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London is one of the most vibrant, exciting cities in the world, with so many incredible things to see and do. However, there are plenty of other fantastic places in the south of England that are also definitely worth visiting. Many of these make easy day trips from London by train. Here are some of the very best.

Oxford (or Cambridge)

Historic Oxford, accessible by train from London

Historic Oxford, accessible by train from London

Home to a world-famous 1,000-year-old university, beautiful medieval buildings, cozy cafes, atmospheric pubs, and more Harry Potter filming locations than you can shake a wand at, Oxford is a wonderful place to spend a day.

The centre of town is fairly compact and walkable. Highlights include the Radcliffe Camera, the Bodleian Library, Christ Church College,

Turf Tavern, the Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean museums, as well as the Sheldonian Theatre, Botanic Gardens, and Magdalen College.

For the best view in the city, and to see why Oxford is known as the “City of Dreaming Spires”, climb the tower of the Church of St Mary The Virgin.

Alternatively, why not visit the other equally-famous university town, Cambridge. (Or “the Other Place”, as Oxonians like to call it.

Cambridge is smaller than Oxford, with slightly fewer “sights”, but an equally captifying atmosphere. Famous places to visit in Cambridge include the Fitzwilliam Museum, the Bridge of Sighs (named after the bridge in Venice), the Mathematical Bridge, King’s College Chapel, and “the Backs” – an iconic and beautiful area that separates some of the university’s colleges with the river Cam (hire a punt for the best views).

The South Downs

Head to South Downs National Park to experience English countryside just outside of London

Head to South Downs National Park to experience the beautiful English countryside

There are many excellent walks in and around London. However, if you’d prefer to spend a day hiking in the English countryside, head for the South Downs National Park. This range of hills passes through the counties of East Sussex, West Sussex and Hampshire, and has some of the finest scenery in southern England.

It’s a beautiful place, with gently rolling hills, picture-postcard green fields, ancient woodland, and meadows of wildflowers. From many viewpoints, you can see all the way to the coast and out to sea.

There are many excellent walking trails passing through the South Downs. Two of the best known are the South Downs Way and the Monarch’s Way. These are both long-distance hiking routes, but several sections make excellent day walks that are easily doable on a day trip from London by train.

A classic route is from Hassocks to Lewes, via Ditchling Beacon. Both Hassocks and Lewes have a station with direct trains to/from London.

Another great option is the walk from Seaford to Eastbourne, via the famous “Seven Sisters” cliffs.

Brighton

Take a day trip from London by train and head to the coastal town of Brighton

Escape London and head to the coastal town of Brighton

Brighton is a popular seaside town on the south coast of England.

Famous for its long pebbly beach and party atmosphere, Brighton is a great place to visit throughout the year. In the summertime, the long, mild evenings draw crowds of locals and visitors alike to the seafront. Here you can enjoy friendly festival-like vibes and a drink or two as you watch the sunset over the English Channel.

Other places to visit in Brighton include the iconic Royal Pavilion and Brighton pier, complete with a traditional amusement arcade and mini-theme park. Wander through the narrow alleyways of the Lanes, an area close to the seafront that’s full of pubs, bars, restaurants, vintage shops, and independent boutiques.

Brighton is known for being a very progressive, open-minded place. Brighton Pride is arguably the UK’s most popular international Pride Festival, and the city has a large LGBTQ+ community.

There’s also a vibrant creative scene here, with a range of music, theatre, art, film, and literature festivals throughout the year.

Brighton is particularly easy to explore as a day trip from London by train. There are usually at least 2-3 direct services per hour to/from several London stations, and the journey only takes 60-70 minutes.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, just outside of London

Windsor Castle, just outside of London

Located just outside London, Windsor Castle is one of the Queen’s three official residences. It’s also the largest and oldest continually-inhabited castle in the world.

The castle is located on top of a hill and can be seen for miles throughout the surrounding area. It has many imposing towers and battlements, immaculately manicured courtyards, and more than 5,000 acres of grounds.

One of the most striking things about Windsor Castle is its size. It’s truly massive, with over 1,000 rooms. You can visit many of these, including the richly furnished state apartments (full of priceless artwork by painters such as Rembrandt), and the Royal Family’s luxurious private apartments.

The castle’s gothic St George’s Chapel has a beautiful vaulted ceiling and contains the tombs of many former British monarchs, including Charles I and Henry VIII. (For anyone interested, this is also where Harry and Meghan were married.)

If you can time your visit to coincide with the Changing of the Guard (at 11 am), this is worth seeing. A colourful and symbolic daily ceremony marks the formal changing of the castle’s guards. It’s full of pomp and tradition, complete with a marching band.

Don’t miss a walk through the extensive grounds too. The best – and most iconic – view of Windsor Castle can be seen from the Long Walk, a 2.6-mile tree-lined avenue that leads up to the castle.

Margate & Whitstable

Walk along the seafront in Whitsable - A day trip from London by train

Walk along the seafront in Whitstable

The Victorian seaside town of Margate has recently become popular again with a wave of regeneration and gentrification.

Today, the town is full of hipster coffee shops, vintage shops, trendy bars selling craft beer and natural wine, and inventive restaurants and galleries. The Turner Contemporary gallery is well worth a visit, as is Crate, an artists studio and creative space housed in a former printing factory.

Also worth checking out, the alternative-themed amusement park Dreamland has several fun rides and also hosts a range of live music.

A few miles along the Kent coast, Whitstable has a totally different feel to Margate. More upmarket, here you’ll find several smart restaurants and many fancy holiday rental properties.

Take a walk along the Whitstable seafront, past the rainbow-coloured beach houses, maybe stopping to chat with one of the vendors selling freshly caught oysters, mackerel, and other local produce. If you have time, pop in for a drink at the Old Neptune pub, a local institution located right on the beach.

It’s easy to visit both Margate and Whitstable as a day trip from London by train. Both towns have good rail connections with the capital, and the train only takes 20 minutes between the two.

Bath

With Roman origins and stunning architecture, Bath is well-worth a day trip from London

With Roman origins and stunning architecture, Bath is well worth a day trip from London

Home to an incredible ancient Roman bathhouse, the city of Bath has some of the most beautiful architecture in Britain.

The famous Roman baths were built 2,000 years ago on top of a natural hot spring. Mineral-rich water rising from the ground was channelled through an impressive system of pipes and chambers to create a spa complex with several heated rooms and thermal pools.

It’s one of the best-preserved ancient bathhouses in the world, and definitely worth a visit.

Sadly, you can’t take a dip in the Roman baths in Bath. However, the same natural hot spring water flows into the modern Thermae Bath Spa, where you can enjoy a luxurious pampering experience complete with a stunning rooftop pool.

Other sites not to miss in Bath include the Royal Crescent (a gorgeous curving street lined with butter-coloured Georgian houses), Pulteney Bridge (an 18th-century bridge lined with shops), and Bath Abbey (a beautiful medieval church).

For a great view over the city, try hiking the Bath Skyline, a 6-mile circular trail passing through ancient woodland and meadows.

Bristol

Bristol is known for its vibrant arts scene and quirky alternative culture

Bristol is known for its vibrant arts scene and quirky alternative culture

Arty, edgy, and wonderfully unconventional, Bristol is one of the most liveable cities in the UK. At only 1.5 hours away from central London by train, it makes a perfect day trip.

Bristol is known for its attractive harbour, vibrant arts scene, rich history, quirky alternative culture, and the friendliness of its locals. It’s also the proud birthplace of the famous street artist Banksy, whose works are found throughout the city.

Clifton, a smart residential area of the city, is definitely worth a visit. Here you’ll find beautiful large Victorian and Georgian houses, green parks, boutiquey shops, and independent cafés and wine bars. From the famous Clifton suspension bridge, there are wonderful views across the Avon Gorge.

For a grittier take on the city, take a walk around the Stokes Croft area, home to a range of excellent pubs, artists’ studios, and fantastic international eateries.

Planning Your Day Trip by Train

The price of your ticket can vary wildly depending on the time, and how far in advance you book. For the cheapest fares, it’s best to book as far in advance as possible. If you’re travelling between Monday and Friday, try to book “off peak” trains (i.e. departing between 9:30 am and returning after 7 pm), if possible.

It’s quick and easy to compare and book tickets online using thetrainline.com.

Between travel bans, lockdown restrictions, and fears about the coronavirus, more and more travel enthusiasts have been embracing the classic staycation to soothe their wanderlust. Luckily for those living in the UK, there is so much natural beauty and historical locations for plenty of options for weekend trips from London.

Once the weather starts to warm up, avid travellers will be looking for city trips and weekend breaks around the English countryside. Recharge your batteries by visiting the old city centres, Roman-time ruins, or walking along extensive walking trails through the countryside and coastline.

1. Historical Bath – a Day Trip from London

As its name implies, a visit to Bath can be one of the most relaxing weekend trips from London – it’s only a 90-minute drive from Paddington Station. In fact, public transportation is even faster than driving, making Bath one of the best weekend trips from London by train.

Weekend Trips from London - Historic Bath

90 minutes from London, discover Historic Bath

The local hot springs that give Bath its name have fascinated the city’s people for centuries. From Roman times to the modern-day, people visit Bath for its healing powers and focus on relaxation.

There is still much evidence of Roman baths and great examples of ancient architecture. Don’t miss the Roman bath, Bath Abbey and Thermae Bath Spa.

Whether you want to spend a day in the thermal spa, or would rather explore the historic centre, Although its proximity to London makes it well-suited for a day trip, we can assure you that there is plenty to do in Bath to warrant a weekend-long city break.

2. The Lovely Lake District

The Lake District can be reached by train in just 3 hours from Euston Station in central London, making it a great choice for nature lovers who need a weekend break. You can search the Trainline to find tickets to any of the stations in the Lake District region such as Oxenholme, Windermere, or Grasmere.

UK Weekend Getaways - Lake District

Take a weekend trip in the Lake District in Northwest England

The Lake District National Park spans an area of 2,362 square kilometres and was even announced as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2017. It includes the tallest mountain in England, and the largest and deepest natural lakes in the whole country.

Outdoors and active enthusiasts will find a large network of beautiful trails and mountains. Anyone seeking to gain some elevation and stretch their hiking legs will find everything they need right here in the UK. A nice weekend break from London in the Lake District is sure to quench your thirst for more far-flung destinations like Iceland or Switzerland.

For something special, get a bird’s eye view over the region by taking a hot air balloon flight. Or, take a boat cruise on Lake Windermere. Some of the most famous British literary talents also lived in the Lakeland region, and to this day, you can still visit the homes of William Wordsworth or Beatrix Potter.

Because of its proximity to the sea, the weather in the Lake District is generally rainy. So, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast while planning your weekend break.

3. Cotswolds: A Charming Weekend Trip from London

The Cotswolds is a large area known for its hills, medieval villages, and thatched-roof houses. The buildings in the Cotswolds are all made from local limestone, which gives them a warm honey colour.

Charming cottages in the Cotswolds

Take a relaxing weekend trip from London in the charming Cotswolds cottages

People love the Cotswolds for the abundance of walking and biking trails that pass through the quaint English villages. The best time to visit the Cotswolds is between June and August, when the lavender is in full bloom. Some say that the lavender fields in the Cotswolds can compete with the famous fields in Provence, France.

Antique shoppers love the Cotswolds for the famous Cirencester Antique and Collector’s market. Every Friday you can browse the markets and discover a large selection of antique treasures and street market stalls.

Regardless of how you spend your weekend, don’t leave Cotswold without trying the famous Cotswold cheese. It is a regional cow’s milk cheese that is flavoured with chives and onions and is made from cow’s milk.

To start your weekend trip, a take train from London’s Paddington Station. There are direct trains to various locations within the Cotswolds, such as Moretown-in-Marsh, Kemble, Stroud, or Stonehouse.



Booking.com

4. Pembrokeshire – The Quintessential Seaside Weekend Break

A bit further afield, Pembrokeshire is popular among tourists from England and Wales since it has one of the most beautiful coastlines in the UK.  This region is best suited for a long weekend break from central London, as a train will take about 5 hours 30 minutes.

With historic architecture and spectacular coastline, Pembrokeshire really has something to offer everyone. This region offers excellent food and drink, beautiful beaches, and historic Victorian-era villages. One of the most popular activities in Pembrokeshire is to hike the National Park along the coast. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path makes it accessible for casual pedestrians and serious hikers alike. 

UK Weekend Trips from London - Pembrokeshire

Take in the sunset on The Pembrokeshire Coast Path

Pembrokeshire is also home to several historical architectural sites. Pembroke Castle, Carew Castle, and St. Cathedral David are the main highlights. In Pembrokeshire, there’s even “Stonehenge of Wales”, one of the best Neolithic dolmens that still exists today.

The best way to spend your weekend break in Pembrokeshire is to rent one of the available UK Holiday cottages on the weekends. These days, most cottage owners list their places on booking.com, so you can browse around to find a place that suits your needs.

5. Cornwall – Beautiful and Unique

This county in southwestern England is surrounded by water to the north, south, and east. Cornwall features a proud Celtic culture which makes it one of the best weekend trips from London. Since there is so much to do, we would recommend taking at least a whole weekend to explore all that Cornwall has to offer.

Take a stroll on Land’s End Trail, the most south-west point of England. Cornwall has more than 300 miles of walking trails along the coastline with spectacular cliffs, dunes, and medieval villages.

Cornwall England’s Land’s End Trail 

Cornwall England’s Land’s End Trail

Cornwall cannot be mentioned without thinking of specific food traditions. Maybe you just want to spend your weekend break as more of a culinary vacation, indulging in Cornwall’s gastronomic pleasures — we’re not judging! From Cornish meat pasties, Cornish Heavy Cake, saffron buns, Cornish ice cream, Cornish fudge, there is more than enough regional specialities to keep you busy! During your weekend break, you might even want to take a cooking class to learn all about how to make traditional Cornish Pasties.

One of the unique places in Cornwall is the Eden Project. This ecological park and educational project site holds the distinction of being the world’s largest indoor rainforest. The section is full of biomes that showcase a number of the most important plants in the world. At night, the biomes are illuminated with colourful light displays and the atmosphere is simply magical.

Cornwall England’s Eden Project

Cornwall England’s Eden Project



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As you can see, there is no shortage of nice weekend trips from London to make you feel a world away. If you’re looking for more things to do in the UK check out our UK Travel and Backpacking guide, where you’ll also find budgeting tips and advice for how to travel around for cheap.

Are you planning a trip to Manchester? The northern city of Manchester boasts a wide range of attractions to explore. However, if you are looking for a unique experience, you should take a look at these top 5 hidden gems in Manchester, which should definitely be added to your trip itinerary. 

 

1. The Hidden Gem Church

A Manchester hidden gem list would not be complete without the actual Hidden Gem Church, which is formally known as St Mary’s Catholic Church. It was built in 1794 and was quickly established as the symbol of the parish church. The hidden gem became a beacon of beauty in the middle of Manchester’s poorest areas. 

The church got its name after it was restored in the 1800s, which involved installing the beautifully carved altar that still stands today. You can pop into the church if you are by Lincoln Square in the city centre and take in all of its beauty, or you can even attend a mass. 

2. The City of Manchester Distillery

One of the best but underrated places to visit has to be the Manchester distillery, which was actually the first distillery ever built in the city of Manchester. If you’re a gin lover, you can enjoy the UK’s original Gin Experience or attend the Gin School to find out more about the gin-making process and, of course, try a few tasters.

Rum and vodka connoisseurs may prefer the rum and vodka experience, or you can even create your own spirit to suit your tastes. If you are planning a group trip, you can start your night out here with your friends or family and move onto some of Manchester’s amazing bars. 

3. Fletcher Moss Park and Botanical Gardens

Explore 90 acres of green space in Fletcher Moss Park

Manchester may be known for its industrialisation, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find any greenery. If you’re looking to get in touch with nature during your trip, you should head to Fletcher Moss Park and Botanical Gardens, where you can enjoy some quiet time away from the city or even a relaxing picnic in between attractions. 

Fletcher Moss Park is completely free to visit and is open from dusk ‘till dawn, so you can explore the 90-acre park any time you want. For a guided tour, you can join the Health Walk, which is held every Monday except for bank holidays and lasts for around an hour and a half.

This will help you get to know your locals, and you can enjoy some complimentary refreshments at the end of such a picturesque walk. 

4. The Washhouse

If you want to explore Manchester’s nightlife scene, you should definitely make a reservation at the ever-unique Washhouse. From the outside, it looks like a traditional laundrette; however, once you venture inside, you will find a hidden doorway to a secret cocktail bar. 

The Washhouse is an exclusive cocktail bar that is frequented by locals who are in-the-know. Here, you will find an eclectic range of cocktails, an impressive house music playlist and even disco toilets. If you’re planning a trip to The Washhouse, make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment. 

5. Afflecks

Afflecks Palace in the Northern Quarter of Manchester

Afflecks Palace in the Northern Quarter of Manchester

Manchester is known for its fast-fashion scene. However, if you are looking for a unique shopping experience, you should take a trip to Afflecks. This is a well-known shopping emporium filled with some of the best independent traders, including vintage retailers, fancy dress specialists, and even tattoo artists. 

Afflecks is located in the city’s Northern Quarter which is just around the corner from some of Manchester’s most popular bars, so you can enjoy a drink or two after a full day of shopping. 


Now, you know where all the hidden gems are located, you should add them to your list and start planning the rest of your trip. This could include applying for your visa if you need one, booking accommodation, or checking what the Manchester weather is like. 

 

 

The UK is known for its fascinating historical sites, which can be found across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. If you are planning a trip to the UK, you should definitely consider adding some of the UK’s most historical cities to your must-see list.

There are a wide range of historical cities to choose from, so to narrow down your choices, here are some of the most popular historic locations in the UK.

Oxford

Visit Oxford, one of the most historical cities in the UK

Visit Oxford, one of the most historical cities in the UK

Oxford is the home of the prestigious Oxford University, which is the second oldest university in the world, just behind the University of Bologna in Italy. Even if you’re not attending lectures, you can still wander around the university, explore the gardens, brush up on your reading at the Bodleian Library, and admire the Radcliffe Camera building.

A trip to Oxford isn’t complete without a trip the Oxford Castle, which was built in 1071. You can take in the castle’s beauty from the Saxon St George’s Tower, the oldest building in Oxfordshire.

If you want to squeeze in a trip to the capital while you are visiting Oxford, it is just a short train ride away. In London, you can enjoy plenty more historical sites, sightseeing hotspots and, of course, shopping.

 

Durham

Visit the cathedral and castle of Durham

Visit the historical cathedral and castle of Durham

Durham is known as the jewel of the northeast for a reason, as it is home to the magnificent Durham Cathedral, a popular UNESCO heritage site. This Norman building is home to the shrine of St Cuthbert, which was constructed between 1093 and 1133.

Durham castle sits at the heart of the world heritage site. This beautiful structure was built in the 11th century and is now home to the students of University College, which is part of the prestigious Durham University.

Away from the world heritage site is the picturesque Crook Hall and gardens, a medieval manor first constructed in 1217. Both the building and the five acres of English gardens are a sight to see. You can stroll through the gardens every Sunday to Wednesday while enjoying a spot of tea in the Georgian drawing room.

 

Chester

Visit the walled city of Chester in the UK

Visit the historical walled city of Chester in the UK

Chester is located in the northwest of England and is known for its ancient wall, which encloses the city. It’s one of the most historical cities in the UK, since the walls are the oldest and longest-standing barricades in all of the United Kingdom.

However, instead of being used for protection, the locals use the walls as a relaxing promenade spot.

Since the Middle Ages, Chester has been known as a bustling market town and still is to this day. If you are a shopping addict, you should wander through the many shops near Watergate and Bridge Street where you can pick up something for yourself or a loved one back home.

In Chester, you will find the world’s oldest racecourse, which was established in 1539 and is still in operation. If you are lucky, you may get tickets to a race even or even a concert. However, keep in mind that if you go in the colder months, you definitely need to wrap up warm, as rain is basically constant during winter.

 


 Now you’ve got some inspiration, you can start planning your historic city trip to the UK. You may also want to start on your packing list, as you need to make sure that you have the right clothes for the unpredictable UK climate (which is mostly cold).

If you have hopes of travelling to the United Kingdom, but are worried about accommodation costs, you may want to consider applying for jobs that offer free accommodation in exchange for work in the UK. 

There are plenty of organisations which provide you with a steady job along with safe and clean digs in various parts of England, Wales and Ireland. To help you understand more about the process, here are examples of how to work in exchange for free accommodation in the UK. 

Become a Petsitter

Become a pet sitter and get free accommodation in the UK

Combine your love of animals with your love of travel and become a Trusted Housesitter

There are plenty of people in the UK who are looking for trusted housesitters to stay at their place for free in exchange for watching their pets. For animal lovers who are responsible, reliable, and looking for a great way to travel around the UK with free accommodation, you can get started with the petsitting network, Trusted Housesitters. It’s the #1 platform where you can find tons of different options, from a chic flat in London, to a seaside countryhouse in Cornwall. A basic membership starts at just €99 for unlimited housesits worldwide, which is well-worth the cost when you think about how much accommodation in the UK can be!

Volunteer with a charity

Volunteer with an organization that offers free accommodation in exchange for work

Volunteer with an organisation that offers free accommodation in exchange for work

One of the most rewarding ways to earn your stay is by volunteering with a charity. There are various programmes that offer charity fundraiser roles that involve door-to-door charity fundraising to help fund the chosen cause. 

Companies such as Wesser provide charity fundraisers work that helps them earn £10 an hour plus commission, along with free access to shared accommodation. This typically consists of a large four to five-bedroom property with various communal living areas which cater to the staff’s every need. 

Work in hospitality

Some hospitality sectors in the UK offer free accommodation in exchange for work

Some hospitality sectors in the UK offer free accommodation in exchange for work

Another great way to earn and live while travelling in the UK is by working in the hospitality sector. This could include working in a hotel as a live-in staff member who takes on the role of a receptionist or even a hotel manager. 

In the UK, there are a variety of seaside and lake and holiday camps that hire seasonal workers in the spring and summer months. These jobs typically offer fair pay along with free accommodation in a cosy cabin or even a quirky tepee. 

Become a live-in nanny 

Become an Au Pair and get free accommodation in exchange for work

Become an Au Pair and get free accommodation in exchange for work

If you enjoy travelling and love kids, why not become a live-in nanny in the UK? There are plenty of vacancies available in this field. This will provide you with work in exchange for free accommodation which will definitely be a lavish and unique experience in the UK, as the majority of employers will be extremely wealthy. 

There are also financial benefits of becoming a nanny, as on average, they earn upwards of £350 per week. This works out a lot cheaper than rent and can also fund your meals, as you will likely be given extra pocket money for food for you and the children. You can also use the remainder of your earnings to fund the rest of your travels.  

Work on an organic farm

Work on an organic farm in the UK in exchange for free accommodation

Work on an organic farm in the UK in exchange for free accommodation

If your dream is to travel and stay in picturesque locations, you should consider volunteering on an organic farm. This will involve living and working in the farm, where you will get involved in jobs such as picking grapes or even milking a cow or two. 

One of the most popular organisations is WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which offers global opportunities for like-minded people looking to work, stay and learn all about farm life. Workaway is another great company which allows travellers to find free accommodation in exchange for farm work, while also offering the freedom of travelling like a local.


Now you have all the information you need regarding work in exchange for free accommodation in the UK, have you decided which route is right for you? Whatever you choose, it is important that you first check your visa eligibility to ensure you can legally work in the UK. 

It is also vital that you thoroughly research the company you are planning to work for by looking at reviews and asking around for personal recommendations. This will ensure that your experience will be completely legal, safe and enjoyable.