Best Day Trips from London
The best 8 day trips from London and how to plan them.
For the Downton Abbey Fan
This was one of our favorite experiences in London. Coming from LA, I didnt think I would be so interested in a "TV set" but it's so much more. In fact, when you're there, they barely mention the show at all. The experience is all about the real house and family and what life is really like. But it is grand and just as beautiful as you imagine. You have free reign of the grounds and can even get tea in their cafe (unfortunately the kitchen on the show was only a set, and does not exist in the real house).
They are only open a set number of days a year, so make sure to check their visitor days in advance. You can book a pricey Highclere Castle tour through Viator which includes transportation, but be careful as some tours advertise "Downton Abbey Filming Locations" meaning the village, but not the castle. You are safest booking a ticket through the official Highclere Castle website, and taking a train. Find more info at How to Visit Highclere Castle.
For a Storybook Feel
The Cotswolds are a beautiful area about a two hour drive or train ride outside London. It is as picturesque old English country side as you can get. Many tours will combine a stop here with a trip to Oxford or Highclere Castle (many Downton Abbey scenes were filmed here). Both of these are great options to make the best of your time. Or, if you don't want to feel rushed, my aunt took this tour, also recommended by Rick Steves, and loved it so much she bought a house there. Seriously.
For the Literature Buff
Oxford is really for everyone. It covers all interests and all ages: history, literature, politics, religion, beer, and Harry Potter. I'll be honest, hunting for Harry Potter filming locations was the highlight, but drinking in the same pub as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein was a close second. Both my brother and sister-in-law studied here and had a wealth of knowledge to offer. Full-day Oxford Itinerary coming soon.
For the History Buff
I was surprise by how much I liked Bath. The town is a hotspot for tour buses because of the well preserved Roman Bath in the middle of the town center, but I could have spent two more days just exploring the streets and the beautiful countryside. If you're short on time, book this tour that includes Bath, Windsor, and Stonehenge, but if you have an extra day, stay the night and explore.
For the Royal Buff
We loved our tour of Windsor. One of the few places I recommend experiencing via an organized tour because the process is seamless and stress free. We chose this tour through Viator.
For the Sight Seer
A local market that is only open on Sundays, this is where you go to feel like a fabulous local living your best life. Start the day early with an armful of flowers, pop into cafe for a cup of tea, peruse the small local gift shops, and then head to a beautiful brunch.
For the Do-Everything Traveler
This one takes commitment, but is oh so worth it. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and an absolutely fascinating old city built around a castle on a hill. A one hour flight from London, it would best be done with an overnight stay but can be done as a day trip if you are ambitious. Edinburgh Castle is a must, and the city hosts more Harry Potter locations than London thanks to J.K. Rowling writing most of the series there.Two Day Guide to Edinburgh coming soon!