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Day trips, sidetrips, and excursions

Punting on the Cam in Cambridge, a popular side trip from London (Photo courtesy of Context Travel)
Punting on the Cam in Cambridge, a popular side trip from London

Get out of the big city to see nearby sights and add breadth to your trip without adding too many days to your schedule

The famous sights and urban charms of London, Edinburgh, and Cardiff are wonderful, but sometimes you just gotta get out of the big city and dip into a slower pace of life for a while in a small town—and what better small towns than the ones right at the doorsteps of Britain's major cities?

Daytripping out to medieval villages, nearby ancient ruins, quiet lakes, and sleepy islands can help add spice and variety to your trip without having to go to all the trouble of packing up and changing hotels. You just zip out for a half day or a full day and can be back in the city by dinnertime.

On a tight schedule, you can also take longer day trips to fit in some other major destinations or sights that lie within two to three hours of town—Stonehenge, Cambridge, or Oxford from London; Cardiff from Edinburgh—places where, had you all the time in the world, you'd ideally spend a few days, but just can't quite carve that much time out of this trip.

Each city section will list and detail some of the best and most rewarding sidetrips you can do in just a day (here's a shortcuts right to that page for London).

Escorted day trips

If you don’t want to hassle with figuring out the logistics of how to get out of the city to see some nearby sights and small towns—or you have limited time in which to do it—a local escorted bus tour can be just the ticket.

It whizzes you out to the sights with a live guide who’ll walk you through everything and returns you to town in time for lunch or dinner (most are either half-day or full-day excursions).

Using public transportation, for example, it’s pretty much impossible to see Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor Castle in a single day trip from London, but an escorted bus trip can do it no problem (not that you'll see any of them in depth, but at least you'll get a good taste).

You can choose to book tours of some of the more popular day trip excursions ahead of time via one of our partners:

Daytrips

Multi-day excursions