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6 Can't-Miss Side Trips From London

Take a short jaunt to these enticing spots within reach of England's vibrant capital.

U.S. News & World Report

6 Can't-Miss Side Trips From London

Sunset in Houses Of Parliament - London
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Explore charming towns and the scenic countryside outside of London.

London is a spectacular place to visit any time of year, with plenty of culture and a wealth of things to see and do, but if you're planning an extended holiday in the bustling capital, carve out some time for a few quick getaways outside the city. With extraordinary scenery and unique activities and attractions, the surrounding English countryside and smaller towns offer a different perspective of the U.K. Plus, with the current strength of the U.S. dollar against the pound, now is a great time to score a bargain. Here are six enticing spots within easy reach from London.
The Radcliffe Camera building at Oxford University is richly illuminated with evening light on a partly cloudy December evening.
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(Getty Images)

Oxford, England

Just an hour train ride from London, this historic city is best known for the prestigious University of Oxford. The city of dreaming spires has long been home to scholars and its 12th-century medieval center is one of the many attractions to visit in this academia-focused town. A compact city, the best way to see major sights such as the Blenheim Palace and the university is on foot or by bicycle. And the University of Oxford's library, Radcliffe Camera, is one of the most beautiful in the world. Book a room at the fashionable Old Bank Hotel, located in the city center, for easy accessibility to Oxford highlights.
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Explore charming towns and the scenic countryside outside of London.

London is a spectacular place to visit any time of year, with plenty of culture and a wealth of things to see and do, but if you're planning an extended holiday in the bustling capital, carve out some time for a few quick getaways outside the city. With extraordinary scenery and unique activities and attractions, the surrounding English countryside and smaller towns offer a different perspective of the U.K. Plus, with the current strength of the U.S. dollar against the pound, now is a great time to score a bargain. Here are six enticing spots within easy reach from London.

Oxford, England

Just an hour train ride from London, this historic city is best known for the prestigious University of Oxford. The city of dreaming spires has long been home to scholars and its 12th-century medieval center is one of the many attractions to visit in this academia-focused town. A compact city, the best way to see major sights such as the Blenheim Palace and the university is on foot or by bicycle. And the University of Oxford's library, Radcliffe Camera, is one of the most beautiful in the world. Book a room at the fashionable Old Bank Hotel, located in the city center, for easy accessibility to Oxford highlights.

Cambridge, England

Another historic center of academia, Cambridge is known as one of the prettiest cities in the U.K. Smaller than Oxford, Cambridge's top attractions are easily accessible on foot. An hour train ride from London, the city's best-known attraction is the University of Cambridge, but there are also museums and galleries featuring both classic and contemporary art and a wide range of festivals, especially in the summer. Attend the Choral Evensong to hear the renowned Choir of King's College Chapel, which is played most days when school is in session. Cambridge can be visited as a daytrip, but there are plenty of historic and modern hotels for an overnight stay.

The Cotswolds, England

This charming region takes just about an hour and a half to reach by train from London and includes the counties of Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire. The picturesque villages with stone cottages, manor homes and rolling hills appear to be taken straight out of a movie. Stroll through the back roads and villages on the Cotswold Way National Trail for spectacular views. Bourton-on-the-Water is one of the most charming towns, and Bibury, with its main street, Arlington Row, is a classic representation of a Cotswold village. For a memorable dinner, go to Three Ways House Hotel in Chipping Campden when they host a meeting of The Pudding Club.

Bath, England

Just an hour-and-a-half train ride from London, Bath is known primarily for its famous Roman Baths, but there's much more to do in this walkable city. Take a stroll along the Bath Skyline Walk or climb to the top of Bath Abbey for excellent city views. There are also several museums to explore, including an intriguing collection of historic and contemporary dresses at the Fashion Museum, Bath. English Tea is traditionally served at the famous Pump Room (next to the Roman Baths), and at the end of the day, stop for a locally brewed ale at the 300 year-old Green Tree Pub, the tiniest pub in town.

Bristol, England

Just a 30-minute drive from Bath, Bristol is a study in contrasts with its range of architectural styles: the fortified city and castle dating back to medieval times with Norman influences, Tudor manor houses of the wealthy, Georgian-era architecture and even Bristol Byzantine architecture, which is unique to the city. Stroll along the River Avon to see the development of modern Bristol. Standout spots include Blaise Castle House Museum and the Bristol Old Vic, the longest continually running theater in the English-speaking world. For an exceptional dinner, make reservations at Casamia, where Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias wows diners with his molecular playfulness.

Studland, England

Located in Dorset (just over three hours from London), this area lures travelers with its ideal climate and beautiful coastal towns. The Pig on the Beach, a whimsical 23-room country house located on Studland Bay, offers spectacular views of Old Harry Rocks, the most easterly point of the Jurassic Coast in southern England and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Other highlights include walks along the fossil-filled sandy beaches and visits to the nearby Isle of Purbeck and historic Corfe Castle. Dine at their greenhouse restaurant, the Conservatory, and enjoy fresh produce from its garden, which features ingredients gathered by in-house foragers and fresh local seafood, including Studland lobster, caught in the bay.
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