Best Day Trips From London

Best Day Trips From London
Best Day Trips From London

Of course we could never get enough of the brimming history and charm of London, but sometimes it’s nice to wander outside the city and explore some of the quaint towns just waiting to be discovered. With a diverse culinary scene across towns, ditch the old stoggy British eating stereotypes, and sample some of the coolest restaurants, bars and adorable pubs while you’re there too.

From north to south, here’s 11 of the best day trips from London that’ll only take you a couple of hours to reach.

Brighton, Sussex

Oh, colourful seaside Brighton. You can hop on a direct train from London Victoria and be in Brighton in around an hour. Bincho Yakitori is an in-the-know favourite for flavour-filled snacks and skewers cooked on open fire. Then there’s Kindling, championing the area’s zero-waste food scene. Expect foraged ingredients and an ever-changing menu.

Shelter Hall is a jumble of bars (two) and eateries (seven) with live music and beach views (as well as the structural skeleton of Brighton’s collapsed West Pier). While in this delightful coastal city, don’t miss the chance to explore The Lanes. This maze of shopping streets is packed with independent shops and boutiques—ideal for souvenir hunting.

Image credit: Shelter Hall | Instagram

Canterbury, Kent

Kent’s foodie renaissance isn’t slowing down for anything or anyone, and tales of Canterbury’s culinary chops are spreading far and wide. With walls whispering its party-filled past, The Pig at Bridge Place now sports a quirky antique vibe, is under an hour from central London, and promises you won’t need to leave the premises all weekend if you don’t want to. Aside from sampling the onsite restaurant and its 25-mile menu (as in, nothing sourced from outside 40km), there’s time to happily dawdle through The Pig’s kitchen garden or enjoy a spa treatment at the Potting Shed spa. Should you wish to leave, Canterbury town is worth a solid exploration session. The Bridge Arms on the high street does a banging Sunday roast, too. 

Image credit: The Pig at Bridge Palace | Instagram

Whitstable, Kent

Now we’re in oyster territory. If New Orleans and the English seaside had a baby, it would be Whitstable—which is just shy of 100km from London. Pep yourself up with a coffee from bookstore-cafe Blueprint, and book lunch or dinner at Whitstable Oyster Company. The Lobster Shack is a no-brainer for some shellfish and fat, golden chippies you should douse in salt and malty vinegar. Be sure to stroll along the pebbled seafront, dotted with oyster beds and colourful beach huts. And don’t miss The Twelve Taps, a cute little bar, slinging cocktails and craft beers. Don’t be surprised if you leave with a take-away draught of their tasty brew. 

Whitstable Oyster Company Image credit: Whitstable Oyster Company | Instagram

Margate, Kent

Yep, another Kent town is cropping up. And it’s only one hour 45 mins from London. Margate is often called ‘Shoreditch-on-sea’ (do with that what you will), but it’s hard not to love with its lovely locals, buzzy food scene, beautiful beaches with more of those colourful beach huts, and of course its retro theme park, Dreamland. Now, the eats. Forts Cafe has Aussie-standard coffee, big-as-your-head sandwiches, and an eclectic selection of beers to try. Peter’s Fish Factory is the local institution (and absolutely work the queue). Load up on fresh seafood and no-frills, salty chippies, before exploring the wonders of the town’s mysterious Shell Grotto.  

Peter's Fish Factory fish and chips on the beach

Image credit: Peter’s Fish Factory | Instagram

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

Known by the locals simply as ‘Bury’, this East-Anglian town is just two hours from London and has caught the eye and stomach of many a food fanatic in recent years. The main culprit for this, Pea Porridge, is the proud owner of the only Michelin star in Suffolk. You’ll find Italian, French, and Middle-Eastern influences on the ever-changing menu, plenty of which are cooked over a charcoal oven. A pint or two at historic pub The One Bull should be on your itinerary, and The Angel Hotel is a fine place to restore your eating energy in a decadent copper bathtub.

Image credit: Pea Porridge | Instagram

Bristol, South West England

Not just the backdrop for Banksy’s art, quirky Bristol is always seven steps ahead of the trend, especially when that trend is food. To make things better, it’s only around an hour-and-a-half from London. Make a pitstop at Hart’s Bakery for a strong coffee and flaky pastry or squishy sourdough sandwich. Over in Redland, teeny restaurant Wilsons seats 16, which is likely why locals recommend you book early. From there, kick back and enjoy the farm-fresh-focused menu and biodynamic wine selection. Hot tip: Get among the locals at The Gallimaufry, a food-forward pub known for its live music. It was once described as “decorated in such a way that you don’t need your Tinder date to say a word to you, just look around”, which is enough for us. But the beer selection is top notch and the summer terrace is more than a satisfying spot for sundowners.

Image credit: Wilsons | Instagram

Bath, Somerset

Bath’s foodie reputation is bubbling along nicely next to local icons like the ancient Roman Baths and rooftop Thermae Bath Spa. The Queensberry Hotel is beautiful, well-located, and home to the stunning Olive Tree restaurant. But it’s Oak that will have you jumping up and down – with its elegant vegetarian menu. Once again, book early. Don’t forget these little gems either: swing by Sally Lunn’s for a traditional Bath Bun, and pop into LJ Hugs or Chai Walla for some award-winning street food before you head back on the one-hour and 20-minute journey to London.

Image credit: Oak Restaurant Bath | Instagram

York, Yorkshire

It’s the namesake of the crispy, bready bad boys you’ll often find on the side of your roast, as well as proper strong tea and classic Yorkshire ales. And yes, it’s another recent rumbling in the UK foodie scene. Just under two hours by fast train from London, York is home to restaurants like the fun-filled Skosh and arty haunts like restaurant-cafe, Partisan. A visit to Shambles Market for street food (find Los Moros for modern North African fare) should be mandatory, as should a deli platter and wine flight at Pairings to cap off your day. 

Pairings wine and cheese flight York

Image credit: Pairings York | Instagram

Birmingham, West Midlands

Not just the city for Peaky Blinders fanatics to immerse themselves in the world of the Shelby’s, Birmingham has a quietly-hyping food scene and is just over an hour from London by direct train. There’s excellent coffee and brunch at Medicine, and a flourishing craft beer scene—Burning Soul and Attic Brewing Co are our top picks. Pop over to the trendy Digbeth and explore the eccentric shops then hit up Baked in Brick for bangin’ pizza. If you can time your visit with one of their Sunday lunch pop ups, do it. For the dine dining diehards, Purnell’s has your name (and a Michelin star) on it. 

Purnell's restaurant West Midlands BirminghamImage credit: Purnell’s | Instagram

Edinburgh, Scotland

Okay, call this a technicality if you must. But Edinburgh is just over an hour from London by plane (or roughly four-and-a-half hours by train), and is an easily achievable weekend escape. The city offers a pleasantly enormous buffet of foodie flavour after you’ve climbed Arthur’s seat. Quality coffee is (thankfully) quite easy to come by, but Fortitude is our pick; say “yes” to a morning bun. Fine diners will love Noto’s creative, modern-Scottish menu. But for a more casual chow-down, jet over to Edinburgh Street Food. There are 10 independent vendors and three bars in the collective, including Junk; whose crispy-potatoey-soprasada-ey dish, ‘Spanish Armada’ won them the best snack title at the 2022 European Street Food Awards. Don’t miss Homies Detroit-style pizza, either.

Fortitude Coffee Edinburgh ScotlandImage credit: Fortitude Coffee | Instagram

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