13 day trips from London by train

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13 best day trips from London by train for foodies

Under 1 hour from London

St Albans

How to get there from London: take a train from St Pancras or Blackfriars, direct trains from 18 minutes.

So close to London that it’s popular with commuters, St Albans is the easiest day trip from London, with direct trains from St Pancras getting you there in under 20 minutes. That leaves plenty of time to explore this city packed with history, taking in the famous cathedral, Roman wall remains and a walk around the lake in 100-acre Verulamium Park. Pick up huge takeaway banh mi and noodle salads from Taste of Vietnam for a picnic in the park. If it’s not picnic weather, head to Lussmans – a sustainable neighbourhood restaurant you’ll wish was in your town. The bright, modern space is a reflection of what to expect from the menu – clean, colourful plates of food, smartly presented without pretension.

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Sweet tooths are spoilt for choice in St Albans. The Waffle House is a 10-minute walk from the city centre in a quaint 16th-century windmill – the prettiest spot to choose a loaded waffle, from savoury options topped with BBQ pork to sweet waffles loaded with everything from chocolate mousse to banana, flapjack and caramel sauce. Darlish, home of Persian ice cream, and the famous The Pudding Stop bakery will complete your sugar high – grab some doughnuts for the journey home. See our full foodie guide to St Albans for more.

A tray of doughnuts filled with vanilla and chocolate cream

Doughnuts at The Pudding Stop


Cambridge

How to get there from London: take a train from Kings Cross or Liverpool Street, direct trains from 48 minutes.

Head to this famous university town for punting down the river, exploring the many different colleges and climbing the Great St Mary’s church tower for views over the city. Detour to Stem & Glory for excellent small sharing vegan plates, while meat-lovers should head to Steak & Honour for must-try burgers. The best gelato in Cambridge can be found at Jack’s Gelato – the seasonal, regularly changing menu could include gooseberry sorbet, hazelnut cookie dough or Manuka honey and white miso. Order a scoop and sit on the wall outside King’s College for some people-watching. Fitzbillies is a Cambridge institution: stop for afternoon tea or make sure to pick up an eclair for the train home.

If you’re sticking around for dinner, book a table at Michelin-starred Midsummer House for fine dining or enjoy British classics at slightly more casual Parker’s Tavern, a brasserie serving hearty dishes such as fishcakes, truffled eggs on toast and roast suckling pig. Get more recommendations at our full Cambridge foodie guide.

Steak & Honour food

Denbies Vineyard

How to get there from London: take a train from Victoria Waterloo to Dorking, quick trains from 50 minutes.

Just a 20 minute walk from Dorking Station, a visit to Denbies Vineyard is the ideal day trip for wine lovers. Established in 1986, Denbies offers indoor and outdoor winery tours. The former explores the working winery along with a cellar tasting, while the latter takes you on a 50-minute toy train tour of the vineyard (book the sparkling wine tour to enjoy a glass of bubbly on the train), showing off panoramic views of the North Downs.

There are several dining options at the vineyard once you have finished exploring. The smart Gallery restaurant looks over the 265-acre vineyard. Order Sussex confit pork belly with savoy cabbage, pan-fried halibut with roasted romanesco, or, on a Sunday, the Surrey Farm roast beef with rosemary-roasted potatoes. The Conservatory restaurant serves classic afternoon teas, or grab quick refreshments al fresco at The Hatch on The Lawn.

See our full guide to the best UK vineyards to visit for more like this.

A low pink mist hanging over Denbies Wine Estate vineyards

Oxford

How to get there from London: take a train from Liverpool Street or Paddington, quick trains from 52 minutes.

Another famous university town to tick off your day trip list. Start your day with a coffee at Society Café, a vibrant space that acts as a hub for local creatives. Peruse an open counter laden with squidgy almond croissants, slabs of gooey peanut butter brownies and slices of cinnamon and walnut loaf while you decide on your coffee. All are labelled with tasting notes and made with Origin beans – which you can buy in bags to take away.

For food-fuelled exploring, wander down the aisles at Oxford Covered Market, where you can stock up on seasonal produce before heading to Teardrop, a tiny micropub (part of West Oxfordshire Church Hanbrewery) serving cask ales to drink in, as well as local draught and bottled beers to takeaway. Be sure to check out Objects of Use while you’re on Market Street, a treasure trove for cooks, too.

For a sit-down meal, cosy Pompette serves French classics with European influences, Spiced Roots is your go-to for Caribbean flair and pretty Cherwell Boathouse is the spot for lunch with a view. If you’re visiting at the weekend, The Harcourt Arms does a splendid Sunday lunch.

Kirsch Choux Bun, griottines and hot chocolate sauce

Credit: John Carey


Brighton

How to get there from London: take a train from Victoria, London Bridge, Clapham Junction or Blackfriars, from 58 minutes.

One of the most popular day trips from London, the trains down to Brighton are guaranteed to be busy should there be a last-minute sunny bank holiday. The foodie scene in this buzzy south coast city is booming, with a diverse range of local independent restaurants making the most of seasonal Sussex produce. Start your day with brunch at Lost in the Lanes (dishes include an indulgent croque monsieur, smoky spiced beans or green eggs with a coriander and jalapeño salsa) – a great base to get lost exploring the independent shops of the Lanes. To fuel your afternoon, pick up a coffee from Loam or pause for a beer on the terrace at Unbarred. At lunch, soak up sea views and choose from an array of stands at the Shelter Hall food hall on Brighton promenade before a stroll along the beach. If you’re visiting on a Sunday, join locals for a southern American spin on a British roast at Alberta’s. The heated roof terrace at The Flint House is a perfect date night spot for dinner before you head home, or try Med-inspired small plates at Burnt Orange, one of the hottest seats in town.

Check out our full guide to the best restaurants in Brighton for lots more recommendations, including where to stay if you decide to make a weekend of it.

Sunday roast at Alberta's

Sunday roast at Alberta’s


Under 2 hours

Bath

How to get there from London: take a train from Paddington, from 1 hour 15 minutes.

From matcha granola to agnolotti with smoked Winchester cheese and craft cocktails, there’s a bumper crop of independent places to eat, drink, shop and sleep across this Somerset city (see all our Bath foodie recommendations here). Once you’ve swum in the rooftop pool at Bath Spa and strolled the length of the famous royal crescent, it’s time to tuck in. Go to The Scallop Shell for upmarket fish and chips in an unpretentious setting or be transported to Spain with impeccable tapas at Pintxo. For a memorable meal, book a table at Elder to enjoy wild game and sophisticated Sunday roasts. Dark wood floors, framed hunting paintings and terracotta-coloured leather banquettes add a lavish cosiness to this converted Georgian terrace.

For foodie souvenirs to take home, stop at Berdoulat. Over 50 spices from the jar, shelves of small-batch wines and a bakery concession can all be found at this impeccably restored grade II listed food emporium. Order a loose-leaf tea and fresh madeleine from Frome’s Rye Bakery concession and head up to the gallery where cookbooks sit alongside candles and aprons for sale. If you’ve still got space, hip Landrace Bakery is on a mission to promote high-quality grains grown in the UK and, specifically, the South West, which it stone-grinds locally to produce flours for its cakes and sourdough breads. Save your cinnamon bun for train snacking on the way home.

Fish and chips on a blue plate at Scallop Shell Bath

Whitstable

How to get there from London: take a train from St Pancras or Victoria, quick trains from 1 hour 18 minutes.

The seaside town of Whitstable has plenty to offer foodies, from Michelin-starred gastropubs to long-standing oyster bars and kitsch ice cream parlours. Each July it even hosts a whole festival dedicated to local Whitstable oysters. You’ve got to have oysters whilst visiting – candy floss pink-fronted Wheelers has been dishing up oysters in its parlour-sized dining room since 1856. Kids will enjoy the classic fish and chips from V.C. Jones.

If it’s a special occasion, book Michelin-starred gastropub The Sportsman in Seasalter for lunch. Take a taxi out to it for lunch then enjoy a leisurely walk back along the coast to walk off any excess. Bookings need to be made quite far in advance, but it’s worth it.

A woman uses her phone to photograph the famous Wheelers Oyster Bar established in 1856, Whitstable, Kent, UK

Wheelers Oyster Bar, Whitstable, Kent


Broadstairs

How to get there from London: take a train from St Pancras, quick trains from 1 hour 23 minutes.

If you’ve already visited Margate and Whitstable, Broadstairs is an underrated seaside day trip with plenty to offer foodies. Before heading to the beach or harbour, don’t miss the Samworth & Mee bistro for comfort food, fresh seafood and excellent breakfasts (the French toast with berries and maple syrup is particularly good). If the crab sandwich with chips is on the menu, order it. As with most places in the area, fish and seafood is provided by local fisherman Jason Llewellyn and his shop, Fruits de Mer along The Broadway (the high street). Stop off here on the way home if you want to take a slice of the seaside home with you. On sunny days, Morelli’s is a must-visit for ice cream lovers along the north Kent coast. This branch has been here since 1932 and sells gelato in myriad flavours, from vanilla to pistachio to nocciola.

It’s not all British seaside classics. Making serious culinary waves is tiny, spartan Stark. As the name suggests, you don’t come here for plush surroundings but for “good food, laid bare” – serving a frequently changing, seasonal, six-course tasting menu. For something more relaxed, Osteria Pizzeria Posillipo has been providing locals with real-deal Italian food (think rustic vibes and charming Italian service) for over 20 years. The decked terrace draws in a lingering summer crowd who are happy to sip wine while grazing on antipasti and watching seagulls on the beach, a stone’s throw away.

Morelli's ice cream

Morelli’s ice cream


Moreton-in-Marsh

How to get there from London: take a direct train from Paddington, taking 1 hour 25 minutes.

The Cotswolds may feel like an area you can only explore by car, but trains from Paddington to the pretty village of Moreton-in-Marsh (set in the Evenlode Valley, within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) mean it’s easy to get a feel of the region as a foodie day trip. The main street is lined with handsome stone buildings dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, many of them shops, tea rooms, pubs and places to eat. The main public building is the Redesdale Hall which holds antiques and craft fairs, and there’s a weekly Tuesday street market.

When it comes to eating out, Henne is highly regarded by the locals with its inventive and sustainably driven menu using hyper-local produce. If it’s artisan bread and patisserie you’re after, Otis & Belle bakery is exceptional and The Cotswold Cheese Company sells countless local cheeses.

Henne

Henne


Deal

How to get there from London: take a train from St Pancras, quick trains from 1 hour 27 minutes.

While foodies still love Whitstable, Deal is the buzzy new kid on the block. Find everything from Kent’s favourite chippie, Middle Street Fish Bar (take down to the beach with you) to date-night-dining at Victuals & Co, perfect for a smart lunch or final stop for dinner. Expect beef brisket tacos to start, a short menu of changing seasonal mains and decadent desserts.

The Deal Dining Club is an institution and, if you can get a late train home, its Friday and Saturday night set-menu feasts always sell out. Typical events include a Taste of Kent, with a menu boasting Canterbury cheese puffs, Kentish brown shrimp, local pigeon, home-smoked haddock and rhubarb crème brûlée. It’s BYOB so pick up a bottle beforehand at Le Pinardier, a French wine bar and shop with an array of predominantly natural wines.

View of the town of Deal from the pebble beach, Kent, England, UK

Margate

How to get there from London: take a train from St Pancras or Victoria, quick trains from 1 hour 29 minutes.

This cool coastal town is bursting with foodie hotspots. When you arrive off the train, walk to Forts Cafe, a popular place always bustling with local creatives catching up over some of the best brunch dishes in town. The focaccia sandwiches are legendary on the Margate food scene. For seafood, head to Angela’s. Plump Whitstable rock oysters, mussels with cider and garlic, whole roasted plaice and thornback ray with brown butter are just some of the reasons why Angela’s is still in rude health after more than half a century.

Ask locals where you can get the best fish and chips in Margate, and they’ll point you in the direction of Peter’s Fish Factory, overlooking the seafront. There will be queues, but the salty, crisp and golden chips, waft of malt vinegar and perfectly cooked cod is more than worth the wait. Follow up with a visit to Oast, a bakery with must-try buns. See our full guide to Margate for lots more recommendations including the best wine bar and Italian picks.

A white circular plate is topped with thornback ray and is sat in a puddle of brown butter sauce

Bristol

How to get there from London: take a train from St Pancras, quick trains from 1 hour 30 minutes.

A slightly longer day trip but still doable, a quirky and undeniably Bristolian beat pulses through this city’s food and drink scene that makes it very much worth the journey. Hart’s Bakery is conveniently set under the arches at Bristol Temple Meads railway station and the queues snaking out the door tell you all you need to know. Swing by for epic sausage rolls and Saturday bread to rejuvenate you post-train.

Take your pick of European classics for lunch: a signature carbonara at Italian Cotto, special Spanish small plates at Paco Tapas or hearty, regional French dishes at littlefrench. For a meal in a memorable location, head to Bristol Lido. Do a few lengths in the restored Victorian pool to sharpen your appetite then enjoy a two-course poolside lunch at the restaurant. Round off the day with a cocktail at Hyde & Co, Bristol’s prohibition-style bar. We recommend a ‘Stroll in the Grounds’; Somerset cider brandy shaken with sloe gin and lavender sherbet, topped with Camel Valley fizz.

Hart's Bakery, Bristol

Hart’s Bakery, Bristol


Over 2 hours

Paris

How to get there from London: take a train from St Pancras International, quick trains from 2 hours 17 minutes.

Push the boat out for a day of romance and head to Paris for a decadent day trip. You’ll have to make an early start, but brunch at Les Enfant Perdus can be your reward. Sink into squishy white cushions in the bistro’s conservatory room and enjoy an excellent value (£27 for three courses) brunch menu. For a classic French experience, reserve a gingham-clothed table at Aux Bons Crus for hearty bistro dishes: steak frites with delightfully gloopy bearnaise, Lyonnaise-style quenelles de brochet or tender tête de veau.

Pick up picnic supplies at Maison Plisson. The locally sourced produce, cold-pressed juices and array of breads make this a local favourite. Grab a crunchy country loaf and some tapenade to create your own sandwich, then take to the Jardin du Luxembourg for people-watching while you snack. Get a coffee at KB Coffee Shop to fuel your afternoon, or pause for pastries at Mamiche. After a day of classic French, switch it up for dinner and head to Boubalé where the menu combines Mediterranean and Eastern European flavours. Expect generous chicken schnitzel, cheesy risotto and a top-notch bread selection. Don’t miss the signature ‘benimousse’ dessert of chocolate mousse, olive oil and Maldon salt.

A black-and-white photo of the exterior of Les Enfant Perdus restaurant in Paris

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