If Paris is a city that really captures the heart, then London invigorates the imagination. It’s a city full of cobbled streets, the latest tech and tons of tourists, which unfortunately can cause the air to become a little too stuffy at times. While the capital undoubtedly has plenty of amazing things to do, sometimes we all need to relax and take a deep breath of fresh air outside the city.
From a cinema in Sussex, to the seaside and piers, up to punting in Cambridge, here’s 5 of the best places to go to take a London break (if only for a day).
Hastings is a small Sussex town looking out over the English channel. Its an eclectic mix of the old and the new. Hastings offers both modern, sophisticated dining in numerous fine restaurants and the chance to visit a quaint Victoria town more reminiscent of the classic seaside resorts of the 1920s.
With the fresh sea and slow town life around you, Hastings is a welcome break from the infinite bustle of London.
There are a number of attractions in Hastings, a town infamous for being the location of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The battle took place 6 miles out of town and it plays host to reenactments every year on the October anniversary, complete with costumes, (safe) gunfire and merriments after.
Even if your visit doesn’t coincide with the battle, you can still get your history fix by visiting the ruins of Hastings Castle or strolling through the Old Town.
Dining is similarly classic beach resort with many pubs and restaurants in Hastings, including the best local fish and chip shop being Tush and Pat’s Fisherman’s Rolls. If you fancy something a bit more fine dining and less deep fried, you can pop away from the sea to the forest and The Sussex Exchange’s restaurant.
With their newly opened cinema at The Sussex Exchange, you can enjoy a meal overlook the treetops and finish with a independant movie going experience. They even offer the London treatment with a VIP cinema experience equipped with extra comfortable seating and your very own minibar.
Travel tips for Hastings:
Southeastern run direct trains from numerous London stations to Hastings, which take 90 minutes to arrive.
Cambridge is known all the over the world for its University. Although there is much more to the city than it’s famous school, the University has hugely influenced the architecture and culture of Cambridge.
Indeed, a trip to Cambridge is not complete without taking in the city’s impressive architecture. If you’re looking for a way to truly get far from the maddening crowd, then you can take in the sights of Cambridge whilst idly floating down the river Cam on a relaxing gondola ride.
Afterwards, why not take in an education that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and check out The Fitzwilliam Museum, which is both fascinating and free. Then you can end your day with a relaxing pint in The Eagle, a historic pub that dates back to 1667.
Travel tips for Cambridge
Direct trains to Cambridge run every 30 minutes from Kings Cross and take 50 minutes to arrive.
This idyllic seaside resort town offers visitors the chance to enjoy a host of fun activities and culinary delights in addition to the refreshing sea breeze.
There’s a host of great events in Brighton, and as the unofficial gay capital of the UK, the city hosts PRIDE every summer; an annual event that celebrates the LGBT community and promotes equality and diversity.
The North Laines are an essential stop to make whilst you’re in Brighton no matter what you’re interested in. “Whether you’re looking to have a cream tea or to get a tattoo,” the winding Laines and their beautiful boutique shops have something for everyone.
Brighton is also awash with great bars and coffee shops. Make sure you stop by Marwood Coffee shop, a cafe that promises “kick ass coffee and life changing-cake”. Afterwards, you can immerse yourself in Brighton’s famous nightlife. Swig some Brighton IPA at The Tempest Inn before heading to Dead Wax Social, a seriously cool bar that combines craft beer, pizza and vinyl.
Travel tips for Brighton:
Southern trains from Victoria, which take 1 hour 30 minutes.
Windsor is a town full of grandeur, from the eponymously named Windsor Castle to the nearby Eton College. Windsor Castle, the Queen’s principal residence, is the world’s largest and oldest continuously occupied fortress. Free guided tours of the wards run every half-hour.
Stretching from Windsor Castle all the way to Ascot is Windsor Great Park. The park consists of just under 8 square miles of beautiful gardens and wildlife, not to mention the hundreds of red deer that roam freely around the park.
If you have the kids with you, then you might want to swap Windsor Castle for Legoland theme park and hotel, which has over 55 rides to keep the children entertained.
And finally, before you head back to the big smoke, make sure you stop by The Two Brewers on Park Street for a pint or two of real ale and some good British food.
Travel tips for Windsor:
First Great Western trains run from Paddington and take 30 minutes.
During the occupation of the Roman empire, St Albans, then named Verulamium, was Britain’s third largest town. Today, it’s a pretty cathedral city decorated with Edwardian and Tudor architecture. If Hasting’s has it’s impressive modern cinema, St Albans is known for its Roman theatre. Dating back to AD 180, the theatre is the only remaining ruin of its kind in Britain. You can access the theatre and the nearby Verulamium Museum for just £6.50.
If you’re heading to St Albans on Wednesday or Saturday, then be sure to check out the city’s outdoor market.The market was granted a special Royal Charter in 1553, but it’s actually existed since 9th century. You can also grab a bite to eat at the market, however if you fancy something a little bit special on your day off, you can head to The Lake instead. Set in the beautiful St Michael’s Manor Hotel, The Lake is an elegant restaurant offering tasty British cuisine.
Travel tips for St Albans:
Southeastern trains departing from from St Pancras take 20 minutes to arrive.