If you have plans to study abroad or spend a good amount of time in London, there are many places not far from the city center that warrant a day (or a weekend) trip. Here are some of our top picks.

While London is an incredible city with so much excitement to offer, sometimes a day trip away from the UK’s cosmopolitan capital can nourish the soul. Luckily, many amazing cities and towns lie within a short distance of London, and cheap, reliable public transport makes these destinations easy to access. Here are a few great day trips to make from London.

Dover

This charming coastal town represents the closest point to continental Europe in England. Easily reachable by coach buses like National Express, a trip to Dover is the perfect way to escape the stuffiness of the city and breath in the fresh, ocean air.

The iconic White Cliffs are the highlight of this town, and are free to visit. Spend the afternoon hiking up and down the wide open grass atop the cliffs while mingling with wild ponies and gazing out over the English channel. Many people flock to this peaceful area for a picnic or to read a book, and Dover also acts as a major port town with ferries traveling to and from France every day.

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Bath

This peaceful and historic town, which is also a World Heritage Sight, lies a short coach bus ride away from London. The 18th century Georgian architecture scattered throughout the town makes for extraordinary sightseeing, and walking tours can be useful in learning about the interesting history of the area. The Roman Baths, the Bath Abbey, and the Royal Crescent are not to be missed when seeking impressive architecture.

Numerous indoor markets in Bath represent great places to find unique gifts and trinkets, and endless traditional cafes represent perfect spots for enjoying a classic British afternoon tea. Also if the weather is nice, the best way to enjoy Bath is to stroll through the numerous parks and gardens, or walk along the River Avon which winds through the city.

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Brighton

A one hour train ride south of London will bring you to Brighton, a lively seaside town with quirky outdoor markets, fresh ocean air, and exciting nightlife. Enjoy lunch in a beachfront restaurant or walk along the bustling Brighton Pier for a wonderful afternoon, and experience the vibrant bars and clubs along the water at nighttime.

Aside from the obvious joys of the ocean, Brighton is packed with shops and attractions, and is always hosting tons of entertainment and events. For great photo opportunities, check out the Royal Pavillion’s magnificent architecture or wander through the quaint rows of colorful houses and marvel at the captivating street art. You should consider spending a weekend here.

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Birmingham

Located in the West Midlands of England, Birmingham represents one the biggest cities outside London. The gorgeous Victoria Square sits in the center of the city, and is filled with beautiful government buildings, flowers, fountains, and street musicians. Birmingham conveniently hosts multiple train stations with frequent journeys to London and other cities, and is packed with things to see.

With crowded shopping streets, a majestic cathedral, a modern and eccentric library, and many interesting museums, Birmingham can easily entertain travelers for a day. Be sure to check out the outdoor flea markets for fresh produce and useful goods, and meander through Chinatown for some authentic and delicious Chinese food.

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Eastbourne

Just a short train ride from London is Eastbourne, a quaint seaside town similar to Brighton but slightly less touristy. In order to take full advantage of the ocean, stroll along the pier, walk along the rocky beaches, or eat a classic meal of fish and chips in a restaurant by the sea.

Eastbourne also boasts stunning coastal scenery. Hike through the rolling green hills that make up the edge of the South Downs, or visit the Birling Gap scenic lookout point and see the towering chalky white cliffs of the Seven Sisters.

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Oxford

Heading northwest on a train from London will shortly bring you to Oxford, the city known for its prestigious universities. School buildings, churches, and monuments are all crafted with beautiful detail and boast stunning architecture, and the city is also crawling with lush green grasses, gardens, and flowers. On a sunny day, Oxford can truly seem like paradise.

Points of interest and attractions in Oxford are endless, with numerous museums, universities, shops, markets, and gardens scattered around the city. Some highlights include the Bridge of Sighs, the Botanic Garden, and the Bodleian Library (where some scenes in Harry Potter were filmed). This city is unbelievably scenic, so a simple afternoon of walking or biking around and absorbing the lovely sights can be fulfilling to any traveler. Learn more about how to see Oxford on the cheap.

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    About Gabby Boucher