Family day trips from London


By Emine Saner

Photography by Getty

Skip to Navigation

Updated November 2018

Looking for family day trips from London? Take a break from the Big Smoke and have fun-filled day out instead. Explore a new city, take a trip to the seaside, or head out on a rural ramble. Our pick of day trips are guaranteed to keep the entire family happy, says Emine Saner.

Brighton

What to do

Easily accessible from London, Brighton is the quintessential beach escape. It may have been heavily gentrified but there are still enough reminders of the classic British seaside – think penny slot machines and a tempting vinegary whiff of fish and chips in the sea air – for a nostalgia fix. Head to the top of the new British Airways i360 tower, the world’s tallest moving observation deck, for a seagull’s-eye view of the city and surrounding coastline. If you'd rather stay at sea level, take Volk's Electric Railway, a Victorian train which runs along the seafront.

Brighton may have been heavily gentrified but there are still reminders of the classic British seaside – think penny slot machines and a tempting vinegary whiff of fish and chips in the sea air.

Lunch stop

The Bucket and Spade Café by the beach is a family haven, with books, crayons and chalkboard tables – and a playground and paddling pool out front.

If you decide to stay the night

Right on the seafront, the Hilton Brighton Metropole has modern amenities and Victorian charm.

How to get there

You can reach Brighton by train from London in around an hour.

  • Deckchairs on the seafront at Brighton. © Image Source.

    A view for two

    Day trippers have been coming to Brighton by rail since the London and Brighton Railway opened in the 1840s. Follow in their footsteps and explore Brighton Pier and the seafront. Seeking out some sea air has never gone out of fashion.

  • Penny Lane in Liverpool © George Clerk/Getty Images

    Liverpool beat

    A must for any Beatles fan, Penny Lane was immortalised on the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album, and Paul McCartney was sitting at a bus stop waiting for John Lennon when he wrote the song.

    Book UK car hire
  • Family day out at Stonehenge © Jodie Griggs/Getty Images

    Like a rolling stone

    Stonehenge is over 5,000 years old - but artefacts dating back around 10,000 years have been found on site. To this day, archeologists still don't know how it was constructed.

    Book flights to London

Liverpool

What to do

The city’s waterfront has UNESCO World Heritage Status and you can explore it from one of the Mersey Ferries cruises. If your children think the Beatles were simply an ancient version of One Direction, then this is the place to educate them – the Beatles Story comprises two museums exploring the life and times of the Fab Four.

Lunch stop

The Interesting Eating Company  is a small, family-friendly independent café that has become famous for its pancakes.

If you decide to stay the night

Modern and sleek, the four-star Hotel Indigo Liverpool is just five minutes from the waterfront, and easy walking distance from the city centre.

How to get there

Trains take just over two hours from London Euston. You can drive in about four-and-a-half hours.

Stonehenge and Bath

What to do

The ancient stone circle is one of the most famous sights in Britain, and an early trip to Stonehenge (before the hordes turn up) and its mysterious ancient mighty stones will enthral children. You can explore the landscape around the stones, looking out for hundreds of burial mounds – just book an express trip to Stonehenge from London. For history of the more recent kind, go on to Bath, which is an hour away. It’s a beautiful city to walk around if little legs can take it, but it also has attractions that will appeal to children – the Roman bath museum has water to try not to fall in, characters in costume and an audio guide narrated by the former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen.

Lunch stop

The Egg Café is at the Theatre Royal in Bath, and is a handy central spot to stop, rest and refuel, even if you’re not seeing a show at its child-centred Egg Theatre. There is also a small play area for children.

If you decide to stay the night

The Francis Hotel is set across a series of beautiful Grade-I listed Georgian townhouses on one of the city’s prettiest squares.

How to get there

Trains from London Paddington take around an hour-and-a-half. You can drive to Bath in around three hours.

  • Oxford's remarkable round Radcliffe Camera is actually a library.

    Feel the magic

    Harry Potter fans will want to get a closer look at Oxford University’s Christ Church College. The Great Hall was used as inspiration for Hogwarts’ dining hall in the films, while the staircase leading up to the hall was actually featured in several scenes.

Oxford and the Cotswolds

What to do

The Cotswolds, with its quaint cottages and thatched roofs, is about as English countryside as you can get outside of a Richard Curtis film. You can take a coach tour of the area, but children might prefer somewhere they can run free – Cotswold Farm Park (home to Adam Henson, presenter of the TV show Countryfile) has rare breed animals, play areas, a maze and a tractor safari. In Oxford, get your bearings of this beautiful city on foot, or by taking a bus tour. There are Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland tours of the city too.

Lunch stop

Wherever you are in Oxford, you're never far from a G&D's ice cream parlour. As well as a rotation of home-made ice creams, the city's beloved local chain of cafés also serve delicious bagels.

If you decide to stay the night

Away from the city, and with beautiful views over the valley, The Painswick Hotel in the Cotswolds is surprisingly child-friendly for such a grown-up boutique bolthole. It makes a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside.

How to get there

Trains from London to Oxford take just over an hour, and around an hour and 50 minutes to Gloucester. By car, you can reach the Cotswolds in around two hours.

footer navigation links

British Airways logo.