Family day trips from London


By Emine Saner

Title photography by Getty

Skip to Navigation

Looking for family day trips from London? Take a break from the Big Smoke and have a fun-filled day out instead. Explore a new city, take a trip to the seaside or head out on a rural ramble. These 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. Amble around The Lanes, popping your head into colourful shops selling quirky antiques and unique jewellery. Try to win a teddy bear before whizzing down a Helter Skelter and buckling into a dodgem car on the Brighton Pier. Then head to the top of i360 tower, which is even taller than The London Eye, 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 trundling 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.

How to get there

You can reach Brighton by train from London in around an hour. You can also drive to Brighton in around two and a half hours.

  • Paris’ Jardin du Luxembourg © encrier/Getty Images

    Always a good idea...

    You could even take a quick trip from London to Paris and stay for a night. Say bonjour to the Eiffel Tower, dip a croissant into a hot chocolate and stroll around museums.£179 pp

    Visit Paris
  • 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. £179 pp

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

    Like a rolling stone

    The ancient monument dates back 5,000 years, with artefacts dating back around 10,000 years being found on the site and to this day archeologists still don’t know how it was constructed.

    Book your flights to London

Liverpool

What to do

Liverpool boasts plenty of iconic sites. Take the Ferry ‘cross the Mersey and admire the city’s lovely waterfront. Listen to live music in the very place Beatlemania broke out: The Cavern Club welcomes resident artists to its stage every day from 11:30am until late (kids are welcome during the daytime). The Beatles Story, comprised of two museums exploring the Fab Four, is another top attraction – if your children think The Beatles were simply an ancient version of One Direction, then this is the place to educate them. Want to do a little shopping before you leave? Head to Bold Street. Leaf through vinyl albums and second-hand books in independent stores and enjoy a hearty bowl of scouse (Liverpool’s famous stew) in a local cafe.

How to get there

Trains take just over two hours from London Euston. By car, the journey from London to Liverpool takes around four and a half hours.

Stonehenge and Bath

What to do

Stonehenge is one of the most famous sights in Britain and an early morning trip (before the hordes turn up) to the mysterious ancient stone circle will enthral children. For more recent history, head to Bath. It’s a beautiful city to walk around – expect plenty of honey-coloured buildings – and you may just feel like you’ve stepped into a Jane Austen novel. The small city also boasts plenty of child-friendly attractions. In The Roman Baths, for example, you’ll find trails for kids of different ages as well as an audio guide narrated by the former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen. As you wander around the museum your family might even run into costumed characters based on real people who lived in the area 2000 years ago.

How to get there

You can drive from London to Stonehenge in around two hours. Alternatively, you can take a train from London Waterloo to Salisbury and from there get a bus to Stonehenge – the overall journey will take just over two hours.

If you’re renting a car, you can drive from London to Bath in around two and a half hours. Trains from London Paddington to Bath take around an hour and a half.

  • 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 achingly charming. Just like a Richard Curtis film. You can take a coach tour of the area and stop in pretty little cafes for cream teas. Little ones who love to run free will be delighted with Blenheim Palace – the gorgeous grounds boast an adventure play park, a miniature train and a maze. In Oxford, get your bearings of the beautiful city on foot or by taking a bus tour. There are also Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland tours.

How to get there

The easiest way to explore different parts of the Cotswolds is by car. You can drive from London to Blenheim Palace in around two hours. You can also take the train from Paddington to Hanborough and catch a bus to Blenheim Palace from there – overall this journey takes around an hour and a half.

If you’re travelling by car, the journey from London to Oxford takes around one hour and forty minutes. You can also get from London to Oxford by train in around an hour.