Weekend Road Trips from London

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Weekend trips are always fun. Whichever part of the world you belong to, a nice and rejuvenating road trip is all you need after a tiring work-week. Hence, continuing on our road-trip-series around the globe, here are the top weekend road trips that you can take from London.

road trips from London

ABOUT LONDON:
As you would already be knowing, London is the capital city of England. One of the world’s most visited cities, London has something for everyone: from history and culture to fine food and good times. London is considered to be one of the world’s most important global cities and has been called the world’s most powerful, most desirable, most influential, and most-popular-for-work city [source]. Not just this, London is also one of the leading tourist destinations in the world and in 2015 was ranked as the most visited city in the world with over 65 million visits.

Whether you’re a London visitor wanting a taste of the rest of England or a Londoner longing to escape the bustle of the big city, take one of these weekend road trips in the UK — all with ultimate destinations less than 4 hours away from London by car!

IMPORTANT NOTE:
If you are planning to take these weekend trips post-COVID-19 lock-downs, you need to be careful. Although short road-trips are one of the safest travel options after the peak of the pandemic is over, but everyone still needs to take precautions. Try to avoid crowded places. If you rent a car or bike, don’t forget to wash/sanitise it properly before driving.

road trips from London
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Top 5 Weekend Road Trips from London

Tunbridge Wells via Hever Castle and Penshurst Place

Kent: The Garden of England

Built in 1270, Hever Castle is one of England’s most impressive and well-preserved castles. Anne Boleyn’s childhood home has magnificently decorated rooms, while outside there are mazes, streams, lakes, cascades and fountains. Close by is the beautiful Penshurst Place, once Henry VII’s grand hunting lodge, with extensive gardens, a large wooden Adventure Playground, a Toy Museum and a Woodland Trail.

hever castle london
Hever Castle

Carry on to Tunbridge Wells, a famous and attractive spa town, to experience the Pantiles (an attractive Georgian colonnaded walkway), some stunning parks and restorative waters! It’s a great base for exploring the Kent and Sussex countryside—some of which you can appreciate from the 5-mile-long Spa Valley Railway. The Groombridge stop is within easy walking distance of Groombridge Place and Enchanted Forest (otherwise a 9 minute drive from Tunbridge Wells, a stunning country estate on the Kent/Sussex border with a 17th century moated manor house, formal gardens, forests, giant tree swings, tree top walks, zip wires, a maze and the pirate-themed Crusoe’s World for children.

HOW TO REACH:
Hever Castle is around 1hr 16m away via A2, M25 and B2042. Penshurst Place is 12 minutes further on via Hever Rd & B2027. Another 15 minutes via B2176 and A26 takes you to Tunbridge Wells.

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Oxford and Blenheim Palace: Grand and Grandiose

Nearly everything in Oxford revolves around its world-famous 12th century university, supposedly the second-oldest in the world. The grand architecture of the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ has featured in dozens of films and series from Inspector Morse to the Harry Potter films.

oxford palace - road trips from london

Tour the accessible areas of its 38 elegant colleges and cross Oxford’s Bridge of Sighs, go punting on the Thames or the Cherwell River, visit the famous Bodleian Library, Ashmolean Museum and Radcliffe Camera building, check out Oxford’s Norman castle and Botanic Gardens, and enjoy the multitude of shops and restaurants.

Just north is the jaw-droppingly beautiful and grandiose 17th century Blenheim Palace, one of England’s largest houses. Built between 1705 and 1722, it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and sits in stunning grounds and Capability Brown-designed gardens, with their remarkable bridge, huge Great Lake and cascades, and ‘Temple of Diana’ summerhouse.

HOW TO REACH:
Oxford is around 1hr 20m away via the M40 and A40 and Blenheim Palace is a further 17 minutes north on the A34.

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Brighton: Beaches and Boutiques

Brighton, often called ‘London by the Sea’, has become as famous for its diverse, modern culture and trendy restaurants and shops as it is for its pebbly beach (go on the Big Wheel), pier (enjoy fish and chips and the rides), Dome (catch a show) and Indian-style Royal Pavilion (visit. It’s very impressive). Enjoy the cliff walks, shop and eat in the quaint Lanes, and take a seafront trip on Volk’s Electric Railway (the oldest operating electric railway in the world).

Wander home via the National Trust’s Devil’s Dyke or Nymans. Devil’s Dyke, a legendary beauty spot, is the country’s longest, widest and deepest valley, and has attracted people since the Stone Age. Nymans encompasses a romantic house, partial ruins, lovely gardens with unusual plants and woodlands full of wildlife.

Brighton is 1hr 50m away via the M23 and A23. Nymans is just off the A23 at Handcross, around 26 minutes from Brighton, while Devil’s Dyke is just 20 minutes from Brighton following the Devil’s Dyke Road.

Woburn, Bletchley and Birmingham: Wildlife, Spies and a Taste of the Black Country
Woburn Safari Park is home to over 1000 animals, including wolves, bears, giraffes, elephants and lions, and offers a Road Safari, a Foot Safari, a petting zoo, train trips to the Alpaca Outpost, A Go Ape! experience and sometimes, access to Woburn Abbey, still home to the Duke of Bedford.

Next, head to Bletchley Park, once home to the WW2 codebreakers, to learn their fascinating history and see if you can match their skills.

Birmingham may not have the most glamorous reputation, but it’s got a lot to offer—and more Michelin-starred restaurants than any English city outside London. There are numerous events at the NEC; the Bear Grylls Adventure for shooting or adrenaline sports; canal trips; a wealth of museums, theatres and galleries; a SeaLife Centre, Botanical Gardens and a Wildlife Conservation Park; the Jewellery Quarter, with over 200 listed buildings; Moseley Bog, said to be Tolkien’s inspiration for The Shire; a Peaky Blinders Tour; and the fantastic, interactive, 26-acre Black Country Living Museum. Families will enjoy the Legoland Discovery Centre for families and Cadbury World, which offers not only a fascinating, immersive look at the company’s history but also free chocolate!

HOW TO REACH:
Woburn Safari park is 1hr 8m away via the M1, and Bletchley Park is another 17 minutes west via the A4012. From here, Birmingham is Another 1hr 21 mins up the M1/M6.

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Stratford-upon-Avon: Shakespeare’s County and the Cotswolds

Stratford-upon-Avon is a stunningly beautiful riverside town, but its fame comes mainly from its Shakespeare connection, and you can visit several buildings key to his and his family’s lives. Enjoy an ice-cream or lunch by the river, or take a scenic chain ferry trip across the River Avon to the Waterside gardens and Royal Shakespeare Theatre to catch a play.
Just south lie the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: 800 square miles of scenic, winding roads, beautiful hills and picture-postcard villages and market towns like Bourton-on-the-Water (the ‘Little Venice of the Cotswolds’), with their distinctive honey-coloured stone buildings.

HOW TO REACH:
Stratford-upon-Avon is around 1hr 55m away via the M40, from where Bourton-on-the-Water is 35 minutes away via the A3400 and A429.

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York: England’s Old Capital City and its Moors & Dales

Medieval city walls; the famous Jorvik Viking Centre; the splendid York Minster. York, once England’s capital, is bursting with history and a great centre from which to explore the magnificent North York Moors and coastline (including Whitby and Scarborough) to the north-east, or the scenic Dales to the north-west.

There’s also the National Railway Museum (featuring the famous Mallard and the only ‘Shinkansen’ bullet train outside Japan), plus Harry Potter shops and filming locations, the medieval shopping streets of the Shambles, the Castle Museum, the Maze, a multitude of listed buildings and gardens, and numerous great cafés and restaurants to visit.

HOW TO REACH:
York is just under 4hrs away via the A1 and A64.

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In the end…

We hope you enjoyed reading these and we have been able to inspire you to take some of these road trips from London. We (Sonakshi and I) love road trips a lot and hence, we hit the road frequently. Check out our other road trips here:

This guest post was submitted by Giles Kirkland. He is an automotive expert, write and consultant.

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