Day Tripping by Train The rail network in England, especially in and around London, makes it super easy to experience the English countryside away from the capital. These day trips need not be expensive, either. BritRail's London Plus Pass gives travelers unlimited train trips in Southeast England for two, four or seven days, as well as two coupons valid for free trips on the Airport Express. Here are some of our favorite places for day trips by train from London.
Windsor & Eton Windsor & Eton, twin towns 21 miles west of London, draws in visitors with the allure of visiting the world's oldest and largest occupied castle. Besides Windsor Castle, which requires just a couple of hours to tour, the surrounding town offers plenty of antique shops, boutiques, tea houses and pubs on its historic cobbled streets. Train: Take the First Great Western from London Paddington to Slough, where you'll change trains to the branch line which terminates at Windsor and Eton Central. The trip takes less than 50 minutes.
Brighton Brighton (52 miles south of London) is one of England's most charismatic seaside cities, filled with eclectic shops and a vibe at once edgy and sophisticated. Should you decide to turn your day trip into a weekend, Brighton has some of the best clubbing outside of London, as well as the biggest gay scene in the country. Train: The trip on the Southern line from London Victoria station to Brighton takes just over an hour.
Bath History and architecture buffs should put Bath at the top of their England must-see list. This town located 115 miles west of London is famous for its Roman Baths and Gregorian architecture in equal parts, and many consider it to be one of the most beautiful towns in the United Kingdom. Train: First Great Western trains departing from London Paddington take approximately 90 minutes to reach Bath Spa.
Salisbury & Stonehenge Stonehenge needs no introduction, and it often has a spot on any England itinerary, but equally impressive is the town of Salisbury (90 miles southwest of London) with its towering cathedral. It's the tallest cathedral in England, and if you find yourself with extra time after touring and before heading off to Stonehenge, the town is teeming with pubs. Train: Hop on the South West train from London Waterloo to Salisbury. The journey takes about 90 minutes, and from there, you can catch a tourist bus to Stonehenge.
Oxford The iconic university town of Oxford, located 54 miles northwest of London, has been a hub of academia since 1167. Besides housing one of the world's most prestigious universities, the town also has plenty of centuries old pubs, historic bookshops, medieval streets and beautiful stone architecture throughout a compact and easily walkable center. Train: First Great Western trains from London Paddington take about an hour to reach Oxford.
Canterbury One of the country's best cathedral cities and a popular day trip into Southern England, Canterbury (56 miles southeast of London) and its maze of narrow medieval streets and alleys centers around the towering cathedral, but there are also historic gardens and ancient walls to explore. Train: Trains depart from St. Pancras International for Canterbury West, and the journey takes just over an hour.
Cambridge Another of England's most picturesque cities, Cambridge (55 miles north of London) predates the Roman occupation, which means it's got history in spades. The university itself is the main draw, with its sweeping lawns, turrets, spires and famous sites, like the romantic Bridge of Sighs. Train: Great Northern trains leave from King's Cross and arrive in Cambridge 50 minutes later.
Faversham One of Kent's many charming market towns, Faversham is perhaps best known as the home of England's oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame. Visitors who want to learn more about English ales can take a tour of the five century-old brewery, which includes a tutored tasting at the end. Train: Trains departing from St. Pancras International take about 75 minutes to reach Faversham.
Rochester For literary buffs and bibliophiles, day trip destinations don't get much better than Rochester. Located 33 miles southeast of London, the town is steeped in Charles Dickens history. It was where the famous author was born and died, and visitors can see several locations from his novels, including Restoration House, the home of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. Rochester Castle is one of England's tallest. Train: Take a train from London Victoria to Rochester and you can be there in just under an hour.
Colchester Colchester, England's oldest city, is located 68 miles northeast of the capital and enjoys a history dating back to the fifth century BC. Half-timbered houses, a sturdy Norman castle, old Roman walls and a network of walkable narrow roads attract more than four million visitors each year. Train: Greater Anglia trains from London Liverpool Street to Colchester Town take just over an hour.