9 Best Budget Day Trips from London

By on Published: February 18, 2019 | Last Updated: November 28, 2020 in Budget Travel Ideas, Europe, UK, Western Europe with 2 Comments

The 9 Best Budget Day Trips from London

We all know London can be an expensive city – if you don’t know how to see it like a local that is – but what about getting out of the capital to discover some fabulous places around?

Well just like the locals know how to do London cheaply, so they also know the best places to visit from the capital in a day… and how to get to them cheaply too.

So after my recent pitstop back in my old stomping ground, I decided to uncover exactly what they were by asking friends and family and this is what I got!

So here they are, the best day trips from London if you’re travelling on a budget…

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#1 Bath

England, Bath, Weir

Located the county of Somerset, Bath is a long, but very rewarding day trip from London – and it’s easily doable on a budget if you book your train tickets in advance.

With tons of instaworthy cobbled streets, character-filled bars and old buildings, you don’t have to spend a lot when you’re here, with tons of places to snap and wander for free… including along the river!

Check out the UNESCO World Heritage Bath Abbey and the famous Royal Crescent from outside for free and save your money for the Roman Baths, which truly are worth the splurge as you can lose yourself there for a good few hours.

Discover more in my Bath day trip itinerary.


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#2 Chiltern Hills

UK, Chiltern Hills, Windmill

Everyone knows walking is a great free activity when you travel and one of the best day trips out of London for a good old stroll is to the Chiltern Hills.

Trains take just 40 minutes from Central London and will transport you to any number of picturesque market towns such as Hitchin, Pangbourne, Goring, Henley-on-Thames or Tring where you’ll find rolling green countryside, quintessential pubs and historic sites.

Some Chiltern towns, such as Amersham, are even accessible using the London Underground, making them super cheap to get to as you can use your Oyster or Contactless.

Once in the Chiltern Hills you can enjoy riverside walks along the Thames Path, strolls around the towns or even bigger hikes into the surrounding countryside if you’re feeling energetic!


#3 Margate

UK, Margate, Old Town

My new favourite day trip from London, Margate is a faded seaside town making a serious revival!

It’s vintage, quirky feel is very distinct and at it oozes a seriously cool vibe at some seriously cool prices!

Going out for dinner or drinks here will cost you around half of what it costs in London and you’ll do it all to the sound of the sea.

With the Turner Contemporary art gallery here free to enter and loads of great cafes (both authentic greasy spoons and hipster, vegan hangouts) not only does Margate make for a great budget day trip from London, but also a super great weekend trip too.

Learn exactly how to travel from London to Margate here.


4 Practical Budget Tips for London Travel

Stay: Premier Inn and Travelodge offer excellent budget hotel accommodation within London and regularly run special deals. Otherwise, when it comes to hostel accommodation, you can’t go wrong with the amazingly named Barmy Badger Backpackers!

Transport: Getting to London from elsewhere in UK is cheapest via the Megabus. Otherwise, budget airlines EasyJet and Ryanair offer cheap European air connections. Look for flights to cheap London airports such as Luton or Stanstead and then use public transport to get to the city centre.

Eat: Buy cheap snacks at supermarkets such as Sainburys for lunch or peruse the local markets at places like Brixton or Dalston. For dinner head to Brick Lane for delicious, cheap Indian food or to Kingsland Road for well-priced and excellent Vietnamese fare.

Attractions: If you want to bucket list a lot of stuff in London in a short amount of time, then a great money-saving option is to invest in a London Pass. This offers discounted entry at stacks of attractions round the city as well as fast track entry!


#4 Cambridge

England, Cambridge, Punting

Booking your bus ticket in advance to get to Cambridge cheaply and easily from London definitely makes this one of the best city day trips on a budget.

Once there, stroll the historic streets of this famous university town, or punt along the river instead.

There’s also some great free walking tours in Cambridge and some amazing bookshops to get lost in too.

It’s worth knowing that both the Fitzwilliam Museum and the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology are free to enter in this city and you can visit some of the Cambridge Colleges for a reasonable price too.


#5 Tunbridge Wells

England, Kent, Tunbridge Wells

A charming old spa town situated in Kent, and a short and cheap journey by train from London Charing Cross, you can score some real bargains on getting to Tunbridge Wells if you book your ticket a day or 2 in advance.

And once you get to Tunbridge Wells enjoy cosy cafes, lovely parks and a stroll to the historic part of this “Royal” town known as the Pantiles.

Here independent shops and cobbled streets give a very charming feel to this historically renowned town, which was once favoured by Queen Victoria for its clean air and the healing properties of its waters.


#6 Oxford

England, Oxford, Radcliffe Camera

Is this the most famous university city in the world?


And you know what, it’s no less amazing for it!

One of the best day trips from London without question, the best way to get to Oxford on a budget is by bus – either the good old National Express, or the Megabus if you’re especially skint!

Wonder the picture-perfect university halls of the ancient city or head to the more trendy Cowley Road to experience a bit of Oxford’s more alternative side.

For a small city, Oxford has a lot going on and wonderfully combines historical attractions with beautiful parks and green spaces.

Of all the best budget day trips from London on this list, Oxford has to rank as one of my favourites, so don’t miss it!

Check out this guide I wrote about how to enjoy the perfect Oxford day trip if you want to learn more.


#7 Windsor

England, Windsor, Queen Victoria

Windsor is a great budget day trip from London because it’s so close!

Once there however, you’ll feel anything like you’re on the cheap with the chance to visit several places with very Royal connections.

Top of the list has to be Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.

There’s also Frogmore House and Dorney Court to check out too – both of which have very regal connections, as well as the Windsor Great Park which is a lovely place to relax, picnic and spot deer!

And then, of course, there’s also Eton College where Prince William and Harry went to school.

Amble past Eton as part of the Heritage Walking Trail – a free route which takes in many of Windsor’s best sites, including the Castle, the Thames and the winding, cobbled streets of the town itself.

Otherwise, why not explore the amazing Windsor Long Walk, the 2+mile straight avenue view from Snow Hill down to Windsor Castle is something you won’t forget in a while!


#8 Brighton

England, Brighton, Pier

If a seaside sojourn is what you’re looking for, then it really is hard to beat Brighton.

If you head here on the train from London Bridge it will be a lot cheaper than getting on the train from London Victoria, so take this budget tip and enjoy the short hour and 15 minute journey for less!

Once in Brighton, you can’t miss a walk on the pier, playing the arcades and strolling the cobbled Laines (north and south!) to discover quirky shops like Snooper’s Paradise where you can pick up a real bargain piece of treasure!

The Vegan Pizza joint, Purezza Brighton, in Kemp Town is a firm locals’ favourite for its delicious healthy dinners!


#9 Chichester

England, Chichester, Street

Situated in East Sussex, Chichester isn’t the cheapest to get to on this best budget day trips from London list.

It does, however, have a stack of free things to do once you get there and, situated on the coast, is a very beautiful spot indeed.

Top of the list when it comes to free things to do in Chichester is visit the famous Cathedral, the child-friendly Novium Museum and the Grade-I listed Pallant House Gallery.

There’s also lots to do out in nature, including the 9km Centurian Way, which is perfect for cyclists and walkers, and West Witterings Beach – a long sandy stretch with plenty of water sports, strolling, sunbathing or swimming to choose from.

With its origins dating back to Roman times, there’s no doubt Chichester has withstood the test of time as one of the UK’s most charming cities.


Bonus #10 Whitstable

England, Whitstable, Harbour

Whitstable, on the Kent coast, is a fantastic seaside day out form London if you’re looking to get your Vitamin Sea fix!

A quaint and quirky place full of great independent shops, cafe, art galleries and antique stores, there’s also some wonderful coastal walking and cycle tracks that lead from here as well as some of the best oysters and / or fish and chips you can get in England!

But best of all is Whitstable Beach – a shingle stretch of coastline that boasts amazing paddling potential, pints on the pebbles and kayaking / SUP-ing opps, as well as one of the best ocean sunsets in the UK.

Learn more in my complete guide visiting Whitstable.




So there you have it, my list of the best budget day trips from London.

How many have you visited?

And which one are you going to next?


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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 2 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Sarah says:

    As a part-time Bath resident, I love that it’s at the top!
    Totally agree with Oxford, Cambridge and Chichester too.. thanks for the tips on the others to investigate!

    • Steph says:

      Woo hoo Sarah, big up the Bath crew! Love your city and glad you agree with the others on the list too. So many nice places to explore in the UK – I always forget to appreciate what’s on my doorstep!

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