London is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, but sometimes you might want to explore other places that are close by. Whether you are looking for history, culture, nature or entertainment, many cities near London offer something for everyone. Here are the top 12 nearest cities to London, according to distance from the city centre.
|Distance to London (miles)
|Travel time by train (hours)
1. St Albans (25.5 miles)
The nearest city to London, St Albans is a historic city with Roman roots and a stunning cathedral. You can visit the Verulamium Museum to learn more about the ancient city or enjoy the green spaces of Verulamium Park and Willows Activity Farm. You can reach St Albans by train in about 32 minutes from London Bridge.
St Albans is a great city for families, as it has plenty of attractions for kids of all ages. You can see butterflies and insects at Butterfly World, go on a safari at Paradise Wildlife Park, or have fun at the Splash Park and Adventure Playground.
2. Chelmsford (42 miles)
Chelmsford is a modern city with a rich heritage. It was granted city status in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. You can visit the Chelmsford Museum to discover the history of the city and Essex or explore the Hylands House and Park, a beautiful neo-classical mansion surrounded by parkland. You can reach Chelmsford by train in about 35 minutes from Liverpool Street.
Chelmsford is a family-friendly city that offers a variety of activities for children such as petting zoos. You can visit the Tropical Wings Zoo, where you can see exotic animals and birds, or the Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park, where you can feed and pet farm animals. You can also enjoy the rides and attractions at Adventure Island, or go ice skating at Riverside Ice and Leisure Centre.
3. Reading (42 miles)
Reading is a lively and diverse city with a thriving cultural scene. It hosts one of the UK’s biggest music festivals, Reading Festival, every August. You can also visit the Reading Museum to see a replica of the Bayeux Tapestry, or enjoy the nature and wildlife of Forbury Gardens and Beale Park. You can reach Reading by train in about 15 minutes from Paddington. Reading is a fun city for families, as it has many attractions that cater to different interests and ages.
You can visit the Museum of English Rural Life, where you can learn about farming and countryside life, or the REME Museum, where you can see military vehicles and equipment. You can also have fun at the Coral Reef Waterworld, which has five water slides and a pirate ship, or at the Legoland Windsor Resort, which has over 55 rides and shows based on Lego themes.
4. Brighton (54 miles)
Brighton is one of the most popular seaside resorts in England, just an hour away from London by train. It is known for its iconic Royal Pavilion, a former royal residence with an exotic design. You can also stroll along the Brighton Pier, enjoy the rides and attractions of Brighton Palace Pier, or relax on the pebbly beach. You can reach Brighton by train in about an hour from Victoria or London Bridge.
Brighton is a vibrant and colourful city that has plenty of things to do with kids. You can visit the Sea Life Brighton, where you can see sharks, turtles and rays, or the Brighton Toy and Model Museum, where you can see vintage toys and trains. You can also have fun at the Volks Electric Railway, which is the oldest electric railway in the world, or at the Brighton Zip Wire, which is the longest zip wire on the south coast.
5. Milton Keynes (55 miles)
Milton Keynes is a new and modern city that was built in the 1960s as a planned town. It is famous for its grid-like layout and its abundance of roundabouts. You can visit Bletchley Park, the secret code-breaking centre during World War II, or have fun at the Xscape, an indoor complex with a ski slope, a cinema and a casino. You can reach Milton Keynes by train in about 35 minutes from Euston. Milton Keynes is a city that offers a lot of entertainment for families.
You can visit the Gulliver’s Land Theme Park Resort, which has over 70 rides and attractions for children aged 2 to 13 years old, or the Woburn Safari Park, where you can see lions, tigers and elephants. You can also enjoy the indoor and outdoor activities at Willen Lake, such as water sports, cycling and mini golf, or the interactive exhibits at the Milton Keynes Museum.
6. Oxford (61 miles)
Oxford is one of the oldest and most prestigious university cities in the world. It is home to the University of Oxford, which dates back to the 12th century and has produced many famous alumni. You can visit the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where you can see dinosaur skeletons and fossils, or admire the architecture of the Oxford colleges, such as Christ Church and Magdalen. You can reach Oxford by train in about an hour from Paddington or Marylebone.
Oxford is a city that has a lot of culture and history for families to explore. You can visit the Ashmolean Museum, which has a collection of art and archaeology from ancient to modern times, or the Bodleian Library, which is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. You can also have fun at Oxford Castle and Prison, where you can learn about the medieval history of the city, or at the Story Museum, where you can discover stories from different cultures and times.
7. Cambridge (61 miles)
Cambridge is another renowned university city that rivals Oxford in academic excellence and history. It is home to the University of Cambridge, which was founded in 1209 and has produced many notable figures. You can visit the Fitzwilliam Museum, which houses a collection of art and antiquities, or take a punt along the River Cam and see the sights of the city from the water. You can reach Cambridge by train in about an hour from King’s Cross or Liverpool Street. Cambridge is a city that has a lot of charm and beauty for families to enjoy.
You can visit the Cambridge Science Centre, where you can see interactive exhibits and experiments, or the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, where you can see plants from around the world. You can also have fun at the Shepreth Wildlife Park, where you can see animals such as tigers, monkeys and meerkats, or at the Clip ‘n Climb Cambridge, where you can try different climbing challenges.
8. Winchester (62 miles)
Winchester is a charming and historic city that was once the capital of England under King Alfred the Great. It has a medieval cathedral that is one of the largest in Europe and contains the tomb of Jane Austen. You can also visit the Winchester Castle, where you can see a replica of King Arthur’s round table, or explore the Winchester City Museum, which tells the story of the city from Roman times to present day. You can reach Winchester by train in about an hour from Waterloo. Winchester is a city that has a lot of heritage and culture for families to discover.
You can visit the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium, where you can see hands-on exhibits and shows about science and space, or the Marwell Zoo, where you can see over 1,200 animals from across the globe. You can also have fun at the Winchester Treasure Trail, where you can follow clues and solve puzzles around the city, or at the Winchester Mystery House, where you can explore a Victorian mansion with secret passages and hidden rooms.
9. Canterbury (62 miles)
Canterbury is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has a rich religious and cultural heritage. It is famous for its cathedral, which is the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the site of Thomas Becket’s murder in 1170. You can also visit the Canterbury Tales attraction, which recreates the stories of Geoffrey Chaucer’s medieval masterpiece, or enjoy the shopping and dining options in the city centre. You can reach Canterbury by train in about an hour and a half from St Pancras International or Victoria.
Canterbury is a city that has a lot of history and literature for families to learn from. You can visit the Canterbury Roman Museum, where you can see Roman artefacts and mosaics, or the Canterbury Heritage Museum, where you can see exhibits on local history from prehistoric to modern times. You can also have fun at the Howletts Wild Animal Park, where you can see gorillas, elephants and tigers, or at the Wildwood Trust, where you can see native British wildlife such as wolves, bears and otters.
10. Ely (79 miles)
Ely is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England, about 14 miles north-northeast of Cambridge and about 80 miles by road from London. It is famous for its magnificent Ely Cathedral, which dates back to the 11th century. Ely is also a family-friendly destination, with attractions such as the Ely Museum, the Oliver Cromwell’s House and the Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve.
To travel from London to Ely by train, you have several options. The fastest and most direct way is to take the Great Northern service from London King’s Cross to Ely, which takes about 1 hour and 11 minutes and costs between £27 and £40. Alternatively, you can take the Stansted Express from London Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport, and then change to the Greater Anglia or CrossCountry service to Ely, which takes about 2 hours and 5 minutes and costs between £30 and £82. You can also drive from London to Ely, which takes about 1 hour and 27 minutes and covers a distance of about 75.6 miles.
11. Salisbury (79 miles)
Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England, with a population of 40,302, at the confluence of the rivers Avon, Nadder and Bourne. It is famous for its medieval cathedral and its proximity to the ancient site of Stonehenge. Salisbury is about 79 miles away from London, the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The road distance is about 85 miles. The fastest way to travel from London to Salisbury is by train, which takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes. The train service is operated by South Western Railway and departs from London Waterloo station.
Alternatively, you can take a bus or drive by car, but these options take longer and may be more expensive. Salisbury is a family-friendly destination that offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. You can explore the history and culture of the city, visit the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral and its famous clock, admire the art and architecture of the medieval buildings, enjoy the scenic views of the countryside, or take a day trip to Stonehenge and other nearby sites of interest.
12. Norwich (100 miles)
Norwich is a city in Norfolk, England, situated on the River Wensum in East Anglia, about 100 miles north-east of London. It is a historic city with a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant arts scene. Norwich has many attractions for families, such as museums, parks, castles and cathedrals. It also hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, the Norwich Science Festival and the Norwich Beer Festival.
To travel from London to Norwich by train, you can take the Greater Anglia service from London Liverpool Street station, which takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes and costs between £30 and £50. The trains run hourly on weekdays and less frequently on weekends. Norwich is a great destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway from London.
Villages near to London
Looking at visiting a local town even nearer to London? Why not visit on of the many villages within London itself:
- Wimbledon Village: This affluent village is famous for hosting the annual tennis tournament, but it also offers plenty of other attractions, such as the Buddhapadipa Temple, the Wimbledon Common, and the Dog & Fox pub. You can enjoy the European-style café culture, the elegant shops, and the impressive mansions along Parkside.
- Dulwich Village: This leafy conservation area has a countryside feel, with its white picket fences, wooden signs, and green spaces. You can visit the Dulwich Picture Gallery, the oldest art gallery in England, the prestigious Dulwich College, and the Horniman Museum, which has a collection of anthropological curiosities and a stunning view of London. You can also relax in Dulwich Park, where you can hire paddle boats on the lake.
- Greenwich: This historic village of Greenwich is home to the Royal Observatory, where you can stand on the Prime Meridian and learn about astronomy and timekeeping. You can also visit the National Maritime Museum, which showcases Britain’s naval heritage, the Cutty Sark, a 19th-century clipper ship, and the Old Royal Naval College, a masterpiece of baroque architecture. Don’t miss the Greenwich Market, where you can find antiques, crafts, and street food.
- Little Venice: This picturesque village is named after its network of canals and waterways, where you can take a boat ride or a walk along the towpaths. You can admire the colourful houseboats, the elegant Georgian houses, and the charming pubs and cafes. You can also visit the Puppet Theatre Barge, which hosts shows for children and adults.
- Barnes: This riverside village is a haven for nature lovers, as it hosts the London Wetland Centre, a wildlife reserve with ponds, marshes, and birds. You can also visit the Barnes Common, a large woodland area with trails and a pond. Barnes has a vibrant cultural scene, with its annual music festival, its Olympic Studios cinema and café, and its independent bookshops and art galleries.
- Highgate: This hilltop village offers stunning views of London and a rich literary heritage. You can visit the Highgate Cemetery, where many famous people are buried, such as Karl Marx, George Eliot, and Douglas Adams. You can also explore the Highgate Wood, a 28-hectare ancient forest with a playground and a café, and Hampstead Heath, a vast park with ponds and swimming pools.
- Walthamstow: This diverse and lively village is known for its street art, its markets, and its creative community. You can visit the William Morris Gallery, which celebrates the life and work of the famous artist and designer, the Vestry House Museum, which displays local history and culture, and the Walthamstow Wetlands, a nature reserve with lakes and wildlife. You can also enjoy the Walthamstow Village Festival, which features music, food, and entertainment.