A week in London means a packed itinerary and a day trip to another town may be the furthest thing from your mind. Even so, you should devote a day to a city besides London. Visit other parts of England near London to allow yourself the opportunity to explore another side of the country. Day trips that offer a different experience than staying in London are Bath, Oxford, Reading, Stonehenge, and Windsor. Travel times listed in each heading are one-way train trips from London’s Paddington Station.
Bath – 90 minutes
Walk around London and you can’t imagine that Britain was once part of the Roman Empire. Travel to Bath and that evidence hits you smack dab in the face. The town of Bath is known for its hot springs and the Romans built bathhouses to harness the restorative water. Tourists can buy tickets for admittance into what was once a functioning bathhouse and learn the history of the town. Unlike hot spring locations in other parts of the world, Bath does not have public bathhouses open to visitors. Thermae Spa is the only place in Bath where you can pay to take a dip in water flowing from the hot springs. Before heading home stroll through Bath and admire the Roman architecture and quaint streets.
Oxford – 60 minutes
Tourists looking to explore England’s famed university towns choose between Oxford and Cambridge. Both are solid choices but Cambridge is a two-hour journey from London while Oxford takes an hour to reach by train. Oxford boasts over 30 different universities within walking distance. Just by being in Oxford one feels smarter as if intelligence is increased by osmosis. You will have the urge to duck into a library to crack open a book and study. When you arrive at the Oxford train station stop by the tourist information booth and buy the 2£ map that includes a walking tour. The walking tour will guide you past the top sites. Plan on the walk to take an hour to complete. The walk will take longer if you walk at a relaxed pace, explore the universities, and eat at one of the many restaurants in Oxford.
Reading – 30 minutes
Reading is not a town brimming with sites, but that’s the appeal. The streets from the train station lead you past various shops and to the Oracle shopping center. The Oracle provides a chance to shop in a mall without the same crowds that you find in London. Behind the Oracle is a riverfront reminiscent of a scaled version of the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas. Plenty of restaurant options around the river will replenish you during your shopping excursion. If you need a pause from the hustle and bustle of London consider Reading that break.
Stonehenge – 3 hours
Photos of the monument Stonehenge are recognizable around the world. Years ago tourists to the fabled grounds of Stonehenge could walk right up to the massive stones and place their hands directly onto the monument. Even though the experience of touching the stones is no longer allowed this prehistoric monument is a site to be seen. With a six hour round trip, this destination is the longest on this list to reach by train. The better plan is to tack Stonehenge along with another location such as Bath. Companies, such as Gray Line, have a bus tour that is nine hours and includes transportation to both Bath and Stonehenge. Travel with a tour group means that you will be on a schedule when at each location. At least you will visit both sites without having to spend six hours sitting on a train.
Windsor – 35 minutes
The highlight of Windsor is Windsor Castle, one of the many residences of the Royal Family. If you see the Royal Standard flag flying above the Castle then you know the Queen is home. Tourists primarily descend upon Windsor by tour bus just to visit the Castle. Windsor is more than just the Castle and worth a few extra hours beyond the tour of the Castle grounds. If you arrive at Windsor & Eton Central railway station upon exiting the train are various shops and restaurants. Around Windsor Castle are more shops and restaurants. Next to Windsor Castle is Windsor Great Park that includes pathways such as the Long Walk. Another nice walk is across the River Thames to Eton College, a boys’ boarding school. The streets leading to Eton College are lined with shops and restaurants.