The best places for day trips around the UK are outside the big cities. Here are 20 of the best places to visit around the UK (even outside of London!)
Top thing to do in Windsor: Visit Windsor Castle
Windsor is a 40-minute train ride west of London, making it a perfect day trip from London. The history of this historic city dates back to his 11th century when it was founded by William the Conqueror!
You can walk along the River Thames, explore the beautiful parks and browse the shops, but the best thing about Windsor is without a doubt a visit to Windsor Castle, the residence of the royal family.
If you’ve watched royal weddings on TV over the past few years, you’ve probably seen Windsor Castle. It’s incredible to be able to witness such an impressive castle IRL and his one of the residences of the British Royal Family first hand. If you see a Union flag flying over a castle, remember that the King is not home!
It has been a royal residence for over 900 years and is the largest occupied castle in the world.
Here are half-day tours to Windsor Castle with tickets that are an easy day trip from London.
2. The Peak District
Best thing to do in the Peak District: Hiking followed by a country pub lunch
A visit to the Peak District National Park is definitely one of the best day trips around England due to its beauty. But it’s also close to many other cities, making it perfect for day trips from Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham.
The Peak District is a picture-perfect countryside, yet within 90 minutes of these major cities, charming spa towns like Buxton, stately homes like Chatsworth House, There are also delicious villages like Bakewell.
For a more active day, book a rock climbing tour at Hathersage Edge. You can also hike along Cave Dale or explore the limestone caves of Blue John Cave. Winnut Pass is a very beautiful mountain drive in the Peaks if you are okay with narrow roads and hairpin bends.
Read more: Chee Dale Hike – The Secret Alternative to the Monsal Trail
Best thing to do when you visit Oxford: Visit the beautiful university buildings
There’s a reason Oxford day trips are popular day trips. Oxford is a great day trip from London and is just an hour’s train ride south of Birmingham. Most of Oxford’s popular activities revolve around its prestigious universities, and some of the best buildings to visit include Christ Church His College and the Bodelian Library.
On a warm summer’s day, go punting on the River Cherwell (it’s worth paying to have a punt done professionally, trust me!) and climb the Carfax Tower for beautiful views. And when the skies open up, why not pop into the Covered Market or the quirky Pitt Rivers Museum.
Read more: Things to do on your first visit to Oxford
We highly recommend taking a walking tour of the university with an Oxford student!
4. Northumberland Coast
Best thing to do in Northumberland: Visit Bamburgh Castle
Staying in or around Newcastle? The Northumberland Coast has plenty of places to explore, perfect for day trips. Bamburgh Castle is an incredible structure perched on the edge of a steep cliff, making it even more impressive. And it’s located near Lindisfarne, a sacred inhabited island that can only be accessed when the tide is out.
Alnwick is an old market town and home to Barter Books, one of Europe’s largest second-hand bookstores. The town’s namesake castle is one of Harry Potter’s best settings, and you can even take lessons in how to fly a broomstick!
Read more: Visit Bamburgh Castle
Top thing to do in Brighton: Walk along Brighton Pier!
There’s always a lot going on in the seaside resort city of Brighton. Whether you’re celebrating Britain’s biggest arts festival at Brighton Fringe in June or one of the biggest Pride events in August, good times are never far away.
No matter when you visit, you’ll be greeted by the beautiful Brighton Palace Pier, beaches and brightly colored houses. It’s a great day trip from small coastal cities like London and Portsmouth.
Read more: An insider’s guide to Brighton and Hove
for stunning views of Brighton, it’s worth climbing the Brighton i360
6. The Jurassic Coast
Best thing to do along the Jurassic Coast: Visit Durdle Door in Dorset
Further west along the south of England is the Jurassic Coast, which stretches for 156 miles from Studland Bay in Dorset to Exmouth in Devon. Part of this coastline is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique geological features. Parts of the Jurassic Coast are easily accessible from Exeter and Bournemouth, as well as Southampton and Portsmouth.
In Dorset, you can walk some of the coastal trails and admire the limestone Durdle Door. Book a fossil walk to see if there are any impressive finds, and check out Corfe Castle, Old Harry Rocks and Abbotsbury Nature Reserve.
Read more: Dorset weekend guide
If you don’t have a car, the easiest day trip from Bournemouth to Durdle Door is the easiest.
Best thing to do in York: Go shopping along the Shambles
If you’re based in Leeds or Sheffield (or even Manchester), York is a great day-to-day alternative to Oxford. A historic city built by the Romans on the River Ouse, it has medieval streets like the Shambles, and has been compared to Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.
You can visit York Minster Cathedral, built in the 13th century, York City Walls and many other historic buildings. York has an amazing selection of great craft beer and cocktail bars!
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, check out York’s Harry Potter-themed walking tours.
8. The Cotswolds
Best thing to do in the Cotswolds: Have lunch in a charming town such as Castle Combe
The Cotswolds have been a firm favorite with day trippers and staycationers for decades. A collection of charming villages surrounded by lush green hills, this area is an Official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there are no words to describe the Cotswolds better.
A great day trip from Bristol or Bath. However, it is possible from London if you can tolerate more than 12 hours a day. Traveling by car is the best way to visit as many charming towns as possible, including Bibury on Arlington Row, Castle Combe and Stow-on-the-Wold on Yew Tree Door.
Read more: Family weekend in the Cotswolds
For day trips to the Cotswolds from London, day tours are available.
9. St Ives
Top thing to do in St Ives: Visit the Tate St Ives
Don’t forget the south-west coast, St Ives in Cornwall is an ideal day trip from Plymouth or Exeter. There are many pleasure boats in the marina and a surf beach nearby. It’s a postcard-perfect seaside town.
However, St Ives is primarily known for its art scene. Tate St Ives is a great modern art museum with constantly changing exhibitions. You can also purchase local art at galleries such as Blue Bramble Gallery and Harbor Gallery.
10. Hadrian’s Wall
Only 10% of the wall that Roman Emperor Hadrian built in northern England about 2,000 years ago still remains. However, there are still plenty of forts and other interesting places to visit, making it a great day out with kids.
Chester’s Roman Fort, Housestead Fort and Vindolanda Fort are just outside Newcastle. Sycamore Gap, a giant tree that grows out of a hollow wall, is also incredibly beautiful. If you’re in the city of Carlisle, Cumbria, you can visit Birdswald Fort, which is closer to the west.
Read more: Why visit Hadrian’s Wall
Best thing to do in Whitby: Visit Whitby Abbey
Who doesn’t love spending the day in a traditional British seaside town, where beach weather is rarely guaranteed? Whitby is very much a Yorkshire city like Leeds or York. Luckily, there’s more to do here than just munching on ice cream on the beach while the wind blows sand in your face.
Some sources claim that Whitby’s Gothic Abbey was the inspiration for Dracula’s Castle in Bram Stoker’s original novel. Captain Cook lived in Whitby for a while. You can visit the museum commemorating him or climb the 199 steps to the tower of St. Mary’s Church for beautiful coastal views. When the sun is shining, Whitby Beach, lined with colorful beach huts, is the perfect place to spend the day.
Read more: Whitby’s perfect travel guide
Best thing to do in Chester: Admire the unique ‘rows’
Chester is a small, historic city close to the Welsh border, making it a great city and easy day trip from Manchester, Liverpool or North Wales. They are so similar that they deserve as much recognition as York. The walls of Chester, also built by the Romans, are well preserved and you can still walk along them!
This must be one of the most beautiful thoroughfares in England, with many Tudor-style half-timbered buildings and a beautiful Victorian clock. If you visit at the right time of year, you can enjoy a day out at Chester Races or enjoy a walk along the canal or in Chester Meadows.
Read more: 100 things to do in Chester
13. Suffolk Coast
Best thing to do along the Suffolk Coast: Go walking along the wild beaches
The coastal cities of Suffolk and Essex are undervalued. Seaside locations such as Gorleston-on-Sea, Clacton-on-Sea and Frinton-on-Sea may not sound as sexy as Brighton or Eastbourne, but they are very beautiful and perfect for enjoying your day at the beach. It’s the perfect place.
Plus, day trips to the Suffolk Coast are much more convenient if you’re based in Norwich or Cambridge. You’ll find Victorian bandstands, piers, amusement parks and long stretches of clean, safe white sand beaches.
Best thing to do in Cambridge: Go punting along the river
Speaking of Cambridge, it’s one of the best day trips around the UK if you’re staying in London or Birmingham. This university town is located on the River Cam, with famous historic buildings on every corner. King’s College and King’s College Chapel, along with Trinity College, are among the most impressive buildings at the University of Cambridge and are definitely worth a visit.
Just like in Oxford, you can take a punt along the river to see Cambridge’s very own Bridge of Sighs. However, if you’re visiting in the winter, check out the Fitzwilliam Museum, which features quirky antiques and classical art.
When visiting Cambridge, we highly recommend taking a university tour with a student so you can find out more about university life!
15. Seven Sisters Cliffs
The White Cliffs of Dover may be Britain’s most famous chalk cliffs, but the Seven Sisters cliffs are just as impressive and easy to visit. It’s an easy day trip from Brighton, and it’s not far from Portsmouth and the cities of Kent.
Walk along the beach to the Coastguard Cottages for some of the most stunning views. Be sure to visit Beachy Head Cliffs and Beachy Head Lighthouse, both just a few minutes’ drive away.
It is possible to make a day trip from London to Seven Sisters Cliffs, and it is easiest if you don’t have a car.
16. The Yorkshire Dales
Best thing to do in the Yorkshire Dales: Visit Ingleton Waterfalls
The Yorkshire Dales is England’s second largest national park after the Lake District. While the Lake District may be slightly more popular, the Yorkshire Dales are much easier to visit as a day trip within the UK. The Dales is within 90 minutes’ drive of Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.
Explore charming market towns like Settle. Hike through vast geological formations like Malham Cove, or stroll along the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail. Witness the stunning 19th century 24-arch Ribblehead Viaduct and be amazed at just how much there is to see in this often overlooked part of England.
17. Isle of Wight
Best thing to do on the Isle of Wight: Visit the picture perfect town of Shanklin
There aren’t many islands in England close enough for a day trip, but the Isle of Wight is just a 45-minute ferry ride (or should we say hovercraft!) from Southampton or Portsmouth.
It’s a miniature version of England, full of beaches, hiking, pubs and historic buildings. If you’re traveling with kids, take a ride on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway or the Monkey Haven Animal Rescue Centre.
Best thing to do in Stratford-Upon-Avon: Visit Shakespeare’s childhood home
Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town dating back to the Middle Ages and is known as the birthplace of William Shakespeare. One of his best day trips around England, including Midland cities like Birmingham.
You can actually visit Shakespeare’s childhood home and about 5,000 other buildings and monuments dedicated to the Bard. Even if you haven’t had much to do with this famous playwright since high school, visiting his Avon in Stratford-upon is a fun way to get excited!
19. North Wessex Downs
Best thing to do in North Wessex Downs: Visit the filming location of Downton Abbey
Situated between Bristol and Bath to the west and London to the east, this area of outstanding natural beauty is perfect for a day trip from London. Nature lovers should visit White Horse Hill, which features white horses carved into the landscape in prehistoric times.
Fans of luxurious stately homes and glamorous TV dramas have no choice but to visit Highclere Castle in Newbury. This Victorian country house was transformed into Downton Abbey for all six of the show’s seasons, but it’s even more spectacular in real life.
International travelers are probably more keen than Brits to take a day trip to Stonehenge. But these UNESCO standing stones are such iconic landmarks that we had to include them on our list!
Bath and Southampton are the closest cities to Stonehenge, but there are also many other cities to visit from Bristol and London.
There’s a good reason why Stonehenge is actually so fascinating. It is known that these stones were brought from Wales during the Neolithic period around 2500 BC. But to this day, no one knows why. Stonehenge is a place every British person should visit at least once. If you go, do the right thing and go during the summer solstice for that gorgeous midsummer light.