Whether coming for the history, the culture, or a glimpse of the Royal Family, travelers are sure to have an amazing time visiting London.
Alas, that vacation of yours is short. But your travel wish list is long. Think you need to come back across the pond to see other cities and countries? Not the case. While in London, easily pop over to Beatle-loving Liverpool, UNESCO Heritage Site Bath, or even Scotland and Wales. How, you ask? We’ll show you!
1. Edinburgh, Scotland: 4 hours, 34 minutes from London
What to See in Edinburgh, Scotland
Once in Edinburgh, don’t just have a lowball of single malt or seek out men donning kilts. Visit the National Galleries of Scotland, tour the 16th century Lauriston Castle or cavort with the animals at the Edinburgh Zoo. Visit Edinburgh Castle and St Margaret’s Chapel, Edinburgh’s oldest building dating back to 1250. Take in some magnificent views, including Arthur’s Seat, a dormant volcano.
Like whiskey, Edinburgh is a perfect blend of ingredients and aged to perfection. This is a destination that goes down smooth and leaves a slight burning sensation in your soul.
2. Glasgow, Scotland: 4 hours, 29 minutes from London
What to See in Glasgow, Scotland
Gritty, artsy Glasgow is truly the antithesis of castle-laden, whiskey-fueled Edinburgh. It’s the biggest city in Scotland, with a population of just under 600,000 in the city itself. Once you exit the train, Glasgow waits with the unexpected. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum houses one of Europe’s great civic art collections and is one of the most popular free attractions in Scotland – not to mention the most visited museum in the UK outside of London. The 13th century Glasgow Cathedral miraculously survived the Scottish Reformation.
The nightlife here pulsates – mostly due to those crazy college kids over at the University of Glasgow. The school, founded in 1451, is the fourth oldest in the English-speaking world and ranks among the top 100 universities in the world.
From London, you’ll travel on board a Virgin train. These tilting trains are an engineering marvel – and travel at speeds up to 125 mph. Offering luxury, comfort and convenience, they run on the West Coast Main Line, which carries over 20 million travelers annually.
London to Glasgow by train: About 4.5 hours
3. Liverpool, England: 2 hours, 5 minutes from London
What to Do in Liverpool, England
Be a daytripper on our Beatles and Liverpool Tour. Take a self-guided journey through the city, starting on Matthew Street where you’ll find a wealth of music memorabilia at the Matthew Street Gallery. Spend time in Cavern Pub (a tribute to the Cavern Club), a who’s-who of rock, pop, soul, R&B, and jazz performed through the early Seventies. Relive the Beatles Story from their early Hamburg days through solo careers at the Albert Dock exhibition. Then it’s on to a 1960s vintage coach bus where your expert guide chronicles The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. You’ll travel to over 30 sites, including Penny Lane and Strawberry Field. Then, it’s time to find your tickets to ride…the rails back to London, of course.
London to Liverpool by train: about 2.5 hours
4. Cardiff, Wales: 2 hours, 7 minutes from London
What to Do in Cardiff, Wales
Cardiff, the Capital of Wales, has a reputation of being an industrial city, but that’s simply not the case anymore. For those interested in Welsh history and culture, you can access a worldly capital in just over two hours from London. Which is exactly why it’s become a tourist hot spot – as well as a haven for organic cuisine.
At the Riverside Farmers’ Market, across the street from the Millennium Stadium, stroll the stalls for sumptuous selection of cheese, plus vendors hocking local game meats and other farm-to-table goods. The Millennium Stadium is a sight in itself. The futuristic Center hosts operas, dance and musicals throughout the year. You can see the inside for free, and live performances take place in the foyer every day during lunch.
For a glimpse of the past – head to Cardiff Castle. The foundations are based upon a Roman fort, and in the 19th century, was the one of the homes of the Marquis of Bute. Completed in the early 20th century, the interiors are idiosyncratic to say the least.
5. Bath, England 90 Minutes from London
What to Do in Bath, England
One of only two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the region, Bath is one of the most visited towns in England. And while you no longer can sit in the original Baths – one of the finest ancient monuments in Europe and Britain’s only hot spring, you can bathe in the Thermae Bath Spa, which uses the same warm, mineral-rich waters the Celts and Romans did 2,000 years ago.
There are many day trip tours available from London to Bath, many of which also include amazing sites like Stonehenge. It’s a great and easy way to check some of the best sites in England off your list all in one go!
Alas, that vacation of yours is short. But your travel wish list is long. Think you need to come back across the pond to see other cities and countries? Not the case. While in London, easily pop over to Beatle-loving Liverpool, UNESCO Heritage Site Bath, even Scotland and Wales.
A Bit on British Rail
British rail is a bit different than other countries. France has SNCF, Germany has Deutsche Bahn. But in the UK, there’s no “national railway company.” There are several different train companies operating throughout the UK. Rail Europe has a direct connection to these lines, and can offer you the same prices as in the UK (but in dollars.) They’re all e-tickets too. So just print at the station– and go!