Although there is more than enough to keep any visitors happy within London, sometimes a trip outside the city can be a pleasant relief. This list should cater to most tastes with destinations that can be visited in a single day from London.
Bath is a city of exquisite architecture, health-giving spring waters and a whole host of museums, theatres and other cultural landmarks. Lying only about one hundred miles to the west of London, it is easily reachable in an hour and a half from Paddington station. Since Roman times people have been travelling to Bath to partake of the healing spring waters and today visitors can tour the Roman remains before tasting the water for themselves. The city had a renaissance in the Georgian era when much of the city’s stunning architecture was built. The Royal Crescent in particular is impressive both because of its aesthetics and sheer size. In summer, the city’s parks come alive with open air theatre and the many restaurants and cafes spill out onto the streets lending the city a relaxed and friendly atmosphere reminiscent of towns on the continent.
In stark contrast to Bath is the city of Brighton. Existing as a twenty-first century twist on the nineteenth century coastal resort, Brighton is brash, gaudy and totally exhilarating. Brighton is famous for its pebbly beach, tacky amusement pier and a nightlife that puts most other cities to shame. Merely an hour from London’s Victoria station and situated on England’s south coast, Brighton has a host of festivals that run in the summer months. These include the eponymous Brighton Festival of arts and the UK’s biggest gay pride party. The city’s liberal atmosphere and alternative outlook makes it the ideal place to shop for non-traditional fashions or simply browse in the multitude of bookshops. To experience the best of the nightlife it is necessary to stay for more than just a day but the city can easily be sampled in a short day trip from London.
Fifty minutes by train from London lies the ancient university town of Oxford. Famous for its academic colleges and dreaming spires, the city is a place where history can seem so close that it can be touched. Architecture representing every epoch of British history is proudly on display, with a variety of quality museums and restaurants. Many of the colleges allow visitors to tour their buildings at certain times, usually during the academic holidays. Check for signs on the street outside the entrances to the college quads. If visitors would rather sit down and relax than walk around the city there are many scenic parks and meadows, as well as the rivers Cherwell and Thames beside which to lie and lazily watch the water flow past.
4. Thorpe Park
Visitors with families or a thirst for adrenaline pumping exploits will enjoy Thorpe Park, a theme park just minutes from central London. This is not for the faint hearted, especially in the height of summer when crowds of over-excited and out of control children roam through the place like marauding savages. That said, the rides are certainly worth a certain amount of queuing and sure to keep youngsters begging for more. To get to the park catch a train from London Waterloo to Staines and jump on the regular shuttle to the park gate.
An hour and a half out of Waterloo station is Salisbury, the gateway to Stonehenge. Visitors may want to take some time to explore Salisbury and its imposing cathedral; if not, a local bus covers the eight miles to the monument. Many people are disappointed when they realise that they cannot wander amongst the stones themselves without prior booking on a special tour. Frustrating it may be, but visitors must realise it is for a good cause since the stones were beginning to seriously erode before they were roped off. The view is still impressive, especially at sunrise or sunset, and the visitor centre is a wealth of information.
Photo of carousel in Brighton, UK originally posted by laszlo-photo