Getting into London can be pretty expensive, but leaving it for a few hours needn’t be. Even though there’s loads to do in the city, having a break once in a while with a good old day trip is well worth it. Here are five cheap day trips from London that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

margate cheap day trips from london
image via Flickr

Margate

From £30.70 return from London St Pancras
Travel time: 1 hour 30 mins

Margate is the new place to be if you’re not in London. It’s becoming a real hotspot for hipster weekenders. And who can blame them? It’s a pretty town with plenty of retro shops, tea rooms and even a grotto full of historical shell mosaics. There’s museums, a Tudor house, plenty of cosy pubs, and of course – the beach.

canterbury cheap day trips from london
image via Flickr

Canterbury

From £30.30 return from London St Pancras
Travel time: 1 hour

Remember Bagpuss? Well, he lives in Canterbury Museum now and you can visit him. If you’re a literary junkie, you’re probably going to make the pilgrimage to this city for Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. If it’s a sunny day, a boat trip along the River Stour will take you past the Cathedral and Greyfriars, a 13th Century chapel. A market built on Roman ruins, The Buttermarket has plenty of cafes and gift shops to browse too.

cambridge cheap day trips from london
image via Flickr

Cambridge

£12 return from London Liverpool Street (Advance fare)
Travel time: 1 hour 30 mins

Another pretty city within a couple of hours of London is Cambridge, and there’s one thing you must do: punt. Hire your own boat or go with a guide and get the full tour of the River Cam. Take a picnic to Parker’s Piece, learn all about Captain Scott’s expeditions at The Polar Museum, snap photos of the famous Bridge of Sighs and awe all the amazing architecture in the city.

Plus, there are so many great pubs around for a proper Sunday lunch, including The Anchor – where Francis Crick and James Watson announced they’d created the structure of DNA at a patrons’ lunch.

stratford-upon-avon cheap day trips from london
image via Flickr

Stratford-upon-avon

£12 return from London Marylebone (Advance fare)
Travel time: 2 hours with 1 change at Dorridge

If you don’t already know, Stratford-upon-Avon is the birthplace of William Shakespeare (another one for the literary buffs), and it just so happens to be a really beautiful part of the country too. You can visit Shakespeare’s childhood home, see plenty of local theatres, go on a walking tour around the historical city centre, and follow the River Avon trail – a beautiful walking route that takes you along one of the prettiest rivers in England. Sounds like bliss to me.

manchester cheap day trips from london
image via Flickr

Manchester

From £62.20 from London Euston (Virgin Trains lowest fare finder)
Travel time: 2 hours 10 mins

Admittedly this is the priciest of my chosen day trips, but I’m convinced it’s not a bad price to get as far north as Manchester. And it’s well worth the trip. There’s loads to do there, from ace museums and historical buildings like the Imperial War Museum and Manchester Town Hall, to the cutest tea shops (Mr Scruff’s Teacup Kitchen – check out my review here!) and vintage vinyl stores (Piccadilly Records and Vinyl Exchange).

All prices stated researched for peak time 12th March 2016

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