Getting out of London
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” Well, this is the one statement where our sentiments don’t resonate with Samuel Johnson. London is irrefutably a great city offering almost inexhaustible activities to be done, but sometimes the throng of the city can become a bit too much.
If you have any more than three days in the city, you have the opportunity venture afield and see more of the UK. In less than an hour, you could be relaxing on a beach, exploring ancient castles or walking the countryside.
If you are looking to get out of the city for just an hour up to a whole weekend here is a definitive list of the things to do outside of London featuring the great British countryside, ancient castles and seaside towns and much more.
Windsor and Eton
Windsor has long been synonymous with royalty dating back to over one millennium. The Queen makes her main home at Windsor Castle, the official royal residence and is a sight to see if you must escape London for a few hours.
The medieval Windsor castle is the largest occupied castle in the world and draws visitors from all over the world all year round. The high streets are infused with designer boutiques and lavish cafes all at your disposal.
If you make it to the castle by 11 am, you will be lucky to see the change of guards. If you are in the custody of minors, they will love the child-oriented Legoland Windsor theme park.
When you are done with the castle, crossing the river Thames brings you to the neighboring twin city Eton. Here you’ll find the infamous Eton College where Britain’s aristocracy and the elite are educated.
You can get here by plane, train, car, cycling or tour.
Rochester is an astonishingly beautiful town and is one of the most attractive places to go outside London. The local sights of this town are referenced numerously in Charles Dickens works especially “Great Expectations” and “Pickwick Papers.”
Charles Dickens spent most of his childhood in Chatham, right next door and his later years on the outskirts at Gad’s Hill Place. The Rochester Cathedral, which dates back to 604 A.D, is the oldest in England and brings about a Romanesque façade.
The high street provides a host of things to do outside of London and is featured with traditional cafes, shops selling gifts and books art. The Swiss chalet on which Charles Dickens sat on while writing his novels also happens to be on Rochester’s high street as well.
After a long day on the high street, you could try the Topes restaurant, Coopers Arms or Tiny Tim’s Tearooms to refuel.
In order to enjoy the best of Rochester, however, time a trip in early December to catch an annual event that features carol singing, market stalls and lamp lit parades. Before you leave Rochester, make sure to pay a visit to the Norman tower, which dates to 1127 and was rebuilt as a fortress under the reign of Henry III.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
For a behind the scenes at Hollywood moviemaking, the Warner Bros. Tour is one of the best places to go outside London in the UK. From Hagrid’s motorcycle to Hermione’s cloak, the making of the movies is as good up close as it is on screen.
While the Harry Potter franchise might have ended, Warner Bros are still keen to relive the magical memories of their wizard boy. The tour is the real deal and a dream come true for any Potter fanatics.
The studio is not in London but in Leavesden near Watford, Hertfordshire, less than an hour’s drive from London. If you would like to take a tour with friends and family.
The highlight of the tour, which drew gasps from many visitors, is the model of Hogwarts, which took an astounding six months to build. Within the tour, you are also presented with videos on how the film was made Quidditch stunts and visual effects.
Is it good value for money? Yes most definitely with £ 21 for a child between the ages of 5 and 15, £ 28 for an adult and, £ 83 for a family of four. You will spend a maximum of three hours inside the studio and then head out to the gift shops.
When it comes to the sets, they look as realistic as they can be but unfortunately, you can see but, you cannot touch.
The Surrey Hills
The Surrey Hill is an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) located in southeast England. Just over 400 square kilometers, the area offers an oasis of calm and tranquility far from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Also England’s most wooded county, Surrey is known for its landscapes, wildlife habitats, tranquility, and woodlands. The unspoiled nature of the area and extensive view make it quite special, attracting over 10 million visitors every year. The area was first designated in 1958 and is a scenic area that attracts visitors for short day trips, short breaks, or holidays.
The population of the area is approximately 27,000 with people in historic villages and nearby towns such as Peaslake and Mickleham. If you are more of an outdoor person the area supports a host of things to do outside of London including cycling, wildlife watching.
Should you want to tour other areas within the AONB we suggest that you visit the tourist information center. From this point, it’s easy to get information on how to organize your trips around the area, local events and public transport means available.
Local attractions include Guildford a picturesque town, 11 miles to the west of Surrey. The town has some well-preserved streets, shops, public amenities and visitors have the chance to enjoy an array of pubs, bars, bistros and cafes that cater to a wide variety of tastes.
Other attractions include Guildford Museum. Haslemere, Educational Museum, and Polesden Lacey.
For first timers, you can get there by car, which will take you approximately 1 hour 15 minutes depending on the traffic. The train should take you only 45 minutes but if you want to enjoy the scenery, we suggest you book a coach, which takes between 55 minutes to an hour again depending on the time of day.
Ticking every box of what a real castle should be the Hever Castle is a marvelous sight to behold. The castle seems to float on the moat surrounding it and is set on an extensive exquisite garden.
To get here, a short train from central London will work a quick taxi or better yet a country walk. When you finally get to the castle there are two options for visitors, you can either buy a combined ticket for the garden and castle or just a ticket for the castle. Whichever option you pick, get ready for some walking.
Built in 1270, the home for Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I, has quite a story to it. While the gardens are marvelous to see your first point of call should be the castle.
The castle is pretty packed during the weekend and you might have to contend with long queues during these times. Inside the castle, however, you’ll find antique furniture that King Henry VIII used as well as some intricately carved wooden ceilings. Other displays include Anne’s prayer books and torture instruments.
Astor’s biggest contribution the garden is modest. Each garden feels different featuring long walkways, lawn stretches, and elegant courtyards.
If you are visiting with your family there are plenty of activities at Hever Castle including boules, archery, jousting, assorted medieval games, and lawn games. Aside from the fun games, other activities for all ages are the yew and water maze.
Proper Day Trip
If you are looking to traverse England’s countryside then Bath is one of the most scenic places to go outside London. With a long reputation for literature, history, and architecture, Bath offers a lot more in terms of scenery, create eating joints and stupendous boutiques.
Less than 3 hours from London by road, this picturesque mini city draws in 4 million visitors annually. Travelers have been making way to this town for centuries just to get a peek at the Georgian residences, the 2000-year-old Roman Baths, temple pools and much more.
The ancient architecture and Roman pools are one of many reasons why this place was designated a World Heritage site in the 1980’s. Beyond the city, there are plenty of things to do outside of London including the Stonehenge, the stunning Somerset countryside and Longleat Safari Park.
A great inexpensive way to familiarise with any city and Bath, in particular, is walking. The walking tours around the bath are very informative and will get to reveal key insights about the city.
While you there, make sure to visit the Jane Austen Centre, which illustrates Jane’s life and for most of her books during her stay at Bath.
For the reason why Bath is called the Bath, the Roman baths are a top attraction point in the city. The waters have longed been known for the healing powers but have also been a focal point for the city’s development. Aside from the bath, there are ruins and ancient artifacts hidden below the underground.
After a long walk in Bath, the Thermae Bath Spa is an excellent place to cool off. The spa has two spectacular bath areas a rooftop bath and an indoor one both controlled to 33.5-degree Celsius. In addition, you also have access to a wellness area with steam rooms, saunas, showers and an intergalactic room that is extremely relaxing.
England coolest coastal city, Brighton is one of the most liberal places in the UK and is a leading destination for best places to go outside London. Popularly known as, “London by the Sea”, Brighton is an hour away from London by train and less than 2 hours by road.
Brighton is popularly known for its pebble beach, buzzing LGBT scenes and wall to wall music venues. Aside from these, other attractions to the city include the Brighton pier and the traditional pubs and restaurants.
There’s no shortage of activities you can do in Brighton, starting with the Taj Mahal inspired Royal Pavilion. This unique piece of architecture was built for King George IV.
Do you want to shop in Brighton? No problem the city has a wide array of independent and specialist shops selling anything you’d need from vintage clothing to electronics.
While you are still in the city, it would be a crime to miss the British Airways i360 tower. Launched in August 2016, The Brighton i360 is a giant vertical moving pod that stands at 130 meters high. The pod offers fantastic views of the city and is pretty inexpensive to visit.
Located at the northeastern end of the Vale of Evesham, Stratford upon Avon was the home to England’s greatest playwright. William Shakespeare was born in this town in 1564, married Anne Hathaway and gave birth to three children.
With over 800 years of history, there are great tales to be told about the place other than William Shakespeare. To know more we suggest that you pay for the Stratford town walk that does not need any pre-booking. It is paid on arrival and lasts about 2 hours.
Stratford-upon-Avon is accessible by road or by rail. The town is very close to the M40 motorway making it quickly accessible by road and also by rail to the west. A great way to get your bearings right, however, is by using a bus tour with Zeelo allowing you to see all the sights and attractions in the city.
Zeelo operates coach hire services that can take you around the town and through top itineraries below:
The Shakespeare sights are a great place to start for the tour if you are to understand the rich history of the town. Shakespeare lived here during the 16 century and the architects did well to restore his house to its original look.
Located a few miles into the countryside is the Anne Hathaway Cottage. Anne Hathaway married Shakespeare in 1582 and lived with Shakespeare for many years in London.
The Holy Trinity church is yet another place you must visit, it functions as a church but is also home to the grave of William Shakespeare.
If you are in the mood for some outdoor activities River Avon provides quite an array. You can hire motor or canal boats to explore the waters or walk beside the weaving riverbanks.
Yorkshire is one of England historic places in England with beautiful landscapes; wildlife sceneries making it earn the nickname “God’s own country.” The collection of landscapes has a strong history and culture tied to it and is a haven for outdoor activities.
The Dales have a wide variety of attraction points to cater for all age groups. Yorkshire Dales is approximately 1500 square miles and this includes the Yorkshire Dales National Park. This park is part of designated AONB areas.
Those who adore history will be pleased the stone-built villages which have formed a huge part of the area’s heritage for many years. This beautiful place attracts over 9 million visitors every year drawn by the tranquillity and natural beauty that the city adorns.
The northern dales contain mountains and landscapes that allow for a variety of outdoor activities including cycling and mountain biking. Should you want to plan a weekend out with friends then you can get your all round trips catered for.
One of England’s prestigious university towns Oxford is an architectural marvel ranging from Saxon to Palladian sights. The city is dominated by a number of universities spread over a massive area.
It is true to say that Oxford is one of the most architecturally stunning cities in England and rivals England in the number of ancient buildings. The university landscapes are designed to perfection and allow visitors to roam in some sections.
If museums are your thing then the Ashmolean and Pitt Rivers are two stunning choices that attract people from all walks of life with stunning exhibitions. The Ashmolean is an art museum while Pitt Rivers majors on archeological findings. The latter contains over 500,000 remains including full-sized dinosaur skeletons.
You can discover the Christ Church College on foot and also wander your way to the 1000-year-old Oxford castle. While you are at it, you can enjoy panoramic views from St George’s Tower. The city center also has some fantastic shops where you can flex your credit card.
Of all the attractions in Oxford, perhaps one of the most stunning landmarks is the Radcliffe Camera, of the 18 century.
The trip takes only 90 minutes by road but enjoying all these sceneries from a coach is a completely different experience altogether.
Liverpool is best known worldwide for its legendary football club and a rich musical history. Aside from the soccer enthusiasts in the city, the dockside city has boutique hotels, high-end cuisine and a lot more. When you set foot in Liverpool, your first stop should be the historic Albert Dock.
For the diehard Beatles fans, the best way to pay tribute is to go for the Magical Mystery Tour. You will be able to the homes of all four members, get an overview of the Strawberry Fields and maybe hang out at the iconic Cavern.
No trip is complete without a visit to the home of Liverpool football club Anfield. The stadium tour is a truly remarkable experience for everyone especially if you are a fan of the beautiful game.
If you would like to watch a Liverpool football match, try go to the Merseyside derby at Anfield for a match between two premier league footballing giants; Liverpool and Everton.
Wrapping It Up
If you happen to be in London for a vacation for a day to even a week, the above options offer a great way to spend your time and gain insight into England’s history and culture. London is certainly a beautiful city with multiple attractions but there are a good number of things to do outside of London.