London may be the bustling Capital with an infinite amount of things to see, try and do – but there’s a whole island yet to explore! 🇬🇧
With medieval castles, crumbling ruins, quaint villages to the English countryside spread around England, there’s bound to be something to suit every kind of traveller just a skip, hop and a jump away.
Here’s my top picks totally worth the train fare to get you started 👇
You might recognise Windsor as the illustrious royal wedding venue of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and preferred place of residence of Queen Elizabeth II.
Windsor castle 🏰 has been home to The Royal Family for over 1,000 years and is the largest occupied castle in the world!
The town also shares its name with the British monarchy, and is a tourism magnet due to its proximity to London, historic sites and sprawling Great Park with 500 free roaming deer at the castle’s doorstep 🦌
🚆 30min from Waterloo station
⏲️ If you only do one thing: visit Windsor castle and explore the Queen’s apartments and St George’s Chapel
🤯 The name ‘Windsor’ comes from Old English ‘windles-ore’ which translates to ‘winch by the riverside’.
Aptly named after the lovely River Cam, a day trip to Cambridge is a welcome treat as you take in the picturesque backdrop the city has played to films like The Theory of Everything and The Crown 🎬
Cambridge is also home one of the UK’s world leading universities whose alumni boasts famous actors like Sacha Baron Cohen, Rachel Weisz and Ian McKellen, and brainiacs like Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking and Alan Turing 🎓
Swap walking shoes for a bicycle as you try to cram a busy agenda in! Some highlights to look forward to are the King’s College Chapel, and of course the university grounds, as well as a mix of things to find and try at Market Square and a view of the town from St Mary’s Church.
🚆 1hr from Kings Cross station
⏲️ If you only do one thing: go punting on the river! It’s the UK’s answer to the romantic canals of Venice
🤯 Legend has it this is where an apple fell on Isaac Newton’s head, becoming the catalyst for one of the most famous laws of physics, Newton’s Theory of Gravity, in 1687.
Dubbed ‘The City of Dreaming Spires’, Oxford is famous for being home to the other of the UK’s world leading universities, as well as its Olde Worlde charm and for having been a favourite haunt for royals and scholars since the 9th century 👑
University or School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? You’ll recognise Christ Church Cathedral’s alter ego as Hogwarts in scenes from Harry Potter ⚡ which draws in throngs of fans year round. Oxford has also attracted other literary geniuses as the likes of Oscar Wilde, CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien who studied at the Bodleian Library.
Spend the day exploring the university campus, baroque architecture at Blenheim Palace, 1,000 years of history at Oxford Castle & Prison, the iconic Radcliffe Camera and Bridge of Sighs, and get lost wandering the Oxford Covered Market.
🚆 90min from Paddington station
⏲️ If you only do one thing: the university campus gives you easy access to the Bodleian Library, Radcliffe Camera and the Botanical Gardens
🤯 Hitler planned to use Oxford as his capital after conquering England – one of the reasons why it wasn’t bombed.
Noticeably different to Surry Hills in Sydney, Surrey Hills (with an ‘e’) sells itself as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’. If you’re after a mix of the natural delights of the English countryside, quaint cottages, crumbling ruins and imposing estates, then it look no further 🍃
Strap on your hiking boots (or wellies if you’re so inclined) and check out trails at Box Hill, Dorking, Haslemere, Leith Hill – whose Tower is the highest point in South East England – and and more 🥾
🚆 90min from Waterloo station
⏲️ If you only do one thing: a wine tour at Denbies Wine Estate, England’s largest vineyard
🤯 40% of the area is covered in woodland and 14% of which is ancient woodland. Keep your eyes peeled for fairies!
White Cliffs of Dover
A little awkwardly dubbed ‘The Gateway to England’ (given the Brexit situation), the White Cliffs of Dover is the first glimpse of the UK (or the last) you’ll see when catching a ferry across the English Channel, and gets its name from the chalk surface which dates back to the Ice Age ❄️
Hike the coastal path for stunning views (and a glimpse of France 🇫🇷 on a clear day), brush up on your history and explore the Churchill Wartime Tunnels and the Fan Bay Deep Shelter, and check out Dover Castle on a nearby hill if you get time.
Don’t bother taking a white rock home as a souvenir – the chalky surface will rub off and make a mess of your bag!
🚆 2hrs from St Pancras International
⏲️ If you only do one thing: 2 mile walk to the South Foreland Lighthouse
🤯 Julius Caesar arrived in 55 BC looking for a suitable landing place for a Roman invasion, but after seeing the armed natives protecting the cliffs he returned with reinforcements a year later.
While Canterbury – the setting of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales – is an easy canter on horseback from London, I’d recommend taking the train 🐴
Wander and wonder at Canterbury Cathedral – a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the world’s most famous places of worship – then visit The Marlowe Theatre and get caught up in the controversy of whether Canterbury-born Christopher Marlowe actually wrote some of Shakespeare’s works 🎭
Originally a Roman settlement, pay a visit to the Canterbury Roman Museum to soak up some history, then soak up some sun by the River Stour, or on foot or cycling down Great Stour Way.
🚆 1hr from Kings Cross station
⏲️ If you only do one thing: shop at the 500-year-old Buttermarket (built on top of ruins and underground tunnels)
🤯 The ‘Canterbury trot’ is named after the way pilgrims rode their horses to the city before night curfew.
The city of Bath gets its creative name from its, well, baths (pun intended). Not only is it home to ancient Roman thermae (baths), it’s also the UK’s unique natural hot spring. Not to mention, there’s also a rooftop natural thermal spa (creatively named Thermae Bath Spa). This must be the cleanest city in the world, right? 🛁
Aside from its aquatic appeal, the whole city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and boasts incredible architectural gems like Pulteney Bridge, Bath Abbey and The Circus.
With many a famous Bathonian to its name such as the likes of Jane Austen, it’s also a city where you might be lucky enough to spot a famous face. John Cleese and Johnny Depp have lived in Bath, and you might recognise its streets in films like The Duchess and Les Miserables🎬
🚆 90min from Paddington station
⏲️ If you only do one thing: drink hot spa water from the fountain at The Pump Room Restaurant – it contains 43 minerals and has a distinct taste
🤯 Pack your metal detector – a hoard of 17,500 Roman coins was found in the foundations of Gainsborough Bath Spa!
Perched on an unassuming hill near Salisbury is Stonehenge, one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments. The site consists of a circle of standing stones and remains shrouded in mystery, even after 5,000 years 📜
There’s plenty of theories and folklore surrounding Stonehenge’s origins and meaning. Scholars mostly agree that it was used as a calendar of sorts due to its significance during the summer and winter solstice, as well as a burial ground – an estimated 200 people are buried at the site ⚰️
In all honesty there’s not a whole lot to do after checking out the stones, but there’s a quiet moment of humility in gazing up at this incredible human feat.
🚆 90min from Waterloo to Salisbury and then a bus, but booking a day tour from London is generally accepted as being great value for money
⏲️ If you only do one thing: pick up an audio guide from the Visitor Centre as signage is limited. Also aim to visit in summer, else you risk being wind blasted!
🤯 A 12th century legend claims that giants placed Stonehenge on a mountain in Ireland, before Merlin the wizard magically moved it to England.
Bristol is a thriving city and a popular residence for university students and expats – especially due to its close proximity to and similarity to London, just in more manageable proportions.
Famous Bristolians include actors like Jeremy Irons and Maisie Williams, literary heavyweight J K Rowling, as well as the elusive street artist Banksy and even the infamous Blackbeard the Pirate! 🏴☠️
Start the day early or consider an overnight stay in Bristol as there’s an infinite amount of activities to keep you busy. From food and fashion, strolls along the Harbourside and through the Old City, to a hike up to the Clifton Suspension Bridge as well as hunting down Banksy’s work all over town, there’s a lot of ground to cover!
🚆 2hrs from Paddington
⏲️ If you only do one thing: check out Banksy’s Girl with the Pierced Eardrum at the Harbourside
🤯 Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous book Treasure Island features many locations around Bristol.