8 easy must-do weekend trips from London

Published by: BouncePosted
The best weekend trips from London

London is one of the most historic and vibrant cities in the world. Anyone living or visiting there has an enviable number of cultural, culinary, and recreational activities at their fingertips every day. But the hustle and bustle of a city like London can be a lot. Needing to get out of the big city is a natural feeling, so going on a weekend getaway to the country, a national park, or a charming smaller town, known colloquially as city breaks, just makes sense.

Don’t worry. All the spoils of the capital city aren’t going anywhere. Once you’re out in the open on a hike or touring historic villages, you won’t worry about missing out on what’s going on in London. Planning the perfect weekend trip involves a little research and preparation. You’ll want to book lodging, you’ll need to plan how you’ll get there, you might need to find luggage storage in London, and you’ll want to plan what you’ll be doing. But first, you need to decide where you’ll be going.

Here are the best weekend trips from London:

Weekend trips from London to Bath

Bath, Somerset 

Widely regarded as one of England’s most charming towns, Bath is a beautiful little village famed (and named) for its well-preserved Roman baths. There are many boutique inns and hotels, making it ideal for a romantic getaway. 

Distance from London 

It only takes about 90 minutes by train to reach this historic town. It’s definitely possible to make a day trip out of your visit, but there’s enough to do and see in Bath that staying a few days during weekend breaks is definitely worth it.

Our activity recommendations

The “Bath experience” is fairly simple. It’s a quaint and quiet town, with lots of older houses and buildings. Visiting from London or the US, it’ll feel somewhat like stepping out from a time machine and into an 18th-century English market town. Most of the city’s architecture dates back to the Georgian era. Look into tours and museums while staying here. You can also just take it easy and try to “live like a local” while in town. It’ll be a relaxing and enjoyable experience away from the chaos of London 

Best season to visit 

Bath is one of the most popular travel destinations in the UK, especially during the summer. While it’s a charming town and extremely walkable, there’s nothing here that demands a high-season visit. Going between October and April has its advantages. For one, you’ll avoid the hordes of tourists. It’s also an idyllic place when it’s not overrun with crowds; the quintessential Bath experience is when it’s quiet. You can also stumble upon one of the largest Christmas Markets in England if you visit during the holidays.

Plan a weekend trip from London to Brighton

Brighton, Sussex

Hitting the beach is probably the last activity non-Britons will ever associate with England. But along the southern shores of England is one of Europe’s most underrated beach towns. Brighton is perfect for summer weekend trips when you want to take a dip in the English Channel, relax on the beach, and enjoy the fresh ocean breeze. There are also pubs because there are always pubs!

Distance from London

It’s an hour's train ride and a 90-minute drive directly south of London. Depending on what you’re trying to do in and around Brighton, it could be better to take a car. 

Our activity recommendations

There are plenty of vacation rentals, B&Bs, and hotels to stay in, but you’ll want something close to the promenade. This stretch has the best views of the English Channel and is lined with charming restaurants, shops, pubs, and landmarks. 

Brighton frequently hosts theater performances, film screenings, concerts, and comedy at its many venues, the Royal Pavilion being the most prominent. Having a plan B for when the weather isn’t great is a good idea because Brighton may be beautiful, but you’re still in England.

Best season to visit 

Brighton is one of the best Beach towns in England, so it’s safe to say that summer is the ideal time of year to visit. Really, when the weather is right, it's one of the best London weekend trips. The pubs will be more lively, and the boardwalk will have more action as well. Booking lodging and making reservations for dinner well ahead of time is the best way to plan around the crowds of other visitors.

Weekend trip from London to Canterbury

Bristol

If you’re looking to get out of the big city, but want all the cultural offerings of London, then Bristol is your best bet. With a well-preserved Old Town, foodie-favorite restaurants, cool bars, street art, cafés, and music venues, Bristol appeals to just about everyone. It's the quintessential destination for a city break and one of the best weekend getaways for hipsters and young creatives.

Distance from London

The drive (including traffic) is about two and a half hours. The train to Bristol takes between 90 minutes and two hours from Paddington Station in London. There’s also a VERY inexpensive coach from Victoria Station for budget-minded travelers. 

Our activity recommendations

The Clifton Suspension Bridge is a legitimately impressive architectural marvel and the most notable landmark in Bristol. It’s a nice hike that will get you out in the brisk air, and the views of Bristol's historic city center are wonderful. After your hike, head to Stokes Croft for a bit of culture. There are wonderful shops, bars, restaurants, and music venues here. The nightlife scene in Bristol is surprisingly vibrant, if a little more relaxed than Lobdon’s. 

Best season to visit 

Bristol’s main draw is its culture, restaurants, and nightlife, so just about any time of year will do for weekend getaways.  

Canterbury, Kent 

Anyone who’s taken a high school English class will doubtless have read Geoffrey Chaucer’s classic, Canterbury Tales. While the content of the book doesn’t quite resemble weekend trips from London, Canterbury is the perfect place to visit to appreciate a well-preserved historic town.

Distance from London 

Canterbury is extremely close to London, so the drive should take about 90 minutes, potentially more with traffic. The train line runs slightly longer, at about a three-hour ride from central London. 

Our activity recommendations

Canterbury Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which makes it a must-visit landmark for curious travelers. Taking a tour of the grounds and cathedral is a great way to learn a few things before you inevitably explore the town’s many quaint restaurants, pubs, shops, and cafés. Simply walking around Canterbury’s cobbled streets is an experience. 

Best season to visit 

UNESCO World Heritage sites aren’t weather dependent, so making the short trek for a weekend getaway can happen any time of year.

Trip to the Cotswolds from London for a weekend

The Cotswolds

The Cotswolds are almost more of an idea than a single place. Historically, this region consists of land in Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and Wiltshire. That probably means little to non-Britons, but it’ll tell you that it could take you a few weekend trips from London to fully explore the Cotswolds. This bit of countryside is famed for its outstanding natural beauty, with rolling hills, winding streams, and fields that will redefine your idea of the color green. There are stone cottages, tiny villages, and countryside mansions dotting the landscape. It’s a picturesque and idyllic place to enjoy a long weekend, and it is quintessentially British. 

Distance from London

The train to the Moreton-in-Marsh train station from London Paddington only takes about 90 minutes. It’s a bit longer to drive, taking two and a half hours, but getting around the Cotswolds is more convenient when you have a car.  

Our activity recommendations

Pick a village with an inn or vacation rental that appeals to you, and plan your weekend trip around that. There are hunting and recreation clubs like the Cotswold Clay Club for clay pigeon shooting, golf clubs with some of the finest courses in England, and there are lakes and rivers to rent a boat on. Of course, there are quaint towns with delightful pubs to get cozy in as well. 

Best season to visit 

If you’re going to be spending a lot of time outdoors, which is entirely the point of visiting the Cotswolds, you’ll want to visit during the warmer months. Late spring and early fall are great times to go because there will be smaller crowds. 

Oxford weekend trips from London

Oxford

Home to, perhaps, the world's most famous and renowned university, Oxford is one of the best London weekend getaways. Anyone looking for fun restaurants, bars, cafés, and a vibrant performing arts scene should look no further than this cultural hub. 

Distance from London

The train from London Paddington takes only an hour and lands you right in the middle of Oxford, where all the shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels are. The drive is only 90 minutes, but parking can be a challenge in a smaller town like Oxford. 

Our activity recommendations

While Oxford’s historic campus is one of the main draws, this is far from a college town. A vibrant culture has sprung up around the university to make Oxford a fun place for people in their 20s and 30s to visit. Great vintage stores, trendy bars, charming cafés, and eclectic restaurants line the cobbled streets. There’s also a lively music scene, with up-and-coming bands playing venues across the city. 

Best season to visit 

Oxford is a lovely destination for weekend trips in any season. The crowds will be largest in the summer when school is out, however. Going in the winter is a great way to save on lodging, and the pubs are perfectly cozy. 

Peak District National Park

The best weekend trips from London aren’t always in quaint little villages. Peak District National Park is one of the best outdoor recreation areas in the UK. With miles upon miles of winding hills, this is the ideal weekend getaway for hiking and cycling enthusiasts. There are a few small towns in the district where you can find lodging and pubs. If getting to Peak District isn't an option, South Downs National Park is another option for outdoor recreation and outstanding natural beauty.

Distance from London

From Kings Cross or St. Pancras stations in London, it takes about two and a half hours by train to get to Peak District. You’ll have to get a connector from Derby, but it’ll land you in the middle of the park. Coach and driving both take three hours from central London.

Our activity recommendations

Hiking the rolling (and sometimes steep) hills of Peak District National Park is the rather obvious first choice for spending your time here. One way to efficiently see all the best sights is to rent a bike from Blackwell Mill Cycle Hire, or you can bring your own from London. After you explore the hills, relax with a pint at one of the many historic pubs. Devonshire Arms and The Peacock are the most popular places for real ale and superb traditional pub fare. 

Best season to visit  

Visiting Peak District is all about hiking and enjoying the natural beauty, so it’s best to visit during the summer. Weekend getaways during winter are inadvisable, but spring and fall are certainly doable if the weather cooperates. 

Weekend trips to Winchester from London

Winchester, Hampshire 

While Winchester was never the go-to weekend getaway for Londoners, the city has seen a jump in tourism in recent years. Perhaps it’s Jane Austen’s enduring legacy as one of England’s great voices or the restoration of the town’s historic cathedral. Either way, visitors are heading to Winchester in droves.

Distance from London

Trips from London Waterloo take about an hour to get to Winchester. Driving takes just under two hours but does allow for more flexibility. 

Our activity recommendations

Winchester is one of those smaller UK cities that has a fantastic food scene. Hoxton Bakehouse is legitimately excellent and would be on lists of London's best places to eat. There are also vineyards like Humbledon, along with a number of perfectly serviceable pubs. Literary (and history) buffs will absolutely want to check out Jane Austen’s house, which offers tours of the legendary author’s home. 

Best season to visit 

Visiting Winchester is based entirely around cultural and historical activities, so any time of year will do. 

Conclusion

With so many national parks and quaint towns nearby, you’re never short of options for weekend trips from London. If you’re short on time, there are always some exciting day trips you can take from the capital city. Many people who visit spend a jam-packed 3 days in London, but if you want to get away for a long weekend and refresh and recharge (or go on grueling hikes), you’ll be sure to find the perfect destination. 

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