10 Fun and Easy Day Trips from London by Train

Day trips from London

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10 Fun and Easy Day Trips from London by Train

If you’re planning a family trip to London and would like to explore some of the charming towns nearby, read on for all the inspiration you need. In this post, I share my list of the best day trips from London by train worth adding to your London itinerary.

London is a fantastic city with a plethora of activities, but sometimes a change of scenery is fun.

There are son many great cities near London that are worth visiting for families.

We’ve created this guide to help you choose from the best day trips from London by train.

Whether you fancy a day at the beach or a visit to medieval castles, there’s a destination to suit you.

All the destinations featured in this article are cities near London – they’re easily accessible by train. These are realistic day trips for families.

Now, let’s find out which options are available to you and which one best suits your interests!

Mini Guide to London with Kids

Don’t have a lot of time to go through all the blog posts to plan your family trip? Here’s a mini guide to London to help you plan your family adventure!

Things to do in London

Where to stay in London with kids:

Useful links to plan your family trip to london

10 best day trips from London by train for families

Day trip from London to Brighton

Brighton, often referred to as “London by the sea”, is a vibrant and eclectic coastal city that families love. This is one of the best day trips from London by train for families looking for a beach escape.

Indeed, Brighton Beach is perfect for traditional seaside fun. Kids can enjoy building sandcastles, paddling in the sea, and flying kites.

The iconic Brighton Pier is a must-visit, offering amusement rides, arcade games, and plenty of family-friendly dining options.

Brighton is one of the most popular day trips from London by train for families.

The Sea Life Centre is another popular family-friendly attraction. It’s one of the oldest aquariums in the world and provides an engaging experience for families. With interactive exhibits, a rainforest adventure, and a glass-bottom boat, it’s both educational and entertaining.

In Brighton, the Royal Pavilion is another great attraction for families. Indeed, this exotic palace, with its stunning architecture and opulent interiors, offers a fascinating glimpse of the royal history. The gardens surrounding the pavilion are perfect for a family stroll or a picnic.

The Brighton Toy and Model Museum (for vintage toys and model trains), the Brighton Wheel and the British Airways i360 (for stunning coastline and city views), and shopping (try the Lanes and North Laine areas) are additional activities worth adding to your itinerary if you plan a day trip from London to Brighton.

How to get to Brighton from London by train

Trains to Brighton depart from London Victoria and London Bridge stations.

The journey takes approximately 1 hour, and there are frequent services throughout the day.

The convenience and frequency of trains make it easy to plan a flexible day trip, with the option to return to London at any time.

Day trip from London to Windsor

Windsor is a charming town steeped in history and royal tradition, making it a fantastic destination near London for families.

Windsor is synonymous with the British monarchy, offering a unique opportunity for families to delve into royal history and tradition.

Families will love visiting Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. They can explore the State Apartments, see Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, and marvel at the grandeur of St-George’s Chapel. The Changing of the Guard ceremony, with its colorful pageantry, is a hit with kids and offers a quintessentially British experience.

Windsor is one of the best destination for day trips from London by train

For families looking for a day trip from London filled with fun and amusement, then LEGOLAND Windsor is a solid option! It’s a short bus ride from the town center ab differs a day of adventure with over 55 rides, live shows, and themed areas all built around LEGO. The park is designed for families with children aged 3-12, featuring everything from gentle rides for toddlers to thrilling roller coasters for older kids.

Moreover, families can enjoy outdoor activities in Windsor. Windsor Great Park is the ideal spot for such activities. Families can enjoy picnics, leisurely walks, and bike rides. The park also features a deer park and stunning Savill Garden, where children can explore various plant species and nature trails.

Finally, Windsor’s town center is bustling with shops, cafes, and restaurants, many of which are family-friendly. The quaint streets and picturesque architecture add to the charm, making it a pleasant place to explore and enjoy a meal or some shopping.

How to get to Windsor from London by train

Trains to Windsor & Eton Central depart from London Paddington, with a change at Slough. The journey takes about 30-45 minutes.

Alternatively, direct trains from London Waterloo to Windsor & Eton Riverside take about 1 hour. Frequent and quick services to Windsor make it one of the easiest day trips from London by train.

Day trip from London to Cambridge

Cambridge, with its historic charm, beautiful architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, makes for an excellent day trip from London by train.

The city of Cambridge is renowned for its prestigious university and historic sites. Indeed, families can explore the historic colleges of the University of Cambridge, such as King’s College, Trinity College, and St John’s College. You can marvel at the stunning architecture, visit college chapels, and enjoy the beautifully manicured gardens (including the beautiful Cambridge University Botanic Garden). Many colleges offer guided tours that provide fascinating insights into the university’s history and traditions.

Cambridge is one of the best day trips from London by train for families.

Additional fun family-friendly activities in Cambridge include the Fitzwilliam Museum (for art and antiquities), the Museum of Zoology, and the Cambridge Science Centre.

Finally, punting is a quintessential Cambridge experience. Families can hire a punt and enjoy a leisurely boat ride along the River Cam, taking in the scenic views of the college backs and picturesque bridges. Guided punting tours are also available, providing interesting commentary on the history and landmarks of Cambridge.

How to get to Cambridge from London by train

Trains to Cambridge depart from London King’s Cross and London Liverpool Street stations. The journey takes about 1 hour, and there are frequent services throughout the day. The convenience and frequency of trains make it easy to plan a flexible day trip, with the option to return to London at any time.

 

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Day trip from London to Canterbury

Canterbury stands out as one of the best day trips from London by train for families looking for historic charm. Indeed, it’s a picturesque city rich in history and culture, offering a range of family-friendly activities that make it an excellent day trip destination from London

Canterbury is renowned for its rich history and cultural heritage. Some of the most popular attractions and landmarks include the Canterbury Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is one of the most famous and oldest Christian structures in England. Families can explore the stunning Gothic architecture, visit the beautiful cloisters, and learn about the cathedral’s significant role in British history.

The St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church are both historic sites that are part of the Canterbury World Heritage Site. Families can explore the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey, founded in AD 597, and visit St Martin’s Church, the oldest church in continuous use in England. These sites provide a fascinating glimpse into early Christian history in Britain.

Canterbury is one of the best day trips from London by train

For families looking for a bit of outdoor fun, Canterbury boasts beautiful parks and outdoor spaces where families can relax and enjoy nature:

  • Dane John Gardens is a lovely green space featuring a children’s play area, beautiful flower beds, and a historic mound with great views of the city. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic or a leisurely stroll.
  • Located along the River Stour, Westgate Gardens offer picturesque walking paths, ancient trees, and vibrant flower displays. Families can enjoy a peaceful boat ride on the river or simply relax in the scenic surroundings.

Finally, the city’s charming streets are lined with independent shops, cafes, and restaurants, many of which are family-friendly. The historic Buttermarket and the King’s Mile are perfect areas for a leisurely stroll, some shopping, and enjoying local delicacies.

How to get to Canterbury from London by train

Canterbury is conveniently located about 60 miles southeast of London, with frequent and direct train services from London St Pancras International and London Victoria. The journey takes about 1 hour from St Pancras and 1 hour 30 minutes from Victoria, making it a manageable and enjoyable day trip from London for families.

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Day trip from London to Oxford

Oxford, known as the “City of Dreaming Spires,” is one of the easiest day trips from London by train. Its rich academic history, stunning architecture, and array of family-friendly activities make it a perfect spot for a memorable family outing.

Oxford is world-famous for its prestigious university, which offers a plethora of historic and educational attractions that are both engaging and informative for families.

Families can explore the historic colleges of the University of Oxford, such as Christ Church, Magdalen College, and Balliol College. Each college boasts beautiful architecture, picturesque gardens, and intriguing history. Christ Church is particularly popular as it was a filming location for the Harry Potter movies, making it a hit with children.

Moreover, one of the oldest libraries in Europe, the Bodleian Library offers fascinating guided tours that delve into its history and impressive collection of books and manuscripts. Families can enjoy learning about the library’s role in academic life and its beautiful architecture.

Oxford is one of the most famous day trips from London by train for families.

Oxford is also home to several excellent museums, including Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers Museum, and Ashmolean Museum.

The Ashmolean Museum is the oldest public museum in the UK and offers a diverse collection of art and antiquities. Families can explore the museum’s galleries, which feature everything from ancient Egyptian mummies to contemporary art. The museum also offers family trails and activity packs to enhance the experience for children.

In addition, Oxford offers beautiful parks and outdoor spaces where families can relax and enjoy nature:

  • University Parks is a large green space perfect for a family picnic, leisurely walk, or playing games. The park features beautiful gardens, sports fields, and a children’s playground, providing ample space for kids to run around and explore.
  • Christchurch Meadow, located near Christ Church College, is a tranquil area ideal for a peaceful stroll along the River Thames. Families can enjoy watching the rowing boats, spotting wildlife, and taking in the scenic views of the college and the river.
  • Punting on the River Cherwell: Punting is a classic Oxford activity that offers a relaxing and enjoyable way to see the city from the water. Families can hire a punt and glide along the River Cherwell, passing by beautiful college gardens and lush greenery. Guided punting tours are also available, providing interesting commentary on the sights and history of Oxford.

How to get to Oxford from London by train

Trains to Oxford depart from London Paddington and London Marylebone. The journey takes about 1 hour, and there are frequent services throughout the day. Oxford is one of the easiest cities near London to visit by train.

Day Trip from London to Hampton Court

Hampton Court Palace is a magnificent historical site that offers a rich blend of history, and stunning architecture. Its proximity to the city and engaging activities, making it one of the quickest day trips from London by train.

Hampton Court Palace is a magnificent former royal residence. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of historical figures such as King Henry VIII and his six wives. The palace is steeped in history, providing an educational and captivating experience for families.

Families can explore the vast Tudor kitchens, the Great Hall, and the Haunted Gallery.

Hampton Court Palace is also surrounded by over 60 acres of beautifully maintained gardens and parkland, offering a variety of outdoor activities for families.

Hampton Court is one of the prettiest towns near London for day trips by train.

One of the palace’s most famous attractions is the Hampton Court Maze. This historic hedge maze, dating back to the late 17th century, is a fun and challenging activity for families.

Families will also love the Magic Garden, which is a unique playground inspired by Tudor myths and legends. It features a dragon, a tiltyard with jousting knights, and a magical landscape of towers, tunnels, and hidden grottos. It’s an imaginative and exciting space where children can play and explore.

The Great Vine, planted in 1768, is the world’s largest and oldest known grapevine. Families can learn about its history and marvel at its impressive size. The gardens also offer beautiful flower displays, manicured lawns, and tranquil water features, perfect for a relaxing stroll or a family picnic.

Throughout the year, costumed guides and actors bring history to life with live demonstrations, reenactments, and storytelling. Families can witness Tudor cooking, watch sword fighting displays, and interact with characters from the palace’s past, making history both entertaining and accessible.

How to Get to Hampton Court from London by Train

Hampton Court is located just 12 miles southwest of central London, making it easily accessible by train. Direct trains from Waterloo station to Hampton Court station take about 35 minutes, and the palace is just a five-minute walk from the station.

Day trip from London to St Albans

St Albans is a historic city with many attractions that cater to families. It’s one of the best cities near London to visit as a family.  

The city of St Albans is steeped in history, offering numerous attractions that provide a fascinating glimpse into the past.

Some of the famous landmarks worth visiting include the St Albans Cathedral, which is also known as the Abbey Church of St Alban. It’s a stunning piece of architecture with a history dating back over 1,700 years. Families can explore the beautiful interiors, learn about St Alban, and the first British martyr.

The Verulamium Museum is another interesting attraction for families visiting St Albans. It’s dedicated to the Roman history of St Albans, which was known as Verulamium in Roman times. The museum features impressive Roman mosaics, reconstructed rooms, and interactive displays that engage children and bring ancient history to life. Kids can enjoy hands-on activities and learn about Roman life in Britain.

A short walk from the museum, families can visit the Roman Theatre of Verulamium, the only visible example of a Roman theatre in Britain. The site includes the remains of the theatre, ancient shops, and houses.

If you’re looking for a great picnic spot, head to the Verulamium Park. It’s located near the museum and Roman theatre. The park is a vast green space ideal for picnics, leisurely walks, and outdoor play. It features a large lake with waterfowl, a children’s play area, splash park, and plenty of open space for running around and games. The Roman Wall and hypocaust (underfloor heating system) remnants within the park add a historical touch to the visit.

Finally, families can climb to the top of the St Albans Clock Tower, a medieval belfry dating back to the 15th century, for panoramic views of the city and learn about its history through informative displays.

How to Get to St Albans from London by train

St Albans is located just 20 miles north of London, making it one of the easiest day trips from London by train. Direct trains from London St Pancras International to St Albans City station take about 20-30 minutes, making it a quick and convenient escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Day trip from London Whitstable

Whitstable is a charming seaside town on the north coast of Kent, renowned for its maritime heritage, beautiful beaches, and vibrant arts scene. Its close proximity to London and array of family-friendly activities make it an excellent day trip destination for families.

Families can find many beautiful beaches allowing for seaside fun in Whitstable. Indeed, Whitstable is famous for its pebble beaches and stunning coastal views, providing plenty of opportunities for seaside fun.

Some of the most famous beaches include Whitstable Beach (which offers a mix of pebbles and sand, and is known for its colorful beach huts), and Tankerton Beach and slopes (just east of Whitstable, it features a more expansive stretch of beach with grassy slopes perfect for picnics).

Whitstable is one of the most charming day trips from London by train for families.

Moreover, Whitstable’s rich maritime history provides fun things to do for families.

For example, the working harbour is a central part of the town’s identity. Families can watch the fishing boats, explore the fish market, and enjoy fresh seafood (the city is renowned for its oysters) from the harbor stalls. The Harbour Market features a variety of artisan stalls, selling everything from crafts to local delicacies.

Families will also love Whitstable Castle, originally known as Tankerton Towers, which offers beautiful gardens and a charming tea room. Families can explore the gardens, which feature a pirate play area for children, or participate in seasonal events and workshops hosted at the castle.

Whitstable is part of the Crab and Winkle Way, a scenic cycling and walking trail that connects the town to Canterbury. Families can rent bikes and enjoy a leisurely ride along the trail, taking in the beautiful countryside and coastal views. The town also offers several coastal paths that are ideal for family walks.

Finally, families can explore the eclectic mix of shops on Whitstable’s high street, offering everything from vintage clothing to local crafts. The town’s unique shops make for an enjoyable and leisurely shopping experience.

How to get to Whitstable from London by train

Trains to Whitstable depart from London St Pancras International and London Victoria. The journey takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, with frequent services throughout the day. The frequency and speed of the journey make it one of the best ay trips from London by train for families looking for a quick escape by the sea.

Day trip from London to Rochester

Rochester, located in the county of Kent, is a city rich in history and culture. Its well-preserved medieval architecture, connections to Charles Dickens, and variety of family-friendly attractions makes it one of the most fun day trips from London by train.

The Rochester Castle, one of the best-preserved and tallest Norman keeps in England, is a must-visit. Families can explore the castle’s ancient walls, climb to the top for panoramic views of the city and the River Medway, and learn about its fascinating history. The castle grounds are also perfect for a picnic and outdoor play.

Another popular attraction is the Rochester Cathedral, founded in 604 AD, which is the second oldest in England. Families can admire its stunning architecture, explore the peaceful cloisters, and learn about its history through interactive exhibits.

Rochester is one of the best day trips from London by train for families.

Moreover, Rochester has strong ties to the famous author Charles Dickens, who lived in the area and featured it prominently in his works.

Families can follow the Dickens Trail to see the locations that inspired his novels. Key sites include Restoration House (the inspiration for Satis House in “Great Expectations”) and the Guildhall Museum, which houses a Dickens Discovery Room with exhibits on the author’s life and works.

Rochester also hosts two annual festivals celebrating Charles Dickens: the Dickens Festival in June and the Dickensian Christmas Festival in December. These events feature costumed parades, street performances, and family-friendly activities that bring the Victorian era to life.

How to get to Rochester from London by train

Rochester is located about 30 miles southeast of London, with frequent and direct train services from Victoria, St Pancras International, and Charing Cross. The journey takes about 35-45 minutes, making it an easy and quick day trip from London for families.

Day trip from London to Southend-on-Sea

Southend-on-Sea, located on the Essex coast, is a vibrant seaside town that offers a perfect blend of fun, relaxation, and entertainment. Its accessibility from London and beautiful beaches makes it one of the best day trips from London by train for families.

Southend-on-Sea boasts several lovely beaches, providing plenty of opportunities for seaside activities and relaxation.

The main beach in Southend, Southend Beach, is a mix of sand and shingle, perfect for families to enjoy a traditional seaside day out. Kids can build sandcastles, paddle in the sea, and collect shells, while parents relax and soak up the sun.

For a slightly quieter experience, families can visit Chalkwell Beach or Shoebury East Beach, which offer more open spaces and a relaxed atmosphere. These beaches are ideal for picnics, beach games, and leisurely strolls along the shoreline.

Southend-on-Sea is one of the most fun day trips from London by train for families.

In addition to seaside fun, families will love Adventure Island, which is a popular amusement park located right on the seafront. It offers a variety of rides and attractions for all ages, making it a highlight for families visiting Southend.

Adventure Island features a range of rides, from thrilling roller coasters to gentle rides suitable for younger children. The park also offers attractions such as go-karts, mini-golf, and arcade games, ensuring fun for the entire family.

While in Southend-on-Sea, families won’t want to miss Southend Pier, the longest pleasure pier in the world. It extends 1.34 miles into the Thames Estuary and offers unique experiences for families.

Families can take a ride on the pier railway, which runs the length of the pier. It’s a fun and scenic journey that provides fantastic views of the estuary and coastline.

For families looking for outdoor spaces to relax and unwind, Priory Park is a large green space featuring playgrounds, gardens, a pond, and sports facilities. It’s a great place for a family picnic, a game of football, or simply relaxing in the beautiful surroundings.

In addition, Belfairs Woodland Centre and Nature Reserve offers walking trails, a visitor center, and wildlife spotting opportunities. Families can enjoy exploring the woodlands, participating in nature activities, and learning about the local flora and fauna.

How to get to Southend-on-Sea from London by train

Trains to Southend-on-Sea depart from Liverpool Street and Fenchurch Street. The journey takes about 45-60 minutes, with frequent services throughout the day. With such a simple and efficient train connection, Southend-on-Sea is one of the best towns near London to visit with the family.

Frequently Asked Questions on Day Trips from London by Train

How do I find train schedules and buy tickets for day trips from London?

You can find train schedules and purchase tickets from the following sources:

  • National Rail UK: The official website provides comprehensive schedules and ticket purchasing options for all UK train services.
  • Train Operating Companies: Websites such as South Western Railway, Southeastern, Thameslink, and others offer schedules and ticket sales specific to their routes.
  • Rail Apps: Mobile apps like Trainline and National Rail offer convenient options for checking schedules and purchasing tickets.

How early should I book train tickets for day trips from London?

While it’s possible to buy train tickets on the day of travel, booking in advance often provides better prices and ensures you get a seat, especially during peak times or weekends. Aim to book tickets at least a few days in advance for the best deals.

Are there any discounts available for train travel with children in London?

Yes, several discounts are available:

  • Family & Friends Railcard: Offers up to 1/3 off adult fares and 60% off kids’ fares when traveling together.
  • Kids for a Quid: Some train companies offer this promotion, allowing children to travel for £1 when accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket.
  • GroupSave Discounts: Available on certain routes, offering discounts for groups of three or more traveling together.

What should I bring for day trips from London by train with small children?

For a comfortable and enjoyable day trip, consider bringing:

  • Snacks and drinks
  • A small first-aid kit
  • Entertainment (books, tablets, toys)
  • A stroller or baby carrier (check if the destination is stroller-friendly)
  • Sun protection (hats, sunscreen) or rain gear, depending on the weather

Are the train stations in London child-friendly?

Most major train stations in London are equipped with facilities to accommodate families, including:

  • Baby changing facilities
  • Accessible toilets
  • Elevators and ramps for strollers
  • Information desks for assistance

How do I find out if a train station at my destination is accessible for strollers and wheelchairs?

Check the accessibility information on the National Rail website or the specific train company’s website. Most stations provide details on facilities such as step-free access, elevators, and accessible restrooms.

Can I bring a stroller on the train?

Yes, you can bring a stroller on the train. Most trains have designated spaces for storing strollers and luggage. However, during peak times, these areas can become crowded, so consider folding the stroller if possible.

What are the best times to travel to avoid crowds for day trips from London by train?

To avoid crowds and ensure a more comfortable journey, consider traveling during off-peak hours, which are generally:

  • Weekdays: After 9:30 AM and before 4:00 PM, then after 7:00 PM
  • Weekends: Mid-morning or late afternoon

Can I bring a picnic on the train and to attractions?

Yes, you can bring a picnic on most trains and enjoy it at many attractions, especially parks and outdoor areas. Some attractions may have specific rules about food, so it’s best to check in advance.

Can I travel with pets on the train?

Yes, pets are allowed on most UK trains, typically up to two pets per passenger. Pets must be kept on a lead or in a carrier and should not occupy seats. Check the specific train company’s pet policy for detailed information.

How can I make the most of a day trip from London?

To make the most of your day trip:

  • Plan your itinerary in advance, prioritizing must-see attractions.
  • Start your journey early to maximize your time at the destination.
  • Take advantage of local guides or maps to navigate the area efficiently.
  • Balance sightseeing with breaks to keep the experience enjoyable for both adults and children.
Day trips from London by train - there are so many charming cities near London to discover.

Conclusion – Day trips from London by train

England’s capital’s train network makes it easy for families to enjoy great day trips from London by train. Whether you’re looking for beach fun, historical sites, or new experiences, there’s something for everyone just a short train ride away. From the lively shores of Brighton to the historic streets of Windsor, and from the academic vibe of Oxford to the charming coast of Whitstable, each place has unique things for families to do and see.

Taking the train adds to the adventure and lets you relax and enjoy the ride together. With frequent trains and family-friendly features on board, the journey can be just as fun as the destination. This is especially true for families travelling with young children: there’s no need to hire a car and plan trips with car seats. Just bring a few snacks and enjoy the scenery!

So, pack your bags, get your tickets, and set off on an unforgettable family adventure. Whether you’re exploring castles, walking along the beach, or learning about famous writers, these day trips from London will create wonderful memories for your whole family.

Have you ever visited London? What were the highlights of your trip? Share it with us in the comments section.

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