London Drum

Top 10 Day Trips & Coach Tours From London

Here are the ten best day trips and excursions we recommend to tourists visiting London. You can also look for day trips today, day trips tomorrow, day trips this weekend, day trips this week, day trips in July and day trips in August

1 Windsor Castle

Windsor CastlePhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 5.15 PM (Mon & Thu-Sun, Mar-Oct); 10 AM to 4.15 PM (Mon & Thu-Sun, Nov-Feb); Last entry to the grounds 1¼ hours before closing; Last entry to the State Apartments 30 mins before closing; Last entry to St. George’s Chapel at 4 PM
Adults £26.50; Children £14.50 (5-17); Infants free (under-5)
Time required?
A typical visit takes 5 hours (including travel time to/from London)

Windsor Castle is the Queen’s favourite residence. The State Rooms inside Buckingham Palace certainly look fantastic, but the exterior simply doesn’t compare with this Camelot-like castle on top of a hill.

The earliest parts of the castle date back to William the Conqueror, but these were slowly replaced with stone walls and fortifications by Henry III and Edward III. St. George’s Chapel is wildly regarded as one of the finest pieces of gothic architecture in the country, and contains the double-tomb of Henry VIII and Charles I.

2 Oxford

OxfordPhoto: Craig Cross

Tourists usually have trouble deciding between Oxford and Cambridge? So which one is better? Well, in our opinion you should definitely pick Oxford. Both cities are certainly beautiful, but with Cambridge it’s all about the architecture. With Oxford you have the architecture plus a lot of other galleries and museum as well.

The prettiest colleges in Oxford are Christ Church, Trinity and Magdalen. Other buildings worth seeing are the Radcliffe Camera, Bodleian Library and Sheldonian Theatre. If you enjoy museums then try the Ashmolean and Museum of Natural History.

3 Stonehenge

StonehengePhoto: Craig Cross

Stonehenge is England’s equivalent of the pyramids or Inca temples – it’s a prehistoric stone circle built sometime between 3000 and 2000 BC. What it’s actual purpose was nobody knows. Experts think it might have been a burial ground, or a meeting place, or maybe even an astronomical observatory.

Unlike many of the trips on this Top 10 list, a visit to Stonehenge really will take up an entire day. First of all you have to catch a train to Salisbury which takes about 1½ hours, but that will still leave you nine miles away from the monument. After that you have to catch a 35-minute tour bus to the stones. But before you do that we recommend spending an hour or two walking around the town of Salisbury itself – especially their spectacular cathedral.

4 Cambridge

CambridgePhoto: Craig Cross

You don’t need to visit Oxford and Cambridge – most tourists will just choose one. As we explained above we think that Oxford is slightly better because Cambridge is primarily about the architecture. Most of your day will be spent walking around the colleges to look at the pretty little chapels, cloisters and squares.

The highlight of your day will be the world famous King’s College. It was originally founded by Henry VI and later expanded by Henry VII when he added the chapel. The chapel is considered the country’s finest example of Gothic English architecture.

5 Bath

BathPhoto: Craig Cross

Whenever you see a picture of Bath in the guidebooks it will invariably be of the curved facade of the Royal Crescent on top of the hill, but the real highlight of your trip will be the Roman Baths.

People have been visiting the Roman baths for centuries, lured by the magical healing power of the spring. And you can still have a taste of it now – they let you drink a cupful at the end! You can also walk around the archaeological atmospheric remains below street level which date from around 60 AD, whereas the mock-Roman columns on top are Victorian.

After you’ve seen the baths you can visit Bath Abbey next-door. It was built between the 12th and 16th-centuries and contains some beautiful stained-glass.

6 Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Portsmouth Historic DockyardPhoto: Craig Cross

If you’re interested in maritime history then there are two ships at Portsmouth Dockyard that will blow you away. The earliest one is Henry VIII’s flagship from 1536, the Mary Rose, that sank after firing on the French and forgetting to shut the gun-ports. When the ship settled on the bottom of the seabed nearly half of its hull was buried under the silt and survived for 450 years until they winched it up in 1982.

The incredible haul of artefacts they found onboard includes everything from cannons, cups and combs, to shoes, bows, bells, brooms and flutes.

The second ship is even more precious: HMS Victory. This was Admiral Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar – the same ship he was shot on at his moment of triumph. You can even stand on the exact spot where the French marksman got him, and then head below deck to see where he succumbed to his injuries. The ship has been heavily restored and you can walk around all the gun decks, galleys and cabins.

7 Canterbury Cathedral

CanterburyPhoto: Craig Cross

Canterbury is worth a day trip only if you don’t fancy Oxford or Cambridge. It’s a pretty little town with Tudor-style timber-framed shops with wonky whitewashed walls – it’s probably how people picture England if all they’ve ever seen are postcards.

The highlight of your trip will be the cathedral. This was where the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket was murdered by Henry II’s rampaging knights in 1170. He was promptly canonised by the Pope and has been revered as a Catholic martyr ever since.

8 Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court PalacePhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
10 AM to 5.30 PM (Wed-Sun, Jun-late Jul & Sep); 10 AM to 5.30 PM (Mon-Sun, late Jul-Aug); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Adults £28.80; Children £14.30 (5-15); Infants free (under-5); Family ticket £78.90
Time required?
A typical visit takes 4-5 hours (including travel time to/from London)

Hampton Court Palace is best remembered as Henry VIII’s home, but it was actually home to lots of kings and queens: Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I, James I, Charles I and II, William III and Mary II all lived here… right up to George II in the 1760s. But it’s the State Apartments of Henry VIII that everyone comes to see. The Chapel Royal and Great Hall are the two standout rooms.

The palace is also supposed to be one of the most haunted buildings in England (which is very easy to believe when you’re walking through the dimly-lit cloisters and corridors), and you might like to read Craig’s review of a ghost tour. He’s also written about a Sunday service in the Chapel Royal.

9 Warner Bros. Studios

Warner Bros. StudiosPhoto: Craig Cross
Opening times?
During school term (Mon-Fri): 9.30 AM to 8 PM; During school holidays and weekends: 8.30 AM to 10 PM; Closed (2nd week of Nov); Last entry 3-3½ hours before closing; Note: These times are a rough guide as they vary from week to week - check their website first
Adults £49.95; Children £39.95 (5-15); Infants free (under-5); Family ticket £159.00
Time required?
A typical visit takes 5-6 hours (including travel time to/from London)

This one’s a day trip for the kids. Warner Bros. Studios is a bit of a trek on the train, which is then followed by a shuttle bus on top, but if your kids are big fans of Harry Potter then it will be worth the while – this is where they filmed all of the movies.

You can walk around many of the original sets including the Great Hall, Gryffindor common room and Hagrid’s hut, and even take a stroll up Diagon Alley to see Gringott’s Bank and Ollivander’s Wand Shop.

They’ve got lots of props and costumes on display as well, and they go into great detail about how all the monsters and magical special effects were created.

10 Stratford-upon-Avon

Stratford-upon-AvonPhoto: Craig Cross

If you’re a big fan of Shakespeare then take a train to Stratford-upon-Avon. This was where the bard was born, and later returned to spend his final years with Anne Hathaway. It sounds almost impossible to believe but his original timber-framed house still survives from the 1560s, and it looks exactly how you’d imagine a Tudor house to be, with wonky wooden walls and creaking floorboards. You can even sit in his pretty garden and watch a few actors performing lines from his plays.

Craig has seen his Tudor house but was actually more impressed with Anne Hathaway’s cottage. You can also take a walk up the river and see where Shakespeare was buried in Holy Trinity Church.

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