London is a great city and its location has been, since the Romans founded Londinium, essential for trading and travel routes. A short trip away from the Big Smoke one can find quintessential British towns, medieval stories, and spiritual and mystical sites – all within easy reach by train. There is a magical environment in those towns – get your history knowledge up to scratch, find your spiritual connection in Stonehenge, or be amazed by the historical cathedrals along the way.
Quintessentially British/Roman ruins/ancient baths
This pretty town, cut through by the river Avon, doesn’t get its name by coincidence. The Romans set up camp here, and the well-preserved, underground Roman baths date back from 835 BC. We love The Bell Pub for its music and history, The Bath Brew House for its craft beers, and The Coeur de Lion – the smallest pub in Bath. Trains to Bath leave from Paddington.
Considered almost a second home city for Londoners, Brighton has plenty to offer. It’s full of activities, amazing restaurants and bars, a vibrant nightlife, and the pebbled shores of England. Have fun at the Brighton Pier for cultural immersion and some candyfloss! Terre à Terre is a nice vegetarian restaurant, with excellent biodynamic wine.
Tracey Emin’s town/Turner Museum/Shell cave/seaside town.
Margate is considered the Shoreditch-by-the sea, and it’s an easy train journey from London. This city is wacky, edgy, and hometown of British artist Tracey Emin. Visit the Turner Contemporary with its stunning seaside views and go down a mysterious cave known as the Shell Grotto – a pagan cave discovered in 1835 completely mosaic-ed in shells.
The official home of the Queen.
The official home of the Queen, Windsor is a beautiful historical town only 30 minutes from London. The castle is impressive – you can visit the staterooms, the doll collections, and many other interesting curiosities of the British royalty. But please keep the noise down if Her Royal Highness is having her lunch! Trains to Windsor leave from Paddington.
Small village with Roman ruins.
St Albans is a quaint town with traditional markets and Roman ruins- check out the gorgeous ruins of Sopwell Nunnery. The town is only 20 minutes from London and a world away from the fast pace of the city. Have a pint at the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, a pub dating back to the 8th century. Trains leave from St Pancras.
Beautiful cathedral / medieval town/ the Magna Carta is here / 30 minutes from Stonehenge.
This mystical area has been a place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages. The Salisbury Cathedral is stunning, and the town is full of history. The famous Magna Carta is kept here, and the iconic druid-pagan site of Stonehenge is only 30 minutes away from the city center – with plenty of easy transport options to reach the site. Check out the lovely Fishertown Mill for a nice lunch spot. The South West train from Waterloo takes 1 hour 10 minutes to Salisbury.
Charming village and oldest recorded British town.
The oldest recorded town in Britain, Colchester is only 1 hour from London’s Liverpool Street train station. Make sure to see the architecture and walk around this historical town with its Celtic, Roman, and Saxon influences. We love the Fat Cat Pub in Butt Street – we ain’t joking, mate! The Greater Anglia train from Liverpool Street takes 1 hour.
The only exception at 2 hours 20 minutes, but it’s Paris and I often go on day trips when tickets are super cheap!
Yes, you can go to Paris for lunch and return on the same day to London with the Eurostar. One of the most romantic cities in Europe is only a smooth 2 hour, 20 minute journey. There is always a last-minute, cheap ticket on offer for that spontaneous getaway – go to Paris, walk by the river, have a very French lunch and fall in love. All in one day. The Eurostar leaves from St Pancras International.
Cover picture: Guide of London
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