Having visited England, and more specifically London, numerous times it was only recently that I started exploring outside the Capital. I wasn’t willing to “sacrifice” what I considered limited and precious London time when there was so much to see within the city limits. My Things To Do in London list is still a mile long, but I’ve now checked off many of the city’s main attractions, so it made sense to start devoting time to exploring further afield.
Have you checked all your London to dos off your list, are you considering adventures outside London Town? These six day trips can all easily be completed within one day, and all are within just a few hours of Central London.
6 Day Trips from London
Warner Brothers Studios London: The Making of Harry Potter
Distance from Central London: 21 miles / 33 kilometers
Our entire family loves the Harry Potter movies, yet somehow we were surprised at how much we loved our visit to the Warner Brothers Studios The Making of Harry Potter. This was so much more than we expected! Yes, even having visited other Harry Potter related places!
Our visit took place during the festive season, and everything within the Studios was decorated beautifully. From the holiday feast and Christmas puddings upon the tables in the Great Hall to the magical Christmas trees and snow throughout.
Along the way you’ll have a chance to see and learn about the making of just about everything involved with all 8 films. There are many interactive experiences at the studio from flying a broomstick to riding on Hagrid’s motorbike. Take your time and keep your eyes open because magic is happening everywhere!
Wondering what it would be like to go inside Dumbledore’s Office, ride the Hogwarts Express, or explore The Ministry of Magic, maybe you fancy a walk through the Dark Forest? Guess what? You can! There were many moments during our day at WB Studios London that felt magical, and while I want to share them all, I don’t want to give away all the secrets!
Advance purchase tickets are required. If you don’t have a car getting to the WB Studios outside of London can be challenging. After weighing all our transportation options we went with convenience. We hired a private car through the Golden Tours website.
You might also be interested in: WB Studios London: The Making of Harry Potter
Distance from Central London: 22 miles / 35 Kilometers
Now of course everyone’s idea of a magical day out differs, but if you love all things fairytale including castles, royals and history you’ll definitely want to consider a trip to Windsor Castle.
Built in 1070 by William the Conqueror, Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world. A visit here means you’ll be walking in the footsteps of 40 different monarchs over the course of almost 1000 years.
As you can imagine there is a lot to see and do at Windsor Castle. Your ticket includes a tour of the State Apartments, Queen Mary’s Dolls House, A 30 minute Precinct Tour, St. George’s Chapel, and an audio guide. Allow plenty of time!
St, George’s Chapel was the venue for the recent wedding of the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex. The current chapel is over 500 years old, and is the final resting place of many members of the royal family.
Queen Mary’s Dollhouse is a replica of a Georgian town house and was built to showcase what aristocratic life might have been like in the 1920s. Everything within the dollhouse is operational and it is complete with working lights, and running water.
Your visit to The State Apartments starts begins at the Grand Staircase and includes 23 beautiful and very ornate rooms. Each one filled with priceless works of art and furniture collected over centuries.
Windsor Castle is open all year round, but is still very much in use by the Royal Family. Do check the official website for operating days and times. The town of Windsor is 30 minutes by train from London’s Paddington station. The Windsor & Eton Riverside station is the closest stop to the Castle, and is only a few minutes walk from the Castle. Purchase your tickets online in advance. Alternatively you can wait in a very long line.
Interior photos are not allowed within Windsor Castle, however for the purposes of this post I did source photos via PicSelect and have noted wherever they’ve been used, otherwise all photos are my own.
You might also be interested in: A Christmas Carol at Windsor Castle
Distance from Central London: 30 miles/ 48 kilometers
I’ve always been fascinated by Tudor history and royal life in general, so I couldn’t have been more excited about our visit to Hever Castle the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the 2nd wife of King Henry VIII and mother to Queen Elizabeth I.
Over the course of it’s 700 year history Hever castle has been home to 37 different owners including another of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne of Cleves (wife number four), and William Waldorf Astor who was the richest man in America.
You’ll find something for everyone at Hever Castle and depending on the time of year there are special events. During our visit we found time to tour the castle, visit Father Christmas, and explore the castle gardens including navigating the yew maze. The castle has multiple restaurants to choose from, and an adventure playground that will appeal to the younger ones in your group.
Check the official website for operating hours and special events. Hever Castle is located 3 miles southeast of Edenbridge off the B2026 between Sevenoaks and East Grinstead in the village of Hever.
You might also be interested in: Visiting Hever Castle Childhood Home of Anne Boleyn
Ashdown Forest (100 Aker Wood)
Distance from Central London: 61.5 miles/98.9 killometers
I was beyond delighted to discover that the famous forest from the classic children’s tale, Winnie the Pooh, is an actual place! Having read the books, sung the songs, and watched the Disney movies countless times I’d never given much thought to the idea that the Hundred Acre Wood might actually be real. Now that we knew, we had to go there!
“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for other’s to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” – Piglet
Our adventures through the 100 Aker Wood included the Poohsticks Bridge, Owl’s House, Roo’s Sandy Pit, The Enchanted Place, Galleon’s Lap, and Pooh Corner. The last stop, Pooh’s Corner, is a quaint little tea house and gift shop where one can find all things Pooh related including books, toys and other keepsakes.
We had a most magical day exploring the forest with our friends, and making excellent use of our wellies!
Ashdown Forest can be reached via train, bus, or car. Directions are available via the official website.
You might also be interested in: The Real 100 Aker Wood aka Ashdown Forest
Distance from Central London: 88 miles / 141 Kilometers
Stonehenge was a place I’d always wanted to see, but somehow always felt that getting there was too complicated. Now that I’ve made the trek, I will say it is definitely worth it, but I admit it is complicated.
Although you can’t touch, or walk right up to stones, the walkway encircling them allows you to get pretty close. Our early arrival on a cold winter morning meant less people, and I was able to get all the photos I wanted.
The visitor Center at Stonehenge is really well done, with interactive exhibitions, a cafe, and of course a gift shop. While there you’ll learn all about the origin of Stonehenge and although it’s true purpose is still a mystery, we were interested to learn that they do know quite a lot.
Operating hours and tickets can be found on the official website. Consider arriving early for shorter lines and the best photo opportunities.
You might be interested in: Bucket List Item: Stonehenge
Distance from Central London: 115 miles / 185 Kilometers
Our visit to Bath was actually by default when we paired it with our visit to Stonehenge. Ancient history and beautiful architecture around every corner we wished for more time in such a gorgeous city! In hindsight we should have allowed more time…
Wishing for more time doesn’t mean that we didn’t make the most of what we had. We were able to visit The Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, The Royal Crescent and Sally Lunn Buns before our afternoon ended.
During a tour of the Roman baths you’ll see a combination of ruins and modern displays depicting what the complex would have looked like almost 2000 years ago. I was fascinated to learn that the flow of water is 250,000 gallons per day at a temperature of 115°F.
Edgar, the first king of England was crowned at Bath Abbey over 1000 years ago, and you’ll find a plaque commemorating the occasion on the floor of the abbey.
One of the hardest things about traveling to a place for only one afternoon is working out just what to see and eat, and hoping you don’t choose wrong. Thankfully we had a few insider tips, which led us to Sally Lunn’s The buns are so large we bought two and shared them. Unable to decide which topping to try, we chose two: Cinnamon butter and lemon curd.
The Royal Crescent at 500 feet long consists of 30 terraced houses, and is considered to be one of the greatest examples of Georgian Architecture in the United Kingdom. Due to it’s historical and architectural importance the building is protected and for the most part the exterior remains unchanged from when it was built.
You might also be interested in: Day Trippers: Bath England
While we did purchase our tickets to the Roman Baths in advance we mistakenly thought showing them on our mobile device would be sufficient. Be sure to print them out prior to your arrival.
Bath Abbey is located just next to the Roman Baths.
The Royal Crescent Museum at No. 1 is open to the public depending on the time of year. Check the official website for operating hours.
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I’ve done Bath and Stonehenge. Definitely going to do Harry Potter someday! Windsor (Castle) appealed to me after seeing a bit of the royal wedding on TV. Hever Castle looks nice. 100 Acre Wood cute. Great choices! #citytripping
Thanks!! Windsor is great! I’ve been twice! Harry Potter exceeded all expectations and we also loved Hever!
I’d love to visit Windsor, been to Bath and Stonehenge:) #citytripping
I hope you make it there one day it’s wonderful!
Bryna | Dotted Line Travels
Love these suggestions for day trips. I’ve been to a couple (loved visiting the Stonehenge and Bath!) but the Warner Brothers Studio – Making of Harry Potter was not around when I lived in London many years ago. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, I’d love to go!
We LOVED the Harry Potter Studios!
Alex - My LIfe Long Holiday
Brilliant list Hilary and I’m happy to see Windsor is on there – that would definitely be one of my suggestions. #citytripping
Thanks!! I loved Windsor, we’ve been twice! Wondering where else you’d suggest… never hurts to think ahead.
Alex - My LIfe Long Holiday
Oxford and Cambridge.
Yes! Both on my list!!
I’d love to visit Warner Bro Studios one day as well as Hever Castle for Christmas! Hever is definitely one of my favs and I’ve been several times, but never at Christmas! #CityTripping
Both places are stunning at Christmas!
You’ve picked some of my favourite places in the UK! London is pretty well situated to visit a lot of great areas easily which is such a bonus if you don’t have much time. Hopefully you’ll come back soon so I can show you some more of our favourites Xx
Elliot just said he thinks we need to plan another visit to see you!
Only just spotted this reply! Yes, of COURSE you must! Xx
Ladies what travel
Some good tips here! Although I do think Stonehenge is pretty disappointing and overpriced. I live about half hr away from there and finally went to visit last year. Thought it was all a bit ‘meh’ really. I remember being more excited by the big field full of pigs we drove by on our way there lol! #citytripping
Ha ha! Thanks! To each his own I guess. 😘
London is on the top of my bucket list and your post was truly inspiring, Hilary. These are some very mesmerising day trips which I would love to explore. How many days would be enough to stay in London and have time to undertake all these day trips?
So glad you enjoyed the post! If you’ve never been to London I wouldn’t recommend doing all of these the first trip as there is plenty to keep you occupied in London. We had two full weeks and managed to fit all of these in during that time.
There is always so much to do when visiting London – it is tough to squeeze it all in! My kids loved Stonehenge (I think the kids audio guide was pretty special). Now they have read the Harry Potter books I can’t wait to take them to the Warner studios next time we visit.
I know London is the best! I was so glad we finally ventured outside though. We all loved the Harry Potter Studios!!
I love Bath, it’s been far too long since I’ve been there.
I did a canal boat trip with my family a few years ago and we jumped off at Bath for a quick look around, so much history there. #farawayfiles
Such a lovely city I wished we had more time to explore.
Excellent day trips …. do you know I have never been to Ashdown Forest need to fix that asap
Oh! And I think this would be a perfect time of year! Maybe Are wants to join you? She lives so close!!
London looks amazing. I would love to get a chance to visit one day.
One of the best cities in the world! Though none of these are London. 😘
Great list Hilary! London is perhaps the best city in the world for day trips. Have you been to Cambridge? That’s possibly my most favourite day out of London but when I am there I always wish I had stayed longer
I haven’t been on any other day trips. Cambridge and Oxford are both high on my list, but I want to visit them in spring or summer.
Elizabeth (Wander Mum)
Great list! There’s so many wonderful places to explore from London and you’ve covered so brilliant day trips Hilary. I still need to do Stonehenge so you’ve definitely inspired me to get that ticked off the list. Thanks for linking #citytripping
So many wonderful places! These just got me started but I hope to visit many more! I hope you find your way to Stonehenge we really enjoyed it!
Lovely day trips from London. Ashdown forest looks a lovely destination for some time outdoors.
Yes! We loved Ashdown and hope to make it back in the summer one day…
Caity Pfohl | The Pamplemousse Papers
I can definitely understand not wanting to sacrifice any time in London! All of these day trips look like so much fun, though. I would love to visit Bath as well as Warner Bros. Studios! And, really, all of the others, too. 🙂 There is SO much to see in England, it’s a little overwhelming! #farawayfiles
I couldn’t agree more, I thought that two weeks would allow me to feel less FOMO, but I managed to fill every moment and then wished for more!
I love everything all decked for Christmas! Our family would definitely be up for Stonehenge and Warner Brothers, but I unfortunately will have a hard sell on the castles. This is maybe where a divide and conquer, or taking that “personal” day on our family trip would have to come into play. Great list Hilary. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin
I know what you’re saying my kids don’t always love my choices, but like you said, alone time isn’t a bad idea. Still I find it’s important to ask them to occasionally step out of their comfort zones and see if they might end up enjoying a place they otherwise wouldn’t have chosen to visit on their own. by the way, we’re considering Oregon this summer… do you have time to email me some thoughts?
Excellent suggestions, Hilary! You should consider yourself an honorary expat, you have the London scene down well! 🙂 This post has inspired me to really look into the Hundred Acre Wood, especially as they just had a great exhibit at the V&A about Winnie the Pooh. Would love to see the real setting, and I forget about it being nearby. I loved your comment about the conditions being perfect for wellies, looks perfect.
Not sure if you saw the info about the inner circle visit at Stonehenge, but many people say that is the best way to experience the site. It is limited by date/time and you have to book well in advance, but for people who are in early planning stages, it is worth a look. We did the standard visit this past December with my dad visiting us from the states, and while it was great, I can see how an up-close-and-personal tour would really deliver. It’s my plan for a return visit! 😉 #FarawayFiles
Thank you, the fact that I’m an Anglophile is no secret, so that means a lot to me! We paired our Ashdown visit with the V&A Exhibit and it was so perfect! I did know there are inner circle visits, but I was already stretching the limits of my family’s patience when I made them get up at 6:30 am on a vacation to get there early. ha ha! I think that would be something I would LOVE, but will have to plan on doing when they aren’t with me. There are still so many places I want to visit in the UK. I hope to find my way back next summer so I can visit Oxford, Cambridge and Glastonbury among other places…
awesome guide. england has so much history!