London is an excellent choice for travelers as it is located at an accessible distance to world famous cities and attractions in the UK. I get some time to see London on a off day during the week, and a few European cities during the term breaks. However, there are a lot of beautiful cities in the UK that I realised I could visit at the weekend.

Usually, I spend the majority of my week studying in the library so as to get a free day on Saturday to take a day trip. I travel with my friends. I try and leave London early in the morning around 8am and attempt to return back just in time for dinner.

If you, like me like to make time for one day a week to escape the city and get lost in the beautiful English countrysides, check out my top trips.

 

Oxford

An hour ride away, at just £7, the magnificent university town draws visitors from across the globe and it is a must-visit, especially as a student. Ideally, you should be able to see the city and a few colleges within 4 hours as it is a walking city. With plenty of maps available online, it’s difficult to miss a spot when you walk around. The Central Library is one of the most stunning attractions. For the best experience, book a student-led tour. These are generally free and last about 45 minutes but do not run throughout the year.

 

Cambridge

Just over an hour away, and at £8 ticket, Cambridge is, in my opinion, prettier than Oxford. Bigger than Oxford, the city takes slightly more time to walk through. For the best experience, take a punting tour, a traditional boating tour that takes you along the river. The most beautiful parts of the colleges open along the river and thus this is the best way to see them. You are accompanied on the tour by a punter – a guide who is typically a resident or student. Ask them as many questions as you’d like, they love conversations. The boats have blankets as well for when it’s chilly. As a tip, stay ready to pose at the front of the boat when you come across the ‘Bridge of Sighs’, the most picturesque spot in Cambridge.

While a few colleges at certain times have free entries, it is rare. It is worthwhile buying an entry ticket to the King’s Chapel as it is glorious and has with it a ticket to the college grounds as well. 

 

Manchester

About 2 hours away from London lies Manchester. The city breathes football and houses the Old Trafford Stadium and the Football Museum. However, that’s not all that there is to it. With constant urban renewals, Manchester has an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods and feels different across every road. The War Museum, close to the Old Trafford is a beautiful experience not just for the history fanatics. The city centre lies away from the stadium and the museum. The city has a great over-ground tram system that is fun to ride and easy to navigate. Birmingham, Leeds or Liverpool are also not too far away if you want to travel from city to city for an extended trip.

 

Liverpool

Little less than 2.5 hours via train, at about £40, Liverpool is in my opinion, the most underrated city in the UK. Home to the Beatles, the city is brimming with art, history, culture and of course, music. The best way to see Liverpool might be to take the ‘City Sightseeing Bus’ Tour which has both the ‘City’ and the ‘Beatles’ Tour Inclusion. Liverpool prides itself on being an amalgamation of England, Wales and Ireland. Located right next to the sea, the city has beaches, a beautiful waterfront, countryside suburbs which have homes of the Beatles members, Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, the Beatles Museum, home of the Titanic’s Orchestra, the World Museum and the absolutely stunning and picturesque Liverpool and Metropolitan Cathedrals. The city centre has one of the biggest collection of grade 2 listed buildings – walking through the city transports you into a different era. A good way to see Liverpool completely might be to make it into a one and a half day trip. 

 

Canterbury, Dover 

Get your hiking shoes and water bottles out as this one is surely a beautiful but exhausting day. A 100 minutes train costing about £15 gets you to Dover Priory. This is a 20 minutes walk to the Dover Castle. I am not one for a lot of castles and palaces, but this one is more like a walk through old, well-preserved ruins, set upon manicured lawns. A toy train runs inside the castle to take you through the main areas, on what is otherwise a 21 point route. Trek from here for about 25-35 minutes to reach the Visitor Centre for the Cliffs of Dover. These white stone cliffs provide beautiful views across the sea and on a lucky day, you can even come across the French Coast line. The trek back is simpler with cheap taxis available as well from the port. Back from Dover, onto London, stop at Canterbury to see a pretty college city. This city works primarily around the central market street with great eating places and good student discounts. This is usually a long day trip so its advisable to start your day early. It also might be preferable to do this one on a sunny day. 

Stay tuned to find out my other top day trips from London!

Aarushi Jain

AJ

An MSc. in City Design and Social Science student. Follow me for updates on London, travelling in the UK, and student life at LSE.