With COVID 19 changing our way of life dramatically, exotic holidays being cancelled is just one more thing we have to contend with. But let’s be honest, taking a break and escaping the city is likely to do you a world of good. So, discover our list of the best weekend trips from London – that are easy and quick to get to.
Whether you are looking for a short break or an adventurous road trip, we’ve found the perfect getaways near to London. From the nearest, to the furthest away from the capital, you’ll find details on the best way to get there and how long it will take.
The best weekend trips from London: Under two hours away
Windsor is easily one of the best weekend trips from London. Whether it’s the world’s oldest and still inhabited royal residence or the various picturesque parks or strolling down the Thames, there’s bound to be something for you. Kids will love visiting LEGOLAND, which is currently open with plenty of COVID- friendly practices in place to keep visitors safe.
How to get there: Central London to Windsor usually takes around an hour, by train or car, making it one of the closest of our getaways near London.
Home to one of the world’s leading universities, some of the greatest minds to have ever lived have spent time in Cambridge. Explore the Cambridge University Botanic Garden or check out the Church of St Mary the Great for a culture trip. Or you might enjoy spending your day punting down the river for an ideal getaway near London. The University city is also home to an excellent array of independent restaurants, shops, pubs and more.
How to get there: Just over an hour and a half by car. Alternately, the train takes around 45 minutes from King’s Cross.
Although the presence of a cathedral means that this is a city, Winchester certainly has market town vibes – making it an awesome weekend trip from London. The 11th-century Cathedral hosts the tomb of St Swithin, and this was once a popular pilgrim destination. You may also want to visit the Jane Austen museum in the nearby village of Chawton. Otherwise check out the Farmers’ Market for lots of gorgeous food and drink – or just enjoy social distancing at its finest across the Hampshire countryside,
How to get there: The train from Waterloo takes around an hour, and it takes approximately one hour and thirty minutes to drive.
If you are searching for getaways near London, you could also take a trip to the county of Kent. Maidstone is a charming riverside town that offers a great base to see the rest of the region. Explore the 440-acre Mote Park or check out Leeds Castle, which is five miles north and enjoys 500 acres.
How to get there: Driving takes 1 hour 31 minutes via A2 and the average train journey time is just less than an hour.
The New Forest National Park is truly spectacular and one of our favourite getaways near London. It’s home to plenty of trails for walking, riding, and cycling; as well as a 500-year-old oak tree known as the Queen of the Forest.
The 2.8 miles long Ashurst Stroll Walk provides the chance to see wild ponies grazing, historic remains, and it is easy walking. For equestrian lovers, there are riding schools throughout the area that offer forest rides or lessons. Alternately, little kids would love the chance to visit Peppa Pig World, where they have plenty of safety measures in place.
How to get there: It is best to drive, and it takes around an hour and a half by car.
What do you think about when you think of the stereotypical English countryside? The Cotswolds has it all. Oozing with quintessential British charm, The Cotswolds offers beautiful gardens, historic buildings and picture-perfect villages. Get outdoors, enjoy hiking and cycling on one of the many trails, discover the Cotswolds Wildlife Park and Gardens, and visit the extravagant Blenheim Palace. This is certainly of the most popular weekend trips from London for a reason!
How to get there: Around 90 minutes by train from Paddington or 2 hours by car.
Margate is a popular English seaside town located on the Thanet coast in Kent. Enjoy fish and chips by the sea, enjoy thrills and spill at the theme park, or take a stroll through Margate’s bohemian old town. This coastal resort town promises fun for the whole family, and a trip to nearby Botany Bay is advised.
How to get there: The train from St Pancras International takes one and a half hours or it is two hours by car.
Since the middle ages, people have been making a pilgrimage to Canterbury. An area steeped in history and religious importance, the Cathedral was the site of the murder of Saint Thomas Beckett. The nearby Abbey was subject to Henry VIII’s cull during the reformation, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales were one of the very first books to be printed. It’s not just full of history though.
This city is also home to Howletts Wild Animal Park – another reason it features on the list of best weekend trips for people living in London. It therefore has lots of options for shopping and eating, and plentiful green space to enjoy.
How to get there: London to Canterbury is 1 hour and 50 minutes by car and 1 hour 37 minutes by train.
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight provides the perfect London getaway year-round. As well as the 65-mile coastline, you can discover various adventure parks, zoos, museums and attractions but these may be subject to closure and you should check ahead. If you are looking for historical sights, a visit to Osborne House is a must. This palace was personally designed by Prince Albert and it was his and Queen Victoria’s favourite residence.
How to get there: The train from Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour takes just over an hour and a half, and then you can get the sea cat from there.
One of the UK’s most famous landmarks, the White Cliffs of Dover are truly an iconic landscape. This historic town is full of things to see and do, with something for the whole family. Everyone is sure to enjoy a trip to Dover Castle, with its wartime tunnels, underground hospital and costumed guides. Take a stroll around the beautiful Pines Garden, check out the Roman Painted House, or spend the day hiking the picturesque coast.
How to get there: It is less than 2 hours by car and the train is just over an hour from St Pancras International.
One of the most popular seaside resorts in the country, Brighton has been a popular getaway for city dwellers for centuries. With its beaches, gardens and famous landmarks, the city of Brighton and Hove provides an excellent opportunity to relax. We recommend spending the evening taking a stroll down the promenade and enjoying the vistas over the English Channel.
How to get there: Brighton is less than 2 hours by car and around an hour and a half by train.
From the rugged Yorkshire Dales to the coast, there is so much to see and do in Yorkshire, including medieval abbeys, houses straight out of a period drama, and great pubs on every corner. If you are looking for some excitement, Lightwater Valley is bound to put a smile on the kids’ faces, the nearby city of York is rich in history and heritage and the Yorkshire Dales National Park offers the chance to spend time in beautiful countryside.
The city of York itself, with its famous city walls and Harry Potter-worthy lanes (think ‘The Shambles’) alone is worth a weekend trip from London.
How to get there: London to York by train is approximately two hours. Factor in another hour to reach the Dales.
Just two hours away from London, the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon is situated on the River Avon in Warwickshire. A place very near London and often associated with Shakespeare, a weekend getaway here promises the opportunity to discover the area that was once home to England’s greatest ever bard.
Seeing the area from the river is a must. Try taking one of the boat tours for the chance to spot the landmarks or rent your own rowboat and take it at your own pace.
How to get there: London to Stratford-upon-Avon is around 2 hours by car or train.
The best weekend trips from London: Under three hours away
From stunning areas of idyllic countryside to coastal beauty, there is so much to see and do in Norfolk. A hike on the Norfolk Coast Path is definitely recommended to blow away the cobwebs. Alternately, consider checking out Norfolk’s very own seven natural wonders:
- Blakeney Point
- Cromer Forest Bed
- Cromer Ridge, Flint
- Great Chalk Reef
- The River Wensum
- The Brecks.
How to get there: To drive from the centre of London, it should take around 2 and a half hours.
Bath is a charming near-London getaway that is steeped in Roman and Georgian history. Welcoming more than a million visitors each year, there is much to see and do here, with plenty of rural space nearby for exploring the great outdoors. Literary fans are bound to love the Jane Austen Centre. Meanwhile historians will undoubtedly appreciate the Roman Baths. And just about everybody will enjoy the vibrant nightlife and dining scene that the city has to offer.
How to get there: It is two and a half hours by car or 3 hours by train from Paddington.
The Lake District
The UK’s newest UNESCO protected area, the Lake District has been a popular UK holiday destination forever. With quaint villages, crystal clear lakes and almost 900 square miles of beautiful wilderness, the Lake District provides an ideal getaway from the crowds, as well as the chance to explore the beauty of the British countryside.
How to get there: 2 hours and 50 minutes by train from Euston to Oxenholme
The best weekend trips from London: Under four hours away
The Peak District
Providing the ideal location for some outdoor exploration, the Peak District was Britain’s very first national park. It happens to be one of the world’s most visited park at that. With moors, dales, rivers, caverns and valleys, it’s no wonder that this is an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Visit Dovedale for a beauty spot that’ll take your breath away or spend the day following the iconic Ridge Walk.
How to get there: It takes just over 3 hours to drive to the Peak District from the capital and around 3 and a half by train, with a couple of changes.
The Gower Peninsula
In 1956, The Gower in Wales became the UK’s very first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It literally embodies the beauty of the peninsula, with its award-winning beaches, dramatic coastal skylines, and picturesque streets. You should also check out Rhossili Bay, the only European beach to feature on the list of the world’s top ten. In other words? Absolutely one of the best weekend trips from London – or even for a longer wellness trip.
How to get there: Get there by car in just less than 4 hours.
This is one of our furthest weekend breaks from London, but it is certainly still up there with the best. Tenby offers a picturesque coastline and lots to do for the kids. Visit Folly Farm for socially-distanced fun, have a beach day or explore the nearby Pembrokeshire Coast National Part. Which, by the way, is the only coastal national park in the UK.
How to get there: It is best to drive and it is just over 4 hours via the M4.
Looking for rugged scenery, endless walking trails, and beautiful stretches of coast? This region is famed for all of the above PLUS afternoon teas, pasties, and Cornish cream. Discover seaside towns and hidden smugglers’ caves, or enjoy local food at one of the many tea rooms or local pubs.
How to get there: Train from Paddington to Truro is 4-5 hours, so this one is a little further afield. However, it is definitely worth the journey!
Any perfect weekend trips near London that we missed?
Make sure to sing their praises in the comments if we’ve missed off a local getaway you enjoyed!
In between planning your next getaway near London, delve into some of these travel movies to get you in the exploration mood! Team bookworm? Have you read all these adventurous books (sure to give you pangs of wanderlust!)