Working in London can be exhausting, but thanks to the United Kingdom's extensive rail network, escaping from the hustle and bustle of the British capital for a day is only a quick train ride away. Treat yourself to a mini vacation and experience England's rolling countryside and natural wonders, explore ancient castles and ruins, discover a plethora of cultural activities and attractions, and still be back in time for a good night's sleep. Below are 10 of the best places to visit less than two and a half hours outside of the city.
With the oldest university in England at its heart, Oxford has grown to become a lively academic, historical and cultural hub. The city combines all the usual accoutrements of a college town with the rich history of an ancient city from the 9th century. Wander around the narrow streets lined with beautiful stone architecture, tour the university, browse the shelves of old and new bookshops and libraries, and pick up a souvenir in one of many shops and markets. Though Oxford is one of England's most popular tourist attractions, its compact downtown makes it easily accessible and navigable. Visitors can hop from one attraction to another in a very short amount of time, making it a perfect destination for a full day out.
Cambridge is one of two ancient university towns in England, and it is brimming with things to do, places to explore, and books to read. While Oxford and Cambridge have quite a bit in common, Cambridge is slightly smaller and less busy than its counterpart. It also has the King's College Chapel, one of the most famous buildings in England, as well as the Fitzwilliam Museum, which is said to have the best art collection in England outside of London. To relax and get a great view of many of Cambridge's colleges, go punting, or boating, down the River Cam. Punting, which was developed in medieval times, is also offered in Oxford, but the Cambridge experience is more stunning. Rent out a punt yourself or have a professional punter propel it for you.
Bath is an UNESCO World Heritage City named for its natural hot springs, which served as the ancient Roman baths 2,000 years ago. The city, which was once a bustling, aristocratic resort town, is now a fabulous place to enjoy pristine Georgian architecture and plenty of historical and cultural sights and activities. Upon arrival, make sure to go on a self-guided audio tour of the Roman Baths, which are still bubbling with the same water from ancient times. When you are done walking in the footsteps of the ancient Romans, step outside and grab a bite to eat at Sally Lunn's Refreshment House, which is the oldest house in Bath and the only home of Sally Lunn's Buns, Bath's most famous teatime delicacies. Afterward, take your pick of one of Bath's many museums, including the Fashion Museum, which traces the changes in clothing fashion over the last 400 years, the Jane Austen Centre, which is a shrine to Bath's most famous resident, and the Bath Aqua Theatre of Glass, where you can watch glass art being created. If you aren't in the mood to sightsee, Bath's condensed downtown is great for a relaxing afternoon of wandering and shopping.