Day Trips From London - Part 1

by Lisa M

The great thing about being in London is it's transport infrastructure. You can easily jump on a train, bus or tube to get out and explore plenty of other places, soak up some history, go shopping, have a nice meal, all in a day. Here are some of our favourites, and we'll be adding more in the near future to ensure you have plenty of day trip options!

Winchester

Winchester is one of our favourites, just an hour away on the train from London's Waterloo station. This ancient cathedral city was the one-time capital of the Saxon kings, and it's here that Alfred the Great and King Arthur wrote their legends into the records of English history. The town reflects the astounding tales with Elizabethan and Regency buildings lining the close-knit streets. Mixed with modern shopping and a great selection of restaurants, bars and cafes, Winchester is a special place.

Take the time to simply wander Winchester's medieval streets weaving around Wolvesey Castle and the Cathedral. With one of the best-maintained Bibles in the world, Winchester Cathedral - the final resting place of Jane Austen and the first Saxon king, as well as Izaak Walton, the author of the second-most reprinted book in English, The Compleat Angler - is also one of the best cathedrals in the country.

The building itself has traces of architecture stretching across a thousand years and some of the best samples of medieval tiles in Britain. If you're more into legends and are a fan of Merlin and King Arthur, head to the Great Hall - all that remains of Winchester Castle - where you'll find a Round Table attached to the wall. (We'll leave it up to you decide if it's authentic!).

Behind the Great Hall, you will find Queen Eleanor's Garden, a small but beautiful recreation of a 13th Century medieval herb garden and chamomile lawn. This is named after Queen Eleanor of Provence, Henry III's Queen.

All in all, it's a great day out.
 

St Alban's

This is another great town that dates back to the Roman occupation of Britain. You can get a train from Blackfriars overground station that will get you there in about 41 minutes, or St Pancras International in about 18 minutes.

Explore St Alban's Abbey - Alban was the first recorded British Christian martyr. The first church grew up around his grave and the Abbey has been a continuous place of worship since 429 AD. It's steeped in history and well worth a visit. Trained guides offer free tours from the West door daily: 11.30 Monday to Saturday, 14.30 Sunday to Friday, 14.00 Saturday.

Just beyond the Abbey is a park that contains some remains of the Roman Town, which was called Verulamium. Its a big open green space where you can find the partial excavation of a Hypercaust (an under floor heating system), moscaic tiled flooring and the remains of the old city wall. The park also contains Verulamium museum that gives the history of the town and is absolutely packed with Roman artifacts excavated from the area. Entry is £5 per adult, £2.50 per child, worth it if you're interested in Roman history.

If you want to do some shopping, there is a great town centre. A Farmer's Market is held on 2nd Sunday of every month, packed with stalls selling a wide range of fresh produce – this runs the length of St Peter's Street. There is also a daily market, opens at 8am until 5pm.

There are a good selection of pubs and places to eat. We found the dog friendly Six Bells, 16-18 St Michael's, St Albans AL3 4SH, serving traditional ales and a good range of food. We settled on a pint and a burger!

Bath

Hop on the train at Paddington Railway station and you can be in Bath 1.5 hours later.

As you might expect from a place called Bath, this city is famous for its water. Its naturally hot spring water made it a favourite with the Romans, who built, of course, some baths. It's also the backdrop to some of Jane Austen's famous novels. Put all that together, and you've got a World Heritage Site straight out of a BBC period drama. Ready to explore? Here's what to do if you're heading to Bath for a day.

The Roman Baths have been the most visited place in Britian for over 2,000 years. Go to see the Roman Temple, The Great Bath and sample the mineral-packed spa water that comes from a special fountain. Opening hours are 9.00-21.00.

Close to the Roman Baths is Bath Abbey, which has been a constant place of worship since 757 AD. Opening hours for visitors are Monday 9.30 – 17.30, Tuesday – Friday 9.00- 17.30, Saturday 9.00 – 18.00, Sunday 13.00 – 14.30 & 16.30 – 18.00.

Bath is probably most famous for its Georgian crescents. You might recognise the Royal Crescent from period dramas, but even if you're not a fan of those, you'll probably like the views of Royal Victoria Park.

No visit to Bath is complete without a visit to the world famous Sally Lunn Tea Room. One of the oldest houses in Bath, serving morning coffee, lunch and afternoon teas, amongst other delights on the day menu. There is also an evening menu from 6pm. Menus offer historic refreshment based on the original Sally Lunn bun, which of course is a secret recipe! If you fancy experiencing this, it's wise to book in advance.

Brighton

Brighton is a popular seaside town, about 1 hour south of London by train. You can catch the train from Victoria Station, and it's a regular service. There is a wide shingle beach, backed by Regency-era buildings, (and because it's the seaside) amusement arcades. One section of the beach is set aside as nudist zone – so if that's your thing, go for it!

You could visit the Royal Pavillion, an exotic palace, located in the centre of Brighton. Built as seaside pleasure palace for King George IV, this historic house mixes Regency grandeur with the visual style of China and India. There is an entry fee of £13.50 per adult, or 10% discount if you purchase tickets online.

If you fancy shopping, pay a visit to The Brighton Lanes with a great maze of twisting alleyways, full of independent shops, restaurants and cafes. The Lanes are good for lazily wandering and explored as you find them.

Brighton is very dog friendly. Click here to see choice of places to eat and drink with your four-legged companions

Cambridge

The famous University town of Cambridge is reached by getting the train from King's Cross Station and takes about 1hr 30mins. Once you arrive in Cambridge you can get the bus into the town centre or it's about 1.2 miles to walk, our favourite mode of transportation.

Once there you have a wide choice of things to do. There are plenty of university buildings scattered throughout the centre, museums, pubs, restaurants, incredible street food, ancient colleges, churches, plus the beautiful riverside and open green spaces offering something for everyone. You might fancy trying your hand at punting on the River Cam, or if that's not your thing, you can also go on a boat tour.

A good option for a rainy day is The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, CB2 1RB,. Filled with more than half million remarkable art works from the ancient world, and all for free!

To find some dog friendly places to eat and drink in Cambridge- click here.
 

These are just a few of the many places you can hop on a train and be in a different City from London in 2 hours or less. If you can book train tickets in advance, it can work out cheaper that purchasing on the same day.

There are many more places to visit and as we visit them we'll be letting you know what's good and what's not – stay tuned and keep travelling!