There are so many amazing weekend trips from London that are only a short train, bus or car ride away. So where do you even start when planning your next weekend getaway?
You start right here. We’re about to take you through some of the best weekend trips from London. ‘You’ve posted about the top 5 London Weekend Getaways before’, we hear you shout in protest. It’s true. We’ve also posted about travelling the UK way back when.
But today we want to focus on an updated version of UK-based weekend getaways. Because sometimes the last thing we feel like doing is hauling our butts to an airport on the outskirts of London to squeeze in a 2-night trip to a city that really deserves at least 4 nights of our time. Or spending 7 hours in a car one-way meaning you lose an entire precious day of a two-day weekend on travel.
So the entry requirements, as we’re now calling them, to scoring a deserving place on this ‘Best Weekend Trips from London’ list include the following:
- Must take no longer than 3 hours to reach from London
- Must be able to reach by train, because we all know that driving through London is a pain
- Must be a genuinely great place to visit, hence being one of the best weekend trips from London
So let’s get started! Here’s a countdown for the 6 best weekend trips from London…
6. SNOWDONIA, NORTH WALES
Snowdonia is an outdoorsman’s dream, with everything from hiking to cycling, horse-riding and climbing on its doorstep. It’s also home to the highest mountain in England and Wales – Snowdon.
Fun fact: Edmund Hillary trained on Snowden before being the first person to reach Mount Everest’s summit.
There are six walking routes that’ll get you to the top of Snowden. The easiest but longest of them is the Llanberis Path – a 9 mile round trip that takes about 6 hours. Of course there are plenty of other hikes in the area too including some beautiful coastal walks.
Even if you’re not that outdoorsy and hiking isn’t really your thing, there are plenty of cute village shops and museums to discover, cosy pubs to hole up in and castle ruins to explore.
Ok fine, so we’ve stretched the 3-hour travel rule already since Snowdonia technically takes 3.5 hours to reach from London by train. But when you look at how beautiful it is, half an hour extra travel is a small price to pay.
Be sure to pack layers and lots of water- and weather-proof clothing. You don’t want to be caught out by the rain, hail or shine – and you’re likely to get all three.
How to get there
By Car – You can take the M1, M6 then A5 all the way to Betws-y-Coed. Driving time is 4hrs+ (depending on traffic, of course)
By Train – Get a train from London Euston, changing at Chester and Llandudno Junction to take you into Betws-y-Coed in the heart of Snowdonia. It takes about 3.5 hours. Betws-y-Coed is a great base with plenty of accommodation, restaurants and outdoor shops in case you’re missing any essentials.
If you want to go luxe, have a look at Palé Hall. This beautiful Victorian manor house in North Wales has hosted none other than the Queen herself. Perfect for those special weekend trips from London, you’ll be totally swept up in the luxurious interior, and stunning surroundings.
Rooms from £275 per nightCheck availability
For something a little more affordable, Hostel Cellb is one of those magical is-this-really-a-hostel kind of hostels. You know, the ones that are beautifully decorated with their own bar, fireplace and an actual cinema. I mean, it’s not often hostel dorms look like #bedroomgoals. This one is built in an old police station and is a short 6-minute walk from Blaenau Ffestiniog train station. It’s also just 1 mile from Slate Mountain zip-lining (!)
Private rooms from £45 p/nightCheck availability
5. BATH, SOMERSET
If it’s a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of London that you’re after, Bath is absolutely ideal. This gorgeous town is just a short train or coach ride away and ticks all the boxes for the perfect weekend trip from London.
The first and most obvious thing to do is to visit the Roman baths. This World Heritage Site is home to the remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world, where natural hot spring water still flows to this day.
After all that history about ancient baths, you’ll be ready for your own. Enter: Thermae Spa – the UK’s only natural mineral spa. The different scented steam rooms are a nice touch but the real hero here is the heated rooftop pool that overlooks the beautiful city.
Tip: They don’t take bookings for spa sessions so if you’re not prepared to queue for up to an hour, treat yourself to a massage or other spa treatment to skip the queue.
Aside from all the baths, the city of Bath has a lot more to offer. Wander around the quaint streets and discover cute local specialty stores, climb the towering Bath Abbey, visit the picture-perfect Royal Crescent or treat yourself to an afternoon tea at one of the many tea rooms.
How to get there
By Car – Driving to Bath can take about 2.5 hours. You can combine your journey by taking the scenic route via Stonehenge or Windsor.
By Train – The fastest way to get to Bath. Great Western Railway leaves from London Paddington and will get you to Bath in under 1.5 hours.
By Bus – A bus is the cheapest way to get to Bath but also takes the longest – around 3 hours. The National Express leave from Victoria Coach Station
The Bird is a beautiful boutique hotel in the centre of Bath. The lush interiors, views over Bath Abbey and incredible chrome bath tubs will work overtime for your Instagram account. Plus there’s the bonus of free parking!
Rooms from £109 per nightCheck availability
If you don’t want to overspend on accommodation, try the Z Hotel in Bath. These guys are known for super central, compact-luxe style accommodation. The rooms are small but everything is high quality – handcrafted beds, beautiful linen, toiletries and a big TV with movie channels.
Rooms from £45 per nightCheck availability
4. PEAK DISTRICT
The Peak District was the first of Britain’s 15 national parks to be established. It’s known for being the most accessible of the lot – and accessibility is exactly what we’re looking for when planning a weekend trip from London.
Known for its stunning scenery, the Peak District is perfect for hikers. Try climbing to the top of Kinder Scout, Mam Tor, or Stanage Edge for some amazing views. Thanks to its beauty, the national park is also known as one of the best places to drive in the UK. Yes you can easily get there by train, but it’s true that you’ll see a lot more with a car. So we’d recommend renting one from a nearby city like Chesterfield or Sheffield – a good excuse to visit these wonderful cities while you’re at it.
There are some pretty special historical sights to visit too. The medieval Haddon Hall or the Norman Peveril Castle. Our favourite is Chatsworth House though. It’s home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. You can explore the extravagant house and its impressive art collection, and roam the manicured gardens until your heart’s content. Every Christmas they also put on a magical Christmas at Chatsworth experience worth seeing.
Tip: If you visit the market town of Bakewell, make sure you try the famous Bakewell pudding – a perfect combination of crispy pastry, silky custard-like filling and a layer of local jam.
How to get there
By Car – Driving from London can take around 3-4 hours. If you’re thinking of hiring a car, it’s faster to get the train to Sheffield or Chesterfield and hire a car from there.
By Train – Taking the train from London St Pancras International can get you to Derby in just over 90 minutes, or you can continue onwards to Chesterfield or Sheffield to the East of the park. Then you have several local train lines and bus routes to choose from depending on where you want to visit.
Peak District Accommodation
Cavendish Hotel is found on (and owned by) the Chatsworth House Estate, so you’re basically getting two for the price of one. Some of the dècor has come from Chatsworth House itself. The open fires, wooden beams and cows grazing outside the windows will all charm your socks off. Countryside perfection!
Rooms from £140 per nightCheck availability
Trade in your London life for a taste of the north and head to Liverpool for a weekend visit. You don’t need to be a huge Beatles fan or football supporter to enjoy everything this multi-cultural city has to offer.
The Royal Albert Docks have a load of museums, restaurants, bars and events to discover. If you’re really missing London, you’ll even find a TATE museum and Rosa’s Thai there. But if it’s good food you’re after, head to Baltic market for the best street food in the city. They also have a specialty coffee bar for our fellow coffee-lovers.
If you have time to go further afield, a 20 min train from Central Station will take you to Blundellsands where you’ll find the chilling Iron Men art installation by Antony Gormley on Crosby Beach.
Not only is the city a fantastic place to discover – the people are worth the trip alone. Liverpudlians, better known as Scousers, have a reputation as some of the most hospitable, friendliest, put-the-kettle-on-love type of people in the country. Not to mention that loveable scouse accent.
How to get there
By Car – With a distance of 355km’s, driving from London to Liverpool takes between 3 to 4 hours, depending on traffic.
By Train – Most days there are hourly trains running between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street Station. Virgin Trains run direct services which take about 2h 20min.
Aloft hotel is an absolute steal and perfect for those on a budget who don’t want to compromise on quality. The hotel is marketed at design-focused urban travellers. What does that mean exactly? Well, in this case it means sleek modern features mixed with old-world heritage and Victorian grandeur. It’s a 10-minute walk to Lime Street station and to the waterside docks.
Rooms from £70 per nightCheck availability
Oxford is everything you dream of and more when you picture the perfect, quintessential weekend trip from London. Cobblestone streets, centuries-old university buildings and one of the oldest libraries in Europe. Straight out of a Harry Potter film – literally.
Oxford is a small city draped in so much history. The university taught students like Lewis Carroll, Albert Einstein and 27 British prime ministers. Oh and also – all fellow Richard Curtis fans will appreciate this – Hugh Grant. You can hole up in a pub like Eagle and Child (aka Bird and Baby) where CS Lewis and JR Tolkien used to meet in the 1930s. Or try the oldest pub in Oxford – The Bear Inn, dating back to 1242.
Oxford is also famous for its punting. You can rent your own boat if you dare to punt yourself, or hire one with a chauffeur who does the work for you. Starting at Cherwell Boathouse, you can float 30 mins upstream past Wolfson College and Marston meadows to the Victoria Arms pub. They have ample punt parking and a great beer garden to refresh before paddling back downstream.
How to get there
By Car – The drive from London to Oxford is just under 100km and takes about an hour (once you clear the London traffic).
By Train – The average journey time between Oxford and London is 1 hour 11 minutes, but on the right train it can take as little as 53 minutes. Trains leave from both Paddington and Marylebone stations in London.
The Head of the River is not only a great pub, it also has 20 wonderfully quirky rooms upstairs – perfect for a weekend stay in central Oxford. Exposed brick walls, open fireplaces and decadent wallpaper adds to the special Oxford charm. Their al fresco riverside boatyard is the perfect spot to enjoy a wine, or three.
Rooms from £121 per nightCheck availability
If you’re looking for some relaxing and scenic weekend trips from London, the Cotswolds need to top your list. It’s everything you imagine the English countryside to be and more. In fact, it’s so beautiful that the Cotswolds have been named as the second largest area of outstanding natural beauty in England.
Honey-coloured stone buildings line the picturesque villages sprinkled with thatched-roof cottages. Historic churches are scattered around the quaint countryside that’s perfect for long walks and cycling. Whether you want a packed itinerary or simply relax in a cosy cottage – there’s no wrong way of enjoying this magical part of the country.
Castle Combe in the south gives you a taste of a typical Cotswold Village without the huge tourist numbers. Be sure to pop into a tea room to sample their finest scone with jam and cream, or five. Visit the thriving market town of Moreton which hosts the largest open-air street market in the Cotswolds every Tuesday.
Finally, head to Lacock – one of the most beautiful villages in England. It’s owned by the National Trust and often referred to as a village ‘frozen in time’. These days it’s also famous from films like Jane Austen and Harry Potter. Make sure you visit the George Inn – the oldest licensed pub in England dating back to the 13th century.
How to get there
By Car – The Cotswolds are surrounded by a triangle of motorways and from London the most common approach would be entering from the east on the M40. The drive takes just under two hours.
By Train – The direct train from London Paddington station only takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to Moreton-in-Marsh. There are limited bus services once you get there so you’ll have to either plan carefully or look at renting a car.
No. 38 The Park – This beautifully decorated boutique hotel is in a Georgian mansion with clawfoot bathtubs in the bedrooms – dreamy!
Rooms from £120 per nightCheck availability
If you’re on a budget then try The Barrel Store Cirencester. It’s basic but clean and walking distance to nearby restaurants and shops.
Rooms from £50 per nightCheck availability
What do you think of this list? We’d love to hear from you. Share your favourite weekend trips from London in the comments below.