As much as London has to offer, there are always times when you need to escape the Big Smoke for a day and discover pastures new.
That’s why we’ve brought together this indispensable guide to places you can reach quickly and easily by train from the capital. We’ve been sure to include plenty of options, so if you’re on the lookout for a romantic caper, a historic jaunt, or a daytrip for you and the kids, there’s the perfect holiday idea for you here.
To buy tickets to any of the below destinations and more, visit gwr.com.
We ask all passengers to wear a face-covering in stations and on trains. Make sure you plan your journey in advance, reserving a space and downloading tickets to a mobile device if you can, and avoiding travel when it’s busy. For more safety guidelines, visit gwr.com/safety.
You don’t need to escape to southern Europe to discover exceptional Roman relics. Take a train from London Paddington and you can find one of the best-preserved historic sites around, right at the heart of the City of Bath World Heritage Site. The Roman Baths were built some 2,000 years ago by occupying forces, taking advantage of the city’s natural thermal springs. As this is one of the most visited attractions in the country, be sure to book a time slot ahead of your visit.
On the fringes of Bath you’ll find the picturesque Bath Skyline Walk, taking you along the hills above the city and beyond. Passing through six miles of meadows, woodlands and secluded valleys, Bath Skyline Walk lets you discover some top attractions en route, including Sham Castle Down and Prior Park, which you can spy, tucked down in the valley below.
Pitt Rivers Museum
A museum like no other, Pitt Rivers is jam-packed full of some 500,000 objects, photographs and manuscripts from around the globe. Discover shrunken heads, Easter Island sculptures, Japanese Samurai armour and lots more, when you visit this warren of the weird and wonderful. Don’t forget to have a look at the nearby colleges and Bodleian Library (closed when this post was penned) to get a feel for the famous Oxford University institution and it’s ‘dreaming spires’.
So impressive is the stunning Blenheim Palace that it was awarded World Heritage Site status back in 1987. Home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough, and with a history going back 300 years, the palace is surrounded by luscious grounds created by the famous landscape gardener Capability Brown, and includes a lake and great walks. Inside, you can discover more about the palace’s most famous resident, Winston Churchill, who was born there in 1874.
Getting there: Take a GWR train to Oxford, then the S3 bus towards Woodstock, which will stop at the palace’s gates. Ask the bus driver to identify the appropriate stop.
Right in the centre of town, and a mere two-minute walk from the station, is Reading Museum. Not only does it have a Victorian era copy of the famous Bayeux Tapestry, it also boasts an impressive collection of biscuit tins. That’s right, Reading is home to biscuit makers Huntley & Palmers, famous for pioneering mass produced bickies, and as a consequence the town was dubbed ‘Biscuit Town’. Tuck in!
Swindon Designer Outlet
If you’re looking for top of the range designer clothes at a fraction of the original price, then look no further than Swindon Designer Outlet. There you’ll find your favourite high street shops, including Calvin Klein, Levi’s, Nike and more. There’s also a ton of top eateries to enjoy, for when you need a break from all that shopping-till-dropping. And it’s just a short walk from the station!
Nearest GWR station: Swindon
Quite simply one of Europe’s best-known monuments, Stonehenge was built around 2500 BC. The iconic structure was erected in stages and now sits at the heart of a World Heritage Site that includes Avebury, surrounded by an impressive concentration of prehistoric monuments. Take a tour of these colossal stones to discover the fine detail on the sarsen and bluestone rocks and visit the museum to find out how our ancestors achieved such an astonishing feat of engineering prowess.
Getting there: Take a GWR train to Salisbury. The Stonehenge Tour bus leaves from the station and will take you to the site.
Nestled into the banks of the River Avon you’ll find this stunning, picturesque town. With a history going right back to the Romans, Bradford-on-Avon boasts several buildings from the 17th century, including the Jacobean Hall, which is an exceptional example of English Renaissance architecture. The best way to see the town and hear about its fascinating history is to join one of the walking tours. Bradford-on-Avon is a beautiful spot on the larger Great West Way, a touring route that runs between London and Bristol.
The oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, Windsor Castle is where the Queen spends most of her private weekends. But don’t let that put you off – she’s left the most impressive rooms open for public perusal, meaning you’re unlikely to walk in on her enjoying afternoon tea. You will, however, find a beautifully ornate interior, full of all the bling you’d come to expect from a royal residence, including some of the country’s finest artworks, such as paintings by Holbein, Van Dyck and Rubens.
The perfect family day out, LEGOLAND is the ideal destination for the household’s building block enthusiasts, however big or small. There are tons of great fun rides, themed ‘lands’ to explore and shows to enjoy. It’s a must-see immersive experience for you and the family at this legendary theme park.
Getting there: Take a GWR train to Windsor & Eton Central. LEGOLAND is just a 10-minute onward bus journey on the 702 and 703, run by Green Line/Reading Buses, and the 600, run by Courtney Buses. Services leave from Windsor Theatre Royal and Windsor Parish Church, a short walk from the station. To purchase your train and bus tickets to LEGOLAND, visit the GWR website.