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7 Unbeatable Day Trips From London

The great thing about London is that as well as being crammed full of interesting things to do and see, it has lots of great places within easy reach for day trips. Whether you call London home or you plan to holiday here, these are the top places worth hopping in your car and driving to when you want to escape the busy capital.

Oxford

An easy drive up the M40, the historic university city of Oxford has enough history and culture to satisfy even the most learned of visitors.

Many of the Oxford University colleges are open to the public for tours; Christ Church will prove a particular favourite if you have the kids in tow, as this is where parts of Harry Potter were filmed.

In between exploring the city, there are lots of charming cafes for a bite to eat; try the Vaults and Garden in the University Church, or have afternoon tea at the Grand Cafe, England’s oldest coffee house.

If you have any time left after visiting attractions such as the Bodleian Library and the Covered Market, venture beyond Oxford city with a short drive to the charming Cotswolds village of Woodstock, home to Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

Bath

It takes a couple of hours to drive to Bath from London, but the architectural splendour that awaits you is well worth the trip.

Bath is known for its beautifully symmetrical Georgian buildings, once frequented by the likes of Jane Austen, but its history stretches back much further than that.

This ancient Roman city was built up around one of Britain’s few geothermal hot springs, and you can still see the baths where the Romans enjoyed the warm waters.

You can enjoy the healing minerals in the water yourself by treating yourself to a morning at Thermae Bath Spa.

Brighton

Breathe in the invigorating seaside air with a trip to Brighton, about an hour from London in good traffic.

With a pier featuring amusement arcades and rides, and a gravelly beach for a spot of beachcombing, Brighton has all the trappings of the classic British seaside resort.

The Sea Life Aquarium is a must for families, while those in search of culture will enjoy looking around the oriental-style Brighton Pavilion, the exotic palace of George IV.

Windsor

London’s Buckingham Palace may be the Queen’s most famous residence, but Her Majesty spends most of her weekends at Windsor Castle, just an hour by car from the capital.

The town of Windsor is dominated by the castle, and a visit gives you access to the ornate State Apartments, St George’s Chapel and several exhibitions. The age-old spectacle of the Changing the Guard ceremony is a highlight.

Stratford-upon-Avon

Drive a couple of hours up the M40 from London and you will reach Stratford-upon-Avon, the town best known for being the place William Shakespeare called home.

There are no fewer than five surviving houses with Shakespeare connections (which can all be explored on a single ticket), from the house where he was born to the home of his granddaughter.

In the afternoon, catch a matinee performance by the world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company at the recently revamped Royal Shakespeare Theatre down by the river.

Surrey Hills

If London has made you crave the countryside, the Surrey Hills are the perfect antidote to the noise and pollution of the city. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is just an hour outside London, offering lots of beautiful walks with breathtaking views.

If time is pressing, enjoy a gentle walk around Box Hill, a famous scenic spot mentioned in Jane Austen’s 'Emma' and now managed by the National Trust.

Highclere Castle

An hour and a half drive from London, Highclere Castle is perhaps better known as Downton Abbey. The house opens to the public several times a year, with tickets available for booking online in seasonal batches.

You can explore this imposing country pile at your own pace, spotting all the familiar rooms from the show — minus Lord Grantham and Lady Mary.

Discover some more great days out from London with our interactive day trip planner.

At Rentalcars.com, our team negotiate with all the major car hire companies in and around London, and in 43,000 other locations worldwide. Compare car hire prices today and explore places from London.

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