There’s nowhere quite like London, and when it comes to exploring everything on offer here, the real question is, where to begin? With world class restaurants, bars, clubs, outstanding cultural venues, greenspace, galleries and museums, it’s little wonder the capital consistently sets the trend, attracting millions of visitors from across the globe each and every year.
That said, it never hurts to broaden one’s horizons, and the good news is, if you’re looking for a day out beyond the city limits, there’s no shortage of engaging and enjoyable ways to spend that all-important leisure time. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at some of the beautiful places only a short distance away, certain to capture the imagination…
Just a brief train ride from Central London, Windsor Castle has been home to kings and queens for 1000 years and remains the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Tours and exhibitions mean being able to immerse yourself in this slice of living history by taking in the State Apartments, St. George’s Chapel and, of course, the spectacular gardens, to name but a few of the many available attractions. Quite simply one of the country's most significant historical landmarks, it’s truly an unforgettable experience, providing an exclusive glimpse into England’s rich cultural heritage.
Hampton Court Palace is a huge, baroque palace on the edge of the Thames only fifteen miles from the capital. Surrounded by stunning gardens and parklands, it was once the royal residence of King Henry VIII and provides a fascinating insight into life in the 16th - 17th centuries. You can even take a look around the kitchens, where two-hundred staff used to cook eight-hundred meals a day. There’s also plenty to keep the kids occupied, with a giant maze in the gardens, fantastic play areas and plenty of space to have a picnic. The ideal spot to while away a lazy, summer’s afternoon.
The city of dreaming spires is just over an hour from London, and for those who haven’t had the pleasure, its stunning architecture, traditional pubs and cobbled streets represent the UK at its most charming and delightful. Home to one of the oldest universities in the world, Oxford’s high street looks the same now as it did at the end of the 18th century. Meanwhile, a river cruise comes highly recommended. Passing Oxford’s many boathouses and meadows you’ll soon be surrounded by the countryside that inspired ‘Alice in Wonderland’, all part of a special, welcoming place that’s sure to linger long in the memory.
Perhaps most famous for its links to the Henley Rowing Regatta, Henley-On-Thames is one of the most visually arresting towns anywhere in the UK. Situated on the banks of the Thames, it’s surrounded by the stunning Chiltern landscape, characterised by expansive woodlands, green fields and rolling hills. Meanwhile, the town itself is unbelievably picturesque, featuring artisan shops selling antiques, hand-made chocolates, books and gifts. With numerous cafes and restaurants, it also boasts a range of old-style pubs, the perfect place to stop, sample a local ale and get a taste of life in this classic English enclave.
The Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour in Watford is a spellbinding excursion for all Potter fans, providing a rare insight into the making of the much-loved franchise. Only fifteen minutes from London, visitors get exclusive access to costumes, props and the sets used to make the films, including The Great Hall, Diagon Alley, Gringotts Wizarding Bank and the Forbidden Forest. Officially one of the world’s most popular attractions (with more than 6,000 visitors a day!) this is an outstanding adventure for all the family. It’s also worth remembering that you don’t have to be a big Potter fan to enjoy your time here. There’s more than enough magic on display to satisfy everyone!
For those willing to travel just a little further afield, a trip to Stonehenge is a chance to see one of the true wonders of the world up close and personal. A monumental testament to human creativity, ingenuity and imagination, Stonehenge dates back 5000 years, making this a unique opportunity to walk in the footsteps of prehistoric people, whilst taking in the awe-inspiring spectacle that is the Stone Circle. And although we don’t know exactly why it was built, there’s no denying its mysterious and captivating power. As such, it’s a place to contemplate the enigma of life, whilst channelling the positive energy generated by this distinct and singular phenomenon