Cultural Experience | United Kingdom

5 Weekend Trips to take while in London

See the world while seeing the world! Here are 5 great and easily-accessible places to travel over the weekend while studying abroad in London, or anywhere in the UK!

Everyone knows that studying abroad is about more than the one city you live in- it’s about expanding your horizons to the greater world around you! However, the tricky part is finding the time to travel without the use of time-travel while already travelling, exploring, taking classes, making friends, sipping tea, eating crumpets and experiencing everything in your home city.

Well, if you happen to find yourself in London, England, or anywhere near there for that matter, I have here a list of 5 weekend travel suggestions near and around London! With the plethora of students flocking to study in this truly magical (Harry Potter is from here) world city, it might be useful to have a handy guide of where to go when you only have a few days to travel, explore and get back home.

Imagine, you just got out of your Shakespeare class, or perhaps for the numbers folk, World Economics on a Friday afternoon. You’ve got a solid 2-3 days to do anything you want. The world, or the UK and surrounding areas, is your oyster! How shall you efficiently use your precious international time? I have 5 suggestions for you.

1. Brighton, England

If you feel like: Some fun in the sun, Victorian playtime, English Channel relaxation

Travel time out of London: About an hour via train

Brighten your weekend, head to Brighton! I say with a wink… Get yourself a ticket to the Brighton railway station. Brighton is your classic Victorian beach town. The Londoners of old would head here in hopes of reviving their health through some good old-fashioned rest, relaxation and 19th century partying. Nowadays, Brighten remains a gorgeous Victorian-esque city with fantastic shopping, fun beaches and vibrant and, fittingly, bright atmosphere! In fact, it has also been called “the gay capitol of Europe,” so you know it’s a pretty colorful place. Take your weekend to hang out on the beach, play on the Brighton pier, which is a Victorian palace of carnival rides and waffle cones, or check out the Royal Pavilion for some fancy, historical palace fun.

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The Brighton Pier!

2. Oxford, England and The Cotswolds

If you feel like: an easy day trip, charming villages, century-old buildings

Travel time from London: About an hour via bus (the Oxford Tube)

Many student travelers will spend their entire semester in Oxford, famous for you know, the oldest University in the world. So the city is well practiced in being a super classy college town. Oxford makes a great weekend trip from London, or even a day trip! The best part is the Oxford Tube, a cheap bus system that leaves every 10 minutes from multiple London stations and will drop you right off at High Street, the main street of Oxford. Spend a day exploring the museums, colleges and parks of Oxford. Go punting! Have British ale at the Trout, a riverside restaurant pub famous for its delicious British cuisine and charming views. If you have time, take another day to go explore the nearby Cotswolds, which is one of the most charming areas in England. Walk around in the most picturesque little thatched-roof, cottage infested, countryside area in southern England. Rent a bike, bring a book, or pack a picnic.

Jenna Peck Oxford image

Christ Church Meadow, Oxford

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The Cotswolds

3. Stratford-upon-Avon, England

If you feel like: tapping into your inner Shakespeare nerd, charming English towns

Travel time from London: About 2 hours via train

England really never runs out of perfect little villages to visit, and Stratford-upon-Avon is yet another great weekend gem. Spend the day walking around the town, pretending you are a character in Downton Abbey, but try not to let the locals hear your British accent… Take a little cruise around the Avon River and then walk around the artsy little park that surrounds the riverbanks. Have your self a jolly old Shakespeare day and visit his birthplace, his grave, and see a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theater! You know it’s difficult to study abroad in the UK without being some form of a literary nerd. If you really want to nerd out, you can even go to Tudor World, a popular Stratford attraction where you can experience the world of the Tudors… sort of. You probably won’t be beheaded. Really, Stratford is a wonderful weekend trip if you want to absorb a little bit of British history and experience a day out on the old-time town.

4. Cardiff, Wales

If you feel like: Going off the beaten path, some rugged adventure, a change of pace

Travel time from London: 2 hours and 30 minutes via train

Another splendid and quickly done weekend trip is to Cardiff, Wales! It’s exciting because it’s another country, but it’s easy because it’s still part of the UK. It shares the beauty of its lush neighbor Ireland, but it’s on the same island as you, which simplifies the travelling. Wales even has its own language! Impress and flatter the locals by giving them a hearty Bore Da (Good morning), or P’nawn da (Good afternoon). The train ride to Cardiff is an experience in itself. Travel through rolling green hills that give you a little bit of that Hogwarts Express magic. The city itself is a nice mix of urban and traditional. There are plenty of little pubs and eateries that will take you back in time and serve you some of that debatably delicious or not-so-delicious British cuisine. A really neat activity you can do is to take a steam train through the Heritage Railway system just outside the city and bring a little picnic up to the gorgeous Welsh hills. Also, if you are a Doctor Who fan, Cardiff is home to the Doctor Who Experience.

5. Edinburgh, Scotland

If you feel like: a bigger adventure, a remarkably well-preserved historic city, some kilts and bagpipes

Travel time from London: 4-5 hours via train

The journey to Scotland from London is a bit of a longer trek, but it is well worth it. I would suggest taking a train overnight, or perhaps leaving in the early morning. A weekend trip to Scotland is completely doable with some pre-planning. If you have a few days to spare, you certainly do not want to miss Edinburgh’s unique atmosphere which welcomes you instantly into Scottish culture. Walking around old town Edinburgh gives you a sense of medieval Scotland like none other. The city is full of eerie little medieval passageways and even an underground series of tunnels! Sufficiently creepy yourself out! Apparently everything there is haunted. Perhaps you want to experience some of Scotland’s fabulous and rugged terrain. A great trail to trek just walking distance from the city is the hike up Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park. For some historical fun, walk through Edinburgh castle, a gem in the middle of the city. Harry Potter fans can pay pilgrimage to a number of sites where JK Rowling.

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View from Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh

Jenna Peck

Southern Methodist University | 17 stories

Jenna Peck is a senior majoring in History and English at Southern Methodist University from Long Beach, California. She has studied abroad in Italy, England and has recently returned from a voyage around the world on Semester-at-Sea. She loves to travel and really finds it difficult to stay in one place for a long period of time, but when she does she loves to read, explore the world of the internet, blog and find exciting things to do right at home in Dallas, Texas!


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