England

Places to visit near London: 8 easy escapes from the capital

Seek out the seaside towns, historic hubs, and areas of great natural beauty that are all within easy reach of the UK's capital city.

Whether you’re staying in London for a while or traveling through, it’s worth taking the time to venture outside the capital and experience another side of this part of the world. By hiring a car or traveling out of the city by train, you can easily reach a range of celebrated locations that attract visitors through the seasons.

Stand-out places to visit near London span some of the UK’s most revered historic cities and charming seafront towns, with expanses of verdant countryside providing the ideal setting for outdoor pursuits like hiking and cycling. From inland getaways to seaside retreats, these are the destinations worth the extra journey.

Oxfordshire: Take to the water in Henley-on-Thames

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Henley-on-Thames sits on the edge of an idyllic stretch of the River Thames, amid mile upon mile of Oxfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire countryside, including the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Each summer brings an influx of visitors to the 12th-century market town’s Royal Regatta, while year-round people come for the river life. Hire a kayak, rowing boat, or easy-to-drive outboard motor boat to make your own way up the picturesque waterway.

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East Sussex: Uncover the maritime history of Rye and seek out Camber Sands

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Cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses give this medieval town of East Sussex its enduring appeal. This harbor town is also just two miles from the sea at the confluence of the Rother, Tillingham and Brede rivers. This setting makes Rye the closest town—and also connected by bus—to East Sussex’s only sand dune system, Camber Sands. People come to this idyllic, two-mile golden stretch of beach to spot seals, kite surf, and set out on exhilarating rigid inflatable boat (RIB) tours.

Hampshire: Explore the forested landscape of New Forest National Park

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The New Forest is a vast expanse of pasture, heathland, coastline, and forest, which now forms a National Park across southwest Hampshire. Lyndhurst is considered the capital of The New Forest—William the Conqueror established this site as a royal hunting ground in 1079, and it has been visited by kings and queens over the years.

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Kent: Sample the seafood of the traditional fishing town Whitstable

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A seaside town on the Kent coast, just five miles north of Canterbury, Whitstable draws visitors for its traditional fishing harbor and beach lined with colorful beach huts, as well as its independent shops, thriving art scene, and locally caught seafood. People travel from far and wide to dine at the 1856-founded Wheelers Oyster Bar, Michelin-starred Sportsman, and 18th-century oyster grading house turned restaurant, The Lobster Shack.

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Somerset: Explore atmospheric sites dating back to Roman times in Bath

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Named for its famous ancient baths, Somerset’s largest city, Bath, attracts visitors from across the globe for one of the best-preserved Roman remains in the world. Today, the city’s Roman remains and historic architecture are joined by an abundance of cafes, restaurants, and independent shops selling books, crafts, local produce, and art. All of this is idyllically set in the lush valley of the River Avon, opening up opportunities for activities like walking and cycling in the countryside.

Cambridgeshire: Punt down the River Cam in Cambridge university city

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Cambridge is undoubtedly best known for being home to the 1209-established University of Cambridge. Tourists come from around the world to see inside King’s College Chapel, look up at the Bridge of Sighs by St. John’s College and Mathematical Bridge next to Queen’s College, and peruse the University of Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum. You can take in the colleges on a River Cam punting tour, then hire a bike, or join a bike tour, to see the city on two wheels.

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Oxfordshire: Find inspiration in Oxford's museums and historic colleges

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Often referred to as the City of Dreaming Spires, Oxford is celebrated for the architecture of its 12th-century established university’s many colleges. You can boat along the river, make the most of cycle hire, and join a sightseeing bus or walking tour before seeking out additional tourist sites like The University of Oxford Botanic Garden and The Oxford Artisan Distillery. Outside the city, easily accessible sites within the surrounding countryside include the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace, which is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and set amid 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland.

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Warwickshire: Pay homage to William Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon

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The 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon invites visitors in to discover a number of famous locations connected to the playwright. Stratford Town Walk introduces visitors to Stratford-upon-Avon’s history with walking tours of the town, as well as ghost walks. You can also see the medieval market town from the water by taking a canal and river tour starting in the canal basin. Set aside enough time to explore the interactive Mechanical Art & Design (MAD) Museum and Tudor World living history museum.

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