London is a fantastic city and you can easily spend weeks here without seeing everything. If you visit the UK though and only ever see London you aren’t really getting a full perspective of the country and many areas outside of London have their own customs, culture and traditions.
Even if you take a day trip from London you will notice the difference, not least in the pace of life in the rural areas around the city.
England has a lot of history that happened outside of London as well and due to the ongoing development in London theirs is a lot more to see in places such as Canterbury of England’s Medieval past or in the case of Hever Castle its Tudor past.
Day Trips from London
Brighton and Hove
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The city of Brighton and Hove is made up of the two towns each with its own identity though they do merge as you drive through. Hove is relatively sedate but still has the same great shingles beaches and clean water. Hove may be more serene and good for families you can also enjoy the cricket and Sussex’s ground here.
Brighton though has a lot more to offer both families, couples and groups of friends than Hove. Brighton is known as a party town with justification but there is also a lot to do during the day. There’s the beach of course and Brighton Beach is good for swimming with plenty of lifeguards as well as facilities like kiosks and toilets. It’s the extras that Brighton has though like the Sealife Centre and the Pier that mean that a day trip may not be long enough. The pier not only has arcades and amusements but a permanent fun-fair, including dodgems, a rollercoaster and other rides at the far end of the pier.
If you head into the city centre the shopping is great with big brand stores but also the Lanes with lots of quirky independent shops. The same areas by night are great for going out; Brighton has some niche clubs such as the great Casablanca Jazz club but also mega clubs such as Oceania.
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If you visit one castle in England then you can’t go far wrong with Hever castle. Both the castle and its grounds offer a lto to do and you can easily fill a day here.
Get in by coach, car or by train to the nearby Hever train station, once here you can either start with the gardens or the castle itself. Hever is most famous as the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife. The castle was actually originally built in around 1270 but much of it is Tudor and it is what a Tudor castle would have looked like that you will see as you look around.
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The gardens are extensive and include a great Yew maze that is great fun for children and adults alike. The walled rose garden is a better place to sit and relax though and maybe take a break part way through your visit.
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Canterbury in Kent is a popular day trip from London and there are plenty of very good value coach trips that include a tour guide or you could travel by train or car.
Canterbury is one of England’s oldest cities, originally Roman, and is the centre of the Church of England, which the Archbishop of Canterbury leads. The Cathedral itself is open daily and is the infamous site of the murder of St Thomas Becket. Though a Cathedral has been here since 597 AD it was rebuilt entirely in 1070-1077 and largely in 1174 following a fire at which point it acquired its Gothic style.
The Cathedral sits within the city walls that enclose the historic heart of the city, and are themselves an interesting attraction. Within the walls, though there are modern stores and restaurants, the historic feel of the city has been kept and there are several interesting old buildings including half timbered houses and those with the traditional Kentish style of red ceramic tile cladding on the walls.
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When taking in the history of Oxford you can’t get away from the role the university has played in the development of the city. The university has bought a lot of money to Oxford since it was established, at some point before 1096, the result is a beautiful city of lime stone and sandstone.
Oxford is known as the city of dreaming spires and has many beautiful churches as well as old university and civic buildings to take in. The University’s colleges in some cases allow tourists to visit, check when in advance though; Merton College and Balliol College are the oldest dating from the 13th century and featuring beautiful Gothic features.
The museums in Oxford are here because of the university but they of course bring in tourists as well and you should visit the Ashmolean if you have even a passing interest in history to view the Egyptian, Greek and Roman collections among others. The Natural History Museum is also a great place to visit and if you want to learn more about the city itself visit the Museum of Oxford that includes a lot on the university’s history too.
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Windsor is one of the Queen’s homes but there are plenty of other famous and rich local residents as well, the Queen however is the only one whose home you can actually visit.
Windsor Castle is the world’s largest and oldest castle to be used as a residence and the Queen probably spends more time here than at any other residence. Keep an eye out for the flag flying to show when the Queen is in residence. On a tour you can see a lot of the most interesting parts of the castle though, which dates from 1075, including the staterooms, which aren’t always open: these are the most magnificent rooms and are still used regularly for state banquets.
The town of Windsor is well worth visiting as well, small and perfectly kept, the Guildhall and Windsor Parish Church are worth seeing and nearby Eton College is open to tourists at certain times of year.
A guided coach tour may be the best way to see these places but look out for tours with stop offs as well, in places such as traditional English villages, to get an even broader view of the country or consider hiring a car to get round a few sites in one day.