For many of us, the pandemic has gotten our travel urges itching. Over the last several months, as the lockdown and the slow re-opening that followed curtailed and hindered travel, a lot of people have been trying to take a vacation or see new places while staying safe and healthy. For new students coming to LSE or London for the first time, you might be wondering the same thing. Here are three recommendations for day trips you can take that will get you out of the centre of London and keep you on the cautious side of traveling:
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace is one of my favourite London sites. Located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames roughly 12 miles southwest of central London, Hampton Court Palace was a favourite home of many British monarchs, notably King Henry VIII. While Hampton Court Palace is within Greater London, when you arrive, you’ll see it has much more of a suburban feel to it. It is easily accessible from London’s train stations, but Waterloo has a very direct route that is around 25 minutes on the train. The palace itself is magnificent, and you can honestly spend hours exploring it, which I have done several times. Start with the portions of the complex that date back to Henry VIII’s time and then head to the baroque palace housing King William III and Queen Mary II’s apartments. From there, I recommend seeing the Georgian private apartments built for Kings George I and II. After you have explored the inner portions of the palace, head around back to the beautiful gardens, where you will find wonderful fountains, mazes, walking paths, tennis courts, and more. I could not recommend Hampton Court Palace more highly!
Oxford is a fantastic place for a day trip from London. It is roughly an hour by train from central London, where you’ll see beautiful countryside on the way. Once you arrive in Oxford, it is a short walk to the city centre. I suggest visiting some of the University of Oxford’s colleges first. My favourites are Balliol, Trinity, Jesus, and Christ Church. (New College and Christ Church are where many Harry Potter scenes were filmed). However, all of them are gorgeous and you cannot go wrong with any of them. From there, check out the old Bodleian Library, which is located near Balliol and Trinity Colleges. But after you’ve explored the university, I recommend walking around and exploring the city centre, which is very quaint and beautiful. Getting lost and exploring Oxford is the best way to experience this brilliant (pun intended) city.
White Cliffs of Dover
The White Cliffs of Dover are some of the most beautiful pieces of nature in the UK. You can reach Dover from St. Pancras, next to King’s Cross Station, in just over an hour on the train. The town of Dover is a classic English seaside town, so it is worth exploring, but the cliffs are really what you want to see. There is a path through the town that leads you to the cliffs. Once you’re there, enjoy the beautiful hiking trails that take you along the bluffs overlooking the English Channel. On a sunny day, if you go near the edges of the cliffs, you can see the French coastline. If it is windy, the hiking can be tough, but it is well worth it. This is a great option for a nice autumn or spring day.
This post was written in late August 2020. Please consult the UK government website for the latest coronavirus guidance.