No matter how long you have on your London itinerary with kids we recommend adding at least one day trip into the mix to make the most of your visit. In this guide we round up the best day trips from London with kids including the best cities, castles, beaches and more to visit.
Best Day Trips From London with Kids
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Best Day Trips From London with Kids
Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour
If you are traveling London with kids of a certain age then you are likely to have a Harry Potter fan in your group. There are loads of things to do in London itself if you are a Harry Potter fan but no visit to the city for a Potterhead would be complete without visiting and doing the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour.
One of the great things about visiting the Studio Tour is that it is a day trip that is good no matter what time of year you visit. It is also one of the best day trips from London to take in Winter as this is the time when you can experience the magical Hogwarts in the Snow. Here you will find the Studio decorated like the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and will see the giant Hogwarts model covered in snow.
Top Tip: No matter what time of year you go tickets need to be booked well in advance. Tours are timed and numbers limited to make sure everyone has a good experience and therefore it can sell out quickly especially at weekends and at peak travel times. Be sure to book your tickets well in advance to avoid disappointment. If you are struggling to find tickets then it is worth checking a variety of tour operators and checking options both with and without transfers as this is a great way to find tickets when other options are sold out.
How to Get there: It is really easy to get to the Studio Tours from London. You can catch a mainline train from London Euston to Watford Junction and then transfer onto a sort shuttle bus to the studio. This costs less that 3GBP per person but MUST be paid in cash. As Harry Potter Studio Tour tickets are timed it is essential that you allow enough time for your journey with some contingency time.
Also while it is possible to do this journey on public transport you might want to consider getting tickets with transfers as they will be responsible for correctly timing your day and not missing your slot but also because tickets can sell out fast and if you are struggling to find tickets then tickets with transfers might be your only option left.
Note about the Tour: This experience is not like Harry Potter World in Universal Studios. You won’t find any rides here. Instead this will show you the behind the scenes of making the films. You will see models, sets, costume and more. It is a great day out but if you are expecting rides then expectations will need to be adjusted.
When we lived in London we were annual pass holders at Kew Gardens which needless to say means we were big fans! Again, there is in my opinion no bad times to visit Kew Gardens as there are several palm and temperate houses which means there are always plants in bloom whatever time of year you visit. On top of that there are great seasonal events such as Christmas at Kew – some amazing London Christmas illuminations. But for me one of the best times to visit is Spring when the cherry blossoms and roses start to bloom.
This is always a big hit with my daughter as there are plenty of places for kids to run through as well as a newly opened and amazing children’s garden. On top of that be sure to check the programme when you arrive especially if you are traveling at weekends or during peak season as there are usually special events. For more details on visiting Kew with kids click here!
Top Tip: I always recommend buying your tickets for Kew in advance as the queues can get very long especially at peak times. Having a ticket in advance bypasses these queues.
How to get here: Take the overground or district line (green line) to Kew Gardens station. From there it is a short walk to the gardens entrance. The walk from the station takes you through Kew Village where there are coffee shops and also places to pick up picnic food or stop for lunch. For those wanting something historical to accompany their visit do try the Maids of Honour Cafe.
Stonehenge is one of the UK’s most iconic sites and is actually an easy half day trip from London. On top of the stones, there is also a museum and a recreation Neolitihc village which kids will enjoy.
How to Get There: There is a direct train from London Waterloo to Salisbury and from there you will have to transfer onto a shuttle bus to take you to the visitors centre. There are also lots of organised tours to Stonehenge with central London pick ups – click here for options.
Best Castle Day Trips from London with Kids
Hampton Court Palace
This is another of my favourite day trips from London and is the closest castle to the city. If you are a royal history fan then this is a must do day trip! Hampton Court Palace – originally the home of Cardinal Wolsey and then Henry VIII is a great place for those wanting to learn about Tudor history. Along with historic rooms there is also an extensive garden to explore swell as a working Tudor kitchen which is always my kids favourite thing to do there.
On top of that there is an amazing play area called the Magic Garden which you will struggle to tear your kids away from so I usually do this at the end rather than the start of the day. Not all tickets will include access to the maze and gardens however this can be purchased as an add on to your ticket on your arrival.
Top Tip: Be sure to buy your tickets in advance as the queues again can get really big especially in Summer.
How to get here: Direct train from Waterloo to Hampton Court Station that takes around 30 minutes. From there it is a short walk. However if you have more time then I would recommend heading to Richmond or Kingston and jumping on the boat down the Thames to the Palace. I love doing this as it feels like the traditional way to get to the palace and you also get to go through Teddington Lock an experience in itself.
For more information on how to plan and what to do on a Hampton Court Day trip click here!
After Hampton Court, Windsor is my next favourite castle day trip from London. Windsor Castle is still home to the Queen and also to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle who also had their wedding in 2018 in the Windsor Castle St Georges Chapel. Windsor is a brilliant castle to visit for those who love royal watching as they will get to step in the footsteps of royals. There is also a fabulous audio guide which helps to understand the history of Windsor.
Last time we went to Windsor Castle it was a week before the wedding of Harry and Meghan and the whole town was decked out in Union Jack flags. However we hadn’t brought our tickets in advance and ended up in a painful queue so take my advice and grab those tickets in advance.
Once you have finished the castle it is worth exploring the Windsor town centre for its shopping archives, or stop in a pub for lunch – we normally head to the Duchess of Cambridge. And after that walk across the bridge into Eton where you can see the historic and famous school.
If castles aren’t your kids bag you could also consider heading to Windsor to visit Legoland Windsor. We have yet to do this but it is on our list. Be sure to buy your tickets for Legoland in advance online HERE!
How to get there: There are direct trains from Paddington and Marylebone Station though some services may require a change at Reading. It takes just under an hour to reach Windsor station and then it is a short walk to the castle.
Leeds Castle is known as the Prettiest Castle in the World and it is easy to see why when you get there! Once home to Catherine of Aragon, this castle is a great place to learn about English history through the ages. It is also one of the most photogenic castles in the world. It has a stunning moat and extensive grounds and there are even options to glamp in the grounds.
How to Get there: Catch the train from London Victoria to Bearsted Station and then there is a quick transfer to the castle by bus. There are also loads of organised tours to the castle. There are also options to do a full day tour of Leeds Castle with Canterbury combined – click here for details.
City day trips from London with Kids
York is absolutely my favourite city in the whole of the UK. In fact I was a York local for a while and it is a city we keep returning to with our daughter as it is a brilliant city to visit with kids. York with kids is a really easy city to get around as it has a centrally located train stations and all of the main attractions are within walking distance from there. Some of my daughter’s favourite things to do in York include taking a cruise down the river, visiting the Jorvik Centre ( a Viking museum) and strolling around the historic centre known as the shambles. On top of that there is the National Railway Museum and even a museum dedicated to chocolate.
Top Tip: If you have longer in your London itinerary then I would hearty recommend adding more time here and perhaps spending a whole weekend in York.
How to Get to York from London: Although York is in the North of England, I still recommend getting the train. In fact when I lived in London I commuted to York once a week by train. The train takes just under two hours and is direct from London Kings Cross. Be sure you book your tickets in advance online to get the best price and reserve a seat.
Oxford Day Trip from London with Kids
Oxford is another great city that can be easily reached from London. Known for its university, the city has loads to do for kids especially for those with an interest in Harry Potter as many of the films were shot in and around the university colleges. The university colleges are open to the public but depending on when you go will depend which colleges are open so it is worth checking before you arrive. However ones that Harry Potter fans should prioritise are Christchurch which as the Great Hall used in Harry Potter and also New College where many exteriors for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire were shot.
On top of Harry potter Oxford also has some great museums including the Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers and the Oxford Museum of Natural History which children will love and a small but quaint botanical gardens.
How to Get here: Oxford from London can be reached in about an hour with trains from London Marylebone and London Paddington. There are direct trains however some might also require a change in Oxford.
For another historic town that needs to be on your UK bucket list look no further than Canterbury. Perhaps the main reason to visit Canterbury is to wander around the centre which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but the jewel in the crown of this beautiful city is undoubtedly the cathedral which attracts visitors from all around the world! Open from 9am and costing £12.50 for adults, £11.50 for over 65s or £8.50 for under 18s it is best to arrive first thing in the morning before the day tripping crowds and coach tours arrive. A must for every visitor is to stand on the spot of Thomas Beckett’s murder.
Canterbury is also all of charming cafes and restaurants.
How to Get there: Catch the train from London Victoria to Canterbury. The train takes less than two hours.
This is definitely another must visit when in England. Like Canterbury, the centre of Bath is itself another UNESCO World Heritage Centre. One of the main attractions of the city is to see the famous Royal Crescent a Masterpiece in Georgian architecture. And of course no visit to the city is complete without seeing the Roman Baths. If you are traveling with older children and teenagers be sure to stop into the Jane Austen Centre and start getting your kids addicted on Pride and Prejudice and other classic novels. If you have children over 12 and want to go into the famous Thermal Bath Spa you can go to the stand alone Cross Bath while children over 16 can go into the New Royal Bath Spa.
How to get there: Bath is easily reached by train from London Paddington and takes around two hours. There are also options to do organised coach excursions to Bath with the added stop of Stonehenge. Click here for organised excursions to Bath and Stonehenge. If you can, it is worth adding an overnight stay especially if you are travelling with small children.
Best summer day trips from London with kids
One of my favourite things to do in summer in London is to head out towards Croydon to the beautiful Mayfield Lavender. While there are a few places to see lavender fields near London Mayfield is definitely the closest. This is an instagrammers dream with the rows of beautiful purple lavender transporting you more to Provence than London. There is also a lovely cafe selling a variety of lavender infused products.
How to get there: There are several public transport options to get from London to the farm the quickest is to take the train from London Victoria to Sutton and take the S1 bus to Banstead (Woolpack stop) and then the 166 bus to the farm gate.
Best Beach Day Trips from London With Kids
I have gone back and forth about where to include Brighton in this list as a beach or a city as the city serves both purposes. But when I go to Brighton the reason I am going is to head to the beach on a sunny day. However if beaches aren’t your thing then Brighton is far more than just its beach. It has a quirky town centre full of artisan shops which are a joy to explore. On top of that no visit to Brighton is complete without seeing the Brighton Royal Pavilion.
Be sure to stop for a fish and chip lunch while in the town.
Please Note: Brighton Beach is actually a pebble beach not a sand beach but it is still a great place to sun bath and swim in the sea.
How to Get There: Trains depart regularly from London Victoria and are direct and take around 30 minutes.
Organised Day Trips from London with Kids
When you think about the perfect biscuit tin image of England the image you conjure will undoubtedly be represented by the Cotswolds. I often get asked about the feasibility of doing a Cotswolds day trip from London especially with kids in tow and the truth is that the Cotswolds are difficult to reach without a car as one of the joys of visiting the Cotswolds is touring the towns.
If you do not want to hire a car to head to the Cotswolds then your only other option is an organised tour. You can click here for options. However I personally would only do this with older children.
International Day Trips from London with kids
Paris Day Trip from London with Kids
I have gone back and forth about whether or not to add Paris to the list of London day trips with kids. When we were just a couple we would often take the Eurostar for a day in Paris but the truth is it is a long day. I personally would not attempt this as a day trip with my toddler but if you are desperate to do a day in France on your trip to London it is possible. If you can I would say spend at least one night if you can.
How to get there: Eurostar departs from London St Pancras Station and takes around two hours for arrival into Gare Du Nord.
What are the best day trips from London with toddlers?
While all of the above day trips are doable with toddlers there are definitely some that are more suited to them. For instance, while older children will love becoming immersed in the world of Harry Potter toddlers probably won’t be as absorbed.
My favourite day trip from London with my toddler is York as there are lots of toddler friendly museums and attractions as well as green spaces for them to blow off steam. On top of that the city is very compact so it is easy to see everything even with little legs.
For the same reasons as above we also love an Oxford day trips from London with toddlers for the same reason. My little one particularly loved the botanical gardens and the Ashmolean museum.
Kew Gardens, Hampton Court Palace, Brighton and Mayfield Lavender are also, in our opinion great day trips from London with toddlers.
What are the best day trips from London with a baby?
All of the above day trips can be done with a baby. Babies are so portable and don’t require as much planning and consideration as say a day trip with a toddler. The main thing to consider when looking at this list of best day trips from London with a baby is how long you want to be out – if you prefer not to have too long a day then stick to day trips such as Brighton, Windsor, Kew Gardens and Hampton Court Palace. Another key thing to consider when taking a day trip from London with a baby is whether you should take a carrier or a stroller. If you decide on visiting a UK city then consider taking a carrier instead of pram particularly for the more historic cities. Oxford and York in particular are cobble stoned which can be particularly tough on a stroller especially umbrella or travel strollers.
Which are the best day trips to do from London in Winter with kids
All of the above day trips can be done at any time of year – barring Mayfield Lavender which is only summer. For more information on the best day trips to do from London in winter click here!