London might on the right track out of lockdown as life gradually makes its return to pre-pandemic normality, but international holidays are still limited for those of us that wish to fuel our wanderlust.
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Staycations aren't always an option either as UK holidaymakers were quick to book up the best spots around the country. If you're looking for some escapism from the city, but don't want to commit to an overnight stay, we've got you covered. From historic royal towns to stunning seaside restaurants, country spas and dreamy boat trips, who said a holiday had to use up your annual leave?
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We've put together a list of stunning destinations for a UK day trip, perfect for a solo retreat, a couple's adventure or some family fun. The best part? They're all reachable from London by train in under a couple of hours.
Best day trips in the UK reachable from London
Get there: 1 hour by train from London Bridge
Best things to do in Brighton
Arguably one of the UK's most vibrant cities, Brighton boasts a bustling high street and unbeatable seaside escape for the curious city dweller. Stroll through Brighton's Lanes for the best vintage finds, or indulge in the history of Brighton's Pavilion. Be warned, the beach is pebbled, but still ample enough to lay down your towel, soak up the sun and tuck into a bag of freshly baked donuts – just beware of the seagulls!
The best way to explore a city? By bike of course! Experience Brighton on two wheels on a leisurely 2.5-hour guided cycling tour, allowing you to explore the artistic back streets of the North Laines, the flamboyant architecture of the Royal Pavilion, quaint Fishing Quarter, Georgian architecture of Brunswick Square, and more.
Grand Brighton Bike Tour, £29.99, Get Your Guide
Perfect for a romantic day trip or family-friendly day, take a ride on Brighton's futuristic i360 followed by the opportunity to dine in style at Browns Brasserie in the Lanes.
British Airways i360 & Dinner for Two, £88, Experience Days
If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of London, you'll love this forest bathing experience in Brighton's Stanmer Park. The perfect opportunity to observe nature and reduce stress on a relaxing day trip.
Outdoor Yoga & Forest Bathing, £28, Virgin Experience Days
Best places to eat in Brighton
Tuck into a decadent afternoon tea for two at Brighton's Malmaison with unbeatable views of Brighton's Marina.
Afternoon Tea for Two at Malmaison Brighton, £40, Experience Days
For those trips when the day rolls into the night, Burnt Orange is a relaxed all-day and late-night destination with a delicious menu of crudo, small plates and wood-fired sharing dishes to accompany a luxe cocktail menu and music curated by Brighton's own Fatboy Slim.
Calling all pizza lovers, Purezza is easily the best pizza restaurant on the south coast. For those who don't eat a plant based diet, don't let the deceptively vegan menu put you off – these stone baked pizzas are pretty hard to beat.
Get there: 30 minutes from London Paddington
Best things to do in Windsor
This stunning town just west of London is not only home to Windsor Castle, a residence of the royal family, but it's also full of a fascinating history waiting to be explored by the avid day tripper. For a royally good day out, be sure to visit the Queen's residence, take in the beauty of St George's Chapel where both the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank tied the knot, or stroll along the Thames path.
Kids will love LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort, a theme park full of thrilling rides and awesome attractions for the whole family to enjoy.
LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort for Four, £156, Virgin Experiences
Embark on a historical walking tour of Winsdor and explore the history of the royal residence's and Windsor's finest Gothic architecture. After your tour, indulge in all things quintessentially British with a delightful afternoon tea at The Castle Hotel, complete with finger sandwiches, an array of cakes, and homemade scones.
Winsdor Castle & Afternoon Tea for Two, £99, Virgin Experiences
Best places to eat in Windsor
Relax on the Thames and take in the stunning surroundings at Oakley Court with a delicious Sunday lunch for two. Afterwards, you can spend some time exploring the magnificent riverside grounds. Oakley Court ticks all the boxes for an afternoon of stylish dining.
Three Course Sunday Lunch for Two, £79, Virgin Experience Days
For a regal experience, Windsor's Royal Pub boasts a beer garden with unbeatable views of Windsor Castle. Specialising in freshly-cooked traditional dishes, delicious cocktails made using house-infused spirits, with a wide selection of craft beer, this lunch spot is hard to beat.
Get there: 1 hour 20 minutes from London Paddington
Best things to do in Bath
Loved for its rich culture, ancient heritage, fabulous nightlife and picturesque views, Bath has something to entice visitors both young and old, and you can capture the best of this historical down in a glorious day trip.
You cannot visit Bath without a trip to the iconic Roman Baths. Built in around 70AD as a grand bathing and socialising complex, this is one of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world. There are at least 1,170,000 litres of steaming spring water, reaching 46°C, which still fill the bathing site every single day. Indulge in a tempting afternoon tea after your dip at five-star Royal Crescent Hotel.
Visit to Roman Baths with Afternoon Tea, £130, Virgin Experience Days
Calling all Bridgerton fans! Make haste on this two-hour tour that will see you walk in the footsteps of Simon and Daphne as you promenade through the city, visiting some of its most famous and photographed spots.
Bridgerton: The Unofficial Walking Tour, £32, Virgin Experience Days
Best places to eat in Bath
Wind down the day with a lovely meal at Comptoir Libanais. This bustling restaurant offers an excellent mix of Lebanese dishes and cocktails.
For your evening meal, be sure to visit The Bird's Plate. The restaurant, just a ten-minute walk from the centre, is all about great food and drink and having fun whilst also enjoying a relaxed place to unwind. Head Chef Leon Smith is at the helm providing the incredible dishes created with ingredients sourced from renowned suppliers on the restaurant's doorstep.
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