The Bare Traveller

Budget Day trip destinations from London by train

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One of the great things about London is its proximity to so many other UK  and European destinations. There are plenty of day trip options in England, and continental Europe; in fact, you could visit up to 10 different places for one day. 

From posh seaside towns to historic cities like York and Edinburgh, there’s something for everyone in Britain’s top day-trip destinations. 

This detailed list of 10 places you can visit for one day from and back to London is perfect for people who love city breaks.

1) Virginia Water Lake

A day at Virginia Water Lake offers a wealth of things to do. 

Starting in the cascade where you can walk along the footpath, discovering the Roman remains of Leptis Magna, or taking a stroll through the heather garden towards the Tenpole, whilst stopping off for lunch in the cafe situated in the park.

Cascade - Virginia water lake

Also, don’t miss the totem pole which is another hidden gem.

Looking for something more? Then try Five Arch Bridge where you can find all sorts of wildlife including birds, badgers and even deer. 

Not forgetting the Prince Consort’s Statue that sits quietly overlooking all that takes place below. This is just a small selection of things to see and do when visiting Virginia water lake.

How to get to Virginia Water Lake from London

The closest train station to this water lake is Virginia Water Station. Trains leave London Waterloo regularly for this station. The train journey will take around 40 mins and the train fare from £11 for a one way ticket. 

From Virginia water Train station, you can either walk, cycle or hire a cab to get you to the park entrance by the wheatsheaf hotel. A distance of 1.5 miles separates the station from the lake.

2) Eastbourne

Eastbourne is a vibrant and welcoming seaside town close to hand for day tripping from London. Whether you want to explore the coastline, regency buildings or be entertained, there’s plenty of choice!

Eastbourne

Eastbourne is a beach town known for its long pier, where you can stroll over the stands of angling shops to find your perfect sea glass or shell. Next, visit the Market to pick up some gifts or snacks to take to the pavilion for a day on the lawns. Complete your trip with dinner at The London & County – JD Wetherspoon, offering everything from fresh seafood to cocktails.

How to get to Eastbourne from London

From London, take the South Eastern train line to Eastbourne. The train journey takes around 1 hour 40 minutes from London Victoria to Eastbourne with tickets from £8.

3) Southend on Sea (Essex)

South End on sea, found on the southeastern edge of Essex, covers nearly 3 km of seafront, with the entire coastline stretching for almost 15km. The picturesque seafront is peppered with amusement arcades, family water parks and paddling pools, as well as offering residents and visitors a chance to enjoy beach activities such as kite surfing and power kite boarding.

 

The pier is the star of the show in Southend on Sea. The pier, which opened in 1879, stretches out over 1 mile into the Thames estuary, meaning it’s possible to get a view of ships sailing towards London underneath you. 

The town is also known for a Variety of entertainment including the Southend Pavilion Theatre, Museum located at the Royal Hotel, Annual Air Show celebrating aviation history in South end on sea and the Sea Life Adventure Park.

How to get to Southend on Sea from London?

The best way to get to Southend-on-Sea is to travel by train. The train journey from London to Southend on Sea takes 1 hour and 15 minutes and costs between £20 and £45 each way depending on the time of day and the type of train you book. 

Trains run hourly, from either London Fenchurch Street station or Liverpool Street Station, so it’s worth booking in advance, especially if you want a specific departure time.

 

4) Brighton

Brighton is the perfect destination for a day trip from London. It’s packed full of things to do, delicious places to eat and inspiring sights that you won’t find anywhere else. 

It has the marina, vintage boutiques, florists, cafes (the cake is legendary), Brighton Pier (the oldest amusement pier in the world) and Royal Pavillion – home of the world famous Brighton Festival.

Brighton

The city of Brighton is a popular destination for people traveling from London by train. With unique shops, stunning sea views, and a beautiful pier, Brighton has something for everyone.

How to get to Brighton from London?

Hop on a train from London’s Victoria Station and begin your trip to Brighton. Brighton is 60 minutes by train from London. With affordable daily return tickets, regular services and plenty of room for bikes, it’s the perfect commuter town. 

One Tip: I recommend visiting Brighton on a Saturday if you are looking for affordable train tickets ( £12 return from London Bridge station). 

5) Cambridge

There is no end of things to do in Cambridge. Take a cruise on the historic River Cam; visit the market; or climb the steep steps of King’s College. Shop the local boutiques; hang out at one of several charming pubs; or head to one of many music venues, theaters, art galleries, and museums. 

From seasonal excursions like Ale Fest, Cider Festival, and Christmas Market, to permanent fixtures such as The Wren Library and The Bridge of Sighs, there really is something for everyone in Cambridge.

 

Also, Beautiful villages, famous colleges and a fascinating history lie within walking distance of Cambridge city centre. You can spend a whole day wandering along the river, enjoying a picnic in one of the country parks or visiting the renowned shopping outlets designed by some of the UK’s top architects.

How to get to Cambridge from London?

The quickest way from London to Cambridge is by train. Take a train from London Liverpool Street to Cambridge. The train journey will take approximately 1 hour and 14 minutes and will cost you £11.10 one way.

6) Oxford

There are so many things to do in Oxford, it would be impossible to list them all. But if you were to spend a day in the city, you might start with coffee and pastries at one of the many fantastic cafes. 

Walk along the beautiful river Isis or visit St Michael’s college on St Michael’s St. Then spend the afternoon visiting the colleges that make Oxford famous. 

Highlights include Christ Church with its enormous quad, Merton College with its stunning dining hall, and New College where Harry Potter was filmed. Dinner at Turf Tavern is highly recommended, with live jazz most nights.

How to get to Oxford from London?

Oxford is the ideal choice for Londoners looking to escape from the busy city. Oxford is a relatively short train journey from London Paddington station. 

A direct train service will take you directly to Oxford. The train to oxford from London travel time can take approximately 1hours with tickets fares from £13.30.

7) Paris - France

Paris is a dream destination for most travellers. The City of Love, known for its culture, romance, art, food and architecture is the ultimate destination for many people.

Step off a direct Eurostar train from London and discover everything Paris has to offer. In just one short day, walk the steps of history at the Eiffel Tower, hike from Notre-Dame cathedral to the top of Montmartre Hill for panoramic views of Paris and drink at a café on the Seine River.

Also,You can visit the Expositions Universelles that showcase what’s trendy in France today. In the evening, you can enjoy a candlelit dinner at a cozy restaurant on the edges of the Latin Quarter. And, of course, you can savor a glass of wine beneath trees in a park along the banks of the Seine River.

How to get to Paris from London?

The best way to get from London to Paris is by Eurostar train. The Eurostar takes you from London’s St Pancras International station to the Gare du Nord Station in central Paris, and it has a bar and restaurant on board. 

Once in Paris, you can travel to most places via the Paris Metro system and its extensive and very useful RER commuter lines.

8) Seven sisters cliffs

Visiting the Seven Sisters cliffs is easy and accessible from London for a day. It is a coastal footpath of outstanding beauty and interest; the Seven Sisters Cliff Path is a National Trust area that stretches for 10 miles between the two seaside resorts of Seaford and Eastbourne. The cliffs rise over 100 metres above Bexhill-on-Sea and Beachy Head.

7 sisters cliffs walk

Dog walkers, photographers, artists . . . all are drawn to the remote beauty of these white chalk cliffs. As you stroll along, you can watch the changing tide at Beachy Head and revel in the peace. For more details about this walk, read this guide

How to get to Seven Sisters Cliffs from London?

You have two options: Take a train from London to Seaford and walk your way to Eastbourne along the S downs way. Or the other way around (take a train to Eastbourne and walk your way to Seaford). 

The Train journey lasts for about 1h and 40 minutes with train fares from £12 for a one-way ticket depending on the time of the day.

9) Canterburry

Canterbury is a medieval city in southeast England, located 65 miles from London. It is easily accessible by train or bus, and is an ideal day trip for travelers who want to see another part of the UK’s history and culture. 

One of the highlights of Canterburry is the Canterbury Cathedral. It is one of the oldest in England, and has been around since the 7th century AD. It boasts much religious art, much of it representing “the Adoration of the Magi.” 

On Saturdays there is a farmers market near the cathedral and the Cattle Market.

Another Gem is the nearby Whitefriars Street with its many stores, including bakeries and tea shops, which visitors may want to visit depending on their interests. 

How to get to Canterburry from London?

Take a southeastern train from London Victoria station. The journey lasts for about 1h and 30 minutes, with train fares starting from £11.60 one way.

10) Southampton

A beautiful coastal city, Portsmouth is rich in maritime history. It was once a naval yard, the headquarters for the Royal Navy fleet, and home to twelve shipbuilding companies.

Today, it’s a family-friendly destination full of charming attractions for all ages, including the Spinnaker Tower, home to the second tallest freestanding structure in the UK after the Shard at London Bridge.

Other modern highlights include Gunwharf Quays—a residential development with shops, restaurants, bars, bowling alley, cinema complex, 5-a-side football pitch and music festival arena.

Whether you are spending the day in Portsmouth on your own or on a historical tour, make sure you take some time to experience all of the unique things that Portsmouth has to offer.

How to get tot Portsmouth from London?

Portsmouth is accessible from London by train. The journey lasts for around 2 hours on a southern railway train from London waterloo station. The train fares start from £12.

Final Thoughts

With more and more of us taking time to unwind and de-stress on our day off, the appeal of the day trip has never been stronger. 

I hope you enjoyed me sharing my top 10 destinations you can visit from London for one day by train – or even within one day if your determined enough. 

Don’t hesitate to add a comment below if you think there are more destinations that are worth visiting for one day from London.

 

The Bare Traveller