Skip to navigation Skip to content

Day Trips from London - explore south east England with a Britrail Pass

There's so much to see outside of London, and with a BritRail London Plus Pass getting out the city couldn't be easier. The pass gives you unlimited rail travel across the south east of England, so you can explore as much as you like. Check out our guide to some of our favourite towns and cities within around two hours of London.

 


View London Plus itinerary in a larger map

 

Bath Royal Crescent

 

Bath

This picturesque historic city is a must-see for anyone exploring the south of England, and is less than 90 minutes away from London Paddington with First Great Western trains.

The city's stunning architecture and Roman spa at its centre are just two of the reasons that Bath was designated as a World Heritage Site in the 1980s, and the beauty of the town draws nearly 4 million day visitors every year. A trip to the city doesn't have to be expensive either - a Bath Visitor Card gives you discounts at 45 businesses across the city. Bath's five theatres are known for hosting eminent production companies and world-famous directors, and are a wonderful way to finish your day out.

Brighton

Accessible in less than an hour from London Victoria and London Bridge, Brighton is one of England's most popular coastal towns and is affectionately known as 'London-by-the-Sea'.

Brighton is famous for its beach, which is just 10 minutes walk from the train station and is lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. Brighton Pier not only provides visitors with an unmistakable landmark to help them find their way around, but also entices passers by with a rollercoaster, big wheel, arcade games and fish and chips!

Spend your afternoon among the quirky shops and pubs of The Lanes (described by some as a real life Diagon Alley!) and wait until the very last train back to London if you want to experience Brighton's famously lively nightlife.

Brighton Pavilion

 

River Cam and university building, Cambridge

 

Cambridge

Board the First Capital Connect service at London King's Cross to reach Cambridge in as little as 50 minutes. If you're staying a little further east, the National Express rail service from London Liverpool Street will take around 1 hour 20 minutes.

The town is known for its impressive historic architecture and acclaimed university - if you've never been before, the MP3 Walking Tour of Cambridge will help you familiarise yourself with the area and discover the major landmarks.

Any trip to Cambridge has to include a voyage on the famous river punts, and don't worry if you're not much of a punter yourself - chauffeured punts are available too!

Canterbury

A perfect town for fans of architecture and budding historians, Canterbury can be reached from three London stations - St. Pancras, Charing Cross and Victoria. The fastest option is the South Eastern Trains service from St. Pancras, arriving in less than one hour.

Canterbury's magnificent cathedral is a major draw for visitors to the town, and is just one of three World Heritage Sites that Canterbury boasts - make sure you visit St. Augustine's Abbey and St. Martin's Church to see the full trio!

Canterbury Cathedral over rooftops

 

Roof spires in Oxford

 

Oxford

The 10 million visitors who flock to Oxford every year are a testament to the town's importance and likeability. For visitors staying in London, the journey time by rail from Paddington is just one hour with First Great Western services.

Discover the intricate buildings of Christ Church College at your own pace with the Oxford MP3 Walking Tour, or explore from the comfort of an open top bus with Oxford City Sightseeing. Later on in your day, why not flex your credit card in the city centre's fantastic shops and enjoy a picnic in remarkable natural surroundings in one of the city's 28 nature reserves?

Portsmouth

Head to London Waterloo station for the South West Trains fast service, and you'll be by the coast in Portsmouth in around 1 hour 20 minutes.

The area near Portsmouth Harbour train station is home to the award winning Gunwharf Quays, which hosts designer outlet stores, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and more, as well as the spectacular Spinnaker Tower.

The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is on other side of the train station, where visitors can climb aboard The Battle of Trafalgar's HMS Victory, see Henry VIII's fabulously preserved Mary Rose warship and more.

Portsmouth Harbour and Spinnaker Tower

 

Salisbury Cathedral

 

Salisbury

Steeped in history and home to some of the most important buildings and artefacts in the country, Salisbury is a memorable stop on any explorer's itinerary. The cathedral spire is the tallest in the country at 123m, while the adjacent Charter House is home to the beautiful, priceless Magna Carta document.

Direct trains to Salisbury depart twice per hour from London Waterloo with South West Trains, and the journey time is less than 1 hour 30 minutes.

Stratford-upon-Avon

World-famous as the birthplace of Shakespeare, this town is certainly proud of its most famous historical resident. Once you've visited Shakespeare's Globe in central London, grab your Visitor Oyster Card and head up the Bakerloo line to London Marylebone. From here, Chiltern Railways will get you to Stratford-upon-Avon in just over two hours.

Shakespeare fanatics will love the Shakespeare's Houses and Gardens Pass, which give holders access to five historic properties associated with The Bard, including his birthplace. All the properties are within walking distance or near a train station, so you can even use your BritRail Pass to get between them.

Shakespeare's Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon

 

Winchester Cathedral

 

Winchester

Historical highlights of Hampshire's county town include Winchester Cathedral, which offers hourly guided tours of the 1,000 years of history contained within its walls, and the Great Hall, which houses the legendary 13th Century Round Table of King Arthur.

South West Trains run frequent direct services to Winchester from London Waterloo, with a journey time of approximately one hour.

Windsor

Windsor has long been synonymous with royalty, with royal connections dating back more than 1,000 years. As well as the spectacular medieval Windsor Castle, which is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, visitors are drawn to the town for the Legoland Windsor theme park.

The town is even close enough to London to spend just half a day there if you have other plans too - head to Paddington station and First Great Western trains will get you there in just 34 minutes, if you change trains at Slough.

You can also get a direct train to Windsor from Waterloo with South West Trains, and the journey will take around one hour.

Windsor Castle and grounds