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Very soon, I'll spend some time in London. The weather forecast isn't that great and I think I have to expect some rainy days. Sightseeing in wet clothes is okay for some days, but not everyday. So I'm looking for some day-trips to interesting places which are suitable for bad weather. Any recommendations?

I'm interested in a lot of different things, but I'd particularly like to see things that I can't see anywhere else. Additionally, I like natural sights, landmarks and architectural sights as well as places that have a historical meaning.

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so these shouldn't be IN London? –  Mark Mayo Feb 2 '12 at 12:18
    
No, I'm talking about other sights around London that I can visit as a day trip –  RoflcoptrException Feb 2 '12 at 12:19
    
so you want something that is ideally not outside (since you imply not everyday is good for sightseeing in wet clothes) but which is natural or a landmark? Could you perhaps be a bit more specific? London's quite big, as is the area within a day-trip distance from it... –  Mark Mayo Feb 2 '12 at 12:31
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What about Paris? It is only 1,5 h away ;) –  andra Feb 2 '12 at 16:08
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Cheddar gorge, Bristol (for street art), Bath or Portsmouth (HMS victory) –  Stuart Feb 2 '12 at 18:07

10 Answers 10

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I see you have a high Stack Overflow reputation. Have you considered Bletchley Park, with The Nation Museum Of Computing?

Bletchley Park was the centre of British code breaking in WWII (I believe quite a lot happened at Stanmore, but that's not so sexy).

Over in the museum of computing is a reconstruction of a Colossus, used to break German Lorenz codes (more complicated and significant than the Enigma). Probably nothing like the computer museum in Mountain View, but worth a look.

Bletchley Park is just a short walk from Bletchley train station, with a decent service into London (even a magic hourly service to Clapham Junction and Croydon).

--

Also for nerdy day trips, there is the crowd-sourced, google maps-mashup and generally buzzword 2.0-compliant http://www.nerdydaytrips.com/.

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+1 for Bletchley Park. For other tech-oriented places to visit see the UK pages in the Geek Atlas: shop.oreilly.com/product/9780596523213.do –  Paul R Feb 3 '12 at 12:22
    
The science museum in London also has a floor dedicated to really old computers. Free entry but donations gratefully accepted. –  dsas Mar 24 '12 at 8:59

England is a small country, and the number of things that you can see by day trip from London is huge - so huge that I'm reluctant to answer for fear of starting a list. Virtually everything in the south of England can be done if you don't mind spending a few hours travelling. Also, unless you have been in London for several months you haven't seen all the tourist sights there.

Let me just name towns and areas within reach: Oxford, Cambridge, Dover, the Cotswolds - OK, and one attraction because everybody does it: Stonehenge.

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With bad weather go to Dickens World.It is in Chatham.

It might be nice to know that Chatham was also the the place where Michiel de Ruyter had one of his major victories, earning him a central position in Dutch history and making him to the English, what Nelson is to the French ;).

Another really nice day trip from London is Canterbury. If you are able to rent a car, I would certainly recommend combining Canterbury, with Dover and Sandwich.

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The Kent coast is nice, but I have to say that Dickens World was a terrible disappointment when we visited. –  Paul R Feb 2 '12 at 17:45
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+ 1 for Sandwich, there isn't a lot there but having a sandwich is sandwich is worth the extra 3 pounds in train fairs. –  Stuart Feb 2 '12 at 18:08

Brighton is a good day trip from London. It's less than an hour by train. It's a lively beach town, but there is a lot else going on in addition to the usual stuff on the seafront. Check out the Royal Pavilion, the Pier, the Laines. Good shopping and restaurants too.

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I am english(32 years old), I lived in London for eleven years.

For places outside London, I would not bother with stonehenge and would prefer to go to Bath, Stamford and Arundel.

They all date from hundreds of years ago, and are much more interesting and pretty.

For countryside, the lake district - everything else is rubbish in comparison.

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OK, England's a small country, but the Lake District isn't a day trip from London. Google maps says it's four and a half hours each way. –  DJClayworth Feb 3 '12 at 15:14
    
yeah buts its well nice. –  NimChimpsky Feb 3 '12 at 15:16
    
@NimChimpsky The lake district might be beautiful, but to say everything is rubbish, quite frankly is not true !! –  Simon Feb 26 '13 at 14:40

On top of the usual nice cities not too far from London (Oxford, Brighton, Canterbury, Cambridge, etc), there are many beautiful places for nice walks that you can reach pretty easily (maximum 2 hours from London using public transport). You'll find many of them on the Saturday Walkers' Club's website.

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Cheddar gorge (though you would need a car), you could stop at Royal Wootton Bassett on the way, which is were until recently the British causalities returned from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bristol, for street art and anything made by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (like SS Great Britain or Clifton suspension bridge) oh and loads of Cider! If you want to stay over night there is a hostel called the rock and bowl which is a night club bowling alley and hostel all in one, free air plugs provided.

Bath Roman baths and interesting architecture you can get there on the train on the way to Bristol.

Portsmouth has HMS Victory as well as Armed forces weekend once a year when you can tour some of Her majesty fleet.

Windsor for Windsor castle,

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London is well-connected to most of south-east and south-west England with fast trains connecting from London Victoria and London Waterloo. Here are some of destinations which are just a two-hour train ride or so away from London.

Portsmouth

Portsmouth is a harbour town where you can see HMS Victory...

HMS Victory

Photo by Jamie Campbell

...and Spinnaker Tower, one of the most stunning 'tall structures' you can see on the planet.

Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth harbour

Photo by Ballista

You can even go up the Spinnaker Tower to catch the view of from 'Crow's Nest' at the top. You have to pay for that though.


Southampton

Southampton was where the Titanic sailed from, and you can see anchors from the Titanic and other maritime museums in town to check out. There are fortifications around town called the Southampton Park Gate. Also, there's a pub called The Red Lion that has been around since Tudor times, it has quite some character although these days it's a bit derelict.


Salisbury

Stonehneg

The Stonehenge is near Salisbury! Need I say more? :) Schedule your trip properly though so that you make it within the opening hours. My suggestion would be to go towards the afternoon, walk around, and then stay for the sunset.


Bristol

enter image description here

Photo by Ajuk

If you're a fan of street art, then Bristol is a lovely place to check out. Famous street artist Banksy (and others inspired by him) are based out of Bristol, and it's quite an experience simply walking down Bristol's streets and admiring Banksy's weird and statement-making graffiti. (If you come to like Banksy's work, I would highly recommend watching the documentary he directed titled Exit Through The Gift Shop.)

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Photo by Arpingstone

Also worth seeing is the Clifton Suspension Bridge.


Brighton and Bournemouth

I'm loath to club these two together, but both Brighton and Bournemouth are beach towns where you can relax; probably not if it's snowing or raining though, then it's just miserable!


Cardiff

One reason why I would recommend going to Cardiff is to see the Welsh countryside, not many people do that when on short trips to England. While it's a big city and not very different as far as cities go, Cardiff has its own architecture worth admiring around and the near the city. More than that really, I think I just love the Welsh accent and how different the culture feels like. You can get some really funny pictures of signs in Welsh!


All the cities I have mentioned have direct or otherwise easy-to-access train services connected them to London, which makes it possible to visit and then return in a day. For the cheapest tickets, leave London outside of peak travel times in morning and evening to get 'super off-peak day return' tickets. Since there may not be enough to see in one place, you can do two of any of these on day - they are about an hour or so roughly away from each other by train - and then return to London from the second destination (although then you cannot use return tickets, unless you return to the first destination).

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Totally agree with these suggestions (and have done many) - consider adding Avebury to Stonehenge and Bath to Bristol –  Kate Gregory Jan 29 '13 at 17:55
    
@AnkurBanerjee You should definitely add Canterbury to your list –  Simon Feb 26 '13 at 14:38

I liked Colchester a lot. Oldest recorded town in England, former captial, it's a very scenic old town. If you decide to go, you should have a look at the remains of St. Botolph's Priory.

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Old Trafford, Manchester United's Theatre Of Dreams has a history more than 100 years.

It's about 2.5 hours from London using train ( from Euston London station )

enter image description here

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protected by Ankur Banerjee Feb 4 '13 at 16:22

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