There are so many places within an hour away from London, that it would be a shame if you didn’t see these cities. Most of the below-mentioned places have been visited by me and I can vouch for the fact that there are plenty of things to do and see. This list can be endless but after a great depth of research, I have come up with top ten places which will be appreciated by people who would love to see beyond London.
- Oxford – Known for the reputable Oxford University, this city has some delightful history attached to it. Have been to Oxford twice and I don’t think you can have a dull moment here. Start your itinerary by seeing the prominent Radcliffe Square, which is surrounded by university buildings or the Oxford Castle which holds guided tours every few hours. Few metres away from the Radcliffe Square you can even see the beautiful Bridge of Sighs.
- Oxford does have a lot to see but my favourite is the Christ Church which inspired the Great Hall in the movie Harry Potter. Another fun activity would be punting on river Cherwell, it’s a beautiful way to spend time in the city. If hungry grab something to eat at the busy Cornmarket Street, one of the crowded places in the city.
- Just a few miles away is another attraction which might interest many, Blenheim Palace, which is also the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Stroll to the marvellous palace rooms and the admiral palace gardens.
- Oxford being an old city sets a backdrop for many period films and dramas.
Travel time from London Paddington:- 1hour
- Bath – People visit the city of Bath to view the 2,000-year-old thermal bath spa’s used by the Romans. The importance of Bath can be traced by the fact that it is one of the World Heritage sites and many of its buildings and architecture are heritage. Apart from the famed Roman bath spend some time strolling around the fascinating buildings of the Royal Crescent to see the Georgian style buildings from here you can walk to the Royal Circus too.
- Another picturesque place here is the Pulteney Bridge, makes for a stunning backdrop for pictures. Bath Abbey and the Royal Victoria Park both are places which you can relax and take in the splendid views of the city, at Bath Abbey you can sit by a cafe or a restaurant and enjoy people watching or a concert and at the Royal Victoria Park, you and your family can enjoy a quiet picnic time.
Travel time from London Paddington – 1hour 20mins
- Stratford upon Avon – Famous because it is Shakespeare birthplace and has attractions attached to its early childhood and adulthood life. You can catch one of his shows at the Royal Shakespeare Company or make it even more relaxing take a boat ride over the river Avon.
- Anne Hathaway’s cottages is a captivating place to see if you are interested to know more about Shakespeare wife, Anne. The cottage has a lovely garden where you can witness a few more attractions.
- Church of Holy Trinity, a place where Shakespeare and his family members are buried. The road which leads you to this church is glorious too. Don’t forget to stroll in the garden of this church.
- Stratford upon Avon is a relatively small town and it’s easy to walk around here, it surely should be in your list if you love the legendary Shakespeare dramas and stories.
Time to travel from London Marylebone station – 2hour 32mins with one change and from Victoria coach station it takes 2hour 10mins. Driving would be a better option as there are not many direct train routes to this city.
- Cambridge – Another town known for its distinguished universities, but unlike Oxford Cambridge is still very modern in many aspects. If you go during the summer months this town is blistering with tourists, locals and students. My favourite pastime here is punting, nothing beats the calm atmosphere of this city while enjoying the beautiful views.
- Don’t miss out on seeing some of the established university buildings and their gardens, one such example is the Kings College and its Chapel. Just like Oxford, even Cambridge has a Bridge of Sight, and in my opinion, this one is prettier as it’s over a lake, another prominent thing to see here would be the Mathematical Bridge designed by the legend Issac Newton.
- The food scene at Cambridge is buzzing, you can either grab a meal from the Market square or head to Fitzbilies for brunch, it’s amazing.
Travel time from London’s King Cross station is about an hour or less depending on the train service you choose.
- Brighton – Not only do tourists love this city but its also well known among the Brits, if there is a long weekend the Brighton pier would be gushing with people. Of course, you wouldn’t want to miss out the beach which also a number of shops, restaurants and arcade lined at the pier.
- People who don’t want to rush around the city are in for a merry time as you can take it easy and relax by the shore. Don’t miss out the Royal Pavilion and museums, the decor of the building makes you believe that you are looking at an Indian palace and just like the outside the inside too is exquisite. If you like to spend some time eating and browsing around check out the Old Steine and North Laine areas.
- If you want to see the city from a different perspective, take a ride on the British Airways i360 observation tower.
Travel time from London Victoria station is around 1hour 34mins.
- Cardiff – Capital of Wales surely has a lot of attractions to lure the tourists in you. Begin your journey here by seeing the popular Cardiff Castle. If you are foodie person you can even spend some time at the Mermaid Quay, where you can find lots of shops and restaurants.
- City hall in Cardiff is a notable place in the heart of the city, and the best part that it has free entry so make sure to check it out. If you are a nature lover few miles away from Cardiff is the Brecon Beacons National park or a more petite version would be the Dyffryn gardens.
- Cardiff is a special place and it has something to please everyone.
Travel time from London Paddington is 2hours
- Paris – Yes, you heard it right, a day trip to Paris is doable from London. Schools usually take children’s to Paris to adore the phenomenal architecture or a trip to Disneyland Paris. Being so close to my heart, I love to visit this city in all of its seasons to see the different characteristic of Paris.
- People from all around the world come here to see the grand Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Notre-dame de or the shopping street Champs-Elysées Avenue. You all must have heard about Monalisa’s peculiar portrait, well you can see that too in Louvre museum.
- Paris is a vibrant cosmopolitan city which you can never get bored off.
Travel time from London, St-Pancras station is around 2hours 20mins.
- Birmingham – To be honest with you I usually plan trips to Birmingham as there are plenty of Asian restaurants to try at a relatively reasonable price then in London but apart from eating you can take a couple of day trips from Birmingham too. The Bull Ring mall and the shopping street around it are notable. Parents with kids or adults who love Cadbury can take a trip to the Cadbury world where you can get to know more about the history of this brand.
- Brindleyplace is another captivating area to find restaurants and cafes, apart from that many festivals take place here as well.
- Birmingham having a strategic location also helps you to connect to other parts of UK and Scotland.
Travel time from London Euston station is 1hour 20mins.
- Windsor – If you are familiar with the recent royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry you would have heard about their wedding in the extraordinary town of Windsor. This place is known for Windsor castle which is also one of the residences of the queen.
- Legoland Windsor is another park for kids and teenagers, it’s unique and has numerous amount of lego structures.
- Windsor is a small town but it still attracts a number of tourists.
Travel time from London Paddington is 34mins and from Waterloo station is 54mins.
- Manchester – This city has more than just a great football team. It has a strong background in industrial manufacturing and is one of the major cities in the UK. A compelling reason for which I visited Manchester was for the John Rylands Library resemblances to the library in the movie Harry Potter. This gothic library is impressive in every way, a work of art.
- While my stay here, I even took a day trip to Lake District and Peak District which is beautiful in all it’s glory, unfortunately, there aren’t many tour companies which organise day trips here but driving is always a good idea.
- Manchester Cathedral is another must-see attraction, it is also one of the oldest buildings here. Another historic landmark here is the neo-gothic Town Hall which is used by filmmakers for a remarkable backdrop even today. If you wish to indulge in some retail therapy Exchange Square is the place to be, you can find a good deal of restaurants, and shops around here.
Travel time from London Euston is around 2hours.
These are just a few of the cities and towns which I recommend if you don’t want to stay the night. Most of the above-mentioned cities are well connected from London and the public transport in the towns are greatly accessible from the tourist’s locations. Staying in the UK for so long, I still feel there is something new to discover and I continue my London adventures every time I get back home.