The Best Weekend Escapes From London In Under An Hour

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Londoners, this city can sometimes take its toll on the best of us. Luckily, there's tranquility and serenity just under an hour away from the city!

Sick of the City? Weary of work? Worry not: there are a whole host of countryside areas just a short journey away from London that make the perfect getaways from the metropolis’ hustle and bustle. We’ve selected the five best escapes for you to discover - and they’re all (well, almost all) just under an hour away! You’d be a fool not to try them.

St. Albans

St. Albans, where even the cobblestones have stories to tell! Hop on a train from St. Pancras Station and in just 20 minutes, you’ll be transported back through millennia of history. Unearth iron age settlements beneath your feet, or roam the remnants of the Roman trading city. Dive into the colossal Cathedral, affectionately dubbed the ‘Abbey’, or immerse yourself in the Roman-British life at the Verulamium Museum. But wait, there’s more! Take a leisurely stroll along quiet waterways and meadows, where ancient walls whisper secrets and plotted pathways lead to cozy country pubs waiting to be discovered.

Epping Forest

This sprawling oasis, registered as a Special Area of Conservation, spans a whopping 1,700 acres – plenty of room to lose yourself (in the best way possible). And the best part? You don't need to dig deep into your pockets or brave the wilds to get here; just hop on the Central Line's easternmost stations, and voilà! You're on the doorstep of this woodland wonderland. Whether you fancy a leisurely stroll among ancient trees, a picnic by bubbling rivers, or birdwatching from serene viewing spots, Epping Forest has it all. And for the wildlife enthusiasts, the Visitors Centre offers a crash course in forest fauna.


For a truly English village escape that's straight out of a storybook, look no further than Cookham! Tucked away in the picturesque Thames Valley, this Berkshire gem is a quaint haven just waiting to be discovered. From charming 16th-century cottages to elegant Victorian apartments, Cookham's architecture is like a trip back in time. Take a leisurely stroll along the glistening river to Cookham Bridge, where you can quench your thirst at the historic Kings Arms pub – a 17th-century inn dripping with character. And if you're feeling artsy, don't miss the Stanley Spencer Gallery, showcasing the works of the famous British painter who once called Cookham "a village in heaven." With its rich history, beautiful countryside, and proximity to London, Cookham is the ultimate blend of rural charm and metropolitan convenience.

Audley End

Look no further than Audley End! A cheeky 40-minute journey from Tottenham Hale, and it's worth every minute. Nestled on the border of Essex and Cambridgeshire, this stately home is a picture-perfect paradise with grounds that are as stunning as they are vast. Step back in time as you wander through the house, getting a glimpse into the lavish lives of its Victorian residents. Explore the servants' quarters downstairs and discover what cooking was like back in the 1880s – who knows, you might even whip up a witty remark or two about their culinary skills! For the little ones (and the young at heart), the Audley End Miniature Railway awaits, promising a pint-sized adventure through the estate. And if all that exploring works up an appetite, take a leisurely stroll to the nearby town of Saffron Walden, where traditional pubs line the streets like loyal subjects awaiting their king. With its sprawling acres, charming history, and enough diversions to keep you entertained for hours, Audley End is the perfect escape for a weekend fit for royalty.


Looking to add a royal touch to your weekend getaway from London? Look no further than Windsor – if it's fit for the queen, it's fit for you! With its majestic castle, sprawling Great Park, and even a Legoland for those who prefer their fun in brick form, Windsor offers a regally good time for all. And let's not forget the fantastic theatre and plethora of pubs, where you can raise a glass fit for a king – or a queen! Just hop on a 15-minute train from Paddington to Slough, then enjoy a short bus ride fit for a commoner onto Windsor. With so much to see and do, you might need more than just a day to soak in all the royal delights – why not make it a weekend fit for royalty? From guard-watching spectacles to family-friendly theme parks, Windsor has something for everyone


Hitchin – where lavender fields meet historic marvels for a weekend that's sure to leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated! Yes, you heard it right – Hitchin Lavender Farm is your ticket to a bloomin' good time, where you can frolic through fields of purple perfection and even catch an outdoor cinema screening under the stars. Plus, with its rich history dating back centuries, Hitchin offers more than just lavender dreams – explore medieval marvels like St. Mary's Church, where even the angels are giving their blessings to this quaint town. And don't miss the British Schools Museum for a trip down memory lane or a stroll through the Physic Garden for some herbal healing – after all, who needs a spa when you've got nature's remedies at your fingertips? So, hop on a train from King's Cross and in just 30 minutes, you'll be whisked away to a world where time slows down and lavender scents fill the air...

Box Hill

Box Hill – whether you're channeling your inner Jane Austen or reliving the thrill of the London 2012 cycling race, this National Trust estate has something for everyone. Just hop on a train from Clapham Junction and in a mere 43 minutes, you'll be surrounded by scenic walks and stunning views that are sure to take your breath away – or maybe that's just the steep incline! But fear not, for Box Hill isn't just for the hardcore hikers; families can frolic among butterflies and orchids, while naturalists soak in the beauty of the South Downs. And for those who like their picnics with a side of gin and tonic, why not pack a few pre-mixed cans and make a day of it? With an indoor café, gift shop, and plenty of trails to explore, Box Hill is the ultimate weekend escape – just remember to keep your pooch on a leash when the livestock are grazing, unless you fancy a wild chase through the countryside!


Looking to add a touch of scholarly charm to your weekend escape from London? Look no further than Cambridge – where the hustle and bustle comes in the form of undergraduates cycling in long studenty streams. In just 47 minutes from King's Cross, you'll find yourself in a city steeped in history, with architectural wonders around every corner. From the awe-inspiring King's College Chapel to the quaint one-off shops lining its alleyways, Cambridge offers a delightful blend of old-world charm and youthful energy. And let's not forget the quintessential Cambridge experience: punting on the River Cam. But fear not, if you're not feeling up to navigating the waters yourself, opt for a chauffeured punt and relax as you glide past picturesque bridges and stunning scenery. With its world-class museums, vibrant galleries, and lively entertainment scene, Cambridge is the perfect destination for a weekend filled with culture, intellect, and a dash of whimsy – just watch out for those cycling undergrads zooming by!


Oxford, with its dreamy spires and historic charm, is just the place. In under an hour from London Paddington, you'll find yourself in a city where every brick tells a story – though the real challenge is deciding which story to explore first! From the ancient halls of Magdalen College to the contemporary cool of The Varsity Club's rooftop vibes, Oxford offers a blend of history and hipness that's sure to charm even the most discerning traveler. Take a punt along the Cherwell, shop till you drop in the vibrant Covered Market, and channel your inner Inspector Morse with a pint at The White Horse – just one of the city's many iconic pubs.