London is a city that offers all ages and tastes a truly unforgettable holiday experience. The city is home to some of the most famous attractions, landmarks and cultural events in Europe, as evidenced by the tens of millions of people who visit the city and capitalise on London hotel deals each year. But London isn’t the only place worth visiting. Indeed, there are many other cities and areas of the country that are no more than a 2 hour journey outside of London, all of which will reveal a new side and character to London.
Of course, with London’s many centrally located attractions, West End theatres and restaurants near Hyde Park, no one would blame you for keeping Londoncentric on your trip. But if you have the time or the resources, spreading your wings and exploring further afield can give you a new understanding of not only the UK, but of London itself. The English capital city does not exist in a vacuum, and it is the monolithic tourist draw that it is today only in relation to the rest of the country.
This blog will outline some of the best day trips that guests of the Grand Royale Hyde Park can take in less than 2 hours outside of London, and how seeing the beaches, home counties and landmarks further afield can enrich your understanding of Europe’s most popular capital city.
Arundel is a medieval town on the south coast of England that is well worth a visit for its almost entirely preserved medieval castle and beautiful river running through it – the River Arun. Located just outside of the South Downs National Park, the town of Arundel’s Norman built castle draws in many tourists, whilst its surrounding wetlands are the perfect place for a summer hike.
Known as the “London” of the south coast, you shouldn’t write off Brighton as a small, lesser version of the capital city, indeed, this English channel bounded city is full of unique charm and character. At under an hour’s train journey away from Victoria Station, Brighton offers the perfect day trip and is home to many quirky landmarks and tourist attractions. Alongside its wealth of boutique shopping opportunities in its “Lanes”, visitors can enjoy tours of the Regency era Brighton Pavilion, created in the style of a Hindu temple, as well as the highly popular Palace Pier, teeming with amusements, two roller coasters and an arcade. LGBTQ visitors will be interested to know that Brighton is thought of as the gay capital of the UK and runs an annual pride festival every summer, one of the most well attended and fun in the entire world.
Located on the River Avon, this western city is just under two hours train journey from London and boasts an arts scene to rival both London and the aforementioned Brighton. The city itself is home to a thriving university population as well as being the starting point for early New World exploration, the heritage of which has led to the docklands of the city being regenerated as creative spaces and historic sites. The city’s top attractions include the Brunel SS Great Britain, a mid-Victorian era passenger steam ship that was the most advanced of its age and has been redeveloped as a museum. Other tourist attractions include the Edwardian Baroque designed Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, an Arts Council funded, free to visit museum that explores natural history, science and technology and art from all periods. Plenty to see then for a day trip!
Moving from cities into natural landscapes, Box Hill is a Surrey based valley that provides stunning views over the South of England’s countryside. These sweat-inducing walks are easy to reach from London, at just about an hour and 20 minutes journey from the centre of London. For guests of accommodation near Hyde Park London who are looking for a new walking trail challenge, the views, rivers and forests of Box Hill & Westhumble will be sure to put your calf muscles to the test.
Cambridge is home to one of the oldest universities in London and its history dates back all the way to the Bronze Age. With a canal system running out of the nearby River Cam and a wealth of historic museums run by the university, Cambridge and its world famous university are open for tours, punting boat escapades and medieval city wanders all year round.
Another historic waterside town, Hastings was the site of the battle of the same name that saw William The Conqueror invade and take over England. This hilly and cliff-clad town is not only the site of 11th century castle ruins but has a thriving arts scene and a classic English beach town promenade amidst its cobbled streets.
To the east of Hastings is Margate, known for being the retreat of many British celebrities. It’s not just the seaside celebrity culture that draws visitors from London though, Margate’s Tomorrowland theme park and the Turner Contemporary art gallery are both situated on the seafront of this quaint seaside town. The thriving music and literary scene is also a big draw for British culture enthusiasts.
Easy to reach from Liverpool Station, Norwich is a cathedral city in Norfolk that boasts a beautiful 11th century cathedral and a thriving town centre full of theatres, art galleries and independent boutiques. The famous market square is made up of beach hut-like stalls selling everything from toasties to leather jackets. With a BBC media centre located near the centre, Norwich and its surrounding Norfolk broads countryside are a quaint escape from the hustle and bustle of London.
Stratford Upon Avon
Located in Warwickshire and just two and a half hours from London, Stratford Upon Avon is a market town that dates back to the Saxon era but has become synonymous with the works of William Shakespeare, who was born in the town. This has led to the Royal Shakespeare Company setting up shop here and drawing in more than 2.7 million tourists a year. With revivals of his plays as well as contemporary works inspired by Shakespeare, Stratford Upon Avon has become a cultural hub amidst rolling rivers and the green pastures of the Cotswolds.