Why not travel from London and get out and see what other parts of England has to offer. We all agree, London is a fantastic city but you’re missing out on so much more if you don’t get out and explore. Here are 5 great places to see if you’re travelling from London.
Travel from London: Great Places to Visit from London
Brighton had its origins as a small fishing village, and ever since its salt water was discovered to supposedly have healing properties, it has become England’s most famous seaside resort. It is so close to London it has become almost an unofficial suburb, and is sometimes called “London by the Sea”. The town offers all the traditional attractions of a resort, including restaurants, nightlife, miles of sandy beaches and two piers, but much of Brighton’s appeal is its fashionable and rather bohemian atmosphere.
A popular neighborhood to shop or simply to be seen in is The Lanes, an area of small antique and clothing shops tucked away in the narrow back streets. The area of town known as Kemp Town is a beautiful neighborhood of elegant Regency houses; many have been turned into antique shops. Brighton has several fascinating museums, two of which hint at its history and popularity – a Fishing Museum and a Museum of old slot machines. However, the highlight of any trip to Brighton has to be a visit to the famous Royal Pavilion. This palace was the home of King George IV and with its exotic, Eastern appearance has been described as the most extravagant royal palace in Europe.
(55 minutes by train from Victoria)
Famous for the medieval book “The Canterbury Tales” Canterbury has been a place of pilgrimage for several centuries. Most people come here for the spectacular 11th century cathedral, one of the most impressive in Europe. The English Archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in the cathedral and there is a memorial to him. Don’t miss the crypt where you can see recent archaeological excavations still taking place.
The compact town center retains much of its medieval layout and is a maze of narrow streets and alleyways, closed to vehicles during the day. The architecture of the town varies from Tudor to Victorian with many picturesque half timbered buildings now housing quaint shops. The town seems to have more than its share of tea rooms and pubs, if you need a break from all that shopping and sightseeing.
There is also the Disney style ride Canterbury Tales Visitor attraction, where the magic of animatronics allow you step back in time to join the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer on his famous pilgrimage to Canterbury. Canterbury also has sections of its original town walls and a ruined castle dating from the 11th century, as well as a small museum documenting the town’s history.
(1 hour, 20 minutes by train from Victoria or Charing Cross)
Known the world over as a seat of learning, and well deserving of its nickname “City of Dreaming Spires” Oxford is one of England’s most historic, yet liveliest small towns. Most visitors to Oxford go to see the many universities, some of which date back 700 years. Most of the colleges welcome visitors, and it costs nothing to step inside the hallowed walls of Oxford’s colleges. Christchurch is perhaps the most famous college, well known for its beautiful chapel and stained glass windows. Magdalen College, another of the older institutions has its own deer park.
For a small town, Oxford has several world class museums. The Ashmolean is famed for its collection of art and antiques. The Pitt River Museum is well known for its science and its rather unique ethnography exhibits – some of its highlights include a 40 foot high Indian totem pole and a collection of shrunken heads. Not surprisingly, Oxford was home to some of England’s most famous scholars and writers – one of the most popular haunts in the town is a shop which Lewis Carroll featured in “Alice through the Looking Glass”
But one of the highlights of Oxford is simply its atmosphere of college life. The thousands of students that live and study in Oxford ensures the town has a great selection of pubs, live music venues, second hand bookshops and health food stores. Even if you thought you had finished studying – you may be tempted to go back to school.
(50 minutes by train from Paddington)
The biggest attraction in the town is the Roman baths, from which of course, the town gets it name. The baths are fed by Britain’s only natural hot springs which produce an amazing 500,000 gallons of water every day, and make the town England’s most popular winter resort. Apart from their relaxing atmosphere, the baths also feature the original Roman paving stones and an array of Roman artifacts.
Bath is a beautiful town, with streets and houses constructed out of the local honey colored stone, and not surprisingly, the whole town has been designated a World Heritage Center. Over 5000 buildings are protected because of their architectural merit. The most famous street in town is the Crescent, a beautiful curving street of Regency homes. A short distance from here, the Jane Austen center offers guided tours and information on nearby places visited by one of Britain’s most beloved writers.
The town also boasts one of Britain’s best museums, the Museum of Costume. Here you can enjoy displays of clothes from the late 16th century right up to the present day, including a valuable collection of rare undergarments. Bath is one of the best and most popular shopping destinations outside London, with many specialist shops and a high number of antique shops tucked away in the narrow streets. A good souvenir is hand blown glass, which takes its blue color from the city’s hot springs.
(1 hour, 25 minutes by train from Paddington)
Most people visit Salisbury to get to Stonehenge, which is a short distance from the town, although the small market town of Salisbury itself has much to offer the visitor. A market still takes place regularly in the town’s market place as it has done since the 13th century, and rows of half timbered houses lean at interesting angles along the narrow streets. Salisbury cathedral boasts the tallest spire in England at 400 feet, and also contains one of four known surviving copies of the Magna Carta. The group of charming houses in front of the cathedral, known as “the Close” has often been described as having one of the loveliest settings anywhere in England.
Elsewhere in Salisbury are several historic homes open to the public. Mompesson House is a beautiful example of Queen Anne architecture and contains a superb collection of 18th century drinking glasses, as well as period furniture. Wilton House dates from the 16th century and is set in 21 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, including a classic English rose garden. Carpets may be something we take for granted, but a visit to the Wilton carpet factory will make you appreciate the work that goes into them. The factory offers a fascinating guided tour and a behind the scenes look at one of the oldest and most prestigious names in English carpets.
(1 hour, 20 minutes by train from Waterloo)