London is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. It’s so easy to be mesmerised by the magic of its lively centre.
Royal residences and stunning architecture sit happily alongside state of the art attractions and cosmopolitan gastronomy.
After ticking off all the must-do experiences in the centre, you may feel that you’ve really done the region justice…. think again!
By narrowing your sights, you could miss out on other amazing locations beyond London, where some of the best English heritage is just waiting to be explored.
Whether you’re planning a holiday to the UK, or live in London and want to impress some out of town guests, a well thought out day trip is the perfect excuse to explore the city’s surrounding areas and all they have to offer.
You really don’t have to travel far from the capital to experience some fantastic treasures, both old and new. Here is some insider information on the best things to see and do in a day:
1. Uncover the History and Mystery of Stonehenge
If you visit the UK without experiencing Stonehenge, you’ll be missing out on seeing the most famous prehistoric monument in the world.
Step back 5,000 years and uncover the secrets of this amazing feat of ancient
design and engineering. The monument’s purpose has been subject of worldwide speculation for centuries and remains unknown.
There are countless theories as to why the enigmatic stones were arranged on Salisbury Plain. Perhaps the stones were a temple to the sun, maybe an observatory for the moon, an ancient calendar, or even an elaborate burial ground? Pay the ancient site a visit and decide for yourself.
You can visit Stonehenge at any time of year, but if you visit the great megaliths during the winter or summer solstice, you can walk in the footsteps of your Neolithic ancestors.
During the astronomical event, where the sun reaches its highest or lowest annual point in the sky above the horizon (otherwise known as solar noon), you will see the sun align perfectly with the Heel Stone at sunrise.
As the huge crowds gather, enjoy the atmosphere! Walk amongst the stones, and observe the various rituals and ceremonies which take place over the course of the evening.
Don’t worry if you can’t visit during the solstice, you can see Stonehenge at sunrise or sunset at any time of the year. Seeing the stones in the morning or evening light will seriously enhance your adventure. If you want to avoid the crowds, then reserve a private tour of the stones for an even more intense experience.
Did you know that Stonehenge is just a short ride from many incredible landmarks, castles, villages and cities? It’s totally possible to see multiple sights in one day trip so you can make sure you get the most out of your time. Make sure you squeeze in a traditional British pub lunch too.
2. Head to Windsor Castle and Imagine How the Royals Live
Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world and has been home to the royal family for over 1,000 years. It’s definitely worth adding to your must-visit list.
Do you know how to check if the Queen is in residence? When the Royal Standard flag is flying from the Castle’s Round Tower, then Her Majesty is at home.
From William the Conqueror to our present Queen, many a royal has called this castle home. Windsor castle is said to be the favourite home of the present Queen, as she chooses to spend most of her private weekends there.
And why wouldn’t you? Imagine relaxing in the lavishly furnished State Apartments, enjoying the historic splendour of St George’s Chapel and planning social engagements in the Semi-State Rooms.
Windsor Castle is a very popular destination, so get there in the morning to beat the crowds. You’ll be some of the first visitors of the day to enter the castle.
Take time out to visit Windsor, a pretty town full of traditional shops and quaint British pubs for a lovely lunch. Why not try to find the pub where Shakespeare was said to have written the Merry Wives of Windsor?
Or what about Windsor Castle and the London Eye? Experience British heritage and high flying views of the city from the world’s highest observation wheel— you can do it all in one day!
3. Bath is Quintessentially British with Roman Influence
A Unesco World Heritage site, Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in the UK. Bring your camera—the stunning architecture of the Royal Crescent and Pulteney Bridge which overlooks the picturesque river Avon as it cascades over the weir makes for some truly great photo opportunities.
Built on Britain’s only natural hot water spring, lies the magnificent Roman public bath complex and Roman temple. Here you can soak up 2,000 years of history.
Imagine what it was like to bathe in the warm waters, as you wander around the steaming pool on the Roman stone paving, admiring the ancient statues and architecture.
Jane Austen was Bath’s most famous resident. The museum gives insight into life in Bath during Regency times and how that influenced her novels.
You will be surprised how many iconic places there are on the outskirts of London which ooze character and culture. If you just love English literature spend a day visiting the home of Shakespeare, learning about the life of Jane Austen in Bath, and meandering through the leafy lanes of the Cotswolds.
Ever visited a place and wanted to stay for longer? Many visitors want to lengthen their stay in Bath. Spend the whole afternoon in this stylish city, eating in swanky restaurants, shopping ‘til you drop in trendy boutiques and watching the world go by from a street-side cafe.
4. Unlock the Magic Behind the Making of Harry Potter
A wonderful spell has been cast which has created an amazing opportunity to explore the magic of the Harry Potter™ films. You can see it right here, only 20 miles from London.
Uncover previously unheard anecdotes, as closely guarded secrets are revealed about the special effects used in the creation of the films.
Walk around the most famous sets such as the Great Hall, Forbidden Forest and Diagon Alley.
View the classic props like the Potions Cabinet and Professor Umbridge’s pink office, complete with a collection of plates with living kittens. Gain insight into how the green screen is used in the flying sequences and imagine what it was like to wear an invisibility cloak.
Of course, while you’re in London you should visit platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station, for some great photo opportunities. So pile your bags on the trolley, and don’t miss the Hogwarts Express!
There are plenty of other locations in the centre London that featured in the Harry Potter films. Why not make your own pilgrimage to the world of wizardry?
5. Leeds Castle in the Garden of England
Travel through Kent, affectionately known as the garden of England, to visit one of the loveliest castles in the world. Originally a Norman stronghold, it is situated in a very impressive location, with a unique historic tale to tell.
This 900 year old castle was built on a small island and protected by its own moat. It’s set in 500 acres of parkland and gardens, so there is plenty to see and do.
Explore the chapel, galleries, courtyards and banqueting hall, before taking time to enjoy the setting and wildlife, see if you can spot the wildfowl and black swans.
For the ultimate day trip, combine Kent and the City to visit Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, Greenwich and finish with a cruise along the Thames.
Learn why Kent is known as the Garden of England by travelling through leafy country lanes and visiting the White Cliffs of Dover and the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust.
Ready for Your Perfect Day Trip?
If you are ready to book your day trip, fill in a few brief questions here and we can help you plan your adventure.
If you’re not quite ready to book a day tour, but would like to find out more about how you can go about planning your ultimate trip from London, sign up here to receive our totally free email course.