Top 5 places to see outside London

London is known for its iconic attractions and luxury shopping, but venture beyond the confines of the capital and even more spectacular highlights await. Cities packed with heritage and history are within easy reach, allowing you to get up close to incredible architecture and to sample exceptional shopping in picturesque surroundings. London might hog the headlines, but here’s what you can experience if you travel a little further…

1. Brighton

The bustling seaside city of Brighton is only a short train ride from London. Explore the independent shops and beautiful historic boutiques of The Lanes, where you’ll find everything from upmarket perfumes and bespoke jewellery to designer shoes, suits and spa treatments. Stroll along the retro pier, enjoy the thrills of the Turbo Coaster and be sure to see Brighton Pavilion, a historic royal palace with spectacular Indian-style architecture. If you’d like to see Brighton from a different perspective, take to the skies in a private plane or helicopter tour from Shoreham Airport or enjoy scenic views of the south coast from the Brighton i360 observation tower.

Boarding Deck with Pod, British Airways i360, Brighton

British Airways i360, Brighton

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Brighton

2. Cambridge

Cambridge is home to one of the oldest and most famous universities in the world, and is a city brimming with history, tradition and scholarly charm. Explore the historic colleges where the likes of scientist Sir Isaac Newton and poet Lord Byron studied, and be sure to take a punt out on the River Cam. Punting tours operate daily during the summer months, helping you see the city’s remarkable buildings in comfort and style. Why not wander through the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and admire the shining 24-carat gold Grasshopper – the Corpus Clock – on Corpus Christi College’s Taylor Library, before sampling traditional afternoon tea in one of the city’s many lavish tearooms?

Punting on the river Cam in Cambridge, England

Punting on the river Cam in Cambridge, England

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Cambridge

3. Oxford

Another of Britain’s famous historic university cities, Oxford is bigger than Cambridge and is home to luxury shopping and rich heritage in abundance. Whether you want to explore the historic colleges, shop in the city’s labyrinth of quirky boutiques and antique shops, or simply relax in its many parks and green spaces, there’s plenty to see and do. If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter films, be sure to check out Christ Church, which provided architectural inspiration for the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Alternatively, join a guided tour of Oxford University’s Old Bodleian Library, which doubled as Hogwarts Library in the hit films. Bicester Village, with its array of luxury goods and designer clothing, is just a short distance away too, so you can shop ‘til you drop and stock up on fashionable brands such as Gucci, Hugo Boss, Prada and Ralph Lauren.

Cherwell Boathouse, Oxford

Cherwell Boathouse, Oxford

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Oxford

4. Bath

The historic Roman spa town of Bath is one of the most popular day trips from London. Tour the remarkably preserved Roman baths, be awed by the stained glass windows in the beautiful abbey, and admire the gorgeous architecture in the UNESCO World Heritage listed city. Relax in Britain’s only natural thermal spa with state-of-the-art facilities at Thermae Bath Spa before browsing an exciting array of museums, galleries and independent shops. And best of all? It’s just 90 minutes from London by train.

Pulteney Bridge, Bath, England

Pulteney Bridge, Bath

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Bath

5. Canterbury

As one of Britain’s oldest cities, historic Canterbury and its spectacular cathedral provide a glimpse into British country life and traditions. Explore the beautiful half-timbered buildings and the cathedral that houses the shrine to the 12th-century Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, or take a boat tour on the Great River Stour for a unique perspective of the city. In addition to the cathedral, both St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while the eclectic mix of architecture provides something to admire at every turn. Your shopping needs are well catered for too, as you’ll find specialist boutiques and independent shops in the historic areas of the King’s Mile, Westgate and St Dunstan’s, selling everything from fine art and jewellery to souvenirs, crafts and antiques.

Punting between houses in Canterbury, Kent, England

Punting between houses in Canterbury, Kent, England

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Canterbury
29 Jan 2020(last updated)