Whether it’s a London one day trip you’re looking for or whether you’re looking to spend the night somewhere other than the Big Smoke, there are loads of options for day trips from London by car.
We’ve put together a shortlist of some of our favourites places to road trip from London by car. Listed by distance, rather than preference, all are very much worthy of a visit.
Distance from London: Northwest 20 miles
How long does it take to get there? 1-hour drive
Why Watford? Probably more a one day trip from London, Watford is the hub for Harry Potter fans. If you’re a fan of the films, then this is the ultimate destination for you. In fact, if you’re visiting London, we urge you to rent a car and get over to the Northwest. There’s the Warner Bros Studios Harry Potter World Tour which is extremely popular with tourists and locals alike, as well as Privet Drive and Diagon Alley, being nearby. There’s also a number of lovely Country Parks nearby for a walk if that’s your thing. If you do plan on doing Harry Potter world, though, make sure you book well in advance. Weekend tickets, especially, are booked up months in advance.
Distance from London: West 25 miles
How long does it take to get there? 55-minute drive
Why Windsor? Home to the 11th Century-built Windsor Castle, Windsor is the Royal Family’s main place of residence. There’s also Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House, which is a miniature Royal Palace, with furnishings fit for a very miniature King or Queen. There’s other quirky stuff, too, including the only blue post box (dedicated to airmail), a host of mazes and secret tunnels dotted around and the smallest street measuring in at just 51ft!
Distance from London: South 54 miles
Why Brighton? The beach! It’s a beach town with a major University in the centre. It’s also a hub for clubbing and pubbing, as well as being the host of its very own Pride festival. The pebbled beach is a tourist hot spot and it’s easy to see why. Visit the iconic pier, as well as the spectacle that is the Royal Pavilion — an iconic Regency palace and museum and even take a trip up the British Airways i360 — a futuristic glass pod with a cocktail bar travelling up in the air showcasing the spectacular views that Brighton has to offer.
Distance from London: Northwest 56 miles
How long does it take to get there? 1hour 45minutes drive
Why Oxford? Oxford revolves around its esteemed University, which was built in the 12th Century having once taught the likes of the legend that is Stephen Hawking, as well as T.S Eliot. There are beautiful old buildings everywhere to compliment the University. There’s shopping if you want that, and there’s even the Oxford Castle — a part-ruined Norman castle with tours — you can mosey around. And, if you like Harry Potter, you can even check out the great dining hall (as seen in the films) in the Christ Church College.
5. The Cotswolds
Distance from London: West 83 miles
How long does it take to get there? 2-hour drive
Why The Cotswolds? No matter what you’re into, every single person can appreciate a picturesque view and that’s the Cotswolds all over. Take a Cotswolds day trip from London and you’ll see just how stunningly green and quaint it is — quite the contrast to the big smoke and its skyscrapers. It’s made up of lots of little villages with their own individual farmers markets and beautiful picnic spots — take advantage of what’s left of the British summertime and head out there for a day or two to recharge your batteries. There are local facilities for renting bikes if you want to explore some of the infamous bike paths while you’re there, or simply bring your own.
Distance from London: West 118 miles
How long does it take to get there? 2-hour drive
Why Bristol? For diversity; this place is one of the best. It has something for everyone, much like London. Depending what tickles your pickle, there’s a pretty amazing street art tour you can do, or you can visit the oldest provincial zoo in the country; home to more than 400 different animal species. There are even caves you can visit, not to mention the stunning Clifton Suspension Bridge. Take a walk down the River Avon to witness this spectacle for yourself. Or if you’re a museum lover, there’s the Brunel’s SS Great Britain — a museum on a ship — pretty darn cool!
If you’re a fan of the weird; the famous Stonehenge site sits 88 miles south-west of London and can be visited on route elsewhere such as Southampton, or even via a detour on your way to Bristol. It’s quite a spectacle, but we’d suggest doing the Stonehenge day trip from London by tying it in with something else, as there’s not much else nearby.
If you’re in the car and looking to stay in London, you can drive to the London car museum, as well as the London car show (when it’s on). Driving to London Zoo is easy, too.
And that’s our six-day trip options heading out of London by car — have a safe trip!