Venturing outside the bustling city of London every once in awhile isn’t such a bad idea; that’s why we’ve compiled a handful of places to visit near London, around an hour away from the capital, so that you can get your fix of picturesque country towns, muddy walks, classic pub grub and everything else our delightful countryside has to offer, perfect for London day trips.

Oxford

Oxford, the “City of Dreaming Spires”, one of the prettiest day tours from London, boasts 1,500 stunning listed buildings less than an hours train from London Paddington. This university town looks especially stunning in autumn, when golden leafy hues surround the campus, complimenting the 11th century buildings. If you’re here in the summertime, we’d recommend hiring a boat and punting down the River Cherwell, find out more at Magdalen Bridge Boathouse.

Venturing outside Oxford, there is a great deal more to explore with an abundance of charming rural towns just a stone’s throw away that are well connected by public footpaths, making it easy for those who wish to head off the beaten track. If you’re a bit limited for time, and cannot head out deep into the country, fear not! There are plenty of walks you can do in the city centre (we feel Oxford is best discovered on foot) such as an afternoon stroll down the Thames Path.

For something to eat, head to the iconic glass house restaurant, Gee’s and buzzing burger joint Atomic Burger. A city famed for its academia, it comes as no surprise that even their watering holes have literary associations. For an afternoon ale, head to the pub which was regularly frequented by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein, The Eagle and Child, situated near the University of Oxford.

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Brighton

Adam Bronkhorst via; Visit Brighton

A firm favourite with Londoners for decades, Brighton provides a great respite from the chaos in the city. Just an hours travel from London, this coastal town has everything from trendy shopping to lively bars and restaurants.

Spend the afternoon strolling around The Lanes, where you’ll find hundreds of independent shops selling anything and everything. The North Laine leads to the cultural quarter where you’ll find the Royal Pavillion, this exotic palace resembles the Taj Mahal and is a must-see if you’re in Brighton. For a breath of fresh sea air and a ramble, Seven Sisters National Park is just down the road and is, accessible by public transport from Brighton City Centre.

Nothing beats a lazy walk down the promenade and pier with a stop for some Fish n Chips, however for a more impressive take on the culinary classic, we would recommend a trip to Riddle and Finns Champagne and Oyster Bar where you can find seafood praised by the famously critical Gordon Ramsay.

With 280 hectares of famous unspoilt coastline, a number of outdoor activities are possible. Brighton is somewhat of a cultural centre, from gigs and concerts to exhibitions and parades, there’s always something on, we’d suggest taking a look on Visit Brighton to find out.

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Canterbury

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Image via Flickr User: Adam Smok

Another historically-rich town not far from London, Canterbury is home to a captivating mix of history, culture and architecture. Easily explored on foot, the city offers plenty of surprises. The city is the perfect base from which to explore the beautiful coastal towns of Whitstable & Herne Bay, each having their own unique charm and activities for all ages and budgets and both reachable by public transport.

For a night of luxury, book a room at The Falstaff Hotel, situated in the city centre near the Cathedral – the perfect base to explore Canterbury from. For a laid back atmosphere and exciting menu, we would suggest trying Salt “an intimate space in the heart of the city”.

You can get to Canterbury from three London stations – St. Pancras, Charing Cross and Victoria, just an hour and a half from London. Check out Visit Canterbury and See Whitstable for more info on attractions and things to do.

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Windsor

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Image via Flickr user: Abraham Chako

Home to the royal family for hundreds of years, Windsor sits on the Thames and is a great day trip from London, just 45 minutes away on the train. Of course one of the main attractions here is the castle, and we would recommend seeing the changing of the guard, check out Windsor.gov for times.

Windsor is a great place for walks, whether you fancy walking down the Thames or along the Long Walk. For some slightly more adventurous outdoor activities, you can hire canoes and kayaks from Canoe & Kayak Tours.

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  • Transport: Trains to Windsor start at around £10. Buses to Windsor start at £9.
  • Duration: 50 minutes by train and bus.
  • Recommended Stay: 1 day.

Cambridge

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Image via Flickr user: Bill Evitts

In 50 minutes you can be in Cambridge, well known for its impressive baroque style buildings and, of course, it’s University. Take a leisurely stroll around, and take in some of the terrific sights in this university town, one of the nicest places to visit on day trips from London.

Re-trace the footsteps of the impressive alumni including Darwin, Newton and John Cleese (to name a few) and stay a night in a Cambridge college B&B University Rooms. In the day be sure to check out The Fitzwilliam University Museum, part of the University of Cambridge, which attracts nearly 500,000 visitors a year! Here you will find arts and antiquities from all over the world. For some Michelin-star dining head to Alimentum, where you can expect to find superb food and an award winning wine list.

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Winchester

Winchester Cathedral

Approximately one hour from the city of London, Winchester has a Cathedral, a string of decent pubs and restaurants and beautiful historic buildings, such as the medieval Great Hall. Situated on the edge of the south downs – a great spot for a long walk – Winchester is home to a thriving arts scene and is full of charm. The town is also home to Winchester Science Centre for a more hands-on, interactive, educational experience, the 360° space dome is well worth checking out! For some great food, in a 600-year-old medieval listed building, grab a bite to eat at The Chesil Rectory – full of character and charm.

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Feature image Via flickr user Scott Wiley

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