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    18 Brilliant Day Trip Destinations Within An Hour Of London

    Big adventure close to home.

    1. Painshill Park

    Flickr: pedweb, Flickr: jamesstringer, Flickr: dgeezer

    Journey details: London Waterloo – Cobham & Stoke D'Abernon

    Duration: Approx. 40 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £11

    There's a lot going on at this 18th-century landscaped park. From grottoes and waterwheels to a "ruined" abbey, a Gothic temple and a Roman ampitheatre, you'll easily lose a day exploring Painshill's 250 acres of curiosities.

    More information here.

    2. Canterbury

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    Journey details: London St Pancras – Canterbury West

    Duration: Approx. 45 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £33.80

    Canterbury's ornate Gothic cathedral is obviously a major draw, but the student town has plenty in the way of boutique shopping and trendy eats along its cobbled medieval streets. Plus there's the Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, home to a mummified cat and a pretty impressive collection of cow paintings.

    More information here.

    3. Chatham Dockyard

    Flickr: lynetter, Flickr: milesbanbery, Flickr: iknow-uk

    Journey details: London Victoria – Chatham

    Duration: Approx. 45 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £17.60

    This historic dockyard built ships for the British Empire for more than 400 years. Now it's home to over 100 historic sites, and monuments where you can explore old vessels, have a go on a Victorian rope walk and learn about the sea-faring days of old. It's a popular set for TV shows and movies, too, so don't be surprised if you come across a film crew while you're there.

    More information here.

    4. Guildford

    Flickr: tim_uk, Flickr: donaldjudge, Flickr: donaldjudge

    Journey details: London Waterloo – Guildford

    Duration: Approx. 30 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £17.40

    With curious black and white buildings, a 400-year-old pub, and a cathedral that took a starring role in The Omen, Guildford certainly has some old-school horror movie vibes to it, but everything else about the pretty county town is decidedly pleasant. Hang out by the water at Dapdune Wharf, or explore the 16th and 17th-century manor houses with exhibits and landscaped gardens.

    More information here.

    5. Brighton

    Flickr: henry_hemming, Flickr: subherwal, Flickr: herry

    Journey details: London Victoria – Brighton

    Duration: Approx. one hour

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £29.40

    Brighton is like a playground for grown-ups, where art, music, nightlife, and quirky shopping collide in one big seaside explosion of colour. Amble along the Laines, stroll along the perfect pebble beach and then enjoy a pint of the local thing with a lovely sea view.

    More information here.

    6. The Chiltern Hills

    Flickr: lynxman, Flickr: good_day, Flickr: homemadewebsites

    Journey details: London Marylebone – Great Missenden

    Duration: Approx. 40 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £12.30

    For a taste of countryside living, explore the peaceful Chiltern woodlands surrounding Buckinghamshire's Great Missenden, then head back to the chocolate-box village to enjoy a well-earned pub lunch. Keep an eye open for references to Roald Dahl, who lived here once upon a time.

    More information here.

    7. Cambridge

    Flickr: romanboed, Flickr: nigel_brown, Flickr: judepics

    Journey details: London Kings Cross – Cambridge

    Duration: Approx. 50 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £26.20

    If you want Oxford ambiance without the madding crowds, head to the slightly smaller but arguably prettier Cambridge, where you can get your fill of grand architecture and river japes, and check out contemporary art hotspot Kettle's Yard.

    More information here.

    8. Windsor

    Flickr: juancarlospeaguda, Flickr: karen_roe, Flickr: alessandrogrussu

    Journey details: London Paddington – Windsor & Eton Central

    Duration: Approx. 35 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £11.70

    Come for the castle, stay for absolutely loads of other stuff, including Legoland, Queen Mary's Dollhouse, the stunning St George's Chapel, boat rides, and markets.

    More information here.

    9. Hever Castle

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    Journey details: London Bridge – Hever

    Duration: Approx. 45 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £13

    There are more than 700 years of history packed into the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, which features a water maze, a boating lake, and beautifully landscaped gardens as well as ornate rooms and galleries. Visit on select dates in the summer to watch real-life jousting, too.

    More information here.

    10. Colchester

    Flickr: davehamster, Flickr: tyleruk2000, Flickr: 17989497@N00

    Journey details: London Liverpool Street – Colchester

    Duration: Approx. 45 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £34.50

    Before London, there was Colchester. Britain's oldest recorded town and former capital city is packed with activities, including a renowned zoo, museums, a stately castle, and crabbing at the nearby Mersea Island, which is a haven for seafood fans.

    More information here.

    11. Warner Bros. Studio

    Flickr: myfrozenlife, Flickr: yaketyyakyak, Flickr: tipsfortravellers

    Journey details: London Euston – Watford Junction, then take the shuttle bus

    Duration: Approx. 20 minutes to Watford Junction, the shuttle takes 15 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £11.90, plus £2.50 for the shuttle

    Walk in the footsteps of Harry Potter and explore the wonders of the wizarding world at Warner Bros. Studio Tour, which features original costumes, authentic props, and breathtaking sets from the blockbuster movies.

    More information here.

    12. Henley-on-Thames

    Flickr: timo_w2s, Flickr: matthewhartley369, Flickr: mr_bsod

    Journey details: London Paddington – Henley-on-Thames (change at Twyford)

    Duration: Approx. one hour

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £17.70

    Henley-on-Thames (home of the famous Henley Regatta) is a picturesque riverside spot, perfect for lazy afternoons watching the world go by from one of the town's many waterside pubs and cafes. If you feel like a bit of culture, check out the rowing museum, Bohun art gallery, or Tudor country house Grey's Court.

    More information here.

    13. Box Hill

    Flickr: 23967095@N00, Flickr: dgeezer

    Journey details: London Victoria – Box Hill & Westhumble

    Duration: Approx. 55 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £9.50

    If the Big Smoke has you hankering for a bit more personal space, you'll find it in abundance at The National Trust's Box Hill estate. Nestled within The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Box Hill offers a variety of walks for all abilities, all guaranteeing breathtaking views.

    More information here.

    14. Southend-on-Sea

    Flickr: gareth1953, Flickr: benidormone, Flickr: marc-petherlongman

    Journey details: London Fenchurch Street – Southend Central

    Duration: Approx. one hour

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £18.30

    Classic British seaside fun at its best, Southend boasts the world's longest pier (1.34 miles, fact fans) plus the usual fairground rides, attractions and arcades along its sandy beach. Take a ride on the century-old funicular for sweeping coastal views, at just 50 pence a pop.

    More information here.

    15. RHS Wisley

    Flickr: fotorus, Flickr: matt-adams, Flickr: matt-adams

    Journey details: London Waterloo – West Byfleet, then a 15-minute taxi ride

    Duration: Approx. 30 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £13.40

    The Surrey branch of the Royal Horticultural Society is packed with decorative gardens and greenhouses full of flowering plants and trees. Make sure you stop by the Bicentenary Glasshouse, home to all kinds of weird and wonderful plants from around the world.

    More information here.

    16. Bicester Shopping Village

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    Journey details: London Marylebone – Bicester Village

    Duration: Approx. 45 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £27.20

    For a break from the shopping carnage of Oxford Street, head to Bicester Village. Here you can leisurely browse through more than 160 designer outlet stores, and after you've snapped up a bargain, recharge your batteries at one of dozens of different cafes and restaurants.

    More information here.

    17. Leeds Castle

    Flickr: rosedavies, Flickr: wasd42, Flickr: karen_roe

    Journey details: London Victoria – Bearsted, then take the shuttle bus run by Spot Travel

    Duration: Approx. one hour

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £19.70, plus £5 for the shuttle

    Not to be confused with a castle in actual Leeds, this castle (in Kent) has been dubbed 'The Loveliest Castle in the World'. It's 900 years old and boasts a maze, a grotto, falconry, adventure golf, and a pretty impressive stronghold playground for kids. Oh, and there's a museum of dog collars (!?). You can even have afternoon tea in the castle dining room.

    More information here.

    18. Hitchin Lavender Farm

    Flickr: judepics, Flickr: 12608538@N03, Flickr: kaienong

    Journey details: London St Pancras – Hitchin, then a 6-minute taxi ride

    Duration: Approx. 30 minutes

    Off-Peak Day Return fare: £20.10

    Open during the summer months, Hitchin lavender farm is home to 25 rolling miles of the pretty purple flower. Pick your own lavender, sunflowers or wildflowers from just £6 per bag, or bring a picnic and enjoy the farm's sweet smell in the sunshine. You can also stock up on natural skincare goodies from the farm shop while you're there.

    More information here.

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