London is always a favorite, and a recommended, travel spot. If you have never been to our friendly neighbors across the pond, it’s a must stop to get a feel for the modern, vibrant, and diverse capital which still functions on the ancient foundations of Roman streets from nearly two millennia ago. Some people can do London for a week (and still not see it all!) while others may prefer a jaunt to the country a bit sooner for a bit quieter vacation. No matter when you want to take a train from the city, we can match your interests, time frame, and wallet with the best that these towns have to offer. Here are two which may be day trips or extended.
Oxford. An hour by train to the northwest of the capital, this city is best known as home to Oxford University which houses 38 colleges and is the alma mater of Stephen Hawking, J R R Tolkien, John Locke, Sir Walter Raleigh, and a boatload of others who have shaped our world. If you’d like to travel to Hogwarts then this is as close as you can get. The colleges, many open to wandering visitors and open for tours, are full of the picturesque and awe inducing. Oxford University is the oldest University in the English Speaking world, being founded in 1096, so one can easily spend an entire day wandering through the architectural wonders of the cloisters and quadrangles on a nice day.
Should the weather prove a bit dreary, there is plenty to do inside.Fitting for a college town, Oxford has some of the best pubs in England. Take the Turf Tavern, whose origins date back to 1381, or The Eagle and Child, a favorite of both C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. Should you happen to be a fan of books, venture into Blackwells and explore the 7 stories of underground reading material. If you prefer to browse museums, take your pick! For fans of Natural History or Anthropology: The Pitt-Rivers. Ancient to modern history: the Ashmolean. Music: The Bates Museum of Musical Instruments. Medicine or Technology: History of the Museum of Science. Did I mention they are all free? This medieval yet modern town is a great stop for any lover of knowledge, architecture, or literature.
Salisbury. About two hours by train to the west of London is another amazing medieval town. Known, in part, for its close geography to Stonehenge* which is a mere 8 miles to the northwest, this town is a beautiful one to explore on its own or to pair with Bath. Salisbury Cathedral near the center of town is an architectural masterpiece with the tallest spire in the entire UK, and home to one of the only four known original copies of the Magna Carta. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett was inspired by this cathedral, and it really puts into perspective how these massive buildings were constructed prior to machinery and modern science.
*If you want to visit a Henge, we suggest making a trip to Avebury. Here a small town was formed within the neolithic stone circle thousands of years after they were erected. You can drink a pint or a coffee, then walk to touch (forbidden at Stonehenge) these in a matter of minutes.