Seven Great Day Trips from London
While many tourists go to Britain and spend all of their time in London, just outside London are many wonderful day trips to enhance your British vacation. Here is a list of my favorite day trips from London that I highly recommend.
Just outside of London, a mere 21 miles, is one of the most famous castles in the world. Windsor Castle is everything a good castle should be, 1,000 years old, full of regal pomp and splendor, and of course an official residence of the Queen. “It is the oldest and longest occupied castle in the world” (The Official Website of the British Monarchy) and if you take the audio guide tour you will hear about the castle’s immense history. If forced to choose between a visit to Windsor Castle or to Buckingham Palace, hands down choose Windsor. After your visit to the castle, you can spend the rest of your day exploring the adorable little town of Windsor and wander over to Eton, home of the famous Eton College. Just make sure to check the open days for the castle before making the trip.
A site of pilgrimage since the death of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170 and his subsequent sainthood, Canterbury offers an insight into the experience of a medieval pilgrim. From the magnificent cathedral which contains the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, to the lonely candle that is all that remains of the Saint Thomas Becket’s shrine, Canterbury Cathedral is a sight to behold. To get yourself in the mood, try reading a few of the stories from Canterbury Tables by Geoffrey Chaucer.
Home to the distinguished University of Oxford, the quant city has all the feel an old university town should. Amongst the old cobblestone streets stand the University’s Collages behind old towering walls. A number of the collages are open for visitors such as All Souls College, Brasenose College, Christ Church, Corpus Christi College, and more. The Colleges are beautiful with little courtyards and chapels. If traveling with a Harry Potter fan (or are one yourself) Christ Church College is a must see as several of the film’s scenes were filmed there and Hogwart’s Hall is based on the college’s Grand Hall. Check out the opening days and times of the colleges before making you plans to visit on the University of Oxford’s visiting page.
The Roman Baths
Bath is a beautiful spa town full of Georgian buildings and surrounded by lush rolling hills. It is the place that in former times wealthy British went to relax and recover from the hustle of London. Walking around Bath is itself a pure delight, but if you are looking for specific place to visit the Roman Baths are a must see. It is extensive with the remains of a number of bathing rooms and a temple. A trip through the Roman Baths end at the Grand Pump Room where you can sample some of the famous spring water (it does not taste very good). Other things to see in Bath include the Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey, and adorable shopping streets.
Brighton is London’s beach getaway. It is a place for Londoners to unwind will walking along the pebbly beach and enjoying the beach shops. Main sights include the extravagant Royal Pavilion and the cute Brighton Pier. I highly recommend grabbing some fish and chips from the pier and sitting on the beach. Word to the wise, Brighton is not much of a swimming beach - stick your toe in the water to find out why (its icy cold!).
Much like the other university town on the list, Cambridge is littered with cute colleges and cobbled alleyways. Kings College is a major attraction and well worth the visit. Just make sure that you check that the college you wish to visit is open the day you are traveling. Another must see in Cambridge is The Backs, an area with the ‘backs’ of several colleges face the River Cam. There you can see students punting or rowing boats along the river, while you admire the colleges.
York city wall
York is an amazing little city in the north of England with great historical importance. A bit further away from London then some of the other suggestions on this list, it still merits a visit if you have the time. York has an amazing cathedral called York Minster which is one of the largest in northern Europe. The city also boasts extensive city walls, a Viking center, and cute tea rooms. Be sure to check out The Shambles, an adorable street complete with crooked medieval buildings and a shrine.