Attractions Nearby London, Day Trips and Excursions
(London, England, UK)
A vast city divided into a series of very different districts, London contains more attractions than you will ever likely have time to visit. However, the outskirts of the city also come with numerous places of interest, perfect for the odd day trip or two, by car, bus or train.
An excursion to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew in Richmond is well worth considering, while the Wisley RHS Gardens at Woking is another worthy horticultural attraction. Also situated in the Surrey area is the Chessington World of Adventures theme park, with Legoland being equally appealing and residing in Windsor. If you would like to jump to the front of the queues for the most popular rides and rollercoasters, you can pay an additional charge, although this can prove expensive for an entire family. Those planning multiple trips to theme parks around London may like to consider purchasing an annual Merlin pass, which grants free entrance to countless attractions, a number of which reside in the city itself.
Those prepared to travel further outside of London may like to take a trip to see the legendary bluestones of Stonehenge or the lions of Longleat, near Warminster, both of which are best reached via the A303.
Address: Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 7DE
Tel: +44 (0)1980 624715
One of the most famous and simply mind-boggling monuments in England, Stonehenge ranks as a World Heritage Site and draws thousands of visitors each day. This ancient creation remains a mystery, although many believe its setting to be involved with worshipping the sun, with the annual summer solstice celebrations drawing enormous crowds to this temple, including more than a handful of druids. Others come here to photograph the structure at sunset, or to simply marvel at the site, imagining how these giant stones were transported here some 4,500 years ago. The magnificent monoliths of Stonehenge are actually surrounded by numerous remains of ceremonial structures and burial mounds, a number of which are actually even older and can often be reached by pathways.
Open hours: daily, all year
Mid-March to May - 09:30 to 18:00 / June to August - 09:00 to 19:00
September to mid-October - 09:30 to 18:00 / end of October - 09:30 to 17:00
November to mid-March - 09:30 to 16:00
By car: 2 miles west of Amesbury on junction of A303 and A344 / 360
Nearest train station: Salisbury 9 miles / 14 km
Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew Gardens)
Address: Richmond, Surrey, TW9 3AB
Tel: +44 (0)20 8332 5655
The Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew reside within the south-westerly suburbs of London, where they offer endless tranquility and horticultural beauty. Comprising roughly 300 acres / 210 hectares and called home by more than 30,000 different plant species, the attractions at Kew are certainly extensive. Visitors will be able to admire a number of Grade-I listed structures, take a stroll around the famed Palm House, enjoy the oriental landscaping within the Japanese garden and see an important national collection of very old bonsai trees. Many people do not realise that Kew also functions as a seedbank, boasts the largest botanical library and archives anywhere on the planet, features an enormous herbarium and even assists police with 'forensic horticulture' identification techniques.
Open hours: daily 09:30 to 19:30 or dusk
Admission: charge, children under three are free
Nearest tube station: Kew Gardens
Kew can be reached easily by car and public transport. The tube is the best way to get to Kew from the centre or West End of London. Buses serve those living north or south of Kew (Ealing down to Kingston) and the neighbouring suburbs. From north London, Silverlink trains run directly to Kew Gardens station.
Wisley RHS Gardens
Address: Woking, Surrey, GU23 6QB
Tel: +44 (0)1483 224234
Wisley certainly ranks amongst England's best loved gardens and is spread over approximately 240 acres / 97 hectares. Owned by the Royal Horticultural Society since the very early 20th century, the grounds offer an array of landscaping, featuring large ponds with water lily collections, rockeries, an extensive arboretum, Alpine houses and a number of striking glasshouses. There are also some of a largest herbaceous borders that you are ever likely to encounter, as well as a plant information centre, plenty of seating and a restaurant. Look out for the rather contemporary Bicentenary Glasshouse, which opened in 2007 and was built at the cost of around £7.5 million.
Open hours: daily, throughout the year
March to October, Monday to Friday - 10:00 to 18:00, Saturday, Sunday and bank holidays - 09:00 to 18:00
November to February - 10:00 to 16:30
By road: the garden lies between Cobham and Ripley in Surrey, off the main London to Portsmouth road (A3) south of Junction 10 of the M25. Follow the brown tourist flower signs on the A3 and M25 to RHS Garden. Car parking is free
By bus: 515 Kingston to Guildford via Surbiton and Wisley. For details call National Traveline on +44 (0)870 6082608
By rail: Waterloo to Portsmouth line
Nearest railway stations: West Byfleet (3 miles / 5 km) or Woking (4 miles / 6 km) and then by taxi
Guildford station (10 miles / 16 km) and then by 515 bus to Kingston stopping at Wisley Gardens
Longleat Safari and Adventure Park
Address: Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12 7NW
Tel: +44 (0)1985 844400
Although the Longleat Safari and Adventure Park may well be a two-hour drive from London, an early start does make a day trip very possible. Thousands of visitors travel miles to come here each weekend and during public holidays. The first port of call is the actual safari park, where you can drive through paddocks of giraffes and zebras, rhinos, lions, tigers, monkeys and wolves. After that, you can take a guided tour around Longleat House itself, learning all about its history and valuable antiques, and then perhaps take a ride on the miniature railway or a boat trip on the lake, where you can feed the sea lions and check out gorilla island. For children, there are two animal-related attractions, a huge Adventure Castle, lots of sweet and gift shops, a Postman Pat village and beautiful grounds suitable for a picnic.
Open hours: daily from April to early November
By car: Longleat is situated just off the A36 between Bath and Salisbury (A362 between Warminster and Frome)
Address: Winkfield Road, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 4AY
Tel: +44 (0)870 504 0404
The hugely popular Legoland theme park is to be found on the western side of London, close to Windsor Castle, between Slough and Maidenhead. When you first arrive it won't be long until you feast your eyes on some of the world's largest Lego-brick creations. You can then take a train ride down into the park below, where all kinds of exciting rollercoasters, fairground rides and activities await, together with Miniland, where some of Europe's most famous buildings have been recreated to scale using only Lego blocks. Onsite there are lots of restaurants and kiosks, as well as stunt shows, puppet shows and a driving school, although it should be noted that most of the attractions will appeal to younger children, rather than teenagers.
Summer season: end of March to August
Autumn season: September to early November
By car: Legoland Windsor is on the B3022 Windsor / Ascot road just two miles from Windsor town centre. It is easily reached via the M25 and clearly signed from the M3 (Junction 3), M4 (Junction 6) and all approach roads. Parking is free
By rail: Windsor and Eton Central / Windsor and Eton Riverside for bus
Chessington World of Adventures
Address: Chessington, Surrey, KT9 2NE
Tel: +44 (0)870 444 7777
One of the UK's most visited theme parks, the Chessington World of Adventures is just 30 minutes from the very heart of London, being located to the south-west, close to Epsom and Kingston upon Thames. Chessington comes with countless exciting rollercoasters, a number of which are relatively recent additions, since the grounds continue to be redeveloped and improved. If you are arriving on a busy day, you should be prepared to queue for at least an hour on the top rides, such as Dragon's Fury in the Land of the Dragons and the Kobra in Wild Asia. Further themed lands include the Forbidden Kingdom, Market Square, Mexicana, the Mystic East, Pirates Cove, Transylvania and Wild Asia. There is also a long-established zoo and a SeaLife centre onsite, complete with sharks and other impressive marine creatures.
Open hours: early April to early November from 10:00 - Closing times: off peak 17:00, standard 18:00 and peak 19:30
By car: Chessington is situated 12 miles from London on the A243, just 2 miles from the A3 and M25 (junction 9 or 10). Car parking is free
Nearest railway station: Chessington South Station - 10-minute walk
By rail: regular south-west train services run from Waterloo, Clapham Junction and Wimbledon. Take the train to Chessington South Station. The park is approximately 10 minutes' walk from the station
By bus: Chessington is served by a regular bus service. Take the 465 bus from Kingston to Chessington, or the 467 bus from Epsom to Chessington
Address: Windsor, Berkshire
Tel: +44 (0)1753 831 118
This famous medieval royal residence dates back to the 11th century, when it was built at the request of William the Conqueror to offer defence for the western outskirts of London. Many extensions and much remodelling took place over the following centuries, and in 1992, a serious fire saw much of Windsor Castle and its priceless contents badly damaged by the flames. Some of the money generated by opening Buckingham Palace to members of the public was diverted to fund its extensive restoration program, which ended up costing some £37 million and lasted five years.
Open hours: daily
March to October - 09:45 to 17:15, last admission 16:00
November to February - 09:45 to 16:15, last admission 15:00
Closed: 29th March, 17th June, 25th / 26th December
Changing of the Guard:
April to June - Monday to Saturday, 11:00
July to March - alternate days, 11:00, exception Sundays
Opening arrangements may be subject to change due to royal commitments, including closure of the State Apartments. Pass holders are advised to telephone in advance