As London drew tourists from across the globe with its lure of Olympic fever, the city thrived with excitement, energy and expectation. But for locals and tourists alike, the truth is that sometimes you just need a break...
What better way to do it than to take a short skip or long jump out of town for a quick day trip? And with some of the most diverse history in the world, the region is packed full of options. So here at historic travel site Historvius.com, we've pulled together some of our best recommendations for a fantastic London day trip.
For sheer beauty, <a href="http://www.historvius.com/leeds-castle-327/" target="_hplink">Leeds Castle</a> is hard to beat. With a history dating back to Norman times and a lakeside location, this is truly one of the most picturesque castles in Britain. As well as touring the castle itself there are loads of other activities on offer, including tree-top adventure courses and hot air balloon rides or - for those seeking something more serene - flower gardens and afternoon tea. The train from London Victoria takes about an hour and the journey by car is about an hour and a half. <BR><BR> <em>Flickr: Nick Schooley</em> <BR><BR>
One of the oldest cities in England, <a href="http://www.historvius.com/st-albans-30/" target="_hplink">St Albans</a> has a history pre-dating even the Roman invasion. Burnt by Boudicca and rebuilt, renamed and restored countless times over the centuries, it has witnessed peasants’ revolts, civil war battles and was even the scene of crucial meetings which eventually led to Magna Carta. Today, visitors to this tranquil city can stroll around everything from fascinating Roman ruins and the beautiful medieval cathedral to high street buildings brimming with history. Combined with some stunning parkland and a host of café and restaurant options, this half-hour hop from central London is a great way to spend a day. <BR><BR> <em>Flickr: James Cridland</em> <BR><BR>
Birthplace of Winston Churchill, home to spectacular collections of art and antiques and an incredible eighteenth century historic home, <a href="http://www.historvius.com/blenheim-palace-27/" target="_hplink">Blenheim Palace</a> simply has so much to offer. In fact, despite boasting these many attractions and an exhibition dedicated to Churchill, it is the grounds of this country house that will blow you away. Quiet and peaceful, on a pleasant day you can while away the hours in a restful stupor – the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of London. It takes about an hour and a half by car, but if you make a day of it and take in a spot of lunch while there then it’ll be a top trip. <BR><BR> <em>Flickr: James-Hetherington</em> <BR><BR>
Numbered among the best-known ancient locations on the planet, <a href="http://www.historvius.com/stonehenge-257/" target="_hplink">Stonehenge</a> remains an enigma to this day. An ancient stone circle made up of massive standing stones, Stonehenge was built in several phases sometime between 3000 and 1600 BC. It takes at least two hours from London, more if the traffic is in full swing, but is a true one-off experience and an unforgettable day out. <BR><BR> <em>Flickr: tanfelisa</em> <BR><BR>
<a href="http://www.historvius.com/portchester-castle-968/" target="_hplink">Portchester Castle</a> requires a bit more intent if you want to see it in a day, but while an early start is essential, you won’t be disappointed. Portchester’s history stretches back almost 2,000 years – not only does it include some of the best original Roman fortifications in Europe but it also boasts medieval architecture and even a Napoleonic prison. There’s an on-site museum as well as audio tours and even a picnic area. Although it’s a couple of hours from London, it’s well worth the trip. <BR><BR> <em>Flickr: scalespeeder</em> <BR><BR>
Famous for being the location of the <a href="http://www.kew.org/" target="_hplink">Royal Botanic Gardens</a>, Kew is within easy reach of the centre of London and boasts everything from treetop walkways, pagodas and palm houses to stunning floral displays, remarkable wildlife and of course the <a href="http://www.historvius.com/kew-palace-429/" target="_hplink">ornate 17th century palace</a> itself. Set up to include attractions for all ages, Kew offers excellent options for families seeking something different. Conveniently located just 20 minutes by train from London Waterloo, Kew remains a popular place to unwind. <BR><BR> <em>Flickr: neiljs</em> <BR><BR>
The historic home of the family of Princess Diana, <a href="http://www.historvius.com/althorp-house-and-estate-1363/" target="_hplink">Althorp</a> consists of a grand country house set against a beautiful backdrop of estate gardens, parkland and countryside. One of the biggest draws to the estate is their Diana Exhibition, which explores the life and work of Diana, Princess of Wales. Only open to the public during July and August, Althorp is roughly two hours from London by car so a full day is required to really make the most of this fascinating ancestral home. <BR><BR> <em>Flickr: JMarler</em> <BR><BR>
Although London was a major Roman city, the constant expansion and reconstruction over the centuries means little of this ancient legacy survives. To get a great Roman experience within reach of London, you can head out of the capital to <a href="http://www.historvius.com/lullingstone-roman-villa-20/" target="_hplink">Lullingstone Roman Villa</a>. With ancient artefacts, digital recreations and interactive displays, there’s more to do at Lullingstone than just explore the Roman remains. The villa also boasts some incredible mosaics and even the ruins of an early Christian chapel. It’s about an hour outside London and offers a great way to escape the crowds. <BR><BR> <em>Flickr: Loz Flowers</em> <BR><BR>
At the time of its most important contribution, few people had ever heard of <a href="http://www.historvius.com/bletchley-park-24/" target="_hplink">Bletchley Park</a>. For it was here during World War Two that specialist code breakers cracked the famous Nazi Enigma system, providing the Allies with vital intelligence to help win the war. Not necessarily the most picturesque of day-trips, a visit to Bletchley Park is nonetheless fascinating. With exhibitions chronicling the events which took place here, including the original Enigma machines, as well as displays about Alan Turing, Churchill and many more, this crucial wartime location offers something quite different for those seeking something out-of-the-ordinary. <BR><BR> <em>Flickr: ell brown</em> <BR><BR>
One of the best known London attractions, <a href="http://www.historvius.com/windsor-castle-949/" target="_hplink">Windsor Castle</a> offers a wealth of exhibitions, tours and activities for visitors. With access to the State Rooms and tours of the world famous Round Tower, as well as kids’ activities and pomp-and-ceremony round every corner, Windsor may be busy but it’s also a terrific place to visit. And with the eyes of the world on the Olympics, you may just get lucky and find the crowds have stayed away. It’s worth noting that there are Olympics events taking place nearby so give yourself a little more time for the journey, but even taking that into account it’s not far from central London and is an easy journey on the train. <BR><BR> <em>Flickr: Miss Claeson</em> <BR><BR>
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