bite of the famous Sally Lunn’s buns (teacakes) much similar to the French brioche.
Bath Abbey - This parish church has a beautiful perpendicular Gothic architecture with fan vaulting ceiling design, nave arcades, and tall clerestory. Climb 212 steps to the oblong Abbey tower with polygonal turret passing by the bell chambers to get wonderful views of the Bath countryside.
Jane Austen Centre - Whether you like to enjoy a 10-day long Jane Austen festival or want to explore everything about this celebrated author and novelist, this Georgian townhouse has every bit of information about the writer and her life in Bath (1801-06).
Bath Skyline Walk - One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Bath is to walk this six-mile long route through the majestic meadows of the city.
4. Salisbury Cathedral and Town
Salisbury Cathedral - Embellished with beautiful English-Gothic architecture, the largest colonnade in the UK and housing the oldest working faceless clock in the world, this cathedral is one of the famous places of visit in the country. The view of the surroundings, from the country’s tallest church spire, is amazing.
Magna Carta Chapter House - The 13th Century Magna Carta Chapter House at the Salisbury Cathedral has one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta, considered as the prime base of the British Constitution.
Mompesson House - This Chilmark limestone townhouse of Sir Thomas Mompesson was built in the 18th Century. Apart from plush furnishing, stucco interior decors along the walls and the ceiling, the Green room is a place of interest boasting the collection of glasses and English porcelain from the 18th Century.
Salisbury Museum - This museum at the 13th Century Kings House has a rich collection of archaeological treasure including the Stone and Bronze Age copper alloy jewellery items at the Wylye Hoard.
St. Thomas’ Church - This New Sarum parish church was built in parts during the 13th -15th centuries. The 15th Century painting of the Last Judgement on the Channel Arch’s Doom and that of the coat of arms of the Medieval Guards of Salisbury on the walls are noteworthy attractions of the church interiors.
Fisherton Mill - This place is noted for being South England’s largest independent art gallery. With something new on display at all times, the museum has a pool of more than 200 talented artists, who contribute their work of glass, jewellery, paintings, sculptures and so much more.
Wilton House - This country house is the residence of the 18th Earl of Pembroke. Once used as an abbey, there is a church at the eastern facade of this building. The fusion of the Palladian and Gothic style architecture of the house is beautiful. Watch out for the works of the Rembrandt and Breughel brothers at the Upper Cloisters and the Great Anteroom. The portraits at the Double Cube Room are also an attraction for the tourists.
Best known as one of the oldest university cities in the world, Oxford is a very popular tourist destination with several architectural landmarks and places of visit.
University of Oxford Tour - The most iconic attraction of the city, the University has been the learning centre of renowned world leaders for centuries. Make sure you see the University’s alumni list when on a visit.
Bodleian Library - one of the oldest libraries in the country, famous for its magnificent ceiling architecture.
Radcliffe Camera - this iconic building with high dome touching the skyline serves as the reading room to the Bodleian Library.
The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin - Constructed during the Anglo Saxon this church is an architectural masterpiece with a 13th Century tower and adorned spire.
Botanic Garden and Arboretum - Spread over an area of 130 acres, this is the oldest botanic garden of the UK, with several glasshouses and majestic landscape housing over 6000 species. When on a visit, also head to the Harcourt Arboretum to experience nature at its finest.
Punt on the River Cherwell - from the Botanic garden, head towards the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, to have a punt ride along River Cherwell, the perfect activity for a sunny afternoon.
Oxford Castle - This Norman medieval stone castle has over 1000 years of history. Visit the prison and crypt to learn all about its history and make sure you see the live re-enactments and displays organised on a regular basis. Do not miss the panoramic view of the entire city from the coral rag stone St. George’s Tower top.
Pitt Rivers Museum - a large museum with a collection of over half a million artefacts, antiques, and other items from different parts of the world cleanly maintained in glass boxes.
Harry Potter Locations Tour - Various parts of the Harry Potter films have been shot at some famous locations in Oxford. Bodleian Library - The Divinity Hall featuring classic ceiling with Gothic vaults is the location of Hogwarts Infirmary in Philosopher’s Stone. A scene of Harry in invisibility cloak was shot at Duke Humphries Library.
Christ Church - The Dining Hall in the series is inspired by the Christ Church Great Tudor Hall. The stairways of Christ Church were used in Philosopher’s Stone (top stairways and cloister) and the Chamber of Secrets (bottom).
New College - a scene in Goblet of Fire was shot at the New College cloister.
6. Stratford upon Avon with Shakespeare's House
The tour around Stratford upon Avon is packed with attractions and scenic places of visit, giving you a glimpse into the life of its most famous resident, William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Birthplace - This two-storey half-timbered complex highlights the 16thcentury life of the lower middle-class family of the greatest playwright of the world. See Shakespeare’s Treasures Exhibition, enjoy the live performances by professionals called Shakespeare Aloud and visit Shakespeare Centre, a library with study rooms and book collections to enjoy.
Anne Hathaway’s Cottage - This brick and timber cottage with a thatched roof is a beautiful country house surrounded by a picturesque garden that still maintains that romantic element that Shakespeare wrote about in great detail.
Royal Shakespeare Theatre - This single room theatre housing the Royal Shakespeare Company is the place to enjoy Shakespearean plays, with a great production on display at all times. The rooftop restaurant offers a splendid scenic view of the Avon River as you enjoy the local delicacies.
Holy Trinity Church - the resting place of Shakespeare, his wife Anne Hathaway, and other members of the family.
Butterfly Farm - This largest farm of tropical butterflies, it is also home to several exotic plant species and mini-beast metropolis. Have a stroll at the park as millions of colourful butterflies flutter everywhere. Several other species co-exist with these insects in the farm including tarantulas, beetles, centipedes and stick insects.
7. Leeds Castle and Canterbury
The “loveliest castle in the world” and one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain, Leeds Castle has been, during its history of more than 900 years, the official royal residence for several British monarchs and six queens, as well as an elegant retreat for the influential and famous in the early 20th century.
Highlights to explore during a visit to the Castle grounds include the Dog Collar Museum, the Falconry Arena with birds of prey experiences, the Maze and the Underworld Grotto, the Princess Alexandra Gardens and many more.
Canterbury Cathedral - One of the oldest and most impressive cathedrals in the country, this historic World Heritage site dates back to 597 and witnessed many notable events in the English history. The Cathedral houses a Romanesque crypt dating back to the 11th century, a 12th century early Gothic Quire and a 14th century Perpendicular Nave. Wonder at the beautiful medieval stained glass windows that depict royal connections, bible events and stories associated with Thomas Becket.
Canterbury Roman Museum - a site discovered after the WWII bombings, this museum inside an ancient Roman house depicts the history of Roman establishment in the country.
Canterbury Tales - Your tour to Canterbury is incomplete without the visit to Chaucerian Canterbury Tales at St. Margaret’s Street. Experience the medieval literary masterpiece live, with actors offering interactive displays and readings.
Canterbury Castle - William the Conqueror started the construction of this mighty castle of the Norman era in 1070. An abandoned place today, it was once used as a prison.
Westgate Towers Museum and Viewpoint - Constructed in 1380, this is the oldest surviving medieval gatehouse. The museum depicts the brutal history of the prison, collection of taxes from pilgrims and many others. Reach the top of the gate to get a panoramic view of the surroundings from 60ft height.
8. The South Coast: The White Cliffs of Dover and Seven Sisters
The dramatic gateway to England, the White Cliffs of Dover have stood loyally throughout invasions and two world wars! Movie buffs will also enjoy seeing Dover Castle – a medieval fortress that portrayed the Tower of London in Hollywood film ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’!
Just as striking are the pristine white cliffs on the Sussex coast of England, further west from Dover, The Seven Sisters cliffs with the Beachy Head, an all times favourite for those that enjoy walking in nature and along the coast.
South Downs National Park - The best view of the Seven Sisters stretching from Haven Brow to Went Hill Brow is available from Seaford Head. The 700 acres of Seven Sisters Country Park lies between Seaford and Eastbourne.
Beachy Head - Take a cruise ride through the English Channel to witness the glorious beauty of the 531ft white chalky cliff, which is also the highest in the country.
9. Portsmouth and the Historic Dockyard
A tour to Portsmouth Dockyard offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of the British navy. Situated within a working Naval Base, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is the only place in the world where you can explore the Royal Navy past, present and future - a must see for anyone visiting the south of England.
Featuring world famous ships like Admiral Nelson’s iconic HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured battleship, as well as HMS Alliance, the only remaining WW2 ocean submarine, and the M33, one of the only three surviving warships from World War I that are still in existence.
Also in the Historic Dockyard complex is Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship is built between 1509 and 1511. One of the largest ships of its era and the first ship able to fire a broadside, she sank during an engagement with the French fleet in 1545, after a long and successful career. After a 34 year conservation project of the sand buried remains, the Mary Rose is now fully on display within her purpose-built museum.
While enjoying the unique experience of the historic dockyard of Portsmouth, you can also add a visit to one of the naval museums like National Museum of the Royal Navy, Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower or The Royal Navy Submarine Museum
HMS Victory, Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth
One of the most beautiful towns in England, you can reach Cambridge easily by an hour of a train journey from London. Discover the 1000 years of history of the town on a walking tour like no other, with highlights that include:
Cambridge Colleges - dating back to the 12th century and including examples of the earliest patterned brickwork in England, the various colleges are dotted around the city and should be high on your must-see list for beautiful Cambridge. 31 of them in total, the Colleges or parts of them are open various times for the curious visitors to explore. Some of the most famous ones are The King’s College, Trinity College, The Queen’s College or Peterhouse College.
Cambridge is also home to some state of the art museums, including Fitzwilliam Museum, An excellent masterpiece of neoclassical architecture, the museum houses a rich collection of more than half million Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiques, medals, coins, painting, music, and literary manuscripts and so much more. Or Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences which is home to around two million minerals.
Cambridge University Botanic Garden - The botanic garden, spread over 40 acres of the magnificent landscape, has 8000+ species, Botanic Garden Shop, and a Café within the complex.
Punting on River Cam - Sit on the punt and let your guide take you across the river stream amid the beauty of the surrounding landscape, passing by the famous bridges - Mathematical Bridge, Magdalene Bridge, and the Bridge of Sighs.
Great St Mary Church Tower - Explore the views of the surroundings including the King’s College Chapel from the top of the tower. Round Church – it is one of the four remaining Norman round churches in England, with a rectangular chancel added during the 15th Century.