London is such an incredible city but sometimes, it’s just nice to get away from the big smoke to explore more of our stunning country. After all, there are so many day trips from London that really showcase how beautiful England is.
Like so many other Londoners, owning a car involves so much extra hassle (the biggest one being where to actually park it). This meant we never bought a car in London.
This seems fine enough (the tube is pretty good) until you need to make that big IKEA trip… or when you’re looking to escape the city for a day trip (or longer).
Now we’re no strangers to Zipcar but we’d never properly used it before and it’s just brilliant. It’s less ‘car-rental’ and more ‘car-sharing’ which off the bat is a lot more environmentally friendly than having your own car. This was an immediate win for us. You see, one Zipcar eliminates the need for thirteen privately owned cars as multiple people can share one car. Plus, they have a fleet of snazzy electric cars you can share, too.
Best of all, you can organise your Zipcar for as long, or as little, time as you need it. It’s totally flexible and gives you the freedom to really travel on your own terms. This is a massive selling point for us as we always want to stay longer in places when we visit.
Even booking is a breeze, too. First, you choose your type of journey (Roundtrip or Flex), pick an available car in the location most convenient to you (they’re usually about 10-minute walk away) in the Zipcar app. Then, voila, you’re all set!
You don’t even need a key to unlock your car, either. You actually open the car within the Zipcar app and hop inside. It’s as simple as that. No stress, just lots of opportunities to travel and explore some brand spanking new places on the open road.
Honestly, this is where Zipcar really comes into its own. It just means you can visit places that would otherwise have been out of reach and much harder to visit, especially when they’re not connected by public transport.
Truth be told before we headed out in our Zipcar I had a heap of burning questions I needed to know; the first being the cost. So, to save you a little time, I thought I’d mention some tidbits of info that I found useful;
How much is it to rent a Zipcar: Zipcars start from £8 an hour (or £74 a day) and can increase slightly depending on the car you choose. Also, Flex one-way cars are £14/hour or £72/day.
Just one thing to watch out is that if you drive more than 60 miles in a day there’s a 25p/mile charge for each mile, but they do include fuel, insurance etc which makes it really simple so that 25p is actually pretty decent.
How long does it take to get approved for Zipcar: You need to apply to become a member to drive a Zipcar but that’s all pretty quick to get approved. It can take up to 48 hours but ours arrived much faster. Oh yeah, and Zipcar offers three membership plans, you can join for free or pay either £6 or £12/month, and you get this back in driving credit.
With all of that said, take a gander at some of the very best day trips from London. Each has their own charm and are totally easy to visit for a day trip or even longer.
Nestled just shy of the English Channel, Rye is easily one of the prettiest little towns to visit in the south of England. Plus, it’s really easy to visit one of your day trips from London. This is especially true if you’ve sorted out a Zipcar (like we did) for the day as it gave us so much freedom to travel at our own pace.
Once here, park up your car and traipse around the town’s most gorgeous cobbled streets. Of course, you’ve got to stroll through Mermaid Street that’s a like a chocolate-box town of quaintness.
Plus, be sure to pop into Quay Antiques; it’s a rabbit warren of bookcases and shelves that’s filled with vintage treasures to buy. Finally, pop into Rye Pottery (in the Old Brewery) where they’ve been making adorable ‘Sussex Pigs’ for over 200 years!
For us, we found it easiest to visit in a car, as it means you can pop around the wider region, too. You see, Rye is totally gorgeous, but there’s also a few gems that are a stone’s throw from the town itself. If it’s sunny, drive on down to Camber Sands, it’s a white sandy-beach paradise on a warm summer day and is so lovely.
Oh yeah, and pop into the Horse and Cart Inn for a pint (yeah, you read that correctly) of freshly-caught prawns that are so yummy. It’s the perfect stopping point on your drive back to London from Rye itself.
Another gem within the Sussex countryside, Bodiam has quite an iconic spot you really shouldn’t miss when on a day trip from London. You see, nestled in the rolling hills is one of England’s most iconic properties to explore; Bodiam Castle.
Dating back centuries, Bodiam Castle was built to protect against the French during the Hundred Years’ War (way back in the 14th Century). Nowadays, there’s no invading French but the moat and castle still exists and is totally easy to visit on a day trip from London.
Just be sure to walk around the moat and head inside the castle, too. It’s a pretty special place to see.
One of the smallest cities in England, Wells is a relatively easy day trip from London. Not only that, but it’s also worth visiting if you want to explore a much smaller take on an English city, too. After all, London is colossal.
Taking about three hours to drive, it’s the kind of trip you take that lasts a whole day (but it’s totally worth it).
That being said, it’s also really easy to tag Wells onto a wider road trip to include the Cotswolds and the gorgeous Roman city of Bath, too.
After parking up, take a wander straight to Wells Cathedral. It’s the tallest building in the city and can be seen from almost any street in the city. It’s so imposing and towers over Wells itself.
Afterwards, pop into the Greek Taverna that serves up some of the freshest Greek dishes in the region. You’ll leave stuffed with the best Greek cheeses!
Not too far from London, Windsor is one of the best day trips from London to visit by train. Though, if you fancy hopping in a car, you can easily tag along with a few other places further west (like Stonehenge), too.
Just shy of Heathrow airport, it’s a totally gorgeous place to stop, especially if you want to visit the royal family’s favourite haunt, Windsor Castle.
After popping into Windsor Castle, take a stroll to nearby Eton and wander the little streets and alleys that are filled with independent shops and cute little tea houses that serve up freshly-baked scones with clotted cream and jam. Yum!
One thing to note, it can get pretty busy in Windsor, especially on a weekend. Though, you can easily avoid the crowds by heading across on a weekday morning. It’s much quieter then.
Just on the border of South Downs National Park, Arundel is home to one of the most iconic and vast medieval castles in all of England. Home to the Duke of Norfolk, you can actually, head inside and explore the iconic staterooms and grounds.
Afterwards, pop into Parsons Table that serves up some of the best seasonal and local dishes in all of Sussex. We had the best food here.
Finally, if you fancy staying a little longer in the area, check into Amberley Castle where you’ll stay within your very own castle suite. It’s so plush and the grounds are incredible.
Around a 45-minute train ride from the centre of London, it’s easy to explore Cambridge on one of your day trips from London.
Once here, be sure to head inside King’s College Chapel and try your hand at punting along the river itself. It’s so much fun and really feels like you’re in an ‘English Venice’.
Afterwards, head on over to Fitzbillies for a tasty brunch, too. It’s a really popular little spot with locals and students and a must when hunger beckons.
Around a two-hour drive (and the same by train) from the centre of London, the historic city of Norwich is one gorgeous city to explore.
Once you’ve arrived, make sure to visit Norwich Cathedral and explore Norwich Market, too. Here, you’ll find everything from thrift stalls to vintage booksellers, all crammed into this gorgeous and historic square.
Oh, and if you’ve got a car, pop out of the historic centre to visit the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. It’s world-renowned and one of the first major buildings designed by Norman Foster.
Finally, for some of the best fish and chips in all of England, pop into the Grosvenor Fish Bar.
Trust me, you won’t be disappointed! Here, they serve up some of the freshest fish and chips (with lashings of vinegar) that are just too delicious to miss.
We loved them so much that we ended up taking a second bag back to London with us!
The old Roman city of Bath has been around for almost 2,000 years and has long been known for its hot springs that attracted the Romans to build the historic baths that still stand in the city.
Once here, take a tour of the Roman Baths, follow the riverside walkways around the city and stop off at Sally Lunn’s for one of their incredible buns. Honestly, they’re so delicious and topped off with lots of different toppings that you get to choose. We went for cinnamon butter that was on another scale of yummy.
Easily reached by car or train on a day trip from London, Bath is totally amazing to visit and well worth including as either a day trip or a wider trip of the region.
Personally, I’d recommend extending your day trip from London to a long weekend and see the tiny villages of the Cotswolds and places like Cheddar Gorge (that aren’t too far away by car, either).
Now, Stonehenge is easily the most famous day trips from London that you can take! Known around the world, it’s an iconic site in England that’s best visited by car (or via an organised tour).
Now, whenever we visit Stonehenge, we always go around 1-hour before closing time. Most of the larger tours and groups will have left by this point and it’s so much quieter to wander around.
Not too far from Salisbury, it’s also easy to partner a little trip to see one of the Magna Cartas (in the cathedral itself).
10.) The Cotswolds
Probably my favourite region to visit for pretty English villages, the Cotswolds has a charm that you really can’t miss. In fact, it kind of feels like you’ve stepped centuries back in time in some places, they are just so quaint.
Once you’ve arrived, be sure to explore Burton-on-the-Water, visit the gorgeous Bibury and stop off at Castle Combe that’s right in the south part of the Cotswolds.
All have a charm of their own and whilst a day trip from London is amazing, it’s well worth exploring over a few days if you’ve got the time.
Oh yeah, and it’s worth noting that the Cotswolds is best explored in a car. This way, you can drive between all the little villages and towns that are dotted all across the region.