Six Easy Daycations from London by Train

Six Easy Daycations from London by Train

spite of London‘s
many playthings, the metropolis sometimes gets too much; sky-rises
feel claustrophobic and the tube, positively suffocating. But you
needn’t start booking hotels and flights for a spot of R&R.
These daycation destinations offer maximum holiday vibes in just 24
hours – though we wouldn’t blame you for staying longer.

Train travel is in – these destinations are a short journey
from the capital


A city of quirky rituals, riverside gardens and rolling meadows,
Cambridge is an idyll of gastronomic, cultural and intellectual
feats – rumour has it that the Latin edition of Scrabble is popular
here. While a college tour would be no doubt be dull in most
places, for Cambridge we make an exception; the honey-hued
university buildings are among the city’s most spectacular. With
spiral staircases and boundless bookshelves, this is Hogwarts
territory. The line for evensong at King’s College often winds down
the street but we suggest you join it, religious or not; the mass
is a spectacle of bygone tradition and Catholic opulence.

It’s not all medieval art and dusty books, however. The
university’s Kettle’s Yard showcases 20th century
art; distinctive paintings, sculptures, ceramics and glass offer a
bubble of modernity in this city of antiquity. The culinary
offering here is small but flavoursome; grab a hearty brunch at
Stir near Jesus Green before rubbing shoulders with patch-elbowed
professors at Hot Numbers café. A Chelsea bun from Fitzbillies is
also a must. Finish an evening, cocktail in hand, in the sunken
garden of Hidden Rooms before hopping aboard the service from
Cambridge Station to either Liverpool Street or King’s Cross. PSA,
plan ahead: you won’t get last-minute deals here.

Journey: 50 minute train from King’s Cross


The original daycation for families across England, Brighton‘s
coastal charisma and seaside kitsch continues to charm even in
areas where the pastel paint has chipped and the Flake 99s cost
£1.50. Its labyrinthine streets of overpriced vintage shops and the
brashly lit pier have us enthralled. Arrive early for breakfast at
Black Mocha where the menu is much more than your run-of-the-mill
avocado toast and eggs. From here you’ll be in a prime position for
treasure hunting at Snoopers Paradise, an Aladdin’s cave of vintage
oddities, vinyl, racks of clothes and collectors items that range
from a set of bowling pins to fossilised beetles.

After braving the crowds of Kensington Gardens, it’s time to hit
the beach. Fair warning: as soon as temperatures rise past the
minuses Brighton’s pebbly shore can get very busy. Embrace it – an
ice cream from Scoop and Crumb in hand. For a spot of culture head
to The Royal Pavilion, the neoclassical summer abode of royal
bad-boy George IV. Its Taj Mahal-esque facade is striking against
Brighton’s faded decor – but do venture inside and see the dragon
chandelier. Whatever the weather and no matter the crowds, Brighton
will always be a go-to for Londoners looking for a slice of summer
sans hotel and flight.

Journey: 1 hour train from London Bridge


Margate is quickly making a name
for itself that’s much more interesting than “the hipster’s
Brighton”. A direct train journey from London, Margate is certainly
doable in a day – although its uncanny sense of nostalgia will
plant an allure that lasts much longer. One of the three Georgian
and Victorian seaside resorts in Kent, Margate has recently
attracted hordes of visitors (primarily of the beardy, tattooed
variety) courtesy of its irresistible retro charm that offers up a
seaside experience with a twist.

Begin the day with a ramble along its long stretches of golden
beach or, if you’re feeling brave, a dip in nippy waters is a
surefire way to get the blood pumping (and extremities numbed).
Post-beach, it’s time for a stroll into town, where colourful
bunting flies overhead as you make your way through eclectic
boutiques touting contemporary crafts and vintage furniture. Once
you’ve filled up on seaside tat, it’s on to culture. Besides the
Turner Contemporary, a quick pause and ponder
at Nayland Rock Shelter, where T. S. Eliot composed parts of The
Waste Land, is recommended, as is a trip to the bizarre and
beautiful Shell Grotto. For lunch, Margate’s array of eateries
which include vegetarian and specialty bakeries offer plenty of
options – all to be finished off with an ice-cream from one of the
town’s many stalls. Finish the day in Dreamland amusement park –
roller disco, anyone? – before hopping on the train back to

Journey: 1 hour 45 minute train from


Bath is steeped in history – or perhaps we should say drowning
in it. Named after the Roman baths built upon its naturally heated
springs, the city’s past running beneath its cobblestone streets
like veins. A day trip to this Unesco World Heritage should
concentrate on historical offerings, including a restorative soak.
While the rooftop pool of Thermae Bath Spa is enticing, its queues
(which can stretch down the street at peak times) are equally
off-putting. Bypass the crowds and head instead for The Gainsborough Bath Spa, a
luxury hotel housed in the most magnificent 18th-century mansion.
Here, beneath a glass atrium, a pool of naturally heated water
promises to ease your aches and clear your mind.

Adequately refreshed, drag yourself out of the spa and on to the
real thing. The Roman Baths tour is an interactive experience that
will put even your favourite school excursions to shame – plus the
view across to the Abbey from above the Great Bath is arguably the
city’s best vantage point. Other highlights of this Avon beauty
include The Holbourne Museum and The Jane Austen centre. Dinner is
at Menu Gordon Jones where a surprise feast of six
courses will delight and, well, surprise you. Come evening, when
the rest of Bath is readying for bed, head to The Hideout for a
cocktail or two at this sultry drinking den.

Journey: 1 hour 30 minute train from


Richmond is so easily accessed but rarely ventured to. Though
often disparaged by city dwellers as “not really London”, it’s this
same attribute that is the suburban town’s most attractive trait.
With countryside green, quaint taverns and the occasional
celebrity, Richmond is a destination where the many nooks and
crannies can be explored in a day. Venture here when the sun shines
to enjoy Richmond at its best, as riverside restaurants including
Stein’s and Gaucho fling open their windows to usher in the rays
and, with them, the Lululemon-wearing mummies who abound in this
affluent area.

Stop at Hollyhock Café or Petersham Nurseries for coffee and picnic fodder
because next on the itinerary is a visit to the area’s crown jewel:
. Vast and bountiful, this park was created by Charles I in
the 17th century and is where the monarch came to escape the Great
Plague. Now a national nature reserve, the park is kept in a
condition so pristine it’s easy to forget you’re only a few tube
stops away from smog and pollution. Plant yourself on the banks of
Adam’s Pond with your basket of goodies and watch deer prance
about. Put the finishing touches on your excursion by taking in a
show at the Orange Tree. Set in a disused gothic-style Victorian
primary school, this theatre hosts performances that do its
storybook setting justice.

Journey: London Overground or Underground


Escape to the UK’s official happiest place to live, if only for
a brief respite. Admiring Bristol’s charming terraced houses of
ice-cream shades, you’d be forgiven for making comparisons to
. Yet the faint scent of
, liberalism and drum ‘n’ bass wafting through the streets
defies such a likeness. Not that locals would brag, but Bristol is
genuinely “cool” – although its cred is being threatened by throngs
of Londoners who’ve caught on. Be warned: a trip to Bristol could
well turn into a life move.

From the Banksy murals that nonchalantly appear and the
star-spangled ceiling of Primrose Café to Europe’s largest annual
meeting of hot air balloons over Ashton Court Estate and the Stokes
Croft’s buzzing nightlife scene, the rolling hills of Bristol offer
everything that you could want from a daycation. Take an early
train from Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads, armed with
comfortable shoes and a well-stocked wallet (for all its
liberalism, Bristol isn’t cheap).

Journey: 1 hour 40 minute train journey from

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