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Discover the best day trips in England and unearth the history and exciting cultures of this vibrant and diverse country. If you're staying near London you could spend a day taking in the sights and doing some shopping. If you're already based in the capital, discover the best places that are reachable by train, from buzzing seaside resort Brighton to ancient capital Colchester. There are many other amazing places to visit up and down the country, so read on to find out the best places to see.

1. London

Served by excellent transport links from pretty much anywhere in the country, a day trip to London is always a memorable experience. History buffs can alight at London Waterloo and be within walking distance of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and the Imperial War Museum. Hop on the tube or take a leisurely stroll to Buckingham Palace or the Tower of London and immerse yourself in Britain's royal history.

It’s easy to travel by train to London from all over the UK, or even Europe via the Eurostar. Travel times that are perfect for a day trip include – Brighton to London in just 54m on the fastest service, Oxford to London in 52m, and Reading to London in just 25m. Apart from Waterloo, other major stations include London Victoria, London Paddington, and London Kings Cross.

2. Oxford

Another popular day trip in England – especially from London – is a visit to Oxford. This city charms visitors with its pedestrian-friendly streets and gorgeous architecture. See the world-famous Oxford University, with the iconic Bodleian Library and the dome of the Radcliffe Camera tower. They're regarded as being among the most beautiful buildings in the country and will give snap-happy visitors plenty to share with envious friends online. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is also well worth a visit, not least for its dinosaurs and other incredible creatures.

Trains to Oxford are quick and direct from many locations about the UK. London to Oxford by train takes just 50m, and you can depart from Paddington or Marylebone. You’ll arrive into Oxford Station which is located on Park End Street, just a short walk from the city centre.

3. Bath

Another treat for history lovers, Bath is a unique destination in England, known for its wonderfully well-preserved Roman ruins. Naturally, the Roman baths are among the most popular attractions in the city, and they're the country's only natural mineral hot springs. The other side to Bath is its Georgian heritage, and you'll notice the many beautifully built redbrick homes around town. The Royal Crescent is one of Bath's most famous streets and an excellent place to go for a walk and take in the architecture that enchants visitors here.

If you’re taking the train to Bath, you’ll arrive in the beautiful Bath Spa station, which is located right in the heart of the town centre. Some popular journeys to this city by train include – London to Bath which takes around 1h 34m, Bristol to Bath which takes just 15m and Cardiff to Bath which takes around 1h 7m.

4. Brighton

Often cited as one of the best places to go in England, Brighton really does have something for everyone. In warm weather in particular, it's a superb place for a family day out. You'll soon discover why the Victorians flocked here for their holidays when you're sat with your loved ones on the beach, munching a stick of rock or enjoying a pint in the seaside pubs. The Palace Pier features several arcades and rides where you can lose yourself for hours year-round in covered buildings. The Royal Pavilion is a former royal residence, built in a uniquely Indian style and featuring treasures from across the world inside. By night, Brighton comes alive and caters for every style of music lover in its gig venues, clubs and bars.

This is one of the best places for day trips from London by train. London to Brighton takes around 50 minutes, departing from London Victoria. Brighton station is a short walk from the seafront and city centre.

5. Manchester

The largest city in the North, Manchester is easily reached from several surrounding cities. Once you arrive at Manchester Piccadilly, you'll be right in town and ready to take in the city's football heritage. Visit Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, and also check out the Football Museum while you're here. Manchester is a fantastic place for a night on the town too. Head to the Northern Quarter for bars and clubs, and Canal Street for the best of Manchester's LGBTQ+ scene.

It’s easy to reach Manchester by train in around 50 minutes from several other cities – Liverpool to Manchester takes just 53m, Sheffield to Manchester takes around 51m, and Leeds to Manchester is around 47m on the fastest routes. It's surprisingly fast from London to Manchester too, taking just 2h 4m on the fastest services.

6. Cambridge

Another of England's famous university towns, Cambridge is close to the capital. Cambridge station is where you'll arrive by train, within easy reach of the city centre. Of course, like Oxford, the university is one of the main attractions here. Famous chapels open to the public include King's College Chapel, with its magnificent soaring vaulted ceiling and mesmerising stained glass windows. The Fitzwilliam Museum houses a number of treasures including antiquities and, fittingly for the city of the great university, rare books. As with Oxford, the student presence makes Cambridge a great place for a night out, with a number of traditional pubs alongside swanky bars in the city centre.

London to Cambridge train journeys take around 1h 17m or 47m on the fastest services, departing regularly from Liverpool Street. It’s also easy to travel from Norwich to Cambridge by train, taking just 1h 25m.

7. Birmingham

England's second city, Birmingham, is an excellent place for a family day trip in England. Thinktank is a world-class, hands-on science museum which will keep visitors of any age busy for hours. Cadbury World remains one of the city's other major attractions, offering a chance to taste the chocolate and see how it's made. Birmingham is also one of England's major shopping destinations, with the enormous Bullring shopping centre and a number of interesting boutiques dotted throughout the city. Birmingham New Street is the main station here, located right at the very heart of the city. Birmingham International is the train station connected to the airport if you're flying straight here and using Birmingham as your springboard for train journeys around the rest of England.

It can take as little as around 1h 20m to travel from London to Birmingham by train – services leave from both Euston and Liverpool Street. If you’re visiting from the North, trains from Manchester to Birmingham take around 1h 27m and trains from Liverpool Lime Street to Birmingham New Street take around 1h 38m.

8. Colchester

Easily accessible from London, Colchester is one of the most often overlooked, yet historically and culturally interesting cities in the UK. Closely associated with ancient Queen Boudica, this is a beautiful Essex town with a splendid castle and several great museums. It was also previously the national capital and houses a number of beautiful buildings. Hollytrees Museum in particular is a gorgeous example of traditional Georgian architecture and features hands-on exhibits suitable for every age group. Colchester is the home of the University of Essex, so you'll find a number of wonderful bars and clubs to explore by night.

If you’re in London, depart from Liverpool Street and the journey from London to Colchester, takes as little as 45m. Ipswich to Colchester takes just 19m and Norwich to Colchester by train takes just 1h 2m, Colchester station is then a short distance from the town centre.

Whether you're heading to London to see world-famous sights or exploring the other historic and cultural corners of the country, England is full of destinations for exciting day trips. Train travel makes zipping back and forth easy and quick, so start planning your day trips in England with us today.