London has so much to offer visitors - historic icons like Buckingham Palace, world-class culture like the National Gallery, and state of the art sporting venues like Wembley - but one of its greatest attractions is its easy access to the rest of England. Trains leave London every day for every part of the country, and with the advantages of the BritRail M-Pass, rail travel becomes an easy, flexible and efficient way of exploring England. When arriving into London Heathrow or Gatwick, the M-Pass can be used to travel for free on the train into central London, and visitors can then choose to either take day trips from London, or travel continuously through England. We've listed some of the best spots that can be reached from London within 2.5 hours below!
An eccentric seaside town that inspired Graham Greene’s novels, Brighton is less than an hour from London by train and is a very cosmopolitan city with many bars and clubs. Don’t miss a “flight” on the world's tallest moving observation tower, the BA i360, to enjoy breath-taking views over Brighton and the beautiful South Coast of England.
London Victoria to Brighton - 55 mins
Known as “the city in the countryside”, Salisbury is surrounded by a landscape so quintessentially English it’s almost too good to be true. With timbered buildings, an Early English Gothic Cathedral home to the famous Magna Carta, a thriving market, a buzzing arts scene, museums and some of England’s finest historic houses there are many things for you waiting to be explored. Nearby, you can visit Stonehenge, one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric stone circle in Europe.
London Waterloo to Salisbury - 1 hr 30 mins
“Canterbury's past is as rich as it comes” says the latest Lonely Planet guide to Britain. This world-famous cathedral city was one of medieval Europe's great places of pilgrimages and knowledge. Today it has a distinctly cosmopolitan feel, as well as world-class heritage and history. Less than an hour from London, it's in a corner of England that's almost touching France.
London St Pancras to Canterbury - 1 hr
Founded on top of natural hot springs and home to one of the world’s best-preserved Roman bathhouses, this sophisticated city is where grand Georgian architecture and buildings such as The Royal Crescent and the Assembly Rooms evoke the romance of Jane Austen’s novels, where the author spent five years of her life.
London Paddington to Bath - 1 hr 25 mins
Home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world, The Grand Hall of Oxford’s mighty Christ Church College, Bodleian Library and New College will be recognisable to Harry Potter film fans. Admire the famous ‘Dreaming Spires’ of medieval churches while enjoying strawberries and champagne as you take a leisurely punt down the river.
London Paddington or Marylebone to Oxford - 1 hr
A picturesque market town full of independent shops, characterful cafés and rowing boats drifting down the River Avon, famously the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Visit The Royal Shakespeare Company and five beautifully preserved Tudor homes and gardens, all directly linked with The Bard for a feeling of days gone by.
London Marylebone - Stratford-upon-Avon 2 hrs
Explore the laid-back city of Bristol for a glimpse of its graceful architecture and offbeat culture. Famous as the birthplace of Banksy, take a walk to appreciate the city’s street art, indulge in gastronomy of every flavour in trendy revamped warehouses and explore the SS Great Britain, the world’s first ship made of iron.
London Paddington to Bristol - 1 hr 45 mins
Nicknamed The Capital of Pop, Liverpool’s rich music history can be explored at the Beatle Story, a museum dedicated to the Fab Four, or the British Music Experience, a brand new museum dedicated to British music. The sport mad city is home to two Premier League football teams, with stadium tours offered every day. Or why not join the Magical Mystery Tour to see the places connected with the Beatles across Liverpool. An impressive collection of museums and a thriving arts scene, including Tate Liverpool, make the city a hit with culture vultures.
London Euston to Liverpool - 2 hrs 10 mins
Youthful, diverse, energetic and bursting with character; Manchester is one of the most exciting places to visit in the UK, where everybody and anybody is very warmly welcomed. Known throughout the world as the birthplace of the industrial revolution, Manchester has a proud history in science, politics, music, arts and sport. This is where you find the National Football Museum, and don’t miss a tour of one of the most iconic football stadiums in the world, Old Trafford, home to Manchester United Football Club.
London Euston to Manchester - 2 hrs 10 mins
A place of extraordinary cultural and historical wealth, this beautifully preserved medieval city is home to delights such as the timber-framed houses of The Shambles and the imposing architecture of York Minster and nearby Castle Howard.
London King’s Cross to York - 1 hr 50 mins
A small city that packs a big punch, Exeter is one of the most vibrant, attractive and historically interesting cities in England. Pre-dating the arrival of the Romans in AD 50, Exeter’s history is rich and long. This is reflected in its fascinating visitor attractions including its free Red Coat Guided Tours, magnificent Cathedral, imposing Roman wall and beautiful Quayside. Why not let a local guide tailor make a tour of nearby Dartmoor for you, to explore one of the last wildernesses in England, with its unique rock formations and ponies.
London Paddington to Exeter (Devon) - 2 hrs
The Cotswolds is home to some of England’s most awe-inspiring sights, including sweeping green hills and quintessentially English villages lined with gorgeous honey-coloured cottages. Explore one of the many market towns, or let a driver-guide take you on a tour of the areas many world-class gardens, stately homes and picturesque villages.
London Paddington to Moreton-in-Marsh (Cotswolds) - 1 hr 40 mins
Crowned by stunning Windsor Castle – the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world and the Queen's favourite weekend home – and linked by the beautiful River Thames, Windsor has a rich mix of history, culture, heritage and fun. Witness the colourful and very ‘British’ spectacle of the guards marching through the streets of Windsor for the Changing the Guard ceremony within Windsor Castle's walls - it's a sight not to be missed! London
Paddington to Windsor - 30 mins
Chester is a classic, yet contemporary city bursting with 2000 years of history and spectacular shopping. Chester has the most complete city walls and the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, plus a 1000 year old cathedral and 700 year old shopping rows.